Olympic Landscape: Heart For Community

Olympic Landscape has been designing, building and servicing outdoor residential and commercial spaces in the South Sound for more than 40 years. As an expert landscape contractor, the company creates beautiful outdoor living spaces, unique gathering spaces, and specially-themed gardens for homes and businesses. The owner and CEO, Joe Areyano, plans to continue that legacy. He also added new services and products that will carry Olympic forward for at least another 40 years.

“My family started a landscape company in 1980, so I’ve been around the industry for the majority of my life,” says Areyano. “At age 16, I started learning every division of the company, from landscape retaining walls to irrigation.” After about five years, he was promoted to field manager and continued to work his way into greater responsibilities. He’s now a certified landscape professional. This hands-on experience, he says, helps him ensure that customers receive the highest-quality service.

Since Areyano purchased Olympic Landscape from founder Neil Hedman, he has expanded the business. The company is growing into a regional leader, expanding its service area and the core services it offers. As a great landscape construction install company, Olympic offers both landscape design/build and landscape straight to construction. They now offer commercial maintenance and can accommodate snow and ice removal projects too. This is good news for local businesses and homeowners who need these services.

The growth of Olympic Landscape is good news for the larger community as well. The company increased the number of employees to about 57 in 2019. Additionally, Olympic supports local charities and non-profit events such as St. Francis House, which eases the hardships of those in need in east Pierce County. They also support the Emergency Food Network that supplies 3.9 million pounds of healthy, nutritious food annually to 76 food pantries, meal sites and shelters for distribution to families and individuals in need. Olympic partners with Adorned in Grace, a bridal boutique that uses its profit to teach and train individuals rescued from human trafficking. The
company is particularly proud to support our neighbors and give back
to complete the community circle.

Olympic Landscape

By Julie Leydelmeyer

Museum’s “Votes for Women: 100 Years and Counting”

The Washington State Historical Society plans to open the game-based exhibition Votes for Women: 100 Years and Counting post-pandemic. The museum made alterations to the original exhibition so that everyone can play safely in the expansive gallery spaces.

Votes for Women: 100 Years and Counting is a vibrant celebration of female achievements in politics and society. It focuses on the national suffrage story and our state’s connections, explaining how Washington women led the way to the ratification of the 19th Amendment.

“We are beyond excited to open this exhibition,” said Mary Mikel Stump, the Historical Society’s audience engagement director. “When we started thinking about how to tell the suffrage story in exhibition form, we immediately thought of Jessica Spring and Chandler O’Leary. Their creative work in their book Dead Feminists: Historic Heroines in Living Color made them a natural choice to highlight women change-makers who paved the road to the vote, and to explain what that has meant in the one hundred years since ratification in August of 1920.” Stump added, “It’s been wonderful working with these two witty, wise women who have laid out the story in six succinct sections where visitors can actively participate.”

The exhibition is richly illustrated with artwork created by O’Leary and Spring. Visitors will also see historic objects and ephemera from the Historical Society’s collections alongside reproduced historic photographs and ephemera from the National Archives. Spring and O’Leary noted in their curator’s statement, “The Washington State History Museum put forward a challenge: Could we engage visitors in a journey to celebrate women gaining equality at the ballot box, but also consider all the obstacles that—to this day—prevent all Americans from exercising their voting rights equally? And what if that visitor experience could be a game?”

As a result of O’Leary and Spring’s approach, visitors will journey through an interactive history lesson where game components provide opportunities to synthesize and apply what they’ve learned. “You’ll come out knowing the names of those who fought for this basic constitutional right, and you’ll appreciate your right to vote as never before!” commented Stump.

Votes for Women: 100 Years and Counting is on view through November 8, 2020.


Image credit: Jessica Spring and Chandler O’Leary’s signature illustrative style is featured throughout the Votes for Women: 100 Years and Counting exhibition, and seen here in t he History Museum’s exhibition poster.


Homeless Backpack Heroes

How often do people consider if the homeless person sleeping in an exposed area is an adolescent? Or when was the last time a homeless adolescent had a decent meal? “Homeless Backpacks provide weekend food to homeless students,” founding board member of Homeless Backpacks, Kelly Wilson, says. Homeless Backpacks serves over half a dozen school districts in Washington.

The story of the organization starts with a group of women getting together to discuss what they could do for the homeless back in the early 2000s. The discussion led to each woman bringing a practical item to the next meeting to fill 20 backpacks.

“Back in 2006 when we started the program, the food was put into plastic grocery bags,” says Wilson. “It was obvious that there was food in the bags, so we provided each student being served a backpack to put the weekend food bag into. The student would walk into the counselor’s office with an empty backpack and walk out with a bag of food inside of it.”

