Recent local blog posts

Inner Fire: Yoga With a Difference

Thurston Talk - Sat, 08/15/2015 - 6:00am



By Heidi Smith

Providence logo (2015)Jessica Whitney had never done a sun salutation in her life when she first became passionate about yoga.  As a student at Wellesley College, she studied the ancient Vedic texts and yoga sutras as part of a philosophy class.  “I came to the physical practice through the philosophy,” she says.  “The concepts of mindfulness and one-pointed focus as well as the spiritual aspects really drew me in.”

In the Core Class, Jessica includes postures derived from the traditional 84 postures of the Bishnu Ghosh lineage.

In the Core Class, Jessica includes postures derived from the traditional 84 postures of the Bishnu Ghosh lineage.  Photo Credit: Paulina Amador

Her curiosity launched a journey that has included multiple trainings and even a yoga competition on the way to finding her own voice as a teacher.  Today, she offers unique, customized, and popular classes through her Inner Fire:Yoga by Jessica Whitney studio in Yelm, combining elements of Bikram (a.k.a. ‘hot’) yoga, restorative postures, and a gentle hands-on approach she learned from California Yoga Company’s Brian Monnier, plus an emphasis on mindful awareness.

Several key components set her classes apart, including:

Not So Hot Yoga

While temperatures in Bikram classes can hit 110 or even 117, Jessica keeps her studio between 80 and 90 degrees.  “I’ve learned that it doesn’t need to be that hot to get the same benefits,” she says.  That makes classes more appealing for some. “The ‘not too hot’ class temperatures are perfect for me. I’d always enjoyed the poses of hot yoga, but didn’t feel right with the intense degrees of heat,” says Lily, a student at Inner Fire.

84 Postures to Choose From

In the spring of 2007, Jessica completed her Bikram teacher training, even winning the prestigious Yogini award out of 300 fellow students. Today she doesn’t stick to the 26 postures included in that style, instead incorporating poses from all 84 classic asanas that are part of this lineage.  “Doing the same sequence of poses each time allows you to trance the mind,” she says.   “You can know what’s coming up next and track your progress.  I see the wisdom of that rigidity, but I have freedom within that.  It’s like the best of both worlds.”

Jessica Whitney has trained in multiple styles of yoga in addition to studying the philosophy behind the practice.

Jessica Whitney has trained in multiple styles of yoga in addition to studying the philosophy behind the practice. Photo Credit: Paulina Amador

Hands-On Teaching

Jessica was already teaching Bikram yoga when she met Brian Monnier.  At the time, she was experiencing chronic injuries due to yoga that she believes was taught incorrectly and practiced without mindfulness.  The California Yoga Company founder invited her to check out his studio across town.

“I went to his class and I was blown away,” she says.  “He didn’t just stand in the front and bark at everybody.  He walked around the whole time, doing hands-on corrections, mindfully and gently.  He really cared that you were doing it right.”  Monnier began to mentor her, and after 200 hours she became certified in the Monnier Method.  She includes his hands-on approach in all of her classes.  “Jessica gives the right amount of attention to everyone in each class while never neglecting the class as a whole,” says student Meshell.

Infrared Heating

While many yoga studios use electric or gas heat, Jessica looked into the benefits of infrared heaters.  She was impressed by what learned.  “The panels I use create radiant heat on the infrared spectrum,” she says.  “There’s no forced air and there’s no fan so they add to the stillness of the room.”

That type of heat actually penetrates the body more deeply than electric heat just by the nature of the delivery system, she explains. “It’s like being in an infrared sauna.”

Throughout her classes, Jessica moves among the students making minor adjustments and corrections.

Throughout her classes, Jessica moves among the students making minor adjustments and corrections. Photo Credit: Paulina Amador


Jessica believes that adapting postures for those with physical limitations is critical.  “I offer modifications for any injury or restricted range of motion,” she says.  “To the best of my ability, I support that in any individual.  That really has opened me up as a business to connecting with more people.”

Education and Mindfulness

With her background of studying ancient texts and her different strands of training, Jessica brings a mindful aspect to her classes.  “It’s not just a physical process,” she says.  “Yes, it’s cardiovascular and it’s fat burning, but it’s also developing patience, determination, concentration, compassion for yourself, and more body awareness.”

She also teaches what different poses accomplish.  “Once I started attending class, I began to understand the internal and mental aspects of yoga,” says Lois, a student.  “Jessica is so knowledgeable about each yoga position.”  Another student, Maria, agrees.  “The information she provides helps me understand the purpose of each pose, the breath, and the body parts that are helped both internally and externally.”

Jessica designed the Restorative Class herself. All postures are done on the floor, sometimes with the aid of a bolster.

Jessica designed the Restorative Class herself. All postures are done on the floor, sometimes with the aid of a bolster. Photo Credit: Paulina Amador

Restorative Class

In addition to her core classes, Jessica offers a restorative class that she designed herself. The entire class takes place on the floor, with no standing postures. “We use a bolster. It’s a lot gentler – on the floor, very focused on breathing and deep surrender,” she says.  After studying postures that could be done with the pillow, she added pieces of what she was already teaching.  “This class really is my own creation. I’m very proud of it,” she says.

Her students appreciate it as well.  “I had never heard of restorative yoga before Jessica started offering classes,” says Lisa.  “I love it, and I’m finding that it’s a better way of healing and supporting my body than massage therapy or chiropractic adjustments.  I feel stronger, and in general have less pain in my lower back and hips.”

Inner Fire Yoga is part of the Wellspring Plaza, a complex that also includes Garden to Gourmet restaurant and other health-conscious businesses.  “I believe in the broad, long-term vision of helping to create an integrated wellness center with other businesses and practitioners offering their work in the healing arts,” says Jessica.  “My place here is to offer yoga as part of other paths to wellness.”

Visit Inner Fire Yoga on Facebook or at


Celebrating Six Years at The Gift Gallery

Thurston Talk - Fri, 08/14/2015 - 3:45pm



By Kaylene Fischer for The Gift Gallery

Gift Gallery Gift Basket

Enter to win this special 6th Anniversary basket at The Gift Gallery through August 28.

The Gift Gallery is celebrating our 6th Anniversary in Tumwater. We’ve been bringing unique and handcrafted gift items to the lower Puget Sound area for 6 years. There have been several talented artists and beautiful handcrafted work during our time here. We take pride in bringing the community a variety of amazing art and gifts that people can treasure for a lifetime.

Our customers appreciate not only the handmade items, but the quality of the work our vendors put into their trade. People know The Gift Gallery is the place to find those one-of-a-kind items they won’t find anywhere else. Our vendors not only appreciate having a place to sell year-round, but being able to fulfill special orders that fit the customer’s liking.

