“The more things change, the more they stay the same,” is a French proverb dating back to the mid-1800’s. What it really means is that change, in fact, simply cements the longstanding status quo. Bagel Brothers Bakery and Sandwich Shop is one of Olympia’s treasured eateries that has remained steadfast and true throughout the past twenty years.
20 Years Strong
Since 1994, Bagel Brothers Bakery and Sandwich Shop has been serving delectable eats to South Sound patrons on a non-stop basis. Most folks haven’t even realized that the shop has gone through a pretty major change in the past six months. New owners, Abbie and Jeff Rose, wouldn’t dream of messing around with the original recipes and locally sourced mindset that has made Bagel Brothers so successful.
Same but Different
“Marc Feigen is the founder of Bagel Brothers, and in June it’ll be twenty years since it opened. Marc did a really good job of getting the name out there. Bagel Brothers is everywhere,” exclaims Abbie with enthusiasm. The full bakery services many wholesale clients in addition to numerous coffee stands, Capital Medical Center, Providence Saint Peter’s Hospital, and Olympia School District to name a few. The Roses want to reassure the community that Bagel Brothers will remain the same despite new ownership. “The name, recipes, menu, pricing – it all stays the same. New can be scary, especially when you have something that’s so well established in Olympia. Our plan is to breathe some new life into Bagel Brothers,” she explains. Adding new wholesale clients and expanding outside of Thurston County are next on the Roses’ to do list.
The couple is keen to stay true to Feigen’s vision, and that means producing the tastiest fluffiest bagels in town. “Our bagels are preservative free, they’re made with Shepherd’s grain wheat that all comes from small farmers here in Washington. They’re baked fresh every day,” says Jeff.
Abbie interjects, “The bagels sold at your local coffee stand and at our deli are four maybe five hours old at the most.” Bagel Brothers is the first stop of the day for a number of regulars. Abbie says that they have a list of regular customers who come into the deli every morning and get the same bagel every day.
“We have everything from lox on a New York onion bagel to a French Toast bagel with strawberry cream cheese. There’s millions of options, so our bagels appeal to everybody,” says Jeff. “Our bagels have a crunchy crust but are not as chewy and dense, they’re fluffier than a New York style bagel.” They also sell a ton of gluten free bagels and pizzas and many vegetarian options as well.
Employees are the Key
The Roses employ 15-20 employees at the bakery because it runs twenty-four hours a day seven days a week. Bakers are there all night, delivery drivers are there early in the morning, and the deli opens at 7 a.m.
Abbie says that trust in their employees is what keeps the business running strong, and both Abbie and Jeff emphasize how much their employees mean to them. “Good people with good instincts and a good work environment is like a society. When you have trustworthy employees, new employees are just going to become excellent because everybody else on the team sets a great example.”
Business ownership is a twenty-four hour deal and it suits the Roses just fine. With a toddler at home and a baby on the way, this is one enterprising husband and wife team. Years of management and ownership experience between them have paved the way to their success. “It just makes sense to us,” they say with big smiles. Born and raised in Olympia, the pair is deeply rooted in the community and is enthusiastic about the future.
Bagel Brothers is one of many significant cogs in the machine that is Olympia. It has numerous connections in the community including the Thurston County Chamber of Commerce and Thurston Advertising Group. Several local farmers pick up bags of day old bagels and other edibles that would otherwise be thrown out. Other community members grab compost materials and coffee grounds that would otherwise be thrown in the garbage. Also day old products occasionally get donated to The Thurston County Food Bank. “Marc was into being green and recycling and none of our product ever goes to waste.” The Roses are proud to continue Marc’s traditions and are adamant about leaving as small a carbon footprint as possible.
“Locally owned, family operated” is the motto for all of the Roses’ businesses. In addition to Bagel Brothers, they own and operate Paisley’s Café in Capital Mall as well as two Metro locations- one in Capital Mall and one in Downtown Olympia. Change can be good, just ask the regulars at Bagel Brothers Bakery and Sandwich Shop.
400 Cooper Point Road SW
Olympia, WA 98502
I have my fingers crossed for a return to last weekend’s glorious Spring weather. But, I know better. It’s April in Western Washington and we’re much more likely to see a downpour than rays of sunshine. Like most Olympia residents, we’ll still be going through our days, hoping that the clouds will part at least for the soccer game or the Easter Egg Hunt. Enjoy the weekend!
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By Lisa Herrick
You can never predict what you will discover while standing on the soccer sidelines. Although my kids claim I was eavesdropping, I contend that the conversation was exuberant and loud enough for all to hear. Once you meet the energetic and wacky Alex Zerbe, my assertion becomes quite believable. The more important fact is it led me to Zerbe’s hilarious Go Seahawks Go! YouTube video and unveiled the fascinating and unusual profession of Alex Zerbe better known as the Zaniac.
Zerbe’s accolades include appearing on prime-time television in three countries, with debuts on the hit NBC television shows, “America’s Got Talent!” and “Last Comic Standing.” Zerbe was voted Seattle’s Funniest Prop Comic as well as distinguishing himself as the third best air guitarist in Seattle. Zerbe’s comedic success started when his feet took him on a serendipitous journey.
Now residing in Olympia with his wife and two young daughters, Zerbe grew up in Seattle describing himself as “not witty but having a personality conducive to being funny.” Not yet realizing his talents in physical comedy as a viable profession, “really all I wanted to do was footbag,” confessed Zerbe. (Footbag is more commonly known as hacky sack.)
Zerbe continues, “I didn’t know what I was doing in life. I was young, taking an occasional community college class, and living cheaply. I had moved into one-half of a two-car garage. I was really just a lost kid.” Yet that so-called lost kid won an intermediate Footbag World Championship as well as earning a Guinness World Record for a trick called the Eclipse.
“Others may have been better physically but I knew how to perform, especially under pressure,” shares Zerbe. I’m going to guess that this disposition toward being a natural performer is part of Zerbe’s fortuitous comedic success. His wife, Jane, a 2009 Footbag Hall of Famer herself, encouraged Zerbe to pursue a job performing at school assembly shows. Zerbe knew that footbag was part of the show and that juggling would be a job requirement. He taught himself to juggle in the half of his two car garage so he could say with confidence, “Yes, I can also juggle.”
Zerbe got the job and began performing at school assemblies throughout the country. While touring the East Coast, he met a professional juggler. That was the moment when he realized what he truly wanted to do in life. He pondered, “Is that a legitimate career choice? I can do that.” Juggling broadened his talents into a more extensive array of physical comedy, which then led to a stint as a street performer.
