Happy Valley couple brings party to local fundraisers
As the owners of Kona Ice of North Clackamas, Alisa and Dana Pompetti bring the party to any school or sporting event, party or workplace fundraiser. The Happy Valley couple sell a frozen treat called shaved ice and at the same time help the community.
They arrive in style driving the colorful Kona Ice truck. Inside is a machine that "shaves ice cubes down to a fine snow," with a texture that allows flavored syrups to thoroughly soak in and really pop, Dana Pompetti said.
The Pompettis sell the treats as a fundraiser, and after an event is over, they write the sponsoring organization a check for 20 percent of the total sales.
Their product is more than flavored ice in a cup, Alisa Pompetti said, noting that when the truck pulls up to the event, all the senses are engaged.
The Kona Ice vehicle is a feast for the eyes, and once it is parked, lively steel-drum music begins and a diffuser wafts out a tropical fragrance.
"Adults turn into kids when they see the truck; their inner child comes out," said Dana Pompetti.
"We bring the community together and see lots of smiles, laughter and fun."
The Pompettis can serve 400 people in an hour, handing out the icy treats through a window in the truck. But the big draw is the Flavorwave, a row of pump-it-yourself syrup dispensers located on the side of the vehicle.
"It has our top-10 flavors, and people can put on as many flavors as they want. Kids go straight to the Flavorwave," Alisa Pompetti said.
The Pompettis make the flavored syrups themselves in a licensed commissary kitchen and encourage customers to mix and match them. Sugar-free and dye-free options are available, and flavors can be customized in a number of ways.
Ice, ice, baby
Kona Ice is a national company based in Florence, Kentucky, with each franchise locally owned and operated. There are eight Kona Ice businesses in the Pacific Northwest, but the Pompettis own the only one in North Clackamas.
After the couple were trained at the national headquarters, they took possession of a distinctive Kona Ice truck in early February and drove it back to Oregon. Their first fundraiser was an afternoon sock hop at Lewelling Elementary School in Milwaukie, and then that night they brought their indoor unit to Clackamas High School to raise money for the girls basketball team.
"In less than three weeks we have given almost $2,500 to the community," Alisa Pompetti said. They expect to have a busy summer, with warm weather coming.
Fundraising made easy
Arranging a Kona Ice fundraiser is easy, Pompetti said, adding that no one in the sponsoring organization has to coordinate volunteers or put together posters because Kona Ice provides the marketing materials.
"You tell us where to park the truck and who to write the check to," she said.
She added that there is no fee to book Kona Ice for a fundraiser.
The couple can provide prepaid cards that can be sold ahead of time, and they also accept cash or credit cards on the day of the event.
Prices are low enough that everyone can participate and get excited about the experience, Alisa Pompetti said.
When they are fundraising at a school function, the Pompettis do not charge teachers or staff for the shaved ice.
"This is our way of supporting them in their efforts and a way to say thank you," Alisa Pompetti said.
Happy Valley connections
Alisa Pompetti grew up in North Clackamas and is a 1999 graduate of Clackamas High School, where she played volleyball, basketball and softball. She taught in North Clackamas schools while raising the couple's two daughters, now 6 and 8.
Dana Pompetti works full time for Union Pacific Railroad, where he is a hazardous materials manager. Several years ago, he was transferred to Salt Lake City and then to Orange County, California.
Alisa Pompetti earned her administrative license and took a job as an assistant principal at a school in Orange County.
It was on her first day as an administrator that she witnessed a Kona Ice truck pull up to the school.
"All the kids ran out, and at the end [the owners] handed me a check so that more kids could go to Outdoor School," she said.
She went home and told her husband "our hometown needs this."
The couple explored owing a Kona Ice franchise for 18 months, and the more they learned about the company, the better they liked it.
Then, Dana Pompetti was hired for his same position in the Portland metro area, and the family moved back to the Happy Valley area last July.
Truck brings joy
Pompetti works full-time for the railroad and part-time for Kona Ice, while his wife focuses her energies on building the business and booking fundraisers.
But she loves it, she said, because she gets to see how Kona Ice raises money to help schools and other organizations.
"It's fun to work in the window and bring joy to people's lives," she said.
For her husband, the most fun is "seeing the reactions when we pull up to the school and the kids come out."
He added, "And not just kids — people are drawn to the truck. It's fun to see them get excited about it."
Put the fun in fundraising
What: Kona Ice of North Clackamas
More: Visit kona-ice.com