A reflection dreamt and written by Mesha Florentino, DNDA’s Co-Executive Director of Housing & Finance.
As the last echoes of laughter fade and the stars take their places in the night sky, we pause to reflect on an evening that we will forever hold close to our hearts — Wine in the Woods. The early October night was enchanted with nature’s warm embrace of our community gathering to bring shared dreams to life.
Our community showed up to celebrate the launch of local initiatives — packaged in DNDA’s Capital Campaign — with fervor and excitement. The campaign is an ongoing effort to raise support for foundational projects, including vital renovations to Youngstown Cultural Arts Center and the completion of the Delridge Wetland Park project. We particularly highlighted progress on the Delridge Wetland Park, which will provide a unifying space for community and an outdoor classroom for local youth to engage in hands-on environmental science. Our donors helped raise a large portion of the funds for the project in a single night.
In the company of cherished friends, family, and long-time supporters, our team at DNDA witnessed the sheer power of unity. Conversations focused on making our community more inclusive for all beings — human, animal, and plant — flowed like calm streams, and laughter echoed through the garden. We were in awe at the strength and passion of our neighbors amid the fall blooms and towering trees.
Our minds were graced by the inspiring words of Merica Whitehall of The Valtas Group and former executive director of Nature Consortium, which merged with DNDA in 2016. Merica activated our supporters to feel a connection to the earth, the Delridge Wetland Park, and DNDA’s commitment to preserving, protecting, and expanding the lovely nature that surrounds us.
The culinary artistry of chef Mulu Abate from Phresh Eats nourished our bodies and souls, utilizing complex flavors and innovative dishes. As guests enjoyed their meals, they were brought to tears by a personal story from Shannon Woodard, DNDA’s board treasurer. She shared details of the moment she and her young daughter connected to our beautiful land, and the appreciation they gained for the ancestral homelands of the Coast Salish people.
The voices of our youth touched all of our hearts. With wisdom beyond their years, Darian Bernard and Soamory English shared their experiences in DNDA’s paid internship program for teens though this year’s Summer Youth Program, hosted in collaboration with the Seattle Housing Authority. Their presence was a reminder of the responsibility we bear to nurture their growth.
“The internship program taught me things about my community that I don’t think I would have ever learned, like how car tires pollute the runoff that ends up in Longfellow Creek,” Darian said. “I really appreciate DNDA for paying the interns so we could participate and learn about the environment and our community.”
As the night progressed, our live artists, Reeve Washburn and Toka Valu, created nature-inspired paintings. Reeve’s interpretative piece and Toka’s majestic salmon were auctioned in support of the capital campaign. Throughout the night, we were soothed by live music from Benjamin Hunter and band. Wine donated by Viscon Cellars kept our hearts warm as the sky cooled us in the night.
At the end of the night, our donors had contributed $32,035, for which we are eternally grateful. DNDA’s supporters helped us get closer to our total capital campaign goal of $6 million. David Bestock, DNDA’s capital campaign director, leads us as we push for the last $1.2 million to raise. If you would like to learn more about the Delridge Wetland Park and donate, click here.
Wine in the Woods 2023 would not have been possible without our friends, supporters, and amazing events director, Erika Bell. DNDA appreciates your investments in our communities.