Our Voice: We connect with others through giving, receiving

At different times in our lives, each of us will be the one reaching out for help and the one answering someone else's need.

We've noticed this week several instances on both sides of that equation.

Message in a bottle

Messages in a bottle seem to be more common to fictional stories than real life. So it's fun to see when one actually survives long enough to wash ashore.

A couple of girls, one from Richland and one from Scotland, tossed a message into the sea and it showed up a few years later when a man walking on a beach spotted it.

Someone who studies ocean currents and tides probably could predict the path of the message -- even though it seems mysterious to us. And even though this message started and ended in Scotland, it still was a journey.

Also predictable, if you think about it, is our human need to know that someone else is out there and to hope that we are somehow relevant in the big picture.

We all send messages -- sometimes in a bottle -- but usually by other means.

We're grateful for that need to connect with other people. And for the people who respond to those messages.

Tornado cleanup

Another example of people reaching out to others -- but definitely under less cheery circumstances -- can be found in those who are helping clean up after the tornado in Oklahoma.

It's a big job to try to put a life back together after it's torn apart by disaster.

It is a job that takes a long time and maybe things never really are the way they were before.

But four members of the Hanford Mission Support Alliance team have been trying to do exactly that.

The Richland workers are experts in disasters and emergencies. They get things like power and gas back in service to support the rest of the cleanup effort -- skills that put them right in the middle of the mess.

It's another way of reaching out. Sometimes we need a hug and a listening ear. Sometimes we need people who can help us find a warm place to sleep or food or clothing.

Gold Star Mothers

It's a club nobody wants to be in: the Gold Star Mothers. It means that your son or daughter was killed in combat. But we're grateful for a new memorial in Pasco to honor these women.

Memorial Day falls in May. So does Mother's Day. For mothers who have lost a child in service to our country, we are so very sorry for your loss.

The new memorial at the City View Cemetery in Pasco reminds us that for every fallen serviceman or woman, somewhere there is a mother's broken heart. One with a gold star.

College bound

It's the time of year when many parents are preparing themselves to let their children leave the nest. That most frequently happens when a child graduates from high school.

In 14-year-old Lynnae Glaesemann's case, she's pretty much skipping high school altogether and going from middle school to college.

It's not the usual route. But growing up is not an exact science. There are a lot of checkpoints on the path toward becoming academically sound, socially adept and emotionally grounded.

We're parents; we know it's tough to let your kids grow up. But it also is rewarding to see your children challenging themselves, succeeding and becoming independent.

We wish Lynnae success in her college years. And we'll be thinking of her parents while she's away.