Meet The New CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County

Craig McElfresh and his wife were excited to move to a new city and new community when he was named CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County. During his first few months in his new role, the Washington native says he is most excited to learn about the community and the organization and its board of directors and staff.
He’s also excited for people to get to know him. He and his wife, Rita, have been embraced by Thurston County and the community, he says. “Quite frankly, we are having a blast getting to know people.”

Coming from a successful career at Boeing, McElfresh says his favorite job there was working in senior management in the Technology Planning department. In that role he worked across the entire company to develop new and improved ways of thinking about how technology can impact products and processes. He believes the skill of working with many groups with diverse ideas is directly translatable to his work at the Boys & Girls Clubs.

“Creating a culture of innovation, excellence and deep personal ownership of the work [at BGCTC],” says McElfresh, is exciting because it is “focused on helping the families and kids of our community in Thurston County.”

One of his goals for this first year, he says, is to increase partnerships with local cities and towns. Their aim is to continue focusing on the safety and quality of their programs. “We’re looking for opportunities across Thurston County to expand our influence in helping youth with academic success, good character development and healthy lifestyles.”

McElfresh discovered his passion for youth development when he graduated from high school and helped coach the summer baseball team. “That’s when I fell in love with leading kids and giving back to the community in that way,” he says. He also serves on the board of directors for the nonprofit Reality Sports, working and teaching youth through sports.

NATE PETERS

For Additional Information
Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County
bgctc.org

Tacoma Treasure: A Centennial Celebration for Tacoma Little Theatre

Back in October 1918 a group of Tacoma residents gathered to form the local chapter of the Drama League of America. Its purpose was to study and promote theater and build community in the burgeoning city. The same year, the Port of Tacoma, Tacoma Kiwanis and the Tacoma News Tribune were established. So the civic-focused theater group was clearly part of something special that was transforming the town.

As the oldest community theater west of the Mississippi, Tacoma Little Theatre has been part of the lives of many local families over several generations. Throughout its history, the theater has been the starting ground for many local performers, including the magician Ray Gamble and the rock band Alice in Chains.

Recently the theater has received national and regional acclaim. In 2016 its production of Second Samuel by Pamela Parker was recognized by the American Association of Community Theatre as one of two outstanding productions in Washington state. And this year, TLT has been awarded the AMOCAT award for achievements by an arts organization.

Looking forward, TLT’s managing director Chris Serface notes some big changes are coming. “We are currently one-third of the way through our theater improvement plan, which includes new seats, new carpet and updated lighting and sound equipment. Most recently, we purchased an adjacent building, which has given the theater much-needed rehearsal and storage space as well as room to build sets.”

In addition, the theater’s lobby, which was state-of-the-art in the 1950s, will be the focus of an upcoming capital campaign to expand and update the space as well as renovate the restrooms.

“Tacoma Little Theatre exists because of our community,” says Serface. “We want everyone to feel welcome here. With continual support we hope to be sharing theater and creating community connections for decades to come.”

Join the celebration of this beloved, locally focused theater by seeing a show or two this season. Make plans to attend the 100th anniversary celebration in February 2019. The evening event will feature dinner along with songs and performances from the 1920s and ’30s. Tacoma’s oldest theater is a treasured gem. It reminds us of the power of arts to transform and unite us all.

HILLARY RYAN

For Additional Information
Tacoma Little Theatre
tacomalittletheatre.com

Doing Business with a Philanthropic Heart

Philanthropy isn’t as simple as monetary donations. At the core of philanthropic acts is a desire to improve the human condition—to make the world a better place. In Thurston and Mason counties, you need look no further than Olympia Federal Savings to find a local business with a philanthropic heart.

Oly Fed, as the financial institution is commonly called, believes in preserving, protecting and enhancing the community to improve quality of life. One way it achieves this is through its commitment to donate at least 5 percent of its revenue to local nonprofit organizations. For the last several years, it has reached 10 percent. In addition, its employees have logged countless hours volunteering their time and talents.

