A FORCE FOR CHANGE WHO GIVES BACK
Elise Yarnell Hollamon wears a lot of hats and she rarely takes one off without immediately putting on another.
She works for Providence as the statewide director of access, co-founded and presides over the Community Wellness Collective in Yamhill County, and serves on the Newberg City Council, among other pursuits. She’s also a mother, daughter, wife and friend.
That dedication to serving others is why she has been named the Newberg Graphic’s Community Hero for 2021.
Yarnell Hollamon’s work with Providence is wide-ranging and has been of paramount importance during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I have oversight of the primary care and behavioral health clinic for Yamhill County,” she said. “Since the pandemic began, I’ve led the Providence Oregon strategy around triage, virtual care, testing, exposures and positive patient care for COVID. That has been a huge part of my focus professionally, along with helping lead the vaccine rollout for Providence.”
Partnering with local nonprofit and religious organizations has been a key aspect of Yarnell Hollamon’s job at Providence, particularly the vaccine rollout. Partnership is also integral to one of her other positions — president of the Community Wellness Collective.
The collective was formed in 2018 to focus on “destigmatizing and reducing barriers to mental health and addiction services,” Yarnell Hollamon said. Much of the collective’s focus has been access to care for youth in Yamhill County, along with community members experiencing homelessness.
Passion for those issues extends to Yarnell Hollamon’s role on the City Council, where she has served District 1 since being appointed in 2018. This civic work is something Yarnell Hollamon holds dear, she said.
“I really think it’s important to be nonpartisan and work to find community solutions with every member of City Council,” she said.
“I’m proud of our council and how we’ve picked the hills we’re willing to die on so we have a unified voice for the community, and not become bogged down by national political rhetoric.
There have been a couple issues I’ve been willing to speak out on, though, and that includes supporting underserved and marginalized community members or historically discriminated against populations.
“It’s been a challenging time the last few months with words and actions by local elected officials in Newberg, and I think it’s more important than ever that we have collaboration across the different local boards. I think we are really at risk of fragmentation and division fueled by a lack of civil discourse.”
Balancing everything she is involved in can be challenging for Yarnell Hollamon, especially with a young child at home. She often works 80-hour weeks, but she pushes through because she possesses a strong desire for public service and taking advantage of these prime years of her ability to serve.
She is also motivated by personal adversity, including overcoming alcoholism in her early 20s. She is now approaching eight years sober.
“At my core, everything aside, people are what matters to me,” Yarnell Hollamon said. “I have my own personal story and struggles and battles I’ve been through in my own life, and it’s taught me that we really underestimate our power as humans and the good we can do. Most of the goodness happens behind closed doors without recognition, and especially during the pandemic, people are really putting their head down and working to make their communities better. That’s been my guiding philosophy for the last year and a half.
“My community is what motivates me. Having a little boy who’s just 2 and having a positive impact on the world he lives in and eventually grows up in is important to me. Living in a community where people feel safe, supported and affirmed is my responsibility.”