Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Celebrating our 70th!


Soroptimist International of Sedro-Woolley will celebrate 70 years at an anniversary event on Saturday, June 29th, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., at The Walnut Tree thrift shop, 713 Puget, in Sedro-Woolley.  Chartered on June 17, 1949, local Soroptimists have enjoyed service to the community and friendship through seven decades of changing American life.  The celebration will include refreshments, entertainment, and open hours for The Walnut Tree.  The public is invited.

Currently with 64 members, S-W Soroptimists provide the volunteer work required to sort, price, and sell the donations to The Walnut Tree, which come from the generous community.  The club’s current president is Elinor Nakis of Sedro-Woolley, and Andrea Brown of Sedro-Woolley has been elected for the next presidential term beginning July 1.

Fund raising for local projects has always been at the forefront for Sedro-Woolley Soroptimists.  From fruitcake, rummage, and bake sales to “teas” and member donations, earning money is an important activity in any service club. 

In 1951 Soroptimists bought “Nightingale Units” for Memorial Hospital patient use, as well as raised $1000 in a community effort to add a new hospital wing.  Part of their fundraising effort was to place “milk bottles” in businesses in Sedro-Woolley and upriver to give each resident an opportunity to contribute to the hospital cause.  The Milk Bottle project netted $160, in a time when the new hospital addition was budgeted at $150,000.

A variety of fundraising efforts continued until October 1975, when then-president Bee Johnson initiated the project to start a permanent thrift shop as a Soroptimist business in Sedro-Woolley, and The Walnut Tree was born.  After 44 years in business, the thriving shop continues to provide bargain shopping for books, clothes, household goods, and other interesting treasures with all profits enabling the Club to support selected worthy causes.  

“We operate a business together, “emphasizes former President Judy Johnson (daughter of Bee Johnson). “With all the dynamics of business and club activities, Soroptimist membership is a big personal commitment.”

Community work
Through the 70 years, Soroptimists have often sponsored community projects such as Girls State, dinners for Sedro-Woolley School District Faculty Women (Rotary fed the male faculty), a nurse’s career club at SWHS, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Camp Fire, brochures for the Chamber of Commerce, and scholarships for SWHS graduates. 

Projects supported in recent times include scholarships for graduating high school seniors, continuing education scholarships, United General Hospital Oncology Unit, Helping Hands Food Bank, Sedro-Woolley Boys and Girls Club, Cascade Middle School AVID program, Sedro-Woolley Public Library, Meals on Wheels, Skagit Hospice, Skagit Habitat for Humanity, Skagit County Search and Rescue, Sedro-Woolley Community Thanksgiving, Sedro-Woolley Community Troop Support, Hammer Heritage Square, The Landing, and many more.  Sedro-Woolley Soroptimists played an integral role in the building of our Community Center in 1976.

The Saturday during March that falls closest to International Women’s Day on March 8th is annually “Soroptimist Saturday of Service” where clubs all over the world execute service projects in their communities and of their own choosing.  SI S-W has developed a tradition of opening The Walnut Tree on that day and donating the day’s proceeds to the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Nutrition Program hosted by United General Hospital in Sedro-Woolley.  Themed as a “Community Baby Shower”, the shop also collects donations on that day, from members and the community, of baby products needed by WIC mothers.  

SI Sedro-Woolley was originally sponsored by SI Seattle Metropolitan in 1949.  Subsequently, SI S-W sponsored the chartering of SI Burlington.

There are 11 Soroptimist clubs in this four-county area and three of the Skagit County clubs operate thrift shops (S-W, La Conner, and Anacortes). 

Sedro-Woolley has a “friendship link” relationship with SI of the Langleys, BC, Canada. 

The Walnut Tree’s regular hours are Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 12 noon to 5 p.m.  The shop’s Facebook page alerts shoppers to special promotions and sales.



Saturday, September 30, 2017

Soroptimists in Sedro-Woolley - The Walnut Tree Thrift Shop!

That quaint little thrift shop on Puget Street is a hive of activity almost every weekday.  Shoppers, donors, and Soroptimist volunteers generate some of the best bargains in Skagit County, and all for the good of our community. 
The Walnut Tree thrift shop has been a staple in Sedro-Woolley for 42 years (October 30, 1975); in its current location since 1994. 

“We are proud to own and operate a thriving business in Sedro-Woolley,” said Bev Riesland, current president.  “Our shop serves the community in many ways – as an outlet for donating items, as a thrift shopping opportunity, and using the proceeds for significant projects, including scholarships.”

Soroptimist International of Sedro-Woolley was chartered June 17, 1949 and remains a strong, growing, and busy club in the new millennium.  Currently with 56 members, the club taps the labor and expertise of all who belong.  “Many of our members have come to us because of the shop,” observed Riesland.  “They know that their time and effort will be well-used by the club and will result in direct benefits to the community.”

“We struggled, as many clubs do, with fundraising for our community projects until The Walnut Tree was opened in October 1975,” said Judy Johnson, past president of the Sedro-Woolley group.  “My mother, Bee Johnson, was president in 1975 and she was inspired by other clubs at a regional conference to start a Soroptimist thrift shop in Sedro-Woolley.  The first location was east of Liberty Bell Market on State Street, where there was a big walnut tree dropping nuts on the roof of the little building where the shop began, and that’s how The Walnut Tree got its name.”

