We Are the Change

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”
— President Barack Obama

Countless Salemites work daily to transform the community into a more positive place for everyone. Some of the needs they address are obvious; others you may not have known existed.

This month, we launch a new project in partnership with the Salem Photo League, a collective of local documentary photographers, to bring you the stories of those who work tirelessly to help others — and to illuminate the important needs of the community.

For the past several months, Salem Photo League members have been documenting the stories of an array of local nonprofits. They turned the inspiring people (and animals) they met into a collection of photo essays that capture the impact these groups have made. We bring you the first two of their essays today, with many more to follow next month.

But telling the stories isn’t enough. We also wanted to provide a way for others to support and engage in these causes. So we hosted a community event and gathering of all the organizations featured in the photos — to give you a chance to meet and connect with them.

“We Are the Change: A Gathering of Salem Causes” was held Saturday, Sept. 20, from 6–9 p.m. in Cat Cavern, on the second floor of Putnam University Center at Willamette University. If you missed the event, check out our photo gallery to get a glimpse of the evening.


Willamette University student guitarists warm up for the evening. Photo by Bob Gersztyn.

Salem Is editor Sarah Evans introduces the event. Photo by Bob Gersztyn.

Salem Photo League leader Phil Decker helps introduce the event with Salem Is editor Sarah Evans. Photo by Bob Gersztyn.

Attendees visit the Mid Valley Quilt Guild table. Photo by Bob Gersztyn.

Willamette University student guitarist Muir Hamilton provides entertainment. Photo by Bob Gersztyn.

Jessy Gill talks about the mission of Turtle Ridge Wildlife Center and the importance of volunteers. Photo by Bob Gersztyn.

Visitors check out the Salem Photo League exhibit of We Are the Change images. Photo by Bob Gersztyn.

Salem Photo League member Jesse Farrah takes a picture at the Turtle Ridge Wildlife Center table. Photo by Bob Gersztyn.

Salem Is editor Sarah Evans listens as foster parent Mandy Augsburger tells her story. Photo by Bob Gersztyn.

Alicia Kueny talks with a visitor at the Department of Human Services Foster Care and Adoption table. Photo by Bob Gersztyn.

Salem Photo League members Diane Beals (left) and Jennifer Carley (right) did a photo essay on KMUZ 88.5 FM, where Jamie Sloan (center) is a DJ. Photo by Bob Gersztyn.

Salem Is editor Sarah Evans listens as Ashley Shierling tells a story of the jobs she obtained through Garten Services. Photo by Bob Gersztyn.


We Are the Change

Lighthouse Farm Sanctuary

The Willamette Valley’s abused and neglected farm animals find healing on 54 acres in Scio.


08 Zoie

The Faces of Garten

Garten Services does much more than recycle paper. It helps people with disabilities find jobs — and a sense of purpose.


Backpack Buddies

Backpack Buddies

Local churches partner with schools to combat hunger and make sure children are ready to learn.


Turtle Ridge

Turtle Ridge Wildlife Center

A facility located south of Salem provides a second chance for injured and displaced wildlife.



Mid Valley Quilt Guild

Local quilters keep a folk art form alive, and their creations provide comfort and warmth to those in need.


Little Free Library

Salem’s Little Free Libraries

Local supporters of this international movement live by the motto, “More books, more reading, more better.”


Salem Harvest

Volunteers harvest overabundant fields to keep fruits and vegetables from going to waste — and help alleviate hunger in the process.


Fostering Love

Local foster families provide children with safe, stable homes — and a lot of love and support.



Salem Area Trail Alliance

Volunteers build trails to turn unused, wild land into something that the entire community can enjoy.



KMUZ 88.5 FM

The Mid-Valley’s only listener-supported community radio station aims to be a reflection of the region’s identity.