Vashon schools receive more than $20K in donations

Bob Hennessey, the school board
Bob Hennessey, the school board's chair, displays the cash the district received from sales of the DreamBoat calendars.
— image credit: Amelia Heagerty

The school district received more than $20,000 in community donations last week — a giant check for $6,775 and a box full of $13,500 in cash and checks.

The money was the fruit of two Island efforts to raise funds for the Vashon Island School District.

At the board's Oct. 8 meeting, Island contractor Ron Mitchell handed a larger-than-life check to board chair Bob Hennessey — the proceeds from his sales of materials salvaged from the Vashon Elementary School gym. When the historic building was deconstructed last month, Mitchell saved some of the irreplaceable wooden materials, sold them to Islanders and donated the proceeds to be used in the Vashon High School athletic program. About 20 Islanders bought material, from very small purchases of a few boards to a massive purchase made by Island furniture maker Bill Gretch, who also plans to honor the gym and the school district by reusing the materials and donating funds to the school district. He intends to create furniture items with the gym materials and give 25 percent of their purchase price back to the school, Mitchell told the board.

"I'd like to say thank you very much," Hennessey told Mitchell. "None of us was really happy about seeing the gym come down, but with the help of you, a local contractor, we were able to see this building stay within the community."

Representatives from a very different kind of fundraiser also brought a hefty donation to the board: a red shoebox with a ribbon, filled with bundles of greenbacks and envelopes stuffed with checks. The money came from sales of 656 DreamBoats calendars, an artful display of 12 photographs of nude Island men—created without the school district's endorsement, but intended to raise money for the school system.

Several of the models — Mr. August and Mr. November, to name a few — were on hand as calendar producer Inger Brockman passed the box of money to Hennessey.

"It was about five months ago that a group of us got the idea to put together a calendar of naked men, and to spend the money (we raised) on a good cause," she said. "We hope that you can share our enthusiasm and the enthusiasm and humor of our fans, ... so we hope that you will accept these funds."

The board voted four to one to accept the funds, with vice chair Laura Wishik opposing it, saying she didn't feel the way the funds were raised was appropriate.

"It sends the wrong message," she said.

Organizers asked that $1,000 of the funds be used to support Chautauqua's third-grade music program, and that the rest be spent on core curricula materials.

"This is a first installment," Brockman noted. "We hope to be back in a few more months with another installment."

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