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John Friedrick received the Distinguished Service Award for 2023 Submitted Photo

Distinguished Service: John Friedrick – pastor, champion, safety net

By James Day Sometimes your ability to make a difference in your community can be as simple as how often you say ”yes.” That’s been the case in recent years with Oak Street Church and its pastor John Friedrick. Yes to continuing its Monday meal tradition. Yes to using the church building for a warming shelter. Yes to hosting listening […]

A Keeton family photo from the 1990s with Joe Keeton (in hat) with his father and three of his daughters as children. Courtesy Autumn Keeton

Slipping through the cracks: Reflections on a life lost

By Melissa Wagoner When Jenna Keeton received a phone call from her mother alerting her that her father had died, she wasn’t surprised. “I had been preparing myself for his death for years,” Jenna admitted. “But I was expecting a heart attack or an overdose.” Instead, Jenna learned that her father, Joe Keeton – a man who had struggled with […]

When the city’s lease on the Silverton Community Center expires at the end of March it is likely that the Silver Falls Family YMCA will take on the lease and manage the property. James Day

Building transition – YMCA likely to take over Community Center lease

By James Day The lease on the Silverton Community Center likely will transfer to the Silver Falls YMCA when the Silverton City Council moves its meetings to the new Civic Center building next spring. The Oregon Military Department owns the Community Center building on South Water Street, with the city’s lease set to expire March 31, 2024. The council discussed […]

Santa Cares set for Dec. 9

Karen Garst had one goal when she came up with the idea for Santa Cares in 2018 – to make sure everyone has a gift to give on Christmas. “[A]fter working with Sheltering Silverton and SACA I knew there were many in need,” Garst said. Inspired, Garst developed the Santa Cares event during which community members can donate gently used items – toys, children’s books, sports […]

A look inside the new Sheltering Silverton facility at the city shops on McClaine Street. A grand opening celebration was held Nov. 21 at the site. James Day

Compassionate space – Sheltering Silverton opens new facility

By James Day Sheltering Silverton has hit a milestone in its serving of the homeless in town with the opening of its new warming shelter and cabins outside the parking lot of the city shops complex on McClaine Street. “It’s not the end, but it’s a new chapter,” said board president Mary Jane Schaffer, one of the speakers at an […]

The new Sheltering Silverton facility off Silverton Road. James Day

Sheltering Silverton – Closing in on move

By James Day Sheltering Silverton’s move to a new space in the city’s Public Works complex is just a week or so away. Sarah White, the nonprofit’s executive director, told Our Town “we are very close to completing the renovations of our building.” Key work to be done on the modular structure includes plumbing, adding a kitchen and a bathroom, […]

Sheltering Silverton

Lions host homelessness presentation

The Silverton Lions Club will welcome Sarah White from Sheltering Silverton for a presentation Thursday, Oct. 19, 7 p.m. at Immanuel Lutheran Church, 303 Church St., Silverton.  White’s talk, “A Competent Collaborative Community Response to Homelessness”, is free and open to the public.  

Giving a familiar face a story – The life and loss of Joe Keeton

By Melissa Wagoner In the five years since Joe Keeton moved to Silverton at the behest of a friend, his face became known to many throughout the town including Sarah White, the executive director and founder of Sheltering Silverton. “I met Joe in 2018 when we first opened up our Resource Center in the basement of the Community Center,” White said, […]

Governor Tina Kotek inspects the interior of one of Sheltering Silverton’s new “pallet shelters”. JAMES DAY

Homeless summit – Governor in Silverton for ‘listening’ sessions

By James Day Oregon Governor Tina Kotek visited Silverton on June 22, making two stops. One was to discuss homelessness and housing issues; the other to engage with agricultural and natural resource officials in a luncheon at The Oregon Garden. Our Town attended the homeless session. Media were not allowed at The Oregon Garden session. Kotek, 57, a first-term Democrat […]

Sheltering Silverton

State funds boost shelter project

By James Day Sheltering Silverton has received a $564,683 grant from the state to assist in the agency’s emergency shelter operations in Silverton.The funds were part of a $10.4 million pool of state money awarded to Marion and Polk counties and distributed by the Mid-Willamette Valley Homeless Alliance.  Sheltering Silverton will use the bulk of the new funding, $300,000, to […]