Secretary of State Kim Wyman recognized Oly Fed for its efforts by awarding it a 2017 National Association of Secretaries of State Medallion.

“Washington is fortunate to have so many caring companies that give back to their communities in a variety of ways,” Wyman said. “This awards program is a great way to recognize companies like Oly Fed that go above and beyond to make a difference.”

The strength of Oly Fed’s commitment to its philanthropic mission is rooted in each of its eight branches and more than 110 employees. Its innovative, people-first approach to business earned it a spot on Seattle Business magazine’s “100 Best Companies to Work For” list, for the third year in a row.

Moreover, recent federal corporate tax reductions have allowed the organization to increase profit sharing for employees, raise its entry-level wage to $15 an hour, and add new positions to better meet customer needs.

“By making these changes and investments, our hope is that we continue to create a lasting legacy that has a positive impact for everyone,” says Lori Drummond, president and CEO of Olympia Federal Savings.

JULIE LEYDELMEYER

For Additional Information
Olympia Federal Savings
360.754.3400
olyfed.com

Exposing Children to the Arts One Matinee at a Time – Arts 4 Youth

What began as bringing kids to matinee performances at Federal Way Performing Arts and Events Center turned into a program dedicated to children engaging in art, called Arts 4 Youth.

“School-day matinées for students are quite common in performing arts centers,” says Kate Dorr, arts education coordinator for PAEC. “So it was a natural fit. On a larger scale, engaging students in the performing arts is good for their intellectual and emotional development, as well as the larger community’s development.”

Schools and individual students can sign themselves up. According to Dorr, PAEC’s Performing Arts Foundation, a 501(c)(3), supports ticket price discounts and bus grants for schools that qualify, based on their free and reduced lunch percentage.

For the past year Dorr has been involved in the program, designing guides and programs for schools. “My background is in museum education and classroom teaching. I am a lifelong lover of—and child participant in—the performing arts.” Witnessing children’s excitement when they get to see a play is “truly heartwarming,” says Dorr. She adds that research reveals how participation in the arts encourages success in other areas of education. “Everyone deserves access to these benefits.

This year alone PAEC is offering nine matinee performances for schools. The shows include New Chinese Acrobats, Toying with Science, Mariachi Sol de México and more. Dorr notes that she’s created study guides for each show for teachers to use before and after they bring their students, as well as lesson plans and guides on theater arts and PAEC in general. These study guides and lesson plans can be found online at fwpaec.org.

The matinees offer an educational experience different from what happens in the classroom, says Dorr, and exposes them to a new art form. She hopes students who attend these matinees will have an emotional connection to what they see on stage and will have their intellectual curiosity stimulated. From such experiences, she says, students gain the knowledge that there is a wide variety of ways to express yourself.

JORDAN MARIE MCCAW

For Additional Information
Federal Way Performing Arts Center Arts 4 Youth
fwpaec.org/student-matinees

A Half-Century of High-Performance Electronics

For almost 50 years, Desco Audio and Video has been a one-stop shop for high-performance audio and video. Based in Olympia and serving Tacoma, Gig Harbor and surrounding areas, DescoAV provides custom home entertainment and smart home solutions.

DescoAV is a second-generation family-owned business. In 1969, two friends, Dick Scott and Gene DeRousie, discovered a shared passion for electronics and dedication to customer service. At that time Scott owned and operated a TV repair and rental shop at Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base. DeRousie was a technician with the phone company.

What started as a TV retail and repair shop has evolved over the years and remained at the cutting edge of technology. Today DescoAV takes the best of modern technology and creates custom audio-video systems to suit your unique home and business needs.

Scott is still active in the business he helped found, while his son Jeffrey Scott, now owner and vice president, manages the day-to-day operations. DeRousie retired in 1993 and died in 2014.

