books going home

Published by Walla Walla Valley (WA) ACES Connection
By: Teri Barila

I was honored to be invited to a gathering of neighbors and friends in one of our neighborhoods as they came together to celebrate the holiday season. The traditional practice of the Posada opened the party, with neighbors walking door to door singing the traditional verses asking for shelter, with the neighbors responding, either denying shelter or offering their house, re-enacting Joseph and Mary seeking shelter. The last verse was sung at the location of the party, thus welcoming all in to the dinner meal. I had never experienced the Posada and was grateful for this traditional song and practice.

I was struck by the beauty of the song and by the underlying thought that if we see each other as the unique human we each are, in the diversity of our ideas, values, skin color, gender identity and "neurodiversity" of all being normal differently, according to our lived experiences, that indeed we would welcome each other in to community more readily and with greater authenticity and heart! 

The meal was rich in its variety of offerings too. For me, I learned a new traditional "apple cider" mix of apples, pineapple, guava, tamarind and cinnamon cooked together, sweetened, and served hot, called ponche. It was delicious!

It was an especially joyful moment to be together in community. Children had fun staging photos of themselves as elves (we did too!) and receiving a book from Santa (retired Sheriff office Jim Romine), to take home. Thank you, Commitment to Community outreach organizer Ursula (Delia and Amanda too) for your capacity building and engagement work. 

Story from Great Northwest Wine
 on December 23, 2019

WALLA WALLA, Wash. – It began in 2011 as a modest $2,000 fundraiser spearheaded by the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance, yet this year’s Barrel Full of Money reached impressive new heights when the Blue Mountain Action Council Food Bank received a check for $55,716.82.

During the nine years since its inception by the late Duane Wollmuth, the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance has helped raise more than $220,000 via the Barrel Full of Money campaign.

“Generous support from the wine community, local businesses and individuals has propelled the Barrel Full of Money campaign to a 40% growth over last year,” Jeff Mathias, director of the BMAC Food Bank, stated in a news release. “The money raised in this effort will provide over 250,000 meals for our neighbors in need.”

More than 70 wineries, the Blue Mountain Action Council and Walla Walla Valley businesses and sponsor organizations took part in the effort that culminated in the steering committee’s presentation at the food bank on Thursday, Dec. 19. They include Alaska Airlines, Baker Boyer Bank, Big House Brewpub, Columbia REA, Dunham Cellars, Elkhorn Media Group, Grocery Outlet, Hayden Homes, Maple Counter Café, the Marcus Whitman Hotel & Conference Center, Rogue Lobster, Seguin Moreau, The Thief Fine Wine & Beer, TMACS, Valdemar Estates, the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin and Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance member wineries.

“This effort truly exemplifies the collaborative heart of the people throughout our community. We look forward to the continued collaboration and success of Barrel Full of Money and BMAC for years to come,” said Shelby Pryor, committee chair for Barrel Full of Money and marketing assistant for the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance.

Barrel Full of Money came with Wollmuth’s first year 300w, 768w" sizes="(max-width: 1024px) 100vw, 1024px" style="max-width: 98%; height: auto; margin: 0px; padding: 2px; border-width: 1px; border-style: solid; border-color: rgb(204, 204, 204); vertical-align: baseline;">Gilles Nicault, left, winemaker for Long Shadows Vintners, shares a moment at his Frenchtown Road tasting room in 2013 with the late Duane Wollmuth. (Richard Duval Images)Barrel Full of Money is a project Wollmuth helped spark during his first year as executive director of the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance. The former cell phone industry executive launched Three Rivers Winery west of Walla Walla in 1999. Wollmuth died in 2016 when he suffered a heart attack at his home. He was 60.

The BMAC Food Bank now distributes about 928,000 pounds of food through pantries in Walla Walla County each year. According to, a food bank can turn a $1 cash donation into as many as 10 meals. That means the 2019 Barrel Full of Money program could lead to more than 550,000 meals in southeastern Washington.

The two-month Barrel Full of Money campaign began with a tasting at The Thief Fine Wine & Beer and included a raffle with grand prizes of two unrestricted roundtrip tickets by Alaska Airlines and a one-night stay and dining at the Marcus Whitman Hotel.

Donation canisters — full-sized wine barrels — were featured at Walla Walla Valley wineries and businesses, and tasting fee donations came via wineries. Dunham Cellars staged an auction and wine reception. Grocery Outlet provided shoppers the ability to “round up” or add a donation to their purchase. And there also were cash donations from Walla Walla Valley businesses and residents.

Next year, Barrel Full of Money will celebrate its 10th campaign. Fundraising officially kicks off in October, includes the Holiday Barrel Tasting Weekend on Dec. 4-6, and concludes with the Auction & Wine Reception on Thursday, Dec. 10 at Dunham Cellars.

