Dyan Isaacson checks out the view from the drivers seat. Photo by Laurie Parish

Cascade Park Communities in Tacoma is in the business of making dreams come true for their residents.

The Dreams to Smiles program was the brainchild of Gary Dewhirst, a consultant to Cascade Park.  Once the folks at both Cascade Park Vista and Cascade Park Gardens heard about it, they couldn’t wait to get on board and help their residents work through their very own bucket list.

Laurie Parish, Activities Coordinator at Cascade Park Gardens, was in charge of setting up a special day for resident Dyan Isaacson, who wanted to visit a local fire station, sit in the truck and talk to the firemen. Her dream came true in April and Isaacson said it was wonderful.

“The firemen took the time to show me around and I got to sit in the fire truck and wear a fire hat,” she said enthusiastically, adding “I’ll remember that for a long time.”
Parish went along for Isaacson’s trip to the fire station and said it was a day she’ll never forget.

“There are no words,” she said. “When she put that smile on her face and we were taking pictures, I thought this is why we do what we do. I’ll never forget that smile.”
Becky Donkersley, Activities Coordinator at Cascade Park Vista, said she asked her residents what they had on their bucket list and received about fifty-five responses.
Thelma Bridges and Ethel Walker said they would really enjoy some southern cooking. They listed red beans and rice, biscuits and fried chicken as their favorites so they were delivered to Popeyes on 6th Avenue in Tacoma. Employees at Popeyes treated them like royalty as they enjoyed a huge luncheon and even took home a bag of food for dinner that night.

“The best part was being able to go along with them,” said Donkersley, adding the two ladies had fun talking about their memories of eating southern cooking when they were growing up.

Another dream fulfilled was a trip to a Rainier’s baseball game, but first the staff had to raise some money.

Someone uncovered an old compressor in the basement of the facility and Donkersley put it on Craig’s list.

“A man came a few times and looked at it and finally bought it and donated the money to the fund in honor of his father,” said Donkersley, adding, “I said great! We will make sure the baseball game gets to honor your dad.”

Donkersley and her staff loaded up thirteen residents and treated them to a Rainier’s baseball game where they enjoyed hot dogs, chips and watching the team win the game.
To fund this great new program they hold garage sales and sell items on Craig’s list. Long term plans include creating a celebrity quilt to auction off as well. The ideas just keep coming for ways to raise money to make their residents smile.

Cascade Park Communities is continuing to raise funds to be able to fulfill dreams for their residents.  Donations can be sent to Cascade Park Vista/Dreams to Smiles; attn.: Fred Wahlgren; 242 St. Helens; Tacoma, WA 98402.

Sheila Joynes, Assistant Manager of Debbie Macomber’s A Good Yarn Shop in Port Orchard, said their Knitted Knockers have been a huge hit with women who have breast cancer.
Knitters who frequent the popular knitting shop in Port Orchard couldn’t wait to jump on board for the project of providing this alternative for women, even expanding on the pattern and providing a pocket so women could add some filling if necessary. The pattern they use can be knit or crocheted and the filling can be removed for washing.

The Knitted Knockers are a simple idea that has given women a wonderful alternative to the prosthesis that is prescribed after breast surgery.

There is no charge for the knockers and donations go right back to purchase yarn so knitters can whip up more of them. Some generous folks donate yarn as well and that keeps the needles at A Good Yarn Shop clicking as folks gather to drink coffee, knit and visit.

Customer and knitter Christine Peterson is enthusiastic about the project.

“Think about it. We all know someone who has breast cancer,” she said, adding that for the first six to nine months many women cannot wear the prosthesis provided from the medical community, so there is nothing to fill out their clothing.

Many women don’t have insurance that would cover the medical prosthesis and the knockers come free of charge.

“This little cotton yarn knocker is extremely comfortable and just sits in the bra. We make them in different sizes and can custom make any size,” added Peterson.

The knockers are a good alternative to women who swim as they fit in comfortably and dry quickly, they absorb sweat and Peterson said they can be hand washed and re-stuffed at a moment’s notice.

The medical prosthesis is often bulky and uncomfortable.

Joynes said “We have had women take out their prosthesis and say ‘try to pick this up.’ They are heavy, hurt their backs and make them sweat because they are thick rubber.”
The knockers said Joynes are lightweight, easy to care for and fit right into their regular bra.

Cerease Teter’s breast cancer was diagnosed in 2002 and she is thrilled to have access to the knockers.

A regular knitter, she has taken classes at A Good Yarn Shop and now uses the knockers pretty much all the time.

Teter volunteers at various health events spreading the word about the free knockers.

“I’ve heard so many stories from women and different things they were doing and how their clothes didn’t fit right anymore,” said Teter. She added that women were so grateful to have this comfortable, free alternative.

