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A military cargo plane (C-53) flying over Greenland during WWII crashes with five crewmembers aboard. All five survive the crash and a rescue mission is launched with second plane (a B-17) carrying nine crewmembers. That plane also crashes on the ice cap. Again, all men survive the initial crash.
With winter approaching fast on the frozen wasteland, and confirmed contact with the survivors from the B-17, extraordinary efforts must be made to save these men. The U.S. Coast Guard positions the Cutter Northland, in a bay as close as possible to the crash site to contemplate options with Greenland’s uncooperative weather.
The determined path is to send a 3rd plane (the Grumman Duck) from the Northland piloted by Lieutenant John Pritchard with Radioman Benjamin Bottoms. They had initial success landing on the glacier and rescuing two crewmen and made a second trip to recover more survivors. Instead due to yet another tragedy on the ground, they hurriedly picked up Corporal Loren Howarth (another survivor of the initial B-17 crash turned rescuer) and planned to head back to the Northland immediately to get additional personal and equipment.
The unthinkable happened when that plane also crashed on its return to the Northland. It was determined after eyewitness accounts of the crash site that there were no survivors of the Duck.
Does this sound like a best selling book? Well – it actually is. “Frozen in Time” by Mitchell Zuckoff, tells the full true story of all three crashes and the final outcome on the frozen tundra that is Greenland in the winter of 1942-43. It also outlines the attempts that have been made since then to recover the Duck and the heroes onboard the craft to bring them home to their final resting place.
But that is not where this story ends...it’s where it begins. Long-time Woodinville resident, Christie Fisher, was on vacation in nearby (to Greenland) Iceland when she met some of the people that were traveling to an expedition.
Fisher was so intrigued with the story they shared that she decided to get involved.
That was two years ago, and now she’s getting ready to head to the massive island with this team situated between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans in hopes of recovering the Duck and its crew. Even if they don’t find the prize, she is focused on the journey and the educational aspect of the adventure.
Fisher graduated from Woodinville High School then the University of Arizona with a BA in Music. She continued her education receiving her MBA from the University of Baltimore. She works as the Director of Business Management for Microsoft, and volunteers her time as a mentor and enjoys working with students and veterans in particular. She is also now very involved with the small non-profit that she helped to create Global Exploration and Recovery – GEaR.
GEaR is team of passionate individuals that volunteer their time, money, and skills to come together oversees to deliver on the promise made to our Servicepersons - that they will not be left behind. They also maintain contact with the next of kin. In this case, it includes John Pritchard’s sister Nancy, who is 94, and who continues to hope that her brother’s body will be located and returned to his native soil.
GEaR is the entity heading to Greenland again this month. All of the members of the team (except Fisher) were part of the original expedition outlined in “Frozen in Time.” Fisher is the Board Secretary and a Director of GEaR.
For three weeks, Fisher will be based at small Inuit village with about 250 residents where her role will be community and educational engagement. She will be in contact with the exploration team on the ice cap and communicate with classrooms and followers to their expedition.
In addition to the obvious logistical planning for a trip of this magnitude, Fisher has been preparing physically as well. She’s been hiking with packs, trained in wilderness first aid, ventured to Alaska on a dog sledding trip, and cooking backpacking recipes that might come in handy. She shared that she is a vegetarian and knows that fresh fruits and vegetables are not a likely staple so she’ll need to improvise.
Meet the other active members of GEaR:
John Bradley is the Founder and President of GEaR, and he lives in Colorado. Bradley has been a mountain guide in and out of North America and has completed several missions in Greenland. He is trained in medical mountain rescue.
Francis Marley is the Vice President of GEaR and he lives in Alaska. Marley is a Captain in the Alaska Army National Guard (served in Afghanistan), and is active in the Alaska Mountain Rescue and Dive Rescue communities. He is trained in Wilderness First Response.
Jaana Gustafsson is the Geophysicist for the team. She lives in Stockholm, and is a land surveyor who leads ground-penetrating radar surveys in both urban and remote wilderness locations. She has been on several Greenland missions.
Nicholas Bratton is the Vice President of GEaR and lives in Seattle. Bratton is an experienced mountaineering guide and a former National Outdoor Leadership School instructor. He has served on two missions to Greenland. Although he will not be on the trip this summer, he is helping with planning logistics.
To learn more about GEaR and help this nonprofit’s mission by donating, visit www.globalexploration andrecovery.com. They also have a Facebook page Global Exploration and Recovery.
Editor’s Note: I was so intrigued with this story that I not only read the book “Frozen in Time” but I have asked Christie Fisher to provide the Woodinville Weekly with updates about her trip. As long as technology cooperates, we are planning on three submissions for each week she is onsite in Greenland from July 16-30. Please stay tuned!
