Reasons Why DHC Postponed the Celebration Dinner

A Message From Jeff Lambert, Executive Director:


DHC staff and key leaders met Monday morning to discuss the upcoming week’s work. The issue of the spreading COVID-19 illness was raised as a reason to consider postponing the planned Celebration Dinner. The Celebration Dinner has been a sell-out for several years and has raised much of the funds that DHC uses to buy conservation land. Postponing the Dinner will make a big difference in revenue and how we raise funds. I really preferred to not postpone the event.

Several of us reviewed the available information – both on the current coronavirus threat and on the history of epidemics. There are few confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States and none in Spokane. However, Seattle is experiencing deaths – ten as I write this.

Although there are no confirmed cases in Spokane, no test results have been received because the testing for the novel coronavirus only started early this week. Current CDC guidelines for testing require that patients not only show symptoms, like a fever, cough and shortness of breath, but also have been exposed to a confirmed case of the virus or have traveled to China, Iran, Italy, Japan or South Korea in the last two weeks. Obviously with no test results, there will be no confirmed cases.

A few telephone calls revealed expectations from public health experts that COVID-19 will spread to Spokane soon.

History shows the current situation has a chance to expand to community-wide outbreaks followed by fear and confusion. There is a delayed response from community leaders, elected officials, agency personnel and private organizations – perhaps understandably given the lack of information. Panicked buying of everything from household goods to respirators to medicine has happened without a single confirmed case in Spokane.

The Dishman Hills Conservancy decided to follow the CDC recommendations that include “avoid close contact with people who are sick.” The dinner would have been crowded. And it is more likely than not that Spokane has people who are sick with COVID-19 but haven’t been tested.

Another consideration is the perception of our guests. If a COVID-19 threat is perceived, the event attendance will decline dramatically. There are already reports that public events in Spokane are seeing fewer attendees – all anecdotal at this point.

DHC chose to be proactive, rather than reactive, and act now in the best interests of our guests, volunteers, and community.

Let’s discuss the financial aspects. We will miss an event that helps raise funds for buying land and other programs. A postponement one month before scheduled date, had very low cancellation costs. The cost and inconvenience on short notice would be very large.

We will refund those who purchased tickets or allow tickets to be used at the replacement summer event. We will retain the donated auction items for future event(s).

The summer event will be much safer because viral transmission rates are lower during the warm days especially if the event is outdoors. We are also planning a wide range of online or other media events such as live streaming.

If you have ideas for fun and meaningful events without public gatherings – let me know.

We also plan to host a schedule of nature walks and hikes that will have minimal risk of exposure.

Postponing this event was a difficult decision. Our decision demonstrates leadership and ethics – doing what is best for Spokane.

Look forward to the alternative events that DHC will be doing.


Jeff Lambert
Executive Director