Opinion

Federal Way shows its colors at Ruby Dance | Chris Carrel

Ruby Dance award winners: Friends President Margery Godfrey, Ron Larson, Eric Stavney, Thais Bock, King County Councilman Pete von Reichbauer, Chris Carrel, Jim Jakubiak of Schnitzer Steel.  - Courtesy of Seth Bynum
Ruby Dance award winners: Friends President Margery Godfrey, Ron Larson, Eric Stavney, Thais Bock, King County Councilman Pete von Reichbauer, Chris Carrel, Jim Jakubiak of Schnitzer Steel.
— image credit: Courtesy of Seth Bynum

Last Saturday, Friends of the Hylebos held its fifth annual Ruby Dance benefit and awards dinner at the King County Weyerhaeuser Aquatic Center.

The turnout and generosity of the guests was something remarkable: 190 guests attended the event, which raised more than $38,000 for local conservation (an organizational best).

The success of this year’s Ruby Dance underscores the quality of people in this community. Federal Way has a robust array of worthy charitable causes. None of us, though, can pursue our respective missions without community support. For most of us, that includes putting on at least one annual event.

For the Friends, that’s Ruby Dance. We put together a silent auction and live auction, a program that features a keynote speaker and awards for notable conservationists. This year’s speaker was Gene Duvernoy, president of the Cascade Land Conservancy. Past speakers have included Congressman Adam Smith, internationally renowned marine scientist Elliott Norse, and Federal Way school superintendent Tom Murphy.

Events are a lot of work — and expensive. Success depends in large part on generous sponsors like Boeing, Weyerhaeuser and Schnitzer Steel, generous donors of auction items and volunteers. Local caterers Cafe Pacific helped underwrite the cost of feeding 200 people, and cooked and served the meal. But of course, ultimate success comes down to the folks who come out to support the event. To get 190 F-Dubbers (and granted, some are coming from other communities of the Hylebos) in this economy is a strong statement for the way this community supports conservation.

And many of the people who attended Ruby Dance also support one or more other local fundraisers. This is both a strength and a weakness of our community. It’s a strength because it shows the depth of commitment people have to Federal Way. Ruby Dance guests are also turning out to the Literacy Breakfast, the Boys and Girls Breakfast, FUSION, the Multi-Service Center Crab feed…and there’s still the Federal Way Symphony Fall Gala two weeks from now and the Federal Way Chamber auction in November.

The weakness should be self-evident. There are too few people supporting too many causes and needing to attend too many events. At some point, you have to worry about burning people out, let alone their checkbooks. As part of our community building, we need to cultivate some more donors to support our charitable causes.

My plea to those of you who haven’t been to a community fundraiser like Ruby Dance, yet, is to take the plunge. Pick a cause that sounds close to your heart, look up their event, and put it on your calendar. Better yet, ask around. Chances are you know someone who is connected with the event. Or, if you’re really stumped, call or e-mail me and I’ll recommend one for you.

Although nonprofit managers are trying to raise money for our causes, annual fundraisers aren’t just about the money raised. They’re also about fellowship as well as creating and strengthening community.

I had a number of colleagues at Ruby Dance who live outside Federal Way, but commented on the energy and spirit of the guests as well as the remarkable mixture of the crowd — which included volunteers and the purely conservation-minded, educators and artists, business executives and elected officials from local, county and state government.

My out-of-town colleagues recognized that we’ve got something special here in the F-Dub. There’s a sense of community that is as important as any money raised in supporting the Friends or any of Federal Way’s other community causes.

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