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Volunteer recognized for organizing Music in the Park

  • Written by Briana Gerdeman, Staff Writer

staffordThe list of Nancy Stafford’s roles in community service goes on and on: she’s a supporter and former employee of the Woodinville Library, the president of the Upper Bear Creek Community Council, a 25-year member of the Hilltoppers Garden Club, an active member of Water Tenders, a driver for a food bank, a volunteer at the Northshore Senior Center, and a blood donor.

"Depending on who’s talking to you, I’m either blessed or cursed with a very active curiosity," she said.

Perhaps one of her most visible accomplishments was organizing the Music in the Park event, a series of six concerts every summer in Cottage Lake Park.

When Stafford announced that this summer would be her last organizing Music in the Park, King County Executive Dow Constantine recognized her for her community service by proclaiming August 8, 2013 to be Nancy Stafford Day.

Stafford, who was born in Portland, raised in Seattle, and moved to Woodinville in 1985, started Music in the Park in 2000.

Although she admitted she knows "nothing" about music, she thought people needed an opportunity to see live music, especially local music, without driving to Seattle and dealing with the challenges of parking there. For 13 years, the Upper Bear Creek Community Council hosted six concerts on consecutive Thursdays in the summer.

"I tried to get local people, especially groups that were just starting out," she said.

One of the most popular groups was a family that played bluegrass, she remembered.

It was hard to get people in the community involved in planning the concerts, Stafford remembered, but she found some groups to contribute. Woodinville Signs made signs for the events, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (across the street from Cottage Lake Park) provided parking.

The concerts, which usually had 200 to 250 attendees, provided social activity for extended families, as well as a meeting place place for old friends.

"A lot of the time, there were lots of personal reunions going on, which was great," Stafford recalled. "There was everyone from newborn babies in arms to great-grandparents."

She’s asked around for someone else who wants to organize the concerts in the future, but she hasn’t found anyone yet.

For herself, she’s looking for another organization to get involved with.

"It’s time for somebody else to do it," she said. "You only have so much imagination before you get spun out."

Stafford’s volunteer work began when her three children were young. At that point, she had worked at a bank, an optometrist’s office, and a school, so she was already involved in the community.

She describes much of her work as "resource and referral," helping people in the county and the community contact each other.

In the more than 10 years she worked for King County library system, she wasn’t assigned to a single branch, but instead worked at all the branches throughout the county. She also helped raise money for the Woodinville library in the early 1980s.

She’s known as the "worm lady of Woodinville" for her work with the Hilltoppers Garden Club  —  specifically, teaching people how to use worms in their gardens. As a creek watcher, she watches for salmon spawning in Upper Bear Creek and for changes in the water.

With her husband, she delivers food for a food bank once a week.

They also volunteer at events at the Northshore Senior Center, where she uses her food handling permit to prepare food and he pours wine.

"My husband Jerry is partner in most everything I do," she said. Sometimes that’s because he sees a better way to do something; other times, she asks him to get involved.

Although she’s no longer running Music in the Park, Stafford will still serve as the president of the Upper Bear Creek Community Council.

"The county needs to bring changes to the public before they can make a change, and we provided that theater for them," she said.

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