News

A wish list to help the Valley

The dawn of a new year is often a time for people to set goals and make plans for the year ahead.

Valley residents whose New Year’s resolution is to give back to their community can find plenty of ways to help their neighbors, from driving seniors to needed medical appointments to holding drives for the local food bank. The 2009 “wish list” for local non-profits and service organizations includes many opportunities to help others and make the Valley a better place.

Life or death rides

Snoqualmie Valley Transportation helps provide the community with shuttle bus and passenger car rides to work, medical appointments, school and other important destinations.

2008 was a big year for the Valley bus service, as it partnered with the Snoqualmie Tribal Nation to field two biodiesel buses. In coming years, that relationship could replace older buses with new ones that run on the cooking oil waste from Snoqualmie Casino.

“The ultimate goal is have a whole fleet that’s self-sufficient,” said SVT lead dispatcher Jonathan Nelson.

Snoqualmie Valley Transportation’s most pressing need in 2009 is for more volunteer drivers for its senior medical transportation program.

Oftentimes, Valley seniors don’t have loved ones close by who can give them rides to much-needed medical appointments in Seattle and on the Eastside. That’s where the medical transportation program’s volunteer drivers step in. Unfortunately, high gas prices and a poor economy have caused the service to lose almost all of its volunteers.

“It’s life or death,” Nelson said.

“If anyone is out there looking for an opportunity to make a difference, we could really use their help right now,” he added. “We need people who are willing to use their own cars and be volunteer drivers.”

Drivers receive a small mileage stipend for the rides.

While Snoqualmie Valley Transportation saw its ridership grow last year, it also extended service to rural areas of the Lower Valley. That brought the group’s rides-per-hour ratio down, “but we’re helping a broader community, reaching out farther than before,” Nelson said.

For 2009, SVT needs more riders in the Lower Valley, and also requests that riders help by scheduling ahead as often as possible.

Nelson reminds Valley residents that SVT isn’t just for seniors.

“We are for everyone in the Valley,” he said.

Active seniors

The Mount Si Senior Center will need more help from the Valley in 2009 to get its independent lunch program off the ground.

The center’s mission has always been to provide services and activities that help older adults stay active and independent. A big part of that is the center’s social setting, where seniors can meet, chat, play games and enjoy lunch together.

To stay healthy and active, “people need a strong social network,” center director Ruth Tolmasoff said. “Our lunch program is a good opportunity for people to make friends.”

Tolmasoff is excited about the center’s plans to assert more control over its lunch program. In the coming year, the center will employ its own cook, and will need volunteers, food donations and support to get the program off the ground.

The center also needs shoppers and good donations to its thrift store.

To better support the center, people should drop off things that are needed, such as arts and crafts supplies, clothing and coats for all ages, small household appliances, knick-knacks, books, DVDs, tapes and records. Mount Si Senior Center is located at 411 Main Ave. S., North Bend.

Spreading blessings

In the coming year, Mount Si Helping Hand Food Bank will strive to refine its current services.

“The biggest change we expect to see in 2009 is a significant increase in patrons needing our services,” Director Gail Gergasko said. The food bank noticed this trend at the end of 2008. With a little assistance from Valley residents, local media and local business owners, Gergasko saw a huge increase in contributions from people in the Valley. People gave their money, food and time, and also came up with their own projects to help.

Gergasko said she wants everyone to remember that hunger lasts 12 months a year, not just during the holidays. She also wishes that every person in the Valley make an effort to help those in need.

Last year, the food bank helped over 1,200 different local families.

“It takes a lot of time and dedication to do this,” Gergasko. “If each and every person could make even the smallest of contributions — through the food bank, the soup kitchen, a church outreach group, a school or Scout activity or any other outlet — we would, as a community, make a significant impact on hunger in our neighborhood.”

People can help by doing a food drive, growing and donating produce from their garden, helping store and warehouse food, working on a fundraising project or delivering food to the homebound.

The new year will be a challenge, but Gergasko is confident for the future.

“With the generosity we have witnessed, we will easily be able to continue to meet the needs of our patrons,” she said.

Fighting back

Now in its eighth year, Snoqualmie Valley Relay for Life is a day-long celebration, commemoration and fitness event in which teams relay around Centennial Field, raising money for the American Cancer Society.