“At first, I did not really even have a show or any jokes. I was funny but not that funny. Street performing is tough because no one is really expecting you to be there. I could get a crowd but then I did not know how to keep them,” Zerbe reflected on the beginnings of his career. It was then that Zerbe decided he wanted a partner to make a bigger show and more elaborate tricks, which resulted in ten years of the duo act Brothers From Different Mothers and entertaining audiences around the world.
In 2011, Zerbe went out solo as the Zaniac. Zerbe says “Now, I have kids and don’t want to be on tour. So many people who do what I do are on the road all the time. I don’t want to live in Vegas or do cruise ships. I do really well on the Northwest library circuit. And school shows are the best possible gig. What else would I be doing at 2:00 p.m. on a Wednesday? I get to take my kids to school, have some down time then go to work and be home for dinner. Plus teachers, school principals, librarians, PTA moms all are so nice. And the kids want to high five you.”
Zerbe’s shows combine comedy for kids and grownups with absurd maneuvers, intriguing stunts, and ludicrous humor. He performs at a variety of venues including schools, businesses, community events, libraries and county fairs. This summer Zerbe will be introducing his show Gravity Catastrophe to the science themed library Summer Reading Program. His school shows highlight reading, science and anti-bullying with an inspirational and entertaining message to local students. Zerbe has also been known to make appearances at ArtsWalk with his comedic juggling street performance. And he confesses, “I really love to just make silly rap songs.”
By Eric Wilson-Edge
Math doesn’t need to be a cringe inducing word. You may think that you don’t need to know much math beyond addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.
You can’t really build things if you don’t know geometry. Good luck buying a home or a car if you don’t understand interest rates. For all those kids wanting to be astronauts, the basics simply aren’t enough to get you to the moon.
“We want students to know that math isn’t just in the classroom but it’s something we use every day, in all kinds of businesses and in all walks of life,” says Thurston County Chamber of Commerce member Joseph Beaulieu.
For this reason the Chamber teamed up with local school districts to create Math for Life. Think of the program as a math treasure hunt. Students go around to participating businesses and answer age appropriate math questions.
Ross Irwin is the owner of Cabinets by Trivonna in Lacey. His business is one of 60 involved with Math for Life. “When kids come in I ask them questions,” says Irwin. “What do you think we do here? How do we use math? After some thinking most will come up with measuring.”
Irwin then gives the student a problem to solve. Sometimes he’ll challenge them to go up a grade level. “It’s surprising how many times they go for the challenge and succeed,” says Irwin. Students are then given a mark like a star or stamp to show they’ve completed the task. Irwin also likes to throw in a little candy.
Students must go to five businesses to receive a medal and a small prize. “Some of these kids are really zealous about the program,” says Beaulieu. “Some will visit all 60 businesses.” Those who qualify are entered into a drawing for either an Android Tablet or Kindle Fire. Each school district then chooses a grand prize winner.
“We wanted to come up with some ideas that show kids that math can be cool and numbers are fun,” says Courtney Schrieve, Communications/Community Relations Director for North Thurston Public Schools. Schrieve adds that NTPS celebrates math awareness by honoring a math star from each school in April, which is Math Awareness Month.
Shrieve says Math for Life is part of a bigger initiative to change perceptions about math. “In our district we’re trying to make math more of a household activity. Schools host family math nights on a regular basis, and some of the district’s math teams have qualified for state and national competitions.
So, is it working? Schrieve says math achievement scores are up across the country. Beaulieu estimates more than 700 students will take part in Math for Life this year.
Ross Irwin has been involved with the competition since it started four years ago. He says kids will come in and tell him they come to his business every year. The reaction for old and new faces is typically the same. “I’d say 80-90% of the kids are dragging their parents,” he notes.
Math for Life is really a win for all involved. It helps create bonds between local schools and businesses. Students benefit from seeing how math works in different career fields. Parents get something fun do to with their kids.
Jennifer Cornwell took an afternoon over spring break with her two boys ages six and eleven. They went to five businesses ending at Bonjour Cupcakes. “I think it’s great,” says Cornwell. “It’s more realistic for kids and it’s fun to do math outside of a classroom.”
It’s not too late to participate. This year’s Math for Life runs until April 20. Packets were sent out to schools across the county so there’s a good chance your child received one – if the dog didn’t eat it.
Submitted by Barbara Wakefield for Community Youth Services
A few weeks ago, Frank Gorecki turned his cell phone back on after attending a meeting in downtown Olympia. A barrage of text messages and voice mails awaited, letting him know that his beloved Tor, a four-year-old Alaskan malamute, had escaped from the backyard of a friend who was keeping him for a short while.
“I was frantic,” said Gorecki, a retired chief engineer for Boeing who lives south of Little Rock. After his romp through several neighborhoods and across a major highway, Tor ended up near the house where Quentin Brownell lives with his father. As Quentin put it,”He came right to me. He was really happy, but I could tell he was lost.” Quentin put him in the fenced backyard, untaped his tags and called several different numbers that were listed. It took him more than an hour to track down Frank.
Quentin, 18, is part of the Community Youth Services YouthBuild program, a federally funded program for low-income or foster youth who have dropped out of school. He hopes to become a firefighter. “I just did what anyone would do. He’s a really chill dog,” Quentin said.
Frank disagreed. “Quentin went above and beyond. Tor’s a big dog, 110 pounds, and a lot of people are afraid of him, even though he isn’t at all dangerous. Quentin was absolutely instrumental in taking care of my little big dude.”
Frank was so impressed he wanted to make a donation somewhere in honor of Quentin’s good deed. Quentin didn’t hesitate to recommend YouthBuild.“They do so much to help us here. I was glad I did something that could help them,” reports Quentin.
By Tom Rohrer
That is, only for the one who made the shot.
For friends and fellow players, an “ace” can bring about an overwhelming sense of jealously and longing. Following her first ever “one-stroke” this past weekend, Chelsea Kelley witnessed the unflattering reactions from the three male players in her group.
“Oh yeah, you could sense the jealousy,” said Kelley, an esthetician at Spruce Skin and Wax Shoppe in Olympia. “They were sort of bittersweet and mad all day long. They all have yet to hit one and none had ever seen one in person.”
Playing with her husband, Spencer, and two other male friends this past weekend, Kelley used an 8-iron to hole her tee shot on 17 at Olympia Country & Golf Club. It was Kelley’s first hole-in-one, a rare feat for even the most accomplished and experienced players. Now in her fifth year playing the sport, the Olympia Country & Golf Club member knew from the moment the ball left the tee that it had a shot of rolling in.
“I clubbed up one club, and when I hit it I thought ‘oh man, this is going in’ and it hit the fringe and bounced towards the hole,” she said. “I think it landed a foot and a half from the pin. We saw it hit and the guys said ‘it’s in, it’s in.’ It didn’t feel real.”
