Restaurateur and philanthropist raises thousands for charity
photo by sheri byrd
Russell Brent, owner of Battle Ground’s Mill Creek Pub, declares it is his mission to connect to the community through food made with heart.
“I’m always looking for the triple win alignment: serving guests, making good food, helping local charities,” Brent said. “It runs in my family to connect with my community and help all I can.”
Brent moved to Woodland a year ago, and has been in Clark County for 13 years. One daughter graduated from Union High School and is now at MIT, and a son is still attending Union.
Donation recipients range from veterans’ groups to kids’ services to Meals on Wheels. In 2012, his fundraising events alone generated more than $100,000 to various organizations. In addition to money, this award-winning businessman volunteers on the boards of the Clark County Skills Center, Kids’ Cooking Corner and the Clark County Family YMCA.
In June, diners contributed more than $1,200 to Meals on Wheels in a “change for charity” night, to which Brent himself added another $1,000.
“I toured the Multnomah County Meals on Wheels facility a while ago,” said Brent, “and I was blown away by the quality of both the food and efficiency of their operations. This is often the only meal a housebound person may get in a day, and the only visit they may get in a week. It often means so much more to them than food.”
Brent is a founding board member of the Kids’ Cooking Corner, teaching local kids to cook, and emphasizing gardens with a farm-to-table process.
Events are already in the works well into 2014, including Glamourous Gams, a “skit night” fundraiser for Children’s Center in Vancouver. Brent’s involvement with the Wine and Food Society of Clark County will include scholarships and program development with Washington State University Vancouver’s new Hospitality Business Management program.
This year, Brent’s efforts have been focused on Northwest Battle Buddies, service dogs for veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The cost for experienced Battle Ground dog trainer Shannon Walker to train one dog averages $12,000, and Brent is committed to providing the dogs at no charge.
Past fundraisers from partial proceeds at Mill Creek Pub raised thousands for Battle Buddies, then $10,000, and finally outgrew the resources available at Mill Creek Pub. Brent and his fundraising partners rented the Vancouver Heathman Lodge in February for a four-day event, attended by Until Tuesday author Luis Montalvan and his Battle Buddy, Tuesday. The final donation was close to $20,000.
“People want fun in their fundraisers,” he said. “I like to try to blow Vancouver away with fundraising. I like to keep my calendar booked as far as I can see.”
“I’m always looking for the triple win alignment: serving guests, making good food, helping local charities.”
– Russell Brent
Owner, Mill Creek Pub