News Columns & Blogs

Reach out to help Haiti through reputable area charities

The tragedy still unfolding today in Haiti reminds us of two important things: One, be careful that you make donations to reputable charities; and, two, that we should all prepare for another earthquake at home.

Next month marks the anniversary of the Nisqually Earthquake in February, which is a good reminder that disasters strike without warning. The American Red Cross Web site provides excellent information on emergency preparedness.

If you’re going to donate money to help the victims of the Haiti quake, make sure you’re dealing with reputable organizations. The Web site Charity Navigator ( independently evaluates the financial health of over 5,400 of America’s largest charities and rates them based on the percentage of income going directly to its programs.

Some recommended charities include Doctors Without Borders, Mercy Corps, American Red Cross, UNICEF, Oxfam International, World Vision and Save the Children.

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The City of Tumwater will welcome its new city administrator on Jan. 26. John Doan, who has held a similar post at the city of Sumner for 18 years, replaces the retiring Doug Baker.

Tumwater made a good choice. Doan has a tremendous capacity to galvanize diverse ideas and thoughts and make good things happen. Here’s an example that I’ve personally witnessed: While on a tour of the new YMCA in Gig Harbor, Doan got inspired. According to Pierce County YMCA Chief Executive Officer Bob Ecklund, “A lot of people have those moments, but within two weeks he had the (Sumner) Community Center Task Force on a bus there and that’s how the (new Sumner) YMCA was born.”

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We said goodbye to Mary Segawa on Friday on her last day as executive director of Together. She’s going to a position with the State Liquor Control Board. Segawa has been with the youth organization since 1996 and at the helm for the last seven years. The nonprofit is going to miss her compassion and dedication.

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I’m one of those geeks who believe we should all actually read the U.S. Constitution.

In some ways, it’s like a sports game: Unless you know the rules, you can’t fully understand what all the players are doing.

That’s why I support “We The People,” a public school program that makes it fun for elementary through high school students to learn about our nation’s founding document. It culminates in an annual state competition between high school teams on the Capitol Campus in Olympia the week before the Legislature convenes.

This year, almost 1,000 students put their constitutional knowledge to the test through the district and state competitions.

Mount Tahoma High School from Tacoma won the state event, followed by River’s Edge High School from Richland and Evergreen High School from Vancouver.

The U.S. Congress, through the Department of Education, funds the program. But even more kids could gain constitutional knowledge if this state would throw its support behind the program by encouraging principals and teachers to make it part of their curriculum.

You can watch all of the “We The People” state hearings on the TVW Web site’s “Engaged Citizen” series. (Full disclosure: I have been a state “We The People” judge for several years.)

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On today’s front page, The Olympian’s managing editor, Jerry Wakefield, details the improvements we’re making to your newspaper. Foremost among them is a daily full-color comics page and an easy-to-use puzzle and entertainment page.

We engaged a panel of local readers to help decide on the new lineup of comics.

You’ll notice that we’ve retired some of the old comics to make way for some fresh new ones.

George Le Masurier, publisher of The Olympian, can be reached at 360-357-0206 or