Standard procedure following a hole in one is for the lucky (or is it skilled?) shooter to buy a round of drinks for those in the clubhouse. Unfortunately for patrons at the club, Kelley didn’t deliver on the tradition.
“It was such a nice day so not too many were people in (the clubhouse), so we just left,” Kelley noted. “Boy, that could’ve been spendy.”
Originally from University Place, Kelley picked up the game from her husband, an accomplished six handicap player who grew up walking the fairways of the OCC and then played varsity golf for Capital High School in the early 2000s. Now members together at the Olympia Country & Golf Club, the pair designates a large amount of their free time to the fairways, greens and occasionally the roughs and bunkers of the Pacific Northwest.
“It’s a game we can grow old together playing,” said Kelley. “It’s fun to grab some beers and play whenever it’s nice. It’s very relaxing, but fun, active and competitive as well.”
Further evidence of the couple’s passion for golf was their honeymoon following last year’s wedding. The two took a trip to both Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and Lake Chelan, where they played six rounds at a collection of renowned courses in the area.
“It was ideal,” she said. “I think it said a lot about us, and it was exactly what we wanted to be doing.”
To feed their obsession locally, the Kelley’s look to the Olympia Country & Golf Club, an establishment they’re proud to be a part of and looking to continue to support.
“We like the club and love the new clubhouse. It makes us want to be there more and you can see sort of a youth movement forming there,” she said. “We’re trying to bring in more young people and just show how cool of a place this is.”
Already armed with great memories from her time at the club, Chelsea Kelley now has one that can stand out from the rest. Kelley kept the ball from her faithful shot and plans to make a plaque for display.
“It’s kind of a cheesy thing to do, but hey why not?” She said. “It may never happen again.”
Like anyone who’s accomplished a rare achievement, Kelley called her parents and in-laws. While talking to her father-in-law, Kelley realized she was now part of an exclusive group.
“He’s had four hole-in-ones in his life so he was pretty amused and happy to hear about it,” she added. “The first thing he said was welcome to the club.’”
Olympia Country & Golf Course
3636 Country Club Drive NW
Olympia, WA 98502
When you are young, your skin cells reproduce every 14 days. This relatively fast process keeps those cells plump and results in youthful looking skin.
As we age, it takes longer for those cells to travel to the top layer of skin called the epidermis. Instead, the cells arrive at the epidermis looking flat and dead. These flat cells cause the skin to look older.
Fortunately, there are excellent skincare products, like Merle Norman’s Glycolic Rejuvenating Pads or Micro-Refiner, that speed up the journey of each cell as it travels to the epidermis, preserving the appearance of a plump cell, which keeps skin looking incredible.
Anti-aging products work because they plump the skin cells therefore reducing fine lines and dry patches. The use of Merle Norman’s Energizing Concentrate, Fine Line Minimizer, and other products.
Another way to renew the skin cells is through exfoliation. One mistake many people make when they get older is that they forget to exfoliate. When you are young and have acne, you exfoliate constantly. Men get rid of dry skin when they shave. Exfoliation simply means getting rid of dead skin. This process helps you look younger by cleaning out the pores and removing dead skin. Micro-exfoliants are an excellent way to start sloughing off the dead skin.
Toners also exfoliate. Toners are used to remove any residue left by a cleanser and keep pores from getting larger.
Not all of us need the same products. Merle Norman customers know they can visit Merle Norman in Lacey and consult with a skin care expert in a private setting. Merle Norman’s consultants excel at helping customers find a regimen that is right for their unique skincare needs – having products for just about every skin type, from sensitive skin and rosacea to acne prone skin.
3925 – 8th Avenue SE, Suite F
Lacey, WA 98503
By Alyssa Ramsfield
Lacey ACT Night has become a quintessential part of the middle school experience in North Thurston Public Schools. Seventh and eighth graders from around the district gather in one place to dance, play, and socialize.
“There are a lot of games,” exclaims North Thurston Public Schools seventh grader, Alexandra Trujillo. “There is a Velcro run where you get strapped in a suit and run with a bungee connected to you and it flings you back! It’s a lot of fun! It’s also fun to see new faces and friends from other schools.”
The Lacey Activities Coalition for Teens (Lacey ACT) has been putting together activities for North Thurston students since 1994. Most ACT Nights consist of a dance hosted by a DJ, inflatables, karaoke, basketball tournaments, elite mobile games, contests, and free snacks. Nearly 500 teens currently attend each event.
The idea for Lacey ACT Night came from a relationship between Lacey Parks & Recreation and North Thurston Public Schools. The overall goal of the event is to provide area youth with a safe, positive and fun environment for recreational sports, games, a place to listen to music and dance, and socialize with their friends.
All Lacey ACT Nights are funded through entry fees. “The program operates on admission revenue,” explains City of Lacey Recreation Supervisor, for Youth and Teen Activities, Kathy Owen. “Meaning, the revenue pays for facility rental, custodians, DJ, inflatables, video trailer, snacks, and part-time staff. The program is successful because of the adult volunteers and the assistance of the Lacey Teen Council. Without all the hours of donated service, the program could not operate.”
Volunteers are the key to the success of all Lacey ACT Nights. Last year, 43 adult and eleven teen volunteers helped at each event. The volunteers consist of parents, teachers, coaches, school board members, church groups, civic organizations, college students, and other community members. All volunteers are trained and have passed a background check.
With the addition of sixth graders to most North Thurston middle schools, parents and students are wondering if they will get to join in on the fun.
A solution to this issue is at the forefront of Lacey ACT’s event staff. “We will be offering sixth grade only events beginning next year,” says Owen. “Most middle schools will host one sixth grade event. The schedule has gone out to all three middle schools for acceptance and so far, the idea is being embraced.”
The next Lacey ACT night is slated for April 25 at 7:00 p.m. followed by May 9 (6th graders only) at 6:00 p.m.
For more information, contact City of Lacey Recreation Supervisor, Youth and Teen Activities, Kathy Owen at 360-491-0857.
“How many solar panels do I need?” Patrick Daly, South Sound Solar’s project coordinator reveals that this is the most common question they hear from people considering solar power. However, he admits that the question More difficult to answer than most people think.
An assessment of solar potential is not strictly based on the square footage of a home’s roof or how many panels can fit on the roof. South Sound Solar completes a comprehensive on site analysis to determine how your family uses energy, what your energy goals are, as well as an assessment of physical structures and property conditions.
Dever Kuni, South Sound Solar’s Vice President explains, “A site visit is the only way to accurately calculate your energy needs and solar potential.”
Kirk Haffner, President & owner describes what happens when South Sound Solar visits your home “We bring a tool called a Solar Pathfinder to measure your solar potential. The Solar Pathfinder accurately predicts within 1% how many kilowatt hours of electricity a solar system at this site would produce. We want to be very accurate because how much electricity produced will determine how much you will save on your utility bill and earn from your production incentive. We do not want to put solar where it will not work or where it might be at risk.”
