When Joan Barnes founded Gymboree Play & Music in 1976, she envisioned a facility where parents and children could play together in a safe and age-appropriate environment. In the following decades, Gymboree Play & Music spread to more than 30 countries across the globe, helping youngsters from infants to 5 years old develop cognitive, physical, and social skills. The company's instructors lead classes such as Play & Learn, its flagship course, in which parents and kids move through a seven-level program filled with storytelling, play activities, and debates on the merits of sandwich crust. Talented staffers also prep youngsters for school and foster development in areas such as music, art, and sports. Throughout all classes, they make use of custom play equipment designed by acclaimed playground designer and seesaw-tamer Jay Beck.:m]]
Birthday parties. Graduation celebrations. A just-because masquerade. The revelry experts at Everything Party know that celebrations take many forms. That's why they keep their aisles stocked with more than 30,000 balloons, streamers, and trinkets ready to help ordinary homes host everything from baby showers to anniversaries. More than 125 party patterns help birthday boys and girls show off their love of Frozen, My Little Pony, Despicable Me, and Star Wars. Unique novelty and gift items are available, and their Redmond location offers both education and speciality toys, in addition to a large candy selection. When they're not busy overseeing blossoming helium balloons or stocking shelves with fistfuls of candy, they also consult with customers, offering theme and design advice that turns parties from ho-hum into humdingers.
For sand to turn into glass, something must heat it to more than 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit—something like a meteor crashing into the earth, a volcano erupting, or lightning striking a beach. At Redmond School of Glass, sculptor Corey Hubbell and his team of instructors take care of the heating part, dipping into a chamber for dollops of molten glass that students turn into pieces of art. They lead one-time sessions as well as six-week courses—which maintain a student-teacher ratio of 2:1—imparting their expertise through projects that involve crafting ornaments, vases, and dishes. And they've stocked their studio with all the necessary tools, such as wooden blocks for shaping and jacks for cutting.
By sharing their craft, Corey and his team continue the storied glass-art heritage of Seattle, which once sustained more than 300 glass shops. The area's world-renowned scene claims sculptor Dale Chihuly, the Pilchuck Glass School, and the Museum of Glass; so definitive is glass, in fact, that four out of the last five mayors were made of it.
Hopelink strives to promote self-sufficiency for all members of the community through housing, financial assistance, family development, and other social services. Since 1971, the organization has helped tens of thousands of people move from vulnerability and crisis to independence and stability.
Along with adult literacy programs, school-supply programs, and career development, Hopelink runs End Summer Hunger, an annual food and funds drive that helps ensure children from families with low incomes have enough to eat throughout the summer. Last year, End Summer Hunger—with the help of individuals, businesses, and schools—raised $181,439, plus thousands of pounds of food to meet the increased demands at Hopelink’s food banks during the summer months.
Yuen Lui Studio, a family-owned photography business specializing in individual and family portraits and wedding photography, creates visual heirlooms in a tradition of quality it has upheld since 1947. With several area studios available, each boasts a multitude of backdrop options for portraiture sessions, or photographers may take sessions outdoors to add natural scenery to the frame. Wedding and engagement shots come to life under the careful eyes of each photographer as they seize rare moments and trap them in frames to be displayed like trophies from a hunt. High-school, child, baby, and family portraits keep precious memories locked in time for clients, who can peruse an online gallery of their images after their session.