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Member Stories

NNN is proud to include a ¨Member/Volunteer Profile¨ feature in our newsletters, allowing members to liaison through story-telling, creating connection, especially for those who are at home more often than they would like to be.

Our NNN community loves getting to know our Members and Volunteers and sharing their unique stories. (Our volunteer interviewers/writers Carla, Melinda, Jack & Kim are incredible listeners, excellent writers but mainly love meeting new people and hearing new stories.)

Here are some of the Stories of our Community. To share/contribute your stories, reach or 253-237-2848.

Member Profile: Louise Ervin

I met Louise Ervin for our interview in her resident building lobby. She took me by the arm and we walked down the hallway to her doorway. She unlocked the door and we entered. The smallish room was only lit by filtered sunlight. She asked me if I needed light, and I replied that it would be helpful, so she switched on the lighting. She instructed me to sit on the couch as she made herself comfortable in her rocking armchair.

As she awaited my questions, we faced each other. She patiently gazed my way. I began to ask her to unfold bits of her nearly eight decades of perceiving, navigating and experiencing this world.

Growing up in Texas with two siblings, and raised by a working mother, Louise led the life of any active, normal child. She enjoyed roller-skating, as well as horseback riding and bowling. Her mother worked for civil services, and there were many moves. She attended public schools, and made many friends. In the 5th grade she learned to type, which would serve her well in adulthood. She noticed, when in high school, that her friends did not include her as much as before in their social lives and activities. She became aware of being somehow different, but she adapted.

After graduation, she attended college in Arkansas, married, settled around Houston, had a daughter, and had several occupations-one of them being a medical transcriptionist. Raising a child was not easy. Her husband worked long hours as a machinist. She cooked the family meals. She recalls tying bells to her daughter’s shoes so that she could keep track of her whereabouts. Eventually, she lost her husband after 27 years of marriage.

In recent years, her siblings and now-married daughter began to leave Texas. She took in a Terrier/Blue Heeler, named it Spirit, and they were inseparable companions. Eventually, she decided to move to Washington to be near her daughter’s family. On the day Louise and I met, she felt sad and alone. After 13 years together, she recently had made the compassionate decision to allow Spirit to move on. She is still grieving, and we commiserated.

These days, she has her daughter’s family, whom she sees once a month, along with two grandchildren. She has temporarily lost some mobility, and needs knee surgery to regain it. She appreciates the opportunities for companionship and transportation assistance offered by her friends and volunteers at NNN.

In her 76 years of age, she has experienced a full and rich life, but she has experienced it all without the benefit of sight. Her lack of the sense of vision is not her defining characteristic, but her common sense and wisdom are. She does not feel handicapped or hindered, and perceives the world in her own unique way. In her own words, “I live in a sighted world so I darn well better adapt to it. I do what I gotta do.” She also told me that she would not want to be presented with sight now. “If you put a glass of water in front of me, and if I could suddenly see it visually, I would not recognize what it was. I would have to re-learn everything about the world."

"But I know what a glass of water is, maybe better than you.” We have much to learn from Louise. It was my privilege to have met her.

-By Jack HagelNNN Volunteer Writer


Member Profile: Arleen Burke

Howdy, Neighbor! That’s what I thought when I met member Arleen Burke recently – I was delighted to find she is just a hop and a skip from me – a true Neighbor with NNN!

Arleen was born an only child in Los Angeles via Bakersfield, California (there’s a story here…). Although she’s lived many places in that state (Ontario, Long Beach, Palm Springs to name a few), she has been in the Edmonds area for the last three years. When her mother passed away when Arleen was just 13, she went to live with her aunt and uncle in Palm Springs. There she met her future husband, one of twins whose family ‘snowbirded’ from Saskatchewan to California.

Despite losing her mother at an early age, Arleen has an independent spirit. She eagerly sought college in Early Elementary Education but left that endeavor when she and her husband were expecting their first child (ladies didn’t teach while pregnant then). Over time, the family enjoyed many vacations in their RV. In addition to family, she has previously volunteered as a tutor with refugee families studying for their U.S. citizenship.

