UGN Gives a High 5 For Gimme 5


DSC_0320 2United Good Neighbors has stepped up to fund “Gimme 5″- the Farmers Market Food Assistance Program. a creative partnership between the Jefferson County Farmers Market and Jefferson County Public Health – WIC (Women Infants and Children) Program.

Gimme 5 is  a food benefits matching program that makes fresh locally grown farm products accessible to our low income neighbors. For every $10 in basic food benefits (food stamps) redeemed at the market, the customer receives an extra $5 token, and for every $20, an extra$10 (two tokens). WIC and Senior Benefits are matched 1 to 1. The Gimme 5 matching funds are only good for fresh farm products.

How was this Gimme5 partnership born?

The Jefferson County Farmers Market is the non-profit organization that operates on of the smallest and most successful small town markets in the state of Washington.  The Port Townsend and Chimacum Farmers Markets support the development of local sustainable farming by cultivating a vibrant farmers market that serves as a community gathering place while providing fresh farm products to communities in Jefferson county.

When Karen Obermeyer, Health Educator for Jefferson County Public Health Department, and Will O’Donnell, Director of Jefferson County Farmer’s Market put their heads together to figure out how to make fresh farm product more accessible to all of our community members, the Gimme 5 program was born.  After launching Gimme 5 in 2013, they knew they had an innovative and successful program in their hands. Of course, all programs need ongoing funding and support and when funds were needed to support Gimme 5 for our community in
 2014, what better place to go than to the “community safety net”, United Good Neighbors.

O’Donnell and Obermeyer submitted a request to the United Good Neighbors in June for a special grant to help them reach more people through their program.  The UGN board responded with a $2,500 grant.

UGN maintains a reserve fund for emergency or supplemental funding for programs that clearly meet an urgent need in the community and that need an extra financial boost outside of the regular UGN granting cycle,”  says Kim Hammers, UGN board president.  “Gimme 5 meets those criteria and we wanted to help it reach more people this summer.

Neighbor Spotlight: The Boiler Room

A safe creative space for youth, a place for community!

Boiler Room Family Portrait, also known as "Raptor Attack Virus Slowly Sweeps the Room."

Boiler Room Family Portrait, also known as “Raptor Attack Virus Slowly Sweeps the Room.”

Now in its 20th year, The Boiler Room, is the brainchild of 3 young adults (Theresa Verraes, Ross Bratlee and Mitch Slater), who recognized the need within our community for a safe creative space for our youth.  Since its inception in 1993, the Boiler Room has provided a safe place for our youth to hang out, free from drugs and alcohol, while also providing job training, positive skills development, personal growth opportunities and a focus on service and the arts.

The Boiler Room serves as a social service hub, helping youth to connect with other organizations and programs in town as well as providing first aid, emergency preparedness and drug/alcohol overdose information. They offer weekly Art Group, Knitting Group, Movie Night, Music Theory Class, Open Mic, and various shows and dances. And they  offer free food six days a week, with an emphasis on a complete meal with a warm component Friday-Sunday.

“The culture within the Boiler Room is very strong. It’s not just selling coffee. It’s a place where folks who don’t get taken seriously by other factions of the community can be taken seriously.” -Ahren Howard

A unique open-door framework

There are no other youth organizations or businesses in Jefferson County that have an open-door framework for youth and other patrons.  Patrons are not required to make a purchase, a requirement at many other businesses that disallows disadvantaged individuals from being on the premises.

United Good Neighbors provided funding support for The Boiler Room’s Free Food and Job Training programs for 2014. 

The Boiler Room supports local business

The Boiler Room does business in town as much as possible, serving locally roasted Sunrise Coffee, utilizing SOS for all our printing needs, purchasing supplementary items from The Food Coop and office supplies from Olympic Art and Office for years.

Most recently, with help from the Port Townsend Rotary, United Good Neighbors and FEMA, The Boiler Room was able to purchase Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) shares from Red Dog Farm and Sunfield Farm, providing local, fresh, nutritionally dense ingredients for our regular free food programs. Sunfield Farm was chosen because they are also a non-profit, with an education component. Red Dog Farm has long been a supporter of The Boiler Room, donating “Dog Bones” to our annual auction on a regular basis.

The Boiler Room gives back to community

In an effort to encourage our volunteers to actively participate in their community, The Boiler Room “shares” volunteers with other organizations.  Over the course of the past year, Boiler Room Volunteers have contributed numerous volunteer hours to organizations such as United Good Neighbors, Habitat for Humanity of East Jefferson County and the Port Townsend Main Street Program.

Support The Boiler Room Community!

Stop by for coffee and a bite to eat!  Enjoy some music!  Or, volunteer!  You can learn more about volunteering with The Boiler Room by visiting the volunteer page on their website.


Sharing the Community Conversation

Thank You!

Engaging in Conversation

Engaging in Conversation

We would like to thank the 26 community members representing local businesses, nonprofits, community organizations, the schools and local government gathered on Thursday, July 10th at St Paul’s Episcopal Church to join in a community conversation with United Good Neighbors.

Our Goal:

The goal of this meeting was to connect with community members to hear thoughts, insights and ideas for building a stronger and more visible annual campaign that will allow United Good Neighbors to increase our support for the important “safety net” work of our partner organizations.

