January 25, 2022


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January 2021


Our Mission Statement:

A Christian organization compassionately serving youth and families, providing them counseling, mentoring, skill building and education services in a safe environment, to support the development of their hope and future.

Connections365 offers therapeutic foster care for youth referred through various programs affiliated with the Oregon Youth Authority, the Oregon Department of Human Services, and the Clackamas County Juvenile Department.

Therapeutic foster homes (also known as “Proctor Homes”) provide a stable environment for youth to live and receive services, with the goal of transitioning back into the community. These homes provide a higher level of care and supervision than “typical” foster homes, due to the specialized needs of the youth.

Connections365 provides all youth in therapeutic foster care with counseling (individual, family, and group, as necessary), educational support, vocational support, and skill building curriculum. Each youth is provided with an individualized service plan, and the therapeutic foster homes work directly alongside Connections365 case managers, counselors, mentors, and other staff to implement each client’s plan.

We currently have an opening in Independence, Oregon: A 5 Bedroom home that will have 2-Foster Children. Candidates are screened, trained and supported toward supporting youth to grow to develop into a productive citizen.

For information please contact 503-588-5647 x103


Connections365’s Mental Health Unit is dedicated to serving youth and families who find themselves in need of counseling and case management services. These services include one-on-one individual counseling and in-home and skills training support as needed. A team of qualified and licensed counselors is available to provide these services. Connections365 serves clients in Marion and Polk Counties who are covered by the Oregon Health Plan.



EPIC Garage (EPIC-G) we are a non-profit organization “Where Electric Propulsion & Internal Combustion Come to Life”.  Our missions at EPIC-G is to educate and teach young adults the principals of how an internal combustion engines powers todays cars, and electric propulsion that will power the cars of tomorrow.  We are also teaching the basic skills of restoration of classic American cars.

Here at EPIC Garage we teach young adults how to work with their hands, and not just their thumps on Android or IPhones.  We explain how they can attend automotive technology courses at a community college or trade school learning a life skill in approximately two years that will enable them to work in the automotive industry earning a good solid wage, as opposed to attending a four year institution, where the student ends up with a questionable degree and $150,000 dollars of debt they will be paying off for the next 15 years, if not longer.

Even if our students don’t go into an automotive career, at least they will have a greater mechanical understanding of how an engine functions in a car and can take pride in the fact that they can now work with their hands.  Another aspect of restoring these cars is, these young adults are preserving a piece of Americana, each car represents a particular time and point in American history, they are a reflection of culture, style, and trends that are a window into a specific generations world.

We have started our first project which is a mid-level restoration of a 1969 Camaro, we have already acquired our second car for restoration which is a 1982 Collector’s Edition Corvette.  Like most all small businesses we have started out in one of our member’s garage.   Please consider supporting the young adults of EPIC-G by making a donation.  No one gets paid at EPIC-G, so 100 percent of your donation will go to supporting the young adults and the restoration of each project.  We are a non-profit organization so any donation you make will be tax deductible. Our Employer Identification Number (EIN) is 85-2086440.  Your donation will give the students a sound foundation to help start them on a possible career path that will teach them a skill that will help and aid them all throughout life’s journey as well as giving them an insight into the American experience. We are genuinely grateful for you taking the time to consider supporting these young adults.


Salem PR firm wins five awards from the nation’s leading professional communications organization

VanNatta Public Relations (VPR), a PR, marketing, and consulting firm in Salem, Oregon, was honored by the Public Relations Society of America Oregon Chapter (PRSA) during its  Spotlight Award ceremony. The company was recognized for five noteworthy PR campaigns in 2019-2020. VPR has won eleven PRSA awards in three years.

The Oregon PRSA held its annual event (virtually) on Dec. 3, 2020. The PRSA Spotlight Awards draws hundreds of communication professionals every year to see the best campaigns in the state and honor mentors, young professionals, and lifetime achievement in the industry.

VPR won two awards (a community relations campaign and a branding campaign) for their work with The Reed (formerly Reed Opera House) in Salem. The firm managed a successful campaign to showcase the renovation efforts in The Reed and establish its new brand in the community.

VPR was also recognized for campaigns with the Salem Fire Foundation and the Salem Police Foundation. They helped promote the Salem Fire Foundation’s use of Community Connect, a web-based program that allows citizens to share life-saving information with first responders before responding to a 911 call. VPR also implemented a community relations campaign to fundraise for the Salem Police Foundation and purchase a TI Training Simulator, which helps prepare police officers for dangerous situations.

The final award was for an event campaign for TinyFest NW, an annual festival in the pacific northwest that features tiny homes. VPR helped promote the event and highlight alternative ways to live small.

VanNatta PR is at 3340 Commercial Street SE, Salem, OR 97302. PRSalem.com


Capitol Toyota, Capitol Subaru, and Capitol Chevrolet/Cadillac named the 2020 Automotive News “Best Dealerships To Work For”

Employees know best when judging the best place to work. Results from a confidential survey of employees earned all three Salem Capitol Auto Group (CAG) dealerships, Toyota, Subaru, and Chevrolet/Cadillac, recognition for being among the best in North America.

