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Spotlight Archives

Read how our grants are benefiting your communities. Learn who else has received funding on our Grant History page or return to the main In the Spotlight page to read about current beneficiaries.


PSE Foundation Supports Search and Rescue Programs

(April 2013) PSE Foundation Chairman & President Andy Wappler joined 75 volunteers on a wet and windy Saturday morning for a live search and rescue operation near North Bend. Organized by the King County Explorer Search and Rescue with assistance from other King County Search and Rescue units, the exercise simulated real search and rescue conditions--including inclement weather and lots of mud.

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Community Service managers Sandi Carson and Lynn Murphy present a $20,000 Puget Sound Energy Foundation grant to the Lummi Island Community Association.

(April 2013) PSE Foundation Chairman & President Andy Wappler joined 75 volunteers on a wet and windy Saturday morning for a live search and rescue operation near North Bend. Organized by the King County Explorer Search and Rescue with assistance from other King County Search and Rescue units, the exercise simulated real search and rescue conditions--including inclement weather and lots of mud.

"Puget Sound Energy Foundation and PSE share King County Search and Rescue's commitment to public safety and emergency preparedness. It's amazing to see the work done by these non-profit, all-volunteer groups. We applaud them for their time, dedication and courage," said Wappler.

Inspired by Nick’s story, 16-year-old Mike Sanders, son of PSE Major Accounts Executive Jason Sanders, approached the NoTF about organizing the heart screening event for his fellow students at Snohomish High. He contacted the local fire department for volunteers and secured donations from local businesses. Jason encouraged the NoTF to submit a grant request for the event to the PSE Foundation.

PSE Foundation recently awarded grants to the King County Search and Rescue Association and King County Explorer Search and Rescue to fund communication and rescue equipment. These tools are vital to the 100-plus urban and wilderness search and rescue missions carried out annually.

As part of the weekend simulation, trainees had to search for lost and injured subjects, evaluate their condition and perform a rescue by transporting the subjects back to the command post. None of the trainees and support teams knew where the injured subjects were, and had to use their training in search techniques and clue evaluation to find them. Participants included PSE Municipal Construction Planner Kelly Purnell. Kelly completed her training at this event and is now officially part of the Explorer Search and Rescue crew.

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Puget Sound Energy Foundation grant to help catch youth sudden cardiac arrest in the “Nick of Time”

(December 2012) The last demographic you’d probably think of being susceptible to sudden cardiac arrest is teenagers – especially athletic ones.

Did you know that on average, a seemingly healthy young person suffers sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) every 2-3 days in the U.S. and it’s the leading cause of death in exercising young athletes? In most cases of sudden cardiac arrest, cardiac abnormalities are not detected, there are no warning signs, and unless a normal heart rhythm is restored within minutes, death is the end result. 

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Jason and Mike Sanders

The Puget Sound Energy Foundation recently awarded a grant of $4,000 to the Nick of Time Foundation (NoTF), an organization dedicated to educating schools, athletes, families, and communities about sudden cardiac arrest and death in young people.

PSE Foundation Executive Director, Sandra Carson presented the check to Darla Varrenti, NoTF’s executive director, during a Nov. 7 free youth heart screening event at Snohomish High School. Darla’s son Nick, the foundation’s namesake, was a football player and wrestler at Jackson High School in Mill Creek when he died of SCA in 2004 at age 16.

Inspired by Nick’s story, 16-year-old Mike Sanders, son of PSE Major Accounts Executive Jason Sanders, approached the NoTF about organizing the heart screening event for his fellow students at Snohomish High. He contacted the local fire department for volunteers and secured donations from local businesses. Jason encouraged the NoTF to submit a grant request for the event to the PSE Foundation.

“The Nick of Time Foundation is a fantastic organization and is doing some great work,” says Jason. “Since the PSE Foundation’s top priority is public safety, it seemed to be a natural fit for a partnership.”

The NoTF arranged for doctors from The University of Washington Medical Center and Children’s Hospital who volunteered their time performing the screenings. Each screening consisted of a comprehensive health history, blood pressure, heart sounds physical, 12-lead EKG, cardiologist consult and when necessary, an echocardiogram of the heart. Students were also instructed on compression-only CPR and in the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED) so that they can respond to an SCA victim.