Creating shelter – Bids out for modular project

By James Day The City of Silverton is accepting bids for rehab work on a modular unit that will serve as a warming shelter for clients of Sheltering Silverton. The city has set aside $250,000 in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds for the project. The closing date for bids is March 21. The bid process opened Feb. 28. Sarah […]

PIT Count – Annual sheltering survey is about more than just the data

By Melissa Wagoner  On the last Wednesday of January each year volunteers across the state come together to provide government officials with a snapshot of the current unhoused population. The purpose of which is, according to Sheltering Silverton Program Director Megan Smith, “that statewide every year we can have a better idea about what’s needed for allocation in shelters.” Shelters like the […]

New role, new faces – Mayor Freilinger, four new Silverton councilors

By James Day Silverton installed a new mayor and four new councilors on Monday, Jan. 9, signaling the beginning of a new political era in town. Jason Freilinger, who had served as council president, was sworn in as mayor, replacing Kyle Palmer, whose elected office experience dates to 2004. In addition, outgoing councilors Jim Sears, Dana Smith and Crystal Neideigh […]

Lighting the way – Lantern Parade more than just pretty lights

By Melissa Wagoner When Sheltering Silverton created the Children’s Lantern Parade in 2018, they wanted the event to be more than just another parade. “It’s about people lighting up the dark for their neighbors,” Sheltering Silverton founder Sarah White explained.  Both those with homes and those without. “This is a way to remind [the unhoused], you’re not alone and you’re […]

Election 2022: Silverton candidates participate in two-hour forum

By James Day Silverton’s two mayoral candidates and six of the seven City Council hopefuls took part in a two-hour public forum on Oct. 18 at the Palace Theater. The event was hosted by the Silverton Discourse Project, with Our Town reporter Stephen Floyd serving as the moderator. Approximately 100 residents attended, some munching popcorn from the Palace concession stand. […]

Shelter plan: Council directs $250,000 to new Sheltering Silverton facility

By James Day The Silverton City Council has signed off on a plan that will put four pallet shelters and a warming facility at the city’s Public Works compound. Councilors voted unanimously at an Oct. 17 work session to approve a ten-year lease agreement with Sheltering Silverton. Using $250,000 in federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds that passed through […]

New funding – Safety Compass gets $20,000 to continue work

By James Day Safety Compass, the Silverton-based nonprofit that works to support survivors of commercial sexual exploitation and sex trafficking, has received a $20,000 grant to help continue its work. The Oregon Community Foundation grant, announced Aug. 9, was part of a series of awards to 371 nonprofits totaling $8.7 million. The foundation gave top priority to groups who worked […]

Out of the running: Silverton Mayor Kyle Palmer won’t seek re-election

By James Day Kyle Palmer, who has been a fixture in Silverton community affairs for most of this century, is retiring from the political arena. Palmer, who is midway through his second full term as mayor, announced Jan. 30 via social media that he is retiring from elected office at the end of this term. Palmer also answered questions from […]

Humbled – Dumitrescu honored as First Citizen

By Stephen Floyd When Hilary Dumitrescu learned she was being honored with the First Citizen Award by the Silverton Chamber of Commerce, she was in the company of friends and past award winners. The Silverton resident, community organizer and business owner said they had the wrong person, that others in the group were more deserving than she was. But she […]

New chapter – Sheltering Silverton regroups following founder’s accident

By Melissa Wagoner When Sarah White created, and later became the director of, Sheltering Silverton – a resource center advocating for those who are homeless or in danger of becoming homeless – she already knew that someday she would leave the day-to-day operations for a more advisory position.  “We had been working on an exit strategy that was going to […]

Trauma and isolation: Solving houselessness is a community issue

By Melissa Wagoner Trauma is the one-word answer both Sarah White, program director and case manager at Sheltering Silverton, and Sarah Case, a licensed professional counselor, give when asked to describe a prevalent narrative within unhoused populations. “The vast majority of people we serve are survivors of trauma, often complex trauma experienced over their lifetimes,” White explained. “We hear from folks […]

Shockwaves: Silverton’s community aid suppliers plan for hard weeks

By Melissa Wagoner This time may very well be the calm before the storm for many community aid organizations, including both Sheltering Silverton and Silverton Area Community Aid (SACA), as more and more people lose their jobs or are laid off due to closures stemming from the COVID-19 virus outbreak. SACA “On Friday we ran a few reports and were […]