Family Building Blocks has grown significantly since our founding as a Relief Nursery in 1997. From our humble start as a small, church basement operation, we have grown into a well-established social services agency serving over 1,300 children and 780 families from six locations throughout Marion and Polk counties, with a $5.5 million annual budget. We operate several family strengthening and early childhood programs led by over 100 employees, and supported by 400 volunteers and 1,700 donors annually.
Jack and Pam Scott, donors of the Chelsea's Place facility in Northeast Salem
Sue Miller, founder of Family Building Blocks, at the dedication of Chelsea's Place in 1999
At the height of a meth epidemic in the mid-1990’s and amidst weekly reports of devastating cases of child abuse and neglect in Marion County, a group of concerned community members including Sue Miller, Deanna Smith, and Dick Withnell visited the Relief Nursery in Eugene, Oregon. Eugene’s Relief Nursery was established in the 1970’s and was the first of its kind in Oregon. Inspired by the model and outcomes, these outstanding citizens started mobilizing support to establish a Relief Nursery in Salem. The Oregon Commission of Children and Families received a Federal Health & Human Services grant in 1996 which provided start-up funding. In September 1997, Family Building Blocks began operating therapeutic classrooms at the United Methodist Church. We are indebted to Sue Miller’s vision and her dedication to children and families. Sue served as our founding Executive Director and her strong leadership guided the organization for 16 years.
Family Building Blocks has provided Relief Nursery services since 1997, Healthy Families services since 2003, and Early Head Start since 2010.
Patrice Altenhofen, Executive Director (2012-present), and Amelia
Ribbon cutting ceremony at Helen's Place in Southeast Salem | September 2016
Patrice Altenhofen became Executive Director of Family Building Blocks in 2012. Prior to FBB, Patrice worked for Cascade Employers Association for 19 years, serving as President 2006-2012. While at Cascade, she volunteered for FBB with her daughters, an experience which inspired a calling for a new career path directly supporting local families in crisis. Patrice is dedicated to improving the quality of life for all Oregonians, and currently serves on several local boards furthering the purpose of the Oregon Association of Relief Nurseries. Patrice values a strength-based leadership approach, and has infused this positive and productive culture into the organizations she has led. Patrice has graduate degrees in both Law and Business Administration from Willamette University. She is a native Oregonian.
“I am thrilled Patrice has joined Family Building Blocks as our new Executive Director! Her wealth of experience in building and leading healthy, successful organizations will be highly valuable as FBB continues learning and growing to meet the needs of our community. Most of all, I’m looking forward to seeing Patrice’s energy, dedication, wisdom, and passion as she leads our incredible staff and inspires our generous donors – continuing to serve children and families in our community in powerful, effective ways. Family Building Blocks has been blessed with a strong foundation over the last 15 years and our Board of Directors confidently believes our best years are ahead!”
- Brian Johnston, Board Chair 2013-2016
Programs & Services: Four therapeutic classrooms, home visiting services, and development team headquarters
Chelsea’s Place was our first permanent location after offering services from the basement of the United Methodist Church in downtown Salem from 1997-1999. The building previously was home to the popular Chelsea’s Restaurant and Pie Shop. Jack and Pam Scott very generously donated the building to Family Building Blocks. In honor of their extraordinary gift, we named the location Chelsea’s Place. Chelsea Scott is the daughter of Jack and Pam, and the name also pays tribute to the family restaurant legacy.
Programs & Services: One therapeutic classroom, home visiting services, and two classrooms currently leased by Community Action Agency Head Start
Long-time supporter Dick Withnell donated this building, previously used as a bank location. We wanted to honor Dick’s gift and offered him the opportunity to name this location. Dick chose to honor the memory of his mother, Gracie.
Programs & Services: Home visiting services and playgroups
The Oregon Community Foundation – Doris J. Wipper Fund Trustees, including Ted Freres, are major supporters of our work in the Santiam Canyon. They encouraged us to bring our prevention programs to families living in the rural towns of Aumsville, Lyons, Mehama, Mill City, Sublimity, and Stayton. The late Doris Wipper was a beloved member of the Freres family who own Freres Lumber Co. in addition to being corporate sponsors of Doris’s Place and supporting FBB’s programing annually. Doris served as the chief financial officer for Freres Lumber Co. for many years and established a fund to provide opportunities for future generations.
Programs & Services: Healthy Families program and home visiting services
Families in Marion and Polk counties have access to our Healthy Families program and home visiting services through our leased space in this centrally located office building. Home visitors spend much of their week traveling to families’ homes, and having downtown office space allows them to check in with their supervisor and replenish supplies.
Programs & Services: One therapeutic classrom, home visiting services, and playgroups
Families seeking services in rural Polk County have access to a Family Building Blocks classroom and playgroup space in the Academy building in downtown Dallas which has a unique “co-location” model – a building that houses several agencies and non-profits that serve young children and families.
Programs & Services: Early Head Start program, home visiting services, and therapeutic classrooms
Families in the underserved area of south and southeast Salem can easily access our prevention programs and services in this new facility, named after the mother of Larry Tokarski. Thanks to Mr. Tokarski, Mountain West Investment Corporation and the Larry and Jeanette Epping Family Fund through the Salem Foundation, Helen's Place is our newest certified Relief Nursery which opened on September 6, 2016.
Our Board of Directors is a key link with the broader community. Our Board is responsible for ensuring all programs are mission-focused and providing fiscal oversight for the agency. Board members bring expertise in law, accounting, business ownership and management, early childhood education, equity, health care, public health, and faith-based communities, among other skills.
Cherry City Metals
Saalfeld Griggs, PC
Dallas Glass & Window
Johnson, Glaze & Co.
Sea Legs Media
Blum Real Estate
Retired, OR Supreme Court
Retired, Court of Appeals
Legislative Commission on Indian Services
True Private Wealth Advisors
Chair, Young Leaders Council
Mano a Mano
Salem-Keizer School District
Silverton Health Midwifery
Center for Business and Industry
Premier Remodeling & Design
Salem Chief of Police
Representing Families Served
Superintendent, Salem-Keizer Public Schools
CD Redding Construction
Salem Pediatric Clinic
Salem Leadership Foundation
Chemeketa Community College
Pioneer Trust Bank
Family Building Blocks Executive Director