South Sound Solar’s site assessment will explore how your energy use and budget, condition and orientation of your roof, and what kind of trees and shading there might be. They use this information to provide three to four custom design options.
South Sound Solar is the only local provider who focuses entirely on the design, installation, and service of all types of solar.
By Douglas Scott
If you were to find out that you could explore the most beautiful areas of Washington State for free, would you take advantage of a great deal and get out into nature with your friends and family?
The State of Washington is hoping you say yes, as they are offering numerous fee free days in 2014. With the winter rain in the past and sunny skies in the future, now is the perfect time to get outside and explore any of the 117 State Parks.
The State Parks have been around for 101 years, but they are anything but old and outdated. From lakes and river to waterfalls, forests and old forts, Washington State Parks offer some of the best experiences in the country, all right outside your front door. Experiencing the state parks of Washington make a fantastic weekend trip, and are the best way to discover the beauty, history and culture of the Pacific Northwest.
Normally, a $30 Discover Pass would be needed to enter a State Park, but on the fee free days, the gates are open for all to enter. If you haven’t visited the state parks around Thurston County, this is your chance to see the beauty of the region without having to pay for an annual or a day pass. Even if you have seen the state park, check out the parks for free and pick up a Discover Pass to enjoy the beauty of Washington State Park year round.
Fee Free Days 2014
3 Park Highlights near Thurston County
Situated just south of Olympia, Millersylvania State Park offers swimming, fishing, boating and hiking opportunities. With 8.6 miles of hiking trails and 7.6 miles of biking paths, all through lush forests and wetlands, exploring this often looked over park is sure to become a family favorite. With picnic shelters, campgrounds and a swimming area in a gorgeous lake, lifelong memories are sure to be made at this park.
Twanoh State Park is located in Mason County, on the beautiful Hood Canal and is home to one of the warmest saltwater beaches in the State of Washington. With over half a mile of shoreline, full of oysters, mussels and shorebirds, this small, yet accessible state park is a perfect day trip destination. From the park, you can canoe, kayak or take a much larger boat onto the Hood Canal, which occasionally is home to Orca Whales, seals and salmon. Read a full story about visiting Twanoh State Park here.
With a well-made boardwalk that leads to the beach, this park feels just right for you. The park is 105 acres, but offers over 1800 feet of shoreline right along the Puget Sound. In fact, this park offers an underwater park that uses an artificial reef for once-in-a-lifetime scuba diving experiences. With picnic benches and plenty of parking, take your family, yourself or your significant other to this secluded section of beach along the Puget Sound. Dogs are welcome and restrooms are available, as well as an occasional ranger to answer any of your questions.
Thrifty Thurston highlights inexpensive family fun in Thurston County. The weekly series focuses on family-friendly activities throughout our community. If you have a suggestion for a post, send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more events and to learn what’s happening in Olympia and the surrounding area, click here.
Submitted by Hirsch Center for Integrative Medicine
Hirsch Center for Integrative Medicine is supporting you in a little spring cleaning. Our 21-Day Detox and Cleanse is a structured program that combines whole foods, supplements and nutritious shakes. The menu includes an abundance of fresh vegetables and fruit with select proteins.
Naturally occurring toxins that build up in the body can contribute to:
Some of the possible benefits of participating in a cleanse -
Led by David Lerner, EAMP, MTCM
David has been in clinical practice since 1994, and received his diploma in comprehensive nutrition from Huntington College of Health Sciences in 2010. He focuses on supportive cancer care, hormone support, autoimmune disorders, fat loss, and gastrointestinal and cardiac (heart) health. He has been helping others to detox with this cleanse for over 10 years and has seen some amazing results.
Submitted by Saint Martin’s University
Majestic dragon boats and a record-setting number of 42 local and regional teams of paddlers will return to Olympia Saturday, April 26, for a day of fun and fierce competition at the ninth annual Saint Martin’s University Dragon Boat Festival.
Approximately 5,000 people are expected to attend this year’s festival, which will take place 9 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. in the Port Plaza of Olympia near the Marine Terminal. This is a beautiful location with views of the Washington State Capitol buildings and Olympic Mountains. The event site is downtown, near the Olympia Farmers Market and popular, local restaurants. The day-long event, presented by the University in cooperation with the Washington Dragon Boat Association, is free and open to the public.
Some 1,000 participants will paddle their way through the annual Dragon Boat Races as part of the day’s activities. The paddlers are members of teams from universities, high schools, school districts, government agencies, community organizations and local businesses, hailing from Seattle to Portland.
Dragon boat racing dates back to fourth-century China, commemorating famed poet Qu Yuan, who threw himself into the Milo River to protest the political turmoil and suffering of the people at that time. Today, dragon boat races are an opportunity to celebrate culture and community.
“Once again, the Dragon Boat Festival is proving to be an eagerly anticipated event for the University and surrounding communities,” says Josephine Yung, Saint Martin’s vice president of International Programs and Development. “I’m sure everyone who plans to attend will not be disappointed because the festival has so many fun activities to offer.”
The Dragon Boat Festival is a multi-cultural event that started in 2006. The purpose of the festival is to raise cultural awareness, build a sense of community and provide a day of family-oriented, fun activities to South Sound residents. The festival was moved from Capitol Lake to the Port Plaza in 2010, drawing a lot of foot traffic from downtown Olympia and the adjacent Farmers Market.
In 2009, during the Great Recession, the festival was nearly canceled when sponsors of the event encountered difficulties in raising finances to support it. But with encouragement from Yung, Saint Martin’s students appealed to their families and friends for small cash donations that eventually netted them $25,000 to put toward the costs of the festival.
A major delight for festival participants is the distinctive dragon boats, which feature ornately carved dragon heads and weigh 500-800 pounds each. The hulls of the boats are painted with scales and the paddles used to steer the vessels symbolically represent claws. Every boat is constructed to contain 20 paddlers, as well as a steer person and a drummer who keeps the beat to help the paddlers work in unison. The paddle teams are divided according to skill level and include community, intermediate and recreational teams.
“Dragon boating is not a sport that’s built on brute force,” says Brother Ramon Newell, a monk at Saint Martin’s Abbey who annually serves as advisor and coach to various paddle teams. “It’s more about timing, technique, synchronization and people working together.”
Saint Martin’s University has been actively involved in education and cultural exchanges with China since 1995. Each year, members of Saint Martin’s faculty travel to China to teach international business, accounting and general education courses. Saint Martin’s students regularly participate in China study tours. In addition, about 50 students from China are currently studying at Saint Martin’s University.
