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by Skye K. Richendrfer, October 20, 2013

I wanna play tunes!

I wanna play tunes!

“Overhead” seems like such an unglamorous label to affix to my roll at the Celtic Arts Foundation (CAF).  But no matter how you slice it—that’s me.  While it is true that my work might be more eloquently explained as “finance” (figuring out how to pay for stuff), “development” (money grubbing), or “program” (searching for venues and performers), or perhaps my favorite; “marketing” (getting butts in the pews) the simple fact is that it costs money to do all of those things.  My usual refrain is that “sure seems like a lot of work to get the chance to play a few tunes!”

One common misconception about non-profit organizations is that somehow a numeric ratio of overhead to program is a magical indicator of effectiveness.   Having been around the block in the public sector and fulltime in the non-profit sector now for ten years, my key learning is this:  it costs money to do stuff!  While probably premature to call the Nobel Economics Prize committee to inform them of this enlightenment, it isn’t far off to claim that as philanthropic and economic realities ebb and flow, the constant remains that it “costs money to do stuff!”

Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of our friends and members, CAF has been extremely effective in capital campaign fundraising for our new Littlefield Celtic Cultural Center— to date raising about $750,000 in donations and pledges.  While the excitement of all the wonderful programming that will occur in our new facility is palpable; the other reality is that some sucker has got to figure out what things will cost and how to pay for it!

That’s right, more overhead looms like the autumn fog we’ve seen so much of around our region in the past weeks.  Fortunately, and thanks in no small part to the financial sophistication we have with some current and past Board members, we’re in the midst of doing long-range detailed budgeting.  Part of our new funding strategy is to seek operational funding from Foundations to support new programming, but it goes without saying that to do quality Celtic programming, means figuring out details about a fair number of currently unknown factors.

In the meantime, our building project progresses, with schematic plans being created by architects, and set to be unveiled at our upcoming November 3rd Standing Scones Scottish Brunch Fundraising event (learn more about that here).

Construction is slated to begin around May 1 of 2014, and the new facility completed by December of 2014.  And true to form, we’re already working on the grand opening event in 2014, now we just have to figure out how to pay for it!


Jeremiah MacKay Memorial Scholarship Announced

by Skye K. Richendrfer, May 3, 2013

Jeremiah MacKay

It is an all too sad and familiar story; a deranged killer in a single moment performs some heinous act, leaving behind devastated family, friends and loved ones.  By all accounts, San Bernardino County Sheriff Deputy Jeremiah MacKay was a cop’s cop – someone who loved his work, and was committed to his family and community.  In February of 2013, Jeremiah was killed in a gun battle with former LAPD officer Christopher Dorner.  You can read accounts of all of this here.

Ironically had this tragedy befallen some other law enforcement officer, Jeremiah may well have played his beloved pipes at the memorial service.  As it was, thousands gathered for what was, by all accounts, an extremely emotional service, highlighted by the presence of scores of pipers.

Upon learning of Jeremiah’s senseless death, one of our friends and CelticArtsWinterSchool students, Ms. Billie Narver was compelled to do something associated with piping to honor Jeremiah.  She contacted us and asked what would be involved to create a new scholarship fund to make it possible for “seasoned” pipers who might not otherwise be able to attend, to come to our Seabeck, WA Winter School.  The matter was taken up in March by our Board, who decided to establish the Jeremiah MacKay Memorial Scholarship Fund.  After a few discussions and e-mails, Billie quickly decided to fund an annual scholarship, kicking things off with a donation of $1000 for a full tuition and room and board scholarship for the February 2014 Winter School.  A few others of us have also made small donations to this new fund, the idea being to build a scholarship fund to continue in Jeremiah’s honor in perpetuity.

In discussions with Billie and our Board, the determination was made to award the inaugural Jeremiah MacKay Memorial Winter School Scholarship to someone actively involved in public safety.  It seemed to all of us, that awarding the first scholarship to New York City Firefighter and piper James Lee was especially appropriate.  James participated in WinterSchool a few years ago; however in the past couple, with a growing young family and demands of the job, has found it impossible to attend.  When informed that he was going to be awarded this new scholarship, he replied that he was “just so honored and blown away” to receive this opportunity.

We are pleased to offer this scholarship vehicle to honor Jeremiah MacKay, a true American hero.

If you would like to make a tax deductible donation to the Celtic Arts Foundation Jeremiah MacKay Memorial Scholarship Fund, please enter the amount below and click the “Donate Now” button to complete by providing your credit card information.

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Donations may also be sent to:

Celtic Arts Foundation
ATTN;  Jeremiah MacKay Memorial Scholarship
PO Box 1342
Mount Vernon, WA  98273