Here in our store we make sure to carry our traditional local favorites, but are also constantly bringing in new, modern and exciting items for all ages. Some of our customer’s favorites include our chocolate nut toffee that they know as “poop”, local raw honey, Chehalis mints, shadow critters, mini day packs, spiral candles and much more.

Almost every month of the year we host an event or sale. We have our free jewelry appraisals by Randy Caverly, free food tastings from our specialty food section during the fall and winter, “Meet the authors” from our line of local books and of course our fabulous giveaway gift baskets.

In honor of our anniversary, we have put together our largest and most exciting gift basket to date! We chose a variety of items throughout our store including some of our most popular and some of our new items. So be sure to come visit us and enter in store, no need to be present to win. Drawing will be held Friday, August 28.

Also plan to visit for our end of summer clearance sale held Tuesday, August 18 through Saturday, August 22. All red dot items are 50% off.  You can find us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, ThurstonTalk and our Website












Lacey-Area Military and Families Recognized for Commitment, Sacrifice

Thurston Talk - Fri, 08/14/2015 - 3:29pm



Submitted by The Landing at Hawk’s Prairie 

11 year old Sarah Bamesberger was the grand prize winner at The Landing at Hawks Prairie's Military Appreciation Day.

11 year old Sarah Bamesberger was the grand prize winner at The Landing at Hawks Prairie’s Military Appreciation Day.

For the second consecutive year, The Landing at Hawks Prairie shopping center in Lacey played host recently to a special celebration at which Lacey-area military families from Joint Base Lewis-McChord were treated to an afternoon of free hot dogs and refreshments, face painting, giveaways from center tenants and children’s games and activities.

The highlight of the July 25 event was 11-year-old Sarah Bamesberger winning the grand prize in a raffle conducted by the Hawks Prairie owner, Cimmarusti Holdings LLC/Lucia Properties.

Sarah, the youngest of five children, moved from Kentucky to Fort Lewis just one month prior to the event. Her father has served in the Army for 18 years and the family has lived in Texas, Missouri, Alaska, Georgia and South Korea prior to Kentucky and now Washington.

“We saw the sign in front of Navy Federal and I told my Mom we had to come,” said Sarah, who won a $50 Domino’s gift certificate, a $100 gift card to Pho Hoa’, a free haircut from Jack and Jill’s, a free massage and facial from Hand and Stone Spa, and a stuffed animal and free yogurt from Menchie’s. All of these stores are tenants at The Landing at Hawks Prairie.

Despite being the big winner, Sarah said that wasn’t the highlight of her day, but rather, “our favorite was the snow cones.”

Attendance this year was twice what it was at the inaugural event in 2014, and in addition to the participation of nearly all of the center tenants, the event was supported by radio station KAYO, Rutledge Farm train cars, Costco, the Lacey Fire Department, and Kidz n’ Motion.

The River Ridge High School Taiko Band entertained guests.

The River Ridge High School Taiko Band entertained guests.

“We also had the River Ridge Taiko Band there to entertain our guests, and we served more than 1,000 hot dogs, in addition to all of the other treats,” said center owner Larry Cimmarusti. “Everyone loved the 40 foot obstacle course and the face painting – it was a great military family turnout and we can’t wait to do it again next year!”

“We consider this to be a small gesture of our immense appreciation for these selfless, modern-day heroes,” said owner Ralph Cimmarusti. “In our minds, we can never do enough to thank the brave members of our military for the sacrifices they make to protect and preserve our freedoms,”

Brothers Ralph and Larry Cimmarusti, who currently own and operate the Original Roadhouse Grill restaurants in Oregon and California, have a two decade-plus history of staging fundraisers on behalf of the families of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty.

“It is our responsibility as members of the local communities we are part of to honor the memories of officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice in protecting those communities, and here in Lacey we wanted to create an event to pay tribute to the brave service men and women, and their families, who are stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord,” said Ralph Cimmarusti.

Lacey Firefighters came out to honor local military soldiers and their families.

Lacey Firefighters came out to honor local military soldiers and their families.

“This event is just our way of recognizing these service men and women, and their families, to whom we owe so much,” said Larry Cimmarusti. “It’s just one way for us to say ‘thank you.’”

In addition to Domino’s, Hand and Stone, Jack and Jill’s, Menchie’s and Pho Hoa’, other Hawks Prairie tenants participating in the event included Red Robin, Comfort Dental, Navy Federal Credit Union, Kiddie Academy, Mattress Depot, LA Fitness, Total Nutrition, Sprint, Game Stop, Tan Republic, America’s Best and the Military Recruitment office.

Located in the heart of the Puget Sound region, Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) is the Defense Department’s premiere military installation on the West Coast. JBLM provides world-class installation support to more than 40,000 active, Guard and Reserve Service members and about 15,000 civilian workers. The base supports 60,000 family members who live on and outside the base, and nearly 30,000 military retirees living within 50 miles.


The City of Olympia Seeks Development Partner for the Water Street Redevelopment Area

Thurston Talk - Fri, 08/14/2015 - 2:34pm



Submitted by The City of Olympia

The City of Olympia has issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) in search of a development partner for the Water Street Redevelopment Area, an approximately one-acre area between 4th Avenue and 5th Avenue east and west of Water Street in downtown Olympia. The chosen development partner will create a redevelopment proposal for a mixed-use project that includes residential, commercial, office, retail and parking uses.

The Water Street Redevelopment Area plays a crucial role in linking community activity centers to the north and south with Percival Landing and Heritage Park, as well as to the east and west with the core of downtown and the Fountain Park.

Enhancing the livability and vibrancy of the downtown is one the City of Olympia’s highest priorities. The City’s recently updated Comprehensive Plan sets forth the City’s overall vision for downtown Olympia, which includes creating a complete neighborhood with a mix of office, retail and residential uses, including 25 percent of the City’s future residential growth (about 5,000 people).

The Water Street Redevelopment Area is the first of several Community Renewal Areas (CRA) targeted for redevelopment by the City. The City established the CRA as a way to incentivize investment in underdeveloped and blighted properties. The CRA covers all of downtown including the Water Street Redevelopment Area.

Potential responders to the RFP can take part in pre-submission conferences and site tours are scheduled for Aug. 20, 2015. Responses to the RFP are due Oct. 9, 2015. Open House presentations and City Council interviews are set for Oct. 29. The selected development partner will enter into an Exclusive Negotiated Agreement on Nov. 24, during which the city will work with the developer to create a specific, feasible development proposal.

