Our Voice: We're grateful for those who help make lives better

February 26, 2014 

Lives of service

Kennewick has selected its man and woman of the year: Art King and Josie Wannarachue.

Good choices.

The selection committee looks for individuals who set a standard for community service. Both recipients have longtime, stellar records of volunteering in the Mid-Columbia.

A person would be hard pressed to find an organization that has not benefited from either Art or Josie.

We are fortunate to live in a community where volunteering is a premium for many folks. Maybe it's a little self-serving because it just feels good to help someone out.

Even so, we all benefit from the efforts of volunteers.

Art and Josie go about doing good. They set a positive example of being involved.

We're grateful for their service.

Setting students' 'sites' high

Lots of things can interfere with a student's learning. Sometimes it's a problem at home. Or it could be an empty stomach. Or it could be the student's idea (or the teacher's idea for that matter) that he or she is stupid.

Teachers do more than just give a lecture and grade papers. It's a hard job. It requires maintaining a balance between parents, administrators, state lawmakers and public criticism.

Exceptional teachers also encourage and befriend and call-out, when necessary, their students.

Brian Sites, a teacher at Richland's River's Edge High School, is one of those exceptional teachers.

He is the educator that every parent wants their child to have as teacher, mentor and friend.

And he has an armful of accolades from his peers, including national honors to back up that statement.

We all know that working for someone who appreciates and believes in you makes it easier to excel at your task.

School is the same way.

There is much we can learn from Sites' approach to the classroom -- from how to motivate a learner to how to respect others.

We're glad to have his example.

A warm line

Hotlines are great. They help people in crisis. They can literally save lives.

But if hotlines are good, warm lines can be even better by preventing a crisis before it starts.

A warm line offers an earlier intervention, where someone with mental illness can get a listening ear before the situation reaches a crisis stage.

The Tri-Cities doesn't have a warm line -- yet. Kevin Kennedy is hoping to change that by the end of the year.

Kennedy, founder of the nonprofit 5150 to Recovery, would use people who have struggled with mental illness or family members who have been affected by a loved one's struggles to man the warm lines.

Nothing says, "I know what you mean" as much as someone who has actually been there.

As always, the devil is in the details. Funding is one of the big questions Kennedy faces.

But the idea is good. It's worth exploring.

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