Ian Lindhartsen, a South Key Peninsula resident, recently finished up his first year at Pacific Lutheran University, where he is double majoring in Chinese Studies and Music Arts with a minor in Communication.
A dean’s list student, Lindhartsen, 18, says that a $1,500 scholarship he received from the Longbranch Foundation, the fundraising arm of the Longbranch Improvement Club (LIC), means that he will not have to take out any student loans to pay for college.
“I am very thankful for this scholarship and for the LIC because I spent my first year of college focusing on my studies instead of worrying about how I will pay for school,” said Lindhartsen.
The Longbranch Improvement Club was formed in 1921 “to encourage any activity for the betterment of schools, home making, roads, marketing” and other purposes, according to the organization’s website.
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To further extend its community impact, the LIC in 2016 formed the Longbranch Foundation, which is responsible for funding activities such as educational scholarships, maintenance and improvements to local recreational grounds and trials, as well as protection of the Longbranch Marina.
Through its outreach and philanthropic endeavors, the organization, comprised of volunteers, has provided opportunities for the community to work together in support of myriad undertakings throughout the South Key.
“There’s so much that could be done,” said LIC president Clark Van Bogart, “and we’re here to help our community and make a difference.”
Since its inception, the Longbranch Foundation has focused on helping local public schools, particularly underprivileged children.
For example, Evergreen Elementary School in Lakebay annually sends fifth-graders to Camp Seymour, an educational camp sponsored by the Gig Harbor YMCA. Camp fees run $165 per student, an expense absorbed by the Longbranch Foundation.
“One of the biggest things we do is support scholarships and youth programs,” said Van Bogart. “Evergreen Elementary has nearly 70 percent of their kids come from families on some sort of public assistance. It is one of the poorest schools in the entire state of Washington, and every little bit that the Longbranch community can help will hopefully make a difference in the community.”
As well as supporting students elementary school, the foundation continues to track and support former Evergreen students throughout their high school careers.
Currently, Longbranch provides one year of support for qualified college-bound students. But Van Bogart said he hopes the foundation can boost that funding in the future.
“We would love to help them for two or three years,” Van Bogart said of students, “or be able to work with a student for a four-year program.”
In addition to raising money for educational purposes, the Longbranch Foundation also invests money and time in other community needs.
One such example is the Longbranch Marina, which remains a focus because of ongoing maintenance needs. The marina offers 760 feet of public moorage with basic amenities that include fresh water, electrical hookups, toilets and garbage disposals.
“The Longbranch Marina has so much work that needs to be done,” said Van Bogart, who expressed pride in the organization’s work. “ I’m thankful for the Longbranch Foundation because without it, we would not be able to help invest in our community.”
With help from the foundation, other improvements to local facilities such as the LIC Clubhouse, the area’s woodland trail systems, and community grounds also can be done.
To raise much of its money, the Longbranch Foundation relies on its Raise the Paddle auction, which will occur this year on Aug. 12. The goal is to raise $20,000, which would be used to support college scholarships like the one received by Lindhartsen.
“Coming from a small community, it was very eye-opening to see how much support I had and how many people wanted me to further my education beyond high school,” Lindhartsen said. “The LIC is doing great things and I am very thankful for their support.”
For more information, visit http://longbranchfoundation.org/.
Cassandra Ingram is a freelance writer based in Parkland and member of MediaLab at Pacific Lutheran University. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.