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The Latest News from Hands On

February 8, 2017 - NEWS RELEASE - 

Credit Union Sponsorship Will Significantly Expand Museum’s Early Learning Programs for Children in the South Sound Region

OLYMPIA – The Hands On Children’s Museum (HOCM) and WSECU today announced a major new partnership to expand access to the museum’s award-winning early learning programs for South Sound children and families, especially those who are underserved. The credit union will become the exclusive naming sponsor of the museum’s new “Inspired Learning for All” initiative.

The significance of this partnership is two-fold: it will help expand the museum’s innovative exhibits and programs, while also supporting increased access to key underserved populations.

“We are very excited and thankful that WSECU is stepping up in such a big way to help us to take high quality exhibits, programs, and outreach to expanded audiences,” said Museum Board Chair Lauren Pitman. “The museum is firmly committed to making interactive learning available to all, while removing all barriers to access. Currently, one-third of our 305,000 annual visitors receive free or reduced-fee admission, and we know that there are many more children we could be serving.”

The credit union pledge of $225,000 annually over the next five years will allow the museum to expand its mobile educational programs, increase subsidized field trips for schools serving low-income student populations, and offer free admission to any family receiving state basic food assistance through an electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card. 

“The Hands On Children’s Museum has established itself as the region’s premiere early learning destination and is an incredible asset to the South Sound,” said WSECU Board Chair Marcus Glasper. “We can’t think of a better way to launch our 60th anniversary celebration than by investing in an organization that, like the credit union, is firmly committed to helping people prepare for a brighter future.”

Patty Belmonte, executive director of the Hands On Children’s Museum, said, “The launch of the new ‘Inspired Learning for All’ initiative is an exciting next step in the museum’s growth. The reality is, demand for free and reduced-fee access continues to grow. WSECU’s partnership, along with continued, generous community support, will help us serve more children with special needs, foster parents, military families, clients of social service agencies, and other low-income, at-risk, and underserved communities. We are so grateful for their investment in the museum and the community at large.”

Local educators and community leaders called the agreement an important development for the region.

“Our students have benefitted so much from access to the experiential learning opportunities at Hands On over the years,” said Sean Shaughnessy, principal of Roosevelt Elementary in Olympia. “It’s exciting to think that many more students at our school and throughout the South Sound are going to be able to learn from these experiences because of the WSECU commitment.”

Olympia Mayor Cheryl Selby said, “The City of Olympia has been a proud partner in the growth of the Hands On Children’s Museum over the years.  We sincerely value the impact it's had on our efforts to draw tourists and attract investment downtown. This new sponsorship agreement with WSECU brings together two of Olympia’s leading, family-oriented organizations in a partnership that will benefit our entire city and region.”

WSECU President and CEO Kevin Foster-Keddie noted the partnership is unique in that it will both serve the broader community and add value to being a credit union member. As the naming sponsors of the “Inspired Learning for All” initiative, WSECU members will receive several special benefits, including a 10 percent discount on museum memberships and 50 percent discount on admission on “WSECU Wednesdays” that will be held on the first Wednesday of each month.

“We know many credit union members are regular visitors to the museum,” said Foster-Keddie. “It’s great to be able to offer them special benefits with this partnership while also helping the museum sustain and grow in the coming years.”


About Hands On Children’s Museum

The Hands On Children’s Museum is Washington’s largest children’s museum, serving more than 305,000 visitors annually, and stimulating curiosity, creativity and learning through fun, interactive exhibits and programs for children, families and school groups. It has routinely won local, regional and national awards both as a cultural destination and as the provider of effective educational programming.


WSECU is an Olympia-based, not-for-profit credit union open to all Washington residents with a special emphasis on serving those who embrace the values of giving, sharing, and supporting their communities. WSECU has 251,000 members, 20 branches, $2.6 billion in assets, and commits four percent of its annual earnings to invest back into the communities it serves. 2017 marks the credit union’s 60th anniversary of helping members achieve their financial goals.

December 2016 Notification

About the Temporary Winter Warming Center

A message from the Hands On Children’s Museum — Patty Belmonte, Executive Director

The Hands On Children’s Museum understands the critical need for all individuals and families to have shelter from the cold. We know that when a person’s basic needs are met, we all benefit because individuals are less likely to act out to meet those needs. 