The selected development partner will be invited to give a presentation on all aspects of the proposal, from design concepts, development costs, terms of site acquisition and implementation schedule to the City Council and the community.


Artesian Brewfest Showcases Tumwater’s Brewing History

Thurston Talk - Fri, 08/14/2015 - 2:25pm



Submitted by The Port of Olympia

Over 30 Pacific Northwest breweries plus Tumwater’s original Olympia beer will be featured at the 3rd annual Tumwater Artesian Brewfest on August 22.

Festival-goers can TASTE the beers, sip wine from Thurston County wineries, win big in the Beer Stein Holding and Hole in One contests, play super sized beer pong, cornhole, wolleyball and other games, listen to local bands and more!

As the partner in the Designated Driver program of the 21+ event, the Port of Olympia will have free water and soda available at the Port booth for designated drivers.

The Brewfest runs from 1:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Tumwater Valley Driving Range. Those who join the free 3-mile fun run at noon receive a complimentary beer mug and early admission.

Save on pre-sale tickets until August 22nd at noon. Ticket includes admission to the event, tasting mug and five tasting tokens. For more information and to purchase tickets:

Sand in the City – A Free Family Festival

Thurston Talk - Fri, 08/14/2015 - 2:10pm



Submitted by The Port of Olympia

Sand in the City 2015 (2)Watch experts and local groups create masterpieces out of sand at Hands on Children’s Museum’s Sand in the City® at Olympia’s East Bay on August 22-23.

You can also go inside a life-sized, pin-hole camera, enjoy live music and performers, scale the rock climbing wall, have your face painted, play in huge sandboxes, blow giant bubbles, silkscreen a T-shirt, enjoy discounted museum admission of $5.50 per person, and so much more.

Activities are featured at East Bay Plaza, the street around the museum and the LOTT Wet Center. Park your car for free on the Port Peninsula and take free shuttles from the NorthPoint Parking Lot.

Stop by the Port booth on East Bay Plaza and play with the giant foam building blocks. The Port is proud to be an ongoing partner with Sand in the City, now the largest sand sculpting event in Washington State and the second largest community event in the South Sound. More than 35,000 visitors are expected.

Donations at Sand in the City benefit the Museum’s Free and Reduced Admission’s Program, enabling thousands of families to benefit from the exhibits and educational programs regardless of their ability to pay.

For more event information visit the Hands On Children’s Museum online.

An Improbable Peck of Plays

South Sound Arts - Fri, 08/14/2015 - 7:46am

Published in the Weekly Volcano, Aug. 13, 2015 Debbie Sampson, Alayna Chamberland, Christian Carvajal, and Ethan Bujeaud (under the table) in Amenities. Photo by Austin Lang
Aaron Bredlau in Glory, Glory vanish. Photo by Austin Lang
Sara Fiksdal in
Cherry-Flavored Chemistry. Photo by Austin Lang
Eight plays by local playwrights, seven directors, and a dozen actors. What could possibly go wrong? Very little. This cadre of local talent pulled together by Theater Artists Olympia in collaborationwith the Northwest Playwrights Alliance is offering a marvelous evening of entertaining one-act plays at the Midnight Sun.Improbable Peck of Plays Vol. IVis the latest installment in this series, and I’ll go on record right now as saying I hope there will be a volume V, VI, VII, and on and on ad infinitum.Village of the Sirenswritten by Sherry Narens and directed by Jackie Nordquist is a poem musically recited by five women — sirens in the Homeric sense who tempt not just with sex appeal but by reciting words signifying desirable qualities/events such as stillness, quiet, comfort, home, sex and so forth. There is a rhythm and a lyrical quality to this that is enticing, and that they memorized the oft-repeated phrases is an amazing feat.The Restorewritten by Merridawn Duckler and directed by Lanita Grice was a brilliant idea, but it doesn’t quite work on stage despite some delightful comedic acting by Ethan Bujeaud who plays a living work of art being worked on by the art restorer played by Ellis Tyler-Crowl.Something More Cheerfulby Morgan Picton, directed by Amanda Stevens is a comedy horror show that satirizes politics and show business with Swiftian absurdity. An aspiring actor (Maxwell Schilling) is cast as the President in a something that at first seems to be a movie but then turns out to be real life. Or to put it another way, real life, including the presidency, is a movie cast, written and directed by the Illuminati. Schilling plays the actor well as naïve and overly enthusiastic. Also outstanding as members of the auditioning panel are John Lyons Beck, who reminds me of John Goodman, Aaron Bredlau, who is hilariously over-the-top in this play and in Glory, Glory Vanish (more on that below), Sara Fiksdal and Sara Geiger.Amenities by Gregory Hirschak, directed by Deane Shellman, with Christian Carvajal, Alayna Chamberland, Debbie Sampson and Ethan Bujeaud, is roll-on-the-floor funny. A couple, Carvajal and his drunken wife (Sampson), are showing off their new condo to a dinner guest (Chamberland). Everything is immense for this wealthy couple, and they are proud of their new home in “The Bohemian” where each unit comes equipped with its own artist. Their artist (Bujeaud) lives under the dining room table. Sean Raybell is unbelievably powerful and funny as an New England seafarer and Maxwell Shilling plays a wide-eyed hapless college student who encounters him on the docks in The Wisdoming by Gregory Hirschak, directed by Gabriel McClelland.In Glory, Glory Vanish, written by Eva Suter and directed by Xander Layden, Carvajal plays a Viking who has had “many, many lovers,” and Bredlau is once again outstanding as his buddy, while Bujeaud plays the sincere young Viking who finally has to ask an obviously sensible question that at least temporality pops the fantasy. Carvajal and Bredlau hilariously play the not-so-smart loudmouth braggarts, and Bujeaud is believably down-to-earth.Schilling stars again at his nerdiest best in Cherry-Flavored Chemistry by Jackie Nordquist, directed by Christopher Rocco. This is a sweet little love story about a pair of loveable chemistry nerds. Fiksdal is oh so loveable as the geeky girlfriend. The evening ends with the ridiculously funny One for the Chipper by Adam Seidel, directed by Gabriel McClelland in which Carvajal — brilliant again — is a Little League baseball coach giving a pep talk to the worst team in the history of Little League. More than half the team has quite, and it is down to four incompetents: Chamberland, Beck, Raybell and Kadi Burt.I highly recommend this night of short plays.
Improbable Peck of Plays IV, Thursday through Saturday at 9 p.m. through Aug. 22, 2:30 p.m. Aug. 23, The Midnight Sun, 113 N. Columbia St. Tickets: $15.00 ($16.52 with service fee at brownpapertickets. Available at door night of show or online at, pay what you can tonight (Aug. 13).
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

9 Circles Canceled

South Sound Arts - Fri, 08/14/2015 - 7:10am
I was just notified that the one-night-only staged reading of 9 Circles by Bill Cain, scheduled for Aug. 16 at Tacoma Little Theatre, has been canceled. It will be replaced by Dying City by Christopher Shinn.
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Three New Fires Reported in Olympic National Forest

Thurston Talk - Thu, 08/13/2015 - 4:11pm



Submitted by Olympic National Forest 

Three new lightning-caused fires were reported yesterday on the Hood Canal Ranger District of Olympic National Forest.  Seven smokejumpers and other resources were immediately dispatched to take suppression actions.  A helicopter from the nearby Paradise Fire in Olympic National Park also assisted with initial attack.  Additional firefighting resources have been ordered.  The fires are described below.

