Of whales, beans, and parks - ways to get involved

What would you like to see


Welcome to November! Someone said this morning that the end of Halloween ushers the start of the holiday season. I agree with that, but it also ushers in the busiest season for our nonprofit community. This also marks the end of my first year of writing about nonprofits in Thurston County. (Happy Anniversary to me). So, this is a suitable time to check in and see how I am doing. I have changed the style of these columns several times this past year; at first, I focused on nonprofit education. Later, as I learned more about the local nonprofit community, I included information on nonprofit events and volunteer opportunities. My request for information is included at the end of every column so I hope you will drop me a note and tell me what you want to know about our abundant and dynamic nonprofit community!

November 7-18 - Give Local South Puget Sound

Give Local South Puget Sound is an annual online giving campaign that promotes community generosity and supports nonprofits across Thurston, Mason, and Lewis Counties. Over the years, our communities have raised more than $2 million through Give Local to care for and support local nonprofits. Those nonprofits have used the funds to strengthen our communities by turning them into meals, winter clothes, children’s books, medicine, therapy, shelter, solar panels, forests, farmland, healthy rivers, music, art, and more. For more details and how you can participate, click here.

November 5 – International Volunteer Managers Day
Universally, people recognize the contribution of volunteers who are involved in just about every aspect of service delivery in all walks of life. However, volunteering does not occur in a vacuum. That is why we celebrate International Volunteer Managers Day (IVMD) every year on November 5. Founded and observed for the first time in 1999, IVMD was developed to bring recognition to individual Managers of Volunteers and their roles in mobilizing and supporting the world’s volunteers. This begs the question volunteer managers often hear – are you a volunteer? While there are individuals who volunteer to manage other volunteers, the vast majority of volunteer managers receive a salary. Volunteer management is considered a profession; you can take a test and be certified in volunteer administration (see the CVA behind my name). So, the next time someone says they supervise volunteers, give them a hug, and please do not ask if they get paid. For more details on this event, click here.


Nonprofit Events

  • The third annual Strengthening Families Conference hosted by the Family Education and Support Services Regional Resilience Center (FESS) will be held November 3-4. A key focus of the completely virtual event will be programs that help prevent or lessen trauma in children. According to Heather Antanaitis, responsible for FESS Communications, “the conference, as well as a Wednesday podcast, was started during the pandemic to provide a high level of education and support to those that work with families and parents. The conference is geared towards three groups: 1) Individuals who are in social work, whether it be families, nonprofits, or others 2) Those who work in education as teachers are often the first to recognize an issue with a child 3) Parents, families, caregivers, of all types.” Conference sessions will provide participants with cutting-edge, evidence-based resources, information, ideas, and strategies for helping kids and families thrive, especially in the aftermath of trauma. For more information, click here.
  • Books, Brownies, and Beans, one of the South Sound’s largest one-day used book sale, returns live and in person on Saturday, November 5. Hosted by Olympia Unitarian Universalist Congregation (OUUC) and in its 19th year, the sale has raised more than $85,000 to benefit local nonprofits serving Thurston County. According to the OUUC website, proceeds from the 2022 sale will benefit three local organizations selected by OUUC’s Faith in Action ministry team: Pizza Klatch, Thurston County Food Bank’s – “For Kids: Weekend Backpacks” program, and Thurston Climate Action Team. The event is free, and visitors are encouraged to bring their own tote bags. Volunteers are welcome as well. For more details, click here.
  • Giants Of the Salish Sea — Humpbacks and Gray Whales: John Calambokidis from Cascadia Research Collective will speak on November 6 at the Puget Sound Estuarium. Calambokidis is a Senior Research Biologist and one of the founders of Cascadia Research Collective, a nonprofit research organization based in Olympia. (Learn more about this organization at ) Calambokidis’s recent research included examining the whales’ feeding behavior and vocalizations. His work has been covered on shows by National Geographic, Discovery Channel, BBC, and others. For more information, click here.
  • Toast for Tails, the primary fundraiser for Concern for Animals, will once again be a virtual event this year. While the event will be from November 7th - 12th, you may pre-register now to be eligible to participate in the week-long auction. Proceeds from the event’s virtual auction are going towards funding their continued operation. Concern for Animals is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) located in the heart of Olympia that provides life-saving services for pets in need in Thurston, Mason, and Lewis counties of Washington state. For more details on Toast for Tails, click here.

Volunteer Opportunities

  • The rain begins the restorative planting season for Olympia Parks and Recreation (OPR). OPR has added Friday work parties again, as well as a few Adopt-A-Park ones as well. This month's work parties will focus on removing non-indigenous plants, including Himalayan blackberry, Yellow archangel, and English ivy, as well as planting numerous Pacific Northwest species that have been growing in the OPR nursery. Olympia has over 50 parks and parcels, so the parks department needs your help stewarding the 1400-plus acres of green space. Click here for dates, locations, and details.
  • The Puget Sound Estuarium (PSE) volunteer program offers a wide variety of unique hands-on opportunities to explore intertidal life and inspire community members to take better care of our shared natural resources. Both experienced marine enthusiasts and beginner estuary explorers are welcome. PSE, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, was founded by the South Sound Estuary Association (SSEA) to create opportunities for the public to learn about estuaries, geology, natural and cultural history, marine life, and human impact on the Puget Sound (the biggest estuary in the United States by volume and second largest in the United States by shoreline). Their mission is to foster learning opportunities that inspire people of all ages to connect with, protect, and enjoy the unique estuary environment of Puget Sound. For more information, click here.


Soliciting your ideas

If you know of a nonprofit that is doing something great, celebrating a success, needs some outstanding volunteers, or hosting an event, let me know! This column (aside from a little education) celebrates nonprofits!

Mary Beth Harrington, CVA (Certified Volunteer Administrator) lives in Tumwater. She travels the country speaking at conferences and to individual organizations articulating issues facing nonprofits. Send your ideas to her at


2 comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here

  • HarveysMom

    I thank you for writing these columns, Beth, and Happy Anniversary.

    Saturday, November 5, 2022 Report this

  • FirstOtter

    I attended Cascadia Researcher John Calambodkidis's talk at the Estuarium. FABULOUS! I learned so much about our local whales, and yes, we do have them in our waters. We kept him for a half hour longer than scheduled just because his talk was so deep, informative and interesting. Thank you, Estuarium, and Mr. Calambodkidis, for an exceptionately good talk.

    Monday, November 7, 2022 Report this