“Snoqualmie Valley Relay For Life provides an opportunity for our community to fight back,” Relay chairwoman Wendy Thomas said.

Last year, the Valley relay raised nearly $100,000.

“Times are tough for everyone, but we have increased our goals for the 2009 season and are optimistic,” Thomas said.

To be successful, Relay for Life needs volunteers and participation from the community. Businesses are needed to contribute goods, services, and sponsorships, and volunteers are needed to join teams, help at the event or make donations.

This year’s Relay Kick Off event is Monday, Feb. 23 at the Salish Lodge and Spa. Learn more by visiting www.snovalleyrelay.org.

Motivating people

At Encompass, the Valley’s children’s support organization, Executive Director Gregory Malcolm said the singular wish for 2009 is to engage the Valley.

“We want to mobilize Valley residents to persuade the state Legislature to preserve support for the growing number of families who are in financial need, and whose young children benefit from our nationally accredited preschool and home-based treatment for overcoming developmental delays,” he said.

Encompass is also reaching out to the increasing number of families whose children of any age need speech or occupational therapy, and can be nurtured by the organization’s expanded pediatric-therapy program that operates from a new North Bend Way campus.

Connecting with a broader cross-section of Valley parents, and enhancing their relationships with their children by providing guidance and enrichment in parenting classes, including some Spanish language classes, and one-on-one training, are also goals.

“We want to forge bonds with Valley residents from all walks of life, attracting them to our free Family Nights, involving them in our Respectful Giving campaigns and joining them as partners in the inspiring public processes that build our communities,” Malcolm said. Valley residents can help by making donations, attending fundraisers and volunteering in preschool classrooms, summer camps and events.

A better place

The Snoqualmie Valley Rotary Club unites Valley residents with other Rotary neighborhoods worldwide, aiming to make the world a better place.

“The Snoqualmie Valley Rotary Club is growing,” Rotary member Paul Yarnton said. “We are looking for active people who want to be involved in their community.” The group is always looking for projects that members can volunteer for and support financially.

“We love this Valley and wish to help keep it a wonderful place to work and live,” Yarnton said.

Rotary meets at 7 a.m. every Thursday morning for breakfast at the Snoqualmie Ridge TPC. To learn about Rotary Club, e-mail Yarnton at paulyarnton@comcast.net.

Improved economy

Members of the Snoqualmie Valley Kiwanis Club said they would like to see the economy improve.

“It was a not-so-good holiday season for service projects,” Kiwanis member Harold Erland told the Valley Record. “The Salvation Army is below average and the Giving Tree was short on many kinds of gifts.”

Snoqualmie Kiwanis chapter president Dave Speikers said the organization raised substantially less with bell ringing for the Salvation Army despite extending hours.

For 2009, better coordination is needed between the various groups that seek donations, so that more of those donations stay in the Valley. Speikers said the group also seeks to expand its scholarship awards from three to four, and grow the BUG program, which recognizes all students who bring up their grades from first quarter to second quarter in school.

The Kiwanis also need more members who would like to help children. Most members have been in the Kiwanis for over 20 years. New faces would bring fresh ideas.

Kiwanis holds 7 a.m. breakfasts at the Mount Si Golf Course, and also meets at 6 p.m. at the golf course on the last Thursday of the month. their own cars and be volunteer drivers.”

Drivers receive a small mileage stipend for the rides.

Snoqualmie Valley Transportation has seen its ridership grow this year, and also extended service to rural areas of the Lower Valley. Those efforts bring the group’s rides-per-hour ratio down, “but we’re helping a broader community, reaching out farther than before.”

For 2009, SVT needs more riders in the Lower Valley, and also requests that riders help by scheduling as much of their needs in advance.

“We are not a taxi service,” Nelson said. By helping make runs more efficient, scheduling rides in advance helps the service provide more transportation for everyone.

Nelson reminds Valley residents that SVT isn’t just for seniors.

“We are for everyone in the Valley,” he said.

Keeping seniors active

The Mount Si Senior Center will need more help from the community in 2009 to get its independent lunch program off the ground.

The center’s mission has always been to provide services and activities that help older adults stay active and independent. A big part of that is the center’s social setting, where seniors can meet, chat, play games and enjoy lunch together.