This winter, the planned Providence Community Care Center for downtown Olympia is not complete due to funding challenges, yet the need for this facility is paramount.  As a result, the three cities and Thurston County have identified a temporary location just for this winter at the former Alpine Experience building, located one block from the museum. Operated by Interfaith Works, this Warming Center will be open only during the day and will offer a safe, dry place where many kinds of people and families without houses can warm up and connect with a network of services. 

The museum team will work closely with Interfaith Works, the City and Olympia Police Dept. Lieutenant Sam Costello to ensure that our neighborhood remains a safe and welcoming place for all museum visitors. Interfaith Works has an excellent reputation managing both daytime warming centers and evening shelters. In fact, some museum members volunteer their time at the various shelters. 

We have prepared the following list of Frequently Asked Questions to address concerns related to the center. We know this facility will serve an important role during the cold weather months for individuals and families in need.  

FAQ: Interfaith Works Temporary Winter Warming Center 

December 2016 - March 2017

Warming Center Map

How will my museum visit be impacted?

We believe there will be no impact. You will likely not notice anything different during your visit to Hands On.

Where will the center be located? 

The Winter Warming Center will be housed in the old Alpine Experience building at 408 Olympia Ave NE. Entrance located at the corner by Adams St SE

What are the hours of operation?  

Hours currently slated to be 7:00 am-5:30 pm 

How will the Warming Center be staffed?  

There will be three Interfaith Works staff onsite from 6:30 am – 6:00 pm, plus an on-call manager and some volunteers. There will also be on site service providers available to help people with additional services from Behavioral Health Resources, SeaMar Care Management, the PATH program, the Capital Recovery Center, and Providence Behavioral Health. Center staff are well trained in emergency intervention skills. They will also conduct daily inspections of the building to ensure that there is no loitering or littering. 

What kind of services do they provide at the Warming Center?

Managed by Interfaith Works, a collection of faith-based organizations and shelter support staff, the Warming Center will offer a welcoming, safe and managed environment with basic respite from the elements, where many kinds of people without houses can warm up, socialize, catch some undisturbed sleep, and connect with a network of services (health, recovery, housing, food, and other programs). Coffee & snacks will be provided. 

How many people will be served each day? 

The Warming Center is currently serving over 100 people per day and expect that number to increase as the weather gets colder.

Who uses the Warming Center? 

Men, women, and families who have no home are welcome at the Warming Center. The majority of people who use the shelter, about 80%, have persistent mental health challenges. To use the Center’s services, they must sign a good neighbor agreement to respect the shelter and the surrounding properties.

Where will people go to eat?  

Meals are not served at the Warming Center; however, the following partners offer meals 3 times daily:

  • Salvation Army: (360) 352-8596  |  808 5th Ave. SE. (corner of 5th and Plum) Breakfast: everyday: 7-7:30 am, Lunch: Mon-Sat: 11:30-12:30 pm, Sun 12:30-1:30 pm, Dinner: everyday: 5:30-6:30 pm
  • Union Gospel Mission: (360) 709-9725  |  Corner of Franklin and A St. Breakfast 6am, Lunch: noon except Saturday, Dinner: 6:00 pm
  • First Baptist Church of Olympia: (360) 357-3881  |   Enter at corner of 9th and Franklin. Dinner: 4-5:30 pm every Sunday

Where will people go to sleep?

This is a daytime center; there will be no overnight shelter at this location. Interfaith Works has 37 nightly beds opening at 5:00 pm year-round at First Christian Church. In addition, other shelters include:

  • WINTER OVERFLOW: Single men: Saint Mike’s/Sacred Heart call (360) 515-5587 or visit Sidewalk Advocacy Center Monday – Thursday 10:00 am – 2:00 pm to screen; 1139 5th Ave SE.
    Single adult men and women: Salvation Army
    Families: Pear Blossom Place (25 extra beds for families with dependent children)
    Youth and young adults: Community Youth Services 

How can I help? 

The Winter Warming Center is in need of donated supplies: pens, puzzles, cards, socks, gloves, scarves, warm hats, hand warmers, emergency blankets (“Space blankets” silver reflective type), coffee, tea, non-dairy powder creamer, snacks such as granola bars, cup-o-soups, dried fruits and nuts, trail mix, microwaveable meals, yogurt, string cheese, etc. Anything that can help keep the cold at bay and add a bit of comfort to people’s lives once they are out in the cold again is appreciated!

Who do I contact with questions or concerns? 

Hands On Children’s Museum  |  Michelle Larson, Communications Manager,
(360) 956-0818 ext. 149

Interfaith Works  |  Meg Martin, MSW, CPC, Program Director,
(360) 951-6767