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Shanna Paxton Photography: Empowering the Community Through Photos

Sun, 05/24/2015 - 6:00am



By Margo Greenman

shanna paxton photography

Shanna Paxton met her husband, Jeff, at a sci-fi speed dating event. The couple now run a photography business together. Photo courtesy: Shanna Paxton

Growing up in South Africa, Shanna Paxton found herself in a state of culture shock when she arrived in the Pacific Northwest as an au pair several years ago. Here, Shanna wasn’t expected to act or dress a certain way; she was free to be herself, and, over time, she learned to shrug off some of the rigid traditions she was accustomed to. However, as Shanna became more comfortable and relaxed, she noticed that even in a country where individuality and self-expression are celebrated, many people — especially women — still struggle with the concept. This was a notion Shanna understood all too well.

Years ago, when Shanna started college in South Africa, she knew she was going to study photography. She had always been fascinated by television and photos and, after receiving a digital camera for her sweet sixteen birthday, she was hooked. Shanna’s first photography subjects were her friends from school. “I would take photos of them and they would feel great about themselves,” she says. She enjoyed the feeling she got knowing her photos had made someone feel more confident or beautiful. Shanna wanted everyone to feel this way.

After studying general art for one year and photography for four years in college, Shanna’s five years of study culminated with a two-year photo project that was — and still is — near to her heart. Shanna used photography to explore body image and how women are portrayed in the media. Female empowerment has been a prominent theme in Shanna’s photography ever since.

When Shanna came to the Pacific Northwest four years ago as an au pair, she was placed with a family in Seattle. Living with this family, Shanna gained experience photographing their children. Shanna’s portfolio was growing and she was falling in love — not only with the Pacific Northwest but with her soon-to-be husband and business partner, Jeff.

Shanna and Jeff met at a sci-fi speed dating event at Emerald City Comicon and hit it off instantly. Fortunately, the timing couldn’t have been better. On the day they met, Shanna received notice that she was nearing the end of her year as an au pair. Missing her family and friends at home and struggling with the sudden pull on her heartstrings to stay, Shanna was faced with a difficult question: should she stay or should she go? Shanna ended up requesting an extension. In August 2013, Shanna and Jeff got married and Shanna moved in with Jeff at his home in Olympia. Several months after their wedding, Shanna received her green card and started her business, Shanna Paxton Photography, which she operates alongside her marketing guru husband, Jeff.

shanna paxton photography

After five years of study, Shanna’s university years culminated in a two-year photo project. Photo credit: Shanna Paxton Photography.

Since launching Shanna Paxton Photography just over one year ago, Shanna hasn’t hesitated to introduce the community to her unique and powerful approach to photography. “We’re known for embracing families and empowering women,” she says. This includes everything from capturing precious, organic moments shared between a family to creating powerful, natural photographs of prominent community members and business women. But, every now and then Shanna gets the opportunity to take a special project — she looks forward to these the most. One project that especially stands out for both Shanna and Jeff is last year’s Miss Thurston County pageant, which they were hired not only to shoot but to develop a campaign for the event as well.

Shanna and Jeff wanted to take the emphasis off the pageant dresses and perfect hair and bring the focus to what made each contestant unique. Together they branded the pageant as “More Than A Princess” and highlighted each contestant’s unique talents and qualities through photos. Shanna says the experience was empowering not only for the contestants but for Shanna and Jeff as well.

This authentic, intentional approach to photography is evident in all of Shanna’s projects. Shanna says, other than minimal touch-up, she won’t use Photoshop to alter a person’s appearance. “I used to do a lot of digital manipulation to make women happy with themselves,” she explains, but then things got out of hand. “People would ask me to make them look 30 when they were 50.”

shanna paxton photography

Shanna Paxton is available for a wide range of photography assignments. Photo credit: Shanna Paxton Photography.

Shanna says the empowering women project changed this, and she decided she would no longer digitally manipulate bodies in photos. She does make artistic improvements to the images. Shanna says a lot of prominent community members and business women will come to her for headshots, and she makes it clear that she won’t manipulate the photos to make someone look thinner or younger. Shanna calls these types of photos “natural business headshots,” and they’re designed to make women feel good about themselves, naturally.

Capturing authentic, natural moments is at the heart of Shanna Paxton Photography. Shanna works closely with all her clients and asks thoughtful questions to create a setting in which they will be comfortable and happy. Whether bringing bubbles to a photoshoot to keep kids giggling and happy to helping teens brainstorm creative ways to capture their last year of high school, Shanna brings creativity and compassion to all of her shoots.

When she’s not working on special projects in the community, hosting body image workshops or playing with her new puppy, Shanna is available to shoot family portraits, senior photos, weddings, gratitude videos, natural business headshots and more. To learn more about Shanna Paxton Photography, visit Shanna Paxton Photography online or contact Shanna and Jeff via email.

Panorama Arts Walk – Where Art and Creativity are Ageless

Sun, 05/24/2015 - 6:00am



By Nikki McCoy

panorama arts

April Works, a member of the Panorama Art Guild steering committee, expresses herself with color in the facility’s art studio.

The first thing I notice upon arrival at Panorama is the large, stunning glass sculpture near the reception center parking lot. Looking like a tropical bloom, (and a Chihuly), its red and orange glass spikes glisten in the sun.

I have to admit, art isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Panorama, a senior living community in Lacey. But so far, a Chihuly installation is pretty impressive. This is one of a number of permanent art installations on the 140-acre grounds, including a water fountain and Squaxin welcome pole.

The installations are cool, however, they are just the tip of the iceberg in relation to Panorama’s own art community.

So, I feel lucky to have this assignment – to learn, and share – about the thriving arts groups within Panorama. I know I’m not the only one who will be pleasantly surprised by the capabilities of these interesting and active people. some reaching centurion status.

“The quality of the work of many of our artists is excellent – how can we share that?” asks Kathy Houston, Panorama resident and member of the arts guild. The team came up with a solution – The 1st Annual Panorama Arts Walk.

panorama arts walk

Resident Jim Crabtree slays a piece of metal in the community’s refurbished metal shop. Jim’s work (and many others) will be available for sale at the Panorama Arts Walk on May 28.

On Thursday, May 28, from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m., the public is invited to experience the Panorama Arts Walk, where event-goers can view the permanent ground installations, as well as the work of over 35 visual artists, plus enjoy live music, ice cream and more.

Kathy and fellow guild-member April Works, meet with me to share more. We start a pleasant tour through Panorama Hall, stopping in a room to admire some more Chihuly installments, a wave of red glass bowls adorning a fireplace. (Fun fact: Russell Day, 104, is a Panorama resident and a former Chihuly mentor.)

This room gives way to a space where perhaps a more interesting display of art is to be admired – that of the residents.

The 3-D collection features a colorful quilted bowl, an intricately carved walking stick, progressive metal work, weaving and more. The work is high-quality and interesting. This is the second installation in a rotating display of resident artists – and just the tip of what goes on behind the facility’s art studio doors.

I find myself growing more intrigued by what the arts community in Panorama is up to.

In the Quinault Building basement, a long hallway leads the way to a quilting and fabric room, visual arts studio, TV and media studio, wood shop and more. Each room brings a new sense of wonder.

panorama arts walk

A resident enjoys her time in the newly remodeled clay studio, one of many creative opportunities the Panorama community has access to.

Of course one envisions a fitness center in a retirement community – but a space devoted to a television show? A full art studio? We then we pass an auditorium, full of people laughing. Kathy explains a Readers’ Theatre is currently underway.

We step into the large wood shop, where a few men work saws, and I chuckle when I see the signs pointing the way to the “Metal Shop” – the red font mimicking that of 1980s metal bands.

In the metal shop, Jim Crabtree is at work, pieces of metal art and tools strung decoratively over head. His work will be on display, and for sale, at Panorama Arts Walk.

“I’m personally just starting to think of myself as producing art work. I’ve always been a mechanic, but then I started making some of these things…I might have to go and buy myself a beret pretty soon,” Jim jokes.

“It’s pretty exciting to be able to think you could come to a community like this and come in and try and do some art work,” he adds. “Whether painting, art, metal sculpture, weaving…I think it’s wonderful to have the facilities to be able to explore these different avenues.”

