I continue to be inspired by the young adults in our community especially after chatting with Sarah Raza last week. At only 17 years old, she is really making a difference and has the makings to be a leader in the future.
Sarah lives with her family in Woodinville and just started her senior year at Redmond High School (school district boundaries dictated that).
She said she has always enjoyed history classes and attributes that to her love of reading. “With History what you read is true and about our past,” Sarah said. She chuckled when she added that she is enjoying math now as well and that stemmed from taking a Calculus class. I chuckled as well saying that is when many people likely start to dislike math!
Puget Sound area Student Leaders at the Washington D.C. summit from left to right: Sarah Raza, Madeleine Brown, U.S. Senator Patty Murray, Winter Holmgren and Youri Babakoff. (Courtesy photo)At school she’s active with the Debate team and is the president for this upcoming school year. In Debate she focuses on the individual events and has attended state in the past for her Oratory, Impromptu, and IR (Interpretive Reading) categories.
Sarah is also Senior Class Treasurer this year and has been part of student government throughout her high school years.
And if those accolades weren’t enough for this bright young lady, in March of 2017 she started a nonprofit organization called Aware. Aware’s mission is to embrace students with special needs. By that she hopes to remove the stigma against students with special needs and include them in day-to-day activities in school that may be taken for granted. She wants the entire student population to be able to participate in activities as simple as eating lunch amongst friends to attending prom.
Sarah’s personal story for creating Aware stemmed from helping a friend babysit her sister who suffered from severe autism. What started out as a one day experiment turned into a full summer of fun spending time with the two girls and coming away with a completely different mindset and new understanding of the numerous obstacles that kids with special needs have to overcome.
Aware is branching out to other schools as well and there is a chapter in both Bothell and Newport at this time. She’s hopeful to get other schools involved with chapters of their own in the future. To help that along, Aware was recently awarded one of the top six T-Mobile Changemaker Challenge Winners and will receive a financial contribution as well as valuable advice from T-Mobile’s legal, marketing, and financial teams.
I asked Sarah about her motivation to give back and get involved. She said, “I have always been a very active volunteer.” She credits her Muslim faith and being involved in the mosque for that foundation. “Helping the community is something that has always been done,” she added. It should be noted that Sarah has also volunteered at the Pacific Science Center, Northwest Parkinson’s Foundation, and at the Autism Resource Center in Rawalpindi Pakistan.
I was introduced to Sarah by the management team at Bank of America following her internship this summer.
According to Bank of America Market Executive, Kim Vu, Sarah was part of the “dream team” chosen for Bank of America’s Student Leaders eight-week, paid internship program, which helps develop the next generation of local leaders by recognizing community-minded high school students and connecting them to employment, professional development and service opportunities.
This summer she worked with Special Olympics Washington on a number of different projects from helping put on this year’s USA Games to research and writing to learning the general operations of a nonprofit. During the USA Games she said, “I interviewed some amazing athletes then we posted their stories on social media.”
Sarah Raza (Courtesy photo)Sarah is so proud that she had the chance to be involved in the Bank of America Student Leadership internship. “It was by far the best summer program I have ever done,” she said. She felt it was a great experience with real life work and the networking was tremendous.
She learned about the internship through her school’s website on the career center page. Sarah emphasized that it was a perfect fit for her since it involved community service and nonprofit involvement plus getting paid was a bonus.
In the future, college is definitely on the horizon but she’s not sure where she’ll end up yet. She thinks UW is fantastic and her sister is a student there. She’s also applying at Occidental College in LA along with all the Ivy League schools. Acceptance and financial aid will help make the final decision. When the time comes, she’ll pass the reigns for Aware to another student but will stay on as an advisor.
I asked if she had any final thoughts to give to other students that wanted to get involved and she said “Remember that every little bit helps.”
Sarah has done more than a little bit and I’m grateful for students like her that are getting involved every day in making our schools and the community a little better.
For more information:
Aware – visit awarenonprofit.org
Internship – visit Bankofamerica.com/StudentLeadership
Applications will be due this fall and are open to students in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties.
After 28 years of service, Mike Millman retired from his position as Station Captain at Everett Fire Department in February of this year. He is far from done serving the public, however, having recently been appointed as a new Woodinville Fire & Rescue Board of Fire Commissioner.