Following welcoming remarks at 9 a.m. by Saint Martin’s University President Roy Heynderickx, Ph.D., and Port of Olympia Commission President Bill McGregor, honorary chair of the Dragon Boat Steering Committee, the festival will kick off at 9:10 a.m. with the traditional “Dotting of the Eye” ceremony, a blessing of the dragon boats. The races will begin at 9:45 a.m. and will consist of three heats and three divisions.
In addition to the races, there will be Chinese traditional art demonstrations, culinary delights, martial arts performances and music. A lion dance will take place between 11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Other scheduled performers include the Taiko Drum Group from River Ridge High School; the Saint Martin’s University Soran Bushi Dancers; the Federal Way China Tai Chi Kung Fu Group; the Saint Martin’s University Hawaii Club and the Saint Martin’s University Dance Hip Hop Group.
The competitions will conclude at approximately 4 p.m., and the closing and awards ceremony will begin shortly after the races end.
Organizations supporting the Dragon Boat Festival are the Port of Olympia; the City of Olympia; 94.5 ROXY; the Academy of International Education (AIE); Saint Martin’s University Alumni Association; Associated Students of Saint Martin’s University (ASSMU); Access the USA LLC; Olympia Federal Savings; Thurston County Economic Development Council; Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation; Studio 1; and Capitol City Press.
Those who plan to attend the festival are requested to be mindful of parking and leave vehicles in locations designated for the Saint Martin’s University Dragon Boat Festival or in a public parking space. There is plenty of free street parking downtown that festival attendees can utilize. In addition, please consider using the Dash Shuttle for riding to the event.
For more information about the festival, visit http://www.stmartin.edu/oipd/events/dragonBoat/ or contact the Office of International Programs and Development at 360-438-4504.
Submitted by Congressman Denny Heck
Rep. Denny Heck Launches 2014 Artistic Discovery Contest for high school students in Washington’s 10th Congressional District
The office of Congressman Denny Heck (WA-10) is looking for the Tenth District’s most promising young artists to submit entries for the U.S. House of Representatives’ annual Congressional Art Competition. The winning entry from a member of the Tenth District will be displayed for one year in the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C.
“I’ve seen the art work in schools throughout the South Sound and I can’t wait to show some of it off in the other Washington,” Congressman Heck said. “This competition is open to high school students of all experience levels and I encourage them to submit their original paintings, drawings, photographs and inventive pieces of art.”
Art works entered in the contest may be up to 28 inches by 28 inches (including the frame) and may be up to 4 inches in depth. Potential entries can be paintings, drawings, collages, prints, mixed media, computer generated art, or photography. All entries must be two-dimensional and original in concept, design, and execution.
The last day to submit an entry for the 2014 Congressional Art Competition is May 1.
Every Congressional district in the House of Representatives chooses one winner to be displayed at the exhibit in the U.S. Capitol. The contest provides an opportunity for members of Congress to encourage and recognize the artistic talents of their young constituents. More than 650,000 high school students have participated in the nationwide competition since it began in 1982.
The 2013 winner from Washington’s Tenth District was Angela Salyer for her photograph, “Blooming in Spring.”
For more information on competition guidelines and how to submit art work, please visit the Congressional Art Competition page on Rep. Denny Heck’s web site. To view last year’s winners from Washington, please visit the House of Representative’s Congressional Art Competition page.
Submitted by Olympia/Thurston County CrimeStoppers
A special 3-in-one event will be hosted by Olympia/Thurston County CrimeStoppers April 26. Those stopping by can bring sensitive documents to shred, computers and other electronics to recycle and can drop off new or gently used books, CDs and DVDs for the Lacey Timberland Library. The services are free but donations to support the mission of CrimeStoppers will be gladly accepted. This is the third year for the event at Saint Martin’s University in Lacey.
Thurston County Prosecutor Jon Tunheim, a CrimeStoppers board member, says people should take advantage of this event. “This is a simple way to make sure that documents containing personal information are shredded and properly disposed of, so the bad guys don’t have access to your vital information. Having the electronics recycling there helps homeowners get rid of unwanted items in an environmentally responsible way and the benefit for the Lacey Timberland Library is also a bonus.” Sponsors include Saint Martin’s University, Allwest Moving and Storage, Lacey Police, Access Information Management, the Timberland Library System and SBK Recycle.
What- A free Identity Theft Awareness Shred Event.
Where- The grand staircase at Saint Martin’s University, 5300 Pacific Ave SE Lacey, WA 98503
When- Saturday, April 26th from 9 am to Noon
Cost- This is a free service, although donations to CrimeStoppers will be gladly accepted.
Olympia-Thurston County CrimeStoppers is a non-profit organization made up of various law enforcement agencies and dozens of other community partners and volunteers. Established in 1991 the tip line has resulted in the arrest of more than 900 suspects, recovery of more than $1.8-million in stolen property, seizure of more than $7-million worth of illegal drugs and the payout of more than $166-thousand in rewards. Those with information on a crime can call the tip line at 800-222-TIPS. To learn more about Olympia-Thurston County CrimeStoppers, please visit http://www.crimebusters.org/
I’d never thought of it this way but Scottiejo McNulty of Elite Cleaning of Washington made a good point: “spring cleaning is like a move-out but you still live there.” While I’m seldom so thorough, this is now my annual goal when faced with the out-with-the-old itch.
Our climate, while blessed with mild winters and moderate summers, isn’t perfect. The excess damp causes cobwebs, mold, and dingy surfaces but “do you want to spend your springtime with your family cleaning every weekend?” asks McNulty. What may take you and yours multiple sunny Saturdays to accomplish, the team at Elite Cleaning can do in a day at the most…with no grumbling.
McNulty’s crew can clean windows, screens, and tracks safely, create a honey-do list for future repairs, switch out winter clothes and shoes, and prep for spring garage sales by sorting outgrown items. Their work can be focused on an entire home deep clean or just high traffic areas. They can help tidy the garage, or freshen up windows and window treatments. Or—and this is huge to the overly overwhelmed like myself—help you make a plan of action to keep your home under control in the future.
Says Scottiejo, “Spring Cleaning has to be organized, you have to know what you want and make a plan.” To aid in this, the Elite Cleaning website has downloadable sample checklists, showing examples of the services they offer and the range of their expertise. But they are not limited by such lists and are willing to talk over any request, frequency, or event, be it one-time or on a regular basis.
If your home has medical issues with allergies or chemical sensitivities, Elite Cleaning has tips and the experience to insure a harmless process. They try to accommodate all special needs and guarantee that “we don’t leave until it’s done and we come back if it’s not right.” Strong customer service insures great word-of-mouth, all vital to a small business in this day and age.
Call for an estimate or with questions: 360-529-2277.
