Salem Area Ecumenical Ministries (SAEM) was recognized as the recipient of the 2023 Governor’s Volunteerism and Community Service Awards for “Faith Based” Agency last month. The annual awards program spotlights the outstanding efforts of individual volunteers and organizations, contributed on behalf of citizens throughout the commonwealth. “The resilience, generosity, and commitment of these volunteers exemplifies the best of Virginia,” said Gov. Glenn Youngkin.
SAEM is a gathering of lay and pastoral representatives from Salem and western Roanoke County churches and local service agencies, working to strengthen community resilience by encouraging collaboration in the areas of food, clothing and educational resources. With the support of countless volunteers, SAEM offers elementary and middle school meal programs and school gardens as well as Mrs. Dorsey’s Clothes Closet.
SAEM provides nutritious and wholesome breakfast and lunch for at-risk elementary school children in Salem and western Roanoke County through the weekend Area Churches Together (ACT) backpacks program, serving 145 students, as well as the “Summer Feed and Read” program, which provided more than $32,000 in Kroger gift cards to over 170 families for the purchase of meals for elementary school children during the summer months. SAEM also partners with local schools to provide food pantries and school gardens for students who may face food insecurity, allowing access to healthy foods with a “student-choice” design.
“For the past 13 years, Salem Area Ecumenical Ministries has raised funds to provide nutritious and wholesome breakfast and lunch items,” said nominator Rev. David R. Drebes. “Each year, the challenge is ever greater!”
“We are blessed to have the support and partnership of many churches, community organizations, local businesses, and community members that support our missions and ministries to the Salem community” said Garry Lautenschlager, secretary. Board of Directors. “To be recognized as the statewide recipient for Volunteerism and Community Service is a testament to our commitment to “love your neighbors as yourself.”
-The Salem Times-Register