Sequim High School students Hannah McDowell, Jessica Lato and Jacob Myers cook spaghetti as they and other culinary arts students cap off the first semester in January. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Sequim High School students Hannah McDowell, Jessica Lato and Jacob Myers cook spaghetti as they and other culinary arts students cap off the first semester in January. (Michael Dashiell/Olympic Peninsula News Group)

Spotlight on youth at annual Sequim Sunrise Rotary dinner-auction

SEQUIM — A civic group with deep roots in the Sequim community is throwing a big fundraising party later this month — one in tune with the theme: “Today’s Youth, Tomorrow’s Future.”

The Sequim Sunrise Rotary will host a live and silent auction and dinner beginning at 5 p.m. Saturday at the Guy Cole Convention Center at Carrie Blake Community Park, 202 N. Blake Ave.

Tickets are $55 per person, a portion of which is tax-deductible. Proceeds will go to the myriad projects the Sequim Sunrise Rotary supports, from clean water efforts to international youth exchanges, the Sequim Little League and Volunteer Hospice of Clallam County and Habitat for Humanity to Student of the Month awards.

A number of silent and live auction items will be available, Rotary officials said. Among the numerous live auction items are a fall getaway (early October) in The Pines at Sunriver, Ore.; wine tasting and hors d’orderves for 12; a balloon ride over the Sequim-Dungeness Valley; a gourmet wine dinner for six; a game day party for eight at the Oasis; a barbecue dinner for eight on 3 Crabs Beach; a saltwater fishing trip for two; two tickets to a regular-season Seattle Seahawks game, and a whale-watching tour for two.

Dinner includes an entree of baron of beef, salmon and vegetables.

“We look to and need our community’s support so as to continue to provide needed services,” said Julia McKenna-Blessing, co-chair of this year’s event. “And we are looking forward to an evening of fun, and sharing on behalf of and for this special place we call home where people demonstrate they care about one another.”

McKenna-Blessing said Rotary officials chose the location to show support and bring attention to the facility, and also highlight a kind of youth movement at this year’s dinner/auction.

The Rotary group will collect funds during the “Raise the Paddle” portion of the auction for the newly-formed Joe Rantz Youth Fund. This fund aims to help identify and provide assistance to homeless students.

Funds will be distributed through the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula, the McKinney Vento program via the Sequim School District and the Rotary group.

Rotary officials say an estimated 130 students have been identified as homeless in the Sequim School District this school year.

The fund is named after the late Joe Rantz, a former Sequim resident who overcame challenging childhood situations to succeed in life and earned acclaim as one of the 1936 Olympic Games U.S. eight-man crew gold medalists and primary subject of “The Boys in the Boat” best-seller.

Judy Willman, Rantz’s daughter, will be on hand Saturday and is slated to speak briefly about some of her father’s experiences.

In addition, Rotary members are working with Sequim High school’s culinary arts and agro-science programs. Under the tutelage of culinary arts teacher Dana Minard, SHS students will work alongside a professional banquet and catering staff from The Cedars at Dungeness.

“Richard White, head chef, says he is excited to be involved in such a worthy effort and that it gives him a chance to both help train as well as perhaps identify possible future employees,” McKenna-Blessing said. “Heather Croot, The Cedars at Dungeness’ banquet and catering manager, is very enthused and supportive of the students working alongside her staff as well.”

Students in agriculture science teacher Steve Mahitka’s classes have been in competition to be the team selected to design and create the evening’s center pieces, McKenna-Blessing said.

“Our community’s support is vital to our being able to continue being the reliable source to be supportive of myriad needs which are ongoing and we are proud to be able to be part of ‘Find a need and fill it,’ as the old sales adage goes,” McKenna-Blessing said.

For reservations or for more information, contact McKenna-Blessing at or 360-912-3399, or call or Pat McCauley at 360-670-9444.


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

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