Thurston County’s Hidden Sector

Fun ways to get involved with several local nonprofit orgs


Is it just me or is the summer flying by faster than usual?

When I visit with folks about supporting nonprofits, everyone assumes that money is the primary need for most nonprofits. While donations are critical, they are but one of three items that fuel a nonprofit organization. The second is a strong board of directors. Third is volunteers.

If you are finding yourself with a bit of time on your hands, here are a few places where you might volunteer, donate, or spends some time.

Volunteer to support our local history

The next time you are walking the trail at Brewery Park at Tumwater Falls (a favorite of our dogs) or watching the salmon leap through the air as they continue their journey home, you may want to thank the Olympia Tumwater Foundation (OTF) which owns and manages the park.

According to its website, the Olympia Tumwater Foundation was founded in 1950 by Peter G. Schmidt Sr., president of the Olympia Brewing Company and oldest son of brewery founder Leopold Schmidt. The OTF honors the philanthropic legacy of the Schmidt Family and the Olympia Brewing Company through a wide range of community projects including:

  • Maintaining Brewery Park at Tumwater Falls
  • Supporting the Tumwater Historic District
  • Awarding annual scholarships
  • Preserving the historic Schmidt House and archives.

In 1983, the Foundation acquired the Schmidt House, which was built in 1904 for Leopold Schmidt and his wife, Johanna. The home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Tumwater Register of Historic Places, and is within the Tumwater Historic District. As you walk around the home you will notice several gardens, a reflective pool, and statues brought back from Europe by Leopold Schmidt. A historical marker, “A House Called Three Meter.” stands just outside the front gate of the Schmidt House grounds and provides a detailed history of the home and the Schmidt family.

The grounds also feature the Centennial Rose Garden cared for by the Olympia Rose Society, the Pacific Northwest District of the American Rose Society. (See related story.) 

Currently, the Schmidt House is recruiting volunteers to assist with scanning photographs, researching, general preservation of its archives, and helping to host events. They are open to additional ideas so if you have a skill or talent that you would like to offer, please click here.

Volunteer with our local parks

As the summer heats up, the Olympia Parks, Arts & Recreation department limits its volunteering to Saturdays. Work parties this month will focus on removing non-indigenous plants, including Himalayan blackberry, Yellow archangel, and English ivy. With more than 50 parks and parcels, they need your help to steward 1,400 plus acres of green space.

  • August 13 - Madison Scenic Park
  • August 20 - Yashiro Japanese Garden
  • August 27 - Burri Park
  • September 24 - National Public Lands Day--Mission Creek Nature Park

Click here for more details or to register.

Have a ball with your donation

Shout out to Heather Leidner from the Community Action Council (CAC) for sending me a notice that CAC will be “hosting” a Seattle Mariners game this Saturday, August 6th. According to Leidner, “the event will benefit Monarch Children’s Justice and Advocacy Center who in conjunction with their partner agencies, offers a wide range of services at no cost to child victims and their families. With this special offer, $10 of every ticket sold will benefit the Capital Campaign expansion of Monarch!” For more information on this deal click here.

Looking forward to seeing you at LoveOly SummerFest

The Olympia Downtown Alliance is bringing back its street block party. LoveOly SummerFest2022 will take place every Saturday in August from 1:00 – 7:00 pm in Downtown Olympia. The event includes live music and performances, activities for kids and families, interactive art installations from local artists, and a biergarten featuring craft beer. Click here for more details.

Soliciting your ideas

If you know of a nonprofit that is doing something great, celebrating a success, needs some outstanding volunteers, or hosting an event, let me know! This column (aside from a little education) celebrates nonprofits!

Mary Beth Harrington, CVA (Certified Volunteer Administrator) lives in Tumwater. She travels the country speaking at conferences and to individual organizations articulating issues facing nonprofits. Send your ideas to her at


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