The Blue Mountain Action Council is a community action partnership agency providing a wide array of services to help people meet their basic essential needs. The BMAC food bank is the regional distribution center for the five food pantries in Walla Walla County as well as the pantries in Columbia, Asotin and Garfield counties. More information about the BMAC Food Bank and its programs also is available by calling 509-529-4980.

The Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance is a nonprofit wine industry membership organization whose primary mission is the marketing of the Walla Walla Valley’s American Viticultural Area. The wine alliance functions as the leading informational resource for consumers, media and trade interested in learning more about the valley’s wine industry.

Story by:Photo Credit:Greg Lehman

Delia Gutierrez was still hovering on a happiness cloud this morning.

As the Washington Park area Commitment to Community coordinator for Blue Mountain Action Council, Gutierrez was the point person on Sunday’s mural-painting project at the park.

For more than a decade, art work adorned the 400-square-foot wall in the park, a joint endeavor between neighbors and neighborhood organizers in 2007 as an effort to reclaim the park from illegal and unsavory activities.

This summer, vandals ruined the original mural with spray paint, and the city painted over the wall in white. Neighbors, however, advocated for the wall to be a beautiful landmark in their area once again, Gutierrez said.

On Sunday, about 65 volunteers seconded that with several hours of labor, applying donated paint to the wall to create illustrations of a far-reaching tree — with handprint leaves — and children playing sports, an art theme approved last month by Walla Walla City Council.

Gutierrez said she was surprised and gratified by Sunday’s turnout.

“I was not expecting that many people. Usually if you invite 60, 30 show up,” she said.

In the 73-degree weather, happiness seemed to expand as neighbors came together and children played and painted.

“They were really getting to know each other, it was a perfect day.”

One benefit to having a large number of kids on hand was giving them all a chance to invest in their park, Gutierrez said.

“They were saying, ‘Oh, look, this is my hand, and this is going to be here forever.

About 10 percent of the nation’s homeless population are veterans. The reasons for homelessness range from unemployment, poverty, or substance abuse and mental illness.

Pasco police is teaming up with Blue Mountain Action Council or BMAC to try and help vets or their families who may be struggling.

Jason Adams who is a Case Manager at BMAC said, "The police are just on the front line and they see homeless people every day and if they see that someone is a vet we will go find them and give them a hand."

A helping hand could be anything from providing food, to paying for the security deposit on a new apartment. Adams himself has been homeless before and understands the struggle.

"I have been homeless and I know what that is like and I know what it felt like to be in that position,” said Adams.

Blue Mountain Action Council and Supportive Services for Veteran Families will be teaming up October 5th at the Walla Walla County Fairgrounds Pavilion for a military appreciation event.

The event is open to all veterans and their families.

The event will run from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. and there will be free breakfast and lunch, housing assistance, health and wellness screenings, haircuts and more.

For more information you can contact Trina Parrish at 509-520-0982.

BMAC celebrates coming move to North Second Avenue

  • Walla Walla Union-Bulletin 
  • Aug 9, 2019 Updated Aug 9, 2019

A Second Avenue business complex is on its way to becoming the new permanent home of Blue Mountain Action Council.

Construction crews have gutted the interior of the building at the gateway to downtown in preparation for its transition. Today marks the start of its rebuild as BMAC’s Community Service Center.

Blue Mountain Action Council officials, partners and dignitaries dug their shovels in this morning for a ceremonial groundbreaking that launches what’s expected to be a six-month construction process from general contractor Jackson Contractor Group

Work officially begins Monday, said Blue Mountain Action Council Executive Director Kathy Covey.

This morning’s 8:30 a.m. ceremony offered a peek into the space, a chance to publicly thank the legislators and donors who have made the project financially feasible, unveil a new logo for the nonprofit, and launch a final push to complete fundraising.

The 11,000-square-foot building in the 200 block of North Second Avenue was acquired by BMAC in March 2018.

It was purchased with a $1.4 million loan, as part of a roughly $3.7 million total project.

Major funding has included $1.75 million from the state capital budget. Covey lauded 16th district legislators, Sen. Maureen Walsh, R-College Place, and Rep. Bill Jenkin, R-Prosser, for their advocacy.

Fundraising from community groups and residents to date has raised about $422,000.

“Our goal to be able to do what we need to do with the building is $600,000,” Covey said. “Right now it’s almost a house for us, and we just need to make it a home by getting these last few dollars.”

The project positions BMAC with central headquarters, easily accessible to those who use its services, including job training, energy assistance, food distribution, minor home repair, special needs housing, housing for homeless families, legal assistance, asset building, adult literacy, Long Term Care Ombudsman, weatherization, lead paint abatement, Commitment to Community, AmeriCorps and Supportive Services to Veteran Families.

When the project is done, BMAC will move from its current spot at Kelly Place.


8:30am to 5:00pm
8:30am to 4:00pm
CLOSED daily from
12:00pm to 1:00pm

Follow us on Facebook

bg Image
Back to top