Birkenfeld Charitable Trust pledges $350,000 to new Edmonds Waterfront Center

C. Keith Birkenfeld (Photo courtesy Kitsap County Historical Society Museum)

The C. Keith Birkenfeld Charitable Trust has confirmed a grant in the amount of $350,000 toward the construction of the Edmonds Waterfront Center planned for the Edmonds Senior Center site in partnership with the City of Edmonds.

“The momentum is certainly building for the new center, “said John Osterhaug, Board President of the Edmonds Senior Center. “It could not come at a better time as the current building has outlived its useful life.”

The senior center in 2015 launched a $10 million fundraising campaign for a new multi-generational activity center that would replace the existing city-owned waterfront facility at 220 Railroad Ave. The existing building has serious structural problems including a sinking first floor, inefficient design and seismic concerns

“We are delighted to support this important community effort, said Director Claire Bishop of the C. Keith Birkenfeld Charitable Trust. “I know Keith would have loved the multi-generational aspect of the proposed program.”

The Edmonds Senior Center plans to build a new 26,000-square foot, state-of-the-art, sustainable building that will offer a range of dynamic and engaging programs emphasizing health and wellness, recreation and education for people of all ages. The plan includes beach restoration and improved access to the waterfront site.

The Senior Center currently serves approximately 4,000 seniors annually in South Snohomish and North King counties with a broad range of programs and activities. In operating as a multi-generational activity center, the new waterfront center will serve a much larger demographic in an expanded time frame. From 8 a.m.-4 p.m., most of the programs will be aimed at seniors and organized by ESC. From 4-10 p.m., programs for all ages will be offered by the City of Edmonds Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Department.

Birkenfeld, an educator and a philanthropist, was the descendent of Pacific Northwest pioneers; a family in which five generations found work at the Naval Shipyard. He graduated from Bremerton High School in 1956, and earned his undergraduate degree from Washington State University. He received graduate degrees from the University of Washington and Seattle University.

Birkenfeld served as a teacher and school administrator in the Bellevue public schools, and also taught at Seattle University. His interest in politics and civic affairs led to his working with nine United States presidents and vice presidents. A lifetime trustee of the Washington State 4-H Foundation, he was a founding board member of the Bellevue Art Museum, and a board member of the Pacific Northwest Arts and Crafts Association.

When Birkenfeld died in September of 2005 at the age of 66, he designated $13.5 million to establish the C. Keith Birkenfeld Memorial Trust.

Edmonds-based European travel expert Rick Steves earlier this month pledged $2 million to support construction of the Edmonds Waterfront Center. He also pledged a third $1 million in support if the campaign can raise $1 million in matching gifts from the community. IN 2015, Steves pledged $500,000 toward the fundraising campaign.

Anyone interested in donating to the campaign can contact Daniel Johnson, Capital Campaign Director, at or 206-293-4823.

  1. This is fantastic news! Especially, on the heels of our Edmonds’ own Rick Steves and his generous donation of $2MM. He also challenged the community to raise an additional $1MM that if accumulated and achieved – he will match! Yahoo!

  2. Its a joy for me to see one my former high school teachers involved with our project in Edmonds. As a senior in Keith Berkenfeld’s class, I was elected to represent our class on the Student Council. Later that year Mr. Berkenfeld nominated me to represent the City of Bellevue as an exchange student to our sister city, Yao, Japan. I’ll never forget his encouragement and confidence in my abilities to represent our city. Knowing that he is tied in with the new Waterfront Center will make that place all the more special when I go for a visit. Thank you for the wonderful contribution.

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