“We’re proud to continue to grow and to carve out our niche as a premier custom integration house,” said Jeffrey Scott. “Our passion for technology and the relationship we develop with our customers is what sets us apart. We do more than install AV systems. We make customers for life.”

DescoAV specializes in distributed audio and video systems—music and video that play throughout your house, cinema-quality home theater, smart home technology, security, and networking solutions.

According to Jeffrey Scott, his in-house design team will work with you to identify your needs and turn your wish list into reality. Desco makes the system easy to use, and all systems are backed by the highest level of technical support, giving you peace of mind.

DescoAV is a Certified Control4 showroom—one of just two in Washington state. You can visit its Olympia showroom and experience smart home living for yourself.

BETH GARSON

For Additional Information
Desco AV
descoav.com

Ukelele as a way of Life: Jake Shimabukuro at Tacoma Arts Live

It may be hard to imagine this small instrument creating a huge following and packed performance venues. Yet for Jake Shimabukuro, the ukulele is his life. On Saturday, Feb. 2, he will perform in concert at Tacoma Arts Live.

After garnering widespread acclaim in Hawaii and Japan, Shimabukuro has become a household name as a musician around the world. What began for him as a passion and fascination with the ukulele has led him on a bountiful career in the bands Pure Heart and Colón, and a blossoming solo career in the Japanese music market.

Shimabukuro spent much of the 1990s in Hawaii with two bands, earning several Na Hoku Hanohano Awards. When the early 2000s rolled around, he devoted all of his energy to his solo music. He was brought to the world’s attention in 2006 when a video of him playing “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” went viral on YouTube. This opened doors that would allow him to play with the likes of Ziggy Marley and Cyndi Lauper, and tour with Jimmy Buffett.

Shimabukuro’s style includes elements of blues, funk, jazz and folk. The eclectic and prolific style he’s mastered translates to spot-on covers and beautiful original songs. He also scored the soundtrack for the film Hula Girls and the Japanese remake of Sideways. He continues to tour extensively. His latest album The Greatest Day is a compilation of covers and original songs released Aug. 31 of this year.

In his review in No Depression magazine, Henry Carrigan wrote: “Shimabukuro is a musical genius at one with his instrument. The Greatest Day exhibits Shimabukuro’s dazzling musical dexterity, his canny arrangements, and his way of letting his feel for sound and structure direct him around musical corners and down unexplored musical paths.”

Shimabukuro’s upcoming show will showcase his fans’ ukulele favorites, whether they be covers or originals.

JORDAN MARIE MCCAW

For Additional Information
Jake Shimabukuro at Tacoma Arts Live Saturday, Feb. 2 at 7:30 pm
tacomaartslive.org

Hands On Children’s Museum, Summer Splash!

Summer Splash guests mixed and mingled throughout the night at the Hands On Children’s Museum. They enjoyed signature cocktails and gourmet bites while bidding on exceptional silent auction packages. They played like a kid again inside the museum, silk-screening koozies and T-shirts, tasting liquid nitrogen ice cream, and capturing memories in the photo booth. And they danced under the stars to the Craig Lawrence Band.

The Summer Splash Festival and Gala raised nearly $300,000 for summer programs, access programs and a new exhibit. The Hands On Children’s Museum stimulates curiosity, creativity, and learning through fun, interactive exhibits and programs for children, families and school groups.

The Center Stage Awards & Gala

The Washington Center for the Performing Arts had a record 232 guests for its third annual Center Stage Awards & Gala. Guests enjoyed a staged street-side cocktail hour with live music in anticipation of the big reveal inside the Main Stage. One of the many highlights of the evening were the awards for Excellence in the Arts. This year the awards were presented to Olympia Family Theater for Achievement in the Arts and James L. This for Commitment to the Arts.
The evening event raised over $113,000 in support of the Center and bringing interactive entertainment to our region.

