STCU Delivers Season of Giving Cheer
In response to unprecedented need, STCU significantly increased its year-end giving, surprising more than 20 community organizations with checks ranging from $10,000 to $32,000 to assist with their work of providing basic needs and helping keep youth connected.
In addition, the Spokane-based credit union is writing checks ranging from $25 to $1,000 to 103 organizations where employees volunteered in 2020.
The Season of Giving surprise donations of more than $400,000 are being delivered via Zoom meetings to non-profit organizations in Eastern Washington, Tri-Cities and North Idaho. They ranged from the maker space Gizmo CDA, to youth centers, to organizations helping college students stay in school. (See attached list.)
“We’ve always appreciated the vital services these organizations provide to individuals and families, helping make our community stronger and more equitable,” said Ezra Eckhardt, STCU President and CEO. “In a year with so many challenges, they need our support more than ever.”
While the Season of Giving is a favorite with credit union staff, STCU contributes to community organizations year around. Because 2020 has been particularly difficult for many, the credit union augmented its giving. When events were canceled, STCU asked the organizations to shift its sponsorship money to providing critical needs.
A few examples of STCU’s 2020 efforts:
Eckhardt said that certain expectations come from being a not-for-profit financial cooperative founded during the Great Depression.
“STCU members have made clear time and again that they want their credit union to assist always, and particularly during challenging times,” he said. “Our board and our employees wouldn’t have it any other way.”
In addition, STCU employees who served at least 12 volunteer hours at any single organization this year were invited to apply for a Volunteers Count grant on behalf of that organization. STCU will deliver 19 of those $1,000 grants by year’s end, along with checks of $25, $50 and $100 to an additional 84 organizations where employees volunteered.
STCU’s Volunteers Count program offers employees 16 hours of paid time each year for volunteerism. The credit union encourages further volunteer activity by providing flexible schedules, leadership training at all levels, and other support to help them make a community impact.
Mid-Columbia Libraries, NoaNet, and Paramount Communications Partner to Expand Free Internet Access at Libraries in Benton County
Mid-Columbia Libraries (MCL), NoaNet, and Paramount Communications have partnered to expand free internet access for residents in Benton County with the recent installation of Wi-Fi hotspots at several MCL branches. Now, residents can enjoy increased broadband at Benton City, Keewaydin Park, Kennewick, and West Richland branches. Prosser library, also part of the MCL system, already offered expanded Wi-Fi.
Increasing Wi-Fi access outside library locations is part of a joint effort to provide free Wi-Fi at strategic points throughout the county for educational purposes. Franklin PUD and Benton PUD provided additional support.
The free Wi-Fi service is available every day from 8 am to 8 pm in the parking and sidewalk areas surrounding buildings. Users can log on from their mobile device or laptop computer. A password is not required.
“Providing computer and internet access is a high priority for MCL,” says MCL Executive Director and Chief Librarian Kyle Cox. “This partnership is an extension of libraries doing our part to expand vital access to technology for our communities.”
“In Benton County and across the state, libraries providing free WiFi hotspots have been a lifeline for many families this year," says NoaNet Chief Security Officer Mike Henson. "We have been proud to partner with the Mid-Columbia Library system and the Benton Public Utility District to support this effort.”
All Benton County MCL branches are open for “Curbside Plus” services, which includes curbside pickup and online print drop service along with limited public computer use and in-person copying, printing, and scanning. Customers can contact their local branch for computer hours including hours for high risk individuals, or visit their branch web page to learn more.
The new library hotspots complement existing Benton PUD hotspot locations. Here is the full list:
Lourdes and Trios Health are pleased to announce that Tina Baumgardner has been appointed as the new Market Director of Marketing & Communications.
Tina comes to Lourdes and Trios from Edmonds, Wash., where she was most recently the Director of Marketing, Communications & Business Development at the Edmonds Public Facilities District/Edmonds Center for the Arts. She was also previously the Communications Manager and later the Director of Investor Relations and Operations at the Economic Development Council of Snohomish County.
