SMART: Start Making Leader Today

Have you ever thought you needed something more, or new in your life? Have you pondered about a new hobby or activity to start as you waited in traffic? As the minutes tick away while you linger in line have you decided that an hour a week to do something fun was totally feasible? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then please read on! There’s a great place in your community where you can meet people of all ages, have tons of fun, and help a child with reading, would you like to know where? Well good news, this excitement is at a local elementary school, free to join, works around your schedule, as well as helps children to excel in a safe and fun environment. Sound too good to be true? Well it isn’t, SMART (Start Making A Reader Today) is a nonprofit organization that focuses on reading with children ages kindergarten through third grade.

The youngsters that participate in this program not only learn how to read more proficiently, they also become better students, their attention span is longer, their ability to communicate improves, and they get lots of exposure to books which they get to take home and keep. At Juniper Elementary in Bend, Laci who loved SMART and loved reading with her SMART volunteers, Oscar and Jeanie, every Tuesday and Thursday for thirty minutes a day was one kindergartener who experienced the magic of SMART. Laci enjoyed talking about the things she loves, princesses and animals, and she loved all of the books to read in SMART. The books that Laci’s readers shared with her made her happy, taught her new things, took her to another world or helped her imagination soar to ever higher heights. Laci’s teacher was also grateful for the time Laci spent in SMART. “Laci has progressed leaps and bounds since she started the SMART program this year,” said Mrs. White. “Laci has improved in all areas in literacy, and of no surprise, she also LOVES to get her SMART books twice a month.”

So what can you do to be part of helping a child like Laci improve her literacy skills, and gain a love of reading? You can apply to become a volunteer reader for one hour once a week. You have an opportunity to read one-on-one with children at an elementary school in your community. To learn more visit or call 541-355-5600.

Leadership Bend Creates Corporate Volunteer Program
Volunteer Connect Will Utilize Class' Template


A recent partnership between Deschutes Brewery, Volunteer Connect and this year’s Leadership Bend class instilled a sense of pride and devotion to volunteerism in a new group of people and created a new model for serving the community in Central Oregon, all while revitalizing a horseback riding trail for some special kids. Leadership Bend is a nine-month program put on by the Bend Chamber of Commerce that teaches participants about different aspects of their community, from history and natural resources to law enforcement and government.

“To become an effective leader, you need to have a good background on what drives the community,” said recent class participant Ryan Correa. At the conclusion of the term, students must collaborate on a class project. They decided to work with Volunteer Connect, a Central Oregon organization that helps mobilize volunteers, to create a template for a corporate volunteering program. “It’s a way for businesses to create a culture within their company of service to the community and teamwork for their employees,” Correa said of the benefits of corporate volunteering. Class members approached Deschutes Brewery, known for its commitment to serving the community, to become a “guinea pig” for the program.

According to Deschutes Brewery Food and Beverage Director Mike Cooper, who was also on the steering committee for Volunteer Connect, the company jumped at the chance to find another way to get involved. “One of our core values is sharing our success with the community,” Cooper said, adding that the brewery’s annual Sagebrush Classic has raised over $2 million for area charities. “Plus, we have an annual budget of cash and in-kind donations.” After consulting with Leadership Bend class members and Volunteer Connect to learn more about the different sorts of opportunities available, brewery employees decided they wanted to volunteer to help Healing Reins.

Healing Reins is a therapeutic riding center where riders with special needs are connected with horses that have special gifts. Its Sensory Trail, which has several stations that stimulate the riders’ senses, needed a makeover, and volunteers painted, added traction to the boardwalks on the trail, installed shelves and buckets at the stations, and did some weeding and other minor repairs. “It went great, we had a lot of fun,” Cooper said. “We all met here at the plant, had breakfast, then went out there about 10. We just got to work, and did a lot of weeding, painting and shoveling.” Now that the Leadership Bend class has started a model for a corporate volunteering program, Volunteer Connect is excited to take it to the next level. “Leadership Bend is doing this wonderful job,” said Betsy Warriner, executive director of Volunteer Connect.

“They took it on as their service project to develop a corporate program. It was a wonderful way of getting us started.” Volunteer Connect hopes to run with the program, with a goal of working with at least 10 corporations in the next fiscal year, which began July 1. “That’s our goal, to help them engage their employees in volunteering in the community,” Warriner said. Volunteer Connect would meet with corporations of any size and help them to decide what volunteer opportunity best fits their staff. After the event, the organization would also help the employees to reflect on the work they’d done, to maximize the impact of their service to the community. “The business community is a huge player in the growth and the sustainability in the community,” explained Correa on the importance of corporate volunteering. “It’s important to have that segment of the community be aware and take part in giving back.”

