WestSide Baby’s $100K fundraising doubleheader: Day/night of firsts

(Photo courtesy Donna Ryan Photography)
By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Tonight, supporters of WestSide Baby – which helps West Seattle, White Center, and South King County families with needs from diapers to car seats – are gathering for the second half of a fundraising doubleheader.

This afternoon saw about 400 people fill the brightly decorated Brockey Center at South Seattle Community College for the first half – WS Baby’s 10th annual Benefit Tea. And tonight, for the first time ever, they’re following it up with a benefit Cocktail Party – at The Hall at Fauntleroy – because the tea sold out quickly.

You could gauge the tea event’s popularity not only from the preliminary fundraising total of “$88,000 and counting,” according to executive director Nancy Woodland‘s 6 pm update (Sunday update: $100,000+!) – but also by noting the crowd of people who poured into the lobby as the tea began, to get name tags and number paddles enabling them to pledge or donate for certain items:

(Above image and next two are WSB iPhone photos)
The paddles were a first-time feature – attendees who wanted to publicly pledge a certain level of donation were invited to raise theirs; on-the-spot donation amounts ranged all the way up to $2,500. Dozens were raised, in waves:

Another first at the tea – a “men’s table”!

Toward the right, wearing a tie, that’s executive director Rick Jump from the White Center Food Bank, a partner and supporter of WestSide Baby. He explained, “I told Nancy for years, get more men to come to this – so she did and now we have a ‘men’s table’ – sub sandwiches and pretzels, no tea!” They didn’t go beverageless – beer was available; the cash bar at the event also offered a custom drink created by event co-sponsor Avalon, “The Avalon,” a pink apple martini with nutmeg sugar on each glass’s rim – held in the next photo by Breanna Whited and Katie Guenther:

(Photo courtesy Donna Ryan Photography)
Though there was plenty of good cheer, some of the numbers were sobering. WS Baby served more than 18,400 children last year, 20 percent more than the year before – and there are still more who need help. In their first decade of operation, WS Baby has distributed almost $7.5 million in clothing, toys, baby gear, and other items — and there are still more who need help. Despite filling hundreds of requests for car seats and cribs last year, hundreds more went unfilled. But the support for WS Baby can be so touching, its executive director got emotional during her mid-tea speech (from a stage in the center of the room), before discussing one of the year’s big triumphs:

(WSB video)
That new space enables WestSide Baby to store and process more donated items (we reported on it last fall) and was fixed up with lots of volunteer power and donations. Woodland also discussed a somewhat-low-key capital campaign that’s been under way since last summer, with a $500,000 goal, and $220,000 raised already.

“We have come a long way!” observed WS Baby board chair Megan Simmons when she spoke to the crowd, which also heard from King County Councilmember Joe McDermott (photographed below with Nancy Woodland):

(Photo courtesy Donna Ryan Photography)
McDermott asked teagoers to let his former colleagues in the State Legislature know they are concerned about health and human service funding cuts – which affect services like the maternity programs the county offers.

And the services WS Baby provides were given a face and a voice – that of Serena Spalding, a young single mom who is not only a WS Baby volunteer, but also a client. She explained that the needs the organization helps fill are “not negotiable – they’re needed whether or not Mommy has money.”

As Woodland put it, the kids they serve “have a right to feel safe, to be safe, to be dry, to be warm.” And a room full of supporters/donors reached in and reached out to help make that reality.

You can donate to WestSide Baby in a variety of ways – explained here – as well as giving money online.

SIDE NOTES: Thanks to the “table captain” who made room for us at her table, Katy Walum (who you may also know as president of the Admiral Neighborhood Association). Last year, she was the Tea Committee chair, and worked intensely up to and through the event to make sure it went off without a hitch; this year, with WS Baby getting help from professional event organizers Spot On Events, she got to relax a bit, educating and enjoying her tablemates, while it unfolded. … Local businesses sponsoring the tea included three WSB sponsors: Wyatt’s Jewelers (which donated a diamond necklace for a unique raffle that also involved Avalon Glassworks‘ glass-art cupcakes), Ventana Construction, Fauntleroy Chiropractic, and Bryan Brenner DDS.

7 Replies to "WestSide Baby's $100K fundraising doubleheader: Day/night of firsts"

  • Bonnie February 5, 2011 (9:35 pm)

    Hey, it’s Ms. Whited from Teach Me How to Study! Woo Hoo!!! You are great!

  • SpeakLoud February 5, 2011 (9:48 pm)

    It has been so inspiring to see WestSide baby grow over the years-what a truely remarkable story they have and what a superb service they offer. There are many good people in the world and many good organizations-we have both right here in West Seattle.

  • N.A. Neighbor February 5, 2011 (10:28 pm)

    Yay WestSide Baby! What a great event today, I was so proud to be a part of it! Thanks for all the great work you do for the tiniest members of our community (and their hineys for that matter!)

  • Hippiechic February 5, 2011 (10:59 pm)

    Yay Nancy! You gals do such a super job. So thrilled for your success.

  • Nancy woodland February 6, 2011 (9:55 am)

    What a wonderful amazing day yesterday was! We are thrilled to report we raised more than $100,000 by day’s end. We also raised awareness of the need and know attendees will spread the word. Thank you so much to our business sponsors, to everyone who came to support, volunteer and give. The energy was incredible and really will help kids in our neighborhoods!

  • Carla February 6, 2011 (10:53 am)

    Awesome job! Impressive day for an impressive organization! Glad to do my little part!

  • shoemama February 7, 2011 (6:52 pm)

    Love the men’s table! Would encourage more men to attend!

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