David Taylor, a resident of three years, says the woodshop is a big reason he chose to live at Panorama. A skilled craftsman for more than 15 years, he admits to being in the shop a minimum of three hours a day. Jewelry boxes are a favorite, and currently, he’s working on a bowl made of 68 pieces, mainly maple.

panorama arts walk

Panorama resident artists’ work lines the wall of the on-campus Chambers House Restaurant. Panorama is hosting an Arts Walk on May 28 that features more than 35 visual artists, as well as musicians, theater and literary artists.

“It’s a good way for my wife to get me out of the house,” he chuckles.

David, Jim and a few of the other 25 active wood shop members also help with minor repairs for residents. For Arts Walk, they prepped tabletop easels and a 4×8 foot chalkboard “graffiti” wall.

The graffiti wall will be open to the public. A shuttle will be available to access all of Arts Walk.

“The Panorama Arts Walk is a celebration of the arts and artists of Panorama,” says Kathy. “It will give both Panorama residents and the community an opportunity to meet artists and view their work. We want the community to know how vibrant the arts are at Panorama. Art and creativity are ageless.”

Panorama is home to 1,200 independent residents as well as up to 50 assisted and 250 nursing facility residents. To learn more, click here.


Black Lake Organic – Valuable Gardening Advice to Keep Your Backyard Oasis Humming

Sat, 05/23/2015 - 12:18pm



By Larry Meader

volkswagenBlack Lake Organic suffers from a serious lack of exposure. Unless you are already a customer or a friend of a customer, there is a small probability that you will find it by accident. Even knowing where it is, do not be distracted by the lake on your left or you will miss the drive way on your right.

olympia garden store

Gary Klein has also been called the Sultan of Soil.

At this fertilizer supply store and gardening information center you can buy any possible organic nutrient or combination. No chemical solutions sold here – it is totally natural. Customers range from the well-educated in organic gardening to the novice who is finding his way. All levels are welcome. You can choose from ten pre-mixed formulas, such as vegetables, shrubs, blueberry-rhododendron mix, lawn feed, and so on. If you just want to buy rock phosphate, blood meal, oyster shell, seabird guano, and dozens of others, they are also here.

Services include soil testing to determine what nutrients are lacking and gives you the pH. The soil profile in our region is very acidic because of the constant rain. It is also rated by National Geographic and other publications as the highest quality in texture.

Most nurseries now carry a similar menu, but few have the technical knowledge and passion as does Gary Klein, the Sultan of Soil, who will walk you through your garden problems and their solutions. Why does your tomato have a black spot on the bottom? Why does your lettuce turn to seed before it ripens? Why don’t I get any fruit on my cherry tree? Ask Gary. He has the knowledge and the tools to fix these common gardening problems.

Trained as a biologist and conservationist, Gary has a bachelors degree from Oregon State University and also from Simpson College in Iowa. His fields of study are biology and wildlife management. He was also the chairman of the first Earth Day at Oregon State University. After working ten years for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, he developed a specialized knowledge of the aquatic environment.

black lake organic

Ginger, Gary’s step-daughter, recently purchased Black Lake Organic. Ten pre-mixed formulas of soil are available for purchase.

“I bought my house in 1976 and then converted the adjacent land to the current store, office, and sheds of Black Lake Organic,” says Gary, remembering his decision to move back to Olympia.

When Gary became interested in organic gardening, the concepts of conservation were just entering our vocabulary. Many societal topics like global  warming and carbon footprints would come years later. Gary’s philosophy, “Don’t tinker with a system that took three and a half billion years to balance and refine – replace the nutrients that are lost every year,” has become common wisdom in organic farming circles. His penchant for tech talk became obvious when the discussion turned to cation exchange, appropriate pH, and N-P-K balance, and the panoply of dozens of other nutrients and their functions.

“I like to remind my customers of the importance of timing,” he states. “You can ruin plants by applying nitrogen at the wrong time. You can waste kelp by applying it at the wrong time. Applying everything at one time in the spring can also be problematic.”  More of Gary’s theories can be found on his website.

In the last few months, Gary has sold the business to his step-daughter, Ginger, and has opened a consulting business called Blossom.  His services include soil analysis, site inspection, classes and lectures, telephone advice and much more. When it comes to soil, Gary says, “I created the motto – It’s as easy as A B C, which means: amount, balance, completeness.” His passion for these topics, as well as for Ginger and salesman Chris, has reached the level of a missionary zeal. “It has come to now or never as regards to turning around the Earth’s crisis,” says Chris as I talked with him from behind the counter. They are no longer interested in just preaching to the choir, but would like to spread the word to a broader audience.

black lake organic

Ginger’s helpful team at Black Lake Organic is prepared to answer all of your gardening questions.

Ginger is happy with her new role as owner and says, “I feel comfortable because I have great technical knowledge from working here so many years.”

Modern gardeners can grow heirloom tomatoes, bib lettuce, French beans, and a variety of other interesting flowers, produce, and trees in our Olympia backyards. But if your your veggies are signing the blues, put down that shovel and rake and head over to Black Lake Organic and say hello to Ginger.

To learn more, visit the Black Lake Organic website.

Black Lake Organic

4711 Black Lake Blvd SW

Olympia, WA 98512


Hours: Tuesday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Lacey Rotary Offers Educational Needs Grants

Sat, 05/23/2015 - 12:00pm



Submitted by Lacey Rotary

Local non-profit groups are encouraged to apply for an Educational Needs Grant (up to $1,000 each) 2014-15 through the Rotary Club of Lacey. The funds are designated to promote education needs in the community and meet one-time needs (not to be part of a non-profit’s regular budget).

Specific requests are encouraged! Please send a one-page letter of request with

  1. Information about your organization, including EIN or nonprofit number,
  2. Specific amount requested, and
  3. Specific need.

The grant does not give endowments, capital funds, fundraisers or individuals (student trips, etc.). Direct needs only.

Send requests by June 3 to Lacey Rotary, Education Needs Committee Chair, PO Box 3301, Lacey WA 98503.

Two Olympia Area Rowing Boats Headed to National Championships

Sat, 05/23/2015 - 7:03am



By Gail Wood

little caesars logoThe desire to push harder in practice is always linked to performance.

Both Richard Hull and Kiirsten Flynn, longtime coaches with Olympia Area Rowing, saw that gumption in their teams rowing at the recent Northwest Youth Championships.

As a result, two OAR teams – the boys four-man lightweight boat and the girls dual boat – have qualified for the USRowing Youth National Championships that will be in Sarasota, Florida, on June 12-14.

Hull saw the potential in the boys boat early on.

“They’ve shown flashes of brilliance all season,” Hull said. “They had a great season in the fall and they worked hard over the winter.”

oar nationals

The boys lightweight boat headed to nationals is (from left) Jack Gerhard, Ian Flynn-Thomas, Jeremy Sawyer, coxswain Madeline Cope and Nick Taylor.

The boys four-man lightweight shell, which is made of up Nick Taylor, Jeremy Sawyer, Ian Flynn-Thomas and Jack Gerhard with Madeline Cope at coxswain, went out strong in the 2,000-meter race and pulled away to win by four seconds. The girls dual boat, which includes Savannah Inglin and Willa Jeffers, came from behind to win.

Flynn was impressed with the comeback win keyed by their all-out sprint at the finish.

“They were competing against huge clubs in Seattle,” Flynn said. “Those teams have a huge base to draw from. For our team to get as far as they have is pretty wonderful.”

In preparation for nationals, both teams are now training seven days a week, usually rowing three-hour workouts on Budd Bay. Inglin, a junior at Olympia High School, doesn’t mind the extra workouts. She even looks forward to the Wednesday morning workouts before school that go from 6:30 a.m. to 8:00 a.m.

“I love being outside,” Inglin said as she looked at the picturesque Budd Bay before a recent practice. “I like being out on the water.”

oar nationals

Willa Jeffers (left) and Savannah Inglin will be racing in Sarasota, Florida for the USRowing National Youth Championships. They are coached by Kiirsten Flynn (right).

Inglin got involved in rowing three years ago in the spring of her eighth grade year. Unlike her sister, Inglin was hooked from the start.

“My sister started rowing her sophomore year,” Inglin said. “She ended up not enjoying it. I did. I stuck with it because I really enjoyed it.”

