Tacoma Little Theatre Receives National Award

Fans of community theatre have cause for celebration– the Tacoma Little Theatre has been honored with the Diamond Crown Organizational Award by the American Association of Community Theatre (AACT)!

The AACT Diamond Crown Organizational Award recognizes longevity and vitality of AACT member theatres that have expanded programming and/or facilities in the past ten years and have the administrative leadership to remain vital to their communities for the next ten years. Recipients must have been in continuous operation for seventy-five years.

Tacoma Little Theatre (TLT) was founded in 1918 as the Tacoma Little Theatre and Drama League, and at 103 years is among the oldest community theatres currently operating in the United States. TLT’s vision is to offer a destination for the diverse community of Tacoma and Puget Sound by offering a well-rounded season of mainstage productions, staged readings, murder mysteries, special events, and a year-around education program serving both adults and children. TLT increases community awareness through special ticket programs and embracing other non-profit and service organizations, such as United Way. With the support of the community and local funders, TLT was able to complete a full remodel of its auditorium and lobby spaces, beginning in June of 2020. This was the first major upgrade since the 1950s, and came as a result of listening and responding to patron feedback.

After a break in response to the Covid pandemic, the theatre is looking forward to welcoming back patrons in the fall of 2021! Stay tuned for updates on future Tacoma Little Theatre productions.

YMCA Opens Shelton Branch

What started out over 20 years ago as the vision of volunteers and community members to create positive youth and family activities in Shelton is now a reality.  On March 1, 2021, the Shelton Family YMCA opened its doors.

Creating a “Place for all to Belong” for the Shelton community during a pandemic was not ideal, but the local team persevered and overcame.  Local autonomy within a massive organization like the YMCA allowed them to set goals and plan the design for the new YMCA facility located on North Shelton Springs Road.

According to Jake Grater, Executive Director of Branch Operations, “Our design goals were simple.  Build something that brings the entire community together and creates a sense of belonging.”   Layer that on top of the local and national organization’s goals of diversity and inclusion, and the team created a space that is welcoming and engaging.

“We were fortunate to have the experience of 2,700 other YMCA’s across the country.  We created a space that is an open concept, yet an intimate space,” said Grater.  The design utilizes lots of imagery to make people feel like the space was built for them.

Since it was founded in 1844, the Y has constantly evolved to meet the unique needs in each of the communities it serves.  “This commitment to serving all people is core to who we are and our mission,” added Grater.

The new Shelton YMCA is an efficient building designed to minimize operating expenses.  This approach allows the team to deploy resources towards mission work instead of maintenance work.  For example, there is no carpeting in the building, which allows for better hygiene, easier cleaning, and no long-term replacement expense.

As the first YMCA in the area, the Shelton Family YMCA joins three other Y branches within the South Sound Association, which includes the Plum Street Y, the Briggs Community Y, and the Youth & Community Development Branch, which is affectionately referred to as ‘the Y without walls.’

Everyone is invited to come visit the new Shelton Family YMCA.  For more information about the new facility and its vast amenities, visit southsoundymca.org. By Lynn Castle

The Lasagna Lady Spreads the 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.

Six weeks later, Brenner has made over 820 lasagnas for the community, with a 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 to reach her goal of 1,000 lasagnas. And as long as supplies continue to hold out, she looks well-positioned to meet, if not exceed, her goal.  “Maybe this was my true calling.  Something I was always meant to do.  It took an awful thing to open this door.” 

If you’d like to donate to the project, or order a homemade lasagna, you can find The Lasagna Lady on Michelle Brenner’s Facebook account. https://www.facebook.com/search/top/?q=Michelle+Brenner

Cascade Regional Blood Celebrates 75 Yrs

For 75 years, Cascade Regional Blood Services (CRBS) has been supplying lifesaving blood products and therapeutic procedures to patients in South King, Pierce and Grays Harbor Counties. Their mission to provide a constant, safe, cost-effective supply of blood, blood components, and other related services to the communities has not changed in over seven decades.

According to Candy Morrison, Director of Communications for Cascade Regional Blood Services, “We owe so much to the generosity of the donors within Pierce County and South King County who help us supply all the blood products for the MultiCare Health System. This community has kept us going all these years through neighbors helping neighbors.”

