Kenny and Marleen Alhadeff are always happy to be honored, as they were Nov. 18, receiving the Outstanding Family Philanthropists award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Washington Chapter, for their work with the Foundation for Early Learning.
On accepting the award, Kenny stressed to those gathered at the local Philanthropy Day luncheon — and to me on the phone last week — that they aren’t doing this alone.
“I know it sounds trite,” he said, but “we weren’t standing on a podium receiving an award, we were standing on the shoulders of our parents and in the shadow of our children. We are part of a legacy, a chain of giving.”
It’s one of the reasons the couple recently changed the name of their foundation from Kenneth and Marleen Alhadeff Charitable Foundation to the Alhadeff Family Foundation. “We felt strongly [that] our children’s involvement, and the generations that came before us, was so important that we changed the name,” Kenny said.
The Alhadeffs’ philanthropic reach is broad. They are passionate about the arts, the importance of philanthropy, drug and alcohol rehabilitation and social justice. They support a long list of organizations including Cascade Land Conservancy, The Children’s Museum, Senior Services, the University of Washington and Washington State University, Pacific Northwest Ballet, 5th Avenue Theater, Jewish Family Service, and The Northwest School for Hearing-Impaired Children.
“The work these two have done to contribute to the success of organizations all across our region touches the lives and work of so many people,” said Jenna Barrett of the Foundation for Early Learning.
As for their passion for early learning, Kenny says there are basic skills that parents can use with their children from birth to age 5 — and all parents can learn them — which pave the way for school success. Without them, by 1st grade “there’s already a separation,” says Kenny, “measured 12 years later” by excessive high school dropout rates in Seattle and nationwide.
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The Granite Curling Club of Seattle is no secret and it’s not tucked away in some remote corner of town. It sits on North 130th St., just east of Aurora Avenue, and Seattle native Ariel Krasik-Geiger says that as a kid he had driven by it “thousands” of times, just like many Seattle north-enders. (I certainly have, and just expressed surprise that there’s curling outside of Canada, and let it go at that.)
But Ari, now 25, had a different response. In 8th grade he decided to find out more and attended one of the club’s many open houses.
“It just clicked with me,” he recalls. “I just loved it,” and had a “natural affinity” for this sport which requires a high level of strategy.
He became a competitive junior curler, joining a team and competed at the state level, and even went to nationals one year.
Curling is “a good workout,” says Ari, who grew up at Congregation Beth Shalom, and “as physically challenging as [what] you put into it.” It’s mentally challenging, too, and is often called “chess on ice.” He also admits that “curlers have a good sense of humor…we know that it’s an obscure sport; we love it nonetheless.”
Ari continues to curl, “more on a social level,” with the guys he grew up playing with. His busy school schedule doesn’t allow the level of practice required to compete. The graduate of Occidental College is in the process of applying to graduate school in mechanical engineering and completing his prerequisites for that program. He has a handyman business as well, and he stays in shape at a CrossFit gym.
The club still has open houses and “doubters” are particularly welcome. Information is online at www.curlingseattle.org.
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It’s time to say goodbye to “My Mieko’s Minyan.” That’s what I call my workout companions who show up at that Northend Seattle gym on weekday mornings. Sometimes there are enough of us (a liberal minyan) to daven shacharit — say our morning prayers. No, I’m not going anywhere, but Mieko’s is under new ownership, and once the old signs come down, “Vision Quest Minyan” won’t have quite the same ring. Here’s a shout out to some of the self-employed, part-time, flextime, work-from-home, and homemakers who are getting to the gym: Debbie Dick Shuster, Steve Katz, Elizabeth Davis, Elizabeth Braverman, Phillip Levin, Mitchell Hymowitz (also a curler!), Rhona Feldman, Amee Sherer, Michael Sherer, Marcy Porus-Gottlieb, Karen Iglitzin, and apologies to anyone I missed.