We recently spent the afternoon enjoying a great musical performance by the band that has Woodinville ties.
The band was Global Heat. The event was the Festival Sundiata and it took place on June 17th at the Seattle Center on the Mural Stage.
The weather was sunny and beautiful so it was the perfect opportunity to see the band in action. The backdrop couldn’t have been more iconic with the Space Needle jutting up behind the stage.
We settled into a spot on the lawn in front of the stage just in time for the start of the first song and instantly started to bop and chair dance. The band performs original music as well as a cover or two, and their sound includes elements of funk, rap, and rhythm & blues all wrapped into one tight package.
Every song during the set had us moving to the music with big smiles while enjoying the beautiful day. Not only did it seem as though the crowd was enjoying the music, but the band seemed to be in sync and having a good time as well. My only regret was that the set didn’t last longer!
Following the performance, which concluded with a stellar rendition of Sly & the Family Stones’ “I Want to Take You Higher,” I had the opportunity to meet the band.
Global Heat’s founder and manager, Rob Pastorok, is a keyboardist, percussionist, PhD ecologist, and owner of Deep Well Studio in Woodinville. He has led band tours to perform at major music festivals throughout the Northwest U.S and all the way to Shanghai, China. In April 2017, he led Global Heat for a weeklong tour during which they performed for more than 5,000 youth at 16 venues. He received an Artist Trust award and has received grant support from 4Culture, Seattle Next 50, and Theatre Puget Sound. I asked Pastorok if he were to buy a ticket to see a live performance, who would it be? He said, “For music, Herbie Hancock & the Head Hunters. But since they are not touring, I get a second choice and have to say I will be buying tickets for my grandkids to see The Lion King.”
Since 2005, Marvin Shields Jr. has been a bassist, guitarist, vocalist, and musical director for Global Heat. At age 12, he began his musical career as a guitarist and drummer. Shields toured internationally performing with the world-class U.S. Air Force band Tops in Blue, including opening for the incomparable Al Green. His recording discography includes work on more than 12 albums. Shields is endorsed by the French guitar manufacturer Paul Lairat, who designed a signature bass for him. I asked him when people listen to him play is there is a musician that he’s been compared to? Shields replied, “They often mention how much they like my brand! However, on occasion I have gotten a Marcus Miller reference, I believe that’s more of how we love to wear our hats.”
Justin Murta, MC, DJ & Producer, is the one who really got the crowd started. His energy is infectious and his rap style vocals were clear and easy to understand. Murta is a professional musician in every sense of the word. Over the past 10+ years, he has performed in 34 countries at over 2,500 shows at festivals, schools, and venues. Whether performing as a soloist or with a group, he will surely rock the house. I asked Murta who has inspired him the most in his career. He replied, “Marvin Shields Jr. our Bass Player. He is naturally talented, a free spirit and is a role model in his work and personal life as well.”
Roz aka Rosalyn McCommon, Vocals, hails from the Kansas City area and grew up singing gospel music. In spite of spraining her ankle just before going on stage she was a trooper and sounded great with a large vocal range. Classically trained, she is a vocal coach, singer/songwriter, and plays keyboard, violin, light percussion and cajón. Roz said her “songwriting styles have ranged from orchestral arrangements to hip hop and country songs.” She performs regularly but also enjoys recording her own music in her home studio or recording background vocals. Roz’s love for music has allowed her to work with many styles of music and a wide range of professional artists like her fellow bandmates in Global Heat.
Michael Coble, Guitar, Flute and Vocals, joined the band in 2017. He earned a music performance degree in woodwinds then his post bachelor degree in music education. Coble toured the world as bandleader for six-piece show band aboard Holland America Line/Seabourn cruise ships from 2008-2013. He relocated to Seattle in 2013 after falling in love with the city and geography as well as the thriving music scene. Since then, he has been a public school music elementary teacher. I asked Coble what has been his favorite performance with Global Heat. He said, “...at Safeco Field for the graduation ceremony for Seattle colleges. It was amazing being on the jumbotron screen and hearing our songs over the massive sound system. Very appreciative and celebratory crowd!”
Drummer Nia Dupri Neal creates musical ‘in-the-pocket’ grooves by blending elements of funk, jazz, R&B, and pop. Nia began her professional journey in music as a teenager while attending the award-winning School of The Arts in Tacoma. She became a drummer for multiple church bands as well as cover bands on both the East and West coasts of the U.S. She also began co-composing songs with Crystal Aiken, winner of the first BET Sunday’s Best gospel competition. She has played with Dove Award Nominee Norman Hutchins, Anson Dawkins of Dawkins & Dawkins, Derek S. Clark, winner of the 2014 Stellar Award for Producer of the Year, Latin-pop band The Pazific, and reggae artist Toyin Adekale.
