"The Canby Center is truly the place where hope started for us again," Camille Hall said to a crowd of hundreds at the Canby Center's 10-year celebration and fundraiser at Willamette Valley Country Club on Friday, April 13.
"We are not victims, but we're victors." -Camille Hall
Hall shared the testimony of her life, including life-threatening medical conditions from birth and again just a few years ago. When she and her husband were at a point where they couldn't imagine life going back to normal, they asked the community where to go.
"They said the Canby Center, thank God," Hall said.
She continued, "We remember Linda, and she was there just to listen to us… then she gave us so much more than that. She truly loved us…They also gave us assistance on our electric bill, with food, with clothing and encouraged and reminded us of our own self-worth—that we are not victims, but we're victors." Hall's full testimony can be found here.
The Canby Center helps thousands of people like Hall every year, 2,564 last year to be exact. The event on Friday was to celebrate 10 years of these kinds of successes at the center, to honor its donors and consider its future.
The center opened its doors in 2008, and their reach has grown exponentially since then.
"The Canby Center began when five churches came together and several generous individuals," said board member Charlie Stinson. "The Canby Center is now partnering with over 20 local churches, the Canby School District, five local service clubs, 20 regional foundations, 30 local businesses and over 250 volunteers."
Stinson referenced a quote by Mother Teresa: "I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples."
The Canby Center has cast several such stones over the last year. The Reading Mentors program, which began at Knight Elementary, expanded to Trost, Eccles and Lee as well. The food shared with the community doubled from the previous year to 118,498 pounds dispersed this year. The center also re-homed 84,164 pounds of clothing. They sent home 9,407 "Backpack Buddies" food packs with children throughout the school district. They also began restoring their kitchen so that they may provide healthy cooking classes and other opportunities for the community.
"The ripples caused by casting those stones are being felt in our community every day, and for that, we are very grateful," Stinson said.
How the center has achieved such success is certainly due to several factors, one of which is simply because people enjoy helping other people.
"About a week ago, I was at the high school and I was invited to speak to a class of freshman," said Ray Keen, executive director at the Canby Center. "One of the students raised their hand and said, 'Ray, what kind of got you into this line of work anyway? Why did you want to do this?' And I just immediately flashed back to a moment about 25 years ago where I remember driving on a foggy road in my car to go and fill a shipping container with a bunch of other people, to fill it with blankets and bicycles. A bunch of us gathered together to fill this shipping container to send it to Africa, and I was struck by, in that process, how we were doing something to help people we would never meet. And it kind of sparked something in me.
"There's something really good about helping someone who can't really help you back. And as I looked around that day, I saw people who were fixing flat tires on bicycles and others who were folding blankets, and they seemed to be having the same kind of experience. And that's kind of the experience that we have at the Canby Center on an ongoing basis."
The center looks forward to achieving new goals for 2018, including completing the kitchen remodel, building up financial resources for expanding programs, expanding the Reading Mentors Program to Carus and Ninety One, launching a new mentoring program for academically challenged youth and designing a facility master plan to build out their existing campus.
Those goals will be helped along through the success of the fundraiser, which raised $49,435 for the Canby Center. The goal is set at $60,000, and the center is continuing to work with community donors to achieve that goal.