Definition of an Institution

An institution is not defined by a building or the number or type of people in it. Rather, an institution is defined by the experience of it residence. If the residents feel that they are treated with love, dignity and respect, and they feel welcomed and accepted, it’s not an institution, just another type of home.

Comments Off on Definition of an Institution


A few years ago, I was looking for a fun and innovative way to volunteer and give back to my community. The Women’s Philanthropic Investment Group of Seattle (WPIG) was the perfect fit for me. Founded in 2008, WPIG is committed to serving the emotional, developmental and physical needs of women and children by contributing financial donations and donations of time and energy. Our intent is to help women and children move from places of need to self sufficiency and stability. We meet our goals through smart investment practices, fundraising, volunteering and our annual silent art auction, Pigture Perfect.

Picture perfect, WPIG, logo

Pigture Perfect Silent Art Auction is on Nov. 4

WPIG seeks out organizations with values and goals that align with our mission of supporting women and children. Our 2010 and 2011 charity is Ryther. WPIG has chosen to carry out our mission through volunteering our time, energy and compassion to support the amazing work that happens at Ryther.

Volunteering at Ryther has been a wonderful experience for me and for the rest of our members. Last year, WPIG planned and facilitated a night of fall and Halloween themed arts and crafts activities for the children living at Ryther. The night was such a hit that WPIG will be planning another similar event at the end of this month. In addition to the Halloween night, WPIG also had a great time washing vans and cleaning up the Ryther campus during the summer of 2010.

Ryther, WPIG, volunteer, donate, events, Pigture

A WPIG member washing a Ryther van

In addition to volunteering on the Ryther campus, WPIG will be donating funds raised at our annual art action, Pigture Perfect. The auction will be held November 4th, 2011 at the Fremont Abbey Arts Center. WPIG members have been working hard to procure art and other donations for the event. Our blog is currently featuring a “sneak peek” of current art donations. Check it out at For more information about Pigture Perfect, please visit our website at

Edna Merrick Maddalena


Volunteer Spotlight: Jody Ericson Dorow

Jody Ericson Dorow, Ryther, cottage, campus, baking, cookie

Jody & her mom baking cookies with the children

Jody Ericson Dorow, one of Ryther’s valued volunteers, has been volunteering with the children at Ryther for two years. She started with her friends, Nancy Gellos and Marlen Boivin, a select custom publishing company, ShinShinChez. They recently published TENDER: farmers, cooks, eaters with Chef Tamara Murphy and are just finishing up Passion & Palate: Recipes for a Generous Table with Chef John Howie. She is a regular contributor to the blog


What do you do when you come to Ryther?

I help in the gardens with Fritz, who is the master gardener and a retired teacher at Ryther, and sometimes with the kids. I also have done baking and cooking projects in the cottages. My mom, who’s 86, comes with me quite often too. She’s done a lot of cooking and gardening here.


Ryther, children, baking, cottage, campus

Ryther kids baking brownies

Tell us about gardening here at Ryther:

Fritz is the master gardener, and I help upkeep the gardens. Fritz understands the power of involvement with the kids, and he will frequently invite them to participate in germinating and planting seeds or watering plants. They listen very carefully to Fritz explain how to plant and water a plant to protect it, and then they plant it themselves. When I am in the gardens later, the kids will come over to make sure that the plants are being watered correctly. So they have listened well and they feel connected to the gardens, which is very empowering.

ryther, campus, gardens, Charlie Ainslie Photography

Each cottage at Ryther has a garden with flowers and vegetables.

When things grow, the kids have the opportunity of selecting a cucumber or a squash and being able to eat it. The hope is eventually to be able to grow meals for the cottages from food they’ve actually grown. This fall we’re hoping to take a trip to the farmers’ market to do a little shopping and a little cooking and show the kids some food grown by actual farmers.


What is your favorite part about coming to Ryther?

Everything at Ryther has been exciting, and it’s different every time I come. I always learn something from the staff or the kids, about what our priorities in life should really be. It keeps us grounded and connected to the community. Also, there’s such good energy here because people are truly contributing, and that’s a positive feeling.


What plans do you have for the future at Ryther?

We’re trying to incorporate both of our books into fund raising efforts with the Ryther League. For example, we’re looking at using TENDER: farmers, cooks, eaters with Chef Tamara Murphy as an item at the upcoming Hearts for Hope Auction, and possibly Passion & Palate with Chef John Howie. I would like to do more to share what I’ve learned here, as well as help other people contribute to keep Ryther vibrant and with the resources it needs.


You’ve recently published a cookbook with local chef Tamara Murphy. What is the message of the book?

TENDER: farmers, cooks, eaters is a book about our connection with food. As we become more aware, we see how each of us plays an important role in what we eat, how it is cooked and how it is grown.  You are either a farmer, a cook or an eater…or a combination of these roles, so how can we take simple steps to enjoy good food in our lives.




Comments Off on Volunteer Spotlight: Jody Ericson Dorow