Her husband passed away about 12 years ago and Arleen relies on some of the services NNN provides, such as transportation to ongoing appointments. However, she has the support and friendship of her family here in the Northwest as two of her daughters live in her complex and a son and wife live in Port Angeles tending 10 acres with many of God’s farm creatures. She enjoys being close to family but is grateful for her independence.

I got a full sense of faith and fearlessness from Arleen – she enjoys the present but looks forward to future opportunities to volunteer, travel, and try new experiences. NNN came on good recommendation when she first arrived here and she knows we’ll be here for her in the future should the need arise.

-By Melinda NelsenNNN Volunteer Writer

Member Profile: Jeanie Blair




When the jobs became scarce in the ’30s around St. Louis, Missouri, Jeanie’s paternal grandfather gathered his seven sons and announced, “From today, you are all musicians and performers.” Thus began the Blair family traveling Vaudeville (history of vaudeville) odyssey. They often called themselves the Blair Scottish Highlanders. They went town to town on a family bus, and later became part of a circus troupe. Life was hard-scrabble; two of the brothers succumbed to scarlet fever.


Eventually, Grandpa Blair settled the family around Dallas, Texas. It was not easy, but it was far better than his early life as a Scottish miner. The oldest surviving brother from the 7 born to the family married, and Jeanie was born in the early 40s. An only child, Jeanie didn’t quite fit in with some of the traditional, often narrow, societal views of the time and place. Thus, she was glad when, on the day of her high school graduation, her father and mother decided to move.


They had saved up enough money to purchase a 5-acre lot, settled here in Edmonds, and this is where Jeanie has lived most of the rest of her life. She has had several careers, several loves, much travel, and two children. Yes, she can play the bagpipes, and is proud of her parents and grandparents and the heritage she possesses. She is vivacious, charming and articulate, and can cast quite a spell when she decides to dip into the Scottish brogue.


Over recent years, no longer working a job, she has volunteered locally with the Edmonds Center for the Arts, the History Museum, the Senior Center, and the hospital, to name but a few. She is quite involved in the community and is familiar with many of the prominent locals. The last few years have brought forward some health issues.


When asked for a reference, a book she’d like to recommend is Blue Highways by William Least Heat-Moon. As a member of NNN, Jeanie relies on rides to and from her physical therapy appointments, for which she is thankful. But more than the time and money saved, she appreciates the volunteers she meets and being afforded the opportunity for lovely conversations while en route.


-By Jack HagelNNN Volunteer Writer


Member Profile: Maria


Maria lost her husband of 62 years several years ago, but she had been getting on well enough. She has her four children, with grandchildren and great grandchildren, all living nearby. She even traveled to Hawaii with her son-in-law last year. She has been a frequent and independent walker in her Shoreline neighborhood, chatting up other sidewalk strollers young and old. But a few months ago, her journey took a turn for the worse.


Maria fell in her home and broke some vertebrae in the process. It was not a matter of balance or carelessness, simply accidental, probably unavoidable. Surgery has been scheduled, and in the interim, she has a brace and a walker. Family helps out. However, she has called upon NNN volunteers on occasion to provide lifts to the, now frequent, medical appointments. Her daughter had read about NNN in the Shoreline Newsletter and she signed on as a member. She is highly appreciative of the safety net NNN has provided after the accident.


Maria is charming and gregarious. She has had a lovely life, and she knows it. At 14 years of age, she came from the Philippines. Her father was in the Philippines diplomatic corps and took a post at the local consulate. She attended Immaculate Conception H.S, and then Seattle U. Soon after graduation, she met her future husband, and they opened a shop near UW, just off the Ave. Later on, they had to sell, and her husband became one of the pioneers of the Alaskan seafood industry. Through that work, she has had many opportunities to travel the world. Some notable places are Japan, South Africa, and Switzerland.


After the surgery, if all goes to plan, she hopes to continue traveling near and far-well, not too far. The future is uncertain, but she has entertained all of the possible outcomes, and is ready to accept whatever is ahead. She is realistic, grateful, and stoical. As she says, “the time will come for each of us, but we don’t know when that will be, so until that time, we live our best.”


