New leadership, new era: Sandy are nonprofit looks to the future while honoring the past
In 1962, a group of community members dreamt up what is now known as the Hull Foundation and Learning Center at 43233 S.E. Oral Hull Road in Sandy. The 32-acre retreat center and Park has long been a destination for those living with low to no vision to seek empowerment and education.
Now, 60 years later, that mission is carried into the future by new executive director Monica Butler.
Butler began her time at Hull Park four years ago, after falling in love with the grounds and the cause on a visit for the annual Kiwanis Club of Sandy car show. She had retired early, but when she was told that there was a job opening, she realized that "apparently I wasn't ready to be retired."
She started out as the rental director, then last year was promoted to operations manager. This June, when the foundation was once again seeking new leadership, Butler threw her hat in the ring and has since taken the helm at the nonprofit organization.
"I've learned from working here how much of a difference we can make in people's lives who are new to sight loss," Butler added. "We help people see that they can do things they thought they could never do again. I have a passion for making people feel confident and happy with their lives."
Butler is excited for the future of the foundation, and also just for getting its programs back on track after two years of distancing because of the pandemic.
This summer, the foundation's well-loved moderate- and high-level adventure retreats will return, offering those who call the park a second home access to safe, but exhilarating outdoor excursions such as rafting, rock climbing, hiking and more.
Besides their outdoor recreation retreats, the park staff offer numerous day trips to places like the Gresham Farmers Market, Gresham Arts Festival and various other events and educational tours. The foundation, though in Sandy, serves people nationwide.
"We're getting back up and running," Butler said. "The foundation impacts our community by providing opportunities to volunteer and give back and also have that feel-good experience."
Next year, the staff have plans to not only celebrate a year of being back in full force with programming, but the 60-year anniversary of breaking ground on the park with a big summer bash called the 60th Diamond Jubilee Celebration.
Last year the staff commemorated 50 years of the five senses Gardens of Enchantment with a spectacular turnout, and next August they hope to have even more of those near and dear to the foundation able to come out and enjoy the party honoring 60 years of Hull Park.
Until then, Butler is focusing on making their upcoming programs the best experiences for their clientele as possible and raising funds for the foundation with a 60-for-60 campaign. To aid the park's mission, those who are interested in donating are encouraged to give $60 in honor of the foundation's 60 years (or more if so moved).
The Hull Foundation is a nonprofit, and like many other businesses and charitable organizations, donations have gone down in recent years due to the financial hardships caused by the pandemic.
The foundation does not receive federal dollars, so the board relies on donations and renting out the grounds, pool and buildings for events for operational funding.
Donations can be made online or checks can be mailed or delivered to the Hull Foundation and Learning Center, P.O. Box 157, Sandy, OR 97055.
"I like being able to see the difference we make in people's lives who are blind or low vision," Butler said. "Just to see the excitement of the people who come here."
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