We are the Chehalis Foundation. Our mission is to support projects that benefit the city, the community, and academic excellence in schools. Our purpose is to better the quality of life for our citizens and provide more opportunities for our children, while lessening the financial burden to taxpayers and government.
Last year, I joined the Chehalis Foundation after coming back home for a visit and discovering that what has been going on here is nothing short of remarkable!
Parks and Recreation
A little over a decade ago, the Chehalis Foundation started renovating our parks and recreation facilities and supporting civic improvements. They completely restored Lintott Alexander Park bringing it back from basically an unusable park to a beautiful, desirable place for families and gatherings. Today it is a place we can all be proud of.
In Recreation Park, Chehalis Foundation led the way by replacing the old wading pool with the Chet and Henrietta Rhodes Kiddie Spray Park. On a hot summer day it would bring a smile to your face watching the little kids running in sprinklers.
The Foundation also decided to not just “repair” the community pool, but they decided to completely renovate the entire facility. They raised and invested $2.7 million in the new pool complex, which includes a state-of-the-art swimming pool that is wheelchair accessible, has some amazing water toys and structures for all ages, and features a new facilities building with a rental party room. These new public facilities are not just serving the 8,000 people of Chehalis; they are attracting daily visitors from all over Lewis County. In fact the new Shaw Aquatic Center had record-breaking attendance this year with over 10,000 swimmers visiting the first month it was open.
And now that The Foundation has renovated several important areas of Recreation Park it is time take on renovating the rest. So we are currently working with the city on further improvements to Recreation Park. In fact, you can submit your ideas on our facebook page.
There are many more projects that you would recognize that the Chehalis Foundation has had a leadership or funding role in over the recent years; projects such as the community tennis courts, our Bearcat Stadium, Headwall and Olympic ballparks, updates to the VR Lee Building, Holiday Decorations in downtown, adding a Police K-9 unit, and this year alone we gave out 39K in scholarship funding for HS seniors. There are many more that we don’t have room to mention. You can visit our site and read about all of our projects. But now, I am going to tell you about one more very important area of focus that the Chehalis Foundation believes is going to be the most impactful for the future of our community.
In 2014 the Chehalis School District announced the launch of the Student Achievement Initiative to focus on college for Chehalis students. We got on board right away, because we also believe that by improving the effectiveness of education in every single classroom, our students will be fully prepared for college and careers. The goals include increasing the percent of Chehalis graduating seniors going on to earn four-year college degrees from 20% to 60% by 2024.
The Foundation began investing in our W.F. West High School STEM programs (STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math). Now as you might guess, the Foundation doesn’t just do the minimum required… we not only wanted to inspire our kids to be innovative and better prepared for higher education. But we wanted to give our kids an edge on college applications. Give them amazing programs that don’t exist in even the “best” public High Schools.
To date our STEM programs have been a nationally recognized success. The Foundation intends to make W.F. West the premier high school STEM program in Washington by providing more of the advanced programs we helped to launch such as the two-year, hands-on, Molecular Genetics Program, the Robotics Program, and Mobile Application Development classes. And the most exciting investment we have made… is purchasing a Digital Scanning Electron Microscope. It is the first, if not only, Digital Scanning Electron Microscope in any U.S. high school! Students with experience using this kind of technology have a huge advantage when applying to colleges. In the University environment, this kind of hands-on experience with a Scanning Electron Microscope only comes in grad school! What a truly great opportunity for our kids.
Together with the BERC Group, The Chehalis Foundation continues working with the District. We are working today on plans for not just supporting STEM in the High School, but we’re working on bringing STEM programs into the middle and elementary schools, as well.
Making a Difference
You know, Chehalis Foundation passionately believes that a vibrant community is a healthy community. We know that a local economy performs better when schools are ranked high in educational standards, when people feel pride in the physical appearance of their city, and when the infrastructure of the city is maintained and safe. All of these things promote success for businesses and will encourage young people to stay in the area and build their futures right here in Chehalis.
For years, the Chehalis Foundation has been supporting these projects and very quietly making some of the biggest improvements to our city in more than 50 years. I believe that through outreach and awareness to Alumni like you, we can increase support and participation in the Chehalis Foundation and continue to support the growth of our community for generations to come.
You might say that our goals are pretty ambitious, right? Well, not if you know the people of the Chehalis Foundation; it’s not only the founders and hard working Board, but the hundreds of incredibly generous donors, and the thousands of hours that members of this community have volunteered. We all love this place we call home, we take pride in being from here, and we all want future generations to feel the same.
I came on board to help the Foundation with their goal of becoming sustainable. So that they will be doing good work, right here, for generations to come. And with the support of hundreds and potentially thousands in Chehalis, we will be here for the future.
Perhaps you’ve achieved a lot. And perhaps you want to share it, to see it at work. Maybe you want to make a noticeable difference and help create positive changes in our community. Or you simply may want to experience the joy and fulfillment of knowing that countless people are benefiting from your generosity. Large or small, your actions, contributions, and achievements define your legacy.
No matter what motivates you, consider making a lasting impression. Join us in our commitment to create a thriving community that will have a ripple effect on the growth, health, and future of Chehalis.
Thank you for your support.
Chehalis Foundation Development