Community Service Spotlights
The Brighton Jones philanthropy team shares community service spotlights involving colleagues and clients, both in the United States and abroad.
Environmental Science Center
Finding Her Cause
Kristine Ashcraft is a member of the Brighton Jones community who serves on the board of directors for the Environmental Science Center (ESC). Since 2014, she’s passionately worked in this role to promote environmental stewardship and academic achievement through science-based education.
Kristine believes that the lack of diversity in STEM careers and the lack of understanding of how our choices impact the environment can both be addressed with earlier educational opportunities that create a love for science and nature—especially in underserved communities. Many of the students the ESC provides opportunities to “let nature teach” are in underfunded schools with high poverty levels.
The Environmental Science Center strives to foster a passion for the environment in their diverse community by getting people outside and using nature as a teacher. ESC helps people feel a deeper connection to nature by delivering hands-on programs at local beaches, forests, rivers, and classrooms.
ESC removes barriers by offering free community programs and free or highly reduced-priced school programs based on need. They also provide transportation reimbursements to schools who qualify, as bus transportation costs are often the limiting factor for schools to participate in field trips.
ESC programs increase science literacy, provide an opportunity for more diversity in STEM career fields, and encourage healthy everyday choices impacting the Salish Sea ecosystem and community.
During salmon field trips, students use scientific tools to investigate environmental problems that are relevant to themselves and their community. They collect water quality data that is shared using an international platform.
Students feel proud to be part of a larger scientific community and pledge to take action to protect salmon habitat. During beach field trips, students learn how to explore marine environments gently and are inspired to become “Beach Heroes” after touching their first sea star, dancing with barnacles, or being squirted by their first clam.
ESC naturalists mentor the next generation of environmental leaders by working with local teens who roll up their sleeves to restore wildlife habitat and serve as “Jr Naturalists.” guiding younger students during field studies.
Participants leave an ESC field study inspired by the new discoveries made exploring marine and freshwater environments and empowered by actions they can take to protect these fragile ecosystems.
Equity and Access
Each year, paid ESC naturalists bring thousands of students out to explore local freshwater and marine environments and although state restrictions have limited in-person programming, their commitment to mentoring young environmental leaders and fostering stewardship remains constant.
As teachers devise new strategies with distance learning, ESC plans to provide video instruction from naturalists in the field to schools so students can discover the wonders of spawning salmon in the fall and the excitement of marine organisms uncovered by low tides in the spring.
Equity and access are core values that guide the efforts of ESC and they understand not all families have access to computers or the internet. In addition to video instruction, they have created science kits translated into multiple languages so students can conduct nature investigations from the safety of their home or apartment building and explore their environment using localized identification sheets.
If you would like to join Kristine in supporting the Environmental Science Center, you can support their 20th Anniversary Giving campaign, explore volunteer opportunities, or stay in-the-know by joining their mailing list.
In 2015, Janet Tarbutton started noticing subtle signs of Alzheimer’s disease in her husband Alan. At first, the signs were barely noticeable: he was taking longer to complete tasks and needed to work longer hours to keep up in his work as an engineer.
Because Alzheimer’s runs in his family, Janet made the connection and insisted that Alan consult a physician. Since Alan was officially diagnosed with younger-onset Alzheimer’s disease in 2016, at the age of 60, the pair have experienced a long journey to what their life looks like today. This included retiring early, adjusting their expectations for what retirement looked like, and reimagining what their future might hold.
The Tarbuttons’ decision to seek advice from, and eventually fully embrace, the Alzheimer’s Association has led them to become active advocates and mentors for others experiencing memory loss in their families. The Alzheimer’s Association published an article in which Janet describes the role reversal in their marriage, and KREM News interviewed the couple about how memory-care patients and caregivers are coping with the COVID-19 restrictions.
We interviewed them to learn more about how they moved from being beneficiaries of the Alzheimer’s Association’s services to volunteering their time to help others.
What advice do you typically give families that are just beginning their journey with memory loss?
Do not try to do it alone. Support is key to survival of both the patient and the caregiver. Find a doctor who believes that memory loss is real, and be open to changes in lifestyle, diet, and medications.
The caregiver must be an advocate for their loved one, staying curious and continuously educating themselves. The Alzheimer’s Association can provide recommendations and resources such as books, conferences, seminars, and support groups. My most important advice to caregivers is to remember to take care of yourself and recharge your batteries.
What has surprised you most about your experience with Alzheimer’s disease?
I was not expecting to lose longtime friendships. As the disease progresses, some friends will feel uncomfortable about how to act. We have made many new friends through Alzheimer’s Association support groups. Before the pandemic, we would travel together often and meet for lunch or dinner a few times a week. It is helpful to share the experience with others who are knowledgeable about the disease.
How are you working to help other families?
We are working with Dementia Friendly America to help make Spokane a more “dementia friendly community.” Spokane is the first city in Washington to begin the process of joining the DFA network. As part of the action team, we draw from our lived experience to provide advice throughout the process. With this initiative, we are advocating for the growing number of adults with dementia, educating the public, and expanding community-based activities.
How can friends and family members provide better support to people with Alzheimer’s disease and their caregivers?
Volunteer to provide breaks for the caregiver. Giving piece of mind that their loved one is in good hands is crucial. If possible, attend doctor appointments to hear what the professionals have to say. Communicate with the memory loss individual as much as you can, spend quality time with them, and laugh together as much as possible.
