News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Website aims to connect community

Sisters Country has a new community-based website at

Sisters Country Community Connects is the title of the new community website that was to launch Wednesday, December 9, built and created for and by Sisters Country residents, with the help from the organizations Citizens4Community (C4C), nonprofit Community Website Partnership (CWP) and funding from the Ford Family Foundation.

Robyn Holdman, executive director of C4C spearheaded the project with a group of volunteers working with CWP.

The Community Website Partnership is a nonprofit organization that strives to bring community websites to rural communities to create a place where residents, as well as new people, have a resource to get connected to their community. Brooke Nuckles Gentekos, the CWP’s project manager said, “We strive to make connections with people and organizations in Oregon who are making a difference in rural communities.”

The project started when Mary Ward, founder of community systems, saw a need for an online portal of websites for communities. She met Steven Williams, a web developer, and together, working with the Ford Family Foundation, they created the partnership that works in rural communities, which create their own leadership teams to develop a website.

Each year, the partnership selects one or two communities to be a part of the partnership based on inquiries they receive from communities that want to develop a website.

“We try to select communities that are inclusive and already doing work within the community to connect its people,” said Nuckles Gentekos, whose role is to manage the website’s creation and keep the leadership team on task. “We’ve loved working with Sisters and with Robyn, who is a great lead on the project. We knew there was going to be a wealth of content and strong foundation laid prior by the community. We were impressed by the projects already happening in Sisters as well as with the visioning project.”

The website strives to be a one-stop shop for information about Sisters, as well as a place to access volunteer opportunities and a place to have a community calendar to know when events are happening.

“Sisters really checked all the boxes for us as a good fit for the partnership with all the projects and wealth of information that is already there. This site brings it all together,” she said.

C4C applied to be part of the website partnership in July of this year after COVID-19 put a kink in plans to continue community visioning work. A website project seemed like a doable option for the group to work on while socially distanced, with everything online and virtual.

Holdman is the founder and president of C4C. For the website partnership project, she is the managing partner and she nominated Sisters to be a part of the project.

“We wanted to find ways to bring community builders together to build a stronger Sisters,” said Holdman. During meetings about visioning for the community, the idea of a one-stop shop and access to information about nonprofits, homeless/houseless community resources, and a place to better recruit volunteers.

“The timing was perfect to begin this in 2020, with a way to redirect to keep people engaged and active by doing this website project,” said Holdman.

With some funding received by the Ford Family Foundation, C4C was able to apply and get buy-in to do this project.

“This site is another community-building asset to connect, engage, and inform within the community,” she said.

Another aspect that the site promotes is the ability to engage people within the community that might not know where to volunteer or how to get involved.

“Generally, we see the same handful of people, but now there are new people getting involved and blossoming within the community,” she said.

Recently, the partnership just received grant funding from St. Charles Health System to translate the site into Spanish — another way that the site strives to increase inclusivity in the minority communities so they, too, can stay informed and involved.

Holdman helped to put together a leadership team of community builders to develop the website that included a number of people from different fields and areas within Sisters. They hired a project coordinator, Wrenna Rose, who helped develop a lot of the creative aspects of the site.

“Everyone was volunteering except the coordinators, to help put this website together into a one-stop shop for community building,” said Holdman.

One of the volunteers within the development was former school superintendent, Steve Swisher. His role was being involved with the visioning team members and connecting the visioning project.

“I was also there to make sure we weren’t detracting from what we already had in Sisters, but to enhance what is there,” said Swisher.

Swisher has been a part of Sisters’ community visioning process since 1996 when he began his career in the Sisters schools.

The most recent vision project has a focus on connectedness.

“We were focusing on a connected Sisters and it seemed like a perfect fit to have a Sisters community website that really fit within the visioning project,” said Swisher.

The site allows for one place to have press releases sent to multiple outlets to promote events, it allows for information about non-profits, businesses, and volunteers, and a community calendar to be organized and interactive.

“It is a networking tool and it lets people connect better and I am excited to see it come into being and be used,” said Swisher. “This has the opportunity to sustain the visioning work going on and be able to keep track of the work and focus on the intention of it and continue.”

The site will be monitored and continue to grow after its launch on December 9.

“We hope people will utilize it every day and see it as a community asset,” said Holdman.

Visit the site at


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