The congregation from Bethesda at Bethel International Ministries served food at the recent Connections365 fundraising picnic. (Mary Louise VanNatta - Special to Salem Reporter)

Connections365 has served the Salem community for over 32 years, a nonprofit that provides therapeutic foster care, mentoring, residential services, and mental health counseling. 

On June 21, the nonprofit held a fundraising picnic at it Southeast 32nd Street campus to fund a connection to the city sewer system. The estimated cost of the project is over $750,000.

To accommodate its current property and any expansion, the nonprofit need improved water and sewer services. While the cost of the project is daunting, the Connections365 team is undeterred.  They are working from every fundraising angle, writing grants, and creating partnerships that can help them meet their goal.

Board member Sandy Evans and volunteer Terri Kunz checked in guests and sold raffle tickets for donated items like a Traeger grill from Kelly’s Home Center, activity passes from The Rec, and golf at Creekside Golf Club.  Executive Director Debby Lute made sure to meet every guest and didn’t want them to miss thekrispie treats made for the event.

Board member Justin White and Sam Griffin, worship singers from Church on the Hill, provided the music.  They often play for other groups like the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.  

The congregation from Bethesda at Bethel International Ministries served food.  Senior Pastor Charlotte Barrett said they were raising money to take the youth on a field trip to Silverwood Theme Park in Idaho.

The always-enthusiastic Fay DeMeyer, Connections365’s  community relations coordinator, and Mark Adams, a longtime board member, encouraged donations to the cause.  DeMeyer highlighted a few of the many partners helping drive the campaign forward: Willamette Valley Bank, Citizens Bank, Dalke Construction, and Knipe Realty. 

The event raised nearly $10,000 to continue the campaign. Donations can be mailed to 4890 32nd Ave. S.E. Salem, OR 97317 or be made online at Connections365.org.

Executive Director Debby Lute of Connections365 meets guests at the nonprofit's recent fundraising picnic. (Mary Louise VanNatta - Special to Salem Reporter)

Justin White and Sam Griffin sing at the recent Connections365 fundraising picnic. (Mary Louise VanNatta - Special to Salem Reporter)

Board member Sandy Evans and volunteer Terri Kunz checked in guests at the recent Connections365 fundraising picnic. (Mary Louise VanNatta - Special to Salem Reporter)

Mary Louise VanNatta is a Salem public relations professional, writing regularly about events for Salem Reporter. 

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