Tulalip Tribes hand out $5.48 million

The Tulalip Tribes hit a new high-water mark by “raising their hands” to 300 community and non-profit groups to the tune of a record-setting $5.48 million this year.

The 18th annual “Raising Hands Celebration of Community” recognition dinner, in  the Orca Ballroom of the Tulalip Resort on Sept. 24, dispensed funds to organizations both locally and throughout the state, as Tulalip Tribal Board Chair Mel Sheldon Jr. credited those in attendance with benefiting not only the Tribes, but also the broader communities beyond.

“You’ve all stepped up to the plate to try and make a better life for others,” Sheldon said. “You’re doing the best you can to make a difference.”

Sheldon was joined by Tulalip Tribal Board Vice Chair and Business Committee Chair Glen Gobin in reflecting on how the Tribes’ own economic progress has allowed it to help others.

“This was just dirt and trees and dreams, before those dreams became a reality,” Sheldon said of Quil Ceda Village, which is expanding the Seattle Premium Outlets by an additional 100,000 square feet of retail space and has already broken ground on a Cabela’s store that’s set to open on the Tulalip Reservation next year. “Every journey begins with a small step, and you extend goodwill and hope to those who don’t have it.”

Michele Heiderer, library director for the Stillaguamish Valley Genealogical Society in Arlington, gushed over the $10,000-plus donation that they received from the Tribes, which will allow them to stay up-to-date with the present in order to preserve the past into the future.

“This allows us to stay open for another year,” said Heiderer, who noted that the Society is exploring its rent and housing options at the moment. “We serve 700 visitors a year, and this lets us purchase new computers that won’t crash all the time, so that we can keep track of and access the records that we have. We are so grateful to the Tribes and the community for their support.”

“Without the Tulalip Tribes’ funding, all we’d be doing is handing out potatoes,” said Michael Brewer, director of the food bank for the Victory Foursquare Gospel Church in Marysville. “We serve about 65,000 meals a year and the Tribes account for 40 to 60 percent of our funding. I don’t know of a better way to say ‘thank you’ to them.”

The Tribes’ funds will help the church repair its delivery truck, purchase basic maintenance items that aren’t donated and help children through the church’s “Learn & Play” program.

“Pennies for Puppies & Ponies” is based in Marysville, but it serves all of Snohomish County by providing patrol and search-and-rescue K-9s.  Like the Victory Foursquare Gospel Church, Pennies for Puppies & Ponies received funds in the range of $2,501 to $5,000 this year, which Snohomish County Sheriff John Lovick noted helps cover the K-9s that are not in the budget for the Sheriff’s Office.

“The Sheriff’s Office badly needs a K-9 during the day,” said Carole Flynn White, president and founder of Pennies for Puppies & Ponies. “They have two K-9 patrols that are on all night, which is traditional, but with Snohomish County’s growth, those dogs are increasingly called out during the day, which decreases the deputies’ safety and adds up to expensive overtime.”

“In the Tulalip Tribes tradition, we raise our hands to show appreciation to the organizations that work so hard to provide services to our community,” Sheldon said. “Our efforts stem back thousands of years to the potlatch gathering, a ceremony practiced by Coast Salish and other tribal cultures in the Pacific Northwest. The word ‘potlatch’ means ‘gift.’ At potlatch gatherings, a family or leader hosts guests, holds a feast and shares resources.”

“We’ve come through adversity,” Gobin said of the Tulalip Tribes. “We agreed to do this because we know what it’s like to need.”

Nonprofits and community groups may apply for the Tribes’ quarterly awards. For more information, visit the Tulalip Tribes’ charitable funds website at


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