By CHRISTIAN CARVAJAL
It’s easy to find noteworthy talents in Thurston County. This publication relies on that. What’s harder to find is someone willing to fund such talents until they can be showcased and, if possible, earn financial stability. Thankfully, the PARC Foundation has stepped up that laudable task.
Inspired by the success of a foundation for parks in his former home of Spokane, James Reddick established PARC Foundation of Thurston County in 1995. (He remains the foundation’s vice-president.) “PARC” stands for parks, arts, recreation and culture. The foundation’s mission, then, is to promote donations for local, recreational facilities and programs. Its first project was the funding of Olympia Skate Court on Cooper Point Road. These days, PARC Foundation is a 501(c)(3) volunteer organization with a board of trustees that includes experts from all over Thurston County. It happily accepts cash donations, but also negotiates for free professional services or other in-kind gifts.
Over the last 15 years, PARC Foundation has donated over $700,000 to worthy programs and projects. Last year, for example, it was instrumental in providing $10,000 to the City of Olympia for trail development in Priest Point Park. It gave four-digit grants to Capital City Chorus, the City of Lacey’s Summer Lunch and Playground Pals program, Lacey Loves to Read, City of Olympia’s Summer Teen Adventure Program, Tenino Oregon Trail Days, Tenino Quarry Pool, the City of Tumwater’s Summer Camp Cascadia, Tumwater School District’s Fresh Summer Youth Gardening program, Tumwater Senior Choir and several scholarship funds, in addition to numerous smaller grants.
So far this year PARC Foundation has awarded $4,000 to Harlequin Productions, $5,000 to City of Lacey’s Replica Train Depot, $1,000 to Olympia Peace Choir, $9,000 to Tenino’s Quarry Swimming Pool, over $5,000 to Thurston County Specialized Recreation Scholarship Support and at least $1,000 to Tumwater Senior Choir. That is, in fact, just a sampling from a very long list. Every one of those donations represents an evident asset to the lives of Thurston County residents, with no increase to the tax bills they’re expected to pay.
On November 2, OLY ARTS was honored to attend “Brunch on the Water” at Tugboat Annie’s (2100 West Bay Dr. NW, Olympia), a launch celebration for the Art Resiliency Fund for Thurston County. “We work a lot with the cities,” said Reddick at the event. “We also work with a couple of groups down in Tenino. They don’t have a park department, so we work with them to help raise funds to support their community pool.”
Among the projects Reddick and the foundation are considering are new prop facilities for Harlequin Productions and adapting Olympia Armory for use as a multipurpose arts facility. “We know there’s a lot of needs in the arts,” Reddick mentioned. The featured speaker at the event was Danielle Westbrook, legislative assistant to Rep. Beth Doglio by day, trumpeter by calling, on the theme of “Art Saved Me.”
“When people ask me, ‘What do you do,’ ” Westbrook began, “I say, ‘Oh, I’m a musician,’ because in my heart, that’s what I am. … I credit two things in my life that saved me. One is my child, and the second thing is music.” Westbrook’s father was a professional pianist and singer. She credits his musical influence and her love of performing for guiding her away from a life in abusive relationships. She served for eight years as the trumpet-teaching artist for Student Orchestras of Greater Olympia. “I think kids who start off in music — They just have a better chance at life,” she added. “There’s actually a lot of studies that prove that.” Westbrook cited a five-year, neuroscientific study at the University of Southern California, which found that “music instruction appears to accelerate brain development in young children, particularly in the areas of the brain responsible for processing sound, language development, speech perception and reading skills.” Add that to the towering stack of evidence that arts (and, by necessity, arts funding) are vital ingredients of both youth education and community development.
It follows, then, that donations to PARC Foundation are always welcome. Reddick himself can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
There’s also the upcoming Puddle Jump, a family- and dog-friendly fun run to promote outdoor recreation, with T-shirts and other prizes for successful participants. That event, a certified race on the Western Chehalis Trail, will begin at Horizon Elementary at 9:30 a.m. this coming Saturday.
Horizons Elementary School,
4601 67th Ave. SE, Olympia
9:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 9