By Jeb Bladine • President / Publisher • 

Rainbow continues its legacy of service

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In the “where are they now” department, it’s been nearly five years since readers have seen much in our newspaper pages about Rainbow Lodge and Rainbow Family Services. Turns out, both are alive and well.

Jim Seymour still is executive director of Salem-based Catholic Community Services, parent organization to these Yamhill County programs. He reports that RFS continues providing treatment foster care services for about 17 youths with serious behavior and emotional problems, as well as family counseling and support services to affected families.

The new Rainbow Lodge, built in 2008-09, provides about 100 nights of crisis respite services each month to youths, and the RFS Independent Living program serves about 40 who are nearing time to “age out” of foster care.

“Finally,” said Seymour, “the Community Home for Children is close to opening. It will provide a safe, stable, nurturing home for three to five Yamhill County youth who are not thriving in the regular foster care system.”

It’s a quiet continuation of community services dating back nearly a half-century.

Rainbow Lodge and Rainbow Lake, of course, are much-storied jewels in the foothills west of McMinnville. The old lodge became a county residential youth care center in the 1960s, passed to CCC oversight in 1970. It evolved into an alternative school operated by a local group, then was reborn under CCC leadership as a new structure serving today’s respite program.

The nearby lake area was sold by Charles and Ann Metsker to Willamette Industries in 1959 with a deed restriction for use by organized youth groups, and subsequently donated to Yamhill County. Threatened by years of sedimentation, it was reclaimed by a local 1990s project that raised more than $200,000 in cash and in-kind services to dredge the lake, construct a new dam and spillway, and develop environmental and outdoor education programs in the 35-acre facility that was renamed Charles Metsker Park.

In 2006-07, Weyerhaeuser donated 15 adjacent acres, but we haven’t seen fruition of one-time dreams that the park would become a learning center for forest ecosystems and forestry practices. Yamhill County changed the deed restriction from “organized youth groups” to “organized groups for education and research purposes,” a policy some think should be revisited to retain a preference for serving youth.

It’s so easy, sometimes, to lose track of what’s happening with organizations and people. It was nice to learn that there are ongoing positive chapters in the long history of Rainbow Lodge and Rainbow Lake.

Jeb Bladine can be reached at jbladine@news or 503-687-1223.

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