As a member of the Board of Fire Commissioners, he’ll meet with fellow commissioners at Headquarters Fire Station 31. This board oversees all budget and policy decisions for the District.
Each member of the Board of Fire Commissioners is typically elected by the citizens and serves a 6-year term although Millman was appointed to the board after a member resigned when he moved from the district. Members receive a minimal stipend for their services. Other Board of Fire Commissioner Members include: Roger Collins, Derek van Veen, Jim Dorney, and Tim Osgood.
The appointment is so new that prior to press time Mike hadn’t yet attended his first meeting but will do so on September 11th. He has already participated in his first “official duty” however when he volunteered to flip pancakes at the recent Woodinville Fire & Rescue Pancake Breakfast during the Celebrate Woodinville events in August.
I met with Mike and his lovely wife of 21 years last week at their beautiful home in Woodinville. From the accompanying photo, you’ll probably recognize Mike’s wife Michelle as an anchor for KIRO 7 news.
Mike became interested in a career as a firefighter when he was in high school, and his dad was dating a female firefighter in Seattle. He was attracted to the job aspect of helping people, the bonding he witnessed among the firefighters, and the physical aspect of the job. A few years later, he had a neighbor that had just become a firefighter, and his interest was reignited. That neighbor became his mentor in the process to become a firefighter, and the rest they say is history.
“I loved the camaraderie of the fire department,” said Millman. He added that he loved helping people and making a difference. That is what attracted him to the job so many years ago.
He admitted that their station was very busy though and that a fair amount of stress accompanied the job. Millman said, “I don’t miss the sleep deprivation.”
Following retirement, Mike took some much needed time off “to decompress” as Michelle noted. But when the opportunity to join the Fire Board presented itself, he jumped at it. He’s happy to give back to the Woodinville community that has been so good to his family. “I think they [Board of Fire Commissioners] are doing a fantastic job,” he said.
He’s already been working with the staff and is looking forward to getting involved in the meetings and workshops.
The Fire Chief from the Everett Fire Department, David DeMarco, said of Millman, “He was a great employee, and we have all wished him well in his retirement years. I’m happy to hear he is still leading a life of service in his own community. He brings years of expertise and will be a valuable member of your Fire Board.”
Mike bought his home in Woodinville in 1992, and Michelle joined him when they married. He loves the location and that it is close to the mountains, water, work, and town. Plus he said, “the people are great.” Michelle added, “It is not a big city, and we are really part of a community.”
Together the couple have two boys. Jake will be beginning his sophomore year at the University of Washington while Luke will be a senior at Ingelmoor High School. Mike and Michelle both praised the Northshore School District, and they are grateful for the opportunities it has provided.
Michelle wrapped things up by saying how proud she was of Mike. By continuing to serve the community and giving back. “He’s one of the smartest people I know,” she added.
I think Woodinville is lucky to have Mike along with his passion and experience serving the community as a new member of the Board of Fire Commissioners.
For more information about the Woodinville Fire & Rescue and the Fire Commissioners, visit http://wf-r.org/
Chances are that even if you haven’t attended a Cirque du Soleil show, you’ve heard about their shows. A golden opportunity to experience the excitement of Cirque de Soleil close to home is only days away!
The company started in 1984 with their first production and since then more than 180 million spectators have seen a Cirque du Soleil show. In 2017, close to 10 million spectators alone attended! Not only that, but the company (headquartered in Montreal) employees 4,000 people worldwide that represent more than 50 nationalities and speak 25 different languages.
Las Vegas is likely the easiest place to catch a Cirque du Soleil show with seven currently playing at various hotels on the strip. But fortunately here for us on the Eastside, there are touring shows and “Volta” happens to be starting this weekend at Marymoor Park.
Putting together a show of the scale and magnitude of Volta and setting up the “Big Top” and Cirque du Soleil village is no easy task. Just to begin to set up at a show site, 72 trailer trucks carry close to 2,000 tons of equipment.
