News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

Jensen earns SIT Surfboard award

Contributing writer for The Canyon Weekly

For more than 35 years, Annette Jensen has dedicated her life to serving her community.

“People are more powerful than their circumstances,” said Jensen, the 2021-2022 recipient of Santiam Service Integration’s Surfboard award. “They have an inner greatness inside them that most have not tapped into yet. Many of us have similar backgrounds, but it is what we choose to do with those experiences that determines what our life will be.”

The youngest of six children raise in Sublimity, Jensen considers helping people her life’s purpose. Like the advertisement that inspired the surfboard award, she set her eyes on helping others and never looked back.

“There was an ad back in the day, ‘we don’t make surfboards, we make them strong,’” said Melissa Baurer, Integrated Health and Outreach Coordinator for Santiam Hospital & Clinics (SH&C). “Like the surfboard, Service Integration doesn’t provide the direct service but we bring providers, community members, businesses together to make the community stronger.”

The Surfboard Award was started in 2019 to honor a SIT member each year who makes the Santiam SIT program stronger, elevates the SIT meetings, and maintains the integrity of the program. The first winner was Colleen Bradford with the Department of Human Services, Self Sufficiency.

Jensen gets to keep the trophy – a full-size surfboard representing strength – for one year before handing it off to the 2022-2023 recipient who demonstrates embracing the model, Baurer said.

Inspired by her grandmother, Jensen volunteered to help at the community nursing home. She became a paid employee four years later.

In her previous role as housing resource developer for Marion County Health and Human Services, Jensen helped individuals and families that were in health department programs to find safe and affordable housing. Through that professional role and work with the ODHS self-sufficiency office, she learned about SH&C’s Service Integration Team.

Baurer credited Jensen with becoming an outstanding member over the last five years.

“Annette is someone you can count on,” Baurer said. “She commits and follows through, she gets things done, she is persistent when she needs to be … you want Annette in your corner. She understands Service Integration and embraces the model.”

The foundation and primary principle of the Service Integration model is collaboration.

“I am never surprised by the outpouring of compassion that members – whether they are social service organizations, churches, neighbors or businesses – display in solving needs by the time the meeting has ended,” Jensen said. “Usually with the collaboration of everyone’s efforts, little to no SIT funds have to be utilized. SIT is a true meaning of the word community.”

Santiam Service Integration serves as a safety net by facilitating resources and information for individuals and families. The program is designed to coordinate community providers and services to identify needs, find solutions and reduce gaps in care.

Credited with making the Santiam SIT program stronger, Jensen said she enjoys working with people who are invested in their communities and want to help their neighbors.

When the 2020 Labor Day wildfires ravaged the Santiam Canyon, Jensen stepped up as one of the leaders in the community to help families and individuals. She played a vital role in helping to immediately house over 50 households, according to Baurer.

“Annette was at the doorstep of Santiam Service Integration wanting to know what we needed help with, how she could be part of the response,” she said. “I am grateful we have Annette to advocate and support our neighbors in the Canyon.”

Other recipients included Santiam Canyon Wildfire Relief Fund, recognized for raising over $4 million for survivors in the Santiam Canyon and partnering with the disaster relief team to put funds in the hands of survivors, Baurer said.

“They have a goal of $5 million as they continue to offer support for rebuilding,” she said.

Oregon Department of Human Services received a shout out for embracing a new way of doing things, meeting people where they are by co-locating staff at the Santiam Hospital & Clinics and soon Santiam Outreach Community Center, Baurer added.

“Another shout out was given to Marion County Health and Community Services for starting a new partnership with the Santiam Canyon SIT, placing a wellness van at the medical clinic once a week,” she said. “They also provided top-notch shuttle services. Thank you to Ryan Matthews for organizing that!”

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