United Way Celebrates 100 Years

Over $350 million dollars has been reinvested in Pierce County since 1921 when the United Way of Pierce County (UWPC) was formed.  Originally known as the Federation of Social Service Agencies, the organization was born out of the necessity to better coordinate the work of several Tacoma social agencies to avoid duplication and serve more people.

How does an organization like the United Way of Pierce County that gives so much celebrate something as momentous as a 100-year anniversary?  Well, that’s easy.  They give some more.  

On May 14, to honor the first day in 1921 the Federation of Social Service Agencies held an official meeting complete with officers, the UWPC will be collecting non-perishable food to feed families in need from locations throughout Pierce County from 11am to 2pm.  For more information, go to united-way-pierce-county-turns-100-years-old.

This first event will be followed by two other celebratory events including a Public Kickoff in September, followed by a Gala Dinner in 2022.

Looking back through the years to 1921 is interesting, but UWPC is highly focused on looking forward with their “15,000 by 2028” pledge.

“At United Way of Pierce County, we have a long, rich history of mobilizing the caring power of our community and we’re committed to lifting 15,000 families out of poverty and into financial stability by 2028, one family at a time,” said Dona Ponepinto, President and CEO of United Way of Pierce County.

As of this writing, UWPC is well on its way to exceeding that goal with more than 4,300 families moving towards self-sufficiency since the pledge was made in 2018.   In partnership with the community, Ponepinto and her team are meeting this goal in three ways.

Through partnerships with seven trusted community organizations, the United Way of Pierce County’s Center for Strong Families helps struggling, local families improve their financial bottom line with one-on-one mentoring and coaching.  The program helps clients get jobs, increase their income, decrease their expenses, build their credit and acquire assets.

By investing in basic needs through a wide range of community organizations, UWPC helps cover critical needs like food, health care, childcare and shelter.  When a family’s basic needs are met, they can move out of crisis and prevent future crisis through greater stability.

And then, there’s United Way’s South Sound 211 — a free helpline to connect people in need with critical community resources and provide navigation services for behavioral health, housing, transportation, and employment. 

After nearly 30 years in existence, the mission of 211 expanded as it began tackling COVID-19 issues in addition to housing and other needs it typically handles.  South Sound 211 was instrumental in meeting the challenges faced during the pandemic.  As part of the WA211 Network, 211 was activated to respond to calls for the Washington State Department of Health (WSDOH) COVID-19 Hotline, resulting in expanded hours of operation, and the hiring and training of additional staff and volunteers.  Supporting Pierce, Thurston and Lewis Counties, 211 connected more than 79,000 people (60,000 via the hotline number) in 2020.

According to Pete Grignon, Chief Financial Officer of United Way of Pierce County with over 33 years of tenure, “It really is about finding the best way to help the most people.”  

You can learn more about United Way of Pierce County and their celebration of 100 Years at www.UWPC.org

Join Panowicz Jewelers To Support Teachers!

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week this year, Panowicz Jewelers has fulfilled two local teacher donation requests for classroom projects. In partnership with Frederique Constant, the Swiss watch manufacturer, Panowicz Jewelers seeks to support and recognize the efforts our local teachers do in educating the next generation. 

“Youth and education are two areas Panowicz Jewelers will always support,” said Leslie Panowicz, general manager. “We are grateful to be selected by Frederique Constant to fully fund projects in our community.” Frederique Constant pledged $20,000 to support the local schools and communities where retail partners reside. And as one of 10 nationwide retailers selected, Panowicz Jewelers chose which classroom projects to fund in Thurston County.

These generous donations aren’t just for the schools– everyone in the community can benefit! With each Frederique Constant watch purchased at Panowicz Jewelers between now and May 31, a $50 gift card will be donated to a teacher’s request of your choice on DonorsChoose. DonorsChoose enables teachers to request donations for projects, programs or resources that are not included in their regular budget. “Our mission is to make it easy for anyone to help a teacher in need, moving us closer to a nation where students in every community have the tools and experiences they need for a great education,” said Charles Best, CEO of DonorsChoose. “We are so grateful to have such a dedicated partner in Frederique Constant and to be able to rely on their continued support to reach classrooms on a national scale.” 

Carla Wilke, chief marketing officer of Citizen Watch America, agrees. “As a brand founded on the principle of living your passion,” Wilke says, “We are very proud to help give back and show our appreciation to the hard-working teachers who are dedicated to educating their students remotely during this unprecedented time.”For more information about this exciting opportunity, visit DonorsChoice.org.

Welcoming New Administrators to CWA

Charles Wright Academy (CWA) is proud to announce the hiring of three new Director level administrators! Denise Riordan, Hillary Ryan, and Rixa Evershed will take on senior leadership roles at CWA this spring and summer.