To stay healthy and active, “people need a strong social network,” center director Ruth Tolmasoff said. “Our lunch program is a good opportunity for new people to make friends.” For longtime residents of the Valley, it’s also a place to keep connected with the friend they’ve known all their lives.

Tolmasoff is excited about the center’s plans to assert more control over its lunch program, and being able to cook homecooked meals. In the coming year, the center will employ its own cook, and will need volunteers, food donations and community support to get the program off the ground.

The center also needs shoppers and good donations to its thrift store.

“The thrift store has proved to be a real benefit to the center for finances,” Tolmasoff said. “We need people to shop with us, and to give us donations.”

Donations to the center help local residents first. If donations don’t sell, they are eventually passed on to the Northwest Center.

The center asks that people donate appropriately to the thrift store. Too often, people dump heavy furniture, old televisions and electronics that the center simply cannot sell, and has to dispose of.

“People use us as a dumping ground,” Tolmasoff said.

To better support the center, people should drop off things that are needed, such as arts and crafts supplies, clothing and coats for all ages, small household appliances, kick-knacks, books, DVDs, tapes and records. Mount Si Senior Center is located at 411 Main Ave. S., North Bend.

Spreading a blessing

In the coming year, Mount Si Helping Hand Food Bank will strive to refine its current services in its new facility.

“The biggest change we expect to see in 2009 is a significant increase in patrons needing our services,” Director Gail Gergasko said. The food bank noticed this trend at the end of 2008. With a little assistance from Valley residents, local media and local business owners, Gergasko saw a huge increase in contributions from people in the Valley. People gave their money, food and time, and also came up with their own projects to help.

Gergasko said she wants everyone to remember that hunger lasts 12 months a year, not just during the holidays.

“We are very grateful for all holiday contributions, and would like for everyone to remember the food bank with your contributions all year long,” she said.

She also wishes that every person in the Valley make an effort to help those in need. Last year, the food bank helped over 1,200 different local families.

“It takes a lot of time and dedication to do this,” Gergasko. “If each and every person could make even the smallest of contributions — through the food bank, the soup kitchen, a church outreach group, a school or Scout activity or any other outlet — we would, as a community, make a significant impact on hunger in our neighborhood.”

Gergasko wishes that people continue to help the food bank with theor own unique talents. People can help by doing a food drive, growing and donating produce from their garden, helping store and warehouse food, working on a fundraising project or delivering food to people who cannot get to the food bank.

“The list of what could be done is limited only by our own imagination,” Gergasko said.

“This year has been a blessed year for us,” she added. “With the help and support of the Valley, we have been able to provide food for everyone who has needed it.”

The new year will be a challenge, but Gergasko is confident for the future.

“With the generosity we have witnessed, we will easily be able to continue to meet the needs of our patrons,” she said.

Fighting back

Now in its eighth year, Snoqualmie Valley Relay for Life is a day-long celebration, commemoration and fitness event in which teams relay around Centennial Field, raising money for the American Cancer Society.

“Snoqualmie Valley Relay For Life provides an opportunity for our community to fight back,” Relay chairwoman Wendy Thomas said. “It’s an experience, rather than an event.

Last year, the Valley relay raised nearly $100,000. More than 20 teams took part and nearly 700 lighted bags, or luminaria, were lit to honor, remember and acknowledge those who have fought cancer.

“Times are tough for everyone, but we have increased our goals for the 2009 season and are optimistic,” Thomas said.

To be successful, Relay for Life needs volunteers and participation from the community,

“It is all possible because of people,” Thomas said.

Businesses are needed to contribute goods, services, and sponsorships, and volunteers are needed to join teams, help at the event or make donations.

“Because Relay focuses on people, they become more aware and proactive,” Thomas said. “It brings people together to support one another, it shows us that people survive cancer with greater and greater frequency, that we can make a difference, and that above all there is hope.”

This year’s Relay Kick Off event is Monday, Feb. 23 at the Salish Lodge and Spa. Learn more by visiting snovalleyrelay.org.

Motivating the Valley

At Encompass, the Valley’s children’s support organization, Executive Director Gregory Malcolm said the singular wish for 2009 is to engage the Valley.

“We want to mobilize Valley residents to persuade the state Legislature to preserve support for the growing number of families who are in financial need, and whose young children benefit from our nationally accredited preschool and home-based treatment for overcoming developmental delays,” he said.

