pathetic news coming out of South Kitsap this week, this one
really tugged at me. But then, you know I’m a big softie,
especially if we’re talking about kids or dogs.
OK, so I get this e-mail from one Alison Dockins regarding a
lost dog. What, do I look like the community bulletin board at
Safeway? Well, I guess I’m OK with that. If Gardner can post
about what fell out of his taco, I guess I can try to help this
family get their dog back, especially considering the
Alison wrote, “Hello Mr. Henry (Note to self – gotta do
something with that byline.) I am writing to see if you can help my
family and I. My youngest daughter has a rare genetic disorder
called Williams Syndrome, she is doing great and has bypassed so
many of her doctors expectations for her and make all of us so
proud. But the reason I need your help is our family dog ran away
on Monday. Him and my daughter are always together, he is her
constant companion and puts up with so much more then most other
dogs ever would. He is absolutely irreplaceable and my daughter and
the rest of us are heartbroken. She walks around the house asking
“where puppy? and just isn’t herself without him. Is there anyway
you could run even just a small article with a picture of him…..I
know he is around here (Port Orchard) as people have seen him….but
he is such a friendly great family dog I’m worried someone might
just keep them for their own family. Please help me!
Since I’m not clear on whether Alison’s contact information is
for publication, I’m going to say contact me at (360) 792-9219 or
The family lives off Sidney Road, south of Lider Road on Logan
(see map below). Here’s what the dog looks like:
The Dockins family of South Kitsap is
missing their pet.
The Kitsap Sun has launched its first Spanish blog,
Se Habla Espanol Kitsap, hosted by South Kitsap resident Estela
The summary of the blog is: Estela Lopez comparte noticias
e informacion de importancia para la comunidad latina de Kitsap y
El Norte del Condada de Mason.
Estela Lopez shares news and information of interest to the Latino
community in Kitsap and North Mason counties.
Estela, who works at the the YWCA of Kitsap County, said on
Friday that the Latino community badly needs a central forum for
exchange of information, as well as human interest stories about
the diverse group of folks who make of the area’s Spanish speaking
Our area is home to Latinos of various backgrounds, including
Mexicans, Guatemalans, El Salvadorans, Puerto Ricans, Cubans … and
probably more. Let me know who I’m leaving out, por favor.
According to the U.S. Census, in 2008, persons of Latino or
Hispanic origin made up 4.9 percent of Kitsap County’s population
(total 239,769). In Mason County, with a population of 57,846,
Latino and Hispanic residents make up 6.6 percent of the
population. The 2010 U.S. Census questionnaire will soon arrive in
Kitsap and Mason county households. As the Census is analyzed, it
will be interesting to see what stats this more refined look at
population trends reveals.
Beyond the stats, there are sure to be interesting stories about
people from the Latino community … like Estela, who was honored as
a 2009 Woman of Achievement by the YWCA of Kitsap County.
She is originally from San Luis de la Paz, Guanajuato, Mexico.
She moved to the United States in 1980. She and her husband, Jose
Luis, own El Sombrero restaurant in Belfair. Her son, Jose Luis
Jr., is in 10th grade at South Kitsap High School, where he is in
the ROTC program.
Before she was hired by the YWCA, Estela owned the Talpita
Hispanic store in Port Orchard at Jackson and Lund avenues, from
2006 to 2009. The store became much more than a place where people
came for food and sundries. Estela helped customers fill out forms
and find information they needed to conduct their businesses and
their lives (becoming a de facto branch of the immigrant assistance
center). At one point she opened the store to Health Department
staff who hosted classes there.
Personally, I’m looking forward to reading Estela’s blog as a
way to brush up my rusty Spanish. Bienvenidos, Estela y los otros
lectores Lationos del Kitsap Sun.
Amy Anderson, a Port Orchard resident who placed third in the
Bayview Idol contest last year, is in the running for a spot on
“Survivor” the reality (?) television show. I’m not familiar with
the program, but I know it has a loyal following.