By all accounts, the Snohomish High School screening event was a huge success. Here are some of the numbers:

  • 505 kids screened
  • 26 had signs of high blood pressure
  • 11 required follow up for further evaluation
  • 3 required immediate follow-up with cardiac abnormalities

Learn more about the Nick of Time Foundation. [Hide]


WIN211 receives $40,000 grant to support emergency management efforts in Pierce and Thurston counties

(November 2012) Puget Sound Energy Foundation awarded Washington Information Network 2-1-1 (WIN211) a $40,000 grant to support emergency management efforts in Pierce and Thurston counties. This grant was awarded at a time when many local organizations began preparedness efforts in anticipation of stormy fall and winter weather events.

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TeamPSE volunteers assemble backpacs for FORKids program

Representatives from Thurston County EMC, Washington Information Network 2-1-1 (WIN211), South Sound WIN211 and PSE Foundation gathered on Oct. 24 at the Thurston County Emergency Management Center in Olympia to show support for WIN211. Barb Graff, WIN211 board chair, spoke about the important role that WIN211 serves in communities throughout Washington during times of need.

“In an emergency, the most important resource for our community is information, and WIN211 is a vital tool for citizens looking for help,” said PSE Foundation Chairman and President Andy Wappler. “The PSE Foundation is pleased to support an organization that provides essential information to citizens across Washington state during times of need.”

The Foundation grant will allow WIN211 call takers in Pierce and Thurston counties to provide extended hours of operation at the South Sound WIN211 call center during an emergency. Hours will be extended from their current hours of 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. to new hours of 9 a.m. - 8 p.m. The grant will also help South Sound WIN211 hire and train additional staff to answer calls and help keep the organization’s database of roughly 17,000 social service agencies up-to-date during emergencies.

“Typically, when someone in the community calls WIN211 for help, they’ve exhausted a resource they were counting on,” said Barb Graff, board chair of WIN211. “Our call centers are in place to ensure folks have a dependable resource available to them.”

With the donation, WIN211will be able to continue to provide the most up-to-date information during a natural or man-made disaster, including where to seek food assistance, locate emergency shelters and warming centers, as well as provide other information regarding health and human service needs.

“Just like 911, WIN211 is easy to remember, our telephones are answered by live, compassionate people who are willing to help and are eager to get folks connected to essential services in times of need,” said Graff. “When our call centers open, that means that people are in need and we are there to serve them.” [Hide]


Thurston County Food Bank receives $7,500 grant to purchase generator to perform emergency response duties

(October 2012) On Sept. 21, as part of the United Way of Thurston County’s 20th annual Day of Caring, The Puget Sound Energy Foundation presented a $7,500 check to the Thurston County Food Bank. The grant will help fund the installation of a back-up generator to support the food bank’s vital role in Thurston County’s emergency management plan.

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TeamPSE volunteer assembling backpacks with kid-friendly meals

TeamPSE volunteers sorted food and assembled backpacks with kid-friendly meals as part of the food bank’s FORKids program which provides weekend meals for children who rely on free or reduced-lunch programs at school.

“The Thurston County Food Bank is a member of the ‘DAC,’ Disaster Assistance Council, in Thurston County, and although our traditional role has been to distribute food to those in need during the recovery phase of a disaster, our new emerging role is as a Community Point of Distribution,” said Robert Coit, executive director of the Thurston County Food Bank. “The Food Bank, if activated by Thurston County Emergency Management, would distribute food, water and ice to Thurston County residents.”

The Puget Sound Energy Foundation’s grant will help the food bank purchase a generator that will allow the organization to continue to perform its function in an emergency where power service is disrupted.

“With safety and emergency preparedness as a top priority, the PSE Foundation is happy to help the Thurston County Food Bank perform its emergency response duties by providing a grant that will allow them to purchase a back-up generator,” said Andy Wappler, Foundation chairman.

“If there’s a storm or other emergency situation and we lose electricity, the generator will help power our refrigerators and freezers and we won’t risk losing product or having to turn away donations,” said Coit. “If our power is out we cannot accept donations of perishable foods. Purchasing a generator will allow us to continue to serve our community even in emergency situations.”