What We Heard:

We began with welcome and introductions and then spent two hours together engaged in rich conversations with community members representing cross-section of our community.  Over the course of our conversation, the following themes emerged:

  • UGN fills a very unique role in our community, meeting critical needs of local nonprofits for funding basic needs, enrichment and safety net programs.
  • UGN is a “one-stop-donation” opportunity for community members to funnel gifts to a variety of social and human service organizations that have been thoroughly vetted.  People can trust that their donations are being invested in worthy projects and organizations.
  • UGN is truly community-driven.  Funds raised by UGN via the Annual Campaign stay in Jefferson County and decisions about how funds are distributed or allocated are made by members of the community invited to serve on UGNs allocations committee
  • Beyond funding, UGN provides local nonprofits with a stamp of approval that helps organizations build credibility as well as access additional funding.
  • UGN operates as a hub or clearing house for social safety net organizations.  We are the “go-to place” for information.

Interested in reviewing a summary of our community conversation?  Just click here!


Edmondson and Stanko Join UGN Board

United Good Neighbors of Jefferson County (UGN) is pleased to welcome two new board members.

Claudia Edmondson photoClaudia Edmondson has a Ph.D. in Special Education and has worked in the field for almost 20 years.   She and her husband moved to Port Townsend to be closer to family.  She works as the Executive Director of Camp Beausite Northwest.

Prior to moving to Washington, she and her family lived in Utah and Washington, D.C., where she worked as a research analyst and evaluator on various national programs funded through the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services.

“Working at Camp Beausite has helped me to get acquainted with many people in the community, and serving on the UGN board will help me learn more about the needs in our community.  I look forward to using my professional background and my current position with a nonprofit organization to help UGN address those needs.”

Dave Stanko

Following his retirement from a long career in law enforcement, David Stanko and his wife, Lynne, relocated to Jefferson County where they built a home in Cape George Colony.  Eager to become involved in the community, he immersed himself in several volunteer and community-based organizations.

“I believe we must all become stakeholders in our community by contributing our time and talent and giving back to our community.  In my case, I have chosen to be involved in a variety of local community based organizations, including Rotary, Jumping Mouse, Cape George Colony and the local chapter of the Red Cross.  I also drive for Ecumenical Christian Helping Hands Organization (ECHHO) and volunteer at my church.” 

Stanko was Port Townsend Citizen of the Year in 2011.

“We are honored to have Claudia and David join our board,” said Kim Hammers, UGN board president.   UGN board members tend to be people who like to work at the grass roots and to work for timely solutions to community problems.  Claudia and David will add to that ‘can do’ energy already present on our board,” said Hammers.

Other UGN board members include:  Steve Rafoth, owner of Enclume Designs; Le Hornbeck, retired owner of PT Computers and current president of the Rotary Club of Port Townsend; Joni Williams, senior advocate; Joyce Cardinal, Chief Nursing Officer at Jefferson Healthcare; and Sheila Ramsey, Retired Senior Volunteer Program Coordinator at Olympic Community Action Programs.

Nikki Russell Named UGN Director of Development

Nikki RussellAfter almost 20 years of working in nonprofit management and development, Nikki Russell will use her experience to help raise more money for United Good Neighbors of Jefferson County while engaging more volunteers, businesses, and community leaders with the campaign.  For the past seven years, Russell worked with United Way of King County developing, implementing and managing programs that promoted community involvement, tapped community assets, and built community support networks.  Before joining United Way of King County, Russell worked as volunteer coordinator with a program for early parent support and for Food Lifeline, a hunger relief organization that puts food into food banks throughout Western Washington.

Her primary role as the Volunteer Initiatives Manager at United Way was to work with nonprofit organizations to enhance their volunteer involvement.  Russell also managed United Way of King County’s Day of Caring event, a single day of volunteering in King County that mobilized 12,000 volunteers from the business community with 350 nonprofit organizations.

“The opportunity to hire Nikki arose through an anonymous donor who awarded a $300,000 capacity-building grant over three years to the Jefferson County Community Foundation with the stipulation that $90,000 of the funds go to help UGN build its capacity as well,” said Carla Caldwell, Executive Director of both UGN and the foundation.   “The fact that we will be staffed now to build a stronger campaign to support safety net and preventative programs in our community is a dream come true,” Caldwell said.  “The UGN board, staff and volunteers are thrilled that we were able to attract a candidate with Nikki’s credentials and track record to have a greater impact on individuals and families who need our support.  Nikki is known nationally in the United Way world for her work around volunteer engagement and how it directly impacts organizational development.  With her on board, I will continue to have responsibility for executive duties for UGN, while shifting more of my time to the development of the community foundation.”

Russell’s responsibilities will include coordinating the annual campaign, developing year-round outreach and education about UGN programs; building a campaign committee that represents business, health and social services, education, faith communities and local leadership; and building a larger and more engaged volunteer base.

“I am passionate about engaging in work that leverages local assets of time, talent and treasure to build thriving, healthy and sustainable communities,” said Russell.  “I especially look forward to getting to know all of the amazing organizations and people that are working to improve lives and strengthen the Jefferson County community.”

Russell moved to Port Townsend in 2008 to be closer to her mother, Hannah Russell.  Her son, Devon Courtney, graduated from Port Townsend High School and is a student at Olympic Community College.  “I am excited about the prospect of bringing my passion and expertise to UGN and home to my community,” she said.

Russell can be reached at, or 360-385-3797.  She begins her position on a full-time basis in June.