-By Jack HagelNNN Volunteer Writer


(Jack with his 2 week old granddaughter)

Member Profile: Ginger Hodge



A welcoming smile, quick wit, and an infectious laugh are but a few of the unique qualities that define Northwest Neighbors Network member and volunteer Ginger Hodge. Whether enjoying fun activities and fellowship with other members or pitching in by contributing her organizational and creative talents, Ginger models her commitment to the NNN values of collaboration and inclusivity.


Ginger’s introduction to NNN was initially focused on practicality. When she downsized to her current home in 2020, she happened to receive a postcard detailing the many benefits of membership, including assistance with minor household fixes. Volunteer retired contractor Rick responded to Ginger’s first request. Ginger has nothing but praise for his assistance, sharing, “Rick is just fabulous. He’s installed curtains, changed light fixtures, fixed a downspout, changed out a door to my carport, and put in a doggy door for Tequila [Ginger’s adorable Chihuahua mix pup].”


Within a few months, Ginger knew she wanted to begin volunteering at NNN as well. She began contributing her sewing talents by completing minor clothing alterations for other members. She then joined the social committee, and for the past year has helped plan and organize twice monthly member lunches, with attendance at the lunches steadily growing to now as many as 16-18 attendees per function.


Most recently, as part of the social committee, Ginger has begun leading a drive to make and send homemade greeting cards, including birthday cards, to NNN members. Every couple of months, she hosts a card-making party (which is posted on the event calendar) and invites all interested members and volunteers to participate. Ginger stresses that no experience is required to participate, as She provides instruction on easy use of a basic embossing and die-cut machine. Ginger believes that receiving cards is a special treat for members, stating, “Nowadays, the only mail you get is junk mail. To get a handmade card is really something – people really like that.”


As an NNN member, Ginger feels one of the most impactful benefits she has observed in her life is a sense of social connectedness. After relocating to Seattle from Los Angeles to be closer to her daughter, and to provide companionship and care for her father, Ginger felt the loss of her work associates and long-term friendships. “I would say that it came at a good time for me in my life. I didn’t have much social life. After I got involved with NNN, even in COVID, socially, I started making friends and meeting people and now there’s hardly a week that goes by where I’m not either going to lunch with a bunch of people or somebody will suggest a movie or this or that, so it’s been really nice to have a social network.”


As an NNN volunteer, Ginger most appreciates getting out and meeting and helping people. “It makes me feel good to help people. It’s nice to be able to get up in the morning and have a purpose for the day. It’s like a whole different type of day. I appreciate having the ability to have something planned whether it’s making phone calls or going someplace to do something or helping with something. I appreciate having more structure to the day.”


-By Carla LeathersNNN Volunteer Writer


Helene Harrison

Member Profile: Helene Harrison

The bright fall mums planted near the doorstep of Helene Harrison’s home welcome visitors and hint as to the spirit of the fiercely independent, resilient, yet giving and caring soul that resides within. Helene, who is turning 90 this month, was born and raised in Seattle and completed her primary education at Warren Avenue Grade School, later attending Queen Anne (present day condominiums reflecting their namesake) and Ballard High Schools. Helene worked for many years in the banking and financial industries, including some time in the landmark Seattle First National Bank building. Upon her retirement, she began crocheting beanie hats for premature babies in remembrance of a favorite co-worker’s infant son who passed away, and this remains one of her fondest memories. 

Today, Helene keeps busy with many activities. She loves to browse through unique gift stores on Bainbridge Island with her daughter when she comes to visit from Ft. Worth, Texas. Helene devotes her time on Sundays to cooking and preparing meals for the upcoming week (casseroles are her specialty). She is devoted to her “fur babies” – Abbey, her adorable chiweenie pup, and her two year old Maine Coon cat named Fitzy. Abbey is particularly near and dear to Helene’s heart, as she was hand-picked as a rescue by her beloved late grandson, Nick.

Helene was referred to Northwest Neighbors Network by her primary care nurse practitioner when she began having troubles with her eyesight. She became a member “just like that” when membership director Sandy Moy came over and explained the program to her. Through partnership with NNN volunteers such as Melanie, Kim, Beth, and Marty ...just to name a few, Helene now enjoys going out in the community to shop, have her nails and hair done, attend doctor’s appointments, and take her pets for vet and grooming visits. Helene feels blessed to have NNN volunteers in her life and credits her membership with helping her retain her valued independence. “The volunteers greet you with a smile and a much-needed hug to make your day. They let you know they care and that you are loved. I wouldn’t be here today – in my own home, sitting in my own chair – without the volunteers. My world has become a better place because of them.” 

