Fathers, daughters dance the night away

YoungLife dance event a success

Eric Bokovy shows his daughters Jude, 11 (pictured) and Claire some wild steps at the YoungLife Father Daughter Dance Feb. 23, 2013.

Eric Bokovy shows his daughters Jude, 11 (pictured) and Claire some wild steps at the YoungLife Father Daughter Dance Feb. 23, 2013.

With rhinestones, tiaras, feather boas and elegant attire of every kind on full display, more than 150 beautiful young ladies were joined by their fathers, stepfathers, grandfathers and other male mentors at the first-ever YoungLife Father-Daughter Dance on Feb. 23.

“We are already dreaming and scheming for where we can go next year to hold 400 or more people,” said Jeff Strong, Hood River YoungLife director and co-coordinator for the event that filled the Elks Lodge banquet rooms to capacity.

As the frills and sparkles of decked-out youngsters electrified the room, the men in the crowd also seemed illuminated by their irrepressible smiles, wild dance moves and overt joy at having the opportunity to share a special event with their daughters.

According to Strong, YoungLife wanted to create the event “to give fathers a chance to invest in their relationship with their daughter.” Given the high turnout, it seems that fathers in the Gorge were ready for that opportunity.

The dads and daughters arrived to find music, dancing, snacks, free photo portraits, games and arts and crafts aplenty.

“All research and experience indicates that a father’s relationship with his daughter will be the most significant influence on her future confidence, self-worth, image and healthy relationships with men,” said Strong.

But the evening held a second purpose. YoungLife is an ecumenical Christian ministry that reaches out to middle school, high school and college-aged kids. Funds from the dance will be used to help local kids get an opportunity to attend summer camp.

Last year 130 middle school students attended the YoungLife camp, held in Antelope on the Washington Family Ranch (formerly known as Rajneeshpuram).

Approximately 60 kids will receive about $50 each toward camp as a result of the dance.

Strong’s focus throughout the planning process for the dance was inclusive and many individuals and organizations contributed to make it a success.

“I imagine there were 30 or more people who were directly involved with the event, between committee, leaders, kids and parents. People were excited for this event so it was easy to recruit; not much arm-twisting needed,” laughed Strong.

When asked to identify an evening highlight, Strong said, “It was so amazing to look out on the dance floor; watch girls and dads making bracelets; watch them taking pictures; and dads ... writing a love letter. You could see it so clearly that every girl felt so special and valuable. It was exactly what we were hoping for.”

“We think it is important to support fathers, and other men with young women in their lives, to build a special relationship,” said Jeanine Jacobson, one of the co-coordinators.

While YoungLife serves middle school through college-age youth with its Christian-based outreach programs, the dance event gave special attention to girls aged 2-11 and their father figures. Teen YoungLife members helped set up and serve throughout the evening.

Strong said, “There are a lot of people who donated their time, energy, talents and money — but I wanted to make sure I recognize some of the more significant ones: The Elks Club donated the space and were super hospitable; Billie Jean and Team Olmstead, Brittany Moore, Cheramy Rovianek, Debbie Francis, photographers Nicholas and Pam Bielemeier, Jeanine Jacobson and Diana Wright.”

Four YoungLife groups meet in the Hood River area.

For more information contact Jeff Strong at 541-386-5433.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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