We are never far away from a fundraising event on the North Coast. One of the biggest – Columbia Memorial Hospital’s dinner and auction – is this Saturday. Funds raised at the auction will mainly be used for expanding CMH’s cancer care, including financial support for screenings for those in need. In two weeks, the Swing for Charity event will benefit the Providence Seaside Hospital Foundation and the Seaside Downtown Development Association. Providence’s share will be used for emergency life-saving equipment; SDDA’s will be used for downtown beautification.

The North Coast – as state Sen. Betsy Johnson frequently notes – is remarkable for the level of giving at its charitable dinners and auctions. Already this year, there have been similar events for the Knappa Schools Foundation, Clatsop Community College and Hope House.

Philanthropy is one key indicator of economic health in rural communities. Another is the ability to import funds from large regional sources. For a natural resources-dependent rural area to turn the corner and join the new economy, knowing how to network with regional foundations and charitable trusts is essential.

Since its founding 50 years ago, the Columbia River Maritime Museum has been one of the most effectively networked local nonprofit organizations. Tyler Graf reported Tuesday that the museum has been awarded $425,000 in May. The object of the museum’s big push is the $2.5 million redevelopment of the former Astoria railroad station, which Burlington Northern gave to the museum in 1987.

Renewing the old railway station will bring life to a dead zone. That transformation is a very big deal for downtown Astoria as well as the Gateway zone.

The ability of all these organizations to raise money from those of us who live here as well as from large regional funders is essential to progress in the Columbia-Pacific region.

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