The Olympia Collective of Lady Arm Wrestlers, known as Oly CLAW, has raised $4,520 to help low-income women in need.
A fundraiser late last month at the Brotherhood Lounge benefited the nonprofit Parents Organizing for Welfare and Economic Rights, known as POWER.
Oly CLAW blends charity, female empowerment and theatrics by featuring local arm wrestlers with stage names such as Dr. Frank-N-Hurt-Her, Stone Cold Stevie Nicks, Rainbow Brat and Helen Killer.
POWER executive director Monica Peabody joined the fun as Big Mama, with a costumed “Momtourage” of fellow board members tossing fruit snacks to the audience. She said the donations will help keep the doors open at the POWER headquarters at 309 Fifth Ave. SE in downtown Olympia.
For about 18 years, POWER has supported local low-income families, educating clients about their rights in the welfare system. POWER also hosts weekly meetings of the Women’s Economic Collaborative, which serves as a support network.
“People know they have somebody on their side,” said Peabody, who raised her daughter as a single mother. “Sometimes you really have to fight for basic necessities your family might need.”
Oly CLAW has donated nearly $8,500 to local charities since founder Maureen Maples organized its inaugural event in May 2014. That event raised $1,628 for SafePlace, a nonprofit organization that serves victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. In October 2014, the second Oly CLAW event raised $2,346 for the Garden-Raised Bounty program, known as GRuB, which has built more than 2,300 backyard and community gardens in the area since 1993.
The most recent event was the biggest yet, Maples said. The overall winner was local surgeon Bethanie White, who competed as Rosella D’Evil. Planning has begun for the next event, with a date and location to be announced.
“Each time, it just gets better and better,” said Maples, who credits the event’s success to in-kind donations and the community-minded culture of Olympia. “We have such a willingness to contribute in the community. It’s really moving.”