Ah, the Pike Place Market: fresh fish, fresh roses, fresh tourists. Funny how Seattleites take this landmark for granted, considering that the Market was almost demolished during the '60s. Before World War II the majority of the Market's farmers were Japanese-American citizens; when the US government seized their land and sent them to internment camps, the Market crashed (call it karma), and a movement formed to put the place out of its misery. Lucky for us, the Friends of the Market mounted a successful campaign to save the landmark through a 1971 ballot initiative, which, among other things, vowed to maintain the Market's housing and services for low-income people.
Remembering this promise, the group formed the Pike Place Market Foundation after a second Market crisis in 1982, renewing their commitment "to preserve the traditions and diversity of the Market community." They do this by raising funds to support the operation of the Market's human service agencies—Pike Place Market Medical Clinic, Pike Place Market Child Care & Preschool, Pike Place Market Senior Center, and the Downtown Food Bank, to name a few—who provide food, health care, shelter, child care, companionship, and employment assistance to downtown's nearly 10,000 low-income and elderly residents.
Other examples of the Foundation in action include providing funding for low-income housing projects, funding a food coupon program (Market Fresh), operating a program that redistributes unsold farm produce to downtown meal programs (Food Link), and providing tours of the Market. Since 1982 they've granted more than $5 million to programs in the Market neighborhood. Last year they funded 1,272 comprehensive medical care visits to the Market's Medical Clinic, scholarships for 20 low-income families at the Market's Child Care & Preschool, 11,250 bags of emergency groceries at its Food Bank, 9,588 visits to the Market's Senior Center, 17,500 Market Fresh coupons, and 30,000 pounds of produce through their Food Link program. With your help, they'll grant more than $375,000 this year.
Hmmm, so maybe there's more to Pike Place Market than watching men throw fish at each other. If you'd like to get involved (in donating to or volunteering for the Foundation, not fish-tossing), call 682-7453 or visit their Web site at www.pikeplacemarket.org/foundation/index.html. Or feel free to drop some money into Rachel, the Foundation's 550-pound bronze pig.