Inglin, who played basketball when she was younger, now rows year around. Her ambition is to one day row in college on a rowing scholarship.

“That’s the dream,” she said.

Gerhard, a sophomore at Capital High School, is drawn to rowing because of its competitive edge. He rows year around, as well.

“For me, it’s really competitive,” Gerhard said when asked what he likes about rowing. “I’m really competitive. This is a good way to do that.”

Workouts are strenuous and they’ll usually row between 10 and 15 miles in their 3-hour workout. One of the risks is catching an oar in the water, which is equivalent to slamming on the breaks. It’s called “crabbing.”

“I have caught a lot of crabs,” Gerhard said with a smile. “But I have not caught what we call an ejector crab.”

Hull has been impressed with the fortitude of the boys team and their ability to push through fatigue.

“To have a boat go as fast as they did, they have to have the conditioning,” said Hull, who grew up in England and rowed for the University of Oxford. “They have to have the power. They have to be rowing well. Then they have to have the will to win.”

Fatigue is a foe. “The mental fortitude to really attack a race key, when the brain is trying to trick the body to close down, they have to have the will to push through,” Hull said.

Helping with that push is the coxswain. Cope, who joined OAR last year, has handled that role well.

olympia rowing

A three-hour practice for Olympia Area Rowing begins on Budd Bay.

“She is the ultimate motivator,” Hull said. “Maddy has done a fantastic job. We saw some video of the race and it was spectacular.”

Jeffers, a sophomore at Avanti High School in Olympia, began rowing last summer and has caught on to the sport quickly. She enjoys the challenge, the people and the beauty of rowing.

“I like the people a lot,” Jeffers said. “The coaching is top notch. They are amazing. It’s beautiful to be on the water every day and I like the competition factor.”

She said the challenge is being able to push through the fatigue of a race.

“It’s really a mind game,” Jeffers said. “You have to be mentally stronger than the other team.”

Now that they’re headed to nationals, they’re going to have go even faster. It’s a challenge they look forward to.

“It’s going to be the top boats in the nation,” Hull said. “Many of them will row in college or on a national team. It’s the best of the best. There’s no slow boats there.”


DKB Restoration Recommends Annual Dryer Vent Cleaning

Sat, 05/23/2015 - 6:00am



dryer vent cleaning

DKB Restoration can clean most dryer vents in under an hour without ever entering the home but some are a little trickier!

Dryer vents are one of those things we seldom ponder. They’re out of sight, out of mind, and often out of our daily cleaning routine. Even if you conscientiously clean the trap after every use, lint can build up in the hose leading to inefficient dryer operation and possibly even damaging fires.

FEMA estimates that “clothes dryer fires account for about 15,600 structure fires, 15 deaths, and 400 injuries annually. ‘Failure to clean’ is the leading factor contributing to clothes dryer fires in residential buildings. New home construction trends place clothes dryers and washing machines in more hazardous locations away from outside walls such as bedrooms, second-floor hallways, bathrooms, and kitchens.”

These statistics average out to a fire in one home, per state, per day. With vent cleaning a simple, easy, non-invasive process offered by companies like Olympia’s DKB Restoration, it’s easy to save yourself the worry while increasing your dryer’s efficiency and saving money.

Owner Dan Baxter knows that all too often “people just don’t think about it.” He recommends annual cleaning for your dryer vent to reduce drying times, save energy, and even minimize water damage which can result from condensation backing up from a clogged hose.

DKB Restoration offers dryer vent cleaning as a standalone service for $139. They’re often finished in less than an hour and use only compressed air, no chemicals or vacuums. If your dryer hose is less than 20 feet long, they probably won’t even need to come inside your home to do a thorough cleaning unless there’s a complete clog of the line.

Baxter warns that another hazard of an untended hose can include pests enjoying the warm, fluffy bed at your home’s vent access point. He has found mice and squirrels (usually dead) and bird’s nests, one even housing chicks who survived with the help of Animal Services.

If, like me, you’re afraid of forgetting regular dryer maintenance, DKB Restoration has an easy solution. For $217 they’ll thoroughly clean the vents and install Lint Alert, a small monitoring device which warns of airflow restriction. You can watch a video of the Lint Alert system here.

dryer vent cleaning

Critters like squirrels, mice, and birds all love the warmth and softness of an uncleaned vent. Don’t let them make your home into theirs.

Industry professionals offer several warning signs that dryer vent cleaning is overdue. You should schedule an appointment if clothes are not dry after one normal cycle, your dryer is unusually hot to the touch or has a musty odor, or the flap to the outdoors does not open properly or is surrounded by lots of linty debris.

It seems counterintuitive to think that spending money can help you save money. But as Bankrate explains, “Sometimes trying to save money can actually whisk more cash from your pocket. When you have to replace something because it wears out too quickly or doesn’t do the job, a great bargain can turn into a raw deal. On the other hand, quality and efficiency can stretch out a dollar.”

We’re used to spending a modest amount on preventive maintenance like automotive oil changes, regular chimney sweeping and annual medical physicals. Add dryer vent cleaning to that list and you’ll save money, time, and the risk of damage—or worse—from a laundry room fire.

DKB Restoration can be reached for a free quote by calling 360-688-4392 or emailing

Testimonials can be found on their website, Yelp, Customer Lobby, or Angie’s List. They are a veteran owned small business and give back to our community in many ways. When you call to schedule your vent cleaning, be sure to ask about their carpet cleaning and odor radiation services as well.

Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County Combats Learning Loss with Summer Brain Gain

Fri, 05/22/2015 - 1:00pm



By Lisa Herrick

boys girls clubs thurston county

Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County serves school aged kids throughout Lacey, Tumwater, Olympia and Rochester.

Boys & Girls Clubs of America contends that most youth lose about two months’ worth of math skills during summer, but low-income youth also lose more than two months’ worth of reading skills while their middle-class peers make slight gains. Keeping kids’ brains stimulated during summer is a challenge for any parent, but for many low-income and disadvantaged families who do not have the financial means to send their kids to summer programs, the learning loss their children experience over the summer is even greater. By the end of fifth grade, disadvantaged youth are nearly three grade equivalents behind their more affluent peers in reading. When left unaddressed, summer learning losses can stack up from year to year, causing low-income children to fall further and further behind, ultimately endangering their chances for high school graduation.

Summer Brain Gain is a program specifically designed for Boys & Girls Clubs to prevent summer learning loss and foster critical creative-thinking skills. The program engages youth to learn through discovery, creative expression, group work and a final project, so they don’t fall behind in the summer. Composed of one-week modules with fun, themed activities for elementary school, middle school and high school students, Summer Brain Gain offers an interactive approach to hands-on summer learning.

brain gain boys girls clubs

A common focus of Summer Brain Gain is reading to ensure kids do not fall behind in their reading abilities over the summer.

“Within Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County, each of the local branches is able to tailor Brain Gain to their local area and kids’ interest. We want to excite kids about education in the most fun ways possible. Over the course of last summer over 300 kids were served through educational enrichment opportunities at Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County,” explains Shellica Trevino Director of Operations. Summer Brain Gain will be offered through the local branches in Lacey, Tumwater, Olympia and Rochester. Last summer each of the clubs presented a slightly different focus.

Reading was the big hit in Lacey. Kids took field trips to the Lacey Library and registered for library cards. Each day participants had opportunities to read, discuss books and complete book related activities. For example, the children wrote poems after reading The Velveteen Rabbit. “Comics are very popular in the Lacey Club, so we sure to incorporate comics as reading options,” shares Kirk Van Irvin, Lacey Club Education Program Staff.

In Rochester the focus was science. Each day the kids had an opportunity to work on different experiments such as making gak a slimy putty, combine soda and Mentos, make play dough, build marshmallow architectural structures, as well as time to read.

boys girls clubs tumwater

A favorite activity at the Tumwater Branch of Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County Summer Brain Gain was the Wonder Wall where kids posted questions and answers on topics of curiosity.

According to Kaila Rants, Education Room staff in Tumwater Club, “The Tumwater kids loved the ‘Wonder Wall,’ which is a wall where they could write questions on subjects they were curious about. Then other kids who knew about the topic would write back to answer the questions. If no one knew the answer the staff would let the kids wonder on it a bit then would help them research it.” The Tumwater Club also included a science session. They designed cloud formations to investigate rain fall activities and built structures to protect eggs from breaking when dropped from a balcony.

