Like almost everything else in 2020, an SVP Portland event wasn’t going to happen as it had in previous years. But in another sign of our adaptability and resilience, we were determined to forge ahead and figure out a way to continue a meaningful annual tradition, and to have some fun as well.
The event was the Joe’s Court gathering, a celebration to honor SVP Partners who have served for 10 years or more. The concept for Joe’s Court came about in October of 2014 — 13 years after the founding of Portland’s affiliate — to recognize both the founding and growing number of Partners that remained committed to our mission and to “induct” Partners each year as they reached the 10-year milestone.
Joe’s Court was named after Joe Barthmaier, a founding Partner who died unexpectedly earlier that year, but served in a vast number of volunteer roles since launching SVP. He was an avid tennis player and debater, so Joe’s “Court” was a fitting name for the group and event.
By tradition, the group gathers each year to share dinner, stories, and a look at our impact and direction. This year, of course, the gathering had to be virtual. To make it unique and special, Stoller Wine Group donated wine that was delivered to the Court honorees’ homes for a virtual wine-tasting class.
This year’s group set a record for the number of participants — 23 — which represents more than 25% of our Partnership.
“It’s sort of like a loyalty club,” said longtime partner Mark Holloway. “But it’s different, something special and quite lovely because it celebrates our Partnership bond and dedication to the community. It’s even better than getting a gold watch!”
This year’s event also marked an unofficial launch of SVP Portland’s 20th Anniversary celebration, since the affiliate was founded in December 2000 when still-current Partner Ed Mueller put the first check in our “till”. The gathering offered participants an opportunity to reflect on all that has transpired in those 20 years, including becoming independent of Oregon Community Foundation in the early years, transitioning to focus all of our resources on a community-level goal, incredible Partnership growth, and the recent Preschool for All victory.
“I think the record number of Joe’s Court’s participants is a remarkable testament to the continued importance of our mission, and the satisfaction Partners feel from both our impact and meaningful relationships with each other,” said Lauren Johnson, Executive Director. “The enduring commitment from all of these Partners is just tremendous.”