Thurston County’s Hidden Sector

This week: It’s all about Olympia Family Theater

And a little about fettucine and where to work it off


Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you have plans to be around either family, friends, or both on Thursday.

Growing up, my family was insistent that no one should be alone this holiday, so we often had folks from outside of the family gathered around the table, and one of the annual discussions was to learn about the special traditions in everyone’s family. Sweet potatoes – marshmallows or not (not in our family, in fact, my mother’s recipe was to keep adding butter and brown sugar until you got tired of adding it!) Last year, some friends brought Jell-O molds with little toy cars in them, as that was a tradition in their family (I am not kidding).

This year, we are joining some close friends and will be bringing a Waldorf Salad (with my mom’s secret dressing) and Fettucine Alfredo! This is a tradition in my husband’s family, as his mother was Italian, they had a large family, and since many came from far away, you had to have something for dinner Wednesday night that would work with the Thanksgiving leftovers. Trust me, nothing is better than going to get your late-night helping of Thanksgiving dinner and adding fettucine to the mix.

This begs the question – is there something that is traditional in your family or here in the PNW? Please use my email at the bottom of the column and I’ll post everyone’s offerings next week! Who knows? We might adopt one of your traditions!

We now return to our usual nonprofit news.

 Olympia Family Theater is Growing!

Olympia Family Theater (OFT) is expanding. OFT has recently announced the start of the Give Lively campaign to help open the doors on a new all-ages space, next door to the theater tentatively called Olympia Youth Art Alliance (OYAA). The space will be available for small performances (60 seats), art shows, rehearsals, classes, and more. In addition to OFT, the space will serve as the permanent home for other groups, including the String & Shadow Puppet Theater and Capital City Pride, which plans to utilize the space for offices, workshops, and shows. According to Kate Arvin, Deputy Director of OFT, the space will be one of Olympia's only affordable, all-ages interdisciplinary venues in downtown. “There are other spaces downtown, but they are often in bars which is not helpful to anyone underage or who does not want to be around alcohol.”

The campaign hopes to raise $10,000 in grassroots donations. “No donation is too small and if lots of people give a little together, we can make a BIG impact,” said Arvin. “Community support will be crucial in creating this space for people of all ages to enjoy for years to come!” Plus, your donation can make a bigger impact as OFT has received an anonymous $10,000 matching gift, so every dollar you contribute is doubled.

Donations to the campaign will be used to support new floor installation, lighting, soundproofing, and more. Anyone interested in learning more about the campaign is invited to attend an Open House on Monday, November 28, from 5-7 pm. OFT staff will be on-site to give tours and answer questions. To learn more, click here.

Founded in 2006, the mission of OFT is to be an educational theater that produces high-quality arts experiences for people of all ages. OFT’s vision is to use theater as a tool for building community resilience, celebrating diverse identities, and preparing youth to be the stewards of tomorrow.

From humble beginnings, OFT has become a thriving nonprofit arts organization engaging thousands of families in the South Sound region each year. According to their website, OFT has produced nearly 60 mainstage productions while offering ongoing after-school classes and break camps for K-12 youth on topics ranging from acting to devised theater to technical production. OFT reports that it is “a proud member” of:

  • Theatre Puget Sound
  • Theatre for Young Audiences/USA (The US Center for ASSITEJ, the International Association of Theatres for Children and Young People)
  • American Alliance for Theater and Education
  • Olympia Audition League
  • Olympia Downtown Alliance

 For more information on OFT, click here.

 Tell Your Family to Take a Hike – with You!

 Need to work off some of your Thanksgiving pounds? Oly Trail Runners is offering an opportunity to do this: Its “Less Turkey, More Trot” event runs from Saturday, November 19 through Sunday, November 27. The best part is that you choose your style, the length, and when you do this!

Start at Margaret McKenny Campground in Capitol Forest Trails, and from there run, trot, or walk a 12k, 24k, or 35k. Trails will be loosely marked with turkey signs and flags. If you are new to this, it is recommended that you take a digital copy of the map (lest you end up on the 35k!). Proceeds benefit the Thurston County Food Bank, and prizes and a raffle are also part of the fun. Register 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


No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here