At the Olympia Club, each week had a theme such as Mad Scientist Week where the kids built volcanoes and learned about volcanoes from an educational video produced by National Geographic. Mike Babauta, former Olympia Club Director shares, “I was hesitant to offer the volcano activity thinking it has been over used. But the kids were absolutely thrilled to build and then see their volcanoes erupt. The finale of the week was the kids getting to dress up as mad scientists.”

Boys & Girls Club of Thurston County is only able to offer Summer Brain Gain and other Summer Camp programs because of crucial funds raised during one of its two main fundraisers, the Foundation for the Future breakfast, held on May 28, 2015 at the Saint Martin’s University Marcus Pavillion.

Christine Hoffmann Communications & Events Manager explains, “The Foundation for the Future breakfast helps us raise about 20% of our overall operating budget which funds activities for over 2,700 kids per year in Thurston County. Our programs are focused on three overall outcomes which are academic success, healthy lifestyles, and good character and citizenship. We hope to raise $325,000 at the breakfast via donations from attendees and from the support of our matching fund partners Titus-Will Family Foundation, Bruno & Evelyne Betti Foundation, and the Jernigan Foundation. We are thrilled to have the 1964 Olympic Gold Medalist 10,000 meter runner as our keynote. His story of overcoming all odds to be a game changer for the USA Olympic team is phenomenal.”

Visit Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County website to learn more about Summer Brain Gain and Foundation for the Future breakfast.


ThurstonTalk High School Interns Reflect on their Year of Writing

Fri, 05/22/2015 - 12:41pm



Compiled by Kate Scriven, ThurstonTalk Associate Editor

Hometown logoWe met back in August in the ThurstonTalk office.  A group of nervous, yet excited, group of dedicated high school students ready to stretch their boundaries and build their resumes through an internship with ThurstonTalk.  And, here we are in May, at the close of their time with us.  They have grown in their understanding of what it takes to be a professional writer, how to manage deadlines and time, and willingness to step outside their comfort zone.  These talented writers have created powerful pieces about their community that give ThurstonTalk readers a different, fresh perspective and a sneak peek into the lives of our area’s amazing youth.

In their own words, our interns reflect on their year with ThurstonTalk.  To learn more about our internship program, click here.

Sara Hollar – Olympia High School Intern

Sara Hollar, Olympia High School

Sara Hollar, Olympia High School

This ThurstonTalk internship has seen two years of my life, and those two years have seen some good memories and big changes. When I started writing for ThurstonTalk I wanted to be a lawyer. Now I know I’ll be a writer. I may be a lawyer who writes or an artist who writes or a journalist who writes, but I will never stop putting pen to paper. I’m so thankful for ThurstonTalk because this internship taught me to believe in the power of a quote, to capture an individual’s passion in words and to always love telling stories.

I work hard on each of my articles but I think the one I’m proudest of is about Olympia High School’s Bear Crew Two, a club I’m personally involved with. My experience with Bear Crew Two has been about friendship and joy and those are the qualities I tried to portray in the article. Those are the stories I like to tell, the ones about people coming together to be positive forces in each other’s lives.

This internship allowed me to write about a lot of beautiful things, neighbors helping neighbors, students striving for excellence and the amazing Thurston County community. I can’t express how grateful I am to have two years full of experience behind me as I look to a future in writing. I now know that there is more than one way to be a great writer and I should never let the fear that I won’t be “good enough” stand in the way of telling the stories that are important to me.

Claire Smith – Capital High School Intern

Claire Smith, Capital High School

Claire Smith, Capital High School

I truly don’t know where I’d be if I hadn’t taken a risk two years ago and applied for my ThurstonTalk internship. I know that sounds cheesy and overrated, but this job has had a huge impact on my life.

By working with Thurston Talk, I get to visit businesses and meet people I normally would not get a chance to interact with. I know so much more about the Thurston County area than ever before. There is a true level of depth within Thurston County that simply goes undiscovered unless you look for it. I’m grateful for the special interactions I’ve been blessed to have. The lessons and values I’ve learned from this internship are a gift.

Writing for ThurstonTalk has also helped me share my passions with the community. I’ve had the privilege to write about some ladies that mean a lot to me – the Capital High School Cougarettes. My dance team is my life. I see these girls every day. We’re each other’s best friends, always lending a helping hand when needed. To make the community aware of this special bond has reminded me how blessed I am to have these young women in my life.

I’ve also learned a lot of real life skills from this internship. Deadlines are realities that are hard to ignore. I’ve had to learn a lot about time management and balance. Balancing school, dance team and writing isn’t easy, but clicking into a routine where you’re comfortable is the best feeling in the world. Discovering balance, and figuring out how I work best is a gift.

As I end my second year of interning, I look back feeling blessed. I am truly lucky to be able to see as much of Thurston County I see and to be able to share about it in writing is an indescribable joy. I have loved this past year, and am looking very forward to continuing with ThurstonTalk next year.

Lauren Frasier, Capital High School Intern

Lauren Fraiser, Capital High School

Lauren Fraiser, Capital High School

Over my past year as an intern, I’ve gone many places, from football fields, to debate competitions, to bowling alleys. I’ve been all around Thurston County, but I always end up in front of my laptop with my notebook and cup of tea for good measure, typing away and trying to do justice to the story that I’m trying to tell. It’s been such a rewarding experience. First was the interview, pushing me out of my comfort zone, forcing me talk to different people and posing questions, all of which gave me more confidence. Next was my writing. I’ve always loved to write, but I never made time for it until ThurstonTalk.  Looking at the notes I’d jotted down during the interview, an article slowly starts to take shape.

I love being able to tell the amazing stories of people all around our community who are working hard and doing extraordinary things. They don’t do it for the recognition, but it’s well earned. Seeing a jumble of quotes and explanations slowly become an article was gratifying, and my favorite part was being able to send a copy of the finished product to the team, club or person it was about. Telling their stories not only recognized all they had accomplished, but also inspired those who read them. Along the way, I learned a lot about myself. I’ve seen my skills improve, and now the essays I have at school are no longer daunting. It wouldn’t have happened without ThurstonTalk, a notepad, a pen, and a good cup of tea.

Taylor Tryon, Tumwater High School

Taylor Tryon, Tumwater High School

Taylor Tryon, Tumwater High School Intern

My time as an intern for ThurstonTalk has showed me much, about not only myself, but the community around me. From stepping out of my comfort zone to interview people I had never met, to balancing school, sports and interning, this opportunity has been challenging, exciting, and most of all, rewarding.

My personal favorite article that I’ve written during my time with ThurstonTalk is my very first, a look inside the THS Friday Night Football scene. This article was such fun to craft. Seeing the excitement others at Tumwater High School had for the topic was amazing and made me realize right off the bat that the work I was doing with ThurstonTalk mattered to Thurston County.


Cebu – A Taste of Traditional Philippine Cuisine

Fri, 05/22/2015 - 8:01am



By Rachel Thomson

creative officeAngel Vano wants to take diners on a culinary tour of the Philippines. His passion is introducing locals to a culture rich with history and international influence, which they may not be familiar.

Vano is the owner and cook at Cebu (pronounced SAY-boo), a restaurant offering Filipino cuisine. Named after one of the more than 7,100 islands in the Philippines, Cebu has been offering traditional Filipino dishes to diners since 2001.

“I enjoy promoting culture and heritage through food,” Vano says. “Filipino food transports you to another place.”

The Philippines’ history and influences borrowed from other countries are evident in the culinary offerings found on Cebu’s menu.

olympia restaurant

Angel Vano is the owner and cook at Cebu, an Olympia restaurant featuring traditional Filipino food.

An example of this is Cebu’s adobo, a meat dish slowly marinated and stewed with vinegar originating from Spain. In 1521, Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan arrived in the Philippines and claimed the islands for Spain, thus marking the beginning of a 300-year rule by Spain. The Spanish version of adobo is made with oregano, salt, vinegar and paprika, which gives it a spicy flavor. However, paprika was not a spice common in the Philippines, so the Filipino version features ingredients such as soy sauce, garlic, bay leaves and black pepper, which allows the tanginess of the vinegar to come through.

