Media coverage gives Arc a boost

Struggling nonprofit receives $25K donation

By Scott Hewitt, Columbian social issues & neighborhoods reporter

Published:

 

Rock ’n’ roll may have whipped up some support, but media coverage of the struggles of the Arc of Southwest Washington appears to have done even more for the nonprofit agency’s bottom line.

An anonymous donor walked in the door with a $25,000 check the day after a Columbian story in early July outlined the Arc’s ongoing financial crisis, according to board president Justin Myers.

The agency, which has served developmentally and intellectually disabled people for 76 years, suffered contract losses and budget cuts over the past year that led to widespread layoffs and the closure of a central program — PRIDE for Kids, which provided professional therapeutic services.

Riding to the rescue came Monkeyfest, a weekend rock-and-barbecue shindig hosted by the Three Monkeys Pub in Hazel Dell. Acts including Magic Carpet Ride and Leon Hendrix (brother of late Seattle guitar god Jimi) played July 6 and 7. There were raffles, and plenty of food and drink for sale. Admission was $20 per day.

All of which added up to — well, not too much, according to Three Monkeys owner Jeff Boltz. Boltz was the driving force behind Monkeyfest. His son has Down syndrome and was a PRIDE kid — until the money-losing program closed down.

Boltz said he “wasn’t thoroughly pleased” with turnout at Monkeyfest, and figures it wasn’t advertised heavily enough. He had promised to announce the amount the event netted for the Arc, but didn’t, despite many calls from The Columbian.

“It was a good thing, it threw the Arc’s name out there and raised some money. I just think it’s a lesson learned — next year we’ll start our advertising campaign a lot earlier,” he said.

Boltz is “absolutely” planning to make Monkeyfest an annual tradition, he said. As a result of his efforts, he was invited to join the Arc’s board of directors, and said yes.

Matching commitment

When the check for $25,000 came in, Myers and his board decided to use some of the money for working capital and some as “seed money” for a new PRIDE program. The Arc’s staff wants to redesign and reopen the program in 2013, he said.

Myers said he and his board also decided to catch the current donation wave with a personal commitment: All gifts to the Arc made between now and the end of August will be matched out of the board members’ own pockets, up to a maximum of $5,000.

Meanwhile, the Arc was the repository of last resort for items that didn’t sell at a mass garage sale, featuring hundreds of sellers, held at the Clark County Event Center at the Fairgrounds on July 21 and 22. The Arc has long had a relationship with Value Village thrift stores, which resell the clothing and household items it gathers.

To maximize that relationship, Myers, said, the Arc will also go after one more prize: a two-month clothing drive aimed at gathering 1 million pounds of resellable clothes and household goods. Myers, whose day job is vice president at U.S. Bank, said collection barrels will be set out at every U.S. Bank branch between Aug. 1 and the end of September.

“It’s our summertime blitz, our back-to-school blitz,” Myers said. “I don’t know why we haven’t done that in the past.”