TeamPSE volunteers assemble backpacs for FORKids program

United Way’s Day of Caring is the largest single day of volunteerism in Washington State. This year, TeamPSE volunteers showed their support for the Thurston Food Bank by assembling backpacks for the FORKids program.

According to Coit, during last January’s record snow and ice storm, the Thurston County Food Bank received calls from many organizations in the area asking if they could donate perishable items because their power was out. Without a back-up source the food bank was unable to accept the donations because it also did not have power.

Following the event, more than two dozen TeamPSE volunteers assembled backpacks full of food for local kids in need as part of the food bank’s FORKids program. Thurston County Food Bank’s FORKids program provides weekend meals to elementary-age children who rely on free or reduced-lunch programs. [Hide]


American Red Cross of King and Kitsap Counties receives disaster preparedness program grant from the Puget Sound Energy Foundation

(September 2012) Disaster can strike at any time. Whether it’s a storm, earthquake, flood or other disaster, having a plan in place is essential.

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Andy Wappler hands out copies of Passport to Preparedness
Puget Sound Energy Foundation Chairman and
President Andy Wappler helped hand out copies of
the “Passport to Preparedness” to students at Seattle’s
B.F. Day School after participating in an interactive
emergency preparedness program presented by the
American Red Cross of King and Kitsap Counties.

This spring, the Puget Sound Energy Foundation presented at $10,000 grant to the American Red Cross of King and Kitsap Counties in support of its disaster preparedness programs.

“This is a partnership made in heaven,” said Randy Hutson, chief executive officer of the American Red Cross of King and Kitsap Counties. “We serve some of the same communities and we’re both put into action when a disaster happens. It’s only natural that we work together to better prepare the businesses and residents in our communities.”

Foundation Chairman and President Andy Wappler presented the grant check during a series of interactive disaster preparedness assemblies for fourth- and fifth-grade students at Seattle’s B.F. Day School.

But this wasn’t any ordinary check presentation—Wappler and Hutson got in on the action. During an interactive safety quiz, Wappler read the questions about emergency preparedness. The class was then split into two teams for a relay race on building emergency preparedness kits. Team captains Wappler and Hutson cheered on their teams as the kids raced to put photos of items on the wall according to whether or not the item belonged in a preparedness kit.

Each year, programs like this help The American Red Cross reach approximately 17,000 students in King and Kitsap Counties.

“The great thing about these school programs is that not only are they low-cost, but they get the kids excited about preparedness,” said Hutson. “They help up spread our preparedness message by going home and telling their family what they learned. They get their parents and siblings involved in making their own disaster plan.”

The grant from the Foundation will also help the American Red Cross fund their preparedness programs tailored senior citizens and other “vulnerable” populations, including the disabled and those who speak limited English.

“Each year, we train about 40,000 people on how to prepare for a disaster,” said Hutson. “But there are about 40 million people in King and Kitsap Counties. We’re working to build a big momentum of educating the people in our communities, and the generosity of the Puget Sound Energy Foundation will help us do that.”

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American Red Cross / Snohomish County Chapter Receives $5,000 Grant to Fund Education Program

(May 2012) Our featured sponsorship areas this year focus on safety and emergency preparedness.  Recently, Foundation leaders were pleased to support the American Red Cross Snohomish County Chapter by providing a $5,000 grant to help fund disaster education programs.

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Emergency preparedness kit

“It’s a pleasure to be able to support the Red Cross in their efforts to help neighborhood associations learn to prepare for potential disasters that may strike,” said PSE Foundation Chairman Andy Wappler.

The three cornerstones to Red Cross preparedness training are 1) make a plan, 2) build a kit, and 3) be informed.  At a neighborhood association disaster training program in Everett, Snohomish Chapter Red Cross staff provided tips about how to prepare for emergency situations, including earthquakes, flooding, and house fires.

Participants learned that building a kit could be as easy as gathering non-perishable foods and beverages from your pantry, adding a few gallons of bottled water, prescription medications, and pet food, and putting those things in a box or backpack so you can grab and go! Red Cross trainers noted that having essentials to take on a three-day hiking trip is what is needed to build a good disaster kit.

