Gifts boost United Way of Snohomish County

TULALIP — A new United Way of Snohomish County endowment fund has gotten a healthy boost thanks to several gifts announced Monday, including $25,000 from the Kimberly-Clark Foundation and a land donation from Rodland Toyota of Everett.

Dennis Smith, president and CEO of the local United Way, announced the donations at the agency’s first-ever Legacy Luncheon: A Gathering of Friends. The event at the Hibulb Cultural Center honored former United Way campaign leaders, longtime volunteers, and 91-year-old Ralph White, executive director of the agency from 1967 to 1983.

White was “the inspiration” behind the luncheon, said Karen Crowley, United Way vice president of impact and resource development. The event was paid for by sponsors, not donor dollars.

“When you dream, dream big. Then work hard to make those dreams come true,” White told his audience of about 80 people. The Mill Creek man started at the agency when it was United Good Neighbors, with a staff of three.

“We do have a very wonderful legacy,” said Smith, adding that since 1995 the local United Way has raised almost $200 million.

The United Way of Snohomish County Endowment, launched last year, is a next step. The fund was started with $400,000, donated about a decade ago by the Wyrens Trust, according to United Way spokesman Neil Parekh.

Smith said IAM District 751, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers at Boeing, initially gave the fund $25,000. Managed by KeyBank, the endowment fund has grown to $818,000, Crowley said. With expected insurance proceeds, the value is estimated at $1.6 million, she said.

Smith announced several significant donations to the fund Monday, including the Kimberly-Clark Foundation’s $25,000. It’s a parting gift following the closure, in April, of the Kimberly-Clark pulp and paper mill on Everett’s waterfront.

“It’s a one-time donation. We’ve closed the plant, and in this transition period wanted to reach out to United Way,” said Bob Brand, spokesman for the Kimberly-Clark Corp. Brand said the gift is meant to honor former Kimberly-Clark employees for their generous support of United Way over many years.

Josh Estes, former president of the Association of Western Pulp and Paper Workers Local 183, is a United Way board member. He said at the luncheon that about 175 former mill workers are now employed by the Boeing Co., and many have returned to school.

Smith also announced the gift of a wooded lot in Whatcom County, from Rodland Toyota of Everett. The land donation is a first for United Way.

Buzz Rodland, president of the family-owned dealership and a longtime United Way supporter, couldn’t attend the luncheon. He said later that the residential lot was acquired by the dealership “probably in the 1960s” as partial payment for a car. “It used to be common to take all kinds of things. We used to take in livestock, and we’ve taken in an airplane and boats,” he said Monday.

The lot is in an area called Glenhaven, Crowley said. Rodland said it’s on a lake. United Way now owns the lot and will sell it to boost the endowment. Crowley said the asking price is $39,990. “Doing something for perpetuity makes a lot of sense,” Rodland said.

Two other gifts to the endowment were announced Monday. Debra Warden and Steve Kohlmyer, Tocquville Society-level donors who give at least $10,000 per year to United Way, have made the fund the beneficiary of a $250,000 life insurance policy.

And Grace Holland, a machinists union member who is on United Way’s board of directors, designated that her United Way payroll deduction go directly to the endowment fund.

Crowley said the goal for the fund is $10 million, and that earnings from that amount would provide an additional $400,000 per year. Endowment donors can choose to support an impact fund that invests in community work, or a sustaining fund that supports United Way operations.

This year, $9,000 from endowment fund earnings supported programs for English language learners, Parekh said.

“A gift to the endowment never goes away. It creates a source of revenue forever,” Crowley said.

It was announced Monday that Marysville Mayor Jon Nehring will be chairman of the 2013 United Way campaign, with the theme “Strength in Community.” Community Transit CEO Joyce Eleanor is leading the 2012 campaign.

The luncheon, which included a tour of the Tulalip Tribes’ Hibulb center, wasn’t all about the future.

“It’s celebrating people’s generosity. It’s about past leaders of the organization coming back and sharing stories,” Parekh said. “It’s almost a family reunion.”

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460;

United Way grants

Snohomish County nonprofit organizations have a chance to apply for three-year grants offered by United Way of Snohomish County.

Award decisions will be made in May 2013 for programs that focus on children and youth, improving access to basic needs, or helping people be involved in their communities.

Applicants must submit, online, a letter of intent by Dec. 20.

Potential applicants are invited, but not required, to attend one of two bidders’ conferences.

Meetings are scheduled for 10 a.m.-noon Tuesday and Dec. 4 in the United Way Board Room, 3120 McDougall Ave., Suite 200, Everett.

Applicants are asked to RSVP with a name and agency to Toni Wishon, 425-374-5523 or email

More information is at

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