To see an upcoming Global Heat performance, visit their website at www.global-heat.com or on Facebook search GlobalHeat.
Think of the last time you were walking along the Sammamish Trail. Perhaps you looked over towards the old Red Hook Brewery location and saw people seemingly walking in the air. Perhaps they were on a wood platform, or a ladder, or a row of tires, or even a tight rope.
One way or another you wondered “what is that place?” with the thought of checking it out soon.
I’m here to report that the place is the Adventura Aerial Adventure Park, and they’ve been thrilling folks for 15 years in Woodinville.
Recently, Scott Chreist, CEO for Adventura, invited me out for a “Playday” to check it out for myself. Admittedly, I hesitated and informed him that I was in my 50’s, and I wasn’t a ninja. He assured me that “No ninja skills are required.”
“Ninja skills” may not be required, but you definitely want to be in relatively good shape and ready to relive some of the fun you had as a child on that jungle gym on the school playground.
I was booked on the 9 a.m. start and was told to plan on two and a half hours for the playday. There were 12 people in our group, and as I looked around I felt more at ease as there were definitely a few others in their 50’s. I chatted with a guy about my age, and he told me that he was there for his father’s day present with his teenage daughter.
We started with staff introductions and a safety and equipment review. The guides were very patient and thorough while helping us get set up with our gear. Then we went to a practice area to learn the correct way to stay on the course … i.e. remain attached to it via your climbing equipment.
Next we set off for the course, which starts at the 50-foot cargo net wall that is the point of access for all of the above ground obstacles. The course, as it was pointed out was a spoke and wheel design, so you are welcome to do as little or as much as you’d like within your comfort level. A couple staff members helped us climb the rope one by one to reach the first platform. The other staff positioned themselves at various points on the course to assist as needed. With the exception of the initial net wall, the entire course is 50 feet above the ground.
I chose to go last while I gathered my courage to get clipped into the elaborate harness system and climb up the net wall. When I reached the first platform, I happily hung out for a while deciding which direction to go on which obstacle. My choices were a log bridge, swinging rope, or a flat “staircase” with a lot of air between each step. I was there with a few other gals that were also gathering their courage and after they both crossed the log bridge, I decided that should be my path as well.
My trailblazer gals next attempted the double ladder so again I chose to follow them. They were definitely feeding my sense of adventure and giving me a dose of courage.
I must admit that the staff was amazing through all of this. I never felt pressured to try anything outside my comfort level, and when I did venture on an obstacle, they were all very encouraging.
Overall, I had a great time and as I zipped down the final obstacle to the ground, I had a profound sense of accomplishment for overcoming a few fears.
“The playday is geared towards adults,” Chreist said. It’s for people that want to do something really unique and different. Children, of course, can participate but must be with an adult. My thought was what a great bachelorette party this would make by adding a luncheon or wine tasting following the adventure.
Adventura also organizes team building corporate events that are custom designed with your goals and objectives in mind whether for recreation or development.
Check out all the options at www.AdventuraPlay.com.
I was invited to an event recently to check out a new product called the Savor Seattle Wine Passport. Those who know me know I like wine, and I enjoy going to a tasting occasionally so it sounded like it was right up my alley.
The event was at the Woodhouse Wine Estate Venue right off of Woodinville-Redmond Road in Woodinville. I must say that I really liked the place! It’s essentially a warehouse that has been dolled up with elegant chandeliers that provide a bit of ambiance. There is a long bar to collect your beverage (we particularly liked the Kennedy Shah Reserve Riesling) and the overall feel to the place is spacious and comfortable. Luckily, it was also a nice evening. The garage door was open to the parking lot/patio area complete with bistro tables where I met up with our event host.
Angela Shen, CEO of Savor Seattle, was clearly pleased with the turnout and happy to give me a few minutes of her time to talk about the Savor Seattle Wine Passport.
The passport is a phone app that is something of a “wine tasting assistant” that according to Shen,“ takes the guesswork out of choosing which wineries to visit.”
According to Shen after careful research, 25 of the best wineries in Woodinville and Seattle were selected to be a part of this project. These include some of the most iconic wineries as well as a few specialty ones that are a real treat once discovered. As Shen says, “The passport covers the gamut [of wineries].”
