Sunshine Industries nearing fund-raising goal with grants

Scott Swanson

Sunshine Industries has reported receiving more than $250,000 in grant funds from two foundations in recent weeks to help pay for construction of its new Clark Mill Road facility.

Board member Bob Dalton said that the Meyer Memorial Trust awarded a $120,000 grant in December, which followed closely a similar grant by the Ford Foundation for $140,000.

Together, the donations account for more than a third of the total cost of the project, which stands at $677,000.

Ground was broken Oct. 10 and most of the soil preparation has been completed, Dalton said. Permits for plumbing and foundation work have been issued by the city, he said. If the weather were to stay dry for a few more weeks, concrete work could progress.

“We need Mother Nature to give us a break on that,” he said. “We’re doing really well.”

Both foundation donations required that the Sunshine fund-raising campaign raise 50 percent of the final budget figure.

“We’ve kind of met that goal,” Dalton said. “I think we’re really blessed. I didn’t think we’d achieve what we’ve achieved in such a short time.”

In addition to donations from local individuals and businesses, including a trust operated by former Willamette Industries CEO William Swindells, and Cascade Timber Consulting and the Hill Foundation, Sunshine raised some $12,000 with a low-key dinner at The Point restaurant before the holidays, Dalton said.

“We had a lot of other people step up and give us $100, $500, $1,000,” he said. “It’s just people in the community who’ve noticed the need and stepped up.”

Some of the donations have come in the form of equipment loans and operation, particularly from logging contractors Mike Melcher, from whom the parcel on which the new facility will be built was purchased, and Tom Hyer.

Dalton said that fund-raisers are awaiting word from one other organization, the Collins Foundation, on a $100,000 grant request.

“Collins is the one that would just about finish us off, but we’re not going to hold our breath on it,” he said. “We’re close. We’re so close.”

Sunshine is building a new facility because the converted Long Street farmhouse it has occupied for nearly 40 years is in poor shape and far too small for the organization’s needs. Dalton said that quickly became evident to foundation representatives who have visited.

“They watched “(Board Chairman) Chuck Thompson jump up and down on the floor and watched it go up and down. They saw how crowded and chaotic it was. I think they got the picture.”

He said the visitors have been impressed by the continuing education programs Sunshine runs for its adult clients and computers purchased with a grant from Weyerhaeuser that are used to train clients.

The organization currently serves 65 to 70 clients, but that number is expected to double in the next five years.

“We have the potential easily for 30 more,” he said. The 2.3-acre site will include a 7,680-square-foot main building and 3,000-square-foot woodworking shop and storage facility, but has the capacity for more expansion. Plans include gardens that will be incorporated in the building designs and more classes, particularly for clients’ family members.

“A lot of positive things have occurred at Sunshine,” Dalton said. “We show them that we’re serious about growing this facility.”