Childcare Program Opens in Olympia

This fall, schools in Thurston County have decided to open with a distance-learning model, and families are faced with the difficult task of providing both childcare and education support at times when children would otherwise be in school. This is a widespread issue for families as we head into this new school year.

That’s why the City of Olympia and Olympia School District have partnered to provide $100,000 in funding for a new Childcare Relief Program. This program will provide much-appreciated registration relief for qualifying parents and families seeking local childcare services.

The Boys and Girls Club of Thurston County, South Sound YMCA, and Olympia Parks, Arts, and Recreation have also seen this need in our communities, and have partnered with the Olympia School District to provide satellite childcare sites at seven different school facilities. Each of the partner agencies will provide helpful childcare services throughout the day, including additional support with schoolwork and education if needed.

Thanks to $50,000 in contributions from both the Olympia School District and the City of Olympia, all families that qualify for free and reduced-price meals will be eligible to receive reduced registration rates for fall childcare. In some cases, these scholarships could result in up to 50% or 75% reductions in weekly registration fees.

Satellite childcare sites will be set up at the following schools. To find out more information, including availability and eligibility for your children, contact the education providers listed below.

Boys and Girls Clubs of Thurston County

  • Jefferson Middle School

Olympia Parks, Arts & Recreation

  • Hansen Elementary
  • Pioneer Elementary

South Sound YMCA

  • Garfield Elementary
  • McKenny Elementary
  • McLane Elementary
  • Roosevelt Elementary

Olympia Harbor Days Goes Virtual

While the beloved Olympia Harbor Days festival won’t be able to operate normally this Labor Day Weekend, never fear! Working within Washington State coronavirus health guidelines, the South Sound Maritime Heritage Association (SSMHA) has re-engineered the festival to make it fun, interactive, and safe for all attending.

“While we want to continue our 47-year-long Harbor Days legacy, we are also aware that we need to offer a safe event for the public in this coronavirus pandemic era,” SSMHA board president Don Chalmers said.  “We’re presenting a virtual event with safe at home community participation activities, Olympia Harbor Days Lite, which keeps our transitional tugboat heritage theme, while using online digital media content and other ways to provide family-friendly activities.”   

There are many features to look forward to in Olympia Harbor Days Lite this year, including:

  • Olympia Maritime Heritage Self-Guided Tour along the Percival Landing Boardwalk
  • Links to a Decade of Olympia Harbor Days Videos of Tugboats, Races and Fun
  • Lego Tugboat Building at Home with an Instructional Video
  • Harbor Days at Home – Show off your design skills with maritime displays in your neighborhood!
  • Estuary Beach Quest, Crab Bingo, and other Stay Safe at Home Activities for Kids- provided by the Puget Sound Estuarium

Also, don’t forget to gear up for the festival with logo hats, facemasks, collector buttons and Tugs at the Capital City Vol II  

“The Association and its community partners, including the City of Olympia, Port of Olympia and Kiwanis, have worked diligently to accomplish their goals to keep the festival alive in 2020,” Chalmers said, “and to find new partners to help us present our traditional Harbor Days tugboat festival and races 2021.”

For more information, and a full list of event information, activities, videos and links, check out the Harbor Days website or

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

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

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 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

“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

Celebrating the National Suffrage Centennial

In 1920, after a decades-long battle, the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified, granting women the right to vote. This August marks the National Suffrage Centennial, and to celebrate, the Washington State Historical Society (WSHS) is launching the virtual Suffrage Special Whistle Stop Tour.

Women in Washington won the right to vote in 1910, ten years before national women’s suffrage was enacted. This year’s celebration is “thematically based on the real life 1909 Suffrage Special train which carried local and national suffragists across our state from Spokane to Seattle in support of Washington women and their fight for the vote,“ explained Mary Mikel Stump, WSHS’s director of audience engagement.

The “tour” is an eight-episode video series that explores our state’s connections to history of women’s suffrage, and honors Washington’s women changemakers both then and today. The video series will make eight virtual “whistle stops” from August 19 through 26. August 26 is Women’s Equality Day, the date that the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified. Each segment will be hosted by a local historical organization, exploring women’s suffrage history in their geographic region, its legacy, and ties to national women’s suffrage efforts.