Your wine passport allows you tasting access to 10 of those wineries plus $50 in Lyft credit if you want to have someone else do the chauffeuring. The cost of the passport is $59.99. Considering most wineries presently charge at least $10 for a tasting this is a really good deal especially with the added Lyft credits.
The passport can be used over the course of a year. “We are giving people flexibility to visit wineries at their own pace and schedule,” Shen added.
The exclusive winery partners include: Alexandria Nicole, Basel Cellars, Charles Smith, Chateau Ste. Michelle, Cloudlift Cellars, Columbia Winery, Cougar Crest Winery, DeLille Carriage House, Fidelitas, Full Pull, J Bookwalter, Market Vineyards, Martedi Winery, Novelty Hill Januik, Obelisco Winery, Patterson Cellars, Sous Sol, Sparkman Cellars, Structure Cellars, Tertulia Cellars, Tsillan Cellars, Warr-King Wines, White Heron, Wilridge Winery/Sky River, and of course our gracious host venue Woodhouse Wine Estates.
This is the first of three tasting passports that Savor Seattle is planning to launch in 2018.
The Wine Passport isn’t Savor Seattle’s first product. According to Shen, they have been in business for 11 years with upwards of 35 employees during the busy season. The company got its start by offering guided food, wine and tasting tours for small groups. A signature tour they offer is to Pike Place Market that involves a tour, tasting and learning about the history and culture that is the Market.
Shen said, “If you are a foodie, you will love our tours.” In addition to the Pike Place tour, she referenced their gourmet tours in the city and an awesome getaway they offer to San Juan Island with kayaking. The nine-day Heart of Italy Tour sounded like one that would be right up my alley!
To learn more about the Savor Seattle Wine Passport or the Food Tours, visit savorseattletours.com.
When Jake Leland graduated from Cedarcrest High School in 2008, I doubt he ever envisioned embarking on the greatest motoring adventure on the planet touted as the Mongol Rally. But…that is just what he is doing next month with his bride, Madison, and his younger brother, Jaren, who is graduating from Cedarcrest this month.
After Jake graduated from Gonzaga and Madison from Washington State, they started their careers in Chicago. He has been working for United Airlines while volunteering for a program that helps homeless youth in the city. Madison settled in the corporate environment working for a law firm and on her MBA but they felt as though something was missing.
They’ve been in the city for five years and although they embraced volunteerism, they wanted to do something different, something more to give back.
They were wed last fall and as Jake explained, “we planned to leave our jobs and do a stint of traveling.” Then a friend tagged Madison in a Facebook post about The Mongol Rally. She did a little research and when Jake arrived home later that day she announced, “I’m going to Mongolia.”
It was a bit impulsive but as they learned more about the rally, they decided it would be a great adventure for both of them.
Founded by The Adventurists out of the United Kingdom, this will be the 11th annual event. The Mongol Rally starts July 15 at a secret location 30 minutes west of Prague in the Czech Republic. The route is 10,000 miles across the mountains, desert and steppe of Europe and Asia. There’s no backup, no support and no set route. You are on your own with your crew and a tiny 1000cc car.
The team (Jake, Madison and Jaren) will be driving a 20-year-old Ford Fiesta that they bought from someone on Facebook for $100.
The best part about the adventure is that participants in the rally are all raising money for charity. Each team must raise a minimum of $1000. $500 of that automatically goes to Cool Earth, the main charity of the event itself. Cool Earth is an environmental charity that works in partnership with indigenous communities. The charity protects rainforests that without intervention will be destroyed within the next 18 months.
Jake and Madison chose Smile Train as their personal charity. Smile Train is an international children’s charity that provides 100 percent free cleft lip and palate corrective surgeries for children in 85+ developing countries. This cause is special to them because Jake was born with a cleft lip and palate. They will donate the remaining $500 and any additional donations they receive to Smile Train. They are hoping to raise $5,000 total for the charity, which would pay for 20 surgeries.
They are personally paying for all of the other expenses on the trip that includes many of the typical travel and supply expenses you’d think plus a whole host of other expenses including eight visas.
While on the trip, they are hoping to visit some of the hospitals that Smile Train performs surgeries in such as Mongolia, Bulgaria, and Kyrgystan.
Jake and Madison are currently traveling, and I spoke to them from Nepal. They’ve been on the road since January and have also visited Sri Lanka, Maldives, Malaysia, and plan to go to India at the end of the trip.
Then the twosome will head to the United Kingdom (UK) and Jaren will be flying out from Washington state to meet them there on his 18th birthday. He’ll be part of the team for about a month then he has to fly home prior to staring school at Washington State in Pullman.