Zion Fire – This small fire, located on Mt Zion, is burning in rugged, inaccessible terrain.  It was contained last night by several smokejumpers.  Mop-up continues.

Cabin Creek Fire – This fire is located about three miles northeast of Lena Lake and the Hamma Hamma campgrounds.  It is estimated to be seven acres in size, and is burning in very rugged and inaccessible terrain.  Smokejumpers continue efforts assisted by helicopters.

Gold Fire – This fire is located approximately six miles northwest of Quilcene and ten miles south of Blyn.  Three local fire engines and water tenders from Jefferson County worked through the night to establish a hose lay around the fire.

The low pressure system that was responsible for yesterday’s lightning is expected to move to the East.  Continued lightning and rain showers are possible in Western Washington.  The long-term weather forecast calls for dry conditions and low moisture levels to continue.

Firefighter and public safety are our highest priority as suppression strategies continue.

Olympia City Council Considers Option to Purchase “Kaiser Heights”

Thurston Talk - Thu, 08/13/2015 - 1:46pm



Submitted by The City of Olympia

At its regular business meeting on August 18, the Olympia City Council will consider approval of an option to purchase real estate owned by Wonderland Holdings LLC, consisting of approximately 75-acres southwest of Ken Lake. This parcel, located between Kaiser Road SW and Lakemoor Drive, was previously referred to as the proposed Kaiser Heights Development.

Acquiring open space and natural areas to meet current and future park needs was a top priority identified by the community during a public process the City recently conducted as part of its update of the Olympia Parks, Arts and Recreation Plan. The option to purchase would preserve the City’s ability to acquire the 75-acre property if voters approve the proposed Olympia Metropolitan Park District (MPD). The City Council has taken action to place an MPD ballot measure before the voters on November 3, 2015.

Consideration of this option will occur following recent City Council action to secure an option for 74 acres of land in Southeast Olympia in an area known as the “LBA Woods.” If both the Kaiser Heights and LBA Woods properties are purchased, the Olympia park system will grow by 149 acres. This would be a significant step in fulfilling the previously established goal of the 2004 voted utility tax ballot measure to acquire an additional 500 acres of new parks.


Oly Curl Welcomes Curly Guru Lorraine Massey

Thurston Talk - Thu, 08/13/2015 - 1:00pm



Submitted by Oly Curl

olympia hair salon

OlyCurl proprietress Yukiko Taylor operates her salon on Capital Way in downtown Olympia.

Calling all curlies! If you feel like you’ve tried every trick and product known to man to keep your hair under control, you are not alone. The gals at Oly Curl have been working hard for over a year now to give you just the cut and prescription to highlight your beautiful, coveted locks. They so badly want you to fall in love with your mane that they are calling in the number one authority on curls: Lorraine Massey.

Massey is the author of the curly girl’s bible, Curly Girl: The Handbook. Credibility is written all over her stunning head of curls, so she knows just how frustrating this crowning glory can be. She started Deva Curl, a company focused on cutting curls dry and one at a time in order to create a masterpiece. Yukiko Taylor, curl specialist and owner of Oly•Curl, has been trained in this method. This way of cutting curls spawned a line of products that many curlies swear they cannot live without.

Since selling her company, Massey has been touring the nation, cutting curly hair for a donation to her charity of choice, Keep a Child Alive, which benefits children and families affected by HIV. Oly•Curl will be welcoming Massey to Olympia the weekend of September 13. She will be donating 100% of the proceeds from eight lucky curly haircuts to the charity, with a goal of donating $6000 from the weekend’s events. Haircuts will be performed at Fosbre Academy of Hair Design, located at 111 Capitol Way N, on Sunday, September 13 from 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

The appointment slots are currently being auctioned off one at a time to the highest bidder, with a starting bid of $150 each. The auction can be found on their website here. In addition to haircuts with Massey, the auction also features items donated by the Olympia community, open for bids September first through the tenth. The most exciting item will be a Brunch on the Bay, hosted and donated by local restauranteur, Amanda Adrian, and local baker and foodie blogger, Kelli Samson. The winner of this item and a guest will dine over brunch with Lorraine Massey and the Curly Artist Crew.

olympia hair salon

OlyCurl is located at 917 Capitol Way S in Olympia.

Along with the eight haircuts, six more curl artists from around the US will be working with Taylor that weekend. Those haircuts will be offered at a donation price of $75 each. For an appointment, please contact Oly•Curl at 360-459-1193.  Oly•Curl’s weekend with Massey will also include a book signing on Saturday, September 12 at Browsers Book Shop  at 1:00 p.m. Curlies can bring their own copy of her book or purchase one at the shop. Following the book signing there will be a Meet and Greet at Marchetti Wines from 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Tickets for the Meet and Greet are $25.

And have we mentioned the swag bag? Each of the eight winners of the Massey haircuts will be receiving one, along with the first 17 people who purchase a ticket to the Meet and Greet. Curlies know that a small fortune can be invested into products, so swag is a good thing. Meanwhile, anyone can purchase an Oly•Curl Starter Kit at the shop, and 10% of the proceeds will go toward Keep a Child Alive.

Oly•Curl gives a special thanks to all of the local friends and businesses – curly or otherwise – who have so generously supported this event with their time, space, and donations.

To keep up with the latest information on this event, follow the Facebook event page.

Oly Curl

917 Capitol Way S

Olympia, WA 98501

(360) 489-1193



4th Annual Ballet Northwest Young Choreographers Showcase Set to Delight

Thurston Talk - Thu, 08/13/2015 - 12:37pm



Submitted by Ballet Northwest

Ballet Northwest Young ChoreographersFor the fourth year, young choreographers from Olympia’s Ballet Northwest will surprise and delight the audience at the Young Choreographers Showcase (YCS) on August 23, 2015 at 7 p.m. at the Kenneth J. Minnaert Center for the Arts on the South Puget Sound Community College campus, an event created to allow Company dancers to explore creativity and leadership in dance.

