Submitted by the SJI Community Foundation
At the invitation of the San Juan Island Community Foundation, directors and board members from 35 different organizations gathered to enjoy breakfast and cultivate organizational and personal connections.
“Our island is fortunate to have so many excellent organizations that contribute to our quality of life, but there are times when the people who are dedicated to a specific cause can find themselves with little time or opportunity to connect with others and learn what programs and projects other organizations are engaged in, or even dreaming about,” said Carrie Unpingco, executive director of the Community Foundation. “We want to help bridge these gaps, and one way to do that is to bring everyone together. Feeding them doesn’t hurt either.”
After everyone had an opportunity to freely network over breakfast and coffee, nonprofit leaders spent the remaining time listening to 12 organizations speak about their goals and vision for the rest of the year. New nonprofit members were given the opportunity to explain their organization and mission. A surprise drawing was held at the end of breakfast with Island Stage Left winning a $1,000 grant from the Community Foundation. Helen Machin-Smith, Island Stage Left director and co-founder, said that they will use the funds to support their work to provide top quality professional theater, free of charge, to all islanders and island visitors, no matter what their financial or social status.
The Community Foundation works directly with just about all the local nonprofits, from the arts to the environment to senior support and everything in between. These are organizations that provide a broad array of programs and services that enrich the community.
“The Community Foundation is unique among nonprofit organizations because we aim to be a resource for both our donors and our community nonprofit organizations,” said foundation board member Lauren Levinson. “The foundation provides knowledge and expertise on both sides of the philanthropic exchange. For example, we distribute grants to support and advance local nonprofit activities and projects. But we also identify current and emerging issues and critical needs and seek solutions to address short and long-term needs. It is our goal to help support a healthy thriving community on San Juan Island.”
Laurie Orton, director of the San Juan Island Library, said she enjoyed seeing the magnitude of nonprofit work at the event.
“It was inspiring to see representatives from so many organizations and realize how many people here are working for the betterment of our community,” said Orton. “I loved hearing about the great projects groups are working on, and to feel the support of others in the room for our individual missions.”
Friday Harbor Elementary School Principal Diane Ball said she was able to network at the meeting.
“I made a valuable connection with Claire Wright from an island arts umbrella organization,” said Ball. “We just posted a position for an art teacher and she could think of a few people who may be interested in this position, thanks to this networking opportunity.”
The Community Foundation is a nonprofit philanthropic organization which serves as a trusted resource on San Juan Island and seeks to ensure the long-term health of the community by supporting projects and programs that benefit local citizens, meet community needs, test new ideas and by awarding educational scholarships to deserving San Juan Island students.
Unlike most other charitable organization that exist to support the needs of a single cause, the Community Foundation helps many of local nonprofits carry out their work in the community through grant guidance and support, organizational assistance and philanthropic resource management. To learn more, contact Unpingco at 360-378-1001.