The trip is Jaren’s graduation present from Jake and Madison. “An awesome adventure before he starts college,” as Jake said. I asked what his mother thought of the “adventure” and he admitted it took a bit of convincing but agreed nonetheless.
From the UK, the trio heads to Germany to pick up their beater car then to Prague by July 15 for the start of the rally. From there who knows until they get to the finish line in the Russian town of Ulan-Ude (which is about 400 miles due north of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia the original finish line). The finish opens August 10 and teams have until September 10 to cross the line. Of course it’s still called the Mongol Rally but the organizers moved the finish in 2015 to save each team about £1000.
One way or another, they are definitely in for an adventure. Madison said, “We are nervous but really excited…we’re not sure what we are getting ourselves into.”
If you’d like to follow Jake and Madison on their adventures, visit https://www.facebook.com/mjroam/
To donate to Jake and Madison’s Smile Train charity for the event, visit https://my.smiletrain.org/fundraiser/mjroam
To learn more about the Mongol Rally, visit http://www.theadventurists.com/mongol-rally/
At first glance you’d think Kristin Jarvis Adams was your typical Eastside mom with two kids, a lovely home with a proverbial white picket fence, and a side business. That is what you may think but you’d be wrong.
Adams and her family survived one of the most gut wrenching and emotional ordeals over a 10-year period and luckily for all those who follow, she’s written a book to tell her story.
The book, “The Chicken Who Saved Us: The Remarkable Story of Andrew and Frightful”, is receiving rave reviews from parents and doctors alike. After reading it myself, I can only join in the accolades.
Adams grew up on the Eastside and attended Woodinville High School in the 80’s. She attended the University of Washington and graduated with a BFA in Graphic Design. She married her high school sweetheart, Jon Adams, in 1990 and they started their family. Andrew was first then three years later Hannah joined the family.
“Andrew is autistic and didn’t utter a word until he was four,” according to Adams. From there he spoke in riddles and the family was always struggling to decode his language. When Andrew was 8 years old and Hannah was 5, the family went to DeYoung’s Feed Store for the annual Chick Fest. Andrew discovered a bin of baby chickens on the far side of the room. They were Araucana hens and Tony the store clerk told him that they lay beautiful blue eggs.
A few minutes later, Andrew approached his parents gently cupping a splotchy brown and black chick in his hands and announced, “She is my new friend. I’d like to bring her home with me.” Adams said that she was astonished he had spoken so clearly. That sentence along with the children’s pleas were all they needed and next thing you know they are heading home with six chicks and all the items needed to raise them.
Andrew told his parents her name was Frightful. When asked why he called her Frightful he replied, “Because she told me that was her name.” When pressed he added “She will be brave for me. Frightful will save me.”
Frightful was not only Andrew’s best friend but his confident as well with him admitting to her one summer afternoon “I think my body is trying to kill me.”
Adams admitted, “Andrew was sick pretty much his entire childhood. It became critical when he was 16 years old.”
In and out of doctor’s offices, hospital emergency rooms, then eventually moving into to the hospital at 16 years old, Andrew was in constant excruciating pain. When he was finally diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder, the doctors were then baffled as to how to cure him or at least help lesson the pain.
Hannah adored her brother and throughout it all stayed strong and seemed to understand her role in the family, eventually saving Andrew’s life.
Frightful of course couldn’t visit at the hospital but stayed ever vigilant to her best friend at home on her perch by the window and via technology at the hospital.
Adams and her husband did what they could to save their son and keep their heads above water for what seemed like eternity. They are forever grateful for friends and family that stepped in and up so that they could focus on Andrew.
While reading her story, there were moments where I laughed out loud and other moments where I quietly sobbed. Adams captured the truism to dealing with a child’s life-threatening illness within a family unit and at the hospital surrounded by other parents and caregivers. “There is a whole world going on inside these [hospital] walls,” she said.
When asked why she decided to relive the ordeal and tell her story she said, “I felt the need and wanted people to know that you are not alone.” I am confident that anyone who is a parent or caregiver would benefit by reading her book.
Adams admits that many people have reached out with thanks and the book has touched people in different ways. One man wrote to her and said, “Oh my God you absolutely changed how I looked at my family’s situation.” Adams said, “He was the Hannah in the story.”
Frightful lived to the ripe old age of 10…just long enough to see her friend Andrew come home from the hospital. Adams said that the phrase “Chick, chick, chickadee” became one that she knows had a bit of magic in it. Andrew would likely say to this day “Frightful saved my life.”
Andrew is now 25 years old and doing well. He was able to graduate from high school and worked for the past three years as a prep chef. He is now thinking of his next step and as a family they are feeling things through and trying things on for size.
