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REC to hold festive sunset meeting for 10 years of service

With little more than three months left of existence, the Lower Yakima Valley Rural Enterprise Community (REC) is planning on going out in style.

Tuesday night, members of the REC board met to hear reports about how some of the funds they recently distributed are being spent, and how they are going to commemorate the organization's 10 years of work.

Dec. 31, the local REC, like all rural enterprise communities across the country, will dissolve after having spent 10 years distributing grant funds for different projects that helped benefit the local community.

Joan Souders, REC board chair, said after the group's last meeting she was approached by Sunnyside Community Hospital officials wanting to host a sunset meeting for the board. Souders reported that the hospital said it would host the event, and include cookies, coffee and juice.

The sunset meeting will serve as a farewell to REC and to recognize all of the people who have helped the board over the past decade. Souders said she is expecting about 50 people to attend the meeting, which will take place Nov. 16.

Souders then asked board members if they would be willing to head out into the communities of the Lower Valley to photograph some of the projects REC has been a part of. She said the pictures will then be included in a PowerPoint presentation to be made during the sunset meeting.

A few of the projects that will be discussed during the sunset meeting include several that were discussed Tuesday night.

Sandra Linde with Sunnyside Community Hospital talked about how the $5,000 that was recently granted to her project is already being utilized. Linde said orders have been made for hands-on medical models, including skeletons for Sunnyside High School, Sunnyside Christian High School, Grandview High School, Grandview Middle School and Harrison Middle School.

Linde said things are also coming together for the certified nursing training that is being made possible thanks to REC funds. She said the curriculum has been reviewed and a teacher has been found.

"So we're just moving ahead," Linde said.

Linde also reported on how some of the initial funds granted to the hospital from REC have been put to use. She said because of the funds the hospital was able to host an education day for seniors interested in doing their senior project on a job in the medical field. She said after the one-day seminar, 22 students were selected to take part in the hospital's senior project program. The students will be matched with a mentor and will have opportunities to volunteer their time at the hospital for the rest of their senior year. Linde explained that Sunnyside seniors are required to spend 15 hours volunteering. She said at the hospital half of those hours will be spent volunteering in a specific area of the hospital that a student is interested in, while the other half will be spent volunteering at different hospital events, like the recent Women's Health Night.

"This would never have happened if it hadn't been for you," Linde told the board.

Chris Gonzalez with Horizon of Sunnyside Inc. said the funds received by the local organization are being used to offer more computer classes to people who need them.

He explained that the funds are being used to offer basic computer classes, as well as more advanced classes that teach people how to use different programs like Excel and PowerPoint.

Gonzalez said the more advanced classes not only help local business owners learn how to use the computer to better the way they do business, they also help make people more employable.

According to Gonzalez, since having received initial funding from REC, Horizon had served 75 students in its computer classes, 35 students through its Spanish as a Second Language computer program, and has given 55 students working on their GED access to computers. In total, 295 people have had access to Horizon's technology center.

Cristina Klatovsky with the Washington Migrant Council talked to the board about how the Sunnyside Community Center has been able to utilize the additional funding it recently received.

She said so far $3,200 of the $5,000 it received has been spent on a variety of new catering equipment for the facility. She said the center has already been able to cater several events thanks to the new equipment, noting it helps give the center a more professional look when it is being used for meetings.

"Now we look more professional, and we need to look professional," Klatovsky said.

The REC board also took a look at their finances. According to the fiscal report, the board has obligated the remainder of its funds with $3,717 left to cover closing costs for the organization.

. Elena Olmstead can be contacted at (509) 837-4500, or e-mail her at eolmstead@eaglenewspapers.com

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