“We’re excited to bring Tina on board and believe her experiences in marketing and communications will be a valuable asset to both of our organizations and help to lead us as we continue to recruit and hire talented new providers, add more specialties, and expand our programs and offerings,” said John Solheim, Trios Health CEO.
Tina’s experiences have included communications, marketing, business development, media and public relations, client relationships, program and project management, relationship management, sales and advertising, and more.
“We are pleased to have Tina join our team,” said Chad Pew, Interim CEO at Lourdes Health. “We are looking forward to the energy she will bring to our marketing and communications team as we share the great things happening at Lourdes and Trios.”
3 Rivers Community Foundation (3RCF) wraps up 2020 with an additional $142,000 in grants to local nonprofits. This is in addition to $152,000 in grants through its COVID-19 Response Fund. These grants were made available to local 501c3 nonprofits in Benton and Franklin counties.
“We are very pleased with the growth in our grant program, increasing from $83,000 a year ago, to $142,000 in 2020,” says Abbey Cameron, Executive Director. “Thanks to our donors and fundholders we have been able to support some very critical needs in our community.”
This year-end round of grants represents 3RCF’s annual grant program, an application-based process. Nonprofits submitted online applications which were reviewed and evaluated by the 3RCF Board of Directors, and in addition organizations who had not received a grant from 3RCF before were invited to a virtual interview with the Board.
As a community foundation, 3RCF is charged with holding and investing funds for various donors and organizations and distributing a portion of the proceeds of those investments for charitable purposes. While some of the distributions are directed by donors, 3RCF maintains an unrestricted fund to support an annual application-based grant program
Nonprofits that provide services in Benton and Franklin counties can apply for a grant to support their programs and services. This annual grant program has given over $5.2 million back to our communities since 2004.
“We just wouldn’t be who we are today without 3 Rivers” says Kristi Thein, Nutrition Services Director, Senior Life Resources/Meals on Wheels. “We are up about 25% from where we were a year ago, delivering 4500 meals per week. Having those meals impacts not just the seniors but their families. We have families who are trying their very best to take care of their loved ones. It’s really about peace of mind for a lot of folks. Thanks to outside funding sources like 3 Rivers we are able to offer services far beyond just a daily meal to our clients.”
Traditionally these grants would be celebrated during an annual Grant Ceremony, giving the nonprofit community an opportunity to be recognized and to connect and network with each other. Due to not being able to gather in person, 3RCF has collected interviews from most of the grantees which are available for viewing at 3RCF’s YouTube Channel. We encourage the community to learn about the amazing work these organizations are doing, especially during this challenging year.
In addition, 3RCF launched a COVID-19 Response Fund in April to raise money to support nonprofits who provide critical services and were adapting to the many impacts of the pandemic. This rolling grant process has distributed $152,000 in 2020. This application process is currently closed and will reopen in early 2020 as additional funds become available.
For a list of organizations that have received grants this year visit http://3rcf.org/non-profits/recent-grant-recipients-2010/. To make a donation to 3RCF visit https://threeriverscf.fcsuite.com/erp/donate.
Gesa Credit Union donated $14,200 to support hunger alleviation efforts during the holiday season. Credit union employees visited food banks and distribution centers throughout Washington to safely deliver checks to nonprofit organizations in each of Gesa’s market areas.
Pandemic safety considerations and the large number of people working remotely prevented Gesa from implementing a longstanding credit union tradition of delivering hams to every employee in person. Leadership instead used the opportunity to donate the approximate cost of one ham per person in appreciation for each member of the Gesa team.
“Increased food insecurity caused by the Covid-19 pandemic means that many in our community are at risk of going hungry,” said Don Miller, President and CEO of Gesa Credit Union. “Our holiday donations made on behalf of our 710 team members focused on local giving to support organizations working to address this important issue. This honors the true giving spirit of our organization and our team members.”