By Kate Scriven
The Brewer’s Association, a group dedicated to the promotion and support of Craft Brewers since 1942, defines a “craft brewer” as three things: small, independent, and traditional. These hallmarks are important and set apart a true craftsman from a larger manufacturer or corporate owned operation.
Washington ranks in the top five states in the nation for number of craft breweries (lucky us!). One of these is Top Rung Brewing, located in Lacey on Hogum Bay Lane. The brewery started in 2010 as the natural progression from a love a homebrewing to “something more” by local friends and co-workers Casey Sobol and Jason Stoltz. The two have been collaborating together, perfecting recipes and laying careful plans for their dream of a craft brewery and neighborhood taproom.
Both career firefighters with the McLane/Black Lake Fire Department, Sobol is a twenty year veteran and Captain and Stoltz has seven years with the department under his belt. After winning the Dick’s Brewing “Beer for a Cure” homebrewing contest in 2012 with their signature Hose Chaser Blonde, the two brewers began to shadow Dick’s brewer Parker Penley. “Being able to shadow with Parker gave us a closer look into commercial brewing and we were able to see where we wanted Top Run Brewing to go,” shares Sobol.
The names of Top Rung’s brews are a nod to Sobol and Stoltz’s love of, and commitment to, firefighting. The newly constructed taproom also reflects their roots with ladders hung from the ceiling, fire related décor, and the brewery’s logo centered on the iconic fireman’s shield. Despite the strong connection to fire, the taproom isn’t kitschy. Its gleaming wood plank tables, polished concrete floors, and cozy couches are classy and inviting.
“We created this space intentionally to be very open between the taproom and the brewing facility,” shares Sobol. ”It gives our visitors a full experience where they can see the brewing process, smell the fermentation, and feel a part of what we are doing.” And what they are doing is creating excellent beer. With a focus on quality craft beer and a financially stable business, Top Rung is here to stay.
When creating their business plan, a connection to community, sustainability, and environmentally friendly practices were key. With this in mind, the brewers created a partnership with local farmers Nick and Rachael Taylor of The Farmstead, located nearby on Johnson Point Road. The Taylors are likewise committed to their community and are raising pastured meat (lamb and pork) and laying hens with respect and dignity.
How do these two businesses intersect? Aside from the love of a good pint, the Taylors were in need of a consistent, high-quality source of grain for their pigs and the two businesses found they held many of the same needs and values. “We have always been committed to reducing waste, streamlining processes, and using everything we can to the benefit of the land and the farm,” explains Rachael. “When we learned that Jason and Casey were just as committed to creating a sustainable footprint with their brewery we knew our two businesses would get along great.”
The process is simple – after brewing is complete, the spent grains are transferred to clean barrels supplied by The Farmstead. A text is sent and the Taylors arrive in the evening to pick up the grain and haul it five minutes to their farm. Happy pigs follow.
Did the Taylors come up with this genius way to both reduce waste at the brewery and acquire high quality feed for their animals? Not quite. “Foam to Farm isn’t a new concept. The Craft Beer Movement is made up of people who, in addition to being passionate about creating delicious beer, are usually also committed to the type of environment their processes are creating,” explains Taylor. “Spent grain can make up as much as 85 percent of a brewery’s by-product. That has the potential to be a lot of waste. Putting it in the landfill is one option, but it’s a terrible one. Instead we use it to help supplement our pigs’ diet of pasture, goat milk, eggs, apples, as well as all the juice pressings from Zoe’s Juice Bar in Olympia.”
The brewery has several beers on tap with variety to suit any palette. Hose Chaser Blonde is their lightest brew. The Scout Stout, named after Stoltz’s black lab, includes notes of chocolate and coffee. Heavy Irons Imperial IPA, named for the set of tools essential to any firefighter, has a great hop forward flavor and will please most IPA fans.
Keeping focused on the beer is essential for Top Rung and they’ve consciously chosen to not serve food in their taproom. However, visitors are encouraged to bring in their own take out or have food delivered. The family-friendly environment includes and outdoor patio and a larger-than-life Jenga game to pass the time.
Visit the taproom between 2:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays to enjoy a pint and celebrate a culmination of years of hard work and dedication. Find Top Rung Brewing at the Olympia Brewfest, The Tumwater Artesian Brewfest, and the Washington State Brewers Festival.
“It’s exciting seeing your vision become a reality, but there are also times of sheer terror, being a small business,” shares Sobol. “But, I think we’ll do really well. The support we’ve gotten so far from the community has been terrific. It’s one of the great things about Thurston County. People really want to support the local guy and that’s really who we are.”
That dream is a reality as Top Rung Brewing hosts their Grand Opening this Saturday, April 19, from 2:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
8343 Hogum Bay Lane in Lacey
Follow Top Rung Brewing on Facebook
By Kira Stussy, Tumwater High School Intern to ThurstonTalk
Easter is a widely celebrated holiday worldwide and locally. To prepare for this much loved holiday, families all have their own traditions every single year. Hard-boiled eggs are dyed and then hidden, friends and families come together, and children hop out of bed to discover what the Easter Bunny was up to while they slept. Families around Thurston County share some of their more common activities, as well some traditions that are a bit more unusual.
The Robertson family shares one of their unique Easter traditions. When her girls were younger, Shelley Robertson used to buy them matching dresses specifically for the holiday. Sadly, Shelley admitted that they “won’t let [her] do that anymore.” Along with the dresses, the Robertsons also emphasize the significance of Easter to their children, making sure they know it’s about more than the bunny. They also spend time with extended family, traveling up to Tacoma to visit grandparents. When asked what her favorite family Easter tradition is, Anna Robertson replied, “going on Easter eggs hunts.”
Similarly, with the Hamblet family it is all about the significance of the holiday. They focus on the religious roots of Easter and start by “reading a children’s book about Easter a few weeks before the holiday.” Reid Hamblet (father) has missed the past few Easters for work and his family is hoping to be able visit him there, perhaps even coordinate an Easter Hunt there as well.
The Hamblets dye their own real eggs for their epic hunts. They gather with friends and family and try to “build up” the holiday and the significance of it before the big day actually arrives so that their kids can truly understand what it is about.
Another local family shared their tradition of waking up to a scrumptious breakfast prepared by their mother, Kate. Later, the kids, Madi and Josh, participate in a family Easter egg hunt at their grandparents’ house with all of their cousins. This Thurston County family claims that Easter is a very “big deal” in their home, and like with all holidays, they have an abundance of decorations set up around the house to help get in the festive mood.
When many kids think of Easter, what is one of the very first thoughts that pops into their heads? They immediately picture the Easter Bunny bouncing into town, carrying a basket filled to the brim with eggs and candy at the ready. When the Easter Bunny visits Madi K’s home, he literally leaves a trail of his fur lying around! He also leaves a basket full of toys and candy. When asked about the basket, Madi giggled and nodded saying, “Yeah, he leaves good presents.”
