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Museum Honors Partners at Annual Meeting

Annual meetings don’t have to be ho-hum, as the Wenatchee Valley Museum & Cultural Center proved once again this year. Its recent annual meeting featured lots of laughs, a short video, dinner and seven awards – all in two hours.

The evening highlighted volunteers, museum affiliates and partners who helped advance its mission and earn it the 2016 Non-Profit of the Year award from the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce.

The meeting kicked off with Julian Patrick Vocal Camp Student Tea Ning LaFleur singing and accompanying herself on the piano in a selection of jazz standards.

Among the 2016 highlights:

  • More than 46,000 visitors came to an event, took a tour or class, attended a program or visited the museum last year.
  • More than 5,000 students took part in a field experience, touring the museum and exploring the river or the mountains.
  • Volunteers logged more than 1,200 hours helping just with field experiences.
  • The mobile MAKERSPACE STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) programs reached 2,000 Wenatchee School District students.
  • The museum accepted 1,100 new items into its collections, including a 1962 Walter Graham Mural titled “Apple Country,” which was donated by the Washington Apple Commission with the help of Don Zones.
  • Membership options now include reciprocal benefits at more than 1000 institutions worldwide.
  • Dios de Los Muertos brought in 400 people to view the altars and entertainment, as well as share a meal of tamales and participate in an art project.
  • Multicultural Fest featured a day of entertainment and sharing by two dozen different cultural groups and was attended by 800 guests.
  • During the summer, the main gallery featured the Skookum exhibit, a history of advertising in the apple industry, particularly the use of Native American caricature. The exhibit also led to the hosting of a lecture series and Native Heritage tour.
  • The fall exhibit, Beacon of Friendship, focused on the sister city relationship between East Wenatchee and Misawa, Japan. It included a calligraphy class, and a reception that brought delegates from Misawa, including the Mayor, to the museum.

Museum Deputy Director Marriah Thornock thanked the members, partners and patrons who make all of the activities possible at the museum. “By being a part of this museum, they are preserving our past, celebrating the diversity of our cultures, educating our youth, and providing a safe and fun environment for learning all year round, and for all ages.”

In particular, the museum recognized the following:

Honored President: Jewel Cripe – Jewel led the museum’s Board of Directors for two years. Under her leadership, the museum embarked on an examination of its future through a time of change and excitement. Her example of selflessly volunteering her time and talents impacted everything from the Winter Wine Gala to the museum’s collections.

Dick Bell Award for Outstanding Leadership: Sara Rolfs – Sara joined the museum Board in 2014. She is passionate about education and a self-described “meddler.” She has used those traits to bring together diverse groups in support of improving educational opportunities in and out of the classroom.  By involving community stakeholders, Sara has extended museum exhibits and programs into the community, making experiential learning the norm rather than the exception. She started a snow school this year. And helped create a forest classroom. Whether developing curriculum to bring arts to kindergarteners, arranging field experiences for students, or helping to develop innovative programming ideas to bring new connections to the museum, her leadership is inspirational. Sara is a shining example of how to be the change you wish to see in the world.

Legacy Award: Grace Lynch and Tom McNair – Working with Museum Director Sandy Cohen, Grace and Tom have been envisioning next steps for the museum through the “Fly Into the Future” campaign. As time and technology have changed lives here in the valley, so, too, must the museum transform to meet changing audiences and needs. The efforts that Grace and Tom are putting into the redesign are certain to leave a legacy at the museum and on the valley for years to come.

Innovative Impact Award: Wenatchee Row & Paddle Club — Originally planned as a one-season course to introduce students to the work of Columbia River explorer David Thompson, Youth on the Columbia is now in its seventh year. The field experience includes third, fourth and fifth grades. Exploration, Native American life and watershed science are the focal points. These field experiences include the unique opportunity to paddle in voyageur canoes through the estuaries at the confluence of the Wenatchee and Columbia rivers. For seven years, volunteer members of the Wenatchee Row & Paddle Club have hauled canoes, trained young paddlers and served as bow and stern guides for these invaluable hands-on learning opportunities. Thanks to this partnership, the museum and the club have taken STEM to STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, math) and put it literally in the stream.

Partner of the Year: Community Foundation of North Central Washington — Beyond providing funding, the Community Foundation is a source of top-quality networking and training for many non-profit organizations. Regional Impact Grants to the museum provided significant support for the “Wildfire and Us” exhibit and programs. This breakthrough opportunity combined an exhibit, community-wide programming and partnerships on an issue of critical importance in our community. The funding enabled the museum to establish ongoing field experiences for students. In 2016, Ice Age Adventures received a significant grant and additional community support through the foundation’s crowd sourced funding campaign, Give NCW. This dynamic field experience encompassed geography, geology, and appreciation for ancient Clovis culture and for the valley’s unique geological environment. That program reached 2,300 students in four regional districts. These are just two of the many ways the Community Foundation has assisted the museum recently. The Community Foundation sets high standards, and then provides professional and financial support for organizations to meet those standards.

Affiliate of the Year: Wells House Committee —  Museum affiliates are community partner organizations who contribute to the museum’s mission of inspiring dynamic connections to the unique heritage of the Wenatchee Valley. The Museum acts as a fiscal sponsor and provides oversight and administrative support of their activities. The groups are responsible for the coordination and fundraising for each of their projects and the museum supports their efforts. The Wells House Committee was honored this year for their exemplary efforts in renovating and maintaining the more-than-100-year-old structure. In 1972, when the home had fallen into disrepair and demolition was considered, The Wells House Committee was formed. In 2016, 22 members of the Wells House Committee donated 1,940 hours of their time to improve the structure, raise funds and maintain the strides they have made during these last 45 years. In addition to the renovations they have completed, they hosted a tea and an antique car show to raise funds. They had an entry in the Apple Blossom Parade to raise awareness of the treasure that is the Wells House. Through their efforts, the house should last another 100 years.

Volunteer of the Year: Kris Bassett – Kris Bassett is the head of the Wells House Committee. Her passion for the project made her stand out as Volunteer of the Year. Her overwhelming desire to preserve the Wells House has given her the ability to overcome any obstacle the old house can throw at her.  When it rains, she is there to makes sure it is not pouring inside the house. She gets on top of the castle-like turret to sweep water into a tiny drain pipe. When that drain pipe is frozen, she gets on that same turret with a hair dryer. She spends hours laboring alongside the contractors. Yet she is always willing to take a moment to share the history of the house and the Clark and Wells families with people who show interest. Her passion for both the past and the future of Wells House is evident in all she does.

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