Pirate party raises money for peninsula schools

Event chair Cheri Johnson with “two-faced” Master of Ceremonies, Jim Borgen.
Event chair Cheri Johnson with “two-faced” Master of Ceremonies, Jim Borgen. Courtesy

For the fifth year in a row, Kathy and Brett Hayfield and Jim Borgen provided a spectacular view across the Tacoma Narrows to Point Defiance and played host to the annual Communities In Schools of Peninsula Birthday Bash.

This year’s theme celebrated Jack Sparrow and a make-believe world of piracy. Over 250 guests donned breeches, pirate hats and eye patches and danced to live music by popular local band, “Sounds Like Dolores.” The benefit exceeded its fundraising goal of $50,000 to help support vital programs and services for students in Peninsula area schools.

“We can’t tally total expenses until August credit card charges go through,” said CISP Executive Director Colleen Speer. “We will have net proceeds at our September board meeting.”

“This is our single fundraising event of the year, and the pirate theme seemed to bring the ‘fun factor’ up a notch,” said Cathy Rich, CISP’s Volunteer Coordinator/Development Assistant. “People not only outdid themselves in the costume department but also displayed their outstanding community commitment to supporting education and our youth!”

Island-style food, drinks, wine, and beer were provided by local businesses such as Heritage Distilling Company, Harmon Brewing and The Boatshed Restaurant in Bremerton. Corporate sponsors included Harbor Plastic Surgery Center, CHI Franciscan, The Rush Companies, Purdy Costless Pharmacy, Windermere - Ed Aro Real Estate, Gig Harbor Commercial Fisherman’s Club, Columbia Bank and HOA Community Solutions.

Birthday Bash chairperson Cheri Johnson said she hopes “the event continues to raise awareness of the vital work that (CISP) has been doing in our community for the last 18 years.

“We provide students with the academic and social-emotional tools needed to help them graduate and go on to successful careers and lives,” said Johnson. “The BB is an important way for CISP to connect with the community — developing new friends and socializing with supporters.

“CISP is more or less an invisible superhero in our district. Our people and programs are in the schools making it easy to be overlooked in the community or confused with the school district. The BB highlights our programs, our incredible people and provides a way to connect with others who want to help kids succeed in school and in life.

Johnson said the bash is one of her favorite summer events.

“Attendees really get into the theme of our events and I have to admit, dressing like a pirate was a lot of fun this year!” she said. “So many people come together to make this party fun, social and unique. The location, the Boat Shed catering and the live music always guarantee a good party — I wouldn’t miss it!”

To Lisa Anderson, chair of CISP PR Committee, “There’s no doubt that the party is a lot of fun for people with a different theme every year, live music and incredible food and drinks. But more than that, I think people enjoy raising a paddle to donate, knowing their support is making a huge difference for vulnerable kids right here in our backyard, and that every dollar raised is helping creating bright futures.

“The event enables us to bring people of all walks of life together to contribute to the success of students. No matter how much they donate, they can feel good about playing a role in supporting the amazing programs we have that directly impact kids who can easily fall through the cracks without the support they need. The best part for me is seeing the generosity of people who really want to help.”

CISP reaches over 3,700 youth in the Gig Harbor and Key Peninsula areas by providing reading and math mentoring programs, whole-school supports and integrated student support services.

Five years ago, the BB event started out as a theme birthday party for a celebrity. Instead of bringing presents for that person, guests would make gifts to CISP to help support programs for kids in our community. Planning for this event has been in the works for six months.

“We are fortunate to have Board of Directors who are committed to our fundraising efforts and involved in the planning process,” said Speer. “Our guests really seem to have a fantastic time, getting into the spirit of the theme each year. This year’s pirate theme was extremely well received ...”

The Birthday Bash Committee included: Cheri Johnson, Kathy Davis Hayfield, Colleen Speer, Jim Borgen, Laurel Shultz, Cathy Rich, Leslie Nitabach, Robyn Denson, Rachel Gilchrist and Wendy Wojtanowitz and featured Master of Ceremonies Jim Borgen.

“We had a large number of tall, billowing draperies on tall poles as part of our décor this year,” said Rich. “It was extremely windy that day, so the huge displays kept falling down and many items on our tables were blowing away. The wind finally calmed down and it was smooth sailing from then on. It was also the one night that the smoke from wildfires dissipated! We lucked out!”

Wait ’til next year!

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