Today, Gig Harbor is a much different place than the community I grew up in. Over the past 40-some years, I have watched and participated in the growth and diversification of our greater peninsulas area — always with an eye to the health, vitality and sustainability of this great place we call home.
Thinking about community, and the importance of what this word means in context — how we work together to make things happen — how we support our neighbors — the feeling of fellowship — a fundamental grounding. Perhaps at this time of year we all take more time to think about all things with more care. And this is the reason I took some time to share a few of my thoughts on the importance of the importance of community — and our community’s foundation.
Growing up here, I had the very good fortune of having a great coach and teacher at Gig Harbor High School, Joel Wingard. The current president of the Greater Gig Harbor Foundation, Joel and I have kept in touch over the years. Often, we’ve talked about the impact we can have on our community and how that improves the quality of life of everyone who lives on the peninsulas.
I believe that each person can make a difference — through local vision and a commitment to working together to invest in our community for the long-term. One of the ways I’ve chosen to do this is through the Greater Gig Harbor Foundation.
The Foundation, formed in 2006 by a small group of volunteers who stepped forward and raised funds to purchase 19 acres of land that was slated for residential development, is a testament to what we can do when we commit to working together for the betterment of our community.
I recall first learning about the Foundation when it sponsored the Gig Harbor Street Scramble several years ago. Since forming, the Foundation has put over $5 million in assets, services, land and other support back into our community. I am amazed by what the Foundation has been able to do over the past decade. While our local park district is the largest benefactor to date, the Foundation grown in depth and has expanded exponentially over the years, now providing various support to over two dozen area organizations every year.
The birth of our community’s foundation is one of the most exciting local initiatives — working in collaboration with our community, the Foundation helps to strengthen and expand the arts and culture, education, parks and environment, recreation and social capital assets of our greater Gig Harbor and Key peninsulas. And with your help, our community foundation will continue to grow in its capacity to provide for our community in perpetuity.
As the managing partner for Uptown Gig Harbor, I see tremendous value in connecting with the Foundation because it allows us — and our merchants — to get involved in the community. Initially, we sponsored individual events when the Foundation approached us. Since then, we have developed a long-term corporate partnership.
There are many reasons for that. First, it optimizes our ability to direct funds into areas that align with our mission. It’s also a wonderful opportunity for marketing because it brings awareness about our merchants, and we see that relationship as reciprocal. The partnership also allows us to support grant programs that are already in place, and that creates the types of checks and balances we can’t manage ourselves.
We have made a minimum five-year pledge to the Foundation. Through this commitment we are providing funding to help meet many different needs across our greater peninsula community.
The board is fantastic and includes CEO/President Emeritus Julie Ann Gustanski, one of the community visionaries who help start the foundation. How could you not decide to partner with an organization that has all these attributes?
I invite you to join me in making a lasting impact by giving the gift of community this holiday season. Through the Foundation’s year-end “ONE Community” appeal, you can help enrich our community by supporting your passions. And, 100 percent of your gift is put to work right here.
This is the perfect time of year to make a tax-deductible contribution, and I would encourage you to consider the Greater Gig Harbor Foundation.
John Hogan is managing partner of Uptown Gig Harbor.