For its 50 years of service, the Willamette Valley Rehab Center is celebrating its anniversary as Lebanon’s first sheltered workshop with three 1950s-themed events.
Following a Client Sock Hop on May 18, the WVRC hosted the Rollin’ Oldies at an open house on Aug. 18.
The facility’s final event will be the Rockin’ Fifties Community Celebration to recognize board members and customers on Oct. 18 at the Linn County Fair & Expo Center.
“This is all done to show people what we’re doing and who we are,” said WVRC Deputy Director Mollie Kerins.
“A lot of people don’t know about the WVRC. We’re celebrating our 50th year serving people with (physical, mental and developmental) disabilities and finding work for them.”
A fully-functioning wood shop takes up a majority of the complex located on Airway Road, where workers make yard stakes, specialized pallets and shipping boxes.
Kerins noted that the business began with three ladies trying to help men in wheelchairs find work.
“Now it has evolved to 126 people up and down the I-5 corridor,” said Kerins.
The row of hot rods was a special treat for WVRC employee and car enthusiast Johnny Clark III.
After three years in custodial services, one of the WVRC’s other primary work outlets, Clark has been helping other program workers as a rehab specialist.
“I watched this place being built, and I never knew what this place was until I worked here,” said Clark. “It’s really exciting to have something like this that brings in everybody to see what we do.”
He wasn’t able to bring his 1967 Ford Mustang to the show, but his father, Johnny, was able to represent the Clarks with his 1969 Oldsmobile 442.
Live classic rock music performed by the local five-person band Hometown Classic entertained the open house participants inside the building, while a row of 30-plus American classics shined outside under the sun.
The Rollin’ Oldies car club provided a majority of the show cars. Club founder Harry Carter proudly displayed two of the largest cars; a ’58 Edsel and a ’60 Cadillac Couple Deville, along with his wife’s ’63 Rambler American.
The Cadillac came away with a third-place trophy, but awards are not what the Rollin’ Oldies have been about in its 21-year existence.
The Lebanon-based club annually raises funds for charities and provides two $500 college scholarships for students studying automotive trades.
“We’re very community oriented, and this is a local thing they asked us to do, so we decided to get some cars together,” said Carter. “We like doing local stuff during the week. You get tired of spending all day, every Saturday, at car shows, so it’s nice to do something like this.”
The Rollin’ Oldies will host the 21st annual “Fifties in the Fall” car show, its only club fundraiser, at River Park on Sept. 17.