For the ninth year in a row, a CAG dealership was recognized by Automotive News as one of the 100 Best Dealerships to Work For.

“We are so honored to be selected for this prestigious list,” said Scott Casebeer, Capitol Auto Group president. “Our employees are the heart and soul of this company. Without their support and dedication to Capitol Auto, the Salem community, and their co-workers, we would not be the company that we are today.”

Capitol Subaru finished #9 for Medium Size Companies and #17 overall.

Capitol Toyota finished #4 for Large Size Companies and #27 Overall.

Capitol Chevrolet/Cadillac finished #2 for Large Size Companies and #9 overall.

In addition, Capitol Auto Group received one of the four Philanthropic Awards given out for community work. Capitol has raised over $300,000 for charity in 2021.

For complete information about the Best Dealerships To Work For from Automotive News, visit www.autonews.com/awards/best-dealerships-work. Capitol Toyota, Subaru, and Chevrolet/Cadillac dealerships are located off the Salem Parkway. www.capitolauto.com. 1-800-888-1391.



By Mario Rodriguez, Green Acres Landscape

Winter is officially here. We are expecting a cold, rainy winter with a possibility of snow in the valley. Most people are bundling up and staying inside to avoid the cold weather.

However, it doesn’t have to be this way. Outdoor heating is a great way to bring the indoors outdoors and extend areas of your house. After all, most people are pretty tired of being crammed indoors. Extending your habitable areas will make a big difference on chilly winter nights (and summer nights too).

Here are a few outdoor amenities to consider that will make your deck, porch, patio, or outdoor area as comfortable and hospitable as your indoor space.


A popular trend right now, firepits are an effective and often affordable way to provide a little light and warmth to your outdoor space. It’s a great gathering area for friends and family and can give you that camping experience (smores anyone?!) without ever having to leave the house.

Outdoor Fireplace:

Do you want to cook outdoors, stay warm, and add great property value? Then an outdoor fireplace is the perfect amenity to add. Similar to the firepit, the outdoor fireplace is a step up because you can cook effectively on it while still enjoying its warmth as a focal gathering hub. These add a lot of ambiance and come in many styles and sizes.


Similar to the kinds of heaters you will see at outdoor areas in restaurants, you too can add an affordable heating source to your outdoor areas. Standing heaters and heat lamps will typically heat up an area of about five feet.

You can also consider hanging heaters. These are best used in outdoor covered areas and can be powered by natural glass or electricity.

Mario Rodriguez works at Green Acres Landscape, a full-service, residential, and commercial landscaping business and nursery in Salem, Oregon.  www.GreenAcresLandscapeInc.com


A Peek Behind the Curtain: Why Working Capital is Important for Nonprofit

By Harvey Gail, MBA, Spire Management

Nonprofit organizations deliver on a wide range of missions. However, what the public see does not provide the full picture of the challenges nonprofits face. There is a visible outcome but also an invisible side only seen by staff and volunteers.

If you have volunteered for a nonprofit, you know that behind the curtain are the office, the back room, and the storage facilities. These are the systems that make the organization run. The public may not be aware of the challenges revealed in the back room. These struggles are often hidden from the public in part because revealing these challenges may be detrimental to fundraising and recruiting volunteers.

Due to the economy and the Covid-19 pandemic, these challenges have increased this year. Fundraising may be falling short and dues-paying members may be falling off. There may be problems paying rent, paying decent wages, and bringing the technology up to speed.

In economic terms, the resources needed by organizations to function is called working capital. Some organizations have heavy logistical challenges that must be met to fulfill their missions. They need a lot of working capital.

One example is Rotary International. Their effort to eradicate polio worldwide requires a massive logistical effort. Thousands of polio vaccines must be stored and transported to remote areas of the world. It doesn't do any good to buy a polio vaccine if you can't transport it. That takes logistics and money - lots of money. Sure, this is an extreme example. But even small, local nonprofits face logistical and administrative challenges.

However, people are more likely to choose a nonprofit if they believe their donations go directly to the people the nonprofit serves and not to these administrative functions. There are websites that rank nonprofits by this parameter. While this may be true for global or national organizations, this is not necessarily true for small local charities. If the money raised by fundraising efforts and grants can only be used for restricted purposes - buying food, feeding animals, providing shelter, etc. - then the machine that makes all that happen is underfunded. They lack adequate working capital.

So, sometimes the biggest bang for your donation buck is to designate it for general purposes. According to Geofunders.org, earmarking donations to general operating support is a critical part of a nonprofit’s success. Nonprofits must be able to sustain their day-to-day operations so they must have funds that can be used for general operating use and not just “restricted” uses.

Inadequate general operating funds can result in underinvestment in wages. Valued and experienced employees may leave. Outdated equipment or challenging office environments will be hard on volunteers and may cause burn out. Projects will take longer to accomplish.

