Dear Friends and Supporters,

On Easter Sunday, my family and I took a walk through the Yakima Area Arboretum to enjoy the beauty of the season and to escape, for a short while, the confinement imposed by the Covid-19 virus. The Crabapples were in fine form and the turtles in the pond had hauled themselves onto the bank to bask in the sun. Others were there as well; I noted at least three picnics going on, a couple tossing a softball, dogs and owners glad for the opportunity to stretch their legs, and two young ladies in their new Easter dresses engaged in an energetic Easter egg hunt. Smiles were the order of the day and everyone maintained a safe, respectful distance.

The Arboretum is a self-funded non-profit organization. We receive some assistance from the City of Yakima in the form of lawn mowing and help with the irrigation bill, for which we are immensely grateful, but all other expenses, including general maintenance of the grounds, new plant material, facilities, and our incredible staff are supported through your memberships, donations, memorials, and rentals of the facilities for business meetings and social gatherings. All our programs and events, including Arbor Festival and Luminaria, are supported by the generosity of area businesses and individuals. Did you know that a couple of years ago, our Arbor Day festival was one of two selected for special recognition by the National Arbor Day Foundation from across the entire United States?

Unfortunately, the scourge that we are living under has taken its toll on our revenue stream. Since we are unable to open the buildings to the public, there are no classes, meetings, or special events to hold, meaning we have lost a main source of funding. The risk is too great. We are forced to draw upon our reserve funds but these are not inexhaustible. We are actively seeking support from federal and state agencies, but have found that non-profits are excluded from some programs. We have no clear idea when we might get back to “normal”, or what the new normal might be.

I am asking you to do three things: First, if you are a member, please renew your membership today. Members are the people who keep the lights on year-round. Consider purchasing a membership for a friend or relative. Second, look at your budget to see if there is any room for a donation to the Arboretum. We know that not everyone can do this. It just makes it doubly important for those of us who can. Actions speak louder than words, so my wife and I will donate an extra five hundred dollars to help get us over this rough patch. Other members of the Board of Directors have offered even larger amounts. Third, tell our story. Tell people about the Nature Day Camp where kids can learn about the outdoors. Tell them about the classes for holiday wreaths and centerpieces. Tell them about our outreach to children with special needs, and those who come from shattered homes. Tell them about the school field trips, the Arbor Festival, and the 5000 people who attend Luminaria-free of charge! And tell them about the two little girls in their new dresses who may one day bring their children and grandchildren for an Easter egg hunt.

Stay well,

Stu Simmons

President, Board of Directors

Yakima Area Arboretum