Salem Bewitched by the Spirit of Volunteerism

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*Originally printed in Statesman Journal, 10/31/10

With Halloween around the corner, we’re all a little more attuned to paranormal activity in our beautiful community—paranormal being defined as: “beyond the range of normal.” 'Tis the season when leaves decay, pumpkins are carved with ghoulish faces and folks dress-up front yards and themselves in ghostly, spooky ways. Let’s face it, it’s the time of year we invite spirits to come out and haunt us! I’d like to mention a few “beyond normal” happenings I’ve witnessed; a unique “spirit” haunting our community. Don’t be alarmed, this spirit is a happy one: it’s the spirit of volunteerism and it has taken hold of our community.

Here’s a few examples of paranormal sightings observed from our Travel Salem office. One is the dedication of our volunteers who help staff our Travel Café Visitors Center: people like Bob Krebs, retired from the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) Rail Division, who is also an expert tour guide and regularly shares his knowledge of the Salem area with visitors.

Another is how local businesses supported the recent Extreme Makeover – Home Edition cast, crew, producers and stars when they came to help renovate and film the Oregon School for the Deaf’s Nightmare Factory. When Travel Salem put out the call to local businesses to create gift and VIP bags for the Extreme staff, we were flooded with support, to the tune of $80,000 worth of products, services and vouchers. The executive producer of Extreme Makeover personally relayed thanks to the community and said the gesture attested to our community’s generosity.

And what about community events organized by dedicated volunteers who contribute countless hours to showcase our region as a fun place to live, work and play? Salem’s First Wednesday is a perfect example of the collective work and genius of local businesses to create a dynamic venue that brings the community together while generating economic growth.

The spirit of volunteerism still looms large over the land. Keep your eyes peeled for new sightings of this paranormal activity! Happy Halloween and remember to do your part to keep this happy haunting alive!

~ Angie Morris, president and CEO of Travel Salem