It’s a soggy Monday morning at Polly Judd Park, located just above the bluff at the far western end of 14th Avenue on the South Hill.
Yet it wasn’t rain that made Pam Deutschman realize the park badly needed a picnic shelter, it was the scorching hot sun. Deutschman and her husband Tom have been putting on a neighborhood pancake feed in the park every other weekend since 2003. And two years ago, on a hot summer day, a woman fainted during the breakfast quite possibly because there was no place to find shade.
That woman was Bobbee Judd Eddy, no other than Polly Judd’s daughter, whom Deutschman had just recently met.
The two women met because the Deutschmans live in Polly Judd’s old house on the north rim of the park, and one day – during a Judd family reunion at the park – Deutschman found Bobbee Judd Eddy wandering around her yard. Deutschman immediately invited anyone from the reunion to come up the little hill and see Polly Judd’s original home.
“I wasn’t part of the neighborhood council or anything like that, it was more like a series of events that got me into this. It’s a convoluted story,” Deutschman said, about how she ended up spearheading fundraising for the Polly Judd Park picnic shelter. On Sunday at noon, the Deutschmans are having a fundraising pancake feed at the park to benefit the construction of a picnic shelter.
“It’s a potluck, so bring a dish to share,” said Deutschman. “We provide pancakes, syrup, butter and paper wares as always. And we are asking for donations.”
It was a rather unusual letter that got Deutschman going in her new role as fundraiser.
“One morning there is this $500 check in the mail at my house, addressed to Polly Judd Park,” said Deutschman. “It came from the Associated Garden Clubs of Spokane and I had no idea why it was at my house.”
Then she began connecting the dots:
Polly Judd was very involved in the Associated Garden Clubs of Spokane, starting way back in the 1930s. Deutschman figured the Judd connection was the reason she’d received that check.
All it said was that the money should go to the park.
“I was very busy at the time all this happened and I’m not the type of person who naturally takes on a project like this,” said Deutschman. “I don’t like talking in front of people.”
Yet today she is more than halfway toward the $30,000 that must be raised by summer to match another grant that will make the picnic shelter a reality.
“We only have about $10,000 to go and that’s why we are having this special fundraising pancake breakfast,” said Deutschman. “Any donation counts. If you can give $5 or you can give $100 – anything counts.”
The Historic Cannon’s Addition Community Development Board has committed $10,000 to the picnic shelter.
Steve Spickard, chairman of the steering committee, explained that half of that money is community development funds from federal grants.
“We are very committed to this project,” said Spickard. “We are also planning a garage sale on April 16-18. We’ll take donated items from April 14 and up to the sale.”
Deutschman was surprised by the help and support she received from neighbors, friends and officials once she began fundraising.
“A friend helped me make up a flier to hand out,” said Deutschman. She’s especially thankful for help from the Spokane Parks Foundation’s executive director Toni Nersesian and from the Spokane Parks Department’s Taylor Bressler. Donations to the picnic shelter are managed by the Parks Foundation and they are tax deductible.
Deutschman has door-belled at 350 houses – she’s still got 150 fliers left and she’s going to continue the campaign until she runs out of fliers.
“I’m really out of my comfort zone asking other people for money – but the reception I’m getting has been wonderful,” said Deutschman. “Most people look at the flier and say, ‘thank you for what you are doing.’ ”