For the last three years, Angela Donaldson’s office at her Farmers Insurance branch has functioned like a de facto city hall.
Situated between the Snoqualmie River and State Route 202, across from the town’s library and downtown business district, residents would frequently pop in, looking for help with community events, permitting or just about anything else.
It was a responsibility Donaldson bore as president of the Fall City Community Association (FCCA), the community nonprofit that runs unincorporated Fall City in the absence of a proper local government.
But after three years of “fighting the good fight,” Donaldson officially stepped down as the group’s president this month.
“I want to thank everyone for being here tonight and continuing to stay connected,” Donaldson told spectators at the FCCA’s December meeting, her last as president.
“I love Fall City and I love you all,” she said. “It’s really been an honor.”
Donaldson made her role in the FCCA something of a second job. Devoting 40 hours a week, on top of her work as an issuance agent, she tended to the needs of the town — running monthly meetings, organizing community events and working to ensure Fall City residents had a voice at the table.
During Donaldson’s time as president, Fall City not only battled the pandemic, but saw in-person events return, had greater engagement at its meetings, finished a new subarea plan and worked to rehome the town’s totem pole. Meanwhile, the downtown business district made strides in finally bringing its septic system into compliance.
In an increasingly urban King County, where the needs of rural communities like Fall City can often go unnoticed, Donaldson said the FCCA provides valuable resources for residents and county leaders. It helps to bridge a gap between county leadership and the needs of residents in Fall City, she said.
The monthly meetings bring together the local historical society, library and Cub Scout troop members, along with prominent elected officials and county leaders, including King County Councilmember Sarah Perry and her predecessor Kathy Lambert, as well appearances from representatives of the 5th and 12th legislative districts.
“Having the meeting, [elected officials] understand our communities so much better,” Donaldson said.
When Donaldson first took over as president of the FCCA, the group’s monthly meetings were drawing a few dozen residents. One of her first actions was to begin experimenting on ways to livestream the meeting to make it more accessible.
The pandemic further accelerated that shift, causing the meeting to go fully virtual, a format it remains in now, even as health restrictions have subsided. Now that meetings are online, nearly half the town attends each month, Donaldson said.
Cindy Parks, a Fall City resident, said it is hard to narrow down just one thing Donaldson has done for the community, saying she had a strong direction and a valuable sense of knowing who to speak with when they needed something.
“She just has her finger in so many things — talk about a person who is well connected,” Parks said. “She really is the heart of Fall City.”
Leading up to this summer’s Fall City Days festival, the FCCA’s marquee fundraiser, Parks recalls Donaldson asking her to join her and dress up in inflatable hippo and giraffe costumes to wave signs around town promoting the event.
“She’s just game to do anything,” Parks said. “She was just a tremendous ambassador for Fall City — she still is, and will continue to be.”
Summer Stumpf, another Fall City resident, praised Donaldson for supporting her nonprofit, Live Gray’s Way, a charity she runs in honor of her son Grayson that supports families battling pediatric brain cancer.
One of Live Gray’s Way’s biggest fundraisers has been Fall City’s annual holiday lighting ceremony at the Totem Garden. During the last two early December celebrations, the garden has been decorated to honor Grayson and has raised over $20,000 in support of pediatric brain cancer research.
Stumpf said when she originally approached Donaldson about the idea, she asked if she could decorate a single cherry tree along SR 202 to honor Grayson. But Donaldson told her she’d do one better, offering to let her decorate the whole Totem Garden and working to promote the event.
“She’s so special. She gives so much of her time,” Stumpf said. “She’s just a light.”
For Donaldson, serving the FCCA was something of a family tradition. Her mom, Laurie, has been a treasurer of the group since the 1990s.
Donaldson said she had declined leading the group for years, but when 2020 came along and she was already leading the town’s Subarea Planning Committee, it provided the perfect opportunity to hop in.
While Donaldson acknowledged that she’ll miss the relationships involved with leading the FCCA, she noted the positives balance out the cons. It will give her more time with her family, including her two high school age children.
And even though she is giving up her title as president, she notes she’ll still continue to be involved in town.
“I can’t not be a part of it,” she said.