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Community is Bedrock

Oak View Group, NHL Seattle and partners join to donate $1 million to United Way for distributing food vouchers to families in need, plus provide timely support for nonprofit groups at Seattle Center

by Bob Condor / @NHLSeattle_ / NHLSeattle.com

NHL Seattle CEO Tod Leiweke is resolute about the new franchise "being much more than a sports team" and says he believes "community is bedrock to what Oak View Group and NHL Seattle do."

A case in point is Tuesday's announcement that OVG and NHL Seattle leadership, staff and partners have raised $1 million to support local at-risk families in Seattle and nonprofit organizations on the Seattle Center campus.

Mayor Jenny A. Durkan noted the City of Seattle's grocery voucher program would be expanded with the OVG/NHL donation to United Way of King County. The United Way organization will distribute $800,000 in grocery vouchers to working people who have recently lost their jobs or experienced a significant reduction in hours due to the COVID-19 pandemic, making it highly challenging to buy food for their families. The Mayor's earlier $5 million investment supplied vouchers to 6,250 families currently enrolled in city-supported child-care and food assistance programs.

"Our region is transitioning from having one of the lowest unemployment rates anywhere to seeing unemployment claims soar statewide," said Durkan. "These grocery vouchers will be critical to helping workers put food on the table. I'm deeply grateful to our partners at OVG and NHL Seattle for their donation to support these efforts."

"Our NHL and New Arena dreams for Seattle were born out of a strong collaboration and partnership with the City to create something powerful and lasting for our community," said Leiweke. "In that spirit, we are committed to giving back to those among us with an urgent and immediate need."

What's more, NHL Seattle will wire a total of $200,000 in grants Tuesday to 21 Seattle Center nonprofit organizations to help mitigate the continued effects of COVID-19 on artists and cultural organization tenants at the Seattle Center campus.

"Seattle has become our heart, our soul and our home," said Tim Leiweke, CEO of Oak View Group. "When people in your home are suffering and in need, it's critical that we reach out and do everything we can to help during this difficult time.

"We are proud of our partnership with Mortenson, Silverlake, NHL Seattle and David Bonderman. We are also proud of our partnership with Mayor Durkan, the city of Seattle and this community that is pulling together to do everything it can to help those in need. Our commitment to this community is an enduring one."

"The nonprofit resident organizations on campus have filled our lives with joy, hope and inspiration for decades, bringing dance, music, theater, film, radio, visual arts and science to millions of people throughout our community," said Mari Horita, NHL Seattle vice president of community engagement and philanthropy. "Theirs is a labor of love, of believing in the power of arts and culture to uplift and unite and build a stronger community. The current crisis has shuttered doors and darkened stages, and in some cases threatens their very survival."

The 21 organizations include A/NT Gallery; Book-It Repertory Theatre; Cornish Playhouse; KCTS/Cascade Public Media; KEXP; KING-FM; MoPOP; Northwest Folklife; Pacific Northwest Ballet; Pacific Science Center; Pottery Northwest; Seattle Children's Museum; Seattle Children's Theatre; Seattle Opera; Seattle Repertory Theatre; Seattle Shakespeare Company; Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF); Skate Like a Girl; TeenTix; Theatre of Puget Sound and The VERA Project. In addition, the City of Seattle is forgiving April and May rents for all nonprofit organizations and artists that rent City-owned facilities.

"The scale of their losses dwarf what we are able to address," said Horita. "But as a future neighbor, we made these gifts as a heartfelt gesture of support and solidarity. Also, if we can raise awareness of their plight and encourage others to support, that helps too.

"As we emerge from this crisis, the arts will be more important than ever to help us process, grieve, heal and come back stronger than before. We are grateful for the difference they make and look forward to sharing the Seattle Center Campus with them in a brighter tomorrow."

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