A bright spot in Edmonds Waterfront Center fundraising: Local resident provides boost to solar initiative

J. Ward Philips views solar panels from the Edmonds Waterfront Center’s roof hatch. (Photos courtesy Daniel Johnson)

Entering the final month of construction, activity at the new Edmonds Waterfront Center has been brisk. Completion of the state-of-the art, LEED Gold facility, that will serve as the new home of the Edmonds Senior Center as well as offer programs and activities for people of all ages, is set for early December.

Fundraising is in full swing as the senior center works to close the $2.4 million funding gap for the $16.5 million project. The community has been generous. Gifts large and small have continued to come in, despite the pandemic.

Every now and then, a gift stands out from the others. That was the case with this week’s gift from Edmonds resident J. Ward Phillips. When Mr. Phillips called to say he was interested in the solar initiative at the new Center, I offered to take him on a hardhat tour. On the tour, I learned he is a graduate of Edmonds High School class of 1958. His three sisters all graduated from Edmonds as well. The Phillips family moved to Edmonds in 1946 when there were still shingle mills on the waterfront.  In his career he was involved in construction and sustainable buildings.

J. Ward Philips

Ward’s love of Edmonds came through in the tour. At one point, he excitedly said, “No one can appreciate how extraordinary this building is unless they are standing in it.” At 80 years of age, it appears he has not slowed down one bit. When he asked if he could get on the roof to see the solar panels, I told him it was possible, but we would need to climb a 16-foot ladder. Undaunted, he said, “Let’s go.”

Ward climbed the ladder and looked out the roof hatch. While I could not make out the smile from under the mask, the smile lines along the corners of his eyes gave it away. From the top of the ladder, he asked questions and made suggestions. Once back on the floor, Ward said, “Daniel, I would like to give you $50,000 toward the solar initiative and I would like to offer another $50,000 as a community match for the next $50,000 in gifts that are directed to the solar panels.

There is a 305-panel solar array on the roof of the Edmonds Waterfront Center. To help offset the nearly $500,000 expense to go “all-green” last November (all electric and full solar), we have been offering panel sponsorship for $1,000 a panel. Each of the sponsors will be recognized as a “Solar Champion” on a plaque in the building. Before Ward’s gift, we had raised $107,000 toward our $305,000 solar initiative goal.

The next 50 panels purchased will be matched dollar for dollar, thanks to the generous gift of Ward Phillips. If you want to sponsor a panel, mail a $1,000 check to the Edmonds Senior Center (marked solar) to P.O. Box 717, Edmonds, WA 98020. Or visit www.edmondswaterfrontcenter.org, scroll down to Solar Initiative and click on donate.

— Submitted by Daniel Johnson, CEO
Edmonds Senior / Waterfront Center

  1. Thank you, Mr. Philips, what a way to leave a legacy with the community. The courage that you showed by climbing to the rooftop of the new Edmonds Waterfront Center at your young age of 80, you are an inspiration for me and many others!

    Mr. Johnson, good job with operating the drone with camera to capture this beautiful moment and sharing it in such motivational way!

  2. If solar worked, it would pay for itself. It’s been decades, and it seems the key to solar viability is grant money.

  3. Thank you, Mr. Phillips! We are the “solar” champions, my friend and we’ll keep on fighting to the end …. we are the Solar champions … we are …. – I am sure the rock band Queen would allow us to inject that word as We are the Solar Champions!

  4. To my special friend , Ward , I am very proud of you , as I always have been ! A great gift to Edmonds! So glad that you have moved back to your favorite town ! God Bless You ! Johnny McGraw

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