Stillwater Dwellings Creates Modular Dream Homes


To look at Bob Duffy and Karen Wilke’s dream house in Redmond, you’d never guess that it started out in a factory in Boise, Idaho, making its way to Central Oregon in the form of six modules trucking down the interstate.

It’s part of an emerging trend in high-end construction that saves time, money and environmental impact, says Bart Mitchell with Stillwater Dwellings. Mitchell spent several years in charge of design and production with a Seattle company, building traditionally built homes in densely populated urban areas before being contacted by his current partners at Stillwater Dwellings, architects Matthew Stannard and Brad Conway.

Central Oregon landowners Wilke and Duffy were Stillwater Dwellings’ first clients. The Washington couple started visiting Central Oregon in 2004, and quickly decided it was the perfect retirement destination with its abundant outdoor activities combined with its proximity to public services. They had a triple-wide trailer on their property in the sagebrush just on the north side of Redmond, but were interested in building something more permanent. They met Mitchell through a mutual friend, and the idea for building a modular home on their land was born. Mitchell said they were all on the same wavelength from the start as far as the vision they had for the house.

“It was a perfect match – we were right on the same level,” he said. “They were accommodating to the things that we really wanted to have,” Wilke said. After Duffy and Wilke had gone through Stillwater Dwellings’ ready-made floorplans and selected the features they wanted for their dream house, work began during the late spring of 2009. The concept of modular home construction was appealing to the couple because they live in Seattle for much of the year, and were looking to build their retirement home with a minimum of time, effort and hassle, and with no surprise costs.

“The idea of modular construction was really attractive for a variety of reasons,” Wilke said, listing the short project timeframe and green building aspects as key factors. “All those things together were pretty attractive.” “It’s very simple and predictable,” Mitchell added. “We take a very practical approach. We take a lot of time planning, starting with the budget.” That focused planning leads to a smooth building process, Mitchell said. Clients can choose from a wide variety of ready-made floor plans, ranging in size from 400 square feet to 2,900 square feet, in any style from traditional to modern.

Duffy and Wilke opted for a contemporary feel with bedrooms on the ground floor and an upstairs living space, offering incredible views of the High Desert landscape. “We wanted something up high to maximize the view,” Wilke said. Of course, clients are free to customize their designs as they choose. Once a floor plan has been finalized, the builders carefully calculate all the costs involved, from laying the foundation to constructing, transporting and setting the modules. The modules are built in a factory in Boise in a process that typically lasts about two to four weeks with at least a week spent on quality control. “Building something in a factory, there’s a lot more control,” Wilke said.

“There’s regular inspections, and the materials are out of the weather.” Once the modules were complete, it took about a day for them to travel to Central Oregon.

“It’s fairly quick for a transport,” Mitchell said. By the time the modules arrived, the foundation was ready, he said, another time-saver. The entire construction process for a high-end home feasibly could be condensed into just 2 months, he said. “The timeline between when they sited the house and when we could actually move our stuff in was pretty remarkable,” Wilke said.

The arrival of the modules, roughly 500 square feet each, is quite a production, as a towering crane is brought in to lift and mount them onto the frame of the house. Still, the entire process took only about five and a half hours, Mitchell said. The next steps were for all the plumbing and electrical lines to be hooked up, and the siding to be put on. Detail work, quality control and landscaping all came next. The process is more environmentally friendly than traditional construction.

Though Wilke admits that it was a “leap of faith” for her and her husband to engage in a long-distance construction project, she said Mitchell and the rest of the Stillwater team did a great job of pulling everything together. Incredibly, the couple only met with the design team twice during the entire process. “They did a really nice job of siting the house and maximizing the use of the windows so we can capture as much of the view as we can,” Wilke said.

“It’s a great-feeling space for us.” Stillwater Dwellings has been busy recently, with several projects in the works. One home will be installed soon in Portland, with another on the horizon in Santa Barbara, California later this summer. A large residence and guest house will be installed in Healdsburg, California later this year, and Phase I of a guest house in Roslyn, Washington is planned for the first of next year. In addition, the company is poised to release 10 new pre-designed floor plans and a new list of sustainable upgrades for its three style packages (Fundamental, Modern and Natural).

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