Erecting the Big Top alone took 60 men and women pushing more than 100 supporting poles to raise the canvas in place last week. The results can be seen from a distance with the Volta Big Top being able to seat more than 2,500 people. Furthermore, it is anchored in place by 500 or so stakes and can withstand winds up to 75 mph (120 km).
The show itself, as do most Cirque du Soleil productions, follows an elaborate and mysterious storyline with incredible acrobats performing amazing feats of strength and flexibility coupled with a musical score than enhances every move on stage. Moments of “wow” and “oh my gosh” from the audience replace normal dialog for the night.
The storyline for Volta is described as follows:
VOLTA is a story of transformation. It is about being true to oneself, fulfilling one’s true potential, and recognizing one’s own power to make it possible. Ultimate freedom comes with self-acceptance, and with the liberation of the judgment of others.
Waz, a gameshow contestant that has lost touch with himself. He’s ashamed of who he is because of his difference. Follow him as he enters the show in search of fame, thinking that this will bring him love and acceptance from others. What he will find is something else. That fame is not the answer. If fame doesn’t provide freedom and acceptance, then what does? Will WAZ reconnect with his true self – and stand up for all that makes him truly unique? Will he realize that his difference is what makes him extraordinary?
Having attended many Cirque du Soleil shows over the years, I am looking forward to being amazed yet again!
Volta - Under the Big Top King County’s Marymoor Park
(6046 West Lake Sammamish Pkwy NE, Redmond, WA 98052)
Volta runs from September 7, 2018 - November 4, 2018
Tickets start at $39
Cancer affects so many of us both directly and indirectly. It leaves us with feelings of helplessness, fear, and frustration. Do we trust the initial diagnosis, or do we search out a second opinion? Should we choose the recommended treatment, or do we search for alternatives?
Ryan Sternagel and Teddy Guss Sternagel, both graduates from Woodinville High School in 2003, were faced with these questions and so many more. You see, five years ago, they welcomed a son, Ryder, into the world. Just before his first birthday, they discovered he had cancer. He was diagnosed with stage four neuroblastoma-a childhood cancer of the nervous system. Ryder had a tumor larger than his kidney growing inside and out of his spinal canal as well as two secondary tumors, all of which had metastasized into his bones. In an instant, their lives were changed. The doctors told the Sternagels that Ryder would have to undergo chemotherapy immediately.
Chemotherapy treatment began on Ryder here in Washington while his parents continued to research other options for a cure and his wellbeing. Ryan and Teddy consulted with naturopathic doctors, cancer coaches, and health experts all over the world to employ an integrative approach that minimized the amount of conventional treatment Ryder received through a mix of super nutrition, targeted supplementation, energy medicine and healthy lifestyle practices. This included providing Ryder with supplements that they gave him through an NG feeding tube as well as bringing a juicer into his hospital room and providing food for Ryder.
Miraculously and very fortunately, Ryder’s tumor shrunk faster than anyone expected. Ryan states, “We were able to avoid virtually all other conventional medicines and procedures that usually come with chemotherapy, and his overall appearance and energy levels were much more vibrant than the other kids in the oncology ward.”
The next MRI revealed even more progress and after four rounds of chemotherapy and four months since his diagnosis, the Sternagels made the decision to stop chemotherapy halfway through the conventional protocol. This decision was not taken lightly nor easily made.
This also prompted a move to Utah. Why Utah? Ryan explained, “We were not seeing eye to eye with hospital, and the hospital wasn’t open to hearing input from us.” They knew they had to make a change and researched many options. “The facility in Utah seemed to be the best option for us. It was more laid back. They [Doctors] were much more open to making decisions together.” Ultimately, they agreed to a wait and see approach verses continued chemotherapy.
It should be noted that Ryder continues to be under the care of an oncologist and closely monitored with MRI’s and labs.
Rather than congratulating themselves on escaping a tragedy and then returning to their pre-diagnosis life, they decided to begin sharing their journey and provide information to others who have a child with cancer.
Ryan and Teddy knew how hard it had been for them find paths to alternative options since most available literature focused on adult cancer. Their Facebook/YouTube/ Instagram/Website/ Twitter accounts (first mykidhascancer.com, then, mykidcurescancer.com, and now, thesternmethod.com) all are directed to help caregivers determine the steps that need to be taken when a cancer diagnosis is given.