This year the event will showcase original productions from 12 choreographers. Ten are dancers from Ballet Northwest who range in age from 13 to 18. The other two are Ballet Northwest alumni who are currently studying at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle and the Joffrey Academy of Dance in Chicago.

At the event, audiences will encounter dances in variety of styles, including ballet, modern dance and jazz. Choreographers get to take advantage of a professional stage and lighting. “This is the second year we’ll have the event at the Minnaert Center, which is a beautiful venue for dance,” said Josie Johnson, Co-Artistic Director at Ballet Northwest.

Created in 2012, YCS gives the dancers at the Company an opportunity to create their own choreography, explore creativity and produce their own work. “Our dancers were getting more and more comfortable in different dance styles and were starting to show an interest in choreography. We saw the talent developing, so we created the Showcase to give these dancers the opportunity to stage their creativity,” said Ken Johnson, Co-Artistic Director at Ballet Northwest.

In order to participate in the event, dancers had to submit an application outlining why they wanted to participate, the style of music they would use as well as how many dancers they would need to stage their production. Next, choreographers attended Choreography Master Classes taught by master teachers from the region.

The Johnsons mentored the students throughout the creative process as well as at rehearsals. “We provided guidance and would pop into rehearsals to make sure things were going well and progressing. We’ve discovered that this process is a great leadership opportunity for the students. They have to manage rehearsal times, make sure dancers are available and take charge of their peers,” said Josie Johnson.

Ken Johnson added, “It is exciting to see the amazing quality of work that these local, young choreographers produce. Audiences are continually blown away by the choreographer’s imagination coming to life on the stage.”

Tickets are $12 (plus $3 Washington Center service fee) and can be purchased at: or by calling 360-753-8586.

Since 1970, Ballet Northwest has been a community-based group dedicated to promoting, teaching, and preserving the art of dance in Southwest Washington. The company offers educational opportunities for local dancers as well as outreach throughout the community.


Well Fed, Well Read Food and Book Drive Celebrates 15 Years of Making a Difference in Our Community

Thurston Talk - Thu, 08/13/2015 - 11:56am


Submitted by The South Sound Reading Foundation

olympia non-profits

The South Sound Reading Foundation spreads free literacy across Thurston and Mason Counties to reach their goal of 90% of children being at their reading level by 3rd grade.

The Well Fed, Well Read Drive is going strong as it celebrates its 15 year anniversary. This year public employees from 29 agencies collected $24,000 worth of food and 7,338 new and used books on behalf of the Thurston County Food Bank and South Sound Reading Foundation. “This is tangible proof that generosity and community spirit are alive and well in Thurston County”, said Robert Coit, Executive Director of the Thurston County Food Bank.

In a letter inviting city, county, and state employees to participate in the 2015 “Well Fed, Well Read” food and children’s book drive, Governor Jay Inslee stated, “I applaud our men and women in public service for their commitment to strengthening our communities, both in their daily work and in their personal contributions. Washington is truly home to compassionate and giving people.” The over all winner for most books collected in this year’s drive was OSPI. The over all winner for most food collected for this year’s drive was DSHS.

The Well Fed, Well Read drive builds awareness around hunger and literacy. “If families are nourished, if kids have food, their chances of succeeding in school increase” said Jennifer Williamson Forster, Director of the South Sound Reading Foundation. “If we can ensure kids can read, they can succeed in school, and the demand for food from the food bank will decrease”, said Thurston County Food Bank Director, Robert Coit, “that’s why we’re working together to build awareness about hunger and literacy.”

In an effort to increase the number of children entering school prepared to learn, read and succeed, the South Sound Reading Foundation exists to ensure that every child is read with 20 minutes a day starting at birth. It is the mission of the Thurston County Food Bank to eliminate hunger within our community.

First Time Home Buyers – Free Class, Priceless Information

Thurston Talk - Thu, 08/13/2015 - 10:42am



Submitted by Dan Martinez, Keller Williams Realty

Participants receive lots of valuable information guiding them through the home buying process.

Participants receive lots of valuable information guiding them through the home buying process.

The young buyers were worried and stressed.  The home they were renting and planning to purchase was no longer an option and they needed to move within the next month.  Fortunately, these buyers had taken the First Time Home Buyers class which I recommended to them, and were prepared to move quickly with their financing in place and a clear understanding of the home buying process.   Within one week, we were able to find a great home and they were able to move when their lease expired.


First Time Home Buyers Class 

The First Time Home Buyers class is a free course offered by the Washington State Housing Finance Commission which helps homebuyers learn how to purchase and maintain a home.  Upon completion of the course, participants receive a certificate good for two years, which is required for some of the loan assistance programs.

Michelle Wickett covers the 8 steps to home ownership with first time home buyers.

Michelle Wickett covers the 8 steps to home ownership with first time home buyers.

One such course is taught locally by trained instructor Michelle Wickett of Axia Home Loans.  Michelle informs buyers of their loan options, including the possibility of down payment assistance.  Buyers also learn about pre-approval vs pre-qualification, and the differences between various lenders including banks, mortgage brokers, and portfolio lenders.

Michelle has assembled a team of local professionals to assist with the course subjects including a Real Estate Broker, Home Inspector, and Tile Company representative.  These industry experts explain their roles in the home buying process and provide many helpful hints when searching for a home.


Real Estate Brokers 

Real Estate Broker, Cheryl Frable of Real Living  Northwest Realtors, covers the home buying process with new buyers illustrated with a detailed flow chart.  The process begins with finding a broker you like and trust since you will be spending considerable time with them and sharing personal information.  Real Estate Brokers can assist buyers in clarifying their reasons for purchasing a home, learn the pros and cons of online searches, recommend reliable service providers, and guide them through the purchase process.  Real Estate Broker services are typically provided at no cost to the buyer.


Cheryl explains the purchase and sale agreement to new home buyers.

Cheryl explains the purchase and sale agreement to new home buyers.

The Home Inspection

Every home buyer is encouraged to obtain a home inspection to clearly understand the condition of the home they plan to purchase.  Larry Stamp  of Cameo Home Inspection Service provides an entertaining overview of the inspection process, complete with samples of pest damaged wood and other displays to emphasize the potential damage a home can experience.  Larry has written the informative booklet “What if Houses Could Talk” which you can download for free.


