Frank Penwell makes case for Community Treasures

By Frank Penwell

Community Treasures

It is time to become educated and involved in the Community Treasures issue, or accept the reality of its closure. The question now before our community is: Will the county and the community allow Community Treasures to close through inaction and complacency?

This Saturday, Community Treasures closed due to weather. Phone calls came in from very concerned citizens: there were individuals who had not written to the county council or been involved with helping Community Treasures and they wanted it to remain open. The community thrift shop and recycling center will close, if the county and local citizens just wait for someone else to solve the Community Treasures issues. Community Treasures activities are the community’s concern and need. Our community has a trust willing to pony up 1/3 of what it takes to make CT a permanent thrift shop and recycling center that works toward zero waste and uses its earnings to support local nonprofits and those in need. The answer to CT becoming permanent, or waking up one morning to find the gates to CT closed, is up to our community. Do you care? If so, what are you willing to do?

Community Treasures activities are the community’s concern and need. Our community has a trust willing to pony up 1/3 of what it takes to make Community Treasures a permanent thrift shop and recycling center that works toward zero waste and uses its earnings to support local nonprofits and those in need. The answer to Community Treasures becoming permanent, or waking up one morning to find the gates to Community Treaures closed, is up to our community. Do you care? If so, what are you willing to do?

For those of you who were not able to attend the recent Community Treasures presentation at the Friday Harbor’s Grange No. 225’s lecturer’s program, below is a video and summary. This was the secondCommunity Treasures presentation, and it covered a possible plan for Community Treasure’s permanency. It is also on YouTube.

Granges are encouraged to find and fill a need in their community. Friday Harbor Grange No. 225 is considering what they can do to help Community Treasures with their recycling, education and charitable activities. If you join this grange, you would have a vote in what happens and how they happen. We need more hands on deck in the Friday Harbor Grange to support zero waste recycling and to support the Community Treasures charitable giving activities. Please join us by contacting Barry Cave at

Dec. 16 Friday Harbor Grange No. 225 speech by Frank Penwell:

I am a granger because of its philosophy: “In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, liberty. In all things, charity.” This fits with our family’s four main tenets, there is that of God in everyone, so have tolerance toward others and look for it. Not all truths are known in life, so listen to and learn from others. Move ahead in life as way opens, so practice grace, patience, and perseverance. And, give back to the community that gave to you, which is why CT was formed 12 years ago.

While the grange has weaknesses, because of human nature running the organization, the philosophical nature of the organization promotes learning, teaching and developing Christian values in family and community settings.

I love the grange for the loving, generous, and humble people it attracts. I marvel at the camaraderie, educational programs and the leadership opportunities that are available for members of all ages.

Of course there is a lot more to the grange than that personal one-minute elevator speech. In short, the grange was formed with Christian values. The Grange practices and models family with a wide net, by referring to fellow Grangers as brothers and sisters.

The grange has a yearly convention, where grangers debate and vote on various resolutions submitted by granges from all over Washington state. The legislative policies of the Washington State Grange are formalized each year at the Washington State Grange Convention. Locally, we honor first responders, which we did in October at the Mullis Community Senior Center. Historically the grange had famous resolutions such as rural electrification and painting school buses yellow, nationwide. There are talent contests, speaking contests, ]and all kinds of arts, crafts, photography, baking and food preservation contests. Many granges showcase their charitable activities by creating a yearly community service notebook, which may be entered into a yearly contest. Our Friday Harbor Grange No. 225 won second place at the National Grange Convention last year, and first place in the state thanks to Minnie Knych’s hard work in displaying our activities.

Grangers are encouraged to find a need in their communities, and to fill it. Granges are about people power. They do this by promoting values such as volunteer ethics, emergency preparedness, healthy living and a community bottoms-up approach. That makes each grange unique and able to serve its community within the broad net of the Washington Grange and the National Grange.

Locally, the Lopez grange’s focus is dance. The Orcas grange’s focus is community theater. San Juan Grange No. 966 focuses on supporting agriculture. Friday Harbor Grange No. 225, has yet to find a specific community need, and that has caused it to struggle and not grow. Historically, at one time, our island had up to five granges.

As I look at our community, I see two positive community organizations in danger of shutting their doors in 2017: Community Treasures recycling, and this Friday Harbor Grange No. 225. Look at these grange accomplishments: pioneer festivals, Arbor Day giveaways, fair booths, junior grange, talent contests, community Thanksgiving dinner, Mullis Community Senior Center, installing benches at the historical society, community debates and educational programs.