Another example of Asian fusion on Cebu’s menu can be found in the restaurant’s take on pancit (PAN-set). In the 13th and 14th centuries, the Chinese established colonies in the Philippines. With them, the Chinese brought noodle dishes and bean curds. The Cebu version of pancit starts with your choice of three different types of sautéed noodles: sotanghon (bean thread), bihon (rice), or canton (egg), which are then mixed with your choice of chicken, pork, prawns or tofu and vegetables like carrots, yellow peppers and red cabbage.

Cebu also offers appetizers such as lumpia (pronounced Loomp-YA), which are similar to Chinese egg rolls. However, lumpia are stuffed with mainly pork and shredded carrots and their wrappers are thinner, which gives the lumpia a pronounced crunch. Cebu’s dessert items allude to the Philippines’ Polynesian roots, featuring a Halo Halo (pronounced HALL-oh, HALL-oh) shaved ice that is mixed with tropical fruits and topped with ice cream.

olympia restaurant

Lumpia is one of the appetizers diners can try at Cebu. Lumpia is similar to an egg roll, but is traditionally filled with pork instead of a vegetable medley and the wrapper is thinner, which give the lumpia a crunchy texture.

Vano opened Cebu in Olympia with his wife, Kim, in 2001. He met his wife in Cebu and they immigrated to the United States more than two decades ago. Van attended Pacific Lutheran University, earned a degree in business, and worked in the banking industry for 11 years. However, he says opening his own restaurant has “always been a dream” of his. One day, he decided to leave the banking world, but put his knowledge of business to work into his restaurant.

“It was kind of a now or never kind of dream,” Vano says.

Cebu’s menu is created from family recipes that have been passed down for generations. Vano considers himself the sous chef and says most of the recipes come from his wife’s family. Prior to immigrating to the United States, Kim worked as a dietician and nutritionist and prepared meals for nuns at a hospital.

Since opening the restaurant on Marvin Road, Vano says he’s been able to educate the community about Filipino culture and heritage. He is the president of the Filipino American Community of South Puget Sound (FACSPS). The organization, which started in 1982, is a non-profit committed to promoting and preserving Filipino American heritage in the United States. The organization runs a “Visiting Artists” program, which hosts performing artists such as The Philippine Ballet Troupe and choral singers. The group also runs a humanitarian relief program called “Uhaw,” derived from a tagalong word meaning “thirst.” The organization also sends basic aid to victims of mass disasters and crises in the Philippines and the United States. Recently, FACSPS held a benefit dinner to send aid to victims of the category 5 typhoon Haiyan, which killed thousands of people in 2013. The group also provides a limited number of scholarships to local graduating seniors in Thurston County schools and regularly participates at the annual Ethnic Celebration at Saint Martin’s University.

olympia restaurant

Pancit is a popular noodle dish in the Philippines. This serving of pancit features egg noodles, but can be made with bean thread noodles or rice noodles.

Vano says the best thing about running Cebu is the opportunity he gets to educate the community about the cultural diversity of the Philippines. He remembers a group of students from an Asian and International Studies course at South Puget Sound Community College who came in for lunch one day for an assignment. They had to try an international type of food and discuss it in class. Vano says none of the students had tried Filipino food before and they began taking pictures and writing notes.

“I’m glad to be here to represent that cuisine,” Vano says. “I didn’t think that educating people would be such a big effect of opening a restaurant, but it bloomed into that. Food is culture and I like being able to bridge culture through food.”


9408 Martin Way

Olympia, WA 98516

Hours: Monday – Friday: 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Saturday: noon – 9:00 p.m.

Sunday: Closed

Cebu also hosts special Filipino buffets on holidays such as Easter, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, which features a wider variety of Filipino food not on the regular menu, and Cebu also offers a full-service catering menu. For more information call Cebu at 360-455-9128.


Meconi’s Meals Made from Scratch: A Difference you can Taste

Fri, 05/22/2015 - 7:59am



meconis subs olympia

Cookies are made in large batches, but using the same methods and ingredients you’d use at home.

When talking about food, people throw around the phrase, “just like mom used to make.” In the case of family-run business, Meconi’s Italian Subs, it’s literally the truth. The Thurston County favorite has a reputation built on quality and of course, their delicious scratch baked bread, made fresh each morning. But it’s not just the bread that inspires sub lovers and gourmet foodies alike to sing the praises of this local favorite.

“We make so many of our menu items from scratch and most people don’t even realize it,” shares general operations manager Robin Vaughn. The recipes for many of these favorites come straight out of the Meconi family kitchen where restaurant founder Wayne Meconi has been cooking for his family for years.

What’s on the homemade list? For starters, the store’s popular meatballs found in their meatball sub (my husband’s absolute favorite menu item). “The meatballs are Wayne’s recipe and are made from scratch,” shares Vaughn. “They are laborious and time-consuming, but we know doing it this way makes a difference. They are truly a labor of love.”

The meatballs are mixed with fresh ingredients in Meconi’s production facility in Lacey and hand-formed before being baked. Yes, you read that right. The hundreds of meatballs served each week are made the same way you would make them at home (or the way mom used to). Head baker Callie Robello heads up the team ensuring the freshest ingredients are on hand and Wayne’s recipe is followed exactly.

meconis subs olympia

Meconi’s chili is crafted from scratch using the Meconi family recipe.

Wayne’s recipe is also followed closely for the scratch-made chili. “It’s a sweeter chili,” explains Vaughn when describing the recipe. And while everyone has their own favorite variety of chili, this is the Meconi family recipe and the store is going to stick with it. Likewise, the chili is made in big batches and sourced out weekly to each location.

“It’s a lot to keep up with,” Vaughn admits. “But, it’s worth it to ensure we are serving the best quality, best tasting food we can. Now that we have grown larger, it would be easier to compromise on that quality and purchase pre-made foods, but we know the value of scratch made food and are committed to keeping it on our menu.”

In addition to the meatballs and chili, most of the salads served alongside the famous subs are made by hand. “We make our potato salad, macaroni salad, pasta salad, egg salad and tuna salad all from scratch,” Vaughn shares. These are the same recipes used when the store opened and customers love the nostalgic taste of the classic sides. “We are looking to add new salads to the menu soon,” she shares. “Maybe something with quinoa or couscous, but also made in house, from scratch.”

As I listened to the description of these scratch made items I couldn’t help but think of the two to three times a year I make potato salad. I tell myself “never again” after laboring over each hot, peeled potato, shelled and chopped egg, and endless ingredient mixing. Yet, the crew at Meconi’s does this week in and week out, and customers keep coming back for more.

If you are among the many green salad devotees at Meconi’s, you’ll be happy to know their Balsamic Vinaigrette, Raspberry Vinaigrette, and Honey Mustard dressings are all made by hand as well. Despite cheaper and easier options, Meconi’s won’t compromise.

meconis subs olympia

The secret ingredient in a Meconi’s sub is the savory “Italian Oil,” created from a secret recipe on-site.

Do you finish your meal off with one of the Meconi’s signature cookies? You guessed it – they are baked fresh from scratch as well. “Snickerdoodles are the most popular by far,” says Vaughn although I’m partial to the chocolate chip.

Ok, you say – that’s pretty impressive. But, those subs…what makes them taste so good? “Well, it’s kind of a secret,” admits Vaughn. I probe for more information. “Ok!” she laughs. “It’s our Italian Oil. It goes on all of our cold and ‘cosmo’ subs and it’s our secret recipe we make from scratch, but that’s all I’m saying.” The concoction is made by infusing good quality olive oil with a secret mixture of herbs, spices, and parmesan cheese and comes standard on all subs. “It really sets the flavor profile apart from any other sub you’ll find.”

Next time I order a sub, a side or a salad at Meconi’s I will know why everything tastes so good. Kudos to Meconi’s for sticking with quality in a world filled with shortcut options. There are no shortcuts here. It’s truly a quality, homemade taste “like mom used to make.”

Meconi’s has four convenient locations in Thurston County.

Olympia Memorial Day Weekend Event Calendar

Fri, 05/22/2015 - 6:43am



olympia furnitureWhile the weather forecast isn’t 80 degrees and sunny, it does look to be fairly decent after we get through today’s spitting rain.  As we enjoy a long weekend, ThurstonTalk remembers and thanks the servicemen and women who lost their lives fighting for our country.  We also salute the current service members near and far.

