The Hungarian American Association of Washington (HAAW) was established in 1984 to promote Hungarian culture, as well as the spirit of friendship and partnership between the two countries. It has also been a key connection to the “homeland” for many of the Hungarians living in this part of the world. I have lived in the Northwest now for 12 years, and it definitely helped my family and I to build strong bonds with Hungarians and people of different heritage.
Having a Hungarian house to call “home” for the Association has always been a dream of all the volunteers and members who have kept this community strong over the years. I personally felt this desire during the last third of the association’s 36 year history as my family and I engaged with many different activities and connected with people. There were many attempts and plans to make this a reality. Thousands of collective hours were invested in brainstorming, planning, and searching for a solution. The HAAW board created a separate account where we could collect donations earmarked for this purpose, and fundraising efforts over the years resulted in a balance of over two hundred thousand dollars. We came very close to buying real estate several times, but with prices going up quickly over the last several years, it appeared that the dream was slipping away. What we needed to do to turn the tide was to take a step back and find the right first move that could get us closer to our goals. I believe we have just found that option, giving us an opportunity to rekindle our collective dreams.
As many of you know, HAAW has just purchased an 7.75 acre property in Cle Elum, a little over an hour’s drive from downtown Seattle (https://haaw-seattle.org/en/cle-elum-property/). While this is not the Hungarian House of our dreams (yet), it helps us to wisely invest our funds into a property that we can use as a community, and whose value is bound to go up over the years. This is a very exciting first step on a journey that can very well lead to us achieving this elusive goal, if not for us, then for future generations. This investment will also help ensure that the association thrives in the future, creating a financial foundation that the unvested funds in the bank could never provide. And now we have something tangible to organize our volunteer activities around. In order to enable this, the Board has decided to set up a Property Committee with its lead joining the Board, and we are still looking for enthusiastic members to join.
With this step, we are starting a new, exciting chapter in the Association’s history. There is so much to do, and so many options to consider. We welcome, and need, help and engagement from anyone. If you would like to help in any way, please reach out to Csaba Orban, firstname.lastname@example.org.
written by Géza Nemesszeghy