After beer festivals' bitter taste, charities to split $17,500

Staff writerJanuary 21, 2014 

Two Tacoma charities disappointed by the promises of Tacoma beer festival organizers will split roughly $17,500 from a holiday fundraising campaign.

The two jilted charities — YWCA Pierce County and the Emergency Food Network — thought they would raise thousands of dollars after sponsoring separate beer festivals in Tacoma through a company called Union House Productions.

Instead, the charities saw very little return — or nothing at all.

Officials at The Ram Restaurant and Brewery heard about the plight of two charities and vowed to match all community donations, up to $10,000. Wednesday afternoon, company representatives will make good on that promise. They plan to hold a ceremony at the Lakewood Ram Restaurant and Brewery to deliver the proceeds from the company’s holiday fundraiser. The community raised roughly $7,500 for the cause, and the company will donate $5,000 to each charity.

“We also had a successful food drive for both organizations during the holiday and hope to have a total of those donations collected to announce later this week,” said Ram spokesman Mark Schermerhorn in an email.

Representatives of every other nonprofit organization that obtained a liquor license for Union House’s Tacoma beer festivals in the last five years said they received far less than promised or nothing.

Miriam Barnett, CEO of YWCA Pierce County, said she and others at the organizations are thrilled. It “restored our faith in humanity,” she wrote in an email.

Union House Productions organized the Tacoma Big Beer Festival and the Tacoma Craft Beer Festival, which held its fifth festival last year. However, only nonprofit organizations can obtain liquor permits from the state Liquor Control Board for public events that include alcohol.

YWCA Pierce County, which aims to help victims of domestic violence was told the Big Beer Festival in February 2013 would net the charity $13,000. But charity officials waited for months for a check. Finally in September, a check arrived — for $1,078. Emergency Food Network received about $400 for its staff time during a September beer festival last year.

Union House Productions’ state business license is inactive, according to state records.

Kate Martin: 253-597-8542 @KateReports

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