I asked Adams her advice for other parents faced with a life threatening illness. She said “As a mama bear you protect your young over anything. That was the biggest thing for many years for my husband and I. When the illness blossomed like a mushroom cloud, it took over our lives. We tried to suck it up. Eventually I just called the church and asked for help.” The church responded by offering support to the family in every way possible. When Adams first shared her story, the pastor said, “We’ve got this and we’ll hold the story for you.” From there she learned it is so important to share/tell your story so others can “hold it” for you. Be connected to community…they can help.
“The Chicken Who Saved Us: The Remarkable Story of Andrew and Frightful” has won the Gold IPPY Award. It is available wherever books are sold and at the Woodinville Barnes and Noble.
I’m a firm believer that everyone deserves a chance to live a safe, healthy and happy life. At times though that is not always easy and for some teens in the area they’ve never had the opportunity. For students at Eastside Academy, the circumstances vary (abuse, homelessness, addiction, pregnancy, gang violence) but the bottom line is they want to turn things around and have a shot at a future filled with hope versus despair.
Amy Effinger, Investments and Partnerships Officer at Eastside Academy, explains, “Eastside offers a holistic approach to learning. Students are provided with an education while being treated for the underlying issues that cause them to struggle in all areas of their lives.”
Eastside Academy is a not for profit alternative high school and treatment program that was established in 2001. Students experience all of the class requirements that a traditional high school offers including Mathematics, English, Science, Social Studies, Arts, and even Foreign Language now. They are Christian based although all faith religions are welcome. They currently have a campus at Bellevue Presbyterian with 50 students (Bellevue) and at Overlake Christian Church with 25 students (Redmond). Students are referred to Eastside through the court system, school counselors, friends, and family.
Unlike other school/treatment programs, the students are all from the Puget Sound area representing nine school districts and most come from poverty or low-income households. Currently, all of the students at Eastside receive some level of financial assistant and as a result tuition makes up less than 8% of the annual budget. The balance of the budget is raised through two annual fundraisers, foundation partners, corporations, and individual donations. One of the fundraisers is the 13th Annual Evergreen Gavekal Golf Tournament held at the premier private Glendale Country Club on June 11 this year. There is still space available to join the fun and help support a great cause. The other is a Dinner and Auction on October 20, 2018.
There are a few things that really set Eastside apart from other alternate high schools:
Effinger got involved with Eastside when she volunteered as a mentor. Mentors are required to meet with their assigned student once a week during the lunch period. She said that the students embrace this program, as it is a safe place for them. The young lady that Effinger mentored was able to open up and tell her story without judgment or consequences. Effinger said, “These kids are really brave.” She added that she is blown away with their spirit and soul.
On June 22, the Bellevue campus will honor five graduates and on June 23 the Overlake campus honors five graduates as well. These students will join alumni who have found healing from their young lives that were filled with trauma and abuse. Eastside has served hundreds of youth who now attend college, pursue careers, contribute positivity to their community, and raise families.
Sadly, following this June’s graduation, the Overlake campus will be closed. Effinger explained that a budget shortfall due to the Office of Public Instruction (OPI) requirement of adding a foreign language to their program that was not initially anticipated is a big part of the budget shortfall. She said that they are already working on additional fundraising efforts and hopeful to reopen this campus in the fall of 2019 offering a much needed middle school program.
If you want to learn more about Eastside Academy, register for the upcoming golf tournament, support financially, or volunteer, please visit www.EastsideAcademy.org.
I was invited to witness an amazing event on May 3rd celebrating students and educators in Washington state…WE Day Seattle.
Seattle Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll kicked off the day and got the kids hyped and loud! He said, “Our adults need you, need your guidance.” The place erupted with cheers. I was amazed at how loud 16,000 students could be. Carroll, also the Co-Chair of WE Day Seattle, was just the start of the of celebrities and musicians that entertained and motivated the group over the next five plus hours.
Hosting the event throughout the day were Jack & Jack, singer-songwriter duo Jack Johnson and Jack Gilinsky; Olivia Holt, recording artist and actress; and Anthony Gonzalez, actor, singer and musician.
Hip-Hop Artist Sol played his hit Jump In and Noah Cyrus sang her hit song All Falls Down. Marlee Matlin spoke of following her dream of acting although born deaf. Paraplegic Spencer West talked about climbing Mount Kilimanjaro by using his arms only and his documentary Redefining Possible. Jacob Tremblay, star of Wonder, was joined onstage by spokesperson for Treacher Collins syndrome, Nathaniel Newman, to raise awareness about the genetic disorder. Motivational speaker and author Lizzie Valasquez brought the crowd to tears with her powerful words about bullying. Then Ann Curry, Rasheda Ali, and Diane Guerrero all shared moving stories with the young crowd that continued to cheer. As day wrapped up Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks quarterback, along with his fiancé Ciara, singer and songwriter, thanked the amazing group of students for their service to others. Lastly Rachel Platten ended the day by singing her hit Fight Song along with the entire arena.
