One of the greatest joys of working at the Murdock Trust is the chance to partner with nonprofit organizations doing critical work throughout our region. Every year, our staff has an opportunity to travel to one of the communities in our region and visit with several grantees, learning more about their work and service to the community. Intermixed with opportunities for team building and bonding, these visits provide a unique opportunity for missional immersion that helps inform and power the work of our staff throughout the year. This is a major highlight for our team and after two years off from in-person visits, this year’s trip to meet with organizations in Northwest Washington was especially meaningful.
First up, a stop at the Hands On Children’s Museum in Olympia. This premier, interactive art and science educational museum for children, their families, and educators was an engaging start to our trip. We walked through exhibits where kids and families were role-playing as they explored forests, climbed towers, cooked meals, and drove fire trucks in a safe and inclusive setting. We also met with leadership and staff to learn about the incredible community involvement that helped make this museum the beloved community gathering place it is. “Everywhere you look in this building has the fingerprints of our community,” said CEO Patty Belmonte.
Next, we visited Foss Waterway Seaport to learn about the rich maritime history of the Tacoma and Puget Sound region. Our team explored the seaport’s pollinator gardens, boat shop, dock building, and educational programs, and learned how the seaport partners with its Puget Sound community to serve and educate its region.
That evening, we were honored with a special performance from the Sequim City Band, the first concert band to form on the Olympic Peninsula. Now a thriving and growing performing group, this band consists of volunteer community musicians of all levels. Our team was able to hear a lovely performance from this special group and was honored to get to know some of the band members.
The next morning, our team split into groups to enjoy various sites and projects in the Fort Warden area. We learned about orcas and octopi from the Port Townsend Marine Science Center, tried our hand at hosting radio shows at KPTZ with the Centrum Foundation, learned about the region’s rich arts and heritage at the Jefferson County Historical Society, and got front-seat views of a local theater at the Key City Public Theatre.
After arriving in Anacortes, we got to pet pups and have inspiring conversations with those served by Summit Assistance Dogs. At its growing facility partially funded by a Trust grant, this organization creates life-changing partnerships between highly-skilled mobility service dogs and people living with disabilities. From opening doors to turning on lights, these dogs – in collaboration with their partners – can do it all!
A hop, skip, and ferry ride later, we found ourselves on the beautiful Friday Harbor for a visit with San Juan Island Family Resource Center. This organization assists individuals and families on the island through access to essential resources and programs that promote health and stability. We met with a number of staff and learned about programs that enrich the lives of over 1,000 local families. At this site visit, we were also grateful to hear about the work of the Lopez Island Family Resource Center, an organization providing similar services on the neighboring Lopez Island.
We finished our day on Friday Harbor with a night at the theater thanks to a special performance at San Juan Community Theatre. As the leading provider of performing arts experiences on the island, this theater invites the entire community into its productions, offering community-produced plays and musicals, classes for all ages, music concerts, film series, and more. Our team loved seeing an incredible sampling of performances from some of San Juan’s talented community, then enjoyed a meal with the performers to round out the night.
On our fourth and final day, we enjoyed our morning at Warm Beach Christian Camps & Conference Center. It was rewarding to learn about the camp’s year-round programs for groups of all types, and the way their facilities serve so many in the Christian community and the Warm Beach region. As our buses were pulling away, we saw groups of high schoolers pouring into the camp, ready for what was sure to be an impactful week.
For our final visit on this year’s trip, we enjoyed a tour and lunch at the lovely Lakewold Gardens. After seeing the beautiful gardens and facilities, we were treated to a special piano performance from one of this organization’s young protégé’s. During lunch, we learned more about Lakewold’s art and music programming, and the way this special, set-apart place is serving veterans, underrepresented groups, and community members through the power of nature and creativity. It was an inspiring and memorable end to four days of witnessing the truly incredible work of our region.
Thank you, grantees!
Words cannot express the gratitude our entire team felt to each one of these grantees for opening their doors, telling their stories, and showing our team such care and hospitality. We feel truly honored that our day-to-day work is alongside, and for the purpose of supporting, organizations that make such impactful, lasting, tangible change in their communities.
We also know that these organizations represent just some of the work being done in the San Juan and Puget Sound region, and throughout the Pacific Northwest. While we wish we could visit every organization and sit down with every staff member and volunteer to express our support and gratitude, we are glad for each chance we get to witness the common good growing and deepening throughout our region.
To each of these organizations, and to every other grantee and community partner with which we work, we cannot say thank you enough!