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A publication for and about state employees

Harbor Days benefits the community, sponsors and coordinator

Harbor Days-ReliableHarbor Days LogoBy Dick Pust
FTE News Magazine

Harbor Days is one of the last major community events of the summer. It draws thousands to Olympia’s Percival Landing and beyond. It’s fun for the whole family, and benefits lots of people. Harbor Days, is held on Labor Day weekend. What is it that makes this event so successful while others may struggle? Perhaps it’s the prime sponsor – the Olympia Kiwanis Club. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s their dynamic executive director Shelly Lively!

Lively and I met recently at the Budd Bay Café, a location where Harbor Days activities can be viewed from the restaurant windows and outdoor eating area. Lively, owner of Lively Productions, told me she had been moving away from event management to concentrate more on her business, but when she was approached by the Olympia Kiwanis Club a few years ago, she couldn’t say no. She liked knowing this event is more than just another community activity. Because of the relationship with the Olympia Kiwanis Club, any money made would help kids and people in need.

Harbor Days began years ago with a single event – tugboat races. Under sponsorship of the South Sound Maritime Association, the event grew into a major Labor Day weekend celebration, but as members of the sponsoring association got older and fewer in number, it was decided to let someone else take over. The Olympia Kiwanis Club stepped up to the challenge. That turned out to be a win-win situation. The Kiwanis Club gets more exposure and earns money for club projects while the South Sound Maritime Association gets paid a $5,000 guarantee each year, allowing its members to concentrate on their true passion, maritime history.

It might seem like a huge undertaking for any service club. No doubt it is, but their executive director, Shelly Lively, makes it look easy. Under her management, the Olympia Kiwanis Club last year had an estimated profit of $18,000 after expenses. Some 250 arts, crafts, and commercial vendors on Percival Landing made money, too. Local hotels and established businesses benefited as well, through the tourism impact. Past Olympia Kiwanis president Jon Halvorson describes Lively as a businesswoman who knows what she is doing.

Lively was born in Burien, grew up in Packwood, and graduated from Puyallup High School in 1989. She moved to Olympia about 10 years ago where she met her husband Michael Warner, who works for WSECU. They have no children, but have three dogs and two cats. “That’s my family,” she says.

Besides managing Harbor Days and running her successful business, Lively devotes a great deal of time to taking care of her 72-year-old mother, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease about 5-years ago. Lively says it was her husband who suggested her mother move in with them. “He is so good to her,” Lively said. But taking care of someone with Alzheimer’s can be almost a full time job. Her mother needs almost constant supervision. She can’t be left alone very long. “Maybe half an hour while I run to the store, but that’s about it,” Lively said. Fortunately, programs such as Stars and other services are able to fill in the gaps when she and her husband aren’t there.

Lively says her mother’s condition has inspired her to make a documentary on Alzheimer’s. The tentative title is “The Long Goodbye.” It’ll run just under an hour and will feature real people who have been touched by Alzheimer’s. Lively said she hopes the production will be picked up by a major distributor such as PBS. If the documentary makes any money, all proceeds will go to the Alzheimer’s Council.
In the meantime, Harbor Days is just around the corner. What’s new this year? Lively is excited about the participation of Tacoma Rail, which will have a presence on nearby railroad tracks to show its working relationship with the Port of Olympia (Tacoma Rail by-the-way, is celebrating its 100th birthday). Oh, and . . . Lively would be upset with me if I didn’t mention their major sponsor, Olympia Federal Savings. She said events like this wouldn’t happen without support from businesses like Olympia Federal. And knowing that FTE News Magazine is read by a lot of state employees, Lively wanted to point out that the Washington Federation of State Employees is one of their important sponsors too. A lot of individuals, organizations, and businesses put a lot of work into making Harbor Days happen. All the rest of us have to do is simply enjoy it!

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