Denise Riordan will serve as the first-ever Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB) in July 2021. Riordan has an extensive background in K-12 education and experience with leadership with equity and inclusion training. Additionally, Ms. Riordan is the co-founder and president of Engaging Across Difference, an organization that provides DEIB training, life coaching, and counseling to individuals and organizations nationally.

While the DEIB work at CWA has been in progress for many years, stewarded by a team of DEIB coordinators, the need for a director of this work has been acknowledged for some time. “Students, faculty, staff, and CWA families will greatly benefit from the addition of a senior leader who can guide our ongoing commitment to this work,” noted Susan Rice, CWA Head of School. “I am excited for her leadership in the DEIB work that will support CWA’s mission and vision, and further our ability to fully realize our newly adopted inclusion statement.”

In March, Hillary Ryan joined CWA as Communications Director. Ms. Ryan has held senior-level marketing and communications leadership positions at Tacoma Art Museum and Museum of Glass. “With her experience in nonprofit communications and her deep connections in the Tacoma-Pierce County community, Hillary brings a wealth of professional and personal knowledge to CWA,” noted Rice.

“I thrive on connecting people and building relationships to discover opportunities, create community, and produce successful outcomes. I am impressed by the warm and welcoming staff and faculty at Charles Wright Academy and I am excited about bringing a new perspective to strengthen the amazing work being done to inspire active, joyful learning,” said Ms. Ryan.

For the 2021-2022 school year, Rixa Evershed will take on the position of Director of Early Childhood Education. Most recently Ms. Evershed was the Director of Education for Nature Nurture’s Farm in Olympia, Wash. where she worked with children and youth through an open-ended, nature focused, experiential-play program to build connections to nature and animals.

“I am just thrilled to have found CWA. The idea of finding joy in the learning process is
something that I have used to guide my career. When children are given an opportunity
to pursue their interests in an authentic way, they learn to love learning. By allowing
children to inquire, create, collaborate, explore, problem solve, fail, persist and imagine
possibilities, we are creating the critical thinkers who will be the inventors of tomorrow,”
noted Evershed. We are excited as a community to welcome each of these educators into CWA!

New Children’s Museum Opening Soon!

The Children’s Museum at JBLM, which broke ground in November 2018, converted the base’s old skating rink into a satellite facility of the Children’s Museum of Tacoma, the first of its kind on a military installation.

The Children’s Museum at JBLM is the result of a partnership between Greentrike, whose programs include the Children’s Museum of Tacoma and Play to Learn Pierce County, and the JBLM Child and Youth Programs. The museum will serve the children of military families with an emphasis on early learners and those experiencing special needs.  At a recent visit to the facility the First Lady of the United States, Dr. Jill Biden, noted, “What a beautiful gift this is to the children here. The partnership with the Children’s Museum of Tacoma shows what can happen when communities both inside and outside the gates come together to support military families.”

The Children’s Museum at JBLM is situated on Lewis Main adjacent to the JBLM splash park, skate park and the bowling alley.  

The museum features multiple playscapes, including a water area, and art studio, and a climber. All playscapes are designed with an emphasis on STEAM activities for children 12 and under, inspiring creativity and imaginative play. 

JBLM has about 40,000 service members and about 63,000 family members. About 5,100 military families live on JBLM, and about 1,500 of the on-base families have children ages six and under.

This project is part of the Greentrike’s More than a Museum Campaign, to broaden its reach beyond the walls of its Tacoma-based museum and engage children and families throughout Pierce County in playful explorations together. 

Tanya Durand, Greentrike executive director said, “We are so excited to come alongside our longtime partners and make this museum a joyful, playful place for families living on Joint Base Lewis-McChord.”

After seven years of collaboration and building renovations to bring this project to its opening, JBLM Garrison Commander Col. Skye Duncan said, “We are incredibly thrilled to reach this day. We have thousands of kids with their families at JBLM, and there’s no better place to create the first on-base children’s museum than Joint Base Lewis-McChord.” 

The Children’s Museum at JBLM is made possible in partnership with The Boeing Company, Bamford Foundation, The Norcliffe Foundation, Institute of Museum and Library Services, Joint Base Lewis-McChord Command, and MWR.

Boeing and its employees provided a combined $1.5 million to support the development and launch of the museum. “Military families deserve spaces like this to connect with each other, to explore new ideas and to inspire dreams,” said Bill McSherry, Vice President, Boeing Commercial Airplanes Government Operations. “Boeing is deeply committed to supporting our military families and communities. This includes employee hiring and retention efforts as well as investing in innovative partnerships like this first ever children’s museum on a military base.” 

For more information about the Children’s Museum at JBLM, visit www.playJBLM.org

Two Bates Students Honored Statewide

Recently, Bates Technical College is proud to honor two students as a new part of the prestigious All-Washington Academic Team, a program that recognizes two-year college students with high academic achievements and a dedication to community service.

