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

Youth Engage in the World Around Them

Back by popular demand, the Agents of Discovery Puget Sound Explorer Campaign introduced last summer will be bigger and better with more Mission locations when it begins again in July. The Puget Sound Explorer Campaign is a summer educational initiative program running through September 25. The program encourages kids to play by visiting participating parks, museums, zoos and cultural sites. During their visits to these fantastic locations, the kids complete fun Missions to earn exclusive digital and real-world rewards. The more Missions they complete, the more rewards they earn.

Agents of Discovery® is an educational gaming platform that uses the latest in Augmented Reality (AR) technology to get youth and their families active and engaged. Partnering organizations use the Agents of Discovery platform to create their own AR games or “Missions” based on their own educational programs and materials. Visitors to their various sites assume the role of a secret “agent” on a “mission” as they complete the site-specific challenges.

With a goal of getting youth outdoors, active, and exploring their surroundings more, the program also offers its partners the opportunity to foster community engagement, promote educational programming, and connect with other participating partners. More partners and venues are highly encouraged.

Implemented locally by Metro Parks Tacoma, the Agents of Discovery program has Mission locations that are also year-round venues for the kids that want to keep playing.



The Harbor History Museum

Nestled on the Gig Harbor waterfront where Donkey Creek meets the bay, the Harbor History Museum is celebrating its 10th year of operation. Yet the Museum’s campus has a much deeper history, reflecting the site’s logging mill and power company past and includes the 1893 Midway Schoolhouse and 65-foot fishing boat, Shenandoah. Step through the Museum’s front doors, surrounded by massive logs reminiscent of the trees that were once milled here, and a whole world of culture and tradition welcomes you.

The Museum’s 7,500 square-foot permanent gallery takes you on a journey from the twisted remnants of “Galloping Gertie” (the first Tacoma Narrows Bridge) to the immigrant stories of boat builders, fishermen, farmers, and ferry operators. Look closely and find the first winners of Gig Harbor’s fabled Round Rock Contest and hear the clamor of the crowd as C.E. Shaw’s famous racing roosters take to the track. These roosters were so well known they were invited to Madison Square Garden in New York in 1936.

Fans of local boat building will delight in the Willits canoe, the giant wheel from the ferry Defiance, and a purse seiner’s power block—the 1950s invention that changed commercial fishing forever. Loved by many are the Norwegian and Croatian costumes on display from the days of Scandia Gaard, a 1970s local attraction where Nordic heritage was celebrated through music, dance, and folklore.

Visitors delight in the one-room schoolhouse, the last of its kind in the Gig Harbor area. Restored to 1915 standards, the schoolhouse is home to the popular Pioneer School Experience field trip program for third through fifth grade students. During this program, costumed school teachers lead students through lessons in reading, writing, and arithmetic.

The Shenandoah is 65 feet of wonder. Fished for some seven decades by local families and built in Gig Harbor at the Skansie Brothers Shipyard, the boat is undergoing complete restoration and will eventually be open for public tours.


4121 Harborview Dr, Gig Harbor



Patients Take Priority

Pediatrics Northwest, founded in 1980, was started with the mission of improving pediatric health and access to care for children in Pierce County. The group was established with the value of being care-based rather than financially driven and treating all patients the same, regardless of insurance status. The founder, Dr. Tanbara, lived his life by the motto, “Patients first!” instilling this value in his staff and providers.

What started out as a single office with two providers has grown today into four office locations in Tacoma, Gig Harbor, and Federal Way, with 80 staff members and 28 providers. Beyond general pediatrics, Pediatrics Northwest has experienced sub-specialists that also provide care in allergy/immunology, pediatric pulmonology, and sleep medicine. They believe in the patient-centered, medical home model, where every patient has their own dedicated primary care provider who gets to know them like family, and manages and coordinates their full spectrum of care.

As part of their community involvement, Pediatrics Northwest was one of the first clinics to participate in Reach Out and Read in Washington State. Through this program, they provide a new developmentally-appropriate book at every well-child exam from the age of six months through five years.

Mental health is an oft-overlooked aspect of healthcare, yet the need for children and teens is at an all-time high. Pediatrics Northwest, in partnership with HopeSparks, is pioneering a behavioral health program that is the first of its kind in the nation to coordinate care between pediatricians, behavioral health specialists, and psychiatrists.

Pediatrics Northwest is available when you need them, offering same-day sick visit appointments seven days a week. For expecting parents, they offer complimentary newborn talks, where you can meet one-on-one with the provider of your choice, before your baby is born. Families have trusted our providers for over 50 years and they keep coming back.