-By Carla LeathersNNN Volunteer Writer

Volunteer Profile: The Francis Family

NNN feels compelled to show off our first family of volunteers!

One of our newest volunteers at NNN is retired firefighter Steve Francis. After serving 42 years with Snohomish County Fire District #1, Steve retired as a top firefighter but is now part of the chaplain crew with that same department.  

He joins his wife Beth, who has been with NNN for several months now, as well as daughter Jamie, who has been with us since last year.

The Francis family, as well as extended family, had the opportunity to care for Beth’s aging father for the last year and a half of his life and were able to keep him independent and comfortable in his own home. This experience seems to be a big motivating factor in the decision to join NNN. 

The whole family has been enjoying meeting new friends and neighbors through our program. And we couldn't be happier to have them as part of our community at NNN.

Vera Houston 44k

Member Profile: Verla H. 

Although I frequently state, “I want to live to be 100!,” I may need to up that to 105 after visiting NNN member Verla Houston.

Born in the last two weeks of 1917, Verla is a Seattle native. She lived in West Seattle and later the Seward Park area. She is new to NNN, which she heard of through her daughter. Since becoming a member, she’s connected with volunteer Kendahl Adjorlolo, who visits her regularly and assists with light housekeeping and other tasks. Verla has recently given up driving (!), which irks her. However, she is keen on maintaining her independence.

My impression of Verla can be said in one word: Elegant. This stylish, well-spoken person has traveled the world (including Hawaii 65 times!) by virtue of owning her own travel agency on Roosevelt. Her travels have taken her to many places around the globe; Jerusalem and Egypt left her with particularly vivid memories. She enjoys experiencing different cultures, but also sees the common themes between people the world over.

Her thoughts on being 105 and the years that have led to this milestone are many. She says the time has gone by fast! I watched her face light up as she described the fun she had dancing with her husband and friends at the Olympic Hotel ballroom, as well as the dance floors at many golf clubs. She attributes some of her longevity to the exercise dancing provided. She enjoys reading and as a young child remembers walking to the library in Columbia City to get all the Zane Grey adventure novels.

Verla loves shopping, clothes and good food. She’ll make herself a nice breakfast and enjoy having lunch out with friends. Playing cards keeps her mind sharp but, be careful – she likes to win!

There is also sadness as she remembers family, friends and loved ones who have passed. However, she is motivated to make new friends and experience something different. She starts the day looking forward to what will happen next. Verla says the world is a wonderful place and indeed it is with her in it!

By Melinda Nelsen/NNN Volunteer

Member Profile: Randy Engel

When Northwest Neighbors Network was getting ready to open its doors and looking for volunteers, Randy ¨knew exactly what kind of organization they were trying to put together, and decided to show up for a meeting in Lake Forest Park¨- it was immediately clear to Sandy Moy, the Membership Director, that Randy had essential insight and skills to offer.

Previously, Randy was involved with our sister organization NEST in Seattle (also an Aging at Home Village) since its inception in 2009 when he lived in the NE Seattle area. He was involved in some planning meetings for NEST and attended several fundraising events. He was one of the first NEST volunteers helping people in NE Seattle.

¨It's just wonderful that NNN is even more developed than I would have imagined it could be after three and a half years.¨ Randy became one of the first NNN volunteers in December of 2018.

Randy was a teacher for nearly 40 years, with his start at Oak Harbor High School for a couple of years, moving on to Wenatchee Valley College for 8 years, and another 8 year stint at Green River College and finally settling down at North Seattle College for 20 years. In addition to teaching organic chemistry, Randy co-authored 11 organic chemistry text books. To Randy, it wasn't so much Organic Chemistry or any subject matter that kept him engaged in this career. ¨It was all about the teaching. That is why I did it. I loved to teach and inspire.¨  

On top of his teaching work, Randy decided to become a Fitness Trainer after he was required to attend PT after a minor injury about 25 years ago. The training quickly became more specialized as he decided to teach juggling to those interested! Since then he has been spotted with a sign at Green Lake reading ¨Free 20 minute Juggling Lessons!¨ He has also offered classes at the Edmonds Waterfront Community Center, and he currently offers 1-1 or small group lessons to NNN members & Volunteers.