Women can pick the knockers up at A Good Yarn Shop at 1140 Bethel Avenue Suite 101 in Port Orchard or call them at (360) 876-0377. The shop is willing to mail them free of charge. The knockers also appear at many local cancer events and have been designated by Debbie Macomber as one of the three organizations to distribute donations in her 2012 Knit 1, Bless 2 charity outreach program.

The pattern is available on line on www.agoodyarnshop.com.

SHIBA trainer Che Lee and SHIBA volunteer Nelda Kron. Photo by Joan Cronk

The State Health Insurance Benefits Advisors (SHIBA) has found a new home and sponsor at South Sound Outreach in Tacoma.

SHIBA operates under the Consumer Protection arm of the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner and provides free, unbiased health coverage counseling about Medicare, Medicaid, basic health, children’s health insurance programs and Washington State Health Insurance Pool.

Volunteers are trained and supervised by advisors and provide information to help clients make their own decisions regarding insurance coverage.

Volunteer Kitty Custer said all the volunteers work hard and are a great group of people to be associated with. “I like to help people with questions and help them make those connections so they can make the right decision for themselves,” she said.

Che Lee is a SHIBA trainer.  He covers four counties in Washington state.  Volunteers attend a three day training session to learn about public and private options.  “We do our best to help them find the area that they are comfortable in,” he said.  Mentors are available and volunteers are given technical information to get them up to speed and confident in providing counseling. “You don’t need to know every single thing, but here are people they can ask,” he said, adding that SHIBA does not sell or solicit insurance. “We just give facts and options.”
Lee said there are 1.1 million people in Washington without insurance and he is grateful for the wonderful volunteers.  “Last year alone we helped 45,000 people around the state with our 400 plus volunteers.”

Eight year volunteer Nelda Kron said she wanted to get involved with SHIBA because her mother had to rely on some assisted care before her death and she wanted to pay back the state for how that service helped her mother.  “Everyone associated with the SHIBA program, volunteers and directors, are giving people and willing to help,” she said.

SHIBA is always recruiting for new volunteers. Anyone interested in volunteering for SHIBA can contact Heather Little, Volunteer Coordinator for SHIBA at 253-593-3499.  Roberta Marsh, Executive Director of South Sound Outreach said, “For people who like working with people and educating them, it is wonderful and unique opportunity.”

Folks of any age needing SHIBA assistance in Pierce County are encouraged to call  the SHIBA hotline at 1-800-562-6900.

William Bender holding "Abbadon." Photo by Joan Cronk

The Fred Oldfield Heritage Center in Puyallup, with its old west theme was the perfect venue for the recent showcase of the South Puget Sound Woodturners.
Joella Oldfield, Executive Director of the Fred Oldfield Heritage Center at the Puyallup Fairgrounds, said that the art of wood turning has been done for “hundreds of years.”
Members of the South Puget Sound Woodturners (SPSW), invited woodturners from three other states Oregon, Idaho and Montana to join them and over 100 pieces were displayed at the art show.
Ed Quesnell, a member of SPSW said, “The purpose of the show is to educate the public about woodturning and the art and the procedure that you go through.”
Ninety-four-year old Oldfield, a well-known local artist, was in attendance, as was SPSW member and founder Ted Bartholomew, who is 92. The two had never met before and Joella Oldfield got a real kick out of watching them interact.
Fred Oldfield has been referred to as the “Granddaddy of Western Art,” and his generosity with his craft is well-known.
Bartholomew is also generous with his knowledge of woodturning. Not only is he an extremely proficient woodturner, he also has built many lathes and taught classes for years.
“There is something about people from that generation that makes them tough and strong,” Joella said.
SPSW member Bill Bender won the Judge’s Choice award for his piece, “Abbadon.”  This was the first time Bender had entered a piece and he was pleased with his win and encouraged to enter more events in the future.
Bartholomew walked away with an Honorable Mention ribbon for his turned hat with a knit band.  The People’s Choice award went to Paul Crabtree for piece called “Majestic.”
SPSW President Dan Stromstad said it was a great event. “It was really nice of Joella to put that on for us,” he said, adding that they have received many positive comments from folks who attended.
SPSW has over 200 members, the youngest being 11 years old and the oldest, Bartholomew. Both genders are well-represented within the group.
“Our club teaches a lot and I think that is why we are so popular because we have a constant source of great teachers, plus our own teachers within our own club,” said Stromstad, adding that everyone is willing to share.
“We have done a great deal to improve the meetings themselves by purchasing a new lathe and equipment and a better sound and video system,” said Stromstad proudly, adding that the SPSW is the largest club in the State.
The friendly nature of members and their willingness to share are two of the things that make the SPSW a very popular club.
“I joined the club and went to meetings and learned a great deal and tried and tried, but when people took the time to hands on teach me, then I really excelled. Now I’m doing that for other members,” said Stromstad.
This was the first year for the woodturners event at the Fred Oldfield Heritage Center and members hope to make it an annual event.