The amazing thing is that students or their teachers can’t buy a ticket to attend WE Day. To be included, they must have participated in a local and global volunteer/give back activity in the past year. The great thing is there were so many students that fit the bill in Washington state as shown by this packed house. And, as I discovered, many educators in attendance were helping these students succeed by helping their classrooms discover ways to get involved using the WE Schools resources.
I met one student, Maya Prouty, a senior at the Attic Learning Center in Woodinville who was attending her fifth WE Day event.
I asked Maya how she became interested in giving back to her community (and ultimately receiving the golden WE Day ticket).
She said that she feels very strongly about the issues of homelessness and hunger in our community and wanted to find a way to help. So, for her local project, Maya along with some classmates, organize an annual food drive event. She picked October to do the event as she said, “The weather is getting cold and I knew it was a good time [to start collecting for the holidays].”
For her global project, she works with fellow students on a WE Are Rafikis fundraiser. The school orders handmade Rafiki bracelets made by women in Kenya to earn money to send their children to school.
She’s also worked with fellow students on WE Bake for Change and organized a bake sale at the school.
These WE options are some of many school fundraisers that are available with assistance through the WE organization.
Ultimately as Maya explained it all stems around the WE Villages principle and the five pillars that the charity is based on: Food, Health, Education, Water, and Opportunity. They are making change to create good she noted.
As we wrapped up Maya offered this advice to students wanting to get involved and make a difference. She said, “It’s important to know what your passion is.” She referenced that homelessness is something she is passionate about that is why she has gotten involved in the projects she has. Maya added, “Passion + Issue = Change.”
She said, “It is really important to know that small actions can make big impact.”
As a senior, Maya won’t be involved as a student in WE Day next year but is hopeful to stay involved on some level in the future. She’s planning to study engineering in college as she feels “it can be used to make a positive impact on a global and local scale.”
For more information, visit www.we.org.
Long before founding Acres of Diamonds in 1995, Pearl Tadema has always had a big heart for homeless women and children. She wanted to help, but wanted to go beyond just providing a roof over someone’s head. She wanted to work with people to them heal and find a better life and future. So she returned to school to earn her Masters degree in counseling, completed the paperwork to become a nonprofit, rented a house in Duvall, and worked with shelters, police, and community services to find mothers needing help. “It had a very grassroots start,” said Kristin Jack, Senior Development Manager at Acres.
Over 20 years later, Acres of Diamonds continues this mission. Serving women who are predominantly victims of domestic violence, substance abuse, and lifelong poverty. These are women with children that want to break the cycle and write a new chapter, a new book for themselves.
Valerie Stewart, Community Engagement Manager, and Jack met with me recently to talk about the work Acres of Diamonds is doing and gave me a tour of the facilities. Stewart said of Acres, “It’s a safe place for real changes.”
Stewart stressed the often life changing programs and working with these wonderful strong women that truly want to give their kids a life that they didn’t have. She said, “It’s a strong program with a housing benefit.”
The uplifting women and children’s program at Acres of Diamonds is built around relationships…God, Self, Others, and Community.
Acres is a faith-based organization but a religious affiliation is not a requirement to be a participant in the program. The main requirement is that the women must be clean and sober and ready to commit to the process for a better life.
Lush greenery and trees with a main house and an apartment building surround the grounds, which is now owned by the nonprofit. Up to 12 families can be housed at this time. The main house accommodates the community room for classes and group meals, rooms for residents, and administration offices. The apartment building provides homes for additional families and houses a kids’ center complete with a nursery and library. All women start the program by living in the main house. “The first month is so important,” Stewart said. “They don’t have to worry ‘how will I feed my child? When do I have to move again?’ They can feel safe,” she added.
The ultimate plan is to construct an addition called the “Family Rescue Home” that will add 20 more apartments among other things. Jack said that they are working on the plan for this and are currently in the “dream phase.”
Women enrolled in the Acres program are required to attend two classes weekly and pitch in to keep things in order. Additionally, they are all working normal jobs, attending school, or both. Stewart said, “These moms want change and are willing to put in the hard work to make a better life for their kids.” The families also get together weekly for a group supper to share food, stories, and hopes.
Jack marveled at the strength and commitment the women at Acres have shown despite the adversity that they have faced. “It is great to walk alongside these women as they go through the program.”