When plastic bags were banned in Thurston County, Wilson and her team invested in an alternative bag that is thicker and heavier. “The cost of that bag is covered by bag sponsors who pay to put their logo on the bags,” Wilson explains.

“These bags are much thicker, so it is not obvious that it is a bag of food.”

Homeless Backpacks serves 573 students per week at $8 a bag; the recent cost has increased due to food cost increases. The organization doesn’t rely on government or grant funding, but instead depends on schools, churches, businesses, and two fundraisers they host each year to raise money and awareness. Unfortunately, this year’s fundraisers have been cancelled due to the pandemic and limitations on public social gatherings. “Homeless Backpack’s mission is to ‘End Homelessness One Face at a Time.’ ” says Wilson.


Homeless Backpacks

Olympia OB/GYN Heroes: Babies Born During Pandemic

Babies are born when they are ready, and dedicated medical personnel tackle coronavirus challenges to deliver them safely.

That’s true of the team at Olympia Obstetrics & Gynecology (OOG), who developed new techniques as they work with patients and welcome babies. They are using technology in positive ways while they keep everyone safe.

“We love moms and babies,” said Dr. Darrel Bell. “The virus hasn’t changed how special each delivery has been. I thank all those who protect mothers and babies by wearing masks and practicing social distancing.” An average of 100 babies a month are delivered by clinic medical staff.

Cari Bussey, certified nurse midwife with the clinic, said, “So much about obstetrics is about family. It is different not having family members in the clinic with the mother.”

“I can’t wait to get over separating families,” Dr. Bell agreed. Partners are always welcome in the delivery room, but “not a lot of extra people are invited into the hospital,” he said, adding that for some patients this limitation created a “beautiful intimate time.”

“We’ve discovered a lot of silver linings,” Bussey said. “Health care workers have been forced to hop on the telemedicine effort. We’ve been able to adopt what works for us, and patients enjoy some benefits. “OOG utilizes a telehealth system that ties the visit to the patient’s electronic health record. Patients receive a link via email or text and can access us through their mobile phones, iPads and desktops.”

Deb Cannon, practice administrator/manager at the clinic, said, “We are a big family, and maybe none of us really understood what it means to be an ‘essential worker’ until now. We have been proud to have maintained a safe environment for everyone; that includes the babies.”

ShowCase Magazine salutes Olympia Obstetrics & Gynecology for going the extra mile for their patients during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Olympia Obstetrics & Gynecology

Indochine’s Creativity In Crisis

What do you do in a community crisis? If you’re Russel Brunton at Indochine in downtown Tacoma, you figure out how to prepare tasty meals for hungry local heroes and keep your staff on the job.

From the early days of the coronavirus challenge, Brunton joined several other restaurant owners to provide nutritious meals for medical personnel at local hospitals. They worked in collaboration with Hero Meals. Donors provided funds, and Downtown Tacoma Partnership ordered and delivered meals. Indochine has prepared some 30 delicious meals a week.

“It’s great to work with Downtown Tacoma Partnership,” Brunton said. J.D. Elquist is a fantastic coordinator. They promote online. He communicates daily, and people cooperate. Consistency is really important.”

“The shutdown has been an exercise in creativity,” Brunton explained. “We reduced our prices by 25 percent. The challenge has been to keep the food fresh and to keep the boxed orders straight.” Brunton found that fried rice, noodles and curry dishes travel especially well, but he tries to add something different to the menu every week.

During difficult weeks it hasn’t been just about the food or about community service. It’s been about individuals who need to work. Brunton says Indochine has been aggressive about keeping people employed. “It’s important to keep our group together, to keep everyone active, to keep their skills sharp,” he said. “Our business is skill-based and team-oriented.”

“I think the most exciting thing to me is when we are able to bring staff members back to work,” Brunton said. “We have a lot of young people working at the restaurant, and when we can bring one back, it is a great feeling. They are excited to get back to the restaurant and get back to work.”

Most staff work in the kitchen to prepare the signature Indochine dishes. During the shutdown phase, three or four team members have worked in the front on every shift to distribute pickup orders.

Cooperation, creativity and community service have been key to weathering the COVID-19 pandemic.


1924 Pacific Ave, Tacoma, WA 98402

OlyFed: Heroes Here for you Every Day

For some businesses and organizations, their mission statements or slogans are catchy phrases they use for marketing. At Olympia Federal Savings (OlyFed), though, they take it one step further as they live up to their motto, “Here for You. Here for Good.” every day through their actions and deeds.

