History of SSYO

In 1997, Steve and Tena Kimmell had been helping put on a Good News Club in partnership with a large Christian organization. Due to a lack of resources the organization needed to pull out of South Town and close down the club. Tena and Steve felt the kids of the community still needed help and love, so they, along with a couple of families started Tuesday Club. Every Tuesday evening in a small community center children from the neighborhood would gather, eager for attention, love and truth. Today, Tuesday Bible Club is thriving with an average of 120 kids and 30 volunteers each week. While, about half of our volunteers were kids once in Tuesday Club and are now adults, we also enjoy incredible support from the faith community in Corvallis with almost a dozen churches represented on any given Tuesday.

The kids would often bring their much younger siblings and Tena began to feel it wasn't safe for such young kids to be walking home in the evening, so she began taking them home in her mini-van. Thus, the bus idea was born. Our first bus was an old 15 passenger white bus that the children decorated with their handprints and paint. Today, Ed, our Transportation Manager, keeps 5 busses running, seating approximately 110 kids at a time.

Another need that was noticed was the kids were hungry. Tena had often made a unique home-style popcorn for Steve and her family and she decided to start popping it for the children on Tuesdays. Bags and bags of popcorn were consumed and kids were happier and more attentive. Today, Barb, our Food Coordinator, organizes cooking teams, creates USDA approved menus, buys and gathers food and serves wonderful meals to kids 5 days a week. During the 2012-2013 school year SSYO served over 6,500 meals to children.

Through the years the "see-the-need-and-meet-the-need" philosophy has proven fruitful. SouthSide has grown beyond just Steve and Tena into a community of volunteers and staff who love kids and their families in transformative ways. Whether it is giving teens a safe and fun place to be during the summer days at Bomb Squad or helping kids stay on top of their homework and reading at ACES or SouthTown Summer School, SouthSide works to bring love to kids in every way.

Some key milestones of SSYO are:

  • Began kids' outreach in South Corvallis called Tuesday Club. April, 1997
  • Started SouthSide Community Church. January, 1998
  • Continued Tuesday Club under the auspices of SouthSide Community Church.
  • Moved to current building in April of 2002.
  • Expanded programs to include mentoring, internships, summer programs in 2005.
  • Began Summer Squad in summer of 2006.
  • Began framework for SouthSide Youth Outreach, Inc. 2006 / 2007.
  • Began SouthTown Summer School in the summer of 2007.
  • Incorporated SSYO, Inc. with the State of Oregon on May 22, 2007.
  • Formed SSYO, Inc. Governing Board on July 9, 2007.
  • Was approved for tax-exempt status on August 7, 2007.
  • Began construction of addition/renovation, March 2008.
  • Completed building addition, March 2009.
  • Began After Class Experience at SouthSide (ACES), September, 2009.
  • Remodeled Annex. 2012-2013