The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Downriver Dispatches

News of Western Wahkiakum County and Naselle


October 31, 2019

Darrell Alexander

Grays River Valley Seniors Volunteers.

Volunteers in a Little Piece of Heaven

It is really hard to put into writing or words to describe how living in this county with so many wonderful people has brought so many changes to this community as well as to my life. I include those that I have met from Pacific County as well. Although I came from a small community in the Pacific Northwest, I spent a good part of my life living in large cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago, and Tulsa. Every large city comes with its assets and liabilities, and it appears to me after living in this great community that the city life has more liabilities than assets. This is only my opinion after years of observation and experience. Life is a series of changes most of which go unnoticed unless it's a wedding, birth, or a funeral. Sometimes things occur in life that ordinarily would go unnoticed to those who are experiencing them, yet moving here to Wahkiakum County I see myself adapting to a whole new way of thinking that has brought into my life wonderful changes. These changes have had an emotional healing effect on me and I'm sure there are others who have experienced healing, especially our veterans.

The biggest thing that comes to mind about changes from city life to country life is those volunteers who reside here and donate their time and in many cases, their money. City life numbs one to a certain extent to the daily monotony, riding the subway staring straight ahead afraid to make eye contact and never having to get involved. I do not see this apathy here. Most everyone who comes from the city expects the same services that they received, but here it is usually available by volunteers from the community. It is those loving hearts who sacrifice their time and their money just to make life a little better for someone else. The list of names of those who volunteer for various services from feeding the seniors, search and rescue, and to putting out fires is too long for this short article, but most know who they are. These folks do not get paid and yet they continue to serve the community. These are the ones who are my heroes. These are the people who have gently knocked the chip off my shoulder and made me rethink my attitude.

Having the opportunity from Rick Nelson to be a Wahkiakum County Eagle correspondent has definitely been life changing. This last year I have had the wonderful experience of being with you, the people of the community, on a one on one basis, fervently listening to your own stories. What a priceless honor you have given me, not as a reporter, but as a person. The folks in the county and Naselle have given me a new perspective just like James Stewart in the movie "It's a Wonderful Life." The people of Wahkiakum County, Pacific County, and my new friends can be proud that they are having a bigger influence than they will possibly ever know and that what they have done has brought about good changes to the many unknown broken-hearted.

One thing that comes to mind is that most of the volunteers are women: however, not to disparage the men who also volunteer, but the vast majority are women. Some women have been volunteers for years like Sonja Kruse who has been serving senior lunches for decades. These women volunteers from the Grays River Valley Seniors were on hand on the last Wednesday of the month at Valley Bible Church in Rosburg for a wonderful potluck. Pastor Rick Ballif and his wife Kelli were on hand helping and welcoming new visitors. Wherever I go to any type of event or gathering the majority of the time it is the women who are instrumental in getting things done. Not to take away from the men who cook the breakfasts at the American Legion gatherings or barbecue at picnics. Thank you to all those volunteers who have made this community a little bit of heaven.

A Night for the Memories

Not very often in life do we get the privilege to hear live music of the caliber witnessed Saturday night by Ruusamari Teppo at the Valley Bible Church in Rosburg. She does not play music; she becomes the music. Her facial expressions revealed how intimate she is with her music. She said it becomes a part of her.

Darrell Alexander

Ruusamari Teppo and daughter Annabel perform a duet.

Most great musicians that I have met or known of have a habit of being a prima donna, but not Ruusamari. This humble lady's passion for music was exemplified by the response by the full audience who gave her a standing ovation. I assumed that her transition to living in the United States would be difficult, but to the contrary she said it has been quite smooth. This international traveler speaks Finnish, English, German, and a few other languages she has become somewhat familiar with. She has lived in Dallas for the last 10 years with her four-year-old daughter, Annabel, who performed a wonderful duet with her mother to the surprise and awe of everyone.

The Finnish American Folk Festival, Finlandia Foundation, Appelo Archives and a donation from one of our Finnish community members brought her to Naselle for this event. Teppo, the great-great-grand daughter of the famous Finnish Composer Jean Sibelius (1865-1957), grew up in Finland and began playing piano at the age of five. She also plays the fortepiano, harpsichord, and organ.

The evening finished with an assortment of delicacies prepared by volunteers who not only prepared many of the dishes, but also cheerfully served them. It truly was a night for the memories.


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