Anderson is a singer and actress who has participated in
community theater at Western Washington Center for the Arts. She
has performed in “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Steel Magnolias,” “A Year
with Frog and Toad” and will soon perform in “Harvey” and “Guys and
Anderson tells us she was chosen from among 2,100 applicants as
“one of the top 10 to win an audition” for the show. To progress,
she needs to earn votes.
Catch a video of Anderson and cast your vote for a chance to
bring South Kitsap even more fame and fortune than it already
Here’s a video from the Bayview Idol contest, hosted by Bayview
Java & Deli
Santana is a champion of the county’s homeless population. She
recently organized a successful homelessness summit attended by
numerous community leaders and elected officials.
Santana was recognized at the association’s annual installation
banquet held at the My Girl Drive-In in Kingston. Santana was
unable to attend, but Port Orchard Mayor Lary Coppola, a former
recipient of the Association’s Citizen of the Year Award, accepted
the award on Santana’s behalf, saying that he could not think of
anyone more deserving.
Santana is the host of the Kitsap Sun blog Side Street
News, covering issues, events and services related to Kitsap’s
homeless population. She also writes the column Faith and Values,
which runs every other week in the Kitsap Sun and on www.kitsapsun.com.
Other awards presented for service in 2009 include:
REALTOR® of the Year – Pablo Lozano (Reid Real Estate,
REALTOR® Special Achievement – Penny McLaughlin (Penny’s Team,
Jenks Beard Award for Community Service – Ron Ross (Silverdale
Affiliate of the Year – Rob Nitz (Prime Lending, Silverdale)
Floyd Luckerath REALTOR® Spirit Award – Richard Brown (Kitsap
Commercial Group, Port Orchard)
“Delilah’s business partner, Kraig Kitchin, who also works with
Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, had one request in setting up this
interview: that the small town she lives in not be named. In the
past, Delilah has had problems with stalkers, including one who was
jailed. Still, she’s a well-known figure around town, owner of a
restaurant called Delilah’s Cozy Kitchin, and has been written up
in the local paper.”
Granted there’s not just one local paper; neither are there
scores to choose from. So it would seem that horse is already out
of the barn.
Describing Delilah, McCarthy writes, “For her predominantly
female audience, Delilah Rene’s show is the comforting auditory
equivalent of chicken pot pie, a silk floral arrangement or an
’80s-era stenciled wallpaper border.”
The focus of the article is Delilah’s love life (the article
publish on Valentine’s day). It’s a good read, thoughtfully
“Sit with the woman for a few hours, and she’ll run through the
whole thing: the doomed marriages, the 10 children — three
biological, the rest adopted — the drama and dysfunction,” McCarthy
writes, then goes on to detail same.
I got a kick out of this description of Delilah:
“She displays a more chic aesthetic than her radio persona
suggests: Today she’s wearing dark jeans and sophisticated glasses
and talking in a cadence that is quicker and more animated than it
is on air. But both versions of Delilah come with the same
My thoughts: “Chic aesthetic” is a relative term, depending on
whether you’re from Washington, D.C., or the town that shall not be
The article amply covers Delilah’s love life (portrayed as
previously a mess, presently tenuous in nature). McCarthy does a
nice job of explaining it in the context of Delilah’s professional
success, hunger for children, contradictory personality and
From the article:
“When a neighbor invited her to church the next weekend, she went.
It felt as if everything the pastor said was directed straight at
her. ‘And that was the day I gave my heart to God,’ she says.”
Speaking of a good read, Kitsap Sun reporter Steve Gardner — who
once got on Delilah’s bad side for writing openly about her
property while covering a land use issue —
recently wrote about conversion (not Delilah’s and not only
religious or spiritual). The article is about the conditions that
make us receptive to making major life changes. Interestingly, two
of Gardner’s subjects echo what Delilah said about religious
conversion. While mending a tattered marriage, the couple began
attending church, and …
“Over the next several weeks, the Andersons felt like the
sermons were meant for them,” Gardner wrote.
