Stories, thoughts and reflections on the Bible from the WSFC Staff.

Volunteers Make a Difference

Statesman Journal By Justin Much

West Salem High School students will return to pristine environs next week, thanks to a recent, perfectly timed makeover. Scruffy landscape near the building, bearded parking lot buffers and briars gone bananas all added up to lofty clean-up and beautification day projects.

Hundreds turned out for the event. 

“It wasn’t a thousand (volunteers) as we tried to get, but they worked like a thousand,” said project director Craig Oviatt, saying that 42 dumptruck loads of debris were removed from the site.

By project’s end, the grounds resembled the school that officials have proudly pointed to as a paragon.

“It made a huge difference and shows the pride that the West Salem community has in its school,” said WSHS Principal Ed John. “Efforts like this show the students how much support there is for student achievement at West and throughout the school district.

“We want all of our volunteers to know how much we appreciate them,” John added.

Those volunteers hailed from a diverse lot, including West Salem Foursquare Church, Oasis Church, West Salem Rotary, Willamette University football team, Westside Landscape, John Dalke, Mark and Linda Burrows, Salem Leadership Foundation, Mountain West Investment Corp., The Salem Foundation, The Salvation Army, Sunbelt Rentals, Supervinyl, Mike King, United Way, West Salem High School staff members, West Salem High School athletic teams and student council.

The project was organized by the Salem Dream Center under the direction of Oviatt, a youth minister at WSFC.

Dream Center volunteer Lindsay Blackman, who helps Oviatt coordinate events, scouted the WSHS grounds and took before-and-after photos to illustrate the work.

“The attitude and excitement of everyone, even at 8 a.m. on a Saturday morning, was amazing,” Blackman said. “Everyone was ready to go and help our community. It blessed my heart to see so many people show up, and then to see the transformation that took place.

“It never ceases to amaze me what people can do when we work together,” she added. “Sometimes as you’re working you don’t see the level of change until you take a step back, look around and go ‘wow.’ That’s what makes it all worth it.”

The event was more than just a feel-good day.

“Because our district has limited resources, all of our schools can use volunteer labor for grounds work,” John said, adding that he recommends more of these projects, and urges people to participate.

“Please contact the principal of your local school if you would like to help,” John said.