“If Seattle culture has a future, TeenTix is at its heart.” – Brendan Kiley, The Stranger
What is TeenTix?
TeenTix is an arts advocacy organization founded on the belief that arts attendance is arts education and civic participation. In a recent interview, Van Jones explained that art is uniquely positioned to move people. Art inspires, incites new questions and provokes curiosity, excitement, and outrage; and it has the power to bring us together.
There is a saying that goes, “Art cannot save the world, but it is not meant to—it is meant to ask what it means to be human, again and again, no matter the state of the world.”
For the past 16 years, TeenTix has been a catalyst for teens to ask that most critical question. And to find the answers through engagement, inspiration, education and connection.
TeenTix offers three core programs:
The Pass Program: Any teen, regardless of geographical location, can sign up for a free TeenTix Pass. This pass entitles that teen to purchase $5 day-of-show tickets at any of our 70+ partner organizations in the Greater Puget Sound area.
The New Guard: Teens in this program are trained in arts leadership and administration providing them with a behind-the-scenes experience of running an arts non-profit. They fundraise, put on events, write grants, and give advice to 70+ partners on how to reach younger and more diverse audiences.
The Press Corps: The Press Corps has an explicit goal of disrupting systems of oppression within arts media that have kept marginalized voices out of arts journalism. This program promotes critical thinking, communication, and information literacy through arts criticism and journalism practice for teens.
What challenges are being addressed by TeenTix?
TeenTix removes barriers and makes the arts, broadly speaking, accessible. It also engages teens if they want to go deeper than just attending events. Their work ensures that teens know the arts community is a place for them, whether they are an aspiring artist, future arts patron, or arts leader.
How has the pandemic impacted the work of TeenTix?
Once COVID-19 rippled through our community, TeenTix worked closely with partners to navigate the challenges as partners canceled in-person events and teens remained at home. Currently, they have filled the Pass Program’s calendar with free virtual activities across King County and beyond. Teens have gained access to virtual performances, workshops, exhibition tours, concerts, and other activities from across the state and country that they would not have access to otherwise.
Despite social distancing, TeenTix has been here for teens in new ways. They are facilitating workshops focusing on BIPOC artists, and continuing to amplify teen voices through a podcast series, online art reviews, and teen-lead conversations with arts leaders.
How and why did you get involved with TeenTix?
I have been on arts boards since I moved to Seattle in 1988. My passion is finding arts organizations that may not be broadly known but are jewels, diamonds in the rough, that with additional support and resources, could take their amazing work to a broader audience.
It did not take very long for me to realize that Teentix is such an organization when, two years ago, one of the board members approached me and suggested I get to know them.
Now that my daughter is approaching her teenage years, TeenTix is especially relevant and interesting to me personally. I believe passionately in how TeenTix could be a true solution in this world facing the challenges like justice, equity, and isolation. There is simply nothing else like it and so once I learned about it I felt compelled to get involved.
How can Brighton Jones clients engage with TeenTix?
- Encourage the teens in your life to get a Teen Pass
- Spread the word among friends, family, and colleagues
- Donate to help TeenTix expand geographically and technologically
- Check out our teen-produced content for your arts coverage
- Sign up for their e-newsletter which includes reviews, news, and other resources
- Volunteer! TeenTix regularly seeks adult volunteers to support some of their key program aspects
Cat Tails, Inc.
We spoke with Joy Purnell, founder of Cat Tails, Inc. to learn more about the world of animal rescue and her passion for the cause.
When and why did you first become passionate about this issue?
I became passionate about saving cats and kittens when I was 4 or 5 years old, and it continued on through my whole life.
My mom and dad used to say “If we were cats, we would get more attention!” I was a military wife and wherever we lived, I would try to help the cats in the area. I formed my own non-profit in December 2002.
What made you decide to start your own non-profit instead of, for example, supporting existing work that is being done?
I was reluctant to do it initially. But the organizations I was working with as a volunteer would allow mother cats to have their babies even if their pregnancies were not far along, and I did not respect that. I knew of all the kittens and moms killed by animal control and of our overpopulation issues with companion pets. We utilize low-cost clinics to avoid the high cost of traditional veterinarians.
What is your primary service and how do people come to you?
I have a fabulous network of fosters and I am also a Petco partner. I have been approved by several animal control units, so they will sometimes call me and I am able to foster a cat until the owner is found. People find me through Petfinders or by word of mouth. We try to help in every situation, but I have people coming to me every day. Just this morning we saved 10 cats from a kill shelter. Each cat costs $100 to get spayed, neutered, and fully vetted.
What’s the one major policy change you would like to see that would impact this work?
Ending animal controls, and until then have them be more educated so they can be no-kill. There are some throughout the United States that are no-kill, and if all of them would go by that template, that would be wonderful. That gives all the animals a chance to survive.
Many times we have rescued a cat or kitten from animal control, then they call and say the owner has called and wants it back. If we hadn’t, the animal would have been euthanized. Throughout the U.S., each locale sets its own policy. There are no-kill solutions, such as those taught by the No Kill Advocacy Center.
What are some ways other people can get involved?
- Encourage people to be fosters
- Adopt with the intention of being a forever home
- Volunteer in other ways like helping with paperwork or online services
Six months ago, Brighton Jones pledged to take an active role in confronting racial injustice. Here’s an update on the commitments we made.
Your donor-advised fund is a wonderful tool for bringing loved ones together in the spirit of family philanthropy and traditions.