Free Take Out 

Upon completion of the First Time Home Buyers Class, participants receive a complimentary packet of information explaining home buying terms, processes, and resources as a reference to the abundance of information received during the class.  They also receive examples of forms and definition of terms to help prepare for the home buying process.

Larry Stamp helps home buyers understand the inspection process.

Larry Stamp helps home buyers understand the inspection process.


Send Someone to Class recently reported that first-time home buyers helped push home sales in May to their highest level since May 2009 and that first-time buyers in May represented 32% of all sales, up from 30% in April and 27% a year ago.  Chances are you know a First Time Home Buyer who can benefit from this class so forward this article and help them become educated and empowered to purchase a home with confidence.

Contact me if you would like to know more about this class or are ready to buy, sell, or invest in real estate.

Dan Martinez




Grab a Seat at Our Table: Always Fresh, Always from Scratch

Thurston Talk - Thu, 08/13/2015 - 6:00am



By Kelli Samson

thurston first bankIt’s happened again.

On downtown Olympia’s Fourth Avenue, the brown paper has been put up in yet another storefront, a promising signal of good things about to come our way. Behind the paper at 406 4th Avenue East, the four chefs at Our Table have been taking baby steps toward realizing their dream of a sit-down restaurant.

Currently at Our Table, customers have the option of ordering from their window inside of the Eastside Tavern and enjoying it there without even having to order anything from the Eastside itself.

Currently at Our Table, customers have the option of ordering from their window inside the Eastside Tavern and enjoying it there without even having to order anything from the Eastside itself.

Our Table is a collaborative effort between chefs Mike Holbein, Jose Dumenigo, Joe Francis, and Brad Thompson, and they are hoping to officially open their doors August 18. In preparation, two walk-up (or phone-ahead) windows have been open for months allowing people to enjoy their tasty creations: one at their front door and one next door, inside the Eastside Club Tavern. This strategy has allowed them time to hone their routines together, experiment with menu items, get feedback, and prepare the inside of the restaurant just so.

Chef Mike Holbein – a former glass blower – grew up cooking with his dad in Cleveland, Ohio. “My dad taught me my first white sauce. Food is the center of everything in my family,” he says. “I can’t remember a time when we didn’t sit down for dinner together.”

He came to Olympia via San Diego and has been here for the last decade. He’s cooked in both Olympia and the town of Union. “I’ve been working in food in some capacity since I was thirteen. I’m twenty years into this business as a thirty-three-year-old, which is kind of crazy,” laughs Holbein. “It’s a great time,” he says of cooking. “I absolutely love it.”

Those of us who recall Rosie’s on Rogers may remember him. He also worked at the Chestnut Corner Cafe, on the site of the current Oly Rockfish Grill. “I was running both of those kitchens at the same time, and it burned me out quite a bit,” shares Holbein. He next served as the executive chef at Robin Hood in Union for five years. “That was the most free I’ve been able to be as a chef while not being part of the ownership.”

Our Table fills a mostly-empty niche in Olympia. Their menu is fluid, influenced by the whims of the chefs, the currently available harvests, and the seasons. They source their ingredients almost completely locally, working especially closely with vendors at the Olympia Farmers Market such as The Fresh Approach, Calliope, Wobbly Cart, Pigman’s, and Rising River Farms. Their seafood is fresh from the Olympia Seafood Company, and their meat is all Washington-raised and free of antibiotics.

Jose Dumenigo (left) and Mike Holbein (right) met at Union’s Robin Hood and are seen here at Our Table’s window inside of the Eastside Tavern.

Jose Dumenigo (left) and Mike Holbein (right) met at Union’s Robin Hood and are seen here at Our Table’s window inside the Eastside Tavern.

And they really do make everything from scratch. Breads, house made cheeses, you name it. Many reviews on Yelp are saying that Our Table is cooking up the best food in Olympia. “It’s so amazing and very, very humbling to have those kinds of reviews,” says Holbein. “I absolutely love this town.”

The collaborative approach among the four chefs at Our Table is unique. Holbein met the three other chef-owners through Robin Hood. They affectionately refer to themselves as “The Four Fathers” of Our Table. They share ownership, duties, and the same pay rate. “When we hire more employees, we hope that will stay the same so that everyone gets paid equally and we all have a stake in our goals,” explains Holbein.

“We’re really excited to be in this space and cooking together,” Holbein continues. “Between the four of us, we have nine kids. We’re cooking food that we would serve at our own tables to our own families. These guys are unbelievably passionate about food and they’re super-talented. We have a chance to make something together that’s not already here in Olympia.”

Holbein and his fellow chefs believe in the importance of breaking bread together. They believe in the power of sitting down to connect with people you care about. They believe in supporting local farmers and putting quality food into the mouths of the masses.

“We can have amazing, local, beautiful, organic, local food that doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. We don’t want you to have to save up to come here.”

Until the restaurant officially opens, customers can call ahead or walk up to order for pick up at the window at 406 4th Avenue East in Olympia.

Until the restaurant officially opens, customers can call ahead or walk up to order for pick up at the window at 406 4th Avenue East in Olympia.

What they don’t believe in is boring food. The items on their ever-changing menu are at once familiar and refreshingly inventive. The caprese salad you may find offered during the later summer months? It doesn’t stop with the traditional tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil – it embraces stone fruits, lemon cucumbers, house made cheese, and cold smoked salmon, too. “We are not willing to settle for anything that’s not amazing,” states Holbein. “We want to cook things that are fresh and creative. We thrive on that.”

Until the official opening of Our Table’s doors, the two windows remain open Monday through Friday, noon to midnight, and Saturday and Sunday, 1:00 p.m. to midnight. After the restaurant officially opens in full capacity, breakfast will be available all day, Thursday through Sunday.

It’s difficult to argue with their value system. Grab a chair, Olympia. Have a seat. It is after all, Our Table.

Our Table

406 4th Ave. E


(360) 932-6030

Thrifty Thurston Plays at Sand in the City 2015

Thurston Talk - Thu, 08/13/2015 - 6:00am



By Alyssa Ramsfield

Sand in the City is a weekend-long free held at the Hands On Children's Museum in downtown Olympia.

Sand in the City is a weekend-long free event held at the Hands On Children’s Museum in downtown Olympia.

There are many events that define our community, but nothing showcases family fun quite like Sand in the City. The Hands on Children’s Museum (HOCM) is celebrating 15 years of bringing Thurston County together through sand sculptures on August 22 – 23, 2015. With new exhibits, crafts, and activities free of charge, it’s bound to be the best Sand in the City yet.