Here’s what is going on around Olympia this weekend.

Submit an event for our calendar here.

ThurstonTalk aims to be your source for positive information and events happening in Olympia. If you have a suggestion for a post, send us a note at For more events and to learn what’s happening in Olympia and the surrounding area, click here.

Providence St. Peter Hospital Achieves MSC Certification for Sustainable, Wild-Caught Seafood

Thu, 05/21/2015 - 5:19pm



Submitted by Providence St. Peter Hospital 

Providence St. Peter Hospital  Photo Courtesy of Providence

Providence St. Peter Hospital Photo Courtesy of Providence

Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia, WA, has announced that it is the first hospital in the Providence Health Care System, and the second hospital in North America, to achieve Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) Chain of Custody certification for sustainable, wild-caught seafood. MSC certification ensures that seafood products bearing the blue MSC ecolabel are fully traceable to a fishery that has been certified to the global MSC standard as sustainable and well-managed.

In line with Providence Health & Services’ mission and core values of respect, compassion, justice, excellence and stewardship, patients and guests at Providence St. Peter Hospital now have the option to contribute to the health of the world’s oceans by choosing menu items with the blue MSC ecolabel. More than 1500 meals are served daily at Providence St. Peter Hospital, which include MSC certified pan seared Pacific cod and Thai peanut salad or Caesar salad with Oregon pink shrimp.

MSC Chain of Custody certification assures that in every step of the chain – from the fishers, to the processor, to the distributor and the end user – MSC certified seafood is not mixed with or substituted for non-certified seafood. To achieve certification, Providence St. Peter Hospital worked with MSC Chain of Custody certified food service distributor, Food Services of America (FSA), to ensure complete traceability through the supply chain.

seafood olympia

Certified sustainable seafood is provided to patients and guests at Providence St. Peter Hospital in Olympia.

Sustainability is essential to core value of stewardship

“We’re proud to offer MSC certified sustainable seafood to patients and guests and provide the choice to support healthy oceans,” said Gerald Roundy, director of Hospitality, Providence Southwest Washington Region. “Sustainability is essential to our core value of stewardship and we continuously strive to lead the way to a healthier future for our people, resources and the earth.”

Providence St. Peter Hospital has been recognized for additional sustainability initiatives including a high recycle rate, increased energy efficiency from recycling boiler heat, and excellent indoor environment standards, resulting in being named the Smartest Building in America by Siemens Industry, Inc. for demonstrating sustainable and efficient facility operations. St. Peter has also reduced water use from 61 million gallons a year down to 28 million gallons a year during the past 15 years.

Leadership contributes to health of the world’s oceans

“We congratulate the demonstrated leadership of Providence St. Peter Hospital as the second hospital in North America to earn MSC Chain of Custody certification,” said Geoff Bolan, MSC’s U.S. Program Director. “By looking for the blue MSC ecolabel and choosing MSC certified seafood, patients, guests and staff are able to reward sustainable fisheries and help to ensure the health of the world’s oceans for this and future generations.”

About the MSC Chain of Custody certification

Initiated by Gerald Roundy, who led the MSC certification of Virginia Mason Hospital with his team in 2014, the MSC Chain of Custody certification of Providence St. Peter Hospital was completed by an independent, third party assessment body, SCS Global Services. For more information on the MSC Chain of Custody certification process, visit



13th Annual Day of Champions Crowns Winners

Thu, 05/21/2015 - 4:11pm



By Laurie O’Brien

greene realtyA ThurstonTalk camera was on hand for Annual Day of Champions at Tumwater High School on Thursday, May 21, 2015.

Nearly 600 students with special needs from all eight Thurston County school districts participated in the 13th annual event. Students rotated around the stadium, participating in 14 different track and field events staffed by leadership students from local high schools.

This year the Tumwater Kiwanis Club stepped in to help Day of Champions’ organizer, Justin Gurnsey, with financial and organizational assistance. Club president Randy Reynolds and other Kiwanians were on hand to help in a variety of support roles including lunch preparation, t-shirt sales, and on-field assistance.

Champions 2015 20This year’s sponsors included the following:

Stephen B. Kern Family Dentistry

Northwest Endodontics

Olympia Credit Union

ABC Pediatrics

Color Graphics

Edgewood Dental Lab

Seattle Dental Arts

AU Dental Ceramics

Miller Dental Lab

Pacific Dental Arts

Sutton Chiropractic and Massage

Nakanishi Dental Lab

Mercurio’s Heating and Electrical

Weichert Realtors/Reynolds Real Estate

Western Meats

Shama Dental Lab, Inc.

Karen Schoessel Consulting

Click to view slideshow.


Washington State Announced as 11th Partner State in AAC&U’s LEAP States Initiative

Thu, 05/21/2015 - 3:52pm



Submitted by The Evergreen State College 

The Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) and the Washington Consortium for the Liberal Arts (WaCLA) announced today that Washington is now a state partner in AAC&U’s Centennial Campus Action, Advocacy, and Research Initiative, Liberal Education and America’s Promise (LEAP): Excellence for Everyone as a Nation Goes to College.

“The Washington Consortium for the Liberal Arts sought to become a LEAP partner state out of a deep sense of shared mission,” said Michael Zimmerman, WaCLA Chair and Vice President for Academic Affairs at The Evergreen State College.  “Formalizing our alignment with LEAP will greatly strengthen our success in advocating for the value of the liberal arts for the broadest range of residents in preparation for work, life, and meaningful participation in our democracy.”

The national LEAP initiative provides an expanded platform for WaCLA to continue a dialogue with key state stakeholders about the role of liberal education in advancing goals for economic and civic vitality.

“We are currently exploring additional avenues for students to find and use their voices to advocate for the critical roles a liberal education has played in their lives.  We’ve come to see how great an impact students can have on the thinking of employers and legislators,” Zimmerman said.  “Additionally, activities of this sort build confidence in students, which helps them reach their goals as they leave college.”

Formed in 2012, the Washington Consortium for the Liberal Arts (WaCLA) is an association of Washington state public and private higher education institutions, organizations, and individuals promoting the value of a liberal arts education to the people and communities of the state.  WaCLA has a membership of 37 public and private colleges and universities across Washington*, along with seven educational organizations and consortia. In 2014, WaCLA was given the Phi Beta Kappa Key of Excellence Award, with a prize of $10,000, for its work promoting the value of the liberal arts.

“AAC&U is pleased to welcome Washington to LEAP,” said AAC&U President Carol Geary Schneider.  “AAC&U and WaCLA educators share a passion for liberal education and a commitment to help all students achieve both broad learning about the world they will inherit—through studies in science, humanities, the arts, and the social sciences—and the critical skills they need to help create solutions for our future.  Given these shared commitments, we are delighted to work with WaCLA to ensure that college students throughout the consortium receive the best possible preparation for purposeful work and citizenship, and flourishing lives.”

Concern for Animals Annual Community Garage Sale Boosted by Large Donation

Thu, 05/21/2015 - 3:42pm



Submitted by Concern for Animals

Rob Rice Homes is donating a large amount of barely used furniture from their model homes.

Rob Rice Homes is donating a large amount of barely used furniture from their model homes.

Concern for Animals will hold its annual community garage sale on Saturday, June 6, 2015 from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm at Rick’s Automotive, 3527 Pacific Ave SE* from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.  One of the group’s biggest fundraising events, it has been significantly boosted this year by a sizable donation of show quality furniture.

Concern for Animals is an organization that for 35 years has assisted low income families with the food and medical needs of their pets and rescue animals. The local non-profit depends on donations, membership, small grants and fundraising events like the annual garage sale to fund its programs that include low-cost spay and neutering, emergency medical care and a pet Food Bank.

“For at least 15 years the sale has drawn a lot of people looking for real bargains while supporting our mission,” says Janey Hanson, board president of Concern for Animals. “The community goes all out to donate items and attend the event. We couldn’t provide the help for animals and their owners without all of the amazing generosity.”

This year, the sale will feature an entire house-full of model home furniture donated by Rob Rice Homes, a regular supporter of the group’s efforts.

The new Concern for Animals building was completely remodeled by Rob Rice and his sub-contractors at no charge.