Another woman in Gardner’s article, who suffered from a
debilitating illness and severe isolation, took up roller derby. So
you can see the term “conversion” is used in a broad sense.
Tomorrow, Robin Vergara, a South Kitsap resident, will board a
plane bound for the Dominican Republic. There, Vergara, an
emergency room nurse at Tacoma General Hospital, will meet with
other Tacoma General doctors and nurses who have teamed up to
provide medical care in Haiti. The group, which Robin said will
operate under the umbrella of Destiny World Outreach of Texas, will
spend a week in the earthquake-stricken country. According to
Robin, Destiny World Outreach has been working in Haiti and so is
able to provide her group with local contacts and transportation.
She said the organization is helping teams like hers make week-long
stints, which, back-to-back, will provide ongoing support without
unduly taxing volunteers, who must take time out from their jobs
I hope to catch up with Vergara after her week in Haiti. (Today
she is running around taking care of last minute details.)
“I tell people to do their research online to find out how long
the organization has existed and what they have been doing in the
area,” said Janet Heath, Westsound director of the American Red
Web sites like charityguide.org,
which Heath recommended, offer guidelines for choosing a charity.
According to information on the Web site, the American Institute of
Philanthropy provides a watchdog service to help donors
understand how well their dollars are being spent. The AIP gives
letter grades to nationally prominent charities (smaller charities
may not be listed – that’s really where doing your homework comes
in). A grade of B means the organization openly shares audited
financial statements and income tax forms, spends less than $25 to
raise $100 and allocates at least 75 percent of money raised
towards charitable programs (not fund-raising and general
Business Bureau reports on charities based on its Charity
Accountability Standards, which are listed on the Web site. The BBB
also lists complaints it’s received about charities (absence of a
charity on the complaint list doesn’t necessarily guarantee its
Heath also recommends you review the organization’s 990 tax
information form. Finally, she said, read as much as you can about
the organization and talk to people you know about it.
Heath encourages donors to consider that the relief effort in
Haiti will be a long-term process.
Here is a list of tips for giving from
the American Institute of Philanthropy (explained more fully on
their Web site).
Know Your Charity
Find Out Where Your Dollars Go
Do Not Respond to Pressure
Keep Records of Your Donations
“Tax Exempt” Does Not Always Mean “Tax Deductible”
Do Not Be Misled by a Charity’s Familiar Name
Do Not Be Enticed by Emotional Appeals
Ask if the Charity is Registered by Federal, State or Local
Beware of Charities Offering Gifts
On Tuesday, Haiti suffered a magnitude-7 earthquake that has
spread devastation to the already impoverished country. As of
Wednesday, Port Orchard residents Mike and Mary Hightower were
awaiting word from their daughter Molly, who was working with
disabled orphans in a suburb of Port-au-Prince.
I checked in on Molly’s blog to find out a
little more about this young woman and what motivated her to spend
a year working in such challenging circumstances. I did not find a
saint. Just an upbeat 22-year-old with a taste for Starbuck’s and
Taco Bell, a love of children and a deep well of compassion.
Molly’s blog is aptly enough named “525,600 Minutes” from the
lyrics of the song “Seasons of Love.
Molly and Child
Another Port Orchard woman, Rebekah Miner, was also in
Haiti, working as a nurse. Thankfully she escaped unscathed. Read
her storyat this
Molly Hightower, in her blog, describes herself as “A 22 year
old from Port Orchard, WA, who just graduated from the University
of Portland and is avoiding getting a job. I majored in Psychology,
Sociology and French, and plan to get my masters in special ed,
counseling or education.”
She arrived in Haiti in June, 2009 for a year of work with NPFS,
Nos Petites Freres et Soeurs (Our little Brothers and Sisters in
Here are some excerpts from the blog that give a glimpse into
Molly’s day-to-day life in Haiti.