The Suffrage Special Whistle Stop Tour schedule includes:

August 19 – Spokane

August 20 – Tri-Cities/Walla Walla

August 21 – Yakima/Ellensburg

August 22 – Vancouver

August 23 – Bellingham

August 24 – Seattle

August 25 – Tacoma

August 26 – Olympia

“In reconsidering how best to recognize the centennial festivities, we reached out to partners across the state and developed the Suffrage Special Whistle Stop Tour based on an action that women in 1909 took to promote voting rights,” said Elisa Law, the WSHS women’s suffrage centennial coordinator. “Suffragists from across the country rode a train dubbed the Suffrage Special. It terminated in Seattle where the National Suffrage Convention was held at the same time as the Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition. It was an important time in the fight for women’s suffrage. Our Whistle Stop Tour will be an interesting way for people to commemorate women’s fight for the right to vote and that legacy today, 100 years later. The virtual delivery allows access for many people who might not have been able to make it to an on-ground event in Olympia.” 

The Suffrage Special Whistle Stop Tour video series will be released on both the @washingtonhistory and @suffrage100wa Facebook pages and will be uploaded to

“Summer Expressions” in Gig Harbor

Harbor History Museum is pleased to host “Summer Expressions,” an exhibit of artwork from four of the most accomplished women painters of Washington. Artwork on display is by Judy Perry, Jeannie Grisham, Patsy O’Connell, and Janice Taylor.

“We are excited to feature these beautiful works of art in our Lobby. The paintings blend bold color and form with subtleties of nature for a perfect summer exhibit,” says Stephanie Lile, museum director.

Here is some of what the artists themselves would like to share about their artwork and inspiration:

Jeannie Grisham 

The joy in painting for me lies in the process of creating. As soon as I dip my brush in water, load it with the pigment and introduce it to the paper, I’m in a different world. The painting starts with transparent watercolor and continues developing darks while managing to keep the lights. Having recently moved from Bainbridge Island to Gig Harbor, I am continually obsessed with water and things around the water. The feeling of trees and the blues of the water are my inspiration. 

Judith Perry 

Judith Perry was educated at PLU, SUNY/Albany and the School of the Art Institute in Chicago. Her work is representational in both oil and watercolor. Both figure work and landscape emphasize light. She grew up around water and rain in Raymond, Washington and now resides in Tacoma.

“Drawing has always been captivating—seeing the line and shadows led to painting,” Judith says. “Dropping color onto canvas brings energy and passion to my vision of the world.”                                                                                  

Patsy O’Connell

My creative work constitutes a promise to myself to continue to explore my heritage while becoming American. I was born in China to Korean parents and lived my early life in Korea until I came to the United State in 1963. I also lived in and traveled to many Asian Pacific countries. Everywhere I have been, I realize there are common threads and universal themes to people’s experiences. I believe that our personal history, cultural backgrounds, and genetic make-up inform who we are as individuals. 

The central thrust of my work is to synthesize my cultural experiences to reflect the duality of my personal history. The framework for my visual language is served through the use of cultural icons, patterns, metaphors, and symbolism. Thematically, I try to explore the complexity of life and transitory nature of the human condition.

Janice Taylor

I loosely base my compositions on that of classical landscape painting with the positioning of forms carefully placed to present a harmonious, balanced, and timeless visual aesthetic. In my palette choices, I explore color combinations that are unexpected in contrast with those found in nature. 

These abstract landscapes embody both serenity and instability, resulting in a dreamlike tension from which subjective narratives can be born. I create pieces that consciously allow for open interpretation and multiple perspectives. They reflect a search for meaning in unfamiliar landscapes.

Saint Martin’s Celebrates 125 Years

Saint Martin’s University and Saint Martin’s Abbey are celebrating their joint 125th anniversary throughout this year.  The university plans to  host a virtual celebration to commemorate this milestone anniversary on Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020: The Saint Martin’s University 125th Anniversary Celebration. Alumni, friends of the university and community members are welcome and encouraged to participate in the online festivities.

For this year only, the 125th anniversary virtual event will replace the annual Saint Martin’s Gala, the University’s major fundraiser for student scholarships, which was to be held on that same date. Jacques Pépin, the French celebrity chef was scheduled to headline the 2020 Gala but suspended his travel this fall because of the possible ongoing implications due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). While he will not be here this November, chef Pépin and his daughter Claudine have committed to joining us next fall to host the 2021 Gala.

The program for the 125th Anniversary Celebration will feature videos highlighting Saint Martin’s rich history. Featured videos will look into its future; stories from current students and alumni; blessings from the newly elected abbot and monks of Saint Martin’s Abbey; a celebratory toast; and an opportunity for attendees to support students by helping Saint Martin’s University raise critical funds for student scholarships.

“The Saint Martin’s Gala is one of our favorite annual traditions at Saint Martin’s. While we had hoped to combine our 125th anniversary with Gala this year, the safety and health of our family, friends and community remains our top priority. We are looking forward to seeing everyone next year, including Jacques Pépin and his daughter, Claudine, who have committed to hosting our 2021 event. ” shared Saint Martin’s University President Roy Heynderickx, Ph.D.