There needs to be a change of opinion about how people view overhead costs in nonprofits. Adequacy of working capital reflects the general health of an organization and its overall resilience and sustainability. Nonprofits leaders must show how adequate funding for administrative functions supports their mission. In some cases, they may need to reveal the true challenges they are facing behind that curtain.

So, when making decisions about your donations, consider earmarking funds for general operations. Also, consider in-kind donations such as your time and expertise. Help acquire equipment such as computers and software. Designate special funding for support staff during busy times. Consider helping with storage space or rent. All these examples are spent behind the curtain toward a non-profit’s working capital. With adequate general funds, nonprofits can ensure the administrative engine is well-tuned and this will help them fulfill their mission.

  1. Harvey Gail is President of Spire Management, an association management, event planning, and consulting firm located in Salem, Oregon. www.SpireManagement.com, @HarvGail


What to Know as a Young Pro

By Keenan J. Emery

In the next few months, we will read hundreds of articles about the terrible year of 2020. And why not? It was a terrible year.

Do you remember the optimism of January 1, 2020? We prepared for the renaissance of the roaring twenties, a time of dance and romance, flappers and gangsters, bootleggers and balls, a roaring economy, and the unbridled hope and optimism that bubbles over like your first glass of New Year's champagne.

But that dream shattered faster than our crystal ball predictions. Instead, we experienced the worst part of the 1920s. The great depression, businesses shuttering, economies crashing and crumbling, death, doubt, and despair. We lost Kobe Bean Bryant, Chadwick Boseman, and Alex Trebek. We lost friends and loved ones. Instead of the Great Gatsby, we received the Grapes of Wrath (for you literature aficionados).

And yet, the optimist in me refuses to accept that it was all bad. Surely there is a lesson to take from this, right? I won’t let this article and this column be a message of regret and resentment. Let’s focus on the good.

If I have learned anything from life, it is that difficulty and adversity (often) made me stronger, more resilient, and more equipped to handle challenges. There is something about facing an issue, battling it, and overcoming it that makes victory so much sweeter.

In college, my car broke down to the point of no repair. I worked graveyard shifts at Shari’s from 11 p.m. to six a.m. and went to school during the day. I rode my second-hand bicycle (with no breaks) to the restaurant every night in the middle of winter. My lights were stolen, I was nearly hit by cars, I fell countless times, and I weathered rain and snow in the bitter hours of the morning. Was it hard? Yes. But the moment I saved up enough cash to purchase my first car, and saw that gorgeous chariot of speed resting in my driveway, I knew that the adversity, the struggle, was worth it.

Is the pandemic significantly worse than my example? Obviously. The point is, we can come back stronger than before. Financially stronger, maybe not. But how did the pandemic change you? Will you be mentally tougher? What skills did you gain? Who helped you -- and who didn’t? Do you hold your loved ones closer? What matters to you?

How blessed are you -- truly? To be a living, breathing human on planet earth?

I think that’s pretty amazing. Let’s focus on the good.

Keenan J. Emery is an Account Manager at VanNatta PR, a public relations, event planning, and consulting firm in Salem, Oregon. PRSalem.com


What will last from our Quarantine Culture?

By Mary Louise VanNatta, APR, CAE

Happy 2021. As we peek out of our homes and into the new year, even just to offer an arm for a vaccine, we hopefully are leaving most of the quarantine behind. These long months have created a new way of living that has been coined, “Quarantine Culture.” This is what developed as we hunkered down in our homes and learned what it meant to be in a pandemic. What will you take with you from Quarantine Culture and what will you be happy to leave behind?

Of course many will never be able to regain the lives they knew before the pandemic. Loss of friends or family members, their own health, their business, or jobs will make 2021 a year of slow recovery. This should not be minimized. It’s clearly not all good.

It appears that the primary outcome of Quarantine Culture has been a mistrust of institutions we previously supported. The ongoing fear has taken its toll on relationships, creating a dynamic where people are afraid to even be near another person.

Stressors during quarantine have been reported to trigger symptoms similar to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (avoidance, anger, and extreme fear for own health).

Our obsessive consumption of media (watching too much TV and social media) has made our view of the world highly distorted.

Our confidence in our own government has us questioning data and wondering if rules are equitably applied.

Our relationships with others may have taken a nosedive when we are dividing ourselves into anti-maskers, anti-vaxxers, anti-government, anti-social, and so on, and so on.

What will we take with us? There should be some good habits we take out of our lockdown.

Buying less, cooking more

Wondering what it’s all about (work, faith, competition)

Heading outside to walk and exercise

Rediscovering the value of family time.

So how do we heal in 2021?

There are a lot of tips you could probably read on the internet on this subject. But I will add just a few thoughts: Remember, this was hard for everyone. You survived something really difficult.    People experienced quarantine differently. Some will recover more slowly than others. Be gentle with yourself and those around you. Forgive and move on. We have new political leaders, a vaccine, and a lot of rebuilding to do in 2021.

Mary Louise VanNatta, APR, CAE, is the CEO of VanNatta Public Relations, a PR, event planning, and public relations firm. @PRSalem.com