Silverton UMC gives Community Transition Program a new home


When Rachel Ayers, the lead teacher of the Silverton Community Transition Program, needed a new home for the program, she knew that Silverton United Methodist Church would be the perfect fit. 

“I am often moved to tears by this partnership,” said Ayers.

The Silverton Adult Life Skills Transition Program serves special needs adults ages 18 to 21 in the surrounding community, teaching them important life skills like cooking, budgeting, and how to live and work in the community. The program helps during a critical time in students' lives, after high school, to help integrate them into their community and workplace. The program has functioned without a home for a long time – often taking place in basements or buildings that were far away from the community or not handicap accessible. So, finding a place to call home was a happy reprieve for the participants.

“Having our own space has made a huge difference. It gives us a sense of home, that we can make our own.” Ayers said. “We can put students' work up on the walls” 

Silverton United Methodist Church has always prided itself on its community involvement, according to Rev. Laura Beville, the pastor of the church. Even before her arrival in 2018, the church had a history of housing various community and educational programs. 

“This is a program that thrives on being community based” Beville said. 

Although the program’s home base is the United Methodist Church the program’s 12 students and six staff members are often out in the community with students participating in service learning and volunteer projects. 

When they are at United Methodist Church they have plenty of room for storage, a fully functioning kitchen, and handicap accessible rooms. Luckily the rooms also used to house a special education preschool program that a lot of the students of Silverton once attended. So, it’s a welcome place with familiar faces.

In addition to the Community Transition Program, Silverton United Methodist Church also hosts “Mainstay”, a program for adults in the community who have aged out of the Community Transition program and still wish to participate in community activities. Mainstay is a place for adults with disabilities to feel welcomed and valued, participate in activities, and feel a long-term sense of community that is often missing from their lives. 

The Mainstay program used to regularly meet at a community park, but Ayers knew when summer ended and the weather began to change, they would need a more permanent indoor facility to meet. 

The Mainstay program is run entirely by volunteers and is free for adults of all ages. It serves over 20 people regularly and takes place every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon at the church. The past week’s activities included Thanksgiving desserts and karaoke. It’s also a great place for parents and support workers to network and build relationships as well

The Community Transition Program and Mainstay have also been helping the Silverton UMC church become more ADA compliant, and help better adapt to the needs of disabled community members by updating its building to fit the needs of the program. With the help of Silverton United Methodist Church, volunteers, and the Silverton community,  these programs and their participants have found a permanent home.

If you are interested in getting involved or learning more, please visit https://www.silvertonmainstay.org/