The new Concern for Animals building was completely remodeled by Rob Rice and his sub-contractors at no charge.

“Being animal lovers, Rob and I recognize the incredible work of Concern for Animals,” says Helena Rice, wife of the local builder. “We are thrilled the furniture will help families and seniors care for their pets. We have family members who are rescue animals and we understand the deep bond between pets and their owners. It is a great cause.”

Those wishing to donate items for the sale may do so on Thursdays in May between 4:00 pm and 6:00 at Rick’s Automotive location. Concern for Animals will provide tax-deductible donation forms for each donation. Concern for Animals cannot accept clothing, TVs, computers, electronics or workout equipment for the sale.


*To get to Rick’s Automotive for donations and the sale, follow Pacific Ave to Fones Road in Lacey. Once on Fones, make a left on to 6th Street and follow the garage sales signs back to a large warehouse with a sign to Rick’s. There will be event garage sale signs that will mark the location.

More about the Concern for Animals can be found at

Women’s Leadership Council awards $25K in Grants to Support Women and Children in Thurston County

Thu, 05/21/2015 - 3:21pm



Submitted by United Way of Thurston County

shelter shower The Women’s Leadership Council announces its fifth year of funding to support women and children in Thurston County. Thanks to members of the Women’s Leadership Council (WLC) and the philanthropic community, $25K in grants will help strengthen and support five nonprofit organizations during the 2015-2016 funding cycle.

“We know the economy is impacting lives of women and their families so we hope that by supporting programs with effective outcomes, our women will be more financially stable, healthier and safer,” said Maria Robinson, WLC and grants committee member.

The WLC received $65K in requests and granted $25K to support nonprofit programs that aligned with WLC’s mission to, positively impact the lives of women and children in Thurston County by promoting self-sufficiency and financial stability.

“Nationwide, only seven cents out of every charitable dollar is currently invested in programs that specifically benefit women and children,” said WLC Co-Chair, Leatta Dahlhoff. “When equipped with the proper resources, women and children have the power to elevate their families and improve the economy.”

The WLC empowers women and children in Thurston County to achieve their highest potential. Currently, more than 60 members serve the WLC group by contributing a leadership gift of $1K annually or a participating gift of $250 annually. Membership plays a critical role in supporting women and children in our community.

“Women need access to information about entering the workforce, attaining financial stability, and managing their money,” said Robinson. “This year’s grant recipients will provide programs with funding to help fulfill that need, and it would not be possible without the help of WLC members and community supporters.”

Below are the 2015-16 Grant Recipients:
Summer GIG (Girls Institute for Greatness) | YWCA
Parents for Parents (P4P) | Family Education & Support Services
The SPSCC Foundation | South Puget Sound Community College
Effective Communication Workshops | South Sound Parent to Parent
From the Fabric of our Lives | CIELO


Helsing Junction Farm Announces Free Delivery of CSA Farm Share Boxes to Seniors

Wed, 05/20/2015 - 1:39pm



Submitted by Helsing Junction Farm


helsing junction farm

Farmers work in the field at Helsing Junction Farm in Rochester.

At Helsing Junction Farm, we grow delicious, nutrient-rich food. After all, our bodies and our health are profoundly dependent on what we eat; a responsibility we take very seriously as your farmers.

We are a true CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm, in that nearly everything grown on our farm goes our to our 1,000 CSA members. This makes being a part of our CSA a unique experience, as you will be directly connected to the source of your food.

Our CSA delivery runs for 18 weeks from mid-June to mid-October. Each week our members receive a pre-packed box containing 7-15 items, depending on which size share they have. The contents of our CSA boxes vary widely as the season progresses, from strawberries and fresh peas in spring to potatoes and winter squash in fall. We also team up with other local producers to provide our CSA members with access to fruit, honey, cheese, mushrooms, pastured poultry, yogurt and sauerkraut, which are available via our webstore.

Join us on a journey through the seasons with a share of our harvest. We have over 20 years of experience growing verdant, flavorful, nutrient-rich produce for our CSA members and we believe that eating right should be a pleasure.

We are currently offering members 70 and older FREE home delivery to their residence in Olympia or Panorama in Lacey.

Helsing Junction Farm, eat well with us.

To learn more, click here.

Homes First! – Community Partnership Rebuilds Lives, Homes, Community

Wed, 05/20/2015 - 6:47am



By Barb Lally

oly fed sponsorIt is a beautiful, sunny day at 423 Z Street in Tumwater. There is the tapping of hammers, buzz of a saw and hearty banter among happy, young construction workers. The once abandoned home is not just getting a facelift, it is also a scene of genuine renewal for the workers, the neighborhood and the community.

The Z Street home renovation is born out of a community partnership forged by Homes First! the local non-profit whose mission is to own and manage housing for people who would not normally be able to afford rents and to encourage the use of public and private participation and resources towards the goal.

youth build homes first

Representatives from the community, YouthBuild and Homes First!, the non-profit that has relied on community partnerships for 25 years, celebrate the groundbreaking of their Z Street project in Tumwater.

Wells Fargo Bank donated the Z Street home to Homes First! for $1 and donated $10,000 for a new roof. A group of Community Youth Services (CYS) YouthBuild students and their construction instructors from New Market Skills Center are renovating the home.  TCTV is filming and documenting their progress.

“These partnerships are the key to our mission,” says Trudy Soucoup, executive director of Homes First! “When we work together for the health of our community, we all benefit beyond our individual goals. Strong partnerships build strong communities.”

Started in 1990, Homes First! is celebrating its 25th Anniversary on May 20 at Olympia Federal Savings on 6th Ave in Lacey. The bank has helped finance the 28 properties with 80 units that the non-profit now owns, manages and rents. Together, they have served more than 3,000 people.

“It has been a privilege to support a mission that helps so many in our community,” says Sandy DiBernardo, the vice president of marketing for Oly Fed. “Our efforts are rewarded not only by the joy a home brings to someone who needs it, but also for how neighborhoods are improved. With YouthBuild involved, there are huge benefits all around.”

Building Better Lives

YouthBuild helps young people earn their high school diploma or GED while teaching skills and providing work experience in construction trades.

Construction instructors at Z Street teach, cover safety issues and answer questions as students rope in and climb ladders, chip away to remove a rotten roof, reinforce doorways and windows and cut pieces of lumber.

youth build homes first

Tim Stender, a construction instructor at New Market Skills Center, guides a YouthBuild student as he works on the window frame.

“For a lot of these youths, we are the first consistent adult they have had in their lives,” says Tim Stender one of the construction instructors who has been involved with YouthBuild from the beginning and has more than 35 years experience in construction. “We try to give them a picture of what a good life looks like.”

Life Lessons for YouthBuild Students

YouthBuild students are relishing an experience that is changing their own lives while helping the family that will eventually live in the rehabbed home.

“This is a house that started off abandoned with squatters living in it,” says Deven Wigley, a YouthBuild student. “We are fixing it up and it will no longer be an eyesore in this well-kept neighborhood.”

Like the home he is working on, Deven has a renewed vision for his life. Before YouthBuild, Deven questioned his intelligence and was an unmotivated student who dropped out of high school.

Now an avid reader and earning his high school diploma, Deven has gained new confidence. “I was scared to even give a presentation in a high school class,” explains Deven, who is a musician. “Since I joined the program I have performed in front of 500 people, no sweat. I had one of the best times of my life.”

Deven says his father worked as a carpenter and would always talk about it.

youth build homes first

Students Deven Wigley (left), Shayanne Grant (center) and construction instructor Tim Stender stand in the home they are helping to renovate.

“I now get a good idea of what a day of work was like for him,” he explains. “I am motivated to come here every day.”

Deven is also motivated by the end result. “I think about the family who will actually live and raise their children here. I can’t wait for that day to come.”

Shayanne Grand, who came to YouthBuild after hitting rock-bottom, is inspired by the work on the home.

“The back of the house was concave where someone tried to drive through it,” Shayanne describes. “The roof was moldy. With our work, it could go to someone like me in the future—someone who isn’t doing real well but who doesn’t want to be given up on.”

Shayanne has an energetic personality and is honest about her past and the renovation that is taking place in her own life.

