Excellence on Main Award

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Camas & Journey

Awardee: Ellen Scott of Journey Community Church, and Caroline Mercury, Dawn White, and Carrie Schulstad of Downtown Camas Association

Award: Community Partnership

Year: 2016

City: Camas

When the Downtown Camas Association learned in 2009 that a key property was to be converted to a church, they were, at first, apprehensive. Journey Community Church’s location in downtown Camas is a marked exception to the logic that churches don’t belong downtown, due in large part to the incredible partnership Journey and the DCA have forged over the last six years.

The building Journey purchased was once the JC Penney department store. The building had fallen into disrepair and required a great deal of investment by the time Journey hired a local architect to bring the building back to life. Valuing the history of the building, great efforts were made to preserve the original brick and wooden beams, and repurpose other historic materials. The multimillion dollar renovation was completed in late 2009 with a great deal of volunteer labor from congregation members invested in the new space.

DCA’s partnership with Journey makes year-round, free community events feasible in downtown Camas by providing a large venue during poor weather, volunteers to help run promotions, and activities for children. Events like Girls’ Night Out, Camas Car Show, Plant & Garden Fair, and even DCA’s Annual Awards Dinner rely on the unique community space. At the annual Spring Clean-Up and Planting Day, Journey provides not only lunch for 50-75 volunteers, but also recruits congregation members and their children to serve their community.

In addition to events, Journey has impacted commerce and activity downtown. Using their public art fee required with all downtown improvements at their level, Journey worked with DCA to provide 8 locally made artful bike racks through downtown. When the church purchased the building next door, which had two vacant storefronts, they turned down multiple applicants as they waited for tenants that would add to a vibrant business mix downtown, knowing that DCA’s recruitment goals focused on restaurants and retail. Today, these storefronts house two successful businesses – a bakery and a dance studio – that bring people downtown at all hours of the day.