Civil Engineering program student Ian Karnas, 27, is a South Bend native who joined the Army as a watercraft engineer after high school. After nearly 10 years of service, he researched engineering schools to further his education. Karnas discovered Bates’ Civil Engineering program, enrolled, and became active in the college Phi Theta Kappa chapter, the honor society for two-year colleges. He graduated in March and is now employed in the industry at Jacobs Engineering Group. Karnas’ five-year plan is to obtain a master’s degree in coastal engineering and eventually earn his doctorate.

Breanna Rohde, 25, is a student enrolled in advanced manufacturing program with the ultimate career goal of becoming a mechanical engineer. Rohde knew what she wanted to do professionally early on. As a young girl, she was fascinated with how things were built. The older she grew, the more her curiosity blossomed for design, manufacturing and engineering. Along with her spouse, Rohde moved to Washington seeking a college degree with hands-on learning in manufacturing. She enrolled at Bates after learning through her job about the programs offered. The working mother is on track to graduate this winter and hopes to eventually secure an automobile design and remanufacturing career.

Each All-Washington Academic Team member received a $250 scholarship from KeyBank. Rohde was ranked in the top 16 and received a $750 scholarship from Washington State Employees Credit Union (WSECU).

virtual event honoring the state’s All-Washington Academic Team featured Governor Jay Inslee, and speakers from Phi Theta Kappa, State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, scholarship sponsors KeyBank, WSECU, and more. Congratulations to both Karnas and Rohde for their academic achievement and excellence!

For more information about the All-Washington Academic Team, go to https://spscc.edu/allwa.

Inspire Conference: This May

This May, the Washington Center for Women in Business (WCWB) is excited to announce the 5th annual Inspire Conference!  Inspire is an annual event focused on women entrepreneurs and business owners, providing an incomparable opportunity for them to share their experiences, build community, and share strategies for success. This year the virtual conference will have a panel of five speakers, along with a keynote delivered by the celebrated inspirational speaker, Certified Professional Coach, and author, Ivy Woolf Turk. 

Inspire sticks close to the WCWB’s broad mission of facilitating women-owned and gender-fair businesses and organizations. WCWB program manager Robin Houde shared that INSPIRE’s featured speakers and the organizations they’ve built represent a different way of thinking about the ways that women engage with each other in this modern context. 

“A lot of what the WCWB does is about community building and authentic transparency,” Houde says, “but the INSPIRE Conference is about creating a radically inclusive space to talk about things like resiliency and trust among women, and each speaker is bringing her own real experience to the table.” 

Robin says that the way the conference has come together is a real demonstration of its central themes, which are centered on the ways that women can support other women. 

“I can email Christie (CEO of the Witi Group and CJL Consults, LLC) for example, and she’s happy to answer questions, happy to be supportive, happy to make connections. It was eye-opening, to be surrounded by women who truly are advocates for other women. The community does exist.” 

Robin was able to connect with Ivy Woolf Turk through similar means. Ms. Turk will bring her incredibly wide-ranging experience to the keynote, as Robin saw firsthand when Turk spoke at the recent Be Bold Now conference.  

“I reached out to her to see if she wanted to appear, and she said yes right away. It’s part of that sense of women helping women,” Houde said. 

Ivy Woolf Turk is particularly focused on lifting all women up, especially in an entrepreneurial setting. Her background showed her a great deal about some of the problems that go along with gentrification and development, and she realized that the stance of fierce, every-woman-for-herself competition that was a holdover from the 80s and 90s needed to be reconsidered, because it was leaving a lot of women behind. 

“In a lot of ways, we’re still stuck on the idea that women can only succeed with this phenomenal display of individual grit and strength, and of course that can help, but all of our speakers are proof that this probably isn’t the best way forward anymore,” Robin says. 

Robin Lucas, of Showcase Media, and Christie Lawler, the CEO of CJL Consults, LLC and Witi Group will share their experiences as women succeeding in business. Susan Gates and Kate Isler will also be appearing. Gates and Isler are co-founders of the W Marketplace, an e-commerce platform for women owned/gender fair businesses, and Isler is the founder and president of Be Bold Now. 

In addition to the speakers and the keynote address, WCWB will host a raffle with prizes and social networking opportunities. The INSPIRE conference is open to everyone, and tickets start at just $15. Last year’s conference drew over 200 attendees passionate about business and supporting one another, again this year it is sure to be incredible. Sponsored by WSECU and many other generous community organizations.  

Visit www.inspireconference.org to register, learn more about the speakers, or to become a community event sponsor.  

Crown Beverage Company Expansion

When Crown Beverage Packaging, once known as Continental Can Company, opened in Olympia in 1959 its primary customer was Olympia Brewing.  Now, more than six decades later the company produces five million aluminum cans a day for the major “beverage fillers” in the region.

