Changes are on the horizon for the Hough Foundation. The nonprofit, which will celebrate its 20th birthday in February, is gearing up for a new mission and a change in leadership by November.
Barbara Hammon is slated to take over the reigns as executive director. Hammon, a nine-year veteran of the foundation, currently works as the family service center director. Kate Sacamano, the foundation’s current executive director of two years, is taking a new role as a community consultant – a position that’s slated to usher in a new era for the now closed Hough Pool and building, located at 1801 Esther Street in Vancouver.
The Hough Pool was shuttered after Vancouver businessman Paul Christensen’s Realvest filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last year. Christensen, who went to school at Hough Elementary School, has been a long-time supporter of the Hough Foundation and had provided much of the money needed to operate the pool.
But after the pool’s closure, a foundation advisory board looked at other ways that the Hough Foundation might contribute to the community. The final consensus: Retrofit the Hough Pool building into a community center, where children can gather for pre-kindergarten education, youth-oriented groups can meet and community enrichment programs can serve area youth and the surrounding neighborhood.
“That’s our vision,” Hammon said, “to have the pool building become a community center.”
Sacamano figures it will take about three years before the final goal is complete and the community center is operating and serving the children of downtown Vancouver. But it may be ready for community rental use in as little as a year, Hammon explained.
Sacamano doesn’t have a cost estimate yet for the building retrofit; architects are still sketching potential plans. But fundraisers will help with costs, she said.
Besides the ambitious undertaking of the building retrofit and community center, the Hough Foundation works with at-risk and low-income children at Hough Elementary School. It runs a clothing closet, which helps to provide warm coats and clothing to Hough Elementary School pupils who need it. It organizes the Hough Parade, connects parents, kids and teachers with resources and helps to fund after-school arts programs.
“We believe that every child should have access and exposure to music,” Sacamano said. “The welfare of our children is a barometer of the health of the community.”
For the business community, that’s meant a partnership with the foundation to help children and to help strengthen the community at large.
“We’ve seen a real renaissance of the downtown residential neighborhoods as a result,” Sacamano said. “If we care for (children) now, we’ll reap the benefits later on.”
Hammon estimates the foundation’s operating budget at $175,000, a figure she’s quick to point out rushes in and out of the nonprofit to support its programs. Five annual fundraisers help to support the foundation. In November, a dining fundraiser, “5 Restaurants and One Reservation,” will team up five chefs from Vancouver-area restaurants with meal courses and wine. Tickets are $125 per person. Entire table reservations are also available.
For more information about the Hough Foundation, visit www.houghfoundation.org or call 992-7060.