Randy is adventurous as he can be, always looking for a new hobby. He has a hand-built canoe from Wenatchee which he has enjoyed gliding through Lake Washington and the Snohomish River. Randy also has a Trike which he learned to start riding with ¨Outdoors for All¨ in Magnuson Park, Seattle.

After coffee, Randy invited me to his home. I was immediately greeted with a friendly sniff. Randy's dog Mila, an eleven year old Golden Doodle that bounces around more like a 2 year old, is hard to miss when you approach the home. We carried on with our conversation, enjoying the beautiful midday weather.

Randy demonstrated a few juggling moves and had me join him. We bounced large and small bouncy balls back and forth in front of his home, which was nested into a colorful blend of nearby cottages, shrubbery, plants, walkways, benches and fountains. Randy even used one particular fountain to demonstrate a magic trick, designed more to make me smile than for trickery.

Randy hopes to bring Juggling as a fun, easy activity to NNN for everybody to enjoy! Despite all he has done already, Randy continues to want to give back as he is appreciative of what the NNN Community has done for him.

Now that he is a member of NNN enjoying the help of others, Randy has had the opportunity to spend time with several other NNN volunteers and has many individual compliments to hand out.

(In the group photo below sit the first nine volunteers at their volunteer orientation, clockwise from the back: Barb Traaen, Eileen Carter, Randy, Ralph Brand, Barbara Rood, David Rood, Pat Kenney, Catherine Brand & Pam Jensen, and all of them are still supporting NNN!)


If you are 
interested in learning to juggle normal sized balls and bags (not big green exercise balls!), reach or call 253-237-2848 and we can help arrange a 1-1 or small group activity. Randy can modify juggling techniques so that any one can juggle! He can also teach people how to juggle in pairs. Randy is also looking for a beginning pickle ball player to practice pickle ball with! Reach out and try something new.

Anbu Manoharan Volunteer Profile

Volunteer Profile: Anbu Manoharan

When Anbu volunteered for respite care for an NNN client with dementia, the woman couldn’t track the conversation. But when Anbu sang, she joined in. They did duets of classics like “You Are My Sunshine” and “Catch a Falling Star,” but Anbu said it felt particularly apt when they sang “Qué Será Será” (“What will be, will be”). Anbu was impressed by the woman’s patience with perpetually living with the unknown, “How much should you embrace the discomfort of not understanding what’s going on around you?”

(Photo Courtesy of Anbu; Alaska in the Kenai Fjord National Park.)

Anbu said, “I don’t know how she does it.” Each time she arrived at the woman’s home, she would have to introduce herself and even when the woman came back from the bathroom, “we’d go through it again.” And, having seen her aunt nurse her Grandpa through dementia, she appreciates how much respite care is needed for caretakers. 

Anbu credits her middle school principal for getting each class engaged with a monthly cause like visiting an orphanage or saving water in her community in Tamil Nadu (India). She said, “The principal got us very invested.” When she participated in a tree planting project, it didn’t end with the seeds. She had to caretake for it; make sure people in the community watered it, the goats didn’t eat it, and the trees thrived. “It felt like it mattered what we did because we could see the difference.” 

The experience left an impact on her and volunteering allows Anbu, a full-time software engineer, the space to explore her passion for service. During COVID, Anbu decided to work with Seniors because she realized how lucky she was that once she had the vaccine she could live her life in ways that more medically vulnerable people couldn’t. She also empathized with elders who were not able to access their families during the pandemic because the restrictions delayed the international trip to visit hers.

Volunteering with Seniors has been a bittersweet reminder of her grandparents who she said were “very forward for their generation” and empowered girls to choose their own path in life. Growing up with her maternal Grandmother at home, Anbu had a strong bond with her and reflected fondly on her Grandmother’s strength. She admires her Grandmother for going against tradition and working so her husband could study to be a teacher and advance their station in life. “Ah