While production of 5 million 12 oz standard aluminum cans per day may seem like a phenomenal amount, the demand for their product is even higher.  Crown Beverage Packaging is expanding their production facility to accommodate additional high-speed manufacturing lines.

The new high-speed manufacturing line will produce an additional 4 million cans per day in the 15,000 square foot expansion as well as increase the team of 118 full-time employees by another 40 positions.   The increased capacity will allow production of newer specialty cans including a 16 oz can often containing energy drinks; a 12 oz tall slim can, and the shorter 8 oz can.

According to Tony Ellison, Plant Superintendent for Crown Beverage Packaging, “Expansion of the plant was a strategic decision.  The Olympia facility is the oldest in North America, but it is also unparalleled in efficiency.”  He added that, “There is a well-defined culture here where the employees have a lot of ownership and take pride in their work.”  

The expanded facility will host a new carbon capture unit which is designed to reduce the plant’s air emissions by 98%.  Couple the new equipment with their existing policy of using 100% recycled aluminum and Crown Beverage Packaging will improve on their sustainability goals as well as modernization.

Working hand in hand with Economic Dev Council and Thurston Co. Chambers, Ellison will proudly be commissioning the new line in July and begin running can production in August.  Joining his team will be 40 near positions, primarily “maintainers” that will be put through a rigorous training process involving more than 6,000 training hours.

Olympia and Crown Beverage were recently recognized as the Economic Development Project of the Year.  According to WEDA, the Project of the Year celebrates the successful creation of a “creative, economically significant … project in a community.”


Olympia Farmers Market Spring Schedule

We’ve all been looking for a way to get more involved in the community, and our local farmers markets are a perfect way to do just that! While the Olympia Farmers Market has been operating on reduced hours over the winter, we are excited to announce that the Market is, as of Thursday, April 1, returning to its “High Season” schedule. With this schedule, the Market is open from Thursday to Sunday, 10:00 am to 3:00 pm. Senior Day will once again be offered on Thursdays, with special discounts for those 55 and better. 

Though the Olympia Farmers Market has been open on Saturdays these last few months, April marks the beginning of the growing season and welcomes beautiful spring weather to enjoy. This season, the Market will feature even more vendors offering local vegetables, Washington grown fruit, prepared food, and artisan crafts. 

Online shopping continues to be available, with contactless pick up on Saturdays at the Market. For more information, visit www.olympiafarmersmarket.com.


$20 Equals $21 With Tenino’s Wooden Scrips

Donna Taylor Mayo, Graphic Designer, and Loren Ackerman, Printer, holding their Scrip pieces

When it comes to finding creative ways to foster community and support among local businesses, the Tenino Area Chamber of Commerce has stepped up to the challenge and has delivered in big ways. The Tenino Chamber is proud to announce the $20=$21 Tenino COVID-19 2021 Small Business Recovery Program, which benefits everyone from area businesses to residents and visitors. Residents and visitors alike can present $20 in cash to Tenino Chamber representatives and receive a $21 Wooden Scrip. The Scrip can be redeemed at Tenino Area Businesses for goods and services.

“During the Great Depression, the Tenino Chamber issued a similar wooden scrip to help support businesses,” Cheryl Pearce, Tenino Area Chamber President, explains. “We’re taking a page from the history playbook to support our small businesses and give a benefit to our residents and visitors for their support of our community.” Appropriately, the Chamber will issue a total of 2,021 $21 Wooden Scrip pieces, so be sure to support the community and grab yours before they run out! The monetary value of the Scrip pieces will expire on December 31, 2021.

The Chamber has partnered with the South Thurston County Historical Society (STCHS) and the Tenino Depot Museum on the program. “We are happy to work with the Chamber and print the Wooden Scrip on the same 1890’s press that was used to print the 1932 Wooden Scrip and help keep Tenino’s Wooden Money history alive,” said Loren Ackerman, STCHS President and the official printer of the Scrip.

In 2020, the City of Tenino issued its own COVID-19 recovery grant program using Wooden Scrip. The program was a success, and it was recently concluded by sending the last two remaining scrip pieces, on request, to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.  “The story of the City of Tenino issuing Wooden Scrip in 2020 was covered by many media outlets across the nation and world,” said the Mayor of Tenino, Wayne Fournier  “I think it is terrific that the Chamber is now taking the next step in our story in making Tenino famous once again by issuing the $21 Wooden Scrip program.”

The Wooden Scrip will first officially be available for purchase at the Tenino Arts Spring Market March 19-21 in downtown Tenino. Starting March 19th, Scrips will also be available for purchase at the Sandstone Café, O Bee Credit Union, the Tenino Depot Museum, and on the Tenino Area Chamber of Commerce website https://www.teninoacc.org starting in April 2021. Be sure to purchase a Scrip while they last to become a part of this historical way of supporting our community!

ShowCase Magazine’s “Best of 2021” Poll