By Patrick Sand and Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog co-publishers
Reorganize, regroup, reinvent.
That’s what’s next for West Seattle Hi-Yu, after a meeting last night at which it was made clear that the people involved with the community organization are not ready to just let it die after more than 80 years.
As announced last week, Hi-Yu is suspending activities for the rest of the year, including the float’s traditional appearance in the Issaquah Salmon Days Parade. The float, with a new design and theme each year, is at the heart of Hi-Yu’s current identity; West Seattle is the last community in the city with a traveling parade float. It also has two youth programs – the Junior and Senior Court (with scholarships available for the latter) and Ambassadors (who earn service hours).
Recently elected Hi-Yu president Chris Henggeler said last night’s meeting was to make clear to the greater West Seattle community what Hi-Yu is right now and how his board is trying to work toward creating a new Hi-Yu that better serves its community and the kids involved. To that end, the board voted to suspend both courts and all Hi-Yu court activity through the end of January 2017. Henggeler added that the meeting room at the Admiral Library has been booked for monthly meetings and that the board also will talk outside of those meetings to find ways to re-invent the institution. No one wants to completely shut it down, treasurer Tom Cain declared. But the need for more volunteer help remains – especially help to serve on committees and take on outreach to West Seattle businesses.
To clarify what Hi-Yu is now, compared to what it used to be, Henggeler was asked to define it in a sentence: A scholarship program and a float, he replied. Many people, he suggested, aren’t aware that some of its past functions, including the West Seattle Grand Parade, are now handled by other groups (the parade is produced, for example, by the West Seattle Rotary Foundation).
Community awareness was a major topic; Hi-Yu ran an online survey last year, and the 116 replies suggested community members mostly associate the organization with the float.
As for how Hi-Yu got to this point, that was fielded by secretary Gloria Teves. For the past six years or so, she said, Hi-Yu only had enough parent volunteers to keep the basics going – the float, and royalty/ambassador transportation. There was no additional help for community interaction to promote Hi-Yu or contact businesses for support. Teves said she and others had gone to Chief Sealth International High School this year to talk about Hi-Yu but received feedback that time and effort could be a barrier to involvement.
But parents who have been involved attended to talk about how much Hi-Yu had meant to their daughters who had been part of its Junior and Senior Courts over the years (Hi-Yu opened participation to boys a few years ago and has had one male court member since then). And Todd Ainsworth of West Seattle Autoworks (WSB sponsor) told the group he felt Hi-Yu is an important tradition in West Seattle, thanking the organization for its help at the West Seattle Car Show (2016 WSB coverage here), which his business co-presents.
Also in attendance: Shannon Braddock, saying she was there on behalf of King County Executive and native West Seattleite Dow Constantine because he and others were ready to offer help, and that she could connect the board with those making the offers.
Next step: Monthly meetings at the same location as last night, West Seattle (Admiral) Library (2306 42nd SW), 7 pm on first Mondays. To get involved before the next meeting, contact Hi-Yu through its website, westseattlehiyu.com.