Asia Pacific Cultural Center Serving the Community

When the Asia Pacific Cultural Center (APCC) was formed in 1996 it was intended to fulfill a deep need as a place that brought together significant segments of minority Americans of Asian and Pacific Islander heritage. For more than two decades, the APCC has taught and celebrated the cultural history, customs, arts, crafts, people and legends from their 47 represented nations. And it has been a hub for so many people to gather and celebrate. To be entertained. To show their pride. And to help each other.

Helping each other is one of the major missions of the APCC. And, help they do. Whether it is assistance in filling out government forms to start a new business or nonprofit to guiding members in understanding complicated regulations, the APCC is there to help. The organization knows they are trusted because they look like their members and speak their language. They form a comfort zone and have the capacity and earned trust to improve their members’ lives.

Through phenomenal support from their sponsors, the APCC puts on a vast number of annual events that entertain and educate. But the APCC is also a vigorous political engine ensuring that laws and issues impacting their members are given due consideration. Seeing a need to help with youth issues, the APCC has created many wraparound youth programs in the local schools. Reducing stress for youth begins and ends with reducing stress on their parents. This is accomplished by the APCC through housing and food assistance, two of the biggest stressful issues for any family.

As the APCC approaches its 25th Anniversary, it continues to expand its role in the community and, of course, add more entertainment opportunities including a new Thailand Day in June.



Molen Ortho Changes Lives 1 Smile at a Time

Braces are a rite of passage that preteens and adolescents have endured for decades. Many of us have vivid memories of painful extractions, wires poking our inner cheeks and headgear worn in unflattering photos. Those traumas are a thing of the past for patients at Molen Orthodontics. The family business has created confident smiles in the South Sound for nearly 50 years.

“The way we do orthodontics is different,” says Aaron Molen, DDS. “We focus on the smile, in addition to the face and lips, to design more natural and curved smile arcs. Our patients receive the most beautiful and aesthetic smiles possible.”

Parents are encouraged to bring in their child at an early age for an initial evaluation. “We like to see kids right after their 7th birthday. Few need treatment at this age, but it allows us to capture baseline records and monitor their growth to make more informed treatment decisions,” notes Dr. Aaron, as he’s known in the office, to avoid confusion between him and his brother Dr. Rick Molen or their father, Dr. Bruce Molen, who has been a pioneer in adopting innovative treatments, such as orthodontic expansion.

“Between the ages of 8 and 10, we have a window of opportunity, before the suture in the roof of the mouth fuses closed, to gently work with nature to make the jaws wider,” explains Dr. Aaron. “This allows teeth to come in less crowded and also, research has shown, opens the airway, improving a child’s ability to breathe.” Better breathing, he says, results in better sleep at night and more alertness during the day.

Beyond the clinical side of treatment, the Molen Orthodontics team keeps patients motivated by making office visits fun. Reception areas offer games, complimentary beverages and ice cream, and massage chairs. A rewards program lets patients earn prizes. Completed treatment plans are celebrated with cheers and red-carpet walks.“Rick and I grew up here and now we’re raising our own kids here. We’re passionate about caring for patients in this community,” says Dr. Aaron. “Our mission is to change lives one smile at a time.”


Offices in Auburn, Enumclaw, and Sumner/Bonney Lake

Service and Convenience at Light Dental

We can all agree on the qualities for the ideal dental provider: round-the-clock service, free consultations, same-day appointments, entire-family bookings, empathetic service and affordable care. It’s nearly impossible to find a full combination of such attributes. But then there’s Light Dental Studios.

The dentist-owned company—with 16 locations in the South Puget Sound—has customer service at the core of its mission. “We try to treat people the way we would want to be treated,” says owner and CEO Dr. Steven Broughton, who bought his first office from a former dentist in 1997. “People say our practice feels like we’re all neighbors, like they’re just going down the street for friendly dental care.”

With hours from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. including Saturdays, doctors available 24/7, free consultations, same-day appointments, and entire-family same-day care, Light Dental Studios has solutions patients need.

“We’re trying to make dentistry effortless by making it about our patients, not the dentists,” says Broughton. “Our schedule accommodates their schedule, not the other way around. Our doctors are always available, and almost all procedures are done in-house.”

Besides standard dental checkups, treatments and other services, Light Dental Studios offers on-site orthodontics, implants, surgeries and dentures. Children’s dental care is also offered. In fact, the offices frequently schedule care for entire families side-by-side on the same day to save time.

Light Dental Studios also gives back to the community at the annual South Sound Free Dental Day. That’s when the staff donates its time and skills to give away more than $90,000 worth of dental work—including fillings and extractions—on a first come, first-served basis. “We want patients to feel comfortable,” Broughton says. “Our first goal is to provide same-day treatment.”Broughton notes that Light Dental Studios will continue to add offices over the upcoming years in growing neighborhoods.