“Here are some pictures of my abandoned babies at the hospital. I
have 4 currently, and I take them to Saint Germaine for physical
therapy 2 to 4 times a week depending on how healthy they are.
(Here she posts several photos of adorable-looking children like
Jolene, below, showing she is also a capable photographer.)
“Norma has shown me how to massage them, how best to help Jolene
walk and little stretching exercises to do in the pool. I never
thought I’d be doing any sort of physical therapy here, but I enjoy
- My first little girl is Jolene, whose been with me since the
beginning and IS STARTING TO WALK! I took a video of her walking in
her crib on the soft service and posted it on youtube:”
“Going to the hospital has become so difficult, because I have to
search for the weaker babies every time I go. They are constantly
moved from recovery to urgent care to special needs, and without a
parents to sit with them when they are in the sick room, I have
become that person. I sit with the other Haitian mothers for as
long as I can holding whichever baby is sick, but this leaves less
time for therapy with the healthier kids.”
Nov. 16: Molly talks about coping with circumstances most would
find depressing or hopeless.
“Of course, there’s always sadness to focus on if you choose to.
You’ll look down and see the burns someone put on Yvonne’s legs,
maybe in an attempt to burn the seizures she often has out of her.
Clotaire will get to excited from singing to us and have an
epileptic fit. And then Watner, who was found burning in a pile of
garbage as an infant, wanders over from the kindergarten looking
for a treat. He only has half his fingers and scalp.
But then, Fabien comes in and trips all over herself to run and
give you a hug, and Inderra makes eye contact with you from across
the room and starts to laugh uncontrollably. You gotta focus on the
Of the older children, one of Molly’s favorites is TiBeth (“ti”
as in petite for small), a girl with Down Syndrome who is
frightened to get off the school bus and usually throws a fit.
Molly has to coax her off with her sunglasses.
Through it all, Molly gets by on her ability to see things with
a sense of humor. This, also posted on Nov. 16:
“I left Kay Retreat at 9:30, and before I even made it to the
office at 10:00 I had been knocked down by a very excited special
needs girl giving me a hug, helped an 8 year old out of the wet
cement she stepped in, and proofread a speech someone wanted to
give in English. It was a normal day!”
In the same post, she describes Damien, one of the children
lucky enough to be adopted.
“Damian Frechette (after St. Damien hospital, where he was
abandoned, and Father Rick, who gives his last name to the
abandoned children) is 2 years old and the cutest kid you could
imagine. … He’s running around everywhere and talking up a storm
(in creole, of course) like a normal 2 year old. He wanted to throw
pillows and eat chocolate chips and stare at all the cars out the
window all night, so we let him, because volunteers are meant to
spoil the children from the hospital!”
Dec. 3: Another horrific day.
The Universal Day for the Handicapped
“The volunteers started off at mass at the hospital, with Father
Rick back in town. After that, we went to bless the babies that
died in the hospital the night before, which I’ve never done
before. It was devastating to see them be unwrapped, cleaned,
blessed and rewrapped to be buried. 2 children died last night, and
3 more the night before so there were several bodies on the tables.
The hospital, on average, loses 2 or 3 children a day.”
Dec. 24 and 25, Christmas in Haiti
Except for the tropical weather, Christmas is like Christmas
everywhere, and Molly shows the Haitian orphans are just typical
kids at heart.
“Caterina gave me a candle, Maeve gave me a funny Christmas hat,
and Lucrezia gave me a beautiful beaded necklace. We made our
wishes for each other for the coming year, and I think everyone’s
for me started with “Molly, you’re so young…”
“There was tons of food, and gifts for all the kids and staff.