Under the direction of President and CEO Lori Drummond, OlyFed tackled the issues of the pandemic in a two-pronged approach. First, as a financial institution, OlyFed jumped into the work of assisting local small businesses with Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans that were part of the national relief package. All eight OlyFed branches in Thurston and Mason counties worked with small businesses and nonprofits in their counties to obtain over $4.3 million in loans, helping these operations retain more than 520 jobs right here in our community.

“A little over a year ago, private sector jobs surpassed public sector jobs as the main providers of income in Thurston County,” Drummond said. “We recognize small businesses are essential to the success of our local economy and the health of our community, so helping neighborhood entrepreneurs is the right thing to do to keep us moving in a positive direction.”

Next, as one of the leading philanthropic businesses in the South Sound, OlyFed stepped up to help its neighbors with $15,000 in donations to the Thurston County COVID-19 Response Fund and the South Puget Sound Habitat For Humanity Emergency Family Needs Fund.

“As a mutual bank, accountable to our customers, not corporate shareholders, we dedicate approximately 10% to 15% of our profits to the community every year,” Drummond said. “In response to the pandemic, we thought it was vital to help our area’s most vulnerable individuals and families to ensure they get the help they need to stay healthy and safe.” When faced with this challenge, OlyFed shows that they truly live up to their slogan “Here for You. Here for Good.”


Olympia Federal Savings

MultiCare Good Samaritan

Good Samaritan has been caring for COVID-19 patients since the beginning of the pandemic in Washington. Throughout the COVID-19 response, community members have been providing a morale boost to health care workers through kind words, donations and artwork.

Read the following reflections from Good Samaritan team members about working at the hospital and what the outpouring of support from the community means to them.

Charlene Falgout, Chief Nurse

“I’m so proud to watch our nurses, day after day, dress up in gear and take care of our patients with courage, heart and grace. They adapt to the numerous changes and they continue to do the rightthing to protect and care for their patients and families.”

Lescia Myers, Clinical Director, Critical Care

Lescia has been leading the COVID-19 teams at Good Samaritan.

“The support from the community is what brings joy to staff throughout the day. It makes us feel like we are not alone. I want to celebrate our COVID-19 teams on 8-Dally and 5-Dally. My team and the staff at Good Samaritan Hospital have been amazing. The support from the community and the response from the system and across the nation makes me hopeful for the future.”

Acacia Corson, Patient Access

“I love all of the community support – I love all of the art. Something so small can make such a difference. The small businesses who have had to cut their own business but are still making donations to support us – it speaks volumes.

What makes me hopeful is the way everyone at Good Samaritan Hospital jumped into action during this crisis, ready to assist one another and other departments any way they could.

After all of this, I can’t wait to see my friends up close and hang out. My two-year-old daughter keeps me hopeful. She reminds me of what things used to be like.”

Michele Rivers, Director of Nutrition Services

“The support from the community is beyond. It’s beyond. We just love you for it. We all have families at home. But we are all a family too. My team has more than eighty people and we’re at the frontlines of this pandemic as well. I’m proud of the way that we’ve been able to help others. I’m also proud that we can still come here and have fun.”

Sandy Ross, RN, BSN, CPAN – PACU Nurse

“I’ve worked here for 29 years. The community support right now is very heartening. The artwork is wonderful! We have pictures from kids in the PACU. We also love the donated meals. I want to recognize some of the unsung heroes like our housekeeping and nutrition services team members. They are just as exposed as the rest of us and they are doing such great work.”

Dr. Dennis Kolb, MD, Chief Medical Officer

“I’m proud of the way our teams have been flexible with all of the changes, never losing sight of why we are all here. Everyone who works here has stepped up in their own way. What makes me hopeful for the future is knowing the strength of our team.

The support from the community is everything – it’s why we’re here.”


The Lasagna Lady spreads Love

As a youth growing up in the Bay Area of California, Michelle Brenner enjoyed big, traditional Sunday dinners with family. When lasagna was served, it usually accompanied an occasion of sorts and brought back warm memories. When she witnessed people buying store-bought, commercially made lasagnas as part of their pandemic meals, the Gig Harbor resident felt compelled to make an incredible offer via Facebook: She would make a lasagna free of charge for anyone who wanted one.

Eight weeks later, Brenner has made over 1,060 lasagnas, surpassing her original goal of making 1,000 total in eight weeks. Her small gesture has grown into a regional phenomenon. People order lasagnas to be sent to hospitals, fire fighters, senior centers, essential retailers, and even prisons. While Brenner says her lasagna may be no better or worse than others’ homemade lasagna, it comes right from her heart. Each pan has a bit of a different journey to reach its happy recipient, and Brenner is equally happy to continue making them.