When the Easter Bunny stops by the Robertson’s abode, he also leaves a basket of goodies for Anna and her siblings. If they could ask him just one question, both girls agreed they’d want to know “how he gets to everyone’s house in just one night?” An age old question indeed. Both girls thought the Easter Bunny would be large in size compared to the tiny bunnies that scamper on the side of the road. Madi thinks he would be approximately the size of a man if not bigger. Although neither girl has actually seen the bunny, they know he is real based on the eggs and gifts he leaves behind.
Easter is a holiday that comes with many family traditions followed over the years. Some are unique and original and some are comfortingly familiar. No matter which tradition a family follows, each family creates a special holiday that will make memories for future generations.
By Tali Haller
With 34% of the adult population classified as obese, America is now ranked as the most obese country worldwide, according to the latest study conducted by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. In response, many people are advocating for a healthier diet. Author of the best-selling book The Beauty Detox Foods, Kimberly Snyder, C.N. recognizes the importance of eating fresh, raw, and organic. “The connection between food and beauty is incredibly powerful,” Snyder writes. “Just by changing the foods you eat, you can radically change the way you look and feel.”
Not only are organic foods more nutritious, but they also don’t contain the pesticides present in conventional farming, which can contribute to a whole host of health problems, she explains. Luckily, Olympia offers a variety of healthy eating options.
Nestled in downtown Olympia at 111 Legion Way, the Peace, Love, and Raw Cafe is completely raw, vegan, and organic. Everything on the menu is made from fresh, nutritive ingredients and is completely free of gluten, corn, soy, and other common allergens. “My big focus is creating food that makes people feel good,” emphasizes the owner, Nicole Obermire. “I want to show people that eating healthy doesn’t have to be boring and rigid. It can be exciting and full of satisfying, delicious foods.” Over the years, Obermire has experimented with a variety of ingredients, challenging herself to create a menu that combines nutritional value with great taste.
The Peace, Love, and Raw Café is a family enterprise. What’s more, Obermire’s children, Blueberry and Cerulean, act as her inspiration. “My kids have been a huge motivation because I want to give them a model for healthy eating. They inspire me to make things even more nutritious and beneficial,” she explained.
“I love the challenge of taking something considered ‘unhealthy’ and making the same thing with raw ingredients. That’s why I do a lot of ‘cheesecakes,’ ‘cinnamon rolls,’ and other desserts,” explained Obermire.
The Peace, Love, and Raw Café started as a wholesale business with the idea of selling healthy desserts in bulk to local eateries, health stores, and co-ops. Currently, you can find their products all around town, including the yoga studio around the corner, Breathe. In April 2013, the business expanded to a store front, and now, expanding further, they have started to teach cooking classes. Example classes include raw “cheesecake,” soups, and coconut ice cream. To stay updated on class information, check out the PLR Facebook page or sign up for their newsletter. The cafe is also open during Arts Walk, featuring tasty treats, local art and music.
Although the Peace, Love, and Raw Café began with a dessert-based menu, the expansion of their business has led to a growing menu as well. Customers can purchase a variety of fresh juices, smoothies, salads, soups, snacks, and, of course, an array of amazing, health conscious desserts. The menu at the Café is constantly fluctuating, changing with the day and season. Sometimes customers may see sushi rolls and falafel, other days gluten-free onion bread, curry rice, or RawNola.
For customers wanting a quick pick-me-up, the juices are a great choice. They’re light, nutrient-rich, and easily-digestible. What’s more, each juice on the menu has beneficial properties. For example, ‘The Remedy’ combines a high source of vitamin C from lemon and orange juice with the healing properties of cayenne and ginger to rejuvenate skin and promote a faster metabolism. Other favorite juices include the ‘Pineapple Fling,’ with pineapple, carrot, and ginger; and the ‘Hydrator,’ with cucumber, apple, celery, and cilantro. Customers can also buy single juices (apple, carrot, cucumber, orange, and seasonal options) or create their own juice.
Smoothies are also extremely popular. They’re made from pureeing house-made raw almond-hemp milk with different combinations of fresh fruit, vegetables, seeds, and special ingredients. Customers can experiment with exciting “super” foods such as Carob, a tree-growing pod that is similar to chocolate -without the caffeine- and encompasses antiseptic, antibacterial, and antiviral properties. Another “super” food ingredient is spirulina, a blue-green algae that acts as a wonderful source of vegan protein, B complex vitamins, and is packed with antioxidants. The ‘Green Crush,’ a best-selling smoothie, combines spirulina, dates, cacao, and banana for a sweet, protein-rich boost. Many of the smoothies on the menu incorporate these more exotic ingredients. The ‘I’m Yours’ smoothie is made with strawberries, banana, and Maca (a root that is extremely dense with minerals, vitamins, and amino acids). Once again, customers can customize their smoothie, mixing ingredients and trying out new concoctions.
By far, the desserts are their best sellers. The RawNaimo Bar, a three-layered confection of chocolaty goodness, is sold at many different venues all over town. The chocolate layer is 100 percent Raw Cacao, providing a rich source of Magnesium.
Although growth takes time, the PLR Café is continually gaining regular customers and has become a healthy stop along the way for travelers. In the future, Obermire hopes that the Peace, Love, and Raw Café becomes an Olympia hot-spot, where people can come to enjoy the pleasures of satisfying, healthy food.
111 Legion Way SW
Olympia, WA 98501
By Barb Lally
David didn’t want to wait for his bed to arrive before he moved in. As soon as Homes First! had his place ready, he was in the door. Homes First! is a local non-profit that owns and manages affordable housing in Thurston County for families that are strapped, those recovering from substance abuse and adults with disabilities like David.
“I was surprised that I was on the floor in the morning, but I slept well,” David says with a laugh. Sleeping on the floor hasn’t always been such a funny story for David.
Up on His Feet
By age three David could not talk and could only crawl along the floor. Born with disabilities that impaired his ability to walk and to hear, Seattle doctors told his parents he would probably not live much longer. That was in the 60s. David says that his “body just kept on going.”
His family moved to California where with the help of his parents, hearing aids and some good doctors, David eventually learned to speak and walk.
David credits his Dad with teaching him to walk. “He would help me up on my feet,” David explains while holding out his hands as if helping a toddler.
As an adult, David was able to work a job as a janitor both in a veterinarian’s office through a non-profit agency, and eventually, when he moved back to Washington, at the UW Campus in Tacoma.
But he has had on again and off again living situations, some good, some okay, some bad.
On the Floor Again
Most recently, when he couldn’t bear living in a home any longer where he paid $400 for just two rooms, he moved into a fifth-wheel travel trailer parked in Rainier with his brother and his girlfriend.