“I was going down a loser path with depression, drugs and hopelessness and I felt like I was never going to graduate,” says Shayanne, now just two classes away from her high school diploma. “I didn’t know what I was good at and ended up riding the wind wherever it took me until I entered the YouthBuild program.”

youth build homes first

YouthBuild students are giving new life to the old abandoned home on Z Street in Tumwater.

Having realized that she is creative, she has a dream of working in architecture or cosmetology. Through YouthBuild she has grown confident in her strengths and has developed skills to better deal with life. Shayanne easily empathizes with the value of their work on Z Street.

“As long as someone has a good home base, somewhere they can feel comfortable living and taking care of their kids, it is security,” she explains. “I have lived on the streets not knowing when my next meal was or where I was going to sleep. It is scary.”

The Z Street project will continue until the home is ready for a tenant who will finally have the joy of a real home. The renovation improves the lovely Tumwater neighborhood and is giving the students a new opportunity to learn.

It is a clear testimony of the great work of Homes First! and Olympia Federal Savings, who for 25 years have established great community partners to consistently supply affordable, healthy rental housing in Thurston County and a way to a better life.

For more about Home’s First! visit their website at


Get Your RV Summer Ready with Olympia’s Awesome RV

Wed, 05/20/2015 - 6:32am



olympia rv

Is your RV ready to go camping this summer?

June 21 signifies more than the start of a new season: It is the signal for adventure, fun and relaxation under the sun. Recreation vehicles can add to this experience, providing the extreme road tripper with everything they need for a leisurely drive down the coast or a scenic voyage through the badlands — motels, tents and yurts not required.

If your RV is still in hibernation mode, it is a great time to start getting your vehicle summer ready. Jim Jussila, Service Manager at Olympia’s Awesome RV, says de-winterizing your RV for summer can take place any time prior to the first use of the season as long as freezing weather conditions have passed. Because freezing conditions can extend into March, de-winterizing too early can result in complications later on in the season. As we are now well into May with summer just on the horizon, there is no better time to think about getting your RV ready for summer than now.

Getting Ready

Whether you decide to de-winterize your RV yourself or opt to take it to a specialist like Awesome RV, Jussila says the process for de-winterizing an RV varies depending how the unit was winterized in the first place. “If antifreeze was used to fill all the water lines, the process of flushing the antifreeze from the system can take significantly more time and water usage,” he says. “We have found it much more convenient and user friendly for the customer to simply use air pressure to blow all the water from the lines, which significantly minimizes the amount of antifreeze that needs to be put into the system.”

Common Problems

If you failed to properly winterize your RV, you may run into some other issues that can be both time consuming and costly. “The most common problems we see with units that were not properly winterized are water pump failures, toilet water valve failures, cracked water filters and faucets that literally have the top portion fly off the first time water pressure is restored to the system,” explains Jussila. “Many times, even when the trailer or motorhome is winterized, the exterior showers and faucet fixtures are often forgotten about.” Because these items are often winterized improperly, Jussila says it is a good idea to inspect these things carefully before packing up and hitting the road. Before first use, Jussila also recommends performing a propane leak down test. This simple test that takes about 30 minutes and costs $50 at Awesome RV will identify if your RV is leaking gas. “It is very cheap insurance considering an undetected gas leak will often result in a major injury or death,” says Jussila.

Upgrade for Driveability

olympia rv

Your next adventure starts with Awesome RV.

Before you hit the open road, it may not be a bad idea to upgrade your rig for driveability. There’s nothing worse than driving long distances in a vehicle that is difficult or uncomfortable to drive. “Motorhomes simply do not handle as well as most people would like, and we often hear complaints that, after a long trip, the driver is so fatigued from driving they have a hard time relaxing, which is obviously contrary to the whole RV lifestyle,” explains Jussila. “Awesome RV has the capabilities and products available to make a poor-handling motorhome drive more like a car.” To get an idea of the kinds of parts and accessories Awesome RV offers, Jussila recommends stopping by the store and picking up a copy of Awesome RV’s parts catalog. “I like to leave mine laying around a couple weeks before my birthday and Christmas with all my wish list items boldly circled.”

Before You Go

To maximize your comfort and fun, Jussila says enjoying your first trip out starts well before the trip itself. “My recommendation is to not become a stranger to your RV during the winter months, or, at the very least, give yourself some time to react and get the RV back in usable condition prior to the first outing.” Jussila says it is common for people to think that just because their RV worked properly when they parked it for the winter that it will work just as good when they take it out eight or nine months later. This is not always the case. Jussila says when things sit dormant for months, they can often operate worse than if they had been turned on and running the entire time. Because of this, Jussila recommends driving your RV, getting comfortable with it, and ensuring that it is running properly before you hit the road.

Need a Hand?

Taking on a project like de-winterizing your RV can be a big job, especially if you failed to winterize it correctly. To make things a little easier, Awesome RV offers a $149 special designed to knock-off cobwebs, run appliances, test for propane leaks, and check for general maintenance issues that can hinder your first trip. “The $149 special also includes filling the propane tanks so you know you will be ready when the weather breaks or that impromptu trip comes up,” says Jussila. “This special used to be called our Spring Special, but it became so popular we had to rename it as we ran into year-round demand. You get a lot of bang for your buck!”

For more information about Olympia’s Awesome RV, visit Awesome RV online, give Awesome RV a call at 888-870-8031, or visit Awesome RV at its Olympia Auto Mall location off of Cooper Point Road in Olympia.


Olympia Real Estate Broker Catherine Haag Eases the Relocation Chaos

Wed, 05/20/2015 - 6:00am



olympia real estate agent

Catherine Haag has been in the real estate business for 22 years, 19 of those with Van Dorm Realty.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that people hold an average of 10 different jobs throughout the course of their life. While some are a logical transition or local transfer, some lead to complete relocation, a tumultuous time in any life.

Locally, Van Dorm Realty’s Catherine Haag specializes in smoothing out the inevitable bumps, bruises, and bubble-wrap of such a move. Haag has been in the real estate industry for 22 years, 19 of them with Van Dorm.

Turning to real estate after staying home to raise her children, Haag began by purchasing a rental property with her father. “I always thought it would be fun,” she remembers, and thus a new career path began.

It soon became obvious that the choice was a good one. Since 2007, Catherine has often found herself listed as Van Dorm’s first or second top broker. She specializes in residential properties, often with acreage or on waterfront lots. Part of her relocation service includes a community tour showcasing all our gorgeous, central location has to offer. With its access to the water, hiking, skiing, or the metropolitan areas of Seattle and Portland, Haag readily acknowledges, “you can’t beat this part of Puget Sound!”

Haag’s success keeps her busy so she has a full-time, licensed assistant in Juliann Matson, herself with more than a decade’s worth of real estate experience. Matson is always pleased at how quickly their clients, whether buyers or sellers, come to feel completely at ease with both the team and the process.

Outside the office, Haag is a member of the Thurston County Chamber of Commerce, has served as one of the directors of the Thurston County Board of Realtors, and founding member and past president of the Griffin School Foundation and Restoration Hope, a Steamboat Island community group.

Community outreach “keeps me really connected,” says Haag. Her work for the Griffin School Foundation and Restoration Hope strives to build fellowship within their area and include neighbors of all ages. She recently helped start a senior citizens social at the Prosperity Grange which meets most months on the fourth Friday of the month at 10:00 a.m. They also completed their third annual Old Fashioned Christmas Caroling in the Grange event with a visit from the Griffin Fire Department’s Santa Sleigh and carols by candlelight.

This passion for the community keeps Catherine and Juliann on their toes. The Thurston County housing market is on the rise. Thurston County residential home prices are up approximately 6.7% according to NWMLS for 2013 and 2014. Though most of Catherine’s referrals come from satisfied previous clients, the team is more than willing to sit down with new prospective customers. Their knowledge extends from programs which help with down payments to the benefits of a second property as an investment tool.

The Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies reports that “strong and consistent evidence indicates that homeowners are more likely to: be satisfied with their homes and neighborhoods; participate in voluntary and political activities; and stay in their homes longer, contributing to neighborhood stability.” While relocation may be a stressful process, putting down roots through home ownership can ease the short-term chaos.

Catherine and Juliann can be found at the West Olympia offices of Van Dorm Realty located at 1530 F Black Lake Boulevard. Visit her contact and listing page online here or give her a call at 360.791.8000.