When Stephanie Bobb accepted the position as the Resource Development Manager at United Way of the Mid-Willamette Valley, she knew that she had decided to come home.
“I was born and raised in Salem. I went to Bush Elementary School, and Leslie Middle School. I even went to high school with my boss,” says Bobb. “When I started, she walked up to shake my hand and said ‘I’m Elizabeth Schrader’ and I was like, ‘Liz!’”
Before settling into her current position, Stephanie studied Criminal Justice at Chemeketa Community College, and during the following years, found herself gravitating more towards the fields of event planning and marketing. While cultivating a diverse career that has spanned over 20 years, and whose district sales volume exceeded millions of dollars, Stephanie never forgot her roots. She originally worked as the Event Coordinator at United Way from the years 2000-2001, and returned in the summer of 2018.
“I don’t know where else in the world I would be if I wasn’t here,” says Bobb. “I’m where I need to be doing what I need to be doing for this community.”
Stephanie’s roles and positions would equip her with the tools to handle the more strenuous events that the future would unfold.
On the quiet night of September 7th, when all seemed peaceful and predictable, the Santiam Canyon fires erupted across county lines causing destruction and mayhem in its wake. Meanwhile, Stephanie and her small, but strong, team of seven co-workers leapt into action.
“When the fires hit, we had all these resources that could help these wildfire evacuees immediately––a whole warehouse actually––we just didn’t have the hands,” says Bobb. “The only way to get through this is to bring in your volunteers, bring in your family, work 12 to 14 hours a day, and make it happen.”
United Way of the Mid-Willamette Valley worked to supply thousands of resources to those impacted by the fires, even going so far as to set up a one-stop “shopping hub” in a 4,100-foot warehouse space donated by Jet Industries, Inc.
Despite the noble efforts in supplying hundreds of families, and individuals, with essential supplies, heroism isn’t a topic of discussion among Stephanie, and her team.
“In all the time I’ve been in Salem, and all the desperation we’ve been through, I’ve never seen a community rise up in this way. Never,” states Bobb.
While Stephanie, and her team, work to ease the pain of those affected by the recent wildfires, she also wishes to empower those whose voices often go interrupted.
Bobb serves as the Chair of Chamber Business Women, a platform for members of the Salem Chamber to create solid relationships, further professional development, and build strategic alliances. Traditionally, Chamber Business Women met once a month for one hour during lunch at Roth’s Fresh Markets in West Salem. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, meetings have been conducted over virtual Zoom meetings.
While Chamber Business Women is focused primarily on promoting the connection between the female business community, they are firmly devoted to maintaining a neutral response to the more divisive areas of conversation.
“I know my organization well enough to know that saying that anything in the political realm is just not at all where we want to be,” says Bobb. “There’s so many people that are politically driven right now––I want Chamber Business Women to be relevant and engaging all the time, not just during a political season.”
Amidst all the tireless work Stephanie has done for her community, in times of distress and within the workplace, she still exudes a sense of humility that is visible to all who encounter her diligent grace.
“The absolute number one thing that I would say, to Salem, is thank you. You stepped up, you showed up,” says Bobb. “Thank you.”