Donations were calculated based on the number of employees in each market area. With 433 employees, the Tri-Cities region is Gesa’s largest. A donation of $8660, or $20 per employee, was made to Second Harvest in Pasco. The Puget Sound Region has 133 employees, and Gesa donated $2600 to Food Lifeline headquartered in Seattle. Second Harvest in Spokane received $1480 representing the 74 employees in the area. Both Yakima and Walla Walla have 24 employees, and $480 donations were made to both the Pantry Shelf of Walla Walla and the Rotary Food Bank in Yakima. Moses Lake and Wenatchee each have 11 employees, and Gesa donated $220 each to Community Services of Moses Lake and the North Central Washington Food Distribution Center in Wenatchee. On average, Washington food banks turn one dollar into ten meals. Gesa’s donation resulted in approximately 142,000 meals into the communities in which its employees live and work.
To learn more about Gesa Credit Union’s community involvement, visit www.gesa.com/community.
Earlier this month, Hanford Mission Integration Solutions made a significant impact on local nonprofit organizations with year-end community donations. Dubbed the “12 Gifts of Gratitude,” HMIS donated a total of $60,000 to 12 different nonprofits.
Bob Wilkinson, president and general manager of HMIS, shared why these donations are so important. “The HMIS team is grateful for the opportunity we will have to serve the Hanford Site. This has been a challenging year for so many and we know that more people and organizations are in need than ever before. These ‘12 gifts of gratitude’ are our initial way of saying thank you to this community as we prepare to take on the Hanford Mission Essential Services Contract on January 25, 2021. We are committed to making a positive difference in as many ways as we can.”
Each of the following organizations received a $5,000 donation from HMIS:
As part of its Community Commitment Plan, HMIS will be investing $10 million in the community over the next ten years, with a focus on Regional Educational Outreach Programs, Regional Purchasing Programs and Community Support.
Christmas for Children “Fill the Toy Trolley” Event to Benefit Local Children Will be Held Saturday, December 19
On Saturday, December 19, the public is invited to bring new, unwrapped gifts to the Ranch & Home in Kennewick to help fill the Ben Franklin Transit (BFT) toy trolley. BFT is the co-title sponsor of this event, a toy drive for local children spearheaded by Townsquare Media. All gifts collected will be donated to and distributed by Service Alternatives to help children in the Tri-Cities.
Visitors to Saturday’s event will have the opportunity to show their holiday spirit by donating to hundreds of local children in need:
ADDITIONAL SOURCE OF INFORMATION, including alternative donation bin locations: www.bft.org/ToyTrolley.
NOTE TO EVENT VISITORS: Please remember to wear a face covering and practice social distancing while dropping off donations.
The Richland City Council and City Manager Cindy Reents Mutually Announce Separation Agreement
After careful consideration, the Richland City Council and City Manager Cindy Reents mutually announce that Ms. Reents will separate from employment with the City of Richland. It has been determined that this is in the best interest of both parties and will be in accordance with the terms and conditions set forth in a Separation Agreement. On December 15, 2020, the City Council voted to authorize the signing of an Agreement. However, because the terms of the Agreement have not yet been finalized, no additional details will be discussed at this time.
Ms. Reents will continue to serve as the City Manager and assist with the transition until her last day of employment on January 22, 2021. The Council has not yet determined recruitment efforts for this position. Over the coming weeks, the Council will announce who will serve in the Interim City Manager role.
“We appreciate the 17+ years of service Cindy has provided the City of Richland. While the Council and Ms. Reents have mutually chosen to move in a different direction with this position, we recognize and thank her for her contributions to Richland,” states Mayor, Ryan Lukson. “During her tenure, she has played an integral role in several key projects and initiatives including the planning and construction of Fire Station 74, the HAPO Community Stage, the new Richland City Hall, regional dispatching services, and the recent Duportail Bridge. I have worked alongside her in the City’s response to COVID-19 and appreciate her tenacity. The City is financially stable, and that is a remarkable feat in these trying times. Her passion for the community is evident and we wish her the best of luck. The Council is confident the City will continue to operate effectively and efficiently during this transition.”
