Bu Julie Muhlstein Herald Columnist
As a former Snohomish County executive, Bob Drewel knows how far budgets can stretch.
And in today’s economic climate, governments have fewer dollars available to cover increasing needs.
“Government shouldn’t provide all human services — and frankly can’t,” Drewel said during a recent meeting at the office of the Greater Everett Community Foundation.
Can’t is an understatement. Anyone who has paid attention to this year’s state budget battle in Olympia is aware of potential cuts, particularly to human services. Child care funding for low-income families and assistance for disabled adults have been just two of many budget-cutting targets this legislative session.
“Even at the best of times, there are needs in a community that have not found their way to legislation,” Drewel said Thursday. “For a long time I have believed that there’s no conceivable way there is ever enough government funding. And it never displaces the power of the community acting in one spirit.”
That spirit of giving is a force in Snohomish County, filling needs not covered as line items in any government budget. In these times, that very well may mean basic needs — food, clothing and shelter — as well as services for at-risk teens, mentoring and sports programs, even Christmas gifts for kids.
Drewel, now executive director of the Puget Sound Regional Council, was elected as county executive in 1991 and completed his third term in 2003.
It was in 2003, after he had delivered his last county budget address, that Drewel was visited by Brent Stewart, then president of United Way of Snohomish County, and Peter Newland, a board member of the Greater Everett Community Foundation.
“I thought they wanted to talk about budget stuff,” Drewel said. Instead, the conversation was about starting a charitable fund to support human services in Snohomish County.
That fund, the Human Services Endowment Fund in Honor of Bob Drewel, was established in 2003 under the umbrella of the Greater Everett Community Foundation. That nonprofit agency administers charitable funds created by families, individuals, businesses and organizations, all with an aim of improving life in Snohomish County.
Since 2005, grants awarded by the Human Services Endowment Fund in Honor of Bob Drewel have totaled $132,000. In 2011, 14 grants — from $250 to $5,000 — benefited agencies including the Sky Valley Food Bank, Cocoon House programs for homeless and at-risk teens, Senior Services of Snohomish County, the Interfaith Association of Northwest Washington’s Adopt-a-Room program, Clothes for Kids, Bethany of the Northwest Foundation’s Dignity Project funding equipment needs for seniors, and many other local programs.
On March 27, the Greater Everett Community Foundation will host its annual fundraising breakfast, which benefits the Human Services Fund in Honor of Bob Drewel. The event, which costs $25 per person, is scheduled for 7:30 a.m. at the Edward D. Hansen Conference Center in Everett’s Comcast Arena.
Each year, two surprise awards are given at the breakfast to people who have made significant contributions in our area’s human services. Some past recipients include the late Gerry Andal, Vicci Hilty of what is now Domestic Violence Services of Snohomish County, and Phil Sullivan, of Senior Services of Snohomish County. The award winners get $250 for their organizations.
“It’s the most fun event ever. We try to honor people working in this venue — and they let me pick the victims,” Drewel said of those honored each year.
Maddy Metzger-Utt, executive director of the Greater Everett Community Foundation, said naming the fund in Drewel’s honor was in recognition of his care and concern for people of Snohomish County.
“In his core, he just cares so deeply about people,” said Tim Nowlis, a Boeing Co., executive and chairman of a committee overseeing the fundraiser.
“People want to help. They need to know what the needs are, and how they can participate,” Drewel said Thursday.
“The best thing in the world is to be an invisible friend, when you do something on behalf of someone you are never likely to meet,” Drewel said. “If you don’t help, that need is going to go unaddressed.”
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; firstname.lastname@example.org
The Greater Everett Community Foundation will hold its fundraising breakfast for the Human Services Fund in Honor of Bob Drewel at 7:30 a.m. March 27 at the Edward D. Hansen Conference Center. Cost is $25 per person, or $250 per table of 10. Register online, through March 22, at www.greatereverettcf.org or call Leah at 425-212-4056.