Nearly three decades later, Albert Haller’s legacy — and generosity — keeps on giving.
Representatives with the Albert Haller Foundation, an nonprofit organization formed in 1992 to help fund charitable programs throughout Clallam County, announced on Dec. 3 their most recent round of grants totaling $184,500.
With the grants — including 12 scholarships worth $8,000 to graduating Clallam County high school seniors, $75,000 to the Peninsula College “Promise Scholarship” fund, $11,000 to Peninsula Behavioral Health and $2,500 for the George Peabody Memorial scholarship — the Albert Haller Foundation finished 2019 with $434,500 in funding for 2019.
In the 28 years since its inception, the foundation has given to various community groups and projects, primarily focused on education,family and medical services, of about $10 million, foundation president Gary Smith said.
Local groups apply for the grants each year and are screened by the United Way, he said.
“They’ve got a good idea of where (funds will) do the best good,” Smith said.
A five-member board oversees the foundation’s funds that started with about $9.2 million from Haller’s estate in 1992. Smith is joined by: vice president Dick Schneider, a longtime local businessman (J&D Trucking), a business associate of Haller’s and board member since the foundation’s inception; Dave Blake, a peninsula native, former CEO of Blake Sand & Gravel and a former Sequim School Board member of 30 years; along with superintendents from the Sequim (Rob Clark) and Port Angeles (Marty Brewer) school districts.
Smith has more than a business connection with the foundation. Smith and his wife, Dianne, moved from New York to Sequim in 1986 and soon learned their neighbors were the Haller family along the Dungeness River. They soon became close friends, Smith said.
He and Haller were fishing buddies, and when asked to join the foundation, Smith recalled telling Haller, “I’d be glad to spend your money.”
Albert Haller and his wife, Julia, are rooted in Sequim’s history. He was born in Port Angeles in 1903 to Sequim Valley pioneers Max and Anna Haller. The 10th of 13 children, Haller began working in the woods at an early age. He began logging in the era of horses and continued through steam donkeys and caterpillar tractors to the modern technology of the late 20th century.
Haller began selective logging in the Lost Mountain district in 1937 and “built a reputation as a careful and competent logger,” according to the foundation website. The couple began buying land, expanding log sales beyond the Olympic Peninsula and at one time was the largest independent land owner in Clallam County. The logging company was disbanded after his wife’s death in 1954 and Haller turned to land development. He sold acreage on Bell Hill and began developing eastern additions to the city of Sequim.
Haller was working on the Dungeness Heights development at the time of his death in 1992, at the age of 88.
Albert and Julia Haller had developed a deep commitment to help others in the community over the years; family members recall that they never forgot being denied a loan for $400 in order to expand their early business and, consequently, they made a several loans to help businesses that could not qualify for bank financing. They also offered each of their children and grandchildren funds for college education, having regretted their lack of formal education.
In 1989, Haller proposed a foundation in his name. As provided in his will, the foundation was formed as a nonprofit 501(c)3 “to be operated exclusively for charitable … or educational purposes whose activities most closely correspond with my intention as to furthering the welfare of the citizens of Clallam County.”
The foundation was finalized in 1991 and began distributing grants the following year.
Helping hands in 2019
The foundation assisted nearly 50 groups or programs with its 2019 grants, funding everything from food for local food banks and summer programs to staffing for childcare organizations, materials for a Habitat for Humanity project home to emergency programs across the county.
The grants included a grant of more than $3,100 to the Sequim Education Foundation’s 2019-2020 teaching grants that will boost SEF’s Family Reading Night program and the Music Production Lab at Sequim High School.
“The class is very popular and is at full capacity limited by the 28 computers in the classroom, but is able to serve 56 current students,” SHS teacher Joe Sullivan said. “SHS students have been able to collaborate on music projects thanks to high quality web-based workstations provided by these funds.”
The grants included (by category, as grant applications are categorized):
• Basic needs — Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula’s summer food program; St. Matthew Lutheran Church’s free weekly dinners; Port Angeles Farmer’s Market’s Food Access Bucks; First United Methodist Church’s Friendship Dinner program; American Red Cross’ Home Fire Campaign; Clallam County Homeless Outreach’s Project Homeless Connect; MANNA Emergency Financial Assistance program; The Answer For Youth’s (TAFY) Ticket to Health and Hunger on Weekends programs; Sequim Community Aid’s emergency financial assistance program; funding for food at the Forks Food Bank and New Hope Food Bank, and the 2019 the United Way campaign.
• Education programs — Sequim Education Foundation’s 2019-2020 teaching grants; Clallam Mosaic’s literacy education efforts; Boys & Girls Clubs of the Olympic Peninsula’s Academic Enrichment and Learning Loss program; Prevention Works! digital weekly newsletter; Port Angeles Education Foundations Student Needs Fund; Quillayute Valley School District’s Winter Coats and Shoes program; Crescent Cooperative Preschool Program, and the Joyce Education Foundation’s Equipping Crescent Students For Success initiative.
• Family individuals and children — Sequim Food Bank’s Family Holiday Meal Program; Prevention Works! Early Learning and Child Care Resources; Clallam Mosaic’s cooking and nutrition classes; Health Families, for core services, housing and basic needs; Our Resilient Community Alliance’s Sequim-based Summit House; Habitat for Humanity of Clallam County’s new home construction project; St. Vincent de Paul’s (Sequim) economic assistance efforts and (Port Angeles) utility assistance program First Step’s access to basic needs; Olympic Peninsula Healthy Community Coalition’s Chronic Disease Prevention/Special Events Project; Olympic Community Action Program’s Encore! Adult Day Center; Lutheran Community Services’ Healthy Families Project; Peninsula Dispute Resolution Center’s Low Income Mediation and Training/Fee Waiver Program; Pro Bono Lawyers’ community office; Camp Beausite’s adaptive and accessible activities; Port Angeles Food Bank’s Break Bags for Hungry Children, and Concerned Citizens’ (West End) food and nutrition programs.
• Medical/dental — Olympic Medical Center Foundation’s Sequim Cancer Center Patient Navigator Support Program; Sequim Free Clinic (general operating funds); Volunteer Hospice of Clallam County for supplies and supportive information technology equipment; Kathleen Sutton Fund’s Outreach Project; Olympic Peninsula Community Clinic’s medical services, and Soroptimist International’s Second Chance Medical Equipment Loan Project (West End).
• School applications — Sequim School District’s equalization of impoverished students, and Crescent School District’s After School Advantage program.