Everyone loves a squeal - especially for a good cause
by Sarah Toce
Special to the SGN
A love affair is occurring at Pike Place Market - at least, that's what we've been able to glean via the gum-covered walls with ears. An affliction of the mind, the heart, the body? Close, but no cigar. It's a swine of a tail, really - literally, two pigs with tails. Let us cut straight away to the essence of the thing: Rachel may be a Lesbian.
More than 10 million visitors pass by Rachel every year. Some sit on her. Some photograph her shapely physique. Others crawl beneath her to have an obtuse angular moment. But the one gal who holds her heart may be none other than her 'kissing cousin' downstairs (don't get naughty) named Billie. While the two have not yet gone public with their scandal-clad salaciousness, tongues have commenced wagging and rainbow feathers have been flying. We caught Rachel in the act, posing in all of her glorious Pride on full display (see photo).
Pike Place Market has a long history of accepting the LGBT community. The Pike Market Child Care and Preschool opened its doors in 1982 and was one of the first programs in Washington state to be accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children. Their LGBT-inclusive environment has drawn families of all backgrounds and stories to its doors. Volunteers raised $60,000 in the program's first year in an effort to supply an adequate playground for the kids. In 2012, $163,460 was given in scholarships to 19 low-income families with children ages 18 months to five years. In 2011, the preschool served 89 children and provided 155,680 hours of high-quality education, according to the 2012 financial report.
On the flipside, the elderly have found support in Pike Place Market as well. The Pike Market Senior Center was awarded $218,816 in 2012 to cover one-third of the center's programs, including meals, wellness activities, resident advocacy, and social services. Roughly 38,039 hot meals were served in 2011.
From hot to cold and everything in between, the Pike Market Food Bank is a standalone service. The Market Foundation approved $55,000 in 2012 to cover the costs of 10,000 bags of groceries. The rations fed more than 45,000 individuals in 2011. And are you aware that there is affordable living right above the Market for seniors and others in need of a hand up? It's true!
Additionally, The Market Foundation awarded approximately $284,544 to the Pike Market Medical Clinic in 2012 to assist in care for 11,150 uninsured patients - many of them homeless and LGBT. In 2011, the clinic provided 26,350 visits for 4,879 uninsured patients.
So, how does Pike Place Market pay for these programs? A quick look at financials will set the record straight on all of that. Additionally, remember Rachel? Well, she's not only a pig - she's also a piggy bank. So the next time you want to molest Rachel (hey, there now), take a minute to tip her first.
MORE ABOUT RACHEL
Rachel the Piggy Bank is the mascot of Pike Place Market and one of their best public fundraisers. She has been 'bringing home the bacon' for The Market Foundation since 1986, raising more than $200,000 and counting to support our low-income neighbors who live in and around the Market. Legend has it that if you rub Rachel's snout and make a donation, you'll have good luck.
Rachel is a bronze-cast piggy bank created by Georgia Gerber, a sculptor from Whidbey Island. Weighing in at 550 pounds (250 kg), she was named after a real 750-pound pig that won first prize at the 1985 Island County Fair. She has been located since 1986 at the corner of Pike Place under the iconic 'Public Market Center' sign and clock. Her cousin Billie the Piggy Bank arrived in the Market in 2011 and sits on Western Avenue at the bottom of the Hillclimb.
Rachel was the inspiration behind the Pigs on Parade fundraiser throughout downtown Seattle in 2001 and again in 2007 for the Market's centennial celebration.
Sarah Toce is editor of The Seattle Lesbian (www.theseattlelesbian.com).
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