Gorge ‘Big Brothers’ program lauds mentors

Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Gorge honored three special mentors Saturday at the annual “Big Breakfast” event in the Best Western Hood River Inn Gorge Room.

Mentors of the Year for 2012 are Mike Hendricks of Hood River for Hood River County, Karen Ostrye of Hood River for Klickitat County and Mike Kilkenny of The Dalles for Wasco County.

In BBBS, volunteers spend a few hours a month taking their Littles to events, sharing a skill or pastime, or just hanging out.

About 40 mentors, known as “Bigs,” attended the Saturday event along with community members and supporters.

Speakers included District 49 Rep. John Huffman of The Dalles, and Celeste Janssen, executive director of Oregon Mentors, which works with agencies such as BBBS to assist mentors. BBBS board member Bob Camillucci served as emcee.

The mentors were all thanked by Courtney Kendrick of Wasco County and Justine Ziegler, Hood River and Klickitat counties, whose job it is to match mentors and young people.

Ziegler said, “This program works small miracles every day in the lives of the children they serve. While doing things like attending a child’s sporting event or taking them out for ice cream may not seem life-altering, the Big-Little relationship is far more than these activities themselves. It’s not what you do for your Little, but the relationship that you have with them that makes the difference.

“For Littles, it’s having someone in their lives to listen to their troubles, support them in their aspirations, pal around with and look up to — and these powerful things are just part of what you Bigs do in the lives of your Littles,” Ziegler said.

She read a handwritten letter from a parent that she said “hit me about what this program is really all about.” The letter read:

“How do I even begin to say thank you? There should be another word that says more than ‘thank you’? Even the small things mean so much to my kids. I just want to say thank you to my children’s Bigs for having such a positive impact in their lives. They really are angels and my children’s lives would not be the same without them.”

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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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