Vashon Community Care welcomes a star to its fundraising soirée

K.D. Lang wows the crowd on behalf of Vashon Community Care at The Hardware Store Restaurant. For additional photos, see Jeff Dunnicliff’s website at - Jeff Dunnicliff Photo
K.D. Lang wows the crowd on behalf of Vashon Community Care at The Hardware Store Restaurant. For additional photos, see Jeff Dunnicliff’s website at
— image credit: Jeff Dunnicliff Photo

In the midst of its fundraising campaign to raise $350,000, Vashon Community Care (VCC) received a little help last week from an unlikely source: nationally renowned singer and songwriter K.D. Lang.

Lang came to Vashon last Wednesday for VCC’s ninth annual fundraising event, Uncork the Love, held at The Hardware Store Restaurant. The night raised $66,000 for the nonprofit organization, according to VCC’s Director of Development Linda Milovsoroff. So far in this campaign, VCC has raised more than $270,000 and hopes to reach its goal by the end of the year, she said.

The funds — twice the amount VCC raises in a typical year — will go to pay off some of the nonprofit organization’s debt and make it possible for VCC to refinance the building’s mortgage. Doing so will save VCC roughly $20,000 each month and $9 million over the course of the loan, according to VCC Administrator Janelle Ansell.

Both women noted they are pleased with the progress of the campaign. Milovsoroff, who opens the mail, said it has been like Christmas everyday.

“The generosity of the community has been overwhelming,” she said.

New donors have stepped forward, she said, and donors who had previously donated small amounts have made large donations. Many have included positive comments about VCC and its place in the community, she added.

While the agency is fundraising, it is also reducing staff hours in a variety of departments, striving to do so in a way that does not compromise care, Ansell said. She noted she hopes to restore those hours when VCC is in a more stable position financially.

If the campaign brings in more than the target amount, she said she would be extremely pleased.

“The more financially stable we are, the more secure we are for current and future generations,” she said. “We want to be on this Island for many, many years to come.”

As for the night with Lang, both women relished the event, feelings apparently shared by the 95 patrons in attendance, who paid $500 per ticket to attend.

“People just had these grins on their faces,” Ansell said. “Everyone’s eyes were glistening.”

Lang sang from the center of the room, she said, accompanied by her pianist who played a grand piano brought in for the occasion.

The star came to the Island in support of this cause because her manager, part-time Islander Steve Jensen, is friends with Linda Bianchi, who is on the VCC board and its development committee. In planning the event, Bianchi said, a fellow committee member suggested — in jest — that Lang would provide nice entertainment. Bianchi said she had never called upon Jensen before in this way, but she asked him if Lang, who lives in Portland, might sing. When she first asked, he declined, Bianchi said, but called back one month later with a different response.

“This is the kind of organization she would like to help,” Bianchi recalled Jensen saying. “Not only her, but me, too.”

Word of Lang’s upcoming appearance was kept under wraps, though the invitations to the event carried the news and were snapped up quickly, Milovsoroff said.

All three women voiced their appreciation of both Jensen and Lang for their contribution to the night, which brought in $13,000 more than last year’s event and is an all-time high.

“To witness the power and emotion with which she sings in an intimate setting, all I can say is, ‘wow,’” Bianchi said.

Additionally, Ansell said, Jensen purchased a guitar from Vashon Island Music and had Lang sign it, a gift that will further benefit VCC. “That was a surprise for us,” she said. “We will take advantage of that in some fashion.”

Moving forward with their campaign, VCC staff and board will reach out to the community at large through the mail and conversations with donors, Milovsoroff said. They are also applying for grants.

Inside VCC, Ansell said staff and residents have pulled together to come up with ways to bring in more money and stretch dollars further.  It is this spirit, Ansell said, that first drew her to VCC.

“The heart and soul in the building is amazing,” she said. “It makes us all do what we do because the work we do is hard.”


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