As a mother of three students in the Chehalis School District, Windermere Centralia Realtor Kim Edminster is always looking for the best opportunities for her children. Like all parents, she wants to keep them safe while fostering growth that will help them succeed as adults. Over the past few years, Kim started to notice that many of the wonderful activities and opportunities her children have experienced are thanks to the work of the Chehalis Foundation.
“I first heard about them when they redid the pool and created the Gail and Carolyn Shaw Aquatic Center,” says Kim. “I looked into it a bit to see how the city was paying for it and I came across the Chehalis Foundation. The more I researched the foundation, the more I realized just how much they had done for the community.”
Kim says her children, daughters 13-year-old Cadence and 11-year-old Alyssa, and son, 9-year-old Trace, love the new pool. She was excited that her children had somewhere safe they could go and be active. Her children take swim lessons there and have fun during open swims. Originally, the Chehalis Foundation was approached by the city to simply help fund pumps and pipes, but President Tim Sayler said the project became much more than that under the leadership of Connie Bode, a board member.
“Having recently led the charge to replace our kiddie pool with the new spray park, it seemed natural that we would support the needs of the ‘big pool’ to benefit Chehalis and the surrounding community,” says Tim. “Like former board member Mike Austin led the effort to replace the kiddie pool with much success, Connie led us to the eventual creation of the Shaw Aquatic Center you see today. The amazing thing about this project is that, while it started as a low key effort to fix some things, with Connie’s leadership and some stunning support from our Chehalis community, we ended up with the completely new aquatic center.”
The spray park has been important to Kim and her family as well. “It is really nice for families with little ones to have this space where they can run around safely,” she says. “And it’s free – how awesome is that?” She adds that when her kids were younger, she would often meet other parents at the park, have a picnic and let the kids play. She believes it’s a much needed community gathering spot.
Her eldest daughter loves playing tennis on the W.F. West High School campus, which the Chehalis Foundation helped renovate in 2011 with an $11,703 donation. “She attends the summer program every year and we frequently go down there and play,” Kim says.
Kim believes these spaces are important for Lewis County children. “They give children the opportunities to do things they might not have otherwise,” she explains. “In addition, they help build the community up and provide a safer choice for kids looking for something to do on the weekend or after school.”
Preparing Local Kids for the Future
With all her kids getting older, including one heading to high school soon, Kim thinks about their future a lot. She wants to make sure they have the chance to do what they want in life and to succeed. She believes they are getting those opportunities thanks, in large part, to Chehalis Foundation projects.
One of these projects is the Summer School Math Academy for middle schoolers. This STEM-based program is a four-week long camp where kids combat summer learning loss while advancing their skills in math. Kim says they went to school Monday through Wednesday for three hours and then on a Thursday field trip. Some of the places they went included the Space Needle, Oregon Zoo, Northwest Wildlife Trek or even a Rainiers game.
“It was all free,” Kim adds. “And it really helped. My daughters would come home from school in the fall and say, ‘We know this – we did this in the summer.’ It was fantastic.”
Cadence is really into math and science Kim adds, and the donations the Chehalis Foundation has given the middle and high school in the STEM departments have really given her some incredible opportunities. At the middle school level, they helped develop the Robotic-STEM curriculum. And, at the high school level, Cadence can’t wait to try out the many curriculums and tools they have funded, including the scanning electron microscope, the FIRST Robotics Program, the mobile application development class, the molecular genetics program and the MATLAB.
“The opportunities that my kids are getting are amazing,” Kim says. “Both of my girls talk about going to college and doing something in the science field or becoming teachers. It’s wonderful.”
These project were made possible, in large part, by a $1.8 million donation from the trust of Ray and Mary Ingwersen in 2013. Ray Ingwersent had a STEM-related career and asked that the money be used for advancement of STEM opportunities in the Chehalis schools. “This generous donation and that of others has propelled the Chehalis Foundation to be a leader in supporting STEM related education in the Chehalis schools,” says Tim.
Currently, the Chehalis Foundation is working on several projects, including the new STEM wing at W.F. West. “Our efforts previous in STEM funding facilitated the Chehalis Schools in this awesome addition,” says Tim. “Generous interest in educational excellence from key donors, such as the Orin Smith Family, the Jim Lintott family and others, helped the district to secure the grants necessary to build this wonderful new facility.” One of their on-going goals is to help increase the percentage of W.F. West grads going on to complete four year degrees from 20 to 60 percent. “The eventual measurement of our success will come down the road but we are right on track,” he adds.
And as her children advance through the school system and reach college-age, Kim is excited to see that the Chehalis Foundation is not only preparing her children for an advanced degree, but also has scholarship opportunities available to make their dreams a reality. “It’s amazing everything the foundation does to provide for the kids in the Chehalis Schools,” she says. “We are fortunate to have them.”
You can help support Chehalis kids by donating at the Chehalis Foundation website. They are also signed up with the Amazon Smile program. If you would like to assist in another way or have questions, Tim says you can contact him directly at 360-269-6575.