Everyone was enormously excited to receive their presents! Yvonne
showed all 75 people her new purse and necklace, and Kenzie would
not stop racing his toy car around the crowded room! It was very
fun to see the kids so worked up and receiving so much
In her most recent post, Molly talks about a difficult situation
that she handles with typical grace and care. Jaques Cristo is an
American-born “very, very smart” 7-year-old whose mother had
dropped him at the American Embassy in Haiti. The orphanage is
asked to care for him until his fate – probably foster care in the
United States – can be determined.
He calmly told me his mother left him and wouldn’t be coming
back, and that he thinks his dad is in Miami. Jacques was born in
Brooklyn, so he’s an American citizen, but neither of his parents
are. He speaks English and Creole fluently. He was born with a
cleft palette and has already had several surgeries, but needs
another soon. Maybe his mother didn’t receive a visa to go to the
US with him for the surgery, or maybe she couldn’t afford to send
him on her own. I’m trying to give her the benefit of the doubt-
but what kind of mother just leaves her child, especially when he’s
old enough to know he’s being left?
They spent the evening eating M&Ms and Doritos before she
tucked him into bed.
“I spend almost everyday with the abandoned babies in the hospital,
and it’s difficult to comprehend why and who would ever give them
up. I’ve never encountered an abandoned child who is so aware of
his situation, or one who feels the pain so freshly. It broke my
My thoughts: From what I understand of mothers who place their
children in the care of others, most of the time, it’s done out of
sheer desperation that is unimaginable to those of us who have
food, money and the mental and physical where with all it takes to
raise a child.
I feel enriched after reading Molly’s blog and my thoughts are
with her family.
Oh, and here are the lyrics to the song:
Seasons of Love
525,600 minutes, 525,000 moments so dear. 525,600 minutes
How do you measure, measure a year?
In daylights, in sunsets, in midnights, in cups of coffee.
In inches, in miles, in laughter, in strife.
In 525,600 minutes – how do you measure a year in the life?
How about love? Measure in love.
How about love? Seasons of love.
Lisa Marie Johnson, the South Kitsap mother of three whose
“dream” wedding was covered in February in the Kitsap Sun, died
Wednesday at Hospice of Kitsap County in Silverdale Bremerton. She was
Lisa Johnson & Family
Lisa was diagnosed in February, 2007 with
stage four breast cancer. Despite aggressive treatment,
malignant cells continued to spread to other organs in her body,
and her prognosis was poor.
A year ago, friends, family and co-workers from the Port Orchard
Fred Meyer — with the help of the nonprofit Making Memories —
banded together to grant Lisa a fervent wish. When she and husband
Steve were married, March 18, 1989, they had a low-key, low-budget
The Johnsons as Newlyweds
On Valentine’s Day, 2009, the couple renewed their vows with the
“dream” wedding they’d always wanted. Daughters Amanda, 20, Kayla,
19, and Judy, 16 were bridesmaids.
Lisa & Steve
Lisa wore a designer gown donated by Brides Against Breast Cancer —
the fundraising arm of Making Memories. The organization helped
local volunteers find florists, photographers and others in the
wedding industry willing to provide their services free or at a
A Beautiful Bride
Also stepping up to the plate were members of First Christian
Church in Port Orchard, who rearranged their schedule to
accommodate the ceremony, offered the hall at no charge and
corralled a cadre of cooks to provide the wedding feast gratis.
Before the ceremony, Steve said, “I’m excited to see how beautiful
she’s going to look. It’s all about her. All the attention’s going
to be on her, and it’s going to make me feel 10 feet tall.”
The couple had a honeymoon in Port Townsend.
Lisa continued to receive treatment and even went back to work
briefly. But her condition continued to worsen.
On Dec. 11, those same friends and family who helped Lisa celebrate
her marriage organized a
fundraiser to help the Johnsons cover costs associated with her
illness, including anticipated funeral expenses. The event raised
According to Lisa’s mother, Sharon Ewing of Bremerton, Lisa was
involved in planning for arrangements, which will be handled by
Tuell-McKee Funeral Home of Bremerton.
Donations are still being accepted for the Lisa M. Johnson Fund at
any Kitsap Bank branch.
