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Neighbors: Giving goes on in Cascade Locks

Ralph Hesgard was doing repairs at the Cascade Locks Community Church when a semi truck driver, from Florida, approached him.

He handed Ralph an envelope said he hadn’t tithed in December, turned and walked back to his truck. Later when the envelope was opened it was found to hold nine $20 bills.

The congregation agreed to give the money to a family whose furnace was out.

The women’s group of the church donated money for another needy family and a local family anonymously donated toward the youth programs of the church.

Meanwhile, the Columbia Gorge Lions Club has once again contributed to the community of Cascade Locks and Hood River County with contributions toward a payment for Cascade Locks fire truck, the Giving Tree for gifts to community children, and the FISH food bank programs of Cascade Locks and Hood River County.

WINGS: ‘Oh, that’s me’ five years later

Allyson and James Pates’ grateful year-end letter contained these words of thanks for those who supported the WINGS program, which provides a home and life skills training for young adult males:

They titled it “Learning an ‘important’ lesson in 2013”:

“WINGS is five years old (in December 2013) and we have helped over 60 young men. It all started with a simple thought — someone should do something. When the thought came up over and over I realized — ‘Oh, it’s me! I known not everyone wants to change the world, one guy at a time. But I know that without the many blessings we have received, WINGS would not exist. Every kindness has contributed to our success.

“So maybe my message this year is for you. You are more important than you realize. Your kindness, a thoughtful hello, a call to a friend, a casserole, a listening ear, a check to a charity, tutoring a child, hugging a friend — these kindnesses are not to be discounted; they are what’s important!

“So many people have blessed our journey—and this year was a crazy bounty of wonderful gifts. An amazing WINGS staff has made such a difference. We added Phase 2 housing and learned even more!

“We want to thank all of you who have given of your time, money and energy to help out — whether it was with WINGS, or in your friendships or in your community, take a minute and acknowledge your importance — you have made a difference. Take time to share the spirit of the holiday, and, in all things, be grateful — we are — for you!”

(For added perspective on WINGS, see Kurt Osborne’s letter in Our Readers Write, Jan. 1; Osborne hired WINGS guys to do some work, “and a darned good decision it turned out to be.”)

The $2,014 opening

at Next Door

Another year-end letter, “I Always Wait,” comes from Janet Hamada, with a unique invitation. Hamada is executive director of The Next Door Inc.

“I actually enjoy waiting until the last day to finish up my giving for the year. If you’ve been waiting, this is it; the last day we can give and get a 2013 tax deduction. And your last chance in 2013 to join me in helping children and families.

To make it even better, our board chair and treasurer are matching all donations today, up to $2,014. You will have twice the impact for children and families.”

The $2,014 match result:

$2,310.

Big help from Howell

Stacey Johnson writes:

“I wanted to publicly thank Renee Howell from Countrywide Insurance in the Heights for her help in navigating the very confusing, and frustrating, process of signing up for health insurance with Cover Oregon. She is very thorough and genuinely cared about getting the correct answers for me. She takes her job very seriously and was passionate about finding the perfect fit for my specific needs. I am now signed up and know without her help, I would still be on hold or waiting for my packet in the mail!

“If you have any kind of insurance needs you can’t go wrong with Rene Howell! Her dedication to her clients is heartwarming. Thank you, Rene, for a job well done!”

Bravo, Groove Project

“I would like to submit a review of the outstanding concert given on Dec. 8 at the CAC by local musicians, ‘Christmas Jazz At The Columbia Arts Center,’” writes Gil Seeley.

“It was an extraordinary evening at the CAC, where local jazz musicians presented their second annual Christmas offering. Conceived by pianist Tim Mayer, the Groove Project is only a couple years in the making, but by the music unleashed in this special concert to a nearly sold-out audience, it was evident that something truly special is in the making. The musicians included Rick Hulett, guitar, Mike Stillman, sax, Ryan Akexander, bass, Tim Ortlieb, drums, and Char Mayer, vocals. Familiar tunes such as ‘Oh Christmas Tree’, ‘Away in a Manger’ and ‘The Little Drummer Boy,’ and others, were delightfully arranged in a highly creative manner with Tim Mayer being the principal ‘anchor’ in the musical fabric.

“Other, less familiar, tunes included ‘Holiday Waltz,’ ‘Skating’ and an original new contemplative piece by Tim simply titled ‘First Snowfall.’ But perhaps the most unusual moment of the night was Char Mayer’s singing along with a baritone ukelele played by Rick Hulett of ‘Chestnuts Roasting by an Open Fire.’ Perhaps little known is that Char and her husband, Gordon, from the Snowden area, produce perhaps the finest ukeleles in the world today, played by such luminaries as James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, and Bela Fleck, plus countless others. It opened my eyes and ears to the incredible beauty of a handmade instrument which has tended to be stereotyped.

“The joyous concert ended with audience standing and singing along with a rousing rendition of ‘Go, Tell It On the Mountain.’

“All in all, what a splendiferous way to usher in the Holiday season, and I predict the group will need more than one concert next year as this should become a must-go-to event in our community!”

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