Life is an adventure...
And it was just Mom, myself and four younger brothers. My earliest memory comes from about this time… our single-parent family staying in a small duplex that somewhat sat between a deep drainage ditch and the steel track of constant trains.
My first knowing of difficult times was in recognizing how the family had to make ends meet on a weekly basis. The brothers and I still speak of the “good times”; when once a month our Mom would treat us to an all-you-can-eat fish and chips from the Hilltop drive-in. I still love fish and chips.
Our father died when I was sixteen. I know about his death because the State told us in a letter. It said something about benefits, though we never saw any. The family landed in one of the largest federal government housing projects in Washington State; where we stayed until I left high school. Throughout these teen years, and as we continued to live in a world of dependence and subsistence; many an example played out before me. When the USDA food handouts ran short to feed five young boys, when medical attention was required, when the bills demanded payment or the old Dodge van begged for gas... the challenge of necessity somehow provided. It was illuminating; in a difficult and figure-it-out sort of way.
This persevering process, this challenge of surviving one’s youth — led me to consider debate class in high school. As a junior, the year’s topic was about the federal/state welfare system.. I felt my own personal experience with the dependance system provided me an opportunity to speak out. What the heck, I signed up for the class! I found that forming argument, expressing opinion and providing knowledged answers to be an educational process. I wanted to change things!
My Senior year; the debate topic was the American Political System. The team traveled state wide arguing positions, challenging conventional thought and formulating visions of how the system could better represent the interest of individuals. There had to be a better way to provide job assistance, medical care, quality housing, community transportation and educational access.
So, most of my adult life has been spent towards these goals. One of the great joys in my day is knowing that individuals will benefit from what I do everyday — in many ways. Helping connect individuals to the tools and opportunities that make a true difference in real lives is a completely rewarding experience.
And so; a favorite story:
Many years ago, a young man by the name of Sam Hill constructed a castle on a bluff in desolate desert country over-looking the barren gorge of the untamed Columbia river. And, as “Prince of Castle Nowhere”, he was often ridiculed and discounted. When his castle neared completion, the Queen of Romania (his friend) traveled from Europe by boat and rail to personally dedicate the dominating new structure. She knew that most folks thought it was silly to construct such a building in such a place. Her words of that day have resonated through the years... as she said “sometimes the things dreamers do, seem so incomprehensible to others”.
That castle still stands atop those cliffs — as art and icon.