M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust

The Ripples We Make

“Our lives do ripple and then recede. Though often unaware, we hope for good and cast our lives to things and those we love and pray the ripple grows and goes.”

Image 1: a young girl blows into an instrument. Image 2: a man and a woman have a conversation inside an artist studio. Image 3: a pagoda in a Japanese garden. Image 4: a young child wearing a pink sweater blows bubbles toward the camera.

The visual of ripples on water feels like a very apt metaphor for the way nonprofits ripple into our communities. Dedicated individuals and organizations invest their time, energy, and resources in efforts designed to help change lives. In some ways, those changes can be seen instantly, for example a family who is without a place to live finds safe housing or eager students gain access to a new STEM educational program. But often, the impact of that investment is felt weeks, months, even years in the future. The moment of initial impact spreads far and wide.

We have seen this play out on a grand scale in just the last few months. In the spring of 2021, multiple COVID-19 vaccines became available, saving lives and allowing our communities to reopen and begin to heal after more than a year of isolation. Developing these vaccines and tests in only a year was hailed as a miracle, a testament to collaboration and determination. But, that does not show the whole picture.

The reason scientists and researchers were able to produce vaccines so quickly was capacity building investments had already been made for years prior in labs, equipment, training, and more. Teams, many right here in the Pacific Northwest, had already studied and understood the basic functions of coronaviruses. Work had been done to build networks for communication and collaboration. There was no master plan set in place years ago to build the infrastructure so our nation’s experts could be prepared to specifically address COVID-19. The work was done knowing it would be of service, but without clarity as to how or where the ripples would go

Image 1: a young child wearing a mask holds a small purple box. Image 2: four scientists wearing white lab coats smile for the camera inside a lab. Image 3: two female college students wave to someone while walking across campus. Image 4: a young woman wearing a striped shirt smiles for the camera while folding a shirt.

Similarly, our team recently had the opportunity to reflect on the impact of one individual when we premiered The Jack Murdock Story, a documentary examining the life and legacy of our benefactor. A high school graduate from Southeast Portland, Jack would grow up play a part in revolutionizing the high-tech industry and establish a philanthropic legacy that would serve and support countless individuals, families and communities for generations. As discussed in the documentary, Jack often told friends that he did not know what the needs of our community would be in the future but he hoped that by investing wisely now, they would be in a position to serve when needed.

One of the great joys of our work is having the opportunity to see these life-changing ideas at every phase of development. From newly-established nonprofits looking to host their first community event to anchor institutions that have served the entire region for generations, those ripples are always starting. Our team had an opportunity to learn about dozens of these new ideas and projects that will soon create their own ripples of service across our region at our recent Spring Grants meeting where Trustees approved 54 grants to nonprofits across Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington totaling $17,755,00.

We have highlighted a small sampling of these projects below and you can find a full list of our most recent grantees here. It would be worth a few minutes seeing the beginning of ripples in amazingly diverse places. To all who work to serve the common good of the Pacific Northwest, we say THANK YOU! Maybe we can continue to create ripples of gratitude, such that we too are changed.


A group of adults wearing white hard hats stand in a construction site with tractors in the background.

New construction will allow The Glory Hall to serve more individuals facing homelessness.


Image 1: a group of children and adults wearing helmets stand next to their bikes outside. Image 2: a woman with blond hair uses 3D imaging equipment.

Youth battling cancer and their families will receive increased support as Camp Rainbow Gold renovates key space.

Researchers working in bioengineering at the University of Idaho will benefit from the acquisition of new 3D imaging equipment.


Image 1: a woman and a dental hygienist at the dentist. Image 2: two women work together to frame a painting.

Residents in Montana will gain expanded access to medical and health resources as Community Health Partners builds a new facility.

New exhibits at the Montana Historical Society will help educate and inspire children, teens, and families.


Image 1: a man wearing a hard hat points to something while standing in a construction site. Image 2: five adults hold certificates with a "Congrats" banner behind them. Image 3: a woman with dark hair wearing a mask works on a laptop. Image 4: a medical professional talks to a woman.

Habitat for Humanity Portland Region will be able to serve individuals and families in need of affordable housing more efficiently following a merger and renewed vision.

The long-term success and stability of the Salem Keizer Coalition for Equality will be supported through the introduction of new staff.

A new CT scanner at PeaceHealth Peace Harbor Medical Center will provide more detailed, efficient care to patients.

A new volunteer coordinator will help Borland Free Clinic provide even greater care to economically disadvantaged individuals and families in Clackamas and Washington Counties. 


Image 1: two woman talk while looking at a painting in an art museum. Image 2: three adults play piano. Image 3: a rock formation next to water. Image 4: a woman with dark hair wearing a hijab smiles at something off-camera.

Technology updates will help Tacoma Art Museum reach, engage, inspire, and bring joy and creativity alive to those who visit.

A new, custom built space will allow Path with Art to engage more underserved adults recovering from homelessness through a variety of programs and offerings.

New staff at Washington STEM will help inspire and engage children and teens in STEM programming.

Critical watershed space will be protected and preserved as Whatcom Land Trust acquires land at Skookum Creek (and ripples, literally, will flow!).

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