Mark and Tiffany Bulgin speak at the Isaac's Room event in Salem. (Good Notion/Special to Salem Reporter)

Tiffany and Mark Bulgin of Isaac’s Room gathered friends and supporters to remember and toast a very special birthday, that of Isaac, their son, who passed away of a heart condition shortly after birth. This inspired his parents to “give his room” to children who didn’t have the support they planned to give him. They started a  nonprofit program that provides work experience and support for divested youth.

The event is usually held at the Ike Box coffee shop and not on Isaac’s actual birthday. This year, it was held on what would be his actual 21st birthday at the Willamette Heritage Center. Guests participated in a silent auction with several enticing items available. Rob Kansky of Green Acres Landscape pondered bidding on a signed guitar by Joe Satriani. LeAnn Cowles made sure no one outbid her on the University of Oregon Ducks tickets.

There was a great deal of joy and laughter. Alex and MacKenzie Blackman visited with Jim Vu. Volunteers from the Salem Leadership Foundation, including Linda Dolar, Jennifer Skillern and Jennifer Palanuk, checked in guests. Studio 3 Architecture, the upstairs neighbors of Isaac’s Coffee, Wine & Dessert on 201 Commercial St. N.E., hosted a table. Studio 3 Principal Leonard Lodder and his wife Ina Lodder attended. There was a game of “heads or tails” and architect Jim Toporek made it all the way to the finals. Stacie Kansky, Amy Kansky and M.J. Ispas from the Green Acres Landscape table tried the game also, but without the same luck. Ultimately, Vu won the game and donated the $2,660 in prize money back to Isaac’s Room.

The Bulgins told their story and friend Rex Robertson read an emotional letter he wrote to Isaac. Guests made a toast which concluded with hearty applause and cheering. Four young people who had experienced transformations in the program spoke about their journey.

The Ike Box coffee shop is the home base for Isaac’s Room. The popular cafe serves up to 450 customers a day. Both the Ike Box and Isaac’s Downtown provide jobs for youths in the Isaac’s Room program. The mission is to help not only with basic needs but apprenticeships, mentoring, and training. 

While this event was to raise money to operate the nonprofit, the challenge remains to raise $900,000 to buy the Ike Box property from the YMCA. 

Ike Box coffee shop is located at 299 Cottage St. N.E., The second location, Isaac’s Coffee, Wine & Dessert, is located at 201 Commercial St.NE,

Mark and Tiffany Bulgin listen to Rex Robertson read a letter at the Isaac's Room event in Salem. (Good Notion/Special to Salem Reporter)

Leonard and Ina Lodder attend the Isaac's Room event in Salem. (Mary Louise/Special to Salem Reporter)

Alex Blackman, Jim Vu and Mackenzie Blackman attend the Isaac's Room event in Salem. (Mary Louise/Special to Salem Reporter)

Linda Dolar, Jennifer Skillern and Jennifer Palanuk volunteer from Salem Leadership Foundation for the Isaac's Room event. (Mary Louise/Special to Salem Reporter)

Mary Louise VanNatta is a Salem public relations professional writing a regular column for Salem Reporter. Tell her about your upcoming event at [email protected] or follow her on Facebook.