$2 million in gifts helps boost Waterfront Center tally

Rick Steves, John Osberg contribute $1 million each
By Brian Soergel | Oct 18, 2018
Courtesy of: Environmental Works The planned Edmonds Waterfront Center will continue to have access for seniors, but will expand its offerings to all.

Every week for more than six years, Woodway resident John Osberg took his wife Gloria to the Edmonds waterfront in her wheelchair to take in the beauty of it all.

Gloria – an avid hiker who wrote books and even had a trail named after her – had Parkinson’s disease in her later years. “I’m sure I got 100 miles in that chair,” John said this week.

One day, down by the waterfront, Gloria turned to her husband and said, “We should do something for Edmonds.”

That thought stuck with John, who formed a plan after his wife died in July at age 90.

Last week, that plan became a reality, as the Edmonds Senior announced that John Osberg had donated $1 million to the planned Edmonds Waterfront Center, being built by the Edmonds Senior Center in partnership with the City of Edmonds to replace the aging structure.

“So after she passed, this is what I’m trying to do for Edmonds,” said John, who is 92. The new building’s banquet room will be named in recognition of the Osbergs’ gift.

Osberg isn’t the only one who made significant donation recently. In a show of community support, $2.035 million has come to the Edmonds Senior Center in the last few weeks.

First, another $1 million came from European travel expert Rick Steves, bringing his total commitment to $4 million.

“This project is very important to me and my family,” said Steves, who lives in Edmonds when not traveling for his guidebooks and TV show. “The new center will offer opportunities for the community we haven’t even conceived of – it’s critical we stay on schedule.”

The gifts bring the total raised for the project to $12 million toward its $16 million goal.

“In every capital campaign, there are people who have passion for a project and what it means to them personally and for their community,” said capital campaign co-chair Gary Haakenson, a former Edmonds mayor.

“We in Edmonds are certainly lucky to have a champion in Rick Steves. His selfless giving comes from his understanding of what the Edmonds Senior Center has meant to the community over the years, and what the Edmonds Waterfront Center will mean to future generations.

“But let’s not lose sight of the fact that almost 70 percent of our contributions have come from other people and organizations who have a passion for our project, and they see as well what it means for the future. John Osberg believes in the project with his million-dollar gift, and is honoring his late wife.”

As the Waterfront Center move towards its funding goal, Haakenson said gifts of all sizes are welcome from the community.

“The Waterfront Center will serve not only seniors, but the greater community for decades to come. What a legacy we can leave for the future with this building and all the programs that it will provide.”

In addition to community contributions, $4 million has come from government grants, which includes $2.25 million approved in the Legislature’s $4.18 billion capital budget, passed in January. The Senior Center plans to secure more funds from the Legislature in the coming session.

The new 26,000 square foot state-of-the-art, sustainable building will offer a range of programs emphasizing health and wellness, recreation and education for people of all ages while still responding to the needs of an aging population living in south Snohomish and north King County, Executive Director Farrell Fleming said.

The plan includes beach restoration in conjunction with the City and improved access to the site. Based on permitting and fundraising, the plan is to start construction in April 2019.

A “Waves of Giving” fundraising breakfast for the Waterfront Center is Thursday, Oct. 25, at the Edmonds Yacht Club. The guest speaker is John Medina, author of “Brain Rules for Aging Well.” To learn more about ways you can participate, contact campaign director Daniel Johnson, danielrjohnson4@gmail.com, or go to www.edmondssc.org.


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