Over the years, SI Sedro-Woolley has contributed funds to hundreds of local projects.  A few examples are:  Building Hammer Heritage Square, building the Sedro-Woolley Community Center, purchasing a hovercraft for Skagit Search and Rescue, contributing to all East County food banks, contributing to the Sedro-Woolley Senior Center and March for Meals, sponsoring mammograms for East County women through Citrine Health, contributing operating and program funds to the Sedro-Woolley Boys and Girls Club, and sponsoring Chamber of Commerce events.

“Our favorite project is probably awarding scholarships to Sedro-Woolley, State Street, and Concrete high school graduates,” said Anita Weidkamp, scholarship committee chair.  “It is so rewarding to help local young people get started on their higher education.” 

Shop proceeds are also directed to Soroptimist International’s signature projects around the world.  The organization’s mission statement, “Improving the lives of women and girls through programs leading to social and economic empowerment,” reflects the focus on lifting women out of poverty and into financial independence. 

“Live Your Dream” Awards are available to adult women who are heads of household and are pursuing higher education to improve their skills and employment prospects.


The Walnut Tree thrift shop is located at 713 Puget Street in Sedro-Woolley.  Visit our Facebook page for shopping hours, donation hours, and updated information. 



Soroptimist International has 76,000 members in 120 countries.  There are five clubs in Skagit County; three clubs operate thrift shops.  The coined word, “Soroptimist” means “Best for Women”.  Visit for more information.


Live Your Dream Award - deadline November 15, 2017

The Soroptimist Live Your Dream Awards program has been helping women around the world since 1972.  This program provides cash grants to women who are working to better their lives through additional schooling and skills training.
YOU are eligible to apply if you are:
*A woman with primary financial responsibility for yourself and your dependents.
*Attending an undergraduate degree program or a vocational skills training program.
*Have a financial need.

For information about applying for the Soroptimist Live Your Dream: Education & Training Award program, please contact:

Soroptimist International of Sedro-Woolley
Kacy Johnson - Chairman
email -


Deadline is November 15, 2017.

The amount of the Club Award is a minimum of $1,000.00.

Applications are also available at The Walnut Tree Thrift Shop at 713 Puget in Sedro-Woolley.  Ask the cashier for one!

Friday, August 26, 2016

2016 Continuing Education Scholarship Winners!

These college students have each been awarded a $2,000 Continuing Education Scholarship from SI Sedro-Woolley:

Tori Barnes
Sara Helms
Briley Jones
Joshua Jordan
Timmy Moser
Rachel Olson
Janelle Rose
Alec Solemslie
Carly Stewart
Emily Van Liew

Congratulations to them all!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

SI Sedro-Woolley rocks our new year!

The Soroptimist new year begins on July 1!  Our new officers and committee chairs are gearing up for great things in the 2016-2017 Soroptimist year.  Officers are:

President:  Dawna Bennett
Vice President:  Bev Riesland
Recording Secretary:  Judy Olson
Corresponding Secretary:  Caroll Raczkowski
Treasurer: Dona Cowan
Assistant Treasurer:  Lisa Janicki
Board Member:  Suzann Henggeler
Board Member:  Kacy Johnson
Board Member:  Pat Hammond

We recently awarded our annual "continuing education scholarships" to deserving local students who are currently attending college.  Watch for the official announcement with names, soon!

We're also planning an end-of-summer blowout picnic on September 8th! 

Our thrift shop, The Walnut Tree, continues to astound us with donors and shoppers.  We'll celebrate our 41st year in business this October.  Our all-volunteer staff works SO HARD to provide great bargains and to raise funds for local projects.  Thanks to everyone who helps us make this possible!

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Saturday of Service - March 7, 2015!

Every year, Soroptimists all over the world participate in Saturday of Service, held on the Saturday closest to International Women's Day.  This year, International Women's Day is Sunday, March 8th!  So our observation of Saturday of Service will be on March 7th.

Traditionally, we open The Walnut Tree thrift shop from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and all pre-tax proceeds from sales during this time will be donated to our local WIC (Women, Infants, Children) agency. 

We also gather donations of baby products - diapers and wipes as well as other items - and take them to WIC. 

This is a fun day!  Our members enjoy working together and our customers get an extra day to shop with us!

So come out to The Walnut Tree and support one of our most valuable local projects.  We are always happy to see you at the shop, but this will be a very special event!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Walnut Tree begins late hours on Thursdays!!

Big news!  The Walnut Tree Thrift Shop will now be open until 8:00 p.m. on Thursdays, starting November 6, 2014!

Our customers are asking for "after work" shopping hours and we hear them!  So The Walnut Tree will be happy to greet you from 12 noon until 8 p.m. on Thursday evenings.  Our other hours will remain the same, Mondays from 12 noon until 6 and Fridays from 12 noon until 4.

We have special sale days from time to time, so check back her or "like" us on Facebook and keep up with what's going on!

Right now, we are getting started with the holiday season with fun Thanksgiving and Christmas items.  We'll also be putting out "glitter wear" that we've been saving for your holiday party needs.  Be beautiful for bargain prices at The Walnut Tree!