Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington



From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302


IHRC’s new development manager raises funds, profiles

Story and photo by Bonita Lawhead, Inland Register staff

(From the Feb. 26, 2004 edition of the Inland Register)

Imae OaksfordImae Oaksford is the new development manager for Immaculate Heart Retreat Center. (IR photo)

Imae Oaksford of Spokane is the new development manager at Spokane’s Immaculate Heart Retreat Center. She will be in charge of raising funds for the center, built in 1959 under the direction of then Father (now Monsignor) David Rosage at the behest of the late Bishop Bernard Topel. She began her new duties Feb. 2.

Oaksford brings a wealth of experience to her job and knows that her work will be important to keep the retreat center on a strong financial basis.

“We have a wonderful, valued asset here but there’s a lot of work to do,” she said.

On the financial side of things, she worked for a number of years for First Data Corporation and was in charge of the credit card accounts for 11 of the Wells Fargo branches in Eastern Washington.

She also worked as development director for a year with Jesuit Father Armand Nigro and with Bob Troman at Mater Dei Institute (now called the Ministry Institute) at Gonzaga University.

“Father Nigro is the one who told me about this job (at IHRC) being open,” Oaksford said. “I’m looking forward to seeing him again.” Father Nigro will come to the Retreat Center in April to give the Holy Week retreats.

One of Oaksford’s goals is to raise the visibility of the retreat center. She plans to accomplish that by increasing the number of contacts for the retreat center and marketing in religious publications.

Oaksford would like to see all kinds of groups using the center for all kinds of events. One suggestion is to offer the center and its scenic location for weddings.

Parish involvement is also important. Oaksford wants to familarize parishes with the retreat center. She plans introductory sessions when they will be invited to come take a tour.

She’d like to see more involvement with the Catholic school system, too, and wants to invite churches of other denominations to become familiar with the center.

Another area she will be looking at is the corporate world. She hopes to make businesses and corporations more aware of the center’s facilities and invite them to hold conferences, retreats and other events there. She also wants to expand the retreat center’s horizons into nearby states.

“We really want to stress the benefits of making a retreat,” she said. “We want to get testimonials from people as to how they benefitted by coming here.”

One new idea is already in the works. Oaksford and fellow staff members are in the process of renovating a private dining room at the retreat center. According to Deacon John Ruscheinsky, director of IHRC, “The dining room is to welcome retreatants and benefactors to a meal and conversation about our retreat center, its mission and the work we do.”

Deacon Ruscheinsky said Oaksford will be a “good fit” for the retreat center team. “She brings a strong background for funding and development,” he said, “and knows how to build relationships.” Another plus is her “strong, solid faith in the church.”

Oaksford, who was born in Kentucky, admits to being “a Southern girl of Southern parents.” Even so, her background is international, since her father was in the military. She was raised in Europe and has lived in Spokane on and off since 1972. “We moved a lot,” she said.

She graduated from Marycliff High School and at one point, Korea was home for four years. She, her mother and some other women started an orphanage in Seoul when they were there. She also worked for the Red Cross in Korea which during her time there collected more blood “than at any time in its history.”

Oaksford is married. She and her husband, Bob, have two grown sons.

The Oaksfords travel extensively and are “avid gardeners,” Oaksford said. Other passions include animal rights and collecting art. But there’s no doubt as to their main priority: “We’re very family-oriented,” Oaksford said.

The center holds several fund-raisers during the year and Oaksford wants to “build them up.” The events include a brunch for Mother’s Day (May 9 this year) and the popular Octoberfeast, scheduled for Oct. 3.

Oaksford said she would also be focusing efforts on the two annual Bishop’s Breakfasts, held at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Lourdes. The dates this year are Tuesday, May 4 and Saturday, Nov. 6.

“We want to get the word out,” she said. “This is a lovely facility and we want to keep it going.”

(For more information about any of the fund-raisers or to make a contribution, call Oaksford at the retreat center, (509) 448-1224.)


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