By Chris Henry
In February, 2007,
Lisa Johnson of Manchester was diagnosed with stage four breast
cancer, an invasive form of the disease in which malignant cells
had spread to other organs in her body. Despite aggressive
treatment over the past two years, the cancer has progressed. Lisa
is now receiving Hospice care for comfort and pursuing quality of
life, to the best of her ability, in each day, according to her
mother Sharon Ewing of Bremerton.
When Lisa and her husband Steve were first married, they had a
low-key, low-budget ceremony. On Valentine’s Day, 2009, family,
friends and coworkers helped Lisa and Steve celebrate 20 years of
marriage with the “dream” wedding they’d always wanted. Daughters
Amanda, 20, Kayla, 19, and Judy, 16 were bridesmaids.
Now those same folks are pulling together to help raise funds for
funeral arrangements Lisa has requested.
A spaghetti dinner and auction to benefit the Lisa Marie Johnson
Funeral Fund is planned for 5 to 9 p.m. Dec. 11 at Seabeck
Conference Center, 15395 NW Seabeck Highway. This family-style,
sit-down dinner features music by Swing Fever and pictures with
Many local businesses have pitched in to help with supplies and
auction items, such as wine tasting and hors d’oeuvres for 10 from
Hoodsport Winery and a necklace from Chrey’s Jewelers of
When I wrote about Lisa and Steve in February, I was struck by
their love for each other, which I described as a palpable
presence. The other remarkable layers of the story were their
girls, who have risen to the family’s challenge with grace and
maturity, and the community response, a group effort that went and
continues to go above and beyond.
On a recent night, I was driving back from Oregon after dropping my
daughter at college. Scanning the radio dial for some diversion, I
heard an Oregon Public Radio Broadcast about a
woman who is a chaplain to the Maine Game Warden Service. Kate
Braestrup, who lost her own husband in a tragic accident, “is
called in when children disappear in the woods or when snowmobilers
disappear under the ice.”
Braestrup talked about our inclination to try and reconcile the
most excruciating experiences life dishes out with the exquisite
beauty of human interaction in times of crisis. Through her
experiences with tragedy, she has learned to let them coexist, side
by side, without explanation or moral. As host Krista Tippett said,
Braestrup is, “a doer whose sense of God emerges from what happens
between and among people.”
Our thoughts are with the Johnson family, with a special shout out
to Lisa whose 42nd birthday is Friday (Dec. 4).
Tickets to the dinner-auction are $10 per person, $5 for children
under 12, $25 per family of four and $5 for each additional family
A benevolent fund has been established at Kitsap Bank; designate
donations to the Lisa M. Johnson Fund.
Mark Wagner of South Kitsap,
featured in Sunday’s Kitsap Sun, is a marathon runner with an
artificial heart valve. Sunday’s Seattle Marathon was his sixth
since the heart valve was installed in 2000 to corrected a
Mark Wagner, Marathon Runner
Wagner took up running marathons after his open heart surgery in
part to prove to himself that he could do it, in part to raise
funds for the international charity World Vision. In 2008, he
needed a pacemaker installed.
Sunday’s marathon, just over 26 miles, was Wagner’s shake-down
cruise for the pacemaker, which held up nicely. Wagner’s time was
five hours, fifteen minutes. Although he didn’t beat his best time
of 4 hours, 29 minutes and 45 seconds, he was pleased considering
“I’ve never seen a marathon with so many hills.”
Also, one thing I didn’t mention is that five months before the
marathon, he was in a wheelchair. A fall at work injured his leg,
and because he takes blood thinners, he had internal bleeding for
which he was hospitalized in March. By June, he was walking again,
and by July he was training for Sunday’s race. Guess, we’ll just
have to start calling him Mark “the Energizer Bunny” Wagner.
Wagner will take a couple weeks off before starting to train for
the Eugene (Ore.) Marathon in May.