There was something for everyone at Wellspring’s annual Lasting Change Luncheon this year. The March 16th event featured a salute to a tireless champion of children and families; a Holy Catfish moment; and an affirmation of Wellspring’s commitment going forward, as part of the agency’s seamless change in leadership. Last, but certainly most important, the hundreds of supporters who filled the Sheraton ballroom heard from a family whose lives are changed for the better because of Wellspring Family Services’ community of caring donors.
With the support of generous contributors and sponsors, the luncheon raised an amazing $435,819 for Wellspring and its programs, with gifts still trickling in!
If you weren’t able to attend this year’s action-packed program, fear not. Planning is already underway for next year’s event, which will—once again—take place in March. The exact date and location will be announced soon!
With the calm demeanor of a broadcast news anchor, coupled with the fancy footwork of a professional football athlete (he was a former Seattle Seahawk), Steve Raible hosted the Wellspring Luncheon for the 20th time! To mark the occasion, Wellspring Board Chair Ethan Norris surprised him with an artistic depiction of Steve’s famous Seahawks radio broadcast phrase, “HOLY CATFISH!” Wellspring hopes Steve will hang this one-of-a-kind piece of “art” where it can be enjoyed by—well, himself!
To acknowledge the retirement from Wellspring of longtime CEO Ruthann Howell, Steve shared with the audience an official proclamation from The City of Seattle and signed by Mayor Jenny Durkin. The proclamation declared March 16th (the date of the luncheon) as Ruthann Howell Day and saluted Ruthann’s commitment to our community’s children and families in her 28 years as CEO of Wellspring Family Services.
After a tribute video with comments from community and non-profit leaders, as well as former and current Wellspring staff, Ruthann was greeted onstage by a spontaneous standing ovation by luncheon attendees. Ruthann’s prepared comments stressed the importance of relationships in her three decades of tireless advocacy for children and families during her Wellspring leadership and throughout her entire career.
Following Ruthann, Wellspring’s Interim CEO, Heather Fitzpatrick, took to the stage. After sharing some sobering statistics about homelessness in the Seattle area, Heather reinforced Wellspring’s commitment to working with children and families in an effort to help ease the community’s homelessness crisis.
The Wellspring Luncheon traditionally is a perfect opportunity to meet a Wellspring client or client family. This year was no exception. But there was something exceptional about the family we introduced! Featured this year was Wellspring Baby Boutique Manager, Tai Thomas and his partner, Shawn.
Their sometimes painful story of losing their stable home, losing their daughter to foster care while they weathered some personal challenges, living in a tent in the harsh winter weather and—eventually—being forced to spend the night in their car highlighted the need in our community to increase resources for struggling families. But through their involvement with Wellspring, the couple are now thriving and—along with their daughter, Taylor, have a stable and rewarding life. We are so proud of them! Thank you Tai and Shawn for having the courage to share your story!
Tai and Shawn were a tough act to follow, but Wellspring Board of Directors member Julissa McWashington handled it with finesse. Julissa did a masterful job of recounting her own meaningful conversation with a Wellspring client—an encounter that touched her deeply and reinforced the importance of Wellspring’s work with children and families facing homelessness and other traumas.
If you missed this year’s luncheon, and would like to make a gift in lieu of attending, click here to donate online or text the word “Wellspring” to 41444 to make your gift by phone.