The Red Cross provides a number of services – educating people about preparing for an emergency is just one of the focus areas.  Chuck Morrison, executive director of the American Red Cross Snohomish County Chapter, shared that his organization responds to more house and apartment fires than any other disaster.  He encouraged participants to be prepared to keep family members and pets safe by following a few simple tips:  1) make sure family members know at least two ways to get out of the house / apartment; 2) identify a meeting place away from the house / apartment; 3) consider having portable fire escape ladders in upper floor bedrooms so that family members can escape if they cannot get downstairs through the house; and 4) practice the plan so that in an emergency, family members (especially children) will remember what to do and where to meet.

“The funds provided by the PSE Foundation help us teach families and neighbors how to be ready before disasters strike,” said Chuck Morrison.  “We want neighbors to know each other so they can look out for each other and help one another,” said Morrison.

Morrison shared that his Red Cross chapter is making presentations to 19 neighborhood associations in Snohomish County.

“We appreciate the Red Cross and the work they do,” Wappler told the attendees at the neighborhood association meeting in Everett. [Hide]


Bellevue Police Foundation receives $15,000 grant to fund crime lab equipment

(March 2012) Late in 2011, Puget Sound Energy Foundation awarded the Bellevue Police Foundation a $15,000 grant, allowing them to purchase a state of the art crime lab investigation software tool for the Bellevue Police Department.

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Det. Mike Johnson
Major Mike Johnson is excited about the
$15,000 grant!

“We were delighted to support the Bellevue Police Foundation’s efforts to provide the police department with technology to help keep our communities safe,” said PSE Foundation Vice President Marla Mellies.

The Foundation grant will be used to purchase Crime Mapping software, which will allow police officers – and members of the general public via the police website – to see locations and types of crimes occurring in and around Bellevue.

“The Bellevue Police Foundation provides the Police Department with resources and tools that help to protect the citizens of Bellevue. The time is right to fund leading edge technology solutions to use today in areas such as crime analysis and criminal investigations,” said Bellevue Police Foundation President Jim Melby. “These tools allow our officers to work more efficiently at predicting patterns and solving complex cases in our community.”

Geography can influence criminal activity. The features and characteristics of areas within communities can make it easier or more difficult for crime to occur.

According to Police Investigations Major Mike Johnson, the grant will fund the software needed to provide an important tool for the Crime Analysis Unit. “We will have a system that will manipulate maps, reports, and data and will aid officers in their investigations by helping to identify trends that might otherwise be missed,” he said. “We can use that information to solve crimes and to help reduce criminal activity in specific areas.”

“For as long as I can remember, the men and women of the Bellevue Police Department and Puget Sound Energy have worked side by side keeping Bellevue safe during storms and other critical incidents,” said Bellevue Police Chief Linda Pillo. She said she was grateful for PSE Foundation’s continued support of the Bellevue Police Foundation. [Hide]


Voice of Vashon

(December 2011) Recently, community leaders gathered on Vashon Island to accept a $15,000 grant from Puget Sound Energy Foundation. The grant will fund the final phase of an emergency broadcast alert system being installed by Voice of Vashon.

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Voice of Vashon studio

One of the Foundation’s funding priorities is to support communities working to support emergency preparedness and public safety programs. The grant will pay for construction and installation of alert lights at three locations, over-the-air remote-control activation, solar and battery backup power, and training for volunteer staff.

“Safety and emergency preparedness are key funding priorities for the PSE Foundation as we work with communities across our region,” said Andy Wappler, chair and president of the foundation. “The emergency alert system Voice of Vashon is putting in place will help residents and visitors know where to get information when severe weather, earthquakes, or significant ferry disruptions occur.”

“We are so happy to get this grant,” Voice of Vashon President Jeanne Dougherty told attendees at the ceremony. “Thank you, PSE Foundation, for your generosity and for recognizing that this is the check that will help us finish our project.”

For more information about how this grant is impacting Vashon Island residents, read the story published in the Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber or visit our News Releases page. [Hide]