The Seattle Art Museum houses countless pieces of priceless art. But on a recent December evening, it was filled with something more valuable: the men and women who lead and represent at least 250 community groups and organizations whose work makes Washington state a better place to live and work.
And nearly every group represented in the room is in a partnership with either Boeing or the Employees Community Fund of Boeing Puget Sound, while many Boeing executives sit on the boards of their nonprofits. The celebration was Boeing’s opportunity to thank their community partners, and highlight their work, in the region that more than 81,000 Boeing employees call home.
“We don’t get an opportunity to say ‘thanks’ very often,” Ray Conner, president and CEO of Commercial Airplanes, said to the assembled guests. “That’s what this is about. What people are doing in this community with Boeing, and representing us as well, is fantastic. We’re very honored to be here, and feel very privileged to be here in the Puget Sound region."
While guests came primarily to mix and mingle, they also were asked to lend some muscle. Long tables were loaded with kid-friendly food ready to be bagged up and sent home for low-income children who need the extra nourishment. The guests pitched in, each cheerfully filling a bag and twisting it shut before leaving at the end of the night.
“I think it shows this community at its best,” said Shelley Rotondo, CEO of Northwest Harvest nonprofit food bank which will distribute the bags of food. “The nonprofits and the work that they do in this community is phenomenal. And of course, we’ve got corporate partners -- Boeing being just an outstanding corporate partner. And when we’ve got the corporate world helping the nonprofit world in this way, together we make things happen and our community benefits.”
Some guests lit up the Twittersphere at #boeingpartners with notes and photos of the evening. Nick Baumgartner who works with Boeing partner Wellspring Family Services to improve early learning opportunities for homeless children, said it just felt great to be appreciated.
“Boeing is so unique because of how much attention and focus they put on each of the issues that they fund,” said Baumgartner. “They really invest in the causes they care about and get to know the partners they partner with so that they know that they can make the biggest impact.”
Bill McSherry, vice president of State and Local Government, and Global Corporate Citizenship at Commercial Airplanes, said the feeling is mutual.
“You all are making a difference in so many areas,” McSherry told the group. “Improving our civic dialogue, restoring our environment, educating our kids, feeding people that are hungry, the list goes on and on, and we couldn’t thank you enough for what you do.”
By Deborah Feldman and Eric Olson