By Angela Magill
A bit of dread swelled up inside my chest as I battled the traffic outside Bethel High School early Saturday morning. Just more than a month ago I had volunteered to be president of the local community council in Frederickson, a job I had already been nervous about – but hoped the wonderful volunteers would help me through. They had, graciously, but this was the first event that I had a direct decision, so I feared it might not go as well as planned.
Our council secretary, John Marshall, and I set up our table inside the gymnasium, erecting a new banner using PVC pipe and concrete blocks. We were ready to go about 15 minutes before the doors were scheduled to open and I wondered how many people we would get to talk to during this event. I hadn’t even had a chance to take in the awesome scene around me.
Shortly after 9:00 a.m. families began to filter through the door, including my own. John and I greeted each person we saw warmly and invited them to vote for us in a charity challenge. From my vantage point at the table I could see what a fantastic networking event this could be. Dozens of tables were clustered together throughout the gym, as well as snaking through the hallways toward the main entrance, then turning down another hallway before ending at the cafeteria where different groups were to perform.
With John managing the table, I took my two youngest children with me and set off to see whom I could meet. We went from table to table meeting all sorts of folks. Some were part of community groups like mine, some were showcasing their business, and some were even fundraising. I enjoyed introducing myself to each little group and then learning just a bit about them before moving on. It was amazing how many different products – both physical and virtual – were on display.
My walk brought me to the table of another community council leader, Carol Wright, who is president and community services director of the Graham-Kapowsin Community Council. We discussed the benefits of bringing our organizations together more often and pooling our resources. I learned of the many exciting classes available in cooperation with the G-KCC.
The plethora of business tables was somewhat overwhelming, but who could resist the many raffles? I and others scampered to enter them all so we could possibly win a TV, cash, and various other prizes. The new 723 Marketing Group in Spanaway traversed many tables across the back wall of the gym under a large poster. This collection of businesses is named for the time they meet every Thursday morning in Elk Plain. You guessed it…7:23 a.m.
It was in front of the 723 tables that I bumped into state senator Randi Becker. I’ve not had the opportunity to meet many politicians in my life, but was excited to share a moment with her and discuss a few local issues.
The “goodie bags” dangling from the arms of those in attendance showed the initial attraction, but it was the information available once at the table that kept them at ABC Day.
I met an emergency management expert, Lora Taylor, who works for the Bethel School District and learned more about what perils I might expect and how to prepare for them. A WIC representative started a lovely conversation with me about how they are reaching out to the community to inform them of ways to keep young children and their mothers healthy. My favorite local cable, TV, and internet company was there – Rainier Connect – and I was able to tell them how much I love their service.
We spoke to directors and members of talented singing groups that entertained us. David Nguyen of Vivace! Choral Program shared his interest with me to be a part of next year’s Freddy Fest. I found they perform at many community events each year and learned that the Pierce County Community Big Band had just shared their notes at the dedication of the BethelLearningCenter.
Not all the action was inside; my children loved how the camel reached his head over the railing to sniff them. The tiny ponies were just their size as they got to stroke their soft manes. I didn’t miss the chance to sign up to win ‘a day on the farm’ for us with Four Star Farms. Sharon Lulham explained to me that her youth programs at FSF help young children develop confidence, responsibility and teamwork in everyday life.
“Big truck, big truck,” my young three-year-old boy squealed at the multiple military vehicles, even one from the Air Force with a crane on the back from which dangled a long sign that said, “Welcome to All Bethel Community Day.” But it was the bright red fire truck that started him running. His mouth hung wide open as he watched folks testing fire extinguishers with the Central Pierce Fire and Rescue squad.
But the most important prize was being able to meet several members of my community – Frederickson – who weren’t aware of the community council that works so hard for them. I gained an opportunity to connect that I would not otherwise have had, and I think this was a common theme for other community groups and the many businesses stationed throughout those halls of learning.
So when I finally returned to my assigned table I had accumulated some cool freebies like tote bags, candy, and countless pens and pencils, and I was exhausted. My throat was sore from talking so much, too, but a smile stretched across my face. I thought of how great the day had been and what a fascinating event ABC Day was. It truly was an “All Bethel Community” moment that brought us together making us stronger in such a tough economic time.
I had so much fun and met so many valuable people in our extended community area of “Bethel” and I will definitely be back next year to mingle again with my neighbors.
© 2012 Angela Magill
Editor’s Note: Angela Magill is the newly elected president of the Frederickson-Clover Creek Community Council, and is also the wife of Josh Magill, whose work often graces these pages. The Mountain News warmly and proudly welcomes Ms. Magill to the magazine.