Efforts net big gain for MSC

POULSBO — Maybe more people eat Mexican food and listen to salsa music during August than plant trees but, either way, efforts to open a new marine science center received a healthy dose of green Thursday.

Los Cabos owner Robert Soltero and Pa’s Plants owner Wally Harrison both pledged a portion of their proceeds from the last two weeks in August toward efforts to open a new marine science center in Poulsbo.

Soltero approached Bight of Poulsbo Founder Bill Austin, who is spearheading the fund-raising effort, with an offer to donate 30 percent of his gross daily sales from Aug. 17 to Aug. 31. The result was a $9,880 check that will go toward opening a new center.

“A lot of people came up to me and told me they appreciated what I was doing,” Soltero said.

Once word of his pledge spread around the community, he said the response was overwhelming.

“This was something I was very happy to do and these guys really supported us to do that,” he explained, noting that he might do a similar fund raiser in the future.

While he was able to give 30 percent, Soltero said the important thing is for everyone to do what they can to help open a new center.

“A lot of people can help a little bit and when we work together we can make a difference,” he said.

For Harrison, the effort was more about getting people interested in doing what they can to help a new center than actual dollars and cents.

“What I was doing was trying to get more people to do something,” Harrison said. “It may not be 30 percent, but 10 percent or 1 percent.”

While Wally’s Plants is just a start-up business and most people won’t begin planting trees until a little later in the year, Harrison still said the effort was worthwhile.

“I think the main thrust of this is you can do it for the community,” he said.

As Austin accepted the donations, he was momentarily speechless as he reflected on the generosity of the efforts.

“It was totally unexpected coming from these two,” Austin said. “Roberto’s 30 percent was way over the top.”

However, every effort whether it be 10 percent or a lump sum will help open a new center, he said.

“It doesn’t matter how much you come up with, it’s the fact you offered,” he explained.

While future fund raisers are being considered, Austin said he is preparing to travel to Monterrey Bay, Mexico, Oregon and Vancouver, B.C. to tour other aquariums and marine science centers.

“We want to make it a first-class place to go and visit, so people from Seattle and Tacoma will talk about it,” he said.

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