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Originally published November 25, 2013 at 8:10 PM | Page modified November 26, 2013 at 6:46 AM

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KEXP gets help on the way to its new home

KEXP raises funds for its new digs at Seattle Center; autism experts donate their time to raise money; and Mary’s Place helps families find temporary homes.


Seattle Times staff columnist

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“Have you seen the sink?”

Pardon?

Toby Brightled me to the powder room of his First Avenue luxury condo last Tuesday night and stood there, smiling. In front of me, a chunk of the Alaskan Way Viaduct — polished, cut out and fitted with a faucet and drain.

It made sense to see a piece of one Seattle landmark — moved, improved and given new life — when you’re trying to do the same for another.

KEXP kicked off its fundraising campaign for its new Seattle Center digs with a party at the home that Bright shares with Nancy Lee Ward. In the room were potential “Superconductors,” asked to commit to donating $10,000 to the new location. (There’s no moving date — yet).

“We’re here to take action,” Ward said. “We have the power to make the city more vibrant.”

The new Seattle Center relocation will release the station staff from the Dexter Avenue North rabbit warren it is broadcasting from now, and put them in larger digs. It will also be a place the community will be able to watch live broadcasts and in-studio performances, and give visiting artists a way station from the road.

It wasn’t that hard a sell: Everyone there had been giving for years, spurred by a love of music, and of Seattle and Seattle music. (Cracked Kurt Reighley, also known as DJ El Toro: “It’s almost like a cult.”).

Mark Pickerelentertained the crowd with songs from his new album, “Tess,” and praised the station for honoring the late Lou Reed with some 40 hours of music that soothed his sadness.

“The station made a choice not to enforce any rules,” Pickerel said, “and I felt lucky to live somewhere where I felt connected.”

But first, the speeches.

General Manager Tom Maraspoke of KEXP’s start in 1972 as a 10-watt radio station called KCMU.

Now, it’s a $7 million organization, with 1 million people logging onto YouTube every month to see video of its live performances.

(Bright sported a KCMU T-shirt, for which someone offered him $60. “You haven’t seen the armpits yet,” Bright replied.)

DJ Kevin Colespoke of bringing listeners into the station at the new space.

“Imagine the impact we can have on a group of junior-high students,” he said.

Visiting artists will be nurtured, too, with showers and laundry facilities and somewhere to store their gear while they explore the city.

“We’re going to create a home away from home for the artists,” Mara said.

Visiting hours

There were wine tours and Sounders tickets, a tug cruise and seven nights in Bali for eight.

But one of the most meaningful live-auction items at the Festival of Trees/Colors of Autism Gala Dinner & Auction on Saturday night was time with four of the region’s best autism doctors. The meeting, to be held at the home of Jean Thompson, the owner of Seattle Chocolates, includes dinner for six prepared by one of the executive chefs from Bill the Butcher, and wine from Reynvaan Family Vineyards.

“If you’re the parent of a child with autism, to be able to sit down with four experts would give me chills,” said Sabrina Horne, of Lynnwood, whose daughter, Brianna Nicole, 19, is autistic.

“The ideas for treatment you could get ... Priceless,” she said.

The item eventually went for $2,500. All told, the evening — presented by the Dr. Forrest L. Flashman Guild and the Seattle Children’s Autism Guild — raised $429,000 ­for uncompensated care and the Autism Center at Children’s.

In the crowd: Freddi Bolinger, who has been with the Flashman Guild since 1987, and who was treated at Children’s when she was a kid; and her friend, Cyndie Provost, a guild volunteer.

Elijah Winfrey , the vice president of the Autism Guild and a golf pro, donated four different rounds of golf at four courses.

What are bidders up against? Winfrey’s best score is 66, and his average 71.

“I can hold my own,” he said. Modest guy.

Homes for the holidays

There’s a sign on the wall of Mary’s Place that reads, “Beauty is Everywhere.”

That was especially true last Tuesday, when the shelter for women and children opened its doors to donors and volunteers for a Supporter Appreciation Event.

That support comes in many forms.

There was Seattle City Councilmember Nick Licata, describing the fight it took to get $880,000 in funding into the proposed 2014 budget to move homeless families and young adults off the street and into housing. (That includes $130,000 to preserve 20 beds at the YouthCare shelter at the base of Capitol Hill.)

“I had so much opposition,” Licata said of some of his fellow council members. “They saw it as a sign of weakness, of not finding a permanent solution, only a temporary one. Well, would you rather transition with a roof over your head, or without?”

He was preaching to the choir, especially Mary’s Place Executive Director Marty Hartman; board President Joan Ernest; longtime board member JJ McKay ; donors Pamela Merrimanand Sonya Ross;and Jennifer Harnish, whose family foundation provided a matching grant to redo the shelter’s kitchen.

From that kitchen came a steady stream of appetizers donated by Shanik restaurant owner Meeru Dhalwala , and delivered by Shanik staffer Rose Freitaswith the help of shelter chef Lauren Santos.

Santos, formerly homeless, volunteers 130 hours a month between Mary’s Place and the Emmanuel shelter. She’ll be preparing 24 turkeys for Thanksgiving.

“My life is better,” she said, “when I do things for other people.”

Beauty. It’s everywhere.

Nicole Brodeur’s column appears Tuesday and Sunday. Reach her at 206-464-2334 or nbrodeur@seattletimes.com.



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