JENNIFER JACKSON’S PORT TOWNSEND NEIGHBOR COLUMN: It’s Fun and Games for Volunteers

ASK BOB ROSEN what’s on his “to-do” list and he’ll have a ready answer.

Rosen is the manager of the Quilcene Community Center, which is continuing to undergo an extreme makeover.

So a few weeks ago when someone asked what needed to be done next, Rosen told them: the horseshoe pit and boccie ball court on the side of the center with the tennis courts.

“I hoped that these activities could be placed in a tranquil, landscaped setting,” Rosen said.

“It was also my vision to incorporate a 10- to 20-foot trellis into the design in order to define the area and allow for benches.”

One of the people who overheard the conversation was Dr. Paul Lorenzen, an orthopedic surgeon who lives in Brinnon.

According to Lorenzen’s wife, Rhonda Lorenzen, Paul got up the next morning, purchased some milling equipment, cut down some trees on their property and designed the trellis.

Then he drove to Quilcene and walked into Rosen’s office to discuss it.

“I was shocked,” Rosen said of the surprise offer.

“We agreed on Paul’s design, but instead of 10 to 20 feet, it had grown to 48 feet!”

Using his own milled lumber, Dr. Paul prefabricated the trellis, Rosen said, then installed it on site with help from Rhonda and volunteers from Brinnon.

Two weeks later, the couple returned to do additional detail work.

“What remains are the benches that will complete the trellis design,” Rosen said.

When the horseshoe pit is installed, the project will be turned over to members of the Brinnon/Quilcene Garden Club.

Karen Sickel, who provided the overall landscape design, continues to spearhead the installation of the plants, Rosen said, while Lori Millard continues as “sprinkler/irrigation guru” and Carol Christiansen coordinates the work.

John Monroe also contributed enormously to the project using heavy equipment for excavation and moving rocks, Rosen said.

“This is a wonderful example of community volunteering,” Rosen said of the trellis.

“Normally, I am not at a loss for words, but this effort has been overwhelming,” he said.

“Talk about making house calls!”

Game and match

The game is called Hula Hoop Fetch and goes like this: Players divide into teams, each designated by a color, and line up behind a starting line.

Facing the line, the game leader takes colored plastic hoops, one for each team, and swings them up into the air and behind his back, throwing them as far as he can.

As the hoops leave his hand, a player from each team takes off, chasing the hoops as they land and spin away across the grass.

The goal: for each member to fetch the team’s hoop, return to the starting point and place it over a cone, with points awarded in the order of return.

The key, according to Tom Kent:

“Hold the hoop to one side when you’re running, not in front of you, or you’ll trip over it,” Kent said.

Kent, a physical education teacher at Blue Heron Middle School, was the perfect person to lead games at a picnic at H.J. Carroll Park on Aug. 18.

He’s also a mentor in the YMCA’s Building Futures program, which hosted the picnic for the program’s mentors, mentorees and their families.

For Meredith Wagner and Alana Lee, 12, the games were a continuation of the fun they have had since being matched six years ago.

Their friendship started when Alana, who attended the picnic with her father, was in the first grade and signed up for the Big Brothers Big Sisters program.

She was matched with Meredith, associate director of the Jefferson County Library.

Meredith went once a week to Alana’s school, Chimacum, which is next door to the library.

They both remember their first meeting and the activity: filling out a questionnaire as a conversation starter.

The questions included naming your favorite color, your favorite pet, etc.

“I could barely write,” Alana recalled.

Alana liked arts and crafts, so the pair mainly did art projects the first year, Meredith said.

By the end of second grade, it seemed hard to imagine going the whole summer without seeing each other, Meredith said, so she joined the out-of-school, or community-based, mentoring program.

Meredith and her husband, who live in Port Ludlow, took Alana and a cousin out cruising in their vintage wooden motorboat.

“I found a picture of me driving the boat,” Alana said.

Another time, she and Alana took a day trip to Seattle.

At Pike Place Market, Alana was told by the fish market clerks that they were going to throw her a fish.

It turned out to be a fake one, but even Meredith thought they were going to throw Alana a real fish.

“They put an apron on me and everything,” Alana said.

The pair also established a tradition where Meredith came to Alana’s class and brought enough craft materials for the entire grade to make valentines.

One year, the class was studying trolls, so before Christmas, Meredith brought in cans, spray paint and decorations, with each student making a troll.

The pair also went back to visit Alana’s teachers at Chimacum primary and see each other at the library.

“I go there every day,” Alana said.

Meredith also encouraged Alana to take swimming lessons, which led to her joining the synchronized swimming team.

They enjoyed going to movies and high school play productions — “Little Women,” “Anne Frank” — and “Alice in Wonderland” at Chetzemoka Park.

“She’s like an aunt,” Alana said of Meredith.

At the picnic, Meredith and Alana entered the water balloon toss, almost making it to the final throw.

After the games, Jamie Bima, a Building Futures advisory board member, invited the pairs to make friendship bracelets using beads that she, Bill and Linda James and Ann Burkhart provided.

“What shape is a bracelet?” Bima asked. “It’s unending. It goes round and round.”

When funding for a local Big Brothers Big Sisters office ended abruptly last year, the program was in jeopardy until the Jefferson County YMCA stepped in and took over the school-based matches.

As a result, it’s been an up-and-down year, staff member Kim Hammers said, and she is looking forward to a complete school year without any interruptions.

The Building Futures program does dovetail with BBBS.

“Their mission is the same as ours,” Hammers said, addressing the gathering.

“It’s all about the kids.”

“We want to build a future for all of you.”

Building is what mentor Tom Foley and Matt Callahan, 13, did when they were matched in the school-based program when Matt was in the third grade.

Then, they built things out of wood: model boats, model trains, a windmill.

They were in the school-based program for three years, then the community-based one for the last two years.

Matt now lives in Quilcene, making it harder to get together, so the picnic was their last official function.

“We’ll keep on doing things together,” Foley said. “We are friends.”

Being a Building Futures mentor requires one hour a week during the school year.

Activities, which take place at school, can include playing games, reading books, writing stories or doing crafts.

For more information, phone the Jefferson County YMCA at 360-774-6342, or go to www.bf.jeffymca.org.

________

Jennifer Jackson writes about Port Townsend and Jefferson County every Wednesday. To contact her with items for this column, phone 360-379-5688 or e-mail jjackson@olypen.com.

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