A community seeks hope in a tragic time

"Closed Friday at 12:00 to Observe National Day of Mourning," read letters painted on the window at Home Town Paint & Design Center on Cascade Avenue.

Across the street at Print-It! one side of the marquee read, "Remember Our Nation's Loss." On the other side, "God Bless America."

Such were signs of the times in Hood River this week following Tuesday's terrorist attacks on the East Coast. In scenes like those playing out in small and large communities around the country, Hood Riverites were reacting to the attacks in a variety ways.

A hastily organized prayer vigil took place Tuesday night at Asbury United Methodist Church, a joint effort by Asbury, Riverside Community Church, Our Redeemer Lutheran Church and Bethel Congregational Church in White Salmon. A regularly scheduled prayer meeting at First Baptist Church on Wednesday was devoted wholly to the tragedy.

Hood River County schools carried on with as much normalcy as possible. Ben Kolb, principal at Hood River Valley High School, said the school followed directives from the governor to "carry on activities as usual."

"We've had remembrances at most, if not all activities," he said. HRVHS teachers were told to apply their own discretion in using the attacks in their lesson plans and talking about the unfolding events in their classes.

"At this age group, it's important for the students to have as much factual information as possible," Kolb said.

Terri Vann, principal at Westside Elementary, said teachers and administrators at her school also tried to keep things "as normal as possible."

"We've made sure we answered questions and gave the students factual answers," she said.

Many of the schools held a "red-white-and-blue" day Friday, where students wore the colors of the flag and, in some cases, decorated halls and classrooms.

Sales of American flags, which flew in all sizes from porches and businesses in increasing numbers in the days after the attacks, were brisk at local stores. Both Hi-School Pharmacy and Wal-Mart had sold out of flags by Thursday.

Local hairdresser Tammy Pauley of The Parlour turned her shock at the attacks into a grassroots fundraising effort that began among local businesses and has spread throughout the community.

"I just wondered what I could do," Pauley said. "I kept thinking, 'Does my $50 help?'" She called another hairdresser in town and asked her if she would join Pauley in donating a day's pay to the relief efforts. Pretty soon, she had about 10 hairdressers committed to the idea and then began calling other business owners in town.

"The response has been fantastic," Pauley said. A fund called "Hood River Together Aids in America's Crisis" has been set up by Pauley at Columbia River Bank. She has designated Thursday, Sept. 27, as the day she and many other workers in town will donate their wages to the fund. But anyone who wants to contribute can do so at any time.

Pauley has asked Rep. Greg Walden to designate where the money will go. She plans to have a check to deliver to Walden on Sept. 28.

Area churches were gearing up for expected high attendance on Sunday.

"It's a difficult time," said the Rev. Susan Princehouse of Riverside Community Church. She said there had been many more people than usual stopping by the church during the week to pray or just sit in the chapel. "A large body of concern now is what is going to be the response of the country."

Princehouse said that, at least in her congregation, there was a "bundle of outrage" generated by the attacks, but also questions about the appropriate way to retaliate -- questions about responding to the attacks with even more violence and death.

"It's a great dilemma and a time of people searching," she said.

For more information on contributing to the "Hood River Together Aids in America's Crisis" fund, call Tammy Pauley at 386-6100 or Columbia River Bank at 387-2444.

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