Tulalip Tribes donated record $7.2 million last year

TULALIP — The Tulalip Tribes donated $7.2 million to more than 400 charities, nonprofits and educational institutions in Washington this year.

That’s a record for the most the tribes have donated in a single year since the Tulalip Charitable Impact Fund was established in 1992. In 2015, the Tribes donated $5.8 million.

Since the program’s start, the tribes have donated $76.7 million to organizations in the state.

“We raise our hands to organizations and nonprofits that are committed to making communities healthier and more sustainable for all of us in the Pacific Northwest,” said Mel Sheldon Jr., the chairman of the tribe’s board of directors.

On Saturday, the tribes are planning their annual Raising Hands gala to celebrate all their grant recipients and to showcase some of the organizations.

“This is our way to give back and say ‘thank you’ to all the individuals at these organizations for their hard work each and every day,” Sheldon said.

This year, the tribes are highlighting six recipients:

West Sound Wildlife Shelter: A shelter on Bainbridge Island that nurtures injured, sick or orphaned wildlife and provides education and public outreach on wildlife issues;

Northwest SEED (Sustainable Energy for Economic Development): A Seattle nonprofit that supports communities developing clean energy projects;

Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America: The Bellevue-based Northwest chapter of this national organization supports research into the cures of those diseases and improves the quality of life for people who suffer from them;

St. Joseph’s House: A volunteer-run clothing bank in Marysville that serves more than 4,000 clients per month;

Mari’s Place: An Everett nonprofit that provides artistic, educational and cultural programs for children;

and the Pacific Education Institute: An Olympia-based nonprofit that works with schools to provide outdoor education, real-world learning in the community, and professional development for educators.

“We are very, very grateful for this opportunity,” said Mary Toews, the founder of Mari’s Place, which provides programs and activities for about 800 children per year with an all-volunteer staff.

The nonprofit received a $2,000 grant from the tribes, which Toews said has been used to support increased programming for kids suffering from cancer and who are referred to Mari’s Place from Seattle Children’s Everett.

“Right now, we don’t have a grant writer or paid staff,” Toews said. “For the last 11 months we haven’t received any grants.”

She admitted to being a little nervous at the prospect of being showcased at Raising Hands.

“I only hope for the community to recognize the work of all these volunteers,” Toews said.

Chris Winters: 425-374-4165; cwinters@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @Chris_At_Herald.

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