“We’re really excited to bring an event to the community like this,” explains Hands On Children’s Museum communications manager, Jillian Henze. “We are all about creating easy access to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) learning for our entire community. Events like Sand in the City do just that. This year highlights our 15th anniversary of the event so we are bringing even more STEM activities and sand sculptures to our downtown location.”

Sand in the City boasts some of the most incredible sand sculptures in our area all created by local groups and master sculptors. Sculptors will be working around the clock to earn the public’s vote for the favorite of the year.

The highlight of Sand in the City are the amazing sand sculptures created by local and professional teams.

The highlight of Sand in the City are the amazing sand sculptures created by local and professional teams.

“Last year the sculptors didn’t finish carving until Sunday. This year, the carving will be completed by 7:00 p.m. Saturday, August 22,” says Henze. “We want to give everyone a chance to see the completed sculptures before casting their votes on Sunday. We will also have a hybrid exhibition this year where local sculpting groups will be working closely with master sand sculptors. It should make some pretty amazing art.”

The four local groups of sculptors are art teachers from North Thurston Public Schools and individuals from Olympia Waldorf School, FORMA Construction and Coldwell Banker Evergreen Olympic Realty, Inc. You can show your support of your favorite sand creation by voting for the People’s Choice Award all weekend long. Votes will be tallied Sunday with the presentation of the award Sunday at 4:00 p.m.

Access to STEM activities for the community is HOCM’s main goal and this event does just that. The wide array of crafts and art are all offered absolutely free. Whether it’s creating crab hats or blowing giant bubbles, there will be something for everyone. The activities change throughout the weekend so if you want to see it all, plan to attend both days. Activities are listed online for the Saturday Beach Party and Sunday Grandparents’ Day.

Entertainment from across Thurston County will take the stage at the East Bay Plaza for all attendees to enjoy. From the River Ridge Taiko Drummers to Derik Nelson & Family, the entire musical spectrum will be covered. Beyond music, there will also be a crowd pleasing ZUMBA workout at 2:00 p.m. Saturday by a professional instructor with ZUMBA in the Park. For a full list of entertainment click here.

The museum welcomes visitors at a discounted rate of $5.50 all weekend to explore their hands on exhibits.

The museum welcomes visitors at a discounted rate of $5.50 all weekend to explore their hands on exhibits.

One of the best parts about Sand in the City has to be a visit to the Hands on Children’s Museum exhibits. “All weekend long we drop our entry price to $5.50,” says Henze. “There will also be free tours taking place just to take a peek inside. We want to get as many community members through our doors as possible so they can see what we have to offer. We are adding new exhibits all the time which really makes the museum a unique place for learning.”

Sand in the City is more than just a community event. It has become a family tradition. “We want everyone to come every single year,” explains Henze. “Our goal is to provide access to free art and STEM learning to all families. That’s what we are raising money for. Donations from this event go toward helping the 76,000 children and families that we serve in the community. We just want to create equal access for families to a wide variety of learning experiences.”

Is it your first time to Sand in the City? Here are a few helpful tips to make the best of the weekend.

  1. Park in one of the free lots and take the shuttle. It cuts down on the hassle of parking downtown and you can even take your strollers on the bus. Details and maps here.
  2. Pack water and sunscreen for the entire family. The sun shines brightly on the plaza, keeping the sand warm and the visitors even warmer.
  3. Free activities for kids abound during Sand in the City August 22 and 23, 2015.

    Free activities for kids abound during Sand in the City August 22 and 23, 2015.

    Bring along a few dollars to donate. While the activities are free, all money donated supports the free and reduced admissions programs, serving nearly 80,000 children and families each year.

  4. Play with your kids! Get involved in the activities, talk to your kids about what they are learning, and participate with them. It really is a great event for all ages.

Sand in the City

414 Jefferson Street NE in Olympia

August 22 – 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

August 23 – 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.





Temporary Bridge Closures at Olympic National Forest

Thurston Talk - Wed, 08/12/2015 - 11:39am



Submitted by the Olympic National Forest

Road bridge inspections will be conducted at two locations on the Olympic National Forest later this month and early next month.  An Under Bridge Inspection Truck will be used to examine selected bridges.

Bridges will be closed temporarily while the inspections are underway.   Bridges will be opened every 45 minutes during the inspection to allow for traffic flow.

The bridges listed below will be closed temporarily between August 31, 2015 and Sept 1, 2015.  Please expect delays when accessing the listed routes during this period.

  • Skokomish Gorge Bridge,   RD 2340 – MP 2.5 on 8/31/15 & 9/1/15 – 8 hour closures
  • Church Creek Bridge, RD 2361 – MP 3.5 on 9/1/15 – 2 hour closure

Westport Winery Named Washington Winery of the Year

Thurston Talk - Wed, 08/12/2015 - 9:02am



Submitted by Westport Winery

Westport WineryWestport Winery was named Washington Winery of the Year at the 5th Annual New York International Wine Competition. This is the first time Westport has received this honor.

Surfer’s Syrah earned a silver medal at this competition. A portion of the proceeds from this wine benefits the South Beach EMS in Westport, Washington. A glass wave blown by Opal Art Glass of Cosmopolis, Washington, commemorates this wine in the extensive display gardens at the winery.

Fleur de Lis Pinot Gris earned a bronze medal. The 7th Street Theater in Hoquiam, Washington benefits from this wine. A sculpture by Lora Malakoff of Clallam Bay graces the winery gardens as part of their commemorative sculpture program featuring local artists.

When you visit Westport Winery Garden Resort be sure to explore the unique sculpture garden, lavender labyrinth, musical fence, 9-hole executive golf course, giant chess set, outdoor scrabble game, and grape maze, all located on the corner of Highway 105 and South Arbor Road halfway between Aberdeen and Westport. You will see why four times this has been voted Best of the Northwest Wine Destination.

