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Tulalip Tribes 'Raise Hands' in celebration of community

TULALIP — The Tulalip Tribes “raised their hands” in charity to 250 organizations throughout the state of Washington Sept. 18, as the Tulalip Resort Casino’s Orca Ballroom hosted hundreds of guests for the Tribes’ annual “Raising Hands” evening dinner program.

Tulalip Tribal Board Chair Mel Sheldon Jr. explained that the Tribes have donated $38.8 million to nonprofit charities and community organizations throughout Washington state since 1993.

“What is it that makes people come together and devote themselves to a better society?” Sheldon asked attendees. “Because each one of you in this room has done that for the betterment of your communities.”

Sheldon commended Tribal leaders such as state Rep. John McCoy, the former manager of Quil Ceda Village, former Tribal Board member Stan Jones Sr. and current Tribal Board member Don Hatch Jr., former member of the Marysville School Board, for carrying on the Tribes’ own traditions of generosity.

Marysville Fire District Foundation Secretary Kay Smith expressed her appreciation to the Tribes for this year’s $15,000 contribution.

“Last year, we were able to offer five additional fire scholarships with their money,” Smith said. “This year’s grant will help us start to replace our training props. These donations make measurable impacts in education and safety.”

Marysville School District Superintendent Dr. Larry Nyland agreed with Smith about the value of “Raising Hands” to area education. Last year, Nyland estimated that the school district had received roughly $500,000 from the Tribes, including approximately $86,000 that went to the reading room at Tulalip Elementary, $196,000 to the expeditionary learning program at Tulalip Heritage High School, and $30,000 to the literacy initiative at Quil Ceda Elementary, which also received Tribal funds for its math recovery program. This year’s recipients in the school district included the Marysville-Pilchuck High School band and volleyball program, as well as environmental education for the district as a whole.

“The Tribes have been a great partner and a great help to the school district,” Nyland said. “They share our goal of closing the achievement gap.”

Marysville Police Chief Rick Smith and Cara Ianni of the Stilly Snohomish Fisheries Enhancement Task Force both credited the Tribes’ monies as making significant differences to their own programs. The Marysville Police Department received between $25,001 and $50,000 this year, while the Stilly Snohomish Fisheries Enhancement Task Force received between $5,001 and $7,500 this year.

“These funds allow us to respond appropriately, and to enhance and improve our training and technology,” said Smith, who praised Tulalip Tribal Police Chief Jay Goss and his department for their partnership with the Marysville Police Department. “We collaborate on drug issues and share information on gangs and graffiti. Crime doesn’t respect boundaries.”

“These grants are a big part of what keeps us going,” said Ianni, as she summarized the Stilly Snohomish Fisheries Enhancement Task Force’s mission of restoring salmon habitat and educating area residents about environmental stewardship.”

Arlington Kids’ Kloset Board President Julie Morse thanked the Tribes for their first “Raising Hands” contribution to her group, in the amount of $2,375.

“This is our busiest time of the year,” said Morse of Kids’ Closet, which serves low-income families in Arlington, Lakewood and Darrington. “From Sept. 1-15, we’ve served 150 families. We expect to have served between 500-600 families by Thanksgiving. That’s a 25 percent increase from last year.”

“You’ve made yourselves available to the down-and-out who have no place to turn,” Sheldon told attendees. “Our common bond is that we’ve worked for a better society.”

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