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Dozens of volunteers throughout northwest Oregon stepped forward like never before to help over the past year

They're the people who lift up our veterans. They bring flowers to those segregated from the outside world. They put out fires, feed the hungry, teach the young and care for those experiencing homelessness.

They are our Community Heroes and they stepped forward like never before in 2021. PMG PHOTO - Pamplin Media Group is taking the opportunity to honor the region's best volunteers with its 2021 Community Heroes special section.

While the COVID-19 pandemic raged, waned and raged again, those heroes were there. As businesses reopened and struggled to regain their footing, those heroes were there. And as schools worked to improve distance learning, juggled mask mandates and figured out how to once again welcome students to their classrooms, those heroes were there.

Through it all, it's been some of the best people among us that have kept our communities safe, interesting and livable in these unprecedented times. Because of that, Pamplin Media Group is taking the opportunity to honor our best with its 2021 Community Heroes special section. It is being distributed this week in more than 20 papers printed and distributed by Pamplin Media Group and honors some of the best, most productive, bravest and most giving citizens in the communities served by PMG papers.

In this special section, you'll read about Newberg's Elise Yarnell Hollamon, who works for Providence, presides over the Community Wellness Collective and serves on the Newberg City Council; Tigard's Margie Yemoto-Greene, who led the Tigard-Tualatin School District's response to the COVID-19 pandemic by helping found Packed With Pride, a food box program that distributed as many as 500 food boxes per week.

You'll find out about the efforts of Melissa Erlbaum, a driving force in fostering community care networks for survivors of interpersonal violence and their families through her role as executive director of Clackamas Women's Services.

Then there's Gresham fire captain Mick Wesener, who leads a neighborhood-focused fire department and loves to save lives, educate, connect with youths and do all the little things for his community.

These stories — more than 20 in all — continue throughout the section, each highlighting people from one of the many communities served by Pamplin Media Group newspapers.

Also featured in the Community Heroes section for 2021 are: Scappoose's Alta Lynch, who helps run the Elks Veterans Bunker in Saint Helens; West Linn's Ann Munson, who grows and delivers flowers to assisted living facilities; Hillsboro's Aron Carleson, who has spent her career working to create more opportunities for students in Hillsboro; the Banks Fire Department, which stepped up through death, wildfires and the COVID-19 pandemic to serve its community; Woodburn's Terri Berkey Gonzalez, who helped the Immanuel Lutheran Church community meal continue and grow during the pandemic; Scappoose's Bill Blank, who helps Habitat for Humanity meet its goals and runs the Scappoose Farmers Market; Tualatin's Bob and Judy Nix, who taught English to students on the island of Crete; Canby's Caroline Erland, who works tirelessly for the Clackamas County Fair and Canby Rodeo; Gresham's Cathe Wiese, founder and development director of the nonprofit My Father's House; Forest Grove's Claudia Yakos, a stalwart community volunteer through the Rotary Club of Forest Grove; Culver's Gary Buss, who helped create an annual service event for local residents; Wilsonville's Kristin Smith, who helps nonprofit organizations put on fundraisers and volunteers in her community; Portland's Mary Lee Turner, who has made a career of helping others live and thrive with vision loss; Prineville's McKenzie McCulloch, who has overcome obstacles to achieve personal growth; Lake Oswego's Michael Murray, who founded Hunger Fighters Oregon, the first full-service food pantry in Lake Oswego; North Clackamas' Michelle Warzoha, who managed the North Clackamas School District food bank through the pandemic; Beaverton's Pat Reser, who most

recently has overseen the launch of the Patricia Reser Center For the Arts; Cornelius' Ralph Brown, a longtime teacher, coach, administrator and beloved community figure; Estacada's Valerie Hanken, who supported young learners at Red Barn Preschool; Portland's Victoria Rose, who dedicates her time to helping the homeless; Washington County's Tiffany Myers and Joshua Friant, who teamed up to save an elderly woman from a house fire; Oregon City's Pam Bloom, who works tirelessly to improve and uplift her city; and Sherwood's Wendy DeGroot Wells, who's given decades of service to the Marjorie Stewart Center.

These sections aren't possible without the generous support of our sponsors and advertisers. We offer special thanks to Reser's Fine Foods who stepped up to be our Community Hero Sponsor for this year.

As you read these stories, please consider supporting the businesses who have advertised in this section. Without their support, we wouldn't be able to acknowledge the accomplishments of our community heroes.


You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.

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