BMH2H serves up Dinners for Friends fundraiser


Dinner parties all over the Walla Walla Valley held forth with a purpose. Altogether, 16 Dinners for Friends with Friends were slated during the month.

Blue Mountain Heart to Heart’s biggest fundraiser of the year, the eight parties hosted on Aug. 17 brought in $8,445, according to Everett Maroon, executive director.

“As in years past, our dinner events vary, with a pizza party at one house, a catered dinner at another, a wine tasting-themed party, and an outdoor potluck at yet another house,” he said.

“Parties also ranged in size from 10 people to 40, and the introduction of Heart to Heart’s “Generous Hearts Society,” which starts at the $200 level for annual donations, and includes a December Thank You party, free entry into the annual 5K race, and other benefits, helped motivate some donors to give more.

Proceeds from Dinner for Friends with Friends go into BMH2H’s general fund to be applied to everything from direct support to people with HIV and AIDS, like medical transportation support and nutritional programs, to its prevention and testing work, Everett said.

The dinners in 2012 raised more than $19,000. Everett credits the guests and hosts “who always make this event wonderful and ... Judah Pira who chairs the fundraising committee this year and who has already seen the bright side of a few cheese plates.”

BMH2H also joined again with Macy’s to promote its Passport Fund program, which has supported nonprofit HIV/AIDS organizations across the nation for more than 30 years, Everett said in BMH2H’s summer Heartbeat issue.

“Blue Mountain Heart to Heart alone has received more than $6,000 in the last two years, money that has directly supported our prevention work and our summer veggies program for HIV-positive clients.”

The event’s final tally is still outstanding.

Macy’s sold a Glampass until Aug. 16. Each Glampass cost $10, with $5 going to support a local HIV/AIDS nonprofit.

Want to volunteer with BMH2H? Call 509-529-4744.

United Way of Walla Walla County is hosting a luncheon that’s open to the community.

“We will highlight the impact of your investment on the Walla Walla Valley and the positive changes coming to United Way,” said Executive Director Christy Druffel in a release.

Feature presentations will be offered by Mick and Shannon Miller, 2013-2014 campaign co-chairs, and Mark Brown, executive director of Friends of Children of Walla Walla.

The free lunch is to be provided through donations from many local restaurants, she said. The annual event gives United Way the opportunity to share its gratitude for the support from volunteers, donors and friends.

It’s slated from 11:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesday at the Walla Walla Regional Airports, 310 A St.

Christy asks for RSVPs to be made at or 529-1183.

The cultural base in our community is expanding during the coming year as Walla Walla High School will see students in its midst from around the world. They arrived recently at the Pasco and Walla Walla airports, greeted by host families affiliated with the AFS/YES exchange student programs, according to Linnea Keatts.

“As we waited to welcome a new exchange student from Gaza (who’s going to Joseph, Ore., for the year), we were approached by these two Japanese gentlemen,” Linnea reported.

“The men could tell the students were exchange students, and told the greeting party they were in Walla Walla for the weekend to celebrate their 40th reunion at Wa-Hi, where they were exchange students. They told the students that this exchange year will change their lives,” she said.

“It was the most wonderful serendipity” to have those former students talk with the new ones, Linnea added.

Once Bashar Aburamadan arrived from the Gaza Strip, he, his host family and the welcoming committee went to a coffee gathering Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers held at the airport

“We thanked her and Congress for funding the YES program for exchange students.” This year’s students include Mathika “Fatin” Klongsamut from Thailand, Valter Serafim from Mozambique, and Ecem “A-Jay” Turkkan from Turkey are in Walla Walla with the YES scholarship. Also here is Martin Ortiz from Argentina.

Bashar, a YES student and part of the AFS Inland Empire Area Team, had a challenging time making it to the U.S.

Originally scheduled to pass through Cairo, Egypt, plans were changed because of the unrest. Bashar instead traveled with exchange students from Gaza and Palestine, leaving from Amman, Jordan.

“I asked him how he got from the Gaza Strip to Jordan, and he said they were on a bus. When they got into Israel on the way to Jordan, they were stopped and Bashar was singled out and questioned by the Israeli border guards.

“He did OK, of course, but he told us yesterday that he was terrified at this incident. He is 15 years old. I can’t even imagine what that must have been like. He told us, he still thinks about it, a week later,” Linnea said.

Bashar joins 10 other exchange students in Northeastern Oregon for the academic year in Joseph, Enterprise, Wallowa and La Grande, Linnea said.

Hogara Ikuma is from Walla Walla’s sister city, Sasayama, Japan, and is the first year-long exchange student from there since 1999-2000.

He enjoyed a two-week visit so much two years ago, that he wanted to return.

An $85,827 E-Rate grant helped provide modern technology network equipment to Blue Ridge Elementary.

The school completed its wireless project on Aug. 28. The system serves 309 elementary and 217 preschool students.

Wireless Internet access is now available throughout the building’s interior, in the grassy area outdoors along the south-facing windows of the building and outside the front entrance, according to an item in the Walla Walla Public Schools Week in Review online newsletter.

Altogether, 25 access points were installed.

The grant covered 90 percent of the project’s cost and the last 10 percent, approximately $10,000, came from the district.

Blue Ridge qualified for the E-rate grant based on its high percentage of students receiving free or reduced payment meal benefits, which range in the area of 90 percent.

The district applied for E-rate funding for five schools, but the other four were denied due to lower free and reduced price meal count percentages.

The E-rate program is administered by the Schools and Libraries Division of the Universal Service Administrative Co.

The program was set up in 1997 when the Federal Communications Commission adopted a Universal Service Order implementing the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

‘Grab your Big Six or your Dame” and come on down for a nifty time at the Juice Joint,” invites the YWCA.

Its Party with a Purpose will give a Taste of the Roaring Twenties during the YWCA’s sixth annual benefit auction at 6 p.m. Sept. 21 at the Walla Walla Fairgrounds Pavilion.

The Roaring Twenties theme is new this year. A dance demonstration of 1920s-style moves and lessons in the fox trot and swing dance will be given.

Folks are encouraged to come dressed for the era, ala the Great Gatsby. Kate Morrison featuring Gary Hemenway will perform live music and a wide array of party packages will be auctioned.

Proceeds will directly benefit programs and services of the local YWCA.

For tickets and more information, visit or call 509-525-2570. Tickets are $50 per person.

Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at or afternoons at 526-8313.


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