Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Reporter's Notebook

John McDonagh can be reached at

Generous in so many ways

I have the opportunity to attend fundraising events a dozen or more times a month. Last week, one of those opportunities was a breakfast held for the Evergreen Habitat for Humanity at the Hilton Vancouver Conference Center. The room was full with roughly 300 local movers and shakers. And by early reports, it was a fairly generous group.

These events are designed to provide attendees with a comfortable setting, a plentiful meal and a program orchestrated to get us to open our wallets and support the cause. But today I want to talk about the personal support many in our community offer in addition to the financial support so necessary for the non-profit community.

Last week’s fundraiser featured keynote speaker John Deeder, Superintendent of Evergreen Public Schools. John told a story about a young man- Jeff, as I recall, who is now a student at Clark College. When the two met, Jeff he was in high school, and John became his mentor through a program sponsored by his Rotary club. Jeff was on his own, working part-time and homeless. He was what young people call a couch surfer, sleeping with friends or acquaintances wherever there might be an open couch. John described Jeff as a unique case not only because he wanted to stay in school, but because he wanted to be there and made it to college. Many young homeless people simply give up on getting a quality education.

John didn’t tell that story because he was looking to have someone like me write about it. In fact, he’ll likely be a bit disturbed that I singled him out. What the school district superintendent, husband and father did, was to make time in the community to make a difference in the life of someone who was having a challenging time. Certainly John isn’t alone in his willingness to put his own priorities aside to help another. He’s just one example in a community blessed with dozens and dozens of folks who do the same thing in programs like CASA, Share’s hot meal and backpack programs, Boys & Girls Clubs, youth athletics, lunch buddies and the list goes on.

We are a very generous community when it comes to opening our wallets, but the greater gift we can give to those facing challenges is the gift of our time. John Deeder does just that, and he’s a great model for the rest of us. And let’s not forget, John’s story was also effective in getting most in the room to open their wallets.


The cardinal sin of publishing is to write and publish before having a copy editor review what was written. This sin I committed last week in my tribute to Tom Koenninger, when I misspelled the name of a dear friend when it counted most. I give my sincerest apologies to Marilyn and the rest of the Koenninger family. Rushing to print is a quick way to mistakes and a red face, which I’ve been wearing for the better part of a week. Now, off to the editor.