These award-winning wines are exclusively available at the resort. The tasting room, gift shop, produce market, plant nursery, bakery and gardens, are open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The restaurant is open for lunch daily from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and for dinner on Friday and Saturday from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. For more information contact Westport Winery Garden Resort at 360-648-2224 or visit the website at



National Move To Amend Speaker in Olympia

Janine's Little Hollywood - Tue, 08/11/2015 - 9:46am
I-735 Update: Volunteers Needed 
By Janine
David Cobb, 2004 Green Party presidential nominee and spokesperson for Move To Amend, will be speaking on behalf of Initiative 735 on Wednesday, August 12, at 7:00 p.m. at Traditions Cafe, 300 5th Ave SW in downtown Olympia.
The event is sponsored by local organizers of the Washington Coalition to Amend the Constitution (WAmend), who seek to make Washington the 17th state to ask that Congress pass a 28thAmendment to overrule  the US Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v Federal Election Commission.
Issues to be discussed include ending corporate personhood and the corporate control of our government and the implications of the campaign to overturn the court decision.
“Getting enough signatures for I-735 on the ballot is not yet assured…we are close to where we want to be…but, still, just a little behind schedule,” said local WAmend campaign organizer Michael Savoca.
More than 100 active signature gatherers throughout the state have brought in 100,000 signatures to date. The campaign does not have any paid signature gatherers.
“Sadly, as hard as these volunteers have worked, they need to substantially increase their efforts in the remaining months for us to make it over the finish line in time. We need more volunteers, especially people who would be willing to take even just one or two petitions and leisurely let friends and family sign, over the next month or two,” said Savoca.
The campaign is required to submit 250,000 valid signatures by December 30th 2015.  To ensure 250,000 valid signatures are submitted, the group must gather over 300,000 signatures.
While that deadline seems far away, seasoned organizers know that, realistically, volunteers do not want to gather signatures in the rain and will be distracted by Thanksgiving and the rest of the holiday season. 
“We need help so that I-735 can succeed, and thus we can end corporate rule, and have “government of the people... by the people…. and for the people,” said Savoca.
For more information about the event and local I-735 campaign efforts, and to obtain initiative petitions, contact Michael Savoca at or (360) 951-6518.

For past stories about getting big money out of politics, see articles at Little Hollywood, An article on February 7, 2015 explains the difference between an initiative to the Legislature and an initiative to the people.

Beacon of Hope: The Origins of the American Red Cross in Thurston County

Thurston Talk - Tue, 08/11/2015 - 7:19am



By Jennifer Crooks

pints logoThe American Red Cross, founded in 1881, has had an impact on the Pacific Northwest long before the creation of the Thurston County Chapter of the Red Cross in 1917. Formed to be part of the American homefront during World War I (1914-1918), the Red Cross in Thurston County survived World War I and later World War II. It continues to do good work today as part of the Mount Rainier Chapter. This chapter presently includes Grays Harbor, Lewis, Mason, Pierce, and Thurston Counties.

Even before the United States officially entered World War I in April 1917, many Americans believed that their country would enter the war and wanted to be ready. As part of this “preparedness” movement, twenty-six socially prominent women met at the Governor’s Mansion in Olympia on February 18, 1917. Their goal was to organize a Red Cross chapter for Thurston County.

red cross olympia

The Red Cross used posters extensively during World War I to promote their various campaigns. This one urges people to join the group. Photo courtesy Library of Congress.

Six of them signed a petition for a charter on February 24 which was issued and received on March 26. Thus, March 26 can be considered the “official” birthday of the Chapter. Later changing its name to the Thurston County Chapter, the organization oversaw the entire county except for Tenino and Tono which had its own organization at the time. During World War I twenty-six auxiliaries were formed besides the support that the Chapter enjoyed from Olympia churches, lodges, and clubs.

Indeed, the Red Cross received much community support from the beginning. For their first Christmas Roll Call in December 1917 they gained 4,284 members while in December 1918 they enrolled 7,048 members (by their own estimate, most of the adults in Thurston County). Junior Red Cross members, schoolchildren too young to join the regular Red Cross, totaled 2,400 for the whole county during the war. Relying on donations, the Chapter’s first headquarters was at the Kneeland Hotel in Olympia but soon moved to 526 Main Street (now Capitol Way) for the remainder of the war.

In 1917 and 1918 the Red Cross engaged in many activities to support relief efforts. A major part of this was producing supplies for soldiers and refugees. By their own estimates, over 800 women sewed for the Red Cross. They made a total of 19,470 hospital garments as well as 3,108 garments for refugees. Knitters produced 5,092 garments such as socks, mittens and sweaters. Red Cross volunteers also made over 27,145 surgical dressings and 10,000 gauze masks. Many of these surgical dressings were made with sphagnum moss, a special type of moss that is particularly absorbent. The moss was gathered, sorted and processed by local volunteers.

red cross olympia

One major activity of the Red Cross today is offering classes. The author’s grandfather, Andrew “Andy” Crooks (1923-1990), whose badge is seen here, taught first aid. Photo courtesy Jennifer Crooks.

Furthermore, the Red Cross carried out activities to help soldiers stationed in the region. Besides visiting nearby Camp Lewis (now Joint Base Lewis-McCord) and sending care packages to soldiers, the Thurston County Red Cross regularly held dances for soldiers visiting Olympia on weekends on leave. The Leopold Schmidt Estate offered use of the Tumwater Club to the Red Cross, who held most of their dances there. Also using Central Hall for jitney dances, the Red Cross endeavored to both raise funds to support its own activities while providing a safe, wholesome environment for soldiers and local girls.

A less famous but very important job of the Red Cross was the “Home Service” committee which provided relief to families in need, including medical services. In 1918 alone the Committee rendered special services to 375 families, sent information to 241 families and gave $1,826.91 in financial assistance to others. During the deadly 1918 Influenza pandemic, the Red Cross helped organize county nurses. Helping victims carried risks and Mrs. Leota Rose, chairman of the Home Service Committee, would eventually die of the disease. After the war ended, this branch continued to offer its invaluable services.

red cross olympia

Women all around the country were urged to knit socks for soldiers. Hundreds of Thurston County volunteers produced thousands of garments. Photo courtesy Library of Congress.

Reaching overseas, the Red Cross did numerous activities during World War I such as collecting linen to send to war torn France, gathering used clothing to send to European refugees, and collecting fruit pits to make gas mask filters. One interesting Red Cross fundraiser in the summer of 1918 was sponsoring two families of sheep on the State Capitol grounds (currently the Superintendent of Public Instruction Building). Beloved by local children and adults alike, after a season of grazing the sheep were raffled off for $500.

After World War I ended in November 1918, the Red Cross remained an active force in Thurston County. They aided veterans in securing government benefits, vocational training, and employment and in 1922 the Red Cross formed a full medical clinic. The Red Cross was also very active on the homefront during World War II (1941-1945).

Today the Red Cross performs many valuable services, including providing disaster relief, contacting and locating loved ones, supporting members of the Armed Forces, teaching classes on disaster preparedness and first aid, and running blood drives. Yet the overall mission of the Red Cross remains unchanged. As Louise Ayer, chapter secretary, reflected in her report after World War I that “it is the ambition of this Chapter that in peace as in war the Red Cross shall be a beacon of hope to all who for any reason have missed the happy paths of life.”

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