David was again on the floor, but this time it was in a small cramped space shared with a piece of old furniture in the tiny camper’s living room.
“It was hard for me to get up from the floor in the morning because of my back,” David says. “Each day I would try to clean, do the dishes and fix the place up, but it wasn’t how I wanted to live.”
He knew he had to find a way out. David and his caregiver, Kathy from Catholic Community Services, spent a lot of time trying to find a new home for David.
“There was just nothing he could afford on his limited income from Social Security Disability,” says Kathy. “Most of the apartments we looked at required two times the rent just to get in. Then we walked into Homes First!”
Homes First! Home Helps David on His Feet Again
Homes First! Executive Director Trudy Soucoup and Property and Project Manager, Mike Fouts, explained to David and Kathy there was a one-bedroom apartment available but there were applicants ahead of David.
David kept checking back. And checking back.
“Finally Mike called and it was good news,” smiled David. “I got my place. I said, when can I move in? Can I move in now?”
Mike Fouts registered sheer joy in David’s response. “He wanted and needed that place so much and his persistence won out. Now, we have another great tenant.”
The staff and volunteers worked hard to get the apartment ready for him with new lovely laminate floors and other upgrades, cleaning and repairs. David couldn’t have a better landlord.
“It’s affordable living that allows him to be so much more independent,” says Kathy. “David can walk to the bank, the store or the bus stop nearby and he has even taken the bus to the mall once. Homes First! helps people live their dreams of having what other people have.”
Homes First! has been serving Thurston County communities for nearly 25 years and is currently inviting the public to a one-hour inspirational presentation about its mission held twice a month on location, right in one of their homes. They call it “Opening Doors to Homes First.”
“Attendees are amazed when they understand the positive effect of a decent, affordable home,” says Trudy. “It sort of catalyzes other great things in our tenants’ lives. Local county commissioners, mayors, city council members, business leaders and more have stopped by the presentations and have thoroughly enjoyed it.”
David Keeps a Promise
Homes First! tenants are openly grateful. David says it simply, “When I came into this house I felt like I was in a whole new world. This is my home and I will never sleep on the floor again.”
His thankfulness is clearly expressed in his care of the place. It is immaculate, cozy and comfortable. David has weeded flower beds and replanted gardens and proudly shows them off. He takes great pride in all he has accomplished since he has been there.
“Before my Mom died in 2006, I told her not to worry,” David says proudly. “I told her I would be okay and live my life the best I know how and stand on my own two feet.”
Clearly, Homes First! has helped David keep his promise.
The public is invited to an in-home outreach event called “Opening Doors to Homes First!” RSVP online at www.homesfirst.org for the one-hour presentations held on May 20 at 5:30 p.m. or May 22 at 11:30 a.m. Future events scheduled June through August.
By Kathryn Millhorn
For almost 70 years, the YWCA of Olympia has been an agent of change in our area. Beginning as a prayer circle for ten local women, they’ve grown into an organization that thrives on making the lives of women and girls stronger, better, and community-centered. This passion is summed up in their vision statement, for “all women, girls and families in our communities [to] live healthy and productive lives.”
We all remember adolescence as a difficult time. For girls, especially, it is a hugely defining phase of life. Researchers at the Confidence Coalition cite that a girl is bullied at school every 7 minutes, more likely than her male friends to be cyberbullied, and so negatively influenced by media that only 2% of girls consider themselves beautiful. With such sobering statistics, it’s easy to become overwhelmed.
That’s where the YWCA steps in. By offering open doors, supportive friendships, and healthy opportunities to grow, they’ve influenced the lives of many women over the decades. Whether it’s providing hygiene products like shampoo, diapers, and dish soap through the Other Bank or job training and interview outfits with the Women’s Economic Empowerment Program, there are many ways to support their mission.
Adolescent girls all too often fall through the cracks. Too old for many childcare or summer programs, they’re not yet afforded the freedom that comes with a driver’s license or high school activity schedule. At the YWCA, they become the stars of Girls Circle, a free after school program of relationship building, activities, friendship, and honest sharing. There are currently seven groups meeting, with 6-10 girls per unit, and they use an evidence-based peer support model to highlight such themes as healthy relationships, stress management, communication skills, and self esteem.
Meeting weekly with an adult facilitator to answer questions, guide discussions, or provide support, Girls Circle is open to anyone. YWCA staffers visit many local middle schools but also make room for homeschoolers or those new to the area and just settling in. Many of these groups begin by creating their own list of session guidelines, focusing on what’s important to the specific girls attending. Because of the warm atmosphere and air of freedom and confidentiality, many attendees come back year after year.
Girls Circle isn’t just a program for youth in trouble; staffers see it more as a “creative outlet.” Some past attendees are proud that “I learned to trust more people and to talk more because usually I’m really shy and I learned that I can really talk to people” and “Girls Circle helps me believe in myself, be myself, respect myself, and express myself.”
YWCA Executive Director, Hillary Soens is proud that the YWCA is the premier girl empowerment organization in Thurston County and loves that they offer the only Girls Circle program in South Puget Sound. She acknowledges that this is possible with the ongoing support of longtime current and past donors like the Mary P. Dolciani Halloran Foundation, the Nisqually Indian Tribe, the Lucky Eagle Casino, WSECU, Olympia Federal Savings, The Community Foundation, Key Bank, many local service clubs, Intel, the Medina Foundation, several Thurston County government departments, and the US Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health, along with many others.
Helping the YWCA is easier than you might think. Not only do they accept donations of cash, toiletries, clothing, and food, but they’re always on the lookout for local, professional women to visit as guest speakers. By showing what is possible here at home, girls are inspired that anything is attainable.
If a spring luncheon is more your style, the fifth annual benefit luncheon ‘Spring Into Action’ will be held on April 24 at the Indian Summer Golf Club. Thurston County Commissioner Karen Valenzuela will be the guest speaker and tickets are still available. Even if unable to attend, contributions are gladly accepted on their website, via 360-352-0593, or through the Washington State Combined Fund Drive.
Studies featured by the US Department of Education show that “the peak period for peer influence is generally from seventh to ninth grades…Young teens generally benefit from being exposed to a broad range of experiences and programs—academic, recreational and vocational. These opportunities take advantage of their natural curiosity and can be invaluable in familiarizing them with new worlds and possibilities…More educators and policymakers are becoming aware of the high levels to which young teens can achieve.”
Organizations like the YWCA of Olympia offer all of this and more to girls right here in our community. And, the Girls Circle program is even free. Supporting their mission benefits us all in the long run as our neighbors, daughters, and friends become the leaders we need to shape the future.
For answers about Girls Circle or any similar programs at the YWCA, contact Girls Advancement Director Lanessa Inman at email@example.com or 360-352-0593.