They have produced a weekly podcast (over 50 to date) where a specialist is interviewed to discuss cancer treatments and healthy living in general as it applies to childhood cancer.
They recently offered a free online event called the “Toxic Home Transformation Summit” addressing how to make your living environment healthier.
Ryan commented, “People are taking notice.” 100,008 watched the event. It is the biggest thing they have done to date and he said, “We received tons of great feedback and opened many people’s eyes.”
He added, “We are now fully immersed in the online health world.”
Ultimately, it started because they “didn’t want to sit back and not do whatever they could to help make sense of it [Ryder’s cancer].” The Sternagels saw other parents going through the same struggles and wanted to share their findings and help.
What is the message and/or advice that Ryan would offer to other parents?
“You are the CEO of your kids health. A CEO isn’t necessarily the financial or marketing expert, but they have a hand in it. They bring people in to do the job as they see fit. At the end of the day, they look to the CEO to run a good company and your child is the company in this case. In this day and age there are so many experts available. Don’t pin your child’s health on just one person [i.e. Doctor].”
Ryan ended with, “We have always wanted to do something that made a difference. We are trying to make the world a better place.”
I would say they are right on track and Ryder and his little sister, Channing, are lucky kids to have them as parents.
Visit thesternmethod.com for more information.
If you’ve had lunch at Shake ’N Go, a brew at Triplehorn, or a glass of wine at Elevation Cellars off of 144th Ave NE you probably haven’t had a reason to venture much further down the road. But, if you did, you’d find the 42,000 sq. ft. production facility and offices for Garden Fresh Foods.
Jim Dugdale and Steve McFarland founded Garden Fresh Foods in 1987. When Jim Dugdale retired in 2000, his son Mark Dugdale and his wife Christina bought out his interest. Then in 2017 when McFarland retired, they became sole owners. Mark and Christina Dugdale grew up on the Eastside and live in Bothell.
Garden Fresh Foods packages fresh cut vegetables that are sold to wholesale accounts. Most of the product stays in the Pacific Northwest due to the freshness factor and winds up at schools, grocery stores, restaurants, etc. Think Whole Foods, Ivars, and Northshore School District.
The company also provides potatoes to the national conglomerate C-Fresh, a division of the Campbell Soup Company among others. The preparation method that they use for their potato products are proprietary. The product is also in demand, especially with companies that are concerned about quality. Mark and Christina work predominantly with farmers in Eastern Washington, Skagit Valley, and California and accept only the highest quality produce for their products.
From the time Mark Dugdale was first able to work at 14 years old, he’s been involved in Garden Fresh Foods. He said, “I did every job at the plant. I started out washing trucks, then into production, and eventually driving.” He graduated from the University of Washington with a business degree then joined the company full time. Christina and Mark married in 1997 and after spending time at home with their three children, she joined the company full time in 2009. She said, “We do everything together.”
They recently received their “Organic Certification” and passed an internationally recognized Safe Quality Food (SQF) Level 2 audit with a 97 out of 100; each of which was quite an effort but worth it. They are also sticklers for food safety for the end user. Mark said, “I want to sleep well at night.”
Currently 80 employees work at the facility and Mark noted that they are looking to hire up to 16 more people in the coming weeks.
According to Christina, the employees at Garden Fresh Foods are so very important. Many of the positions are for unskilled labor but they are definitely filling a niche in the marketplace. “We employ people that don’t need a huge skill set but are important to our community. It is rewarding to provide jobs to people,” she said.
They find their workers through Better Teams, Indeed, an in-house referral program, and Hopelink to name a few.
They spend time with new employees to train and educate them on procedures and their company core values. “We are right there with the employees and very ‘hands on’ owners,” said Mark. Every employee must be committed to these values that include forward thinking, [being] positive, reliable, diligent, resourceful, and ethical.
It has paid off as well with wonderful long-term employees that Mark and Christina consider part of the family. Mark referred to one of their employees who started with them 25 years ago after she arrived to the U.S. from the Ukraine and another that worked alongside him in the warehouse when he was a teen. “People may not know us because we haven’t invested in local causes but we are definitely striving to invest in local people.”
Visit gardenfreshfoods.com for more information.