Encompass is also reaching out to the increasing number of families whose children of any age need speech or occupational therapy, and can be nurtured by the organization’s expanded pediatric-therapy program that operates from a new North Bend Way campus.

Connecting with a broader cross-section of Valley parents, enhancing their relationships with their children by providing guidance and enrichment in parenting classes, including some Spanish language classes, and one-on-one training, is also a goal.

“We want to forge bonds with Valley residents from all walks of life, attracting them to our free Family Nights, involving them in our Respectful Giving campaigns and joining them as partners in the inspiring public processes that build our communities,” Malcolm said. “We want to motivate Valley residents to make all of this possible by contributing financial gifts, attending our new and recurring fund-raising events and volunteering in our preschool classrooms, summer camps and special events.

“It’s a tall order, but with the Valley’s help, Encompass has filled tall orders for more than 40 years,” Malcolm added.

Making a better place

The Snoqualmie Valley Rotary Club unites Valley residents with other Rotary Club neighborhoods worldwide, aiming to make the world a better place.

“The Snoqualmie Valley Rotary Club is growing,” Rotary member Paul Yarnton said. “We are looking for active people who want to be involved in their community.”

The group is always looking for projects that members can volunteer for and support financially.

“We love this Valley and wish to help keep it a wonderful place to work and live,” Yarnton said.

Rotary meets at 7 a.m. every Thursday morning for breakfast at the Snoqualmie Ridge TPC. To learn about Rotary Club, e-mail Yarnton at paulyarnton@comcast.net.

An improved economy

Members of the Snoqualmie Valley Kiwanis Club said they would like to see the economy improve.

It was a not-so-good holiday season for service projects,” Kiwanis member Harold Erland told the Valley Record. “The Salvation Army is below average and the Giving Tree was short on many kinds of gifts.”

Snoqualmie Kiwanis chapter president Dave Speikers said the organization raised substantially less with bell ringing for the Salvation Army despite extending hours until Jan. 2.

“This program raises money that is directly funneled back into our community to benefit our Valley’s homeless, single mothers who struggle to find transportation for their children to medical appointments, elderly persons who are on fixed incomes and cannot afford ever increasing costs, for case by case help,” Speikers told the Record.

The Kiwanis Giving Tree program fell well below last year’s donation level, and although there was an increased need for presents for children, there were fewer presents donated.

“Some children were left with only a pair of socks or T-shirt for Christmas,” Speikers said.

Kiwanis sponsored the Battle of the Bands at Mount Si High School, which raised money to purchase new microwaves for Mount Si and Two Rivers school. The group sponsors the Words for Thirds program, which gives a dictionary to every third grade student in Snoqualmie Valley schools. The Key Club, Kiwanis’ high school affiliate, and their middle school affiliate Builders’ Club raised hundreds of dollars for Camp Korey and other volunteer projects. Each spring and fall, the group select a home that is in true disrepair and in need of a clean-up. Kiwanis also supports the Boy and Cub Scouts in the Valley, Washington State Patrol Junior Academy, the local food bank, and “anywhere else we can physically or financially support within our means,” Speikers said.

Kiwanis’ biggest fundraiser is fireworks sales, which happen in late June and early July.

With only about a dozen active members in the club, typically all members take a vacation from work to staff the fireworks booth.

“It is really a great time to mingle with the community and raise money for a needed cause at the same time,” Speikers said.

For 2009, better coordination is needed between the various groups who seek donations, so that more of those donations stay in the Valley.

“There were other groups collecting gifts for children that were leaving the community, and our community efforts to provide for the less fortunate came up short,” Erland said.

Speikers said the group would like to expand its scholarship awards from three to four this year, and grow the BUG program, which recognizes all students who bring up their grades from first quarter to second quarter in school.

“We would like to be able to donate more time and money to places like Encompass, the food bank, and other youth programs,” Speikers said.

The Kiwanis also need more members who would like to help children. Most members have been in the Kiwanis for over 20 years. New faces would bring fresh ideas.

“Every new member provides two new hands to help a child and two new eyes to see new possibilities for service and what needs to be done in the community,” Erland said.

“If we had more members, we could do more for the community,” Speikers added.

Kiwanis holds 7 a.m. breakfasts at the Mount Si Golf Course, and also meets at 6 p.m. at the golf course on the last Thursday of the month.

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the Dec 17
Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Browse the archives.