“The lasagna is really only a small part of the story. The biggest part of the story is the connections I am making between people during this situation,” Brenner said. While she makes all the lasagna alone, other people who want to help do so by buying and delivering her supplies. More and more people are offering their support and help as she continues to provide delicious lasagnas to the community. Recently, the Gig Harbor Sportsman’s Club even offered her use of their commercial kitchen, which has improved Brenner’s capabilities immensely.

With the ingredients for each lasagna estimated at $16-19, depending on how successful her shopping in bulk is accomplished, Brenner hopes to raise money now that she has reached her goal of making 1,000 lasagnas. And as long as supplies continue to hold out, she can be found in her kitchen, spreading lasagna love. “Maybe this was my true calling. Something I was always meant to do. It took an awful thing to open this door.”


The Lasagna Lady

UPLIFT-ING Tacoma Through Art & Culture

Uplift Tacoma is a way to make creative lemonade out of adversity’s lemons. Sharing music, visual arts, performances and creative activities can offer inspiration and support in tough times.

That’s the goal of Tacoma’s Office of Arts & Cultural Vitality in launching an initiative labeled Uplift Tacoma, according to Amy McBride, arts administrator for the City of Tacoma. The multimedia platform is designed to help Tacoma residents access and share creative activities through social media, TV Tacoma and a centralized website.

Uplift Tacoma is designed to celebrate creative and inspirational practices and family fun. Maybe weeks of physical distancing offered a chance to revisit old skills or develop new ones. “Now it’s time to inspire others,” McBride said.

“There’s a tremendous amount of talent in this community,” McBride said. “Now people are dusting off the guitars they haven’t played for years. People will have developed different skills. They’re asking, ‘Where can I find support for areas I’m rediscovering.’”

Uplift Tacoma wants to be sure people can find connections. The program sets a platform to share the interesting creative experiences that are happening. It is a place to display talents and to enjoy the talents of others.

“Community isn’t canceled. Love isn’t canceled. Soul isn’t canceled,” McBride reminded. “Who knows what talents will be offered.”

McBride recommends logging on to TacomaCreates.org. The City-sponsored site lists dozens of arts organizations whose activities can inspire artists, ranging from the Asia Pacific Cultural Center, Buffalo Soldiers Museum, Centro Latino, Hilltop Artists and Tacoma Youth Theatre to the city’s popular museums, Symphony Tacoma, jazz with the Kareem Kandi World Orchestra and literary arts with Write253.

Learn about Uplift Tacoma by watching a video produced by Darryl Crews. Go to TacomaCreates.org.

“We have a rich diversity of offerings in our community,” McBride added. “Uplift Tacoma offers support as we connect to healing and health and joy.”


Uplift Tacoma

Crudo and Cotto: A Fresh Twist on Italian

Giampaolo Falchetti and Kathryn Philbrook recently opened Crudo and Cotto, a fresh Italian and northwest inspired restaurant in Proctor. The husband-wife dynamic duo are also the owners of Olympia’s Basilico Ristorante. Italian cuisine comes naturally for Giampaolo; he grew up in Umbria, Italy, where food is synonymous with fellowship, providing a hospitable meeting place for family and friends to share moments together.

The dining room is an old house restored to a chic new dining option with a bar. Diners can enjoy the visceral experience of watching the food being prepared. The restaurant invites you to linger with friends and loved ones and spend time together.

Crudo and Cotto has a playful and unexpected menu featuring both uncooked selections, with salads, cheese, fresh prosciutto, seafood and oysters, and cooked offerings for entrees, such as pasta and braised meat. The dishes represent a mix of Italian tradition, modern Pacific Northwest influence and a healthy sprinkling of local ingredients, all presented with a dash of fun. Giampaolo says, “We want to bring a new dining experience to Tacoma that is fresh and inviting. This is our pleasure!”

Some favorite items include the raw oysters, shucked fresh at the bar, paired with a light bubbly drink. Salmon and halibut are cut expertly, and Giampaolo’s mom’s favorite dish, Fritto Misto– an assortment of vegetables, shrimp, and calamari– is perfectly prepared. Ravioli di Salmone, also a favorite on the menu, is freshly made ravioli with a salmon-filled center. Specialty cocktails include signature Italian cocktails, liquor, and digestives. There is sure to be something for everyone.

Crudo and Cotto offers a dining experience that is fresh and inviting, like a fresh breeze from the sea, with a focus on delicious and well-presented food. It is certainly a place where care is given to each and every dish. “It is like having art on your plate,” says ShowCase publisher Robin Lucas. Visit Crudo and Cotto for the food and fellowship, and taste Italy in a new, refreshing way.


Crudo and Cotto