Networking – January 2021


  • STCU increased its year-end giving, surprising more than 20 community organizations with checks ranging from $10,000 to $32,000 to assist with their work of providing basic needs and helping keep youth connected. In addition, the Spokane-based credit union wrote checks ranging from $25 to $1,000 to 103 organizations where employees volunteered in 2020. The donations of more than $400,000 were delivered via Zoom meetings to nonprofits in Eastern Washington, Tri-Cities and north Idaho. Tri-City recipients were: Communities in Schools of Benton and Franklin Counties, $25,000; YMCA of Greater Tri-Cities, $20,000; Boys and Girls Clubs of Benton Franklin Counties, $20,000; Mid-Columbia Meals on Wheels, $15,000; College Success Foundation, $10,000.
  • Gesa Credit Union donated $14,200 to support hunger alleviation efforts during the holiday season. Credit union employees visited food banks and distribution centers throughout Washington to deliver checks to nonprofit organizations in each of Gesa’s market areas. Pandemic safety considerations and the large number of people working remotely prevented Gesa from implementing a longstanding credit union tradition of delivering hams to every employee in person. Leadership instead used the opportunity to donate the approximate cost of one ham per person in appreciation for each member of the Gesa team. With 433 employees, the Tri-City region is Gesa’s largest. A donation of $8,660, or $20 per employee, was made to Second Harvest in Pasco.
  • Maverick Cares, a philanthropic arm of Maverick Gaming managed by its team members, provided free holiday meals for 16,000 people statewide in December. The pre-packaged meals included items such as: turkey breast, ham, mashed potatoes, green beans, dinner rolls, pumpkin pie. Maverick Gaming operates Crazy Moose Casino in Pasco.
  • Baker Boyer Bank donated $60,000 to organizations in Walla Walla, Milton-Freewater, Tri-Cities and Yakima in response to the coronavirus pandemic. This brings the total amount of contributions made to support those impacted by the pandemic to more than $100,000. Tri-City recipients were:

– Union Gospel Mission: $5,000 to provide resources to meet increased demand for basic needs such as food, shelter and clothing.

– Martha’s Cupboard: $4,000 to deliver basic household goods to people who may otherwise live without. Serves nearly 8,000 individuals in Tri-Cities annually through outreach/coordination of dozens of local agencies.

– Second Harvest: $2,500 to support increased need for food assistance, including specific programs such as the Hanford Feeding Families Fundraiser and Red Nose Day (in addition to the $5,000 donated earlier in the year).

– Grace Clinic: $2,500 to support the volunteers and staff that provide medical, dental, and mental health services to low-income uninsured residents of Benton and Franklin counties.

– SARC (Support, Advocacy & Resource Center) of Tri-Cities: $2,500 to provide advocacy, counseling, and support to survivors of domestic violence and other crimes.

-Kadlec Foundation: $1,000 for incremental Covid-19 related needs.

– Kennewick Kiwanis: $1,000 for elementary school supplies, PPE, and cleaning.

– Benton-Franklin Legal Aid Society: $1,000 for increased need for low-income legal services due to Covid-19.

– Kennewick Police Foundation: $500 to support the Community Care Program which allows officers who see an immediate community need to be able to take action and help people or resolve an issue.

  • Good Shepherd Community Health Foundation in Hermiston, Oregon, has given nearly $250,000 worth of grants and scholarships during the pandemic. Spring and fall grants were given to 21 separate organizations in 2020, the largest contribution of $50,000 went to the city of Hermiston to help rebuild the Funland Park facility. Medical scholarships were awarded to 22 local students attending 17 different colleges and universities in various states throughout the west.


  • Rep. Matt Boehnke, R-Kennewick, has been selected by the House Republican caucus to serve as ranking member of the newly created House Community and Economic Development Committee. The committee will consider issues relating to community development, community investment programs and underrepresented communities. Boehnke has also been appointed to the House Appropriations Committee and will continue to serve on the House Environment and Energy Committee.


