In 1992, local businessman Paul Christensen founded The Hough Foundation. Christensen attended Hough Elementary School in downtown Vancouver as a young boy and saw firsthand some of the poverty that kids faced. He wanted to make a difference in the community, so he started the organization to serve the students at the school. Today, the Foundation serves more than 260 students with a variety of services.
Kids at the school are benefiting from afterschool music programs that are funded by the organization, including percussion, ukulele and Glee, and there is also a therapy horticultural program. The organization also provides fresh healthy snacks to each classroom every day, a summer camp every year, teaching supplies for classrooms and assists with one-on-one counseling for students and their parents. The Hough Foundation also brought in a therapy dog, Moe Hawk, a gray Labrador puppy that is at school, working daily with the students.
“One of the blessings of The Hough Foundation is that we are able to listen and respond in a timely manner without a bunch of red tape,” said Jill Campbell, executive director of the Hough Foundation. “We hear what our families and community need, and hopefully support their needs with action and funds.”
The Foundation employs Campbell full time. There are also some part-time employees and during a normal year, there would be a volunteer base of up to 100 people. During COVID, no volunteers were allowed at the school, but now they are starting to bring them back slowly. For funding, The Hough Foundation receives generous donations from local business owners that help them on an annual basis. They also obtain grants, but the rest of the money is raised through events. The pandemic impacted the event portion of their fundraising significantly.
“Our fundraising was hurt due to lack of in-person fundraising events,” Campbell said. “We also lost some of our program directors who needed to find work while the shutdown was in progress. We were not able to have our second biggest fundraiser, ‘Sip and Stroll,’ due to COVID. Our largest fundraiser, an in-person gala called the Hough Hoedown, was created and delivered in virtual format.”
Despite the pandemic setbacks, the future remains bright for the Foundation. They are excited about continuing to serve the kids of the Hough community. Afterschool programs are back now and they are actively looking for volunteers to help with those. The team is also planning details for the Hough Hoedown fundraising event in February 2022.
“We want to do everything we can to help our Hough kids succeed in school as well as life,” Campbell said.