In addition to celebrating Saint Martin’s past, the event will also focus on recent success and shine a light on it’s bright future. For more information about the anniversary and the virtual celebration, visit

Summer Isn’t Cancelled at Metro Parks

dance -ballet-

How’s your zebra? Kids in Metro Parks summer camps know all about taking care of their zebras as a fun way to consider safety measures and social distancing. After all, zebras need their space.

All over Tacoma, children are enjoying safe social interaction in a variety of summer camp programs. The coronavirus can’t kill the fun, according to Mary Tuttle, district-wide program manager. The camps feature imaginative play even as they emphasize safety features.

The list of camps is staggering even though cuts had to be made. Consider such options as martial arts and ninja camps, nature camps, a wide range of sports camps, STEM camps with focus on robotics and fantasy galaxy projects and arts camps.

For example, little dancers are making choices for Glass Slipper Ballet, Creative Dance and Ballet with Coco, Llama Llama Ballet, Garden Fairy Ballet or Paw Patrol Dance Party Ballet. Theater, music, and visual arts are explored in other programs.

Camps at Fort Nisqually Living History Museum offer experiences of life in 1855 through stories, songs, crafts, and games. At Tacoma Nature Center, camps explore creatures from “sea to shore” and get a chance to be wildlife detectives identifying animals of the Pacific Northwest in nature hikes, labs, and crafts. Tuttle said that partnerships are what make the programs happen.

Tacoma Whole Child Summer Camp 7

Indoor campers meet in a one-to-nine ratio with staff, and small groups move independently in the halls. During outdoor programs, children “build situational awareness while running, jumping, and climbing,” Tuttle said.

She said families are grateful their children can interact and socialize in safe environments, where “they can grow and develop in a fun way.” Staff are “very serious about safety measures, but they have found ways to make it fun.”

“I’m really glad that Metro Parks allowed this experiment to happen this summer,” said Michael McSweeney, whose nine-year-old grandson has been attending the summer camps since he was in kindergarten. “School closed on March 15, and he was craving time with other children. The staff is a group of the most charismatic, delightful people. Each morning he is more excited to go.” Visit the Metro Parks website for more information.


15 Years of Contemporary Native Arts

Washington State Historical Society’s annual juried exhibition, IN THE SPIRIT Contemporary Native Arts, is celebrating its fifteenth anniversary this year! The gallery has opened in the virtual realm as of July 16, and Washington State History Museum hopes to install the exhibition in their galleries later this summer when museums are reallowed to reopen. The exhibition’s 24 works by 20 artists range from whimsical to poignant and will never fail to lift your spirits.

Each iteration of IN THE SPIRIT is different, yet visitors will recognize some of the 2020 artists, including Peter Boome, Denise Emerson, RYAN! Feddersen, Dan Friday, Lily Hope, Linley Logan, Jeffrey Veregge, Matika Wilbur and George Zantua. The artists used a vast array of materials to create their textiles, paintings, basketry, photography, sculptures and carvings, and each piece shows that the past often weaves with the present and cultural traditions can blend beautifully with contemporary practices.

Each year, a jury reviews artists’ submissions for the exhibition. The remote 2020 jury included Todd Clark (Wailaki), Miranda Belarde-Lewis (Zuni/Tlingit), and Charles W Bloomfield (Pyramid Lake Paiute). “During these troubled times it would be easy to dismiss art as non-essential, and to an extent this is understandable. But then again, if life imitates art, perhaps art can help lift us and point us to a better future,” shared lead juror Todd Clark. “It was contemporary Native artists who first showed me what it looked like to be Native and living in the 21st century, where we retained our past, heritage and culture and yet thrived in the modern world. This is the power of art to me.”

Building on the success of the annual exhibition and festival, WSHS began collaborating with other museums in the Tacoma Museum District. In the last few years, both the Tacoma Art Museum and the Museum of Glass have joined IN THE SPIRIT to share their unique galleries and artists.

“The three museums have worked together to grow the festival to celebrate emergent Native artists as well as the Indigenous cultures present in the Northwest,” said Molly Wilmoth, the History Museum’s lead programs manager. “Our free market draws thousands of people each year. So with the pandemic, we have expanded our advisory committee. They will help guide us in creating a virtual festival and arts market that will offer access to inspiring artists and educate patrons about contemporary Native arts.”

IN THE SPIRIT is supported in part by the Tacoma Arts Commission, South Sound Magazine, The Norcliffe Foundation, and Humanities Washington. Find out more at