Brianne Lawson, treasurer with Peninsula Pre-3 Cooperative (with 16-month-old Charlie) and fellow board member Kelsey Wheeler accept a $4,150 grant from the Albert Haller Foundation. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Brianne Lawson, treasurer with Peninsula Pre-3 Cooperative (with 16-month-old Charlie) and fellow board member Kelsey Wheeler accept a $4,150 grant from the Albert Haller Foundation. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Albert Haller Foundation awards $300K in Clallam County

Foundation has donated about $10 million since 1992

SEQUIM — The Albert Haller Foundation has awarded $330,000 to more than 50 nonprofits and organizations across Clallam County.

Awards were announced at a special ceremony on Oct. 24 in Sequim.

Matched with the $100,000 in scholarships and a $75,000 endowment at Peninsula College to help low-income students afford tuition, the foundation’s charitable efforts for 2023 top a half-million dollars.

“He helped a lot of people when he was alive,” said Gary Smith, president of the Haller board, said of Albert Haller, “and he’s helped a lot of people now that he’s gone.”

The Albert Haller Foundation started as a nonprofit organization in 1992 to help fund charitable programs throughout Clallam County — primarily focused on education, family and medical services. It annually gives six-figure donations to local community groups and efforts.

In the near three decades of giving, the foundation has donated about $10 million.

“We’ve also done some good capital projects over the years,” Smith said, noting the large, well-used playfields that bear Haller’s name north of Sequim’s Carrie Blake Community Park.

A five-member board — one that includes superintendents from Sequim and Port Angeles school districts — oversees the foundation’s funds that started with about $9.2 million from Haller’s estate.

The board back then decided Smith should be president, he noted, “because I was retired” — jokingly adding, “I didn’t know it was a position for life.”

Born in Port Angeles in 1903 to Sequim Valley pioneers Max and Anna Haller, Albert Haller was a longtime logger who, with his wife, were at one time the largest independent land owners in Clallam County.

“He had a lot of foresight,” Smith said.

About four dozen grant recipients were on hand at the ceremony held in the Sequim High School library to accept the grants from Smith and Sequim schools Superintendent Regan Nickels and Port Angeles School District Superintendent Marty Brewer.

“This [Albert Haller Foundation grant] was one of the first grants we ever received 22 years ago, and they’ve supported us ever since,” said Sara Nicholls, executive director of the Dungeness Valley Health and Wellness Clinic, also known as the Sequim Free Clinic. Her organization received $9,500 to support patients’ services and the clinic’s management.

Pat Soderlind, executive director of the Forks Community Food Bank, said her organization faces challenges in getting bank users healthy food options, so their grant award — this year for $9,500 — is much appreciated.

Sharon Ryan of Sequim Community Aid said her organization’s clients have seen significant rent increases since the COVID-19 pandemic stated.

“This [grant] will help them a lot reconfigure their budgets to help where they live,” Ryan said of the foundation’s $8,000 award in 2023.

Angel Dennis, development director with Peninsula Behavioral Health, said PBH’s $7,000 award from the foundation will help clients who struggle with transportation issues.

“It is because of the Albert Haller Foundation we make sure they get to these appointments,” she said.

“Half a million is just outstanding,” noted Janet Gray, Resource Development Director with the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula, whose organization received two awards of $4,750 apiece. “Thank you for what you do.”

Smith said events like the 2023 awards makes shouldering the responsibility for Haller’s philanthropy a joy.

“This makes it all worthwhile,” he said.

For more about the foundation, visit alberthallerfoundation.org.

________

Michael Dashiell is the editor of the Sequim Gazette of the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which also is composed of other Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News and Forks Forum. Reach him at editor@sequimgazette.com.

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