Fashion Front Lights Up Downtown on Friday

by on Sep 11, 2014

The Junior League of Yakima is hosting Fashion Front for the third year this Friday, and this year’s fundraiser promises to be the best yet.

Fashion Front was started in 2008 by Yakima native Carly Holtzinger for her high school senior project, and former JLY board member Jennifer Reisbeck said that in 2009 and 2010 community volunteers put on the event. “After nobody did the event in 2011, in 2012 JLY brought it back,” she said.

Fashion Front Junior LeagueFashion Front transforms Yakima’s historic North Front Street into an outdoor fashion showcase. Clothes modeled from local boutiques and local food and spirits are featured at the event. Last year the group sold about 250 tickets, and featured 75-100 models and store personnel.

Coinciding with New York Fashion Week, Fashion Front will be held starting at 5 p.m. at the Historic North Front Street in Yakima. “Preview this year’s fall fashions from local boutiques while enjoying local wines and beer from AntoLin, Gilbert Cellars, and Bale Breaker Brewing Company,” said Sarah Frenzel, this year’s PR chair. Food from local vendors Imogene’s, Russillo’s, and Northtown will be available.

All proceeds benefit the Junior League of Yakima’s programs supporting women and children in the Yakima Valley. The organization is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year (click here to see our article celebrating 80 years of volunteerism).

Tickets for this year’s Sept. 12th event will be $35 in advance–you can purchase online from the Junior League website listed above, or from the following stores: Gretchen, Fiddlesticks, Garden Dance, Over The Hedge, Priscilla’s Chic Boutique, Belu Salon, Saol, Studio 16 Aveda Salon Spa, Onyx Salon & Spa. (The tickets will be $40 at the door.)

You must be at least 21 to attend this event. Organizers of the event this year are Julie Kohl and Jennifer Bush, and you can check the event’s Facebook page or email for more information.

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A Vision for the Future

by on Sep 5, 2014

Thomas Copeland gingerly goes for a sip of wine while being blindfolded.

Thomas Copeland gingerly goes for a sip of wine while being blindfolded.


SEVEN YEARS AGO, Marsha Lance experienced what she calls a “lifechanging health event,” and her subsequent treatment caused cataracts and other eye problems. What she couldn’t know, however, is that this crisis would lead her to her current position — and passion — as clinic director for Yakima’s Vision for Independence Center. The clinic, called VIC for short, helps people with already-diagnosed “low vision” (severe vision impairment) maximize their remaining vision with the aid of special tools, agency referrals and recommendations on how to best accomplish daily tasks.
Lance’s condition forced her retirement from her job as business manager and dental assistant at a dental clinic, but she remained active
in her Lions club. It was during a club meeting that a VIC representative made a presentation about the clinic, and Lance was moved to volunteer.
The non-profit clinic, currently located in a shared office space on D Street, is open to the public on Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Lance is its only employee, working part-time, but four doctors volunteer on their days off, seeing clients who are often referred by area eye doctors as well.
The VIC clinic includes a room that’s been converted into a small retail space, housing a multitude of gadgets designed to help people with low vision navigate their daily life. The shelves are lined with inventory, including hand-held and electronic magnifiers, reading glasses with built-in task lighting, rainbow-colored measuring spoons (the color denotes the measurement) and even a liquid level indicator that beeps when one’s coffee has reached the top of the cup. “Every task needs a different item,” says Lance. “I’m here to help them, to guide them.”
Vance adds that folks with major vision loss often feel helpless. “They don’t feel like anything can be done,” she says.
Selah Vision Clinic’s Dr. Dale Graf has volunteered one day a month since 2009. A lifelong resident of the Valley, he says he just wants to give something back. Graf remembers a gentleman who was no longer able to perform his duties at work due to low vision — he couldn’t read signs at a warehouse. After fitting him with a telescopic device, the man was not only able to continue at his job, but he could regain his driver’s license.
Thanks to aging baby boomers, Lance says they are serving more clients all the time. Between walk-ins and clinic days, VIC sees over 200 people annually. And there are young patients, too. In fact, VIC works with the local Educational Service District 105 to help students in both the Upper and Lower valleys who have already been identified as vision impaired. The clinic’s clientele has grown so much that they’re currently looking for a larger office space.
The Vision for Independence Center receives funds and revenues from grants, its small store, medical reimbursements and from its major fundraiser, “Dinner in the Dark.” The fundraiser is unusual in that attendees are blindfolded and then led to their tables to eat dinner “in the dark.” Last year’s event raised $26,000.
Lance’s face lights up when asked about clinic success stories. She recently saw a patient who is an artist, but had lost the ability to paint — and even read — due to her vision impairment. With the help of two different magnifiers (one that’s a magnifying lamp) she can paint again. Lance says that’s the goal: to help folks retain as much of their independence as possible. “She’s back to being able to enjoy life, you know?”

Vision for Independence Center’s 6th annual “Dinner in the Dark” fundraiser will be held on Sat., Oct. 18 at the Harman Center. The event includes dinner and drinks — while blindfolded — a silent auction and live entertainment. Tickets are $45 in advance. For more information, call 509- 452-8301. To learn more about the Vision for Independence Center, go to




Tom Berndt blindfolds Sue Olson.

Tom Berndt blindfolds Sue Olson.


David Heath leads Erika Wilburn to dinner.

David Heath leads Erika Wilburn to dinner.

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Notes from Yakima–“Home is the nicest word there is.”

by on Sep 5, 2014

By Robin Salts Beckett

My mom is a consummate decorator; she always has been. I grew up in a ‘70s split level by Randall Park — still one of my favorite neighborhoods in Yakima — and friends were always coming over to see her latest inspiration. (Folks marveled over her pink carpet in the early ‘80s.)