Every two seconds, someone needs a blood transfusion in the United States, so the demand is high, yet only 5% of eligible donors donate blood. Today, Cascade Regional Blood Services has three donor centers located in Federal Way, Puyallup, and Tacoma. CRBS also has three self-contained, custom ‘bloodmobiles’ set up at schools, businesses, places of worship, and community events to conduct blood drives. With over 1,000 blood drives a year, their teams are always on the move. And with their growing research programs, CRBS continues to work with local and national medical programs to advance preventative care.

Cascade Regional Blood Services is a not-for-profit 501(c)3 independent community blood center that is an FDA licensed biological manufacturing facility.

For Additional Information
Cascade Regional Blood Services
crbs.net

BY LYNN CASTLE

Asia Pacific Cultural Center Steps Up to Help

A quick visit to Asia Pacific Cultural Center’s Facebook page and you see it instantly. This organization does so much for the South Sound community, but especially during the current pandemic.

From hosting free COVID-19 testing in their parking lot every other Wednesday for months, to providing free food giveaways from the Tacoma Farmers Market weekly in the summer, APCC dug deep and helped often. Whether it was giving away thousands of masks and sanitation tools or school supplies to kids as virtual school started up, APCC helped everyone in the community.

According to APCC Executive Director, Lua Pritchard, “Helping our community is part of our core values. It is what Asian Pacific Islanders do every day, but it was especially important during the recent crisis.”

Throughout the months of the crisis, Pritchard and her team worked with several organizations to touch as many people as possible. A great example was the COVID-19 Assistance for Families program which partnered APCC with the Pierce County Connected Fund to give away $75 grocery store gift cards in late December when struggling families needed the help the most. Just days before, APCC hosted a toy giveaway with local Kiwanis chapters and free lunch from Northwest SHARE.

APCC also worked with the Pierce County Management Team and Tacoma Pierce County Health Department for free flu shots as well as the COVID-19 Testing. They worked with Tacoma Project Access to ensure people had health care coverage options. APCC promoted the Census, how to apply for government-funded small business loans in various languages, and educated the community about the Family and Medical Leave laws to ensure everyone knew their rights. And most importantly, APCC’s Promised Leaders of Tomorrow team continued their work with the youth of the Tacoma and Bethel School Districts through virtual learning programs providing support wherever it was needed.

For Additional Information
Asia Pacific Cultural Center
asiapacificculturalcenter.org
facebook/AsiaPacificCulturalCenter

BY LYNN CASTLE

Whole Trade Roses for Valentine’s Day

 

Give Back with Whole Trade Roses for Valentine’s Day

As Valentine’s Day quickly approaches, roses make their big appearance. Did you know you could give roses to a loved one and give back to farmworkers? At Whole Foods Market, this is what happens when shoppers choose Whole Trade® flowers as Whole Trade® growers work with Rainforest AllianceFair Trade USA and other third-party organizations to verify that farms meet occupational health and safety requirements, provide legal minimum wage and respect human rights. They also monitor farms to make sure they meet clear criteria for environmental responsibility — including restricting pesticide use.

Whole Foods Market takes it one step further to strengthen and empower farmworker communities, by paying a “community development premium” for each case of Whole Trade® flowers. These funds flow to farmworker committees who identify local needs and allocate funds to community projects such as health clinics, scholarships, schools and housing.

Lucia, a rose farmworker from Ecuador, shares her experience with Whole Trade: “I used to spend my free time doing laundry for my family in the rivers with very cold water. I had very little free time. Now thanks to the washers and dryers project from the sales of Whole Trade Roses, I can bring my laundry to work during working hours and take care of washing and drying my clothes for me and my family.”

Regardless if you purchase a single rose, or our best value, the double dozen, you bring beauty to your own community, as well as your global community. In the Victorian era flowers were used to express feelings that otherwise could not be spoken. Today flower colors continue to be coupled with specific emotions and wishes. This Valentine’s Day, let the color of the roses you choose mimic your feelings, including:

  • RED—true love, passion and respect
  • DARK RED—beauty, perfection and adoration
  • PINK—romance and admiration
  • DEEP PINK—appreciation, gratitude and sincerity
  • LIGHT PINK—sweetness and gentleness
  • ORANGE—desire, passion and excitement
  • WHITE—spiritual love, purity and new beginnings
  • YELLOW—warmth, joy and friendship
  • LAVENDER—love at first sight

Whole Foods Market Chambers Bay is located at 3515 Bridgeport Way W in University Place, WA. The store is open seven days a week from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sales, coupons, events and more are available at wfm.com/chambersbay. By Olivia Yates O’Donnell, Marketing and Community Relations Liaison