Garten's mission is to support people with disabilities in their effort to contribute to the community through employment, career, and retirement opportunities.
Our actions increase society's awareness of human potential.

Our Story: From Garten Foundation to Garten Services, Inc.

What’s in a name?

Garten was founded as a nonprofit corporation in 1970 by Sally Gearhart in Salem, Oregon. Sweeping legal changes that gave rights to people with disabilities were afoot in Oregon and across the nation. Newly retired from her first career as a nurse, Sally chose this pivitol window of history to begin a small program that served special needs children. She called it “Garten Foundation”.
The 1970’s
This decade saw public schools begin to provide a classroom education for children and youth with disabilities. These changes facilitated an adjustment to turn the overall focus towards adults with developmental disabilities. The relocation of people with disabilities from institutions into community group homes was in the beginning stages. Garten provided these individuals the opportunity to work in the public sector.Garten began their emphasis on providing innovative professional services with the opening of the Garten Packaging & Assembly Division in 1972. In 1974, Garten expanded their services to incorporate adults with long-term mental illness. Further expansion saw the creation of the Garten Recycling Division in 1975. In 1976, Garten began providing landscaping services.
The 1980’s 
The State of Oregon began a comprehensive process that provided certification to Qualified Rehabilitation Facilities (also known as QRF’s). Garten—always on the cutting edge—became a certified QRF. Garten’s foundress, Sally Gearhart, retired for the second time, passing leadership of Garten to Executive Director Emil Graziani. In 1981, Garten Custodial Services began operations. Garten Mail Services followed in 1984. By 1985, Garten also began providing employment services through the generous support of local businesses that enabled people with disabilities to work . In 1986, Garten established a model program that served seniors and retirees with disabilities. This program is known today as Day Break.   
The 1990’s
Garten had grown to serve more than 200 adults with disabilities. Garten purchased its first property, moving its Administrative Offices and Garten Recycling Division into its present location on Industrial Way NE. In 1992, Garten’s Mail House became the 1st private mail bureau in the Mid-Willamette Valley to own an Optical Character Reader (OCR). By 1993, Garten Mail became the largest mail house in the Salem area. In 1997, the corporate name was updated to Garten Services, Inc. and the former name “Garten Foundation” was retired.
The Decade of the 2000’s
In 2001, Day Break Day Activities opened in Keizer to provide day activities to people with disabilities who had aged out of the workforce or were unable to work full-time. Emil Graziani retired in 2004, and Tim Rocak was hired as Garten’s new Chief Executive Officer. In 2006, Garten launched operations in Dallas, expanding into the commercial laundry business. Garten’s Eugene office was established in 2007. That year also saw the opening of Electronics Recycling operations, and the expansion of the Day Break program to a location in Dallas, built to better serve residents in Polk County. In 2008, Garten achieved Marion County EarthWISE Certification at its three Salem facilities and established an employee Sustainability Steering Committee to lead the organization through continual improvement in sustainability efforts. Garten’s “Zero Waste Events” service was established in 2009 and first served the Oregon State Fair with green teams in 2010.
Since 2010 ...
The world changed with the lengthening reality of The Great Recession. A new staff position of “Sustainability Advisor” was created as a service to the community. This position provided free assistance in evaluating and balancing economic, environmental and social equity concerns in business. The facility on Industrial Way was paid in full in 2010. The Recycling division had grown to require the full IW site, which left the Administrative Offices without a permanent “home” at the time. Garten purchased a new facility on Hawthorne Avenue SE to house its Administrative offices, Garten’s Mail House, as well as its Packaging & Fulfillment Division.

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Garten Today ...

Garten Services provides vocational, career, retirement and day activities for more than 500 people with disabilities throughout the Central Willamette Valley.


Garten serves people with developmental disabilities and long-term mental illness throughout Marion, Polk, Yamhill, Linn, Benton and Lane Counties.


Serving you from five locations:

• Garten Dallas

• Garten Eugene

• Garten Hawthorne

• Garten North Salem

• Garten South Salem

We increase society’s awareness of human potential.