For several years, my parents really had a thing for antiques. During family vacations, they would drag my brother and me through miles upon miles of antique stores. We hated it. Every time they wanted to go “antiquing” (that’s not even a word! I’d say) my brother and I would practically fall to the hotel room floor in agony, clutching our stomachs. But my mom — and dad — both have real talent in design, and it was reflected in our home.


Our silly riff on the iconic American Gothic … the idea can be blamed on Elly. The doily collar can be blamed on me. PHOTO BY TRISHA HENNING

Of course these days I’m the one who frequents antique stores, and now I’m dragging my son through dusty shelves of old knick-knacks (he hates it, too). But one thing my mom and I have in common is treating our homes like canvases: they reflect our personal styles, our moods, the season. It’s our form of art.

This Home & Garden edition of Yakima Magazine includes some like-minded folks. Jody Jaeger took her talent for decorating and turned it into a business, helping folks stylishly downsize into smaller homes. The delightfulLee Ann Hughes let us tour her gorgeous home that’s been decades in the making; it’s full of family history and her own lively personality. In addition, Spencer Hatton takes a humorous — and manly — look at the summer garden’s dahlia, and Carol Barany talks about vermicomposting (it might not be stylish, but it’s great for your garden).

Also not to miss are features on Yakima’s “urban forest,” the Central Washington Agricultural Museum and some fun fall-inspired apple crumble recipes.

Keep up with us on our blog, too, at Elly has found some great stories that are only available online — it’s worth the click!

The weather is finally cooling off, and fall is on its way. I, for one, can’t wait. Happy reading, Yakima.

“Home is the nicest word there is.” ~ Laura Ingalls Wilder

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An Apple a Day…

by on Sep 5, 2014


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Spencer Spins It…Dahlias

by on Sep 5, 2014

A battle between the sexes is being waged in garden plots throughout the Pacific Northwest.

Sure, women can plant their dianthus, impatiens and scented lavender. But when it comes to blooms the size of a Frisbee, leave it to the guys to muscle into the action.

Maybe it’s the names of the flowers. They are downright seductive: Blondee, Bodacious, Envy, Glamour Girl, I’m A Hottie, Lemon Kiss and A-Pealing. Then there’s the macho line: Gladiator, Wildman, Zorro and Spartacus.

We’re talking dahlias here. Yes, those little bulbs you stick in well-drained soil when the fear of frost has passed. Buried 5 inches down and covered with a thin layer of soil and bone meal, the bulb sends up delicate shoots. But don’t be deceived by this. By the time August rolls along, the plant will have turned into a 6-foot stalk studded with blossoms. Pinch off the side shoots, and you’ve got yourself a flower with a hefty diameter of 12 inches or more.

Yeah, this is a man’s sport.

Don’t know much about dahlias? It appears you’re not alone. You would think the history of this fibrous bulb would be fairly straightforward. Not so for the showy dahlia.

Its roots — hard to resist that pun — date back to the days of the Aztecs in Mexico. All was going well for the Aztecs and their dahlia plants, which they used as a food source, until the Spanish conquistadors entered the scene in the early 1500s. The Spanish invasion wiped out the Aztec nation along with any reliable historical record of the dahlia.

Two centuries later, the bulb arrived in Europe where it sprouted leaves in the Botanical Gardens in Madrid in 1789. Named in honor of Andreas Dahl, a Swedish botanist, the dahlia proved to be a natural hybrid that could be coaxed into a vast array of colors and shapes when grown from seed. By the mid-1930s, nearly 50,000 varieties were sprouting up flowers in Europe and America. In 1963, Mexico decided it wanted to reclaim the dahlia as its own and proudly proclaimed it as its national flower.

The late Jack Ames introduced me, and hundreds of other gardeners, to the joyous wonders of dahlias. At the corner of River Road and Fruitvale Boulevard in Yakima, Jack’s lush garden — always open to the public — brimmed with iris, chrysanthemums and nearly 200 dahlias.

Jack purchased most of his bulbs through Swan Island, the nation’s largest supplier of dahlia bulbs located not far from Portland in Canby, Ore. Swan Island has just about every kind of dahlia imaginable, from a pint-sized lilliput to a 14-inch-diameter monster called Emory Paul, which features bright rosy purple petals.

Ordering from Swan Island holds the same addictive power as clicking on the iTunes store and purchasing a single song at 99 cents a pop. There’s one catch. Some new varieties at Swan Island can set you back nearly $25, a far cry from ordering Tiny Tim’s Tiptoe through the Tulips.

What you can’t order from Swan Island, or from anywhere else in the world, is a distinctly sky-blue dahlia. It doesn’t exist. Nor does a dahlia with an alluring scent.

That doesn’t mean the dahlia is all show and no go. Far from it. The dahlia has become a godsend for the newspaper industry, where I worked as an editor and columnist for nearly 35 years. Though a slew of media pundits predict daily newspapers are headed for the same fate as the once mighty Aztec nation, don’t start mourning just yet. Swan Island has come to the rescue. How’s this possible? It all has to do with preserving the delicate bulbs during the winter.

Swan Island recommends extracting the bulbs after a hard frost in the fall and placing them gently in a bed of peat moss atop — are you ready for this? — sheets of newsprint. And you thought newspapers were only good as a fish wrapper. Not so.

And what better use for an aging copy of the Yakima Herald-Republic than becoming a winter’s resting place for the likes of I’m A Hottie and Spartacus? You couldn’t write a better ending to a story about dahlias.

Nor could I.

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