Look at Community Treasures history of charitable giving and recycling activities. The center has done an estimated 500 tons of recycling for 2016 and about $2,000 a month of in-kind donations to our community organizations of physical items, as well as occasional cash donations to organizations. More than 80 nonprofits have used Community Treasures free services. For example, Spring Street School stops in every month for items. The senior center gets free services and items on a monthly basis, as well as a host of other organizations. A $3,000 donation was made in May to the Spring Street Recovery House and a $2,000 donation was made to the Prevention Coalition for two community programs.

Now, I want to suggest, and encourage you consider the possibility of joining Friday Harbor Grange No. 225 to help both organizations become permanent and productive organizations, promoting charitable and educational activities.

This idea/suggestion is just a rough brain storming idea, but it will give you a glimpse of the possibilities.

I recommend a symbiotic relationship between Community Treasures and the Friday Harbor Grange; one that would strengthen both organizations. Grange No. 225 members could vote to make Community Treasures its primary need to fill in our community, and Community Treasures could use the Friday Harbor Grange as its educational and advisory arm, and where it gets its future board members from. Friday Harbor Grange could also vote to purchase half of the property Community Treasures uses for its operations.

Community Treasures could purchase the other portion of the property Community Treasures operates on, and both organizations could be equal owners of the property. Here is how the numbers might work:

  • One-third of an appraised value of the property is donated by the trust, and the rest is financed by the trust, so there is no real risk, or loan fees, to Community Treasures or the grange.
  • The grange makes payments of 66 percent a month of its monthly income off of the Community Treasures property. This monthly payment would come from the house rental on the back of the Community Treasures property, which the grange would manage.
  • The Community Treasures board could agree to pay 50 percent of its monthly profits toward purchasing the property, buildings and equipment that it uses.

This could be a win-win situation for our community. It could energize both organizations, give each organization a future economic base guaranteeing permanency.

Both organizations are nonprofits, so they could also seek grants or promote fundraising activities to pay off the debts early so more funds could go toward educational and charitable activities.

The layers to make Community Treasures permanent are:

  1. Have the county label the Community Treasures property as conforming. That is what the current petition drive is about. While it looks like making Community Treasures conforming is on the county radar, if it is going to remain a B or C priority, it will not likely happen. Comments to county council need to be made. Please write, or email letters to the county council members, asking them to make Community Treasures a class a priority, at 350 Court Street No. 1 Friday Harbor, WA 98250,
  2. Move the property from private, individual ownership to non-profit. County-owned does not look like an option. Ownership via a nonprofit is feasible. The reasons to have two nonprofits own the property are even more reasonable.
  3. Establish community commitment. This is partly being accomplished with the petition signatures. Commitment could be enhanced by having the grange use Community Treasures as its need in the community, and by instituting a grange membership discount card, to encourage membership. There has been wide community support from islanders, noted by their willingness to donate items for others to use.
  4. Educate the community. Future meetings and presentations, possibly through the grange, would be helpful. Examples include: presentations on parental tools — like tough love, step teen and love and logic; yearly talent contest; speaker forums on topics of community interest; Christmas recycling decoration contest
  5. Organize to have advisory and volunteer help. Lopez Island’s Take it or Leave it has about 80 volunteers, because they educate and connect their community. We could do the same. FH Grange could fill the volunteer need for community presentations and educational presentations.
  6. Reorganization to create permanency. Recycling prices can increase. Currently Community Treasures charges $.10 a lb for recycling. The dump charges about $.17 a lb. Fundraising and grants could bring additional funds. Friday Harbor Grange members could buy or earn a grange discount card for committing to Community Treasures. This card could entitle Friday Harbor Grange members to Community Treasures discounts, because the center would be their chosen need to fill in the community and the Friday Harbor Grange would own part of the Community Treasures property. This discount cards would not be mandatory, but having the card would be necessary to receive discounts from Community Treasures.The grange would also provide the muscle and manpower in an advisory capacity for Community Treasures.

Draft Friday Harbor Grange No. 225 mission statement: To support the social, economic and environmental well-being of our community of individuals including charitable activities and zero-waste recycling. To support and maintain our Community Treasures facility and property, and to support educational and leadership programs.