YES to Yamhill

By Molly Walker

Campaigning for a state legislative seat last year opened the eyes of winery pioneer Susan Sokol Blosser to some important community needs going largely if not entirely unmet.

“During the campaign, I became really very engaged in the community and discovered a number of issues that I became very interested in,” she said. “When I lost, I thought, ‘Gosh, I could work on these locally.’”

So she assembled a group of like-minded people and set about doing just that. They chose as their vehicle a new public-benefit nonprofit dubbed the Yamhill Enrichment Society, or YES for short.

Joining Sokol Blosser on the inaugural board of directors were Rosemari Davis, Dianne Haugeberg, John Mead and Pam Watts. Sokol Blosser is serving as board president and Watts as board treasurer.

YES already has one program under way — Books for Babies, which sends a new book home with every baby born at McMinnville’s Willamette Valley Medical Center. A sticker on the back explains to parents the importance of reading to baby. The idea was developed by Haugeberg. 

YES is also pursuing a local history project, putting focus on the year 1912.

“I love history,” Sokol Blosser said. She said 1912 serves as a worthy milestone, as the public library opened that year, women got the right to vote in Oregon and Third Street was paved for the first time.

“In a space of not very long, things changed rapidly,” she said. Studying that transition could help determine what to bring from the past to help with the future.

She said YES planned to work in conjunction with Linfield College, the McMinnville Downtown Association, the Yamhill County Historical Society and others to coordinate a series of exhibits and speakers during 2012.

Other projects for the group include Koncert for Kids; a series of women’s leadership luncheons; assistance to Linfield in developing an archive of wine industry pioneers; and joining the Yamhill Community Action Partnership in a regional food initiative.

“I see our niche for YES as bringing together groups whose interests overlap but are not used to working with one another,” Sokol Blosser said. “The group’s mission is to enrich Yamhill County’s innovation, collaboration and creativity in education and the arts, food and agriculture, and history and community,” she said.

An office has been established at 638 N.E. Fifth St. For more information, call 503-883-9654 or visit

The group recently raised funds for the nonprofit with a “Bounty of the County” dinner and auction, Sept. 18 at Sokol Blosser.  

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