Category Archives: South Kitsap People

Sick Kid, Lost Dog in South Kitsap

Of all the sad, 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 circumstances.

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.

Here’s the area where the dog was lost.

Hablando de Nuestros Lectores Latinos/ Speaking of Our Latino Readers

The Kitsap Sun has launched its first Spanish blog, Se Habla Espanol Kitsap, hosted by South Kitsap resident Estela Lopez.

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 population.

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.

In February, 2009, El Centro de la Familia, an assistance center for Latino families, closed due to budget problems. The Immigrant Assistance Center opened in its wake, but initially was unable to provide the same level of service. The Immigrant Assistance Center is now the Multicultural Assistance Center, open to Latino immigrants and others whose primary language is not English.

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.

South Kitsap Woman Vies for Spot on Survivor

Amy Anderson, a Port Orchard resident who placed third in the local 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 Dolls.”

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 enjoys.

Here’s a video from the Bayview Idol contest, hosted by Bayview Java & Deli

Sally Santana Awarded for Work on Homelessness

Sally Santana, a Port Orchard resident, has been named “Citizen of the Year” by the Kitsap County Association of Realtors.

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

Other awards presented for service in 2009 include:
REALTOR® of the Year – Pablo Lozano (Reid Real Estate, Bremerton)
REALTOR® Special Achievement – Penny McLaughlin (Penny’s Team, Poulsbo)
Jenks Beard Award for Community Service – Ron Ross (Silverdale Realty, Silverdale)
Affiliate of the Year – Rob Nitz (Prime Lending, Silverdale)
Floyd Luckerath REALTOR® Spirit Award – Richard Brown (Kitsap Commercial Group, Port Orchard)

In Case You Haven’t Read Enough About Delilah …

Washington Post reporter Ellen McCarthy has written an in-depth article about Delilah, local celebrity in the town that shall not be named. McCarthy respectfully preserves Delilah’s privacy. She writes:

“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 written.

“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 thunderous laugh.”

My thoughts: “Chic aesthetic” is a relative term, depending on whether you’re from Washington, D.C., or the town that shall not be named.

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 personal faith.

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.

Happy reading.

Haiti Support: Give Wisely, Do Your Research, Red Cross Official Says

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 and families.

I hope to catch up with Vergara after her week in Haiti. (Today she is running around taking care of last minute details.)

As we continue to report on Kitsap County residents and organizations involved in relief to Haiti, it bears repeating that potential donors should be fully informed about where they send their charitable dollars.

“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 Cross.

Web sites like, 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 administration).

The Better 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 worthiness).

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.

If you visit the Westsound Seattle Red Cross, you’ll see a section called “Accountability” which includes links to the organization’s annual report along with other information made in the interest of full disclosure.

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 Authorities
Beware of Charities Offering Gifts

Molly Hightower: How Do You Measure a Year in the Life?

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 anxiously 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
Molly and Child

Another Port Orchard woman, Rebekah Miner, was also in Haiti, working as a nurse. Thankfully she escaped unscathed. Read her story at this link.

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 French-speaking Haiti).

Here are some excerpts from the blog that give a glimpse into Molly’s day-to-day life in Haiti.

Sept. 27
“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 it!

– 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:”

Oct. 17
“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 good.”

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 attention.”

Dec. 30
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 heart.”

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.

Family, Friends Mourn Lisa Marie Johnson

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 42.

Lisa Johnson & Family
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 ceremony.
The Johnsons as Newlyweds
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 & 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 deep discount.
A Beautiful Bride
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 nearly $3,000.
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.

A Shout Out to Lisa Marie Johnson on her 42nd Birthday

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.
Lisa and Steve Johnson
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 Santa.
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 Bremerton.
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 member.
A benevolent fund has been established at Kitsap Bank; designate donations to the Lisa M. Johnson Fund.

Marathon Runner with Pacemaker Makes Good Time in Seattle Marathon

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 congenital defect.

Mark Wagner, Marathon Runner
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.