Making Your House A Home

Tips to transform a house into a home with decor and furniture from the heart

  • Your entry is the initial introduction to your home and sets the stage for you and your guests. Place a cozy rug or floor mat inside the door to define the entry and give an immediate sense of personality. A reclaimed wood bench, umbrella stand or coat rack, and luscious candles complete the welcoming picture.
  • Be creative with your space. Move items at an angle, layer different rugs and add a wall of photos and memories. Use your imagination to make the space warm, inviting and as unique as you are.
  • Try to bring nature inside. Although the Northwest is overflowing with the beauty of nature, we all know that during our wet, gloomy weather we may stay inside for much of the time. Visit your local nursery to get tips on what kind of plants will work for your space, the amount of light available, and your lifestyle.
  • Incorporate different elements such as wood, metal, glass and greenery throughout each room to bring warmth and life to your spaces. Mirrors not only provide style and function but also lighten up a room and help create movement.

Physical Therapy with Fun & Family

Owners Kim Bisson and Susan Jankelson wanted to create a clinic that felt like home. Their goal was for each person who walked through the doors, whether patient or employee, to feel like part of the family.

Welcome home to Rainier Family Physical Therapy. What started over a cup of coffee in 2007 has transformed into a thriving practice based on two principles: family and fun! No more boring, stressful doctors’ offices. Rainier Family Physical Therapy wants to be a highlight of your day.

Committed to serving people in their own backyard, community involvement is important to this team. They are proud sponsors of the Run 4 Her Heart 5K supporting women’s heart health, and the K9 5K, a dog-friendly run in support of Bridges Center for Grieving Children.

Rainier Family Physical Therapy uniquely provides personalized treatment plans with expert staff trained in Counterstrain therapy, Muscle Energy techniques, Kinesio taping, therapeutic exercises, and various methodologies to promote overall healing and wellness.

The skilled team of physical therapists offers a variety of exercise, manual, and strengthening therapy options to suit different abilities and prevent future injury. They seek healing beyond the symptoms to find the source of issues for the most effective treatment.

“The therapists are amazing and make you feel like family. There is always a smiling face. I hate to be done, but I am grateful to be healed. Thank you all for your support and getting me back on track,” client Joanne wrote in a thank-you note.

Neighbors from Puyallup, Graham and around the South Sound depend on Rainier Family Physical Therapy for help with back and neck pain; muscle, tendon and ligament injuries; concussions; headaches and migraines; muscle tightness and weakness; pre- and post-surgical support and so much more. They even offer free consultations—with no pressure, only fun.

No one wants an injury. But—just in case—you need someone to call. Who better than family? For physical therapy, it’s Rainier Family.

18710 Meridian Ave E, Puyallup


Tacoma Mall Expands with New Retailers

Long known as a community leader in shopping, dining, and entertainment, Tacoma Mall has recently announced plans to further elevate the shopping experience. Looking forward to the 2020 holiday season, the Mall will introduce Nordstrom Rack, Ulta, and Marcus Theatres. These additions are expected to be the beginning of a larger redevelopment in the Tacoma Mall.

“We have a continued commitment to invest in the Tacoma community,” said Eric Sadi, Chief Operating Officer of Leasing. “Tacoma Mall is a lifestyle destination. Simon is leading the way with transformational projects in the state of Washington. We will bring a uniquely curated mix of retailers, entertainment, and dining options to Tacoma.”

Next in store for shoppers will be a charming urban village located on the north side of the mall. The intention is to engage visitors with a welcoming, community-friendly environment where shoppers can enjoy a variety of dining and entertainment.

Nordstrom Rack is renowned for fabulous style and great prices and shoppers can look forward to deals on clothing and shoes for women, men and children. This Tacoma location will be much more convenient for South Sound families and avoid a frustrating trip with I-5 traffic.

Ulta, soon to be featured in the mall, is well-known as a premier beauty destination for cosmetics, fragrance, skin care products, hair care products, and even salon services. Ulta carries more than 25,000 products from around 500 beauty brands and is your one-stop shop for cosmetic products and services.

Marcus Theatres will also be added as a trendsetting theatre for not only the Tacoma Mall, but for Washington State. Their first location in the state, Marcus Theatres is the fourth-largest theatre company in the United States and well-known in their Midwest markets. Theatre-goers can look forward to the latest amenities like cushy stadium seating, innovative food and beverage offerings, and 72-feet-wide UltraScreens.

Tacoma Mall proudly serves our neighbors in the communities of University Place, Gig Harbor, Lakewood, Puyallup, Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Tacoma. With over 150 stores ranging from women’s apparel and children’s fashion to home electronics, Tacoma Mall is expanding its shopping offerings in Pierce County.