Being a part of one of Oregon’s most vibrant communities is something the Salem Convention Center is very proud of. Since the beginning, we have committed ourselves to preserving this community by giving back in any way possible. To accomplish this objective, SCC has forged numerous partnerships with some of Salem’s premiere cultural and charitable organizations like Union Gospel Mission of Salem (UGM).
For more than 10 years, the Salem Convention Center has partnered with UGM by donating food for homeless men, women and children. In fact, just last year we are happy to report that we helped provide more than 228,000 meals to over 2,000 homeless men, women and children.
How does it work? We host hundreds of events every year where a significant surplus of catered meals would otherwise go to waste if it weren’t for this fulfilling partnership. Not only does our donated food go to help homeless neighbors-in-need, it prevents a tremendous amount of waste from going into our landfills, thus supporting our mission to protect our environment.
“Thousands of pounds of food each year are served to hungry and hurting people because of this partnership,” says UGM’s Director of Development, Sharalyn Bechtel. “The Convention Center staff has not only given thousands of pounds of food to UGM; several of them have volunteered as meal servers,giving hope to our guests through their smiles and encouraging presence. What a great team SCC has!”
Union Gospel Mission of Salem partners with local churches, individuals and organizations to help men, women and children in our community break free from homelessness through Christ centered programs and teachings. “SCC’s delicious food goes a long way toward showing compassion to our homeless neighbors”, says Bechtel. “One of my favorite examples of SCC’s generosity happened earlier this year. Just before the Super Bowl, I called Soraida (Cross) with a big need: hot dogs and hot dog buns for more than 200 guests at our second annual Super Bowl Bash. Within just a couple days, she gave us 250 of each! It was our best Super Bowl party yet!”
Bechtel says the challenges of running such an organization can sometimes be overwhelming. The amount of meals being served by Union Gospel Mission of Salem has increased more than 50% in the past five years. The organization is always in search of the time, talents and resources from caring members of our community to help transform lives and turn homelessness into hopefulness.