Savings Made Simple: Wa. College Savings

In today’s world, where the price of a bachelor’s degree can rival that of a single-family home, having a 529 college savings plan can offer young parents peace of mind. It’s easy to enroll, either on your own or through a financial advisor, and once you’re signed up you can set up automatic contributions to fund the account. Your investment grows tax-free, and won’t be taxed when you withdraw, as long as the money is used to pay for qualified education expenses.

Beyond the double benefit of tax-deferred investment growth combined with tax-free withdrawals for qualified expenses, there are a number of advantages to saving in a 529 account. A brand-new benefit as of January 1, 2018 is you can now use 529s to save for private school tuition for kindergarten through 12th grade. This provides tax savings for parents who plan to send their kids to private school. You can withdraw up to $10,000 per year, per student for this purpose. Additionally, you can set up an unlimited number of plans, and there are no rules on who the beneficiary can be. This means you can create an account for a relative, friend, or yourself. The gift of education is one that will open doors to a world of opportunity and is sure to last a lifetime.

For many new parents, receiving a college fund as a baby gift packs a stronger punch than a new toy or baby bib. “Giving the gift of higher education is really amazing,” says Lucas Minor, Interim WA529 Director. “An entire family can participate. When someone is saving for your child’s future and cares about your child’s success, it reduces barriers and encourages kids to grow up with the incentive and expectation to attend college.” When opened for a newborn baby, the account has 18 years to grow, with interest compounding on interest, making it an especially savvy present for money-minded gift-givers. by Kelly Lenihan

RESOURCES

Compare Washington 529 Plans

There are two types of 529 plans: prepaid tuition plans and education savings plans. Explore both options to find the right plan for you.

wastate529.wa.gov

GET 529 Prepaid Tuition Program

The GET prepaid tuition plan lets a saver or account holder purchase units or credits at participating colleges and universities (usually public and in-state) for future tuition and mandatory fees at current prices for the beneficiary. Enrollment period: November 1, 2018 through May 31, 2019.

get.wa.gov | 800.955.2318

DreamAhead 529 College Investment Plan

The DreamAhead education savings plan lets a saver open an investment account to save for the beneficiary’s future qualified higher education expenses – tuition, mandatory fees and room and board. Withdrawals from education savings plan accounts can generally be used at any college or university, including some non-U.S. colleges and universities.

dreamahead.wa.gov | 844.529.5845

 

Oly on Ice

A new way to celebrate the holidays is gliding into Thurston County this winter. Oly on Ice will open on Friday, November 16 in downtown Olympia at Isthmus Park. The entire family can come out to enjoy ice skating at Olympia’s first-ever seasonal ice rink. Skaters of all ages will enjoy the warm glow of activity during the busy rush of the holiday season at the tented rink.

“Bringing structured seasonal programming to the Isthmus Park builds community, supports local business, and increases the health and well being of our citizens by providing the opportunity for physical activity during the winter months, “ notes Anna Uyeda from Olympia Parks, Arts and Recreation. “Not to mention, it’s going to be fun!”

The grand opening will take place after the Downtown for the Holidays tree lighting ceremony on November 25. Live music, special guests and more will kick of the most wonderful time of the year.

In addition there are six unique family-friendly events planned with local partners. The line up of special themed rink time includes:

Nutcracker on Ice- November 29, 4-7
Skate along side some Sugar Plum fairies or some mischievous mice when Ballet Northwest’s Nutcracker cast joins the fun. Cast members will be available for selfies.

Pride Night- December 6, 4-7
Not just limited to celebrations in June, don your rainbow attire and join Pizza Klatch for an evening welcoming everyone.

Wizards on Ice- December 13, 4-7
Certain to be popular, this event focuses on a Harry Potter theme. Community partner, South Sound Reading Foundation, invites wizards and muggles alike to a night of magical treats including trivia and prizes.

So bundle up and head down to Oly on Ice with family and friends and makes some great holiday memories.

For information on dates, times and pricing, check out www.olyonice.com

HILLARY RYAN