DALLAS — Jan Ahrendt simply wanted a new cover photo for the Dallas Oregon Community Bulletin Board Facebook page.
Ahrendt, an administrator for the page launched by her daughter, Cheryl Cisneros, thought it was time to give the growing board a new look.
“In December, my mom said that we need to have a refreshed photo for the cover, and partly because it was a new year, and we had that one for a while, and partly because there was another board that was using our original version,” Cisneros said.
The winners are:
First place: Haley Snider.
Second place: Delton Maddox.
Third place: Ross Cadigan.
For more information: On Facebook, Dallas Oregon Community Bulletin Board.
Cisneros is the executive director of Creating Opportunities, an organization that supports people with developmental disabilities. She launched the Facebook page to survey the community ahead of her son, Steven, who has autism, opening a business in 2015.
From there, the board morphed into a place local people could connect with others or seek information.
Since then, the page has grown. Ahrendt, now retired, monitors the board with the help of two other administrators. She said it has more than 7,000 members.
“I wanted a place where community members could connect with businesses, and businesses could connect with community members,” Cisneros said. “It really was important to me that it be positive in tone and to really enhance the community, to bring the community together.”
With that mission in mind, Ahrendt said that the new cover photo needed to be a representation of Dallas. She asked Cisneros to help her find photos of the area, but it didn’t take them long to realize the resource they needed was at their fingertips.
Cisneros suggested a photo contest with members of the board as the contestants. Ahrendt loved the idea and quickly posted a request for photos, telling members the winning photo would become the new cover photo.
They said the response was immediate and overwhelming.
“We started getting snowballed with all these gorgeous photos,” Cisneros said.
Soon, they knew they had to expand the contest parameters.
“But since there were so many good ones, we thought we can’t just select one,” Ahrendt said.
They decided to choose one for every month, and from that the Dallas Community Bulletin Board Calendar was born. Cisneros and Ahrendt found that printing a calendar was cost-effective and could easily be used to raise money for worthy cause.
“We wanted it to be community-serving, so my mom asked if I had any ideas about who it should benefit, and I immediately thought of the service integration team,” Cisneros said.
The Dallas Service Integration Team will receive about $1,000 in proceeds from the calendar sale.
Not so easy was the daunting task of selecting 12 winning photos. They enlisted their family to narrow down photo submissions to 36 and let board members vote for their favorites.
Ahrendt said the number of people who submitted photos wasn’t the only surprise during the contest. An anonymous donor, who she identified as a Dallas resident and business owner, offered prize money for the top three winners.
“He said that he was so impressed with what was going on, with what had opened up in the community and that it had united the community … that he wanted to make a monetary gift,” she said.
Ahrendt said in many cases, photographers shared the stories behind their photos. The photo for the month of August comes with a tribute.
The photographer is Jessie Chamberlin, who took the sunset photo from the front door of her grandparents’ home. Her grandparents Gerald and Gloria died in August 2017. Once the photo was voted into the top 12, Chamberlin requested it be the August photo and include a tribute to her grandparents.
“This one is a very special photo,” Ahrendt said, gazing at the sunset photo.
If you missed the calendar, the pair are in the process of ordering a 100-page tabletop book to feature more of the photos submitted for the 2018 contest.
And, yes, there will be a 2019 calendar. Ahrendt said she begin the contest sooner, so this year people can have their calendars in time to give as Christmas presents.
“It’s been an amazing experience, and they are already taking photos for 2019,” Ahrendt said. “We can’t just do this once. It’s too rewarding.”