Dear Family and Friends,

We’re writing with a personal request for you to help us financially to make our school safer (See below for donation form).

Over Thanksgiving break, we and a group of volunteers, spent an afternoon shoring up the science classroom at Sunnyside School, to improve its safety in the event of an earthquake.  We chose to start in the science room because every K-8 student spends time there each week, and because it is the most crowded with materials and supplies.

Why, you might ask, are we concerned about an earthquake?  The short story is, even though Oregon doesn’t experience earthquakes often, we are overdue for a very big seismic event.  Check out this website (Living on Shaky Ground).  What’s also true is that the city of Portland was built before any understanding that we’re sitting on a time bomb, and this includes Portland’s mostly brick and masonry schools.  Even if schools are built with structural engineering for earthquakes, all of the contents of the building also need to be stored and secured in a way that will not cause bodily harm or block exit pathways.  Most earthquake injuries and fatalities are caused by falling objects, indoors and out.

Since the school district’s hands are tied with lack of funding, we’ve spent a couple of years getting as much information as we can about the structural and safety realities for Sunnyside School to see what we can do ourselves.  With the pro bono help of Walsh Construction Company and two structural engineering companies, we have a priority list for increasing Sunnyside’s life safety in the event of an earthquake.  Working with Walsh Construction, we’ve come up with a budget for the feasible projects, short of rebuilding the school. During the Thanksgiving work party, we learned what methods and materials work best for securing heavy objects and equipment and we refined our budget to complete a school-wide project.

So while you’re considering your year-end tax-deductible donations, we would love to have your help in completing this work.  We need to raise $12,000, which Walsh Construction will match dollar-for-dollar.  These funds, along with the $10,000 we’ve already raised, will allow us to secure cabinetry, suspended lights, casework, AV equipment, rolling carts and tables throughout the school.  We will also be able to hire contractors to reinforce the fire escapes on the rear of the building and the brickwork over those escapes, providing safe exits from the second floor.  In addition, we can buy new locking storage cabinets for the science room and other needed locations around the school.

In addition to our project helping to keep Sunnyside students safer, we’re working with Portland Public Schools to pilot this volunteer effort that we expect will benefit other schools around Portland and the state.  We call this project SSaVE, the Seismic Safety Volunteer Effort, and are committed to sharing what we learn.

Please use the form to donate below and click Submit to pay by credit/debit card. All donations are collected by the SES PTSA and are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.

Fill out my online form.