The City of Richland has a population of approximately 58,000 citizens. The City employs over 500 employees across ten departments and several facilities. Visit www.ci.richland.wa.us for more information.
Hanford Completes Construction of Last 94 Systems in Low-Activity Waste Facility
The Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of River Protection and contractor Bechtel National, Inc. (BNI) have completed construction of the last of 94 systems in the Low-Activity Waste Facility at Hanford’s Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant.
“Workers continue to make good progress at the Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant,” said Tom Fletcher, DOE assistant manager for the project. “Completing construction of the nearly 100 systems at the Low-Activity Waste Facility and moving forward with startup testing of the systems are important steps in our preparations to treat tank waste at Hanford.”
The systems include a mechanical line for moving empty containers below melters where they will be filled with tank waste that has been vitrified, or immobilized in glass. This video shows treatment plant crews testing the container handling system.
As construction of the systems has been completed, they have been turned over to a startup testing team to ensure they work properly prior to commissioning. Of the 94 Low-Activity Waste Facility systems, about a third of them have been tested and handed over to plant management for commissioning.
The facility is the size of one-and-a-half football fields and houses two large melters. The melters will vitrify low-activity tank waste that will be pretreated to remove cesium and solids at the tank farms and fed directly to the facility. The approach, called Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste, is a system of interdependent projects and infrastructure improvements, managed and highly integrated as a program, that must operate together successfully to vitrify Hanford’s low-activity tank waste.
The next goal for completing construction and turning over Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant facilities to startup testing is the Low-Activity Waste Facility itself, and DOE and BNI are expected to reach that goal in the next few weeks.
Earlier this year, Waste Treatment and Immobilization Plant staff finished startup testing at the plant’s Analytical Laboratory, which will analyze up to 3,000 samples of waste each year to make sure it meets disposal requirements. Another 14 support facilities that provide utilities such as power, compressed air, and steam are near the end of startup testing and are nearly ready for commissioning.
Startup testing verifies that the equipment and systems are functional and in safe working order before being handed over to plant management for commissioning. The commissioning phase ensures the utilities, equipment, and process systems are integrated and ready to support future Direct-Feed Low-Activity Waste operations.
“The perseverance of our entire team this year has been amazing to get where we are today,” said Valerie McCain, project director and senior vice president of Bechtel. “This accomplishment wouldn’t have been possible without our entire team’s commitment to quality, safety, and progress.”
The holidays will look different this year with many folks staying home and planning more intimate celebrations. With indoor dining closures extended through January 4th, the team at Castle wanted to provide a Chef-Crafted menu for people to enjoy safely at home. The Castle Event Catering Christmas at Home Menu features a selection of classics including prime rib and mashed potatoes but also offers some great ideas for Christmas morning including blueberry blintz, pastries, and quiche.
There are two pick up options for Christmas Eve Day, December 24th, either Fresh Express to easily finish at home or Hot & Ready to Enjoy. Castle is also offering a special Winter Cheer Menu with a variety of appetizers and festive drink kits. The Christmas at Home and Winter Cheer Menus can be purchased on the Castle Event Catering website, castleeventcatering.com or by calling 375-4000. Orders for the Christmas at Home Menu must be purchased by Monday, December 21st at 4pm for December 24th pick up at Anthology Event Venue in Richland.
Castle began offering Fresh Express meals to-go in the spring when restrictions with COVID-19 began. With most events canceled and celebrations put on-hold, the team pivoted, finding a way to still reach customers and provide delicious food, but in a safe manner. A new Fresh Express Menu from Castle Event Catering, often themed to the season, is offered each week at castleeventcatering.com or by calling 375-4000.
Email your press release and a photo to Austin Regimbal, Marketing & Communications Director. Press releases are posted in their entirety. This is a free benefit for members of the Tri-City Regional Chamber.