  • Three Rivers Community Foundation distributed an additional $142,000 in grants to local nonprofits at the end of 2020. This was in addition to $152,000 in grants through its Covid-19 Response Fund. The grants were made available through an application-based process to local 501(c)(3) nonprofits in Benton and Franklin counties. This annual grant program has given more than $5.2 million back to our communities since 2004.
  • Energy Northwest received a $1.15 million grant from the Washington Clean Energy Fund to install electric vehicle charging stations along the White Pass Scenic Byway, in collaboration with Lewis County Public Utility District and Twin Transit. Benton REA and the White Pass Scenic Byway organization support the effort.

New Hires

  • Tina Baumgardner has been hired as the new market director of marketing and communications for Lourdes and Trios Health. She comes from Edmonds, Washington, where she was most recently the director of marketing, communications and business development at the Edmonds Public Facilities District/Edmonds Center for the Arts. She also was previously the communications manager and later the director of investor relations and operations at the Economic Development Council of Snohomish County.
  • Heartlinks Hospice and Palliative Care has hired Christopher Monk, ARNP, as a nurse practitioner to further expand its palliative care program in the Tri-Cities.
  • Kim Burks was hired as a corporate and external relations manager for Numerica Credit Union, a role that supports the financial institution’s efforts to strengthen and support local businesses in the Tri-Cities. Burks comes to Numerica from United Way of Benton & Franklin Counties, where she was the director of philanthropy and major gifts since 2012. In that role, she successfully developed annual, multimillion dollar campaigns to support the community. Burks has served the business community as a volunteer as well, including roles with the Tri-Cities Regional Chamber of Commerce. She holds a master’s degree in educational leadership from Washington State University.
  • Ken Avery rejoined Country Financial in early November. As a business owner, his focus will be to help other business owners with their business insurance and employee plans. He does personal auto, home and life insurance as well. Avery has been involved in the community with several organizations and has volunteered and served on several boards in the Tri-Cities.
  • Conner Miele has joined Gesa Credit Union as a small business development officer. With a background in both consumer banking and territory sales, he joins the Gesa commercial team. He is located at Gesa’s Queensgate branch in Richland.
  • Amy Teel has been hired by Fulcrum Wealth Management Group in Richland as a paraplanner. Fulcrum is a private wealth advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services.


  • Ron Branine has been promoted to director of facilities and operations for the Port of Benton. With nearly 30 years of facilities management experience, Branine is skilled in maintaining large commercial buildings, budgeting, contracting, managing the bidding process in compliance with local, state, and federal guidelines and regulations, as well as working with heavy and light equipment.
  • Baker Boyer bank has promoted three employees to vice president and two to assistant vice president. Promoted to vice president are Anna Duncan, Lacey Braswell and Jessica Long.
    Hollina Wadsworth and Tyson
    were promoted to assistant vice president.

Awards and Honors

  • Numerica Credit Union was honored as outstanding community lender for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Seattle district, which covers all of Washington state and North Idaho. The award celebrates the community bank or credit union that closed the most standard SBA loans in the district during the recently concluded SBA fiscal year. The award measures only traditional SBA 7(a) loans. This doesn’t include the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans that resulted from Covid-19 legislation and represented the lion’s share of SBA funding in 2020.
  • Rep. Dan Newhouse named four Kennewick students as winners of the 2020 Central Washington Congressional App Challenge, an app-designing competition for K-12 students: Brianna Simpson of Richland High School, Conner Anderson of Chiawana High School, Taran Zorn of Kamiakin High School and Erika Gaskins of Southridge High School worked as a team to design the winning app, “Llama Trauma.” All four students are seniors attending the Tri-Tech Skills Center, a cooperative program that provides students with technical and professional skills training they might not receive in conventional high schools. Their app puts the user in the role of a scarecrow tasked with protecting crops being grown for a food bank from hungry llamas. The students designed the app to draw attention to the growing problem of food insecurity in the United States and encourage Americans to donate to their local food banks.
  • John Eschenberg, president and chief executive officer of Washington River Protection Solutions, has been named as a “CEO Who Gets It,” an annual recognition presented by the National Safety Council to leaders who go above and beyond to protect employees both on and off the job. Each year, the council selects a group of national and international CEOs who have demonstrated an ongoing commitment to safety. Each honoree has built his or her organization’s safety strategy using four key components: leadership and employee engagement, safety management solutions, risk reduction and performance measurement. Eschenberg is among eight recipients for 2021.
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