Community goes beyond the boundaries of Acres as well. Stewart said, “People have really embraced our mission. Many people and businesses from Woodinville and Duvall are helping.” They welcome volunteers to help with classes, kids programs, keeping the grounds beautiful. Donations are also welcome. Of particular need are clothes for their onsite thrift store called “The Diamond Dollar Store” for moms to shop at, furniture, food, diapers, and of course, cash donations. Every week a wish list is posted on their Facebook page (acresofdiamondsorg). There is also an annual fall gala event that will be held on September 21st this year at the Hollywood Schoolhouse.
When the women at Acres see the community helping out, it means so much to them. Stewart said, “A lot of these women have suffered and having people come out and invest in their lives is awesome.”
If you are interested in finding out more about Acres of Diamonds, please call 425.788.9999 or visit us online at www.acresofdiamonds.org.
There are people that you will meet in your lifetime that have an aura of positive energy. When you spend any amount of time with them you somehow feel happier. Audrey Phillips, at just 24 years old, is one of those people. I was grateful to meet her recently and to learn about her inspirational project 365 Meaningful Conversations.
Audrey is a 2012 graduate of Woodinville High School and has been on quite an amazing journey the past few years. Although she’s done a bit of traveling with attending college in Maine, working as a ski instructor in Park City, Utah for a winter season, and working as a wilderness guide in Durango, Colorado, her journey has been much more than just moving from one locale to the next.
Audrey Phillips, Creator of 365 Meaningful Conversations (Courtesy photo)The journey she’s been on is one of building blocks of realizing she can make a difference, and she’s doing just that with colorful cards carrying inspirational quotes.
It all started when Audrey spent a summer as a camp counselor for IslandWood on Bainbridge Island. One of the activities she led was hiking combined with inspirational quotes. The kids would find a quote on the trail and the counselors would follow up to discover what the quotes meant to the kids. Often times, the quotes sparked deeper conversations with the kids and Audrey said, “It was a great introduction to nature and quotes.”
She admits she’s always loved quotes since she was a child so she loved this program and when she returned to school in the fall, expanded on it. “I am an avid doodler,” she said. So she started adding to the quotes she collected at camp and created colorful note-sized cards with custom handmade type fonts and fun images.
She would hang them up on the wall to display and soon she had 100 cards, then 150, and it kept growing to 200 cards. Audrey said “Then a woman I knew encouraged me to just go for it and make 365 cards [for a full year].”
Audrey’s favorite quote is “you are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think” by A.A. Milne.
The quotes always seem to prompt a question or conversation so Audrey took things one step further by adding specific questions on the back of her cards as they related to the quote. She tested the cards when she worked as a wilderness therapy guide for at-risk teens and young adults. On a backpacking trip with the students, she was able to connect and spark vulnerable conversation using the cards. She discovered that many people feel lonely and crave a space to connect deeply, yet the space is very rarely opened up. These cards were helping to open the connections and the conversations in all subjects even those largely ignored in society like privilege, race, self-esteem, body image, grief, etc.
Processing this realization combined with a two-month outward-bound program that ended with three days of being alone in the woods, she developed her business plan.
She cleaned up her quote cards, contacted a manufacturer to produce the cards and presentation boxes, and decided to take 365 Meaningful Conversations Project on the road. The plan is purchase a van to travel across the country for 365 days. She wants to visit every state in the United States and within that state the capital, the biggest city, and the city/town with the lowest socioeconomic scale. She plans to host meaningful conversation events at coffee shops, schools, prisons, homes, colleges, etc. to spread the message that sharing vulnerability takes strength and can lead to deeper connections. Audrey will be hitting the road in August and plans to record the conversations with the hope of a book in the future.
To help fund the project, she has started a crowdfunding page on indiegogo.com. She’s raised close to $6,000 of her $18,000 goal. Anyone who supports the project will have the option to receive certain products (including the box of 365 cards with her handmade designs) once the project is fully funded. Audrey is funding part of the project on her own as well. “I feel grateful for the support I’ve received,” she said.
Audrey is currently working on building a presentation that can be used in middle schools while she is on the road. She is particularly interested in working with this age group of children to help them open up and become their authentic self without fear or shame.
I for one think Audrey is on to something and with her passion and caring demeanor she will make a difference. She ended with this thought, “Our world needs to connect. It can be scary but the whole world needs to connect.”
Want to be inspired? Follow “365Meaningful Conversations” on Instagram.
Want to support Audrey’s project? Visit her crowdfunding page: indiegogo.com/projects/365-meaningful-conversations--2/x/17002111).