A Short History of Granny’s Attic

In 1973 the Vashon-MauryHealthServicesCenter opened in a small home in Burton. No one was absolutely certain how this community experiment would work out.  Money was very scarce and the needs were great.  So the Board of Directors asked women in the community to volunteer their time as receptionists for the clinic. After a year at that location the health center moved to a larger building in Vashon where it became prosperous enough to hire receptionists.

The Health Center Board, not wanting to waste the proven talents of their volunteers, asked them to organize for monetary support of the HealthCenter.  Accordingly, the group met at Ober Park in February of 1974, and on February 28 became the Health Center Volunteers.  Various ways to raise money were discussed and they decided to start with a plant sale that raised $353.

Officers that first year were Fern Downer, President; Bonnie Daniel, Vice President; Celia Durham, Secretary; and Dorothy Mitchell, Treasurer.  Other charter members were: Charlotte Dille, Bea Garrison, Florence Eikenberry, Margaret Fisk, Marian Fitch, Enid Hansen, Ethel Helgeson, Dorothy Johnson, Evelyn Keys, Grace Kipp, Dorothy Massey, Nina Montgomery, Henrietta Olson, Ivie Petersen, Helen Pollock, Ellen Price, Kay Putnam, Phyllis Shahan, Bonnie Shride and Alice Turnbull.

In July a rummage sale was held which netted $210. Of their total funds the group voted to give the clinic $420 for entryway carpeting and an X-ray replacement bulb.  The Health Center Volunteers’ appetite for service had been whetted. Members had considered a thrift store for some time, and a few of the members had researched stores already in existence.  While this was going on another plant sale netted another $519.

In May of 1974 negotiations began for the use of an old gas station at the high school corner that later became Minglement. A three-month contract at $18 per month to cover the cost of insurance was completed and the real work began.

Many hours were spent scraping the greasy floors with hoes while wall washing and painting progressed.  Some long tables were made, others were borrowed, and some were strategically placed over the open grease pit so no one would fall in. Pipes were hung over the ceiling to serve as clothes racks, the large double garage doors were opened to the summer sun, and the store quickly became a popular place to shop.

On June 13, 1975 the Health Center Volunteers dba Granny’s Attic was opened to the public on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The profit for that first month was $1,120. The Health Center Volunteers then voted to give the Health Center $500 a month as long as their balance was over $500.

The volunteers worked for the good of the cause despite the very cold weather.  The shopping space was made comfortable with the use of a gas heater that was purchased in self-defense.  The restroom facilities at Sound Food were shared because there were none in the HCV space.

The Health Center was again outgrowing its space and began negotiating for the soon-to-be-vacated Federal Nike property.  In the meantime Granny’s Attic voted $2,500 for a temporary remodel of the uptown office to include a trailer at the back.  In April of 1976, $1,600 was voted for an X-ray tube and components.

In September of 1976 Granny’s Attic moved into its present quarters on grounds first called Community Park and now called Sunrise Ridge.  Only the large room was occupied at that time at a monthly rental fee of $150.  Granny’s Attic expanded into additional space only six months later.  Granny’s Attic grew from 735 square feet, in the former garage building, to the present use of about 1856 square feet of sales space and 1472 square feet of work area at a monthly rental of $2,332 per month.

Granny’s Attic is a charitable organization, 501(c)(3), which devotes its entire income to support of Vashon Health Center.  Besides generous donations directly to the Health Center, Granny’s Attic has, over the years, also supported other health-related charitable and educational needs of our island community by funding flu shot clinics, medical care for those who are unable to pay, training at the Vashon Community Care Center, and donations to the Food Bank, among other projects.  In addition, Health Center Volunteers have voted to annually award two $1,000 health education scholarships to high school graduates. Since 1976, Granny’s Attic has donated over $2.2 million in funded projects and rent, and through the Vashon Health Center it has benefited the entire Vashon Community.

But monetary support is only part of the impact of Granny’s Attic.  The Health Center, its staff and patients regularly praise the volunteers for helping to make the Health Center a success.  Its 24-hour care, many special functions such as education programs, mental counseling, youth services, and home health aides, all set it apart from the usual Doctors’ offices.

Many Islanders have blessed Granny’s Attic for being there to provide clothing, toys and household goods at a price they can afford.  Many Island agencies fill their client’s desperate needs for clothing and supplies at Granny’s Attic. But the volunteers, themselves, have found a unique fulfillment in their selfless work. While not everyone can contribute equal time or talent, the teamwork adds up to an immense amount of personal satisfaction.  Just ask any one of the Volunteers.