In 2017, Assistance League of Everett volunteers stand ready in fitting rooms that help Operation School Bell provide new clothes to local kids. They are Carla Hogan (left), Donna Day and Nancy Juntwait. The Nysether Family Foundation has donated more than $270,000 to the nonprofit in memory of volunteer Shirley Nysether, who died last year. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

In 2017, Assistance League of Everett volunteers stand ready in fitting rooms that help Operation School Bell provide new clothes to local kids. They are Carla Hogan (left), Donna Day and Nancy Juntwait. The Nysether Family Foundation has donated more than $270,000 to the nonprofit in memory of volunteer Shirley Nysether, who died last year. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Gift of more than $270,000 secures Assistance League’s home

The Nysether Family Foundation donation pays off a loan for the nonprofit that runs Operation School Bell.

Mark Nysether remembers all the years his mother spent helping the Assistance League of Everett. Shirley Nysether’s volunteerism stretched back to when the league’s thrift shop was on Hewitt Avenue, where Angel of the Winds Arena is today.

“My mother had a passion for helping others,” Mark Nysether said.

Shirley Nysether, an Everett native, was 92 when she died in September. Her service is being honored with a significant donation to the nonprofit that provides new clothes to thousands of local kids through its Operation School Bell program.

In her memory, the Nysether Family Foundation has gifted more than $270,000 to the Assistance League. Mark Nysether said it means the all-volunteer agency will no longer have a bank loan on the Evergreen Way two-story building it constructed in 2003.

Shirley Nysether died Sept. 28, 2019. In her memory, the Nysether Family Foundation has donated more than $270,000 to the Assistance League of Everett.

Shirley Nysether died Sept. 28, 2019. In her memory, the Nysether Family Foundation has donated more than $270,000 to the Assistance League of Everett.

“It enables us to totally secure our building, which is home to the Assistance League of Everett’s Thrift Shop, Operation School Bell, scholarships programs, other philanthropic programs and administrative offices,” said Sally Joy, the league’s president, in a statement released last week.

About 18 years ago, construction of what was originally the Everett Events Center meant the Assistance League needed a new home. The Nysether Family Foundation was a big donor to the effort to build it. The city of Everett purchased the nonprofit’s site at 1916 Hewitt Ave., along with other properties to make way for the arena.

Mark Nysether said their 2002 capital campaign pledge was $50,000, paid over two years. It came from the Nysether Family Foundation, his parents Eldon and Shirley Nysether, he and his wife Vickie, and his brother Brad Nysether and his wife Kathy.

“The current gift was also made over two years,” Mark Nysether said. He said $100,000 was granted in 2019, and another $170,507.60 on Jan. 5. “Because their monthly loan payment was made the day before and the bank did not update the payoff amount, there was $4,597.30 extra,” he said. That money was applied to Operation School Bell, Nysether said.

He said the donation will free up roughly $50,000 the Assistance League had been paying annually on the loan, which would have taken “another six or seven years” to pay off. The Assistance League didn’t share the original cost of the property, which Snohomish County lists this year as having an assessed value of $5,266,800.

Volunteer Happi Favro works on a fund raiser to support Operation School Bell and other programs at the Assistance League of Everett’s Thrift Store in 2017. The Nysether Family Foundation has donated more than $270,000 in memory of Shirley Nysether, a longtime volunteer with the nonprofit who died last year. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Volunteer Happi Favro works on a fund raiser to support Operation School Bell and other programs at the Assistance League of Everett’s Thrift Store in 2017. The Nysether Family Foundation has donated more than $270,000 in memory of Shirley Nysether, a longtime volunteer with the nonprofit who died last year. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Operation School Bell annually serves about 5,000 children from low-income homes in nearly 20 area school districts. Each child receives several new outfits, a coat, along with vouchers for shoes, socks and underwear. A teen retail program provides older students with more than $100 worth of school-appropriate clothing they pick out during shopping nights.

More than 100,000 students have been helped since the nonprofit’s start in 1965.

There are also graduation awards of $250 to help with senior-year expenses. The league also joins with the Everett Community College Foundation to offer scholarships.

Part of a national organization, the Assistance League raises money through its thrift store, a holiday home tour, grants, memorial and honorary gifts, and estate sales.

Shirley Nysether, the daughter of Susan and Eric Ward, was a 1945 graduate of Everett High School. She worked at the Everett Pulp and Paper Company, and in 1952 married Eldon Nysether. In Alaska, they worked for the construction company that built Ketchikan Pulp Mill. Her survivors, along with her husband and two sons, include six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

The family business, Sea-Dog Corporation, sells marine hardware. It was founded in the 1930s by Eldon Nysether’s uncle. The Nysether Family Foundation was among the founders of what’s now the Community Foundation of Snohomish County.

In 2006, the families of Mark and Brad Nysether donated $50,000, in honor of their parents, to the Sno-Isle Libraries Foundation’s endowment campaign. Mark Nysether said his mother also devoted her time to the General Hospital Children’s Association, later the Providence General Children’s Association.

“She always believed we all needed to give back to the community,” he said. “Our family wanted to acknowledge the good work of Assistance League and add to her legacy.”

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; jmuhlstein@heraldnet.com.

Spaghetti dinner

The Assisteens, a youth auxiliary of the Assistance League of Everett, will host their annual Spaghetti Dinner Fundraiser 5-7 p.m. Sunday at the league headquarters, 5107 Evergreen Way. Tickets, $10 for adults or $7 for children under 10, are available at the nonprofit’s thrift store (same location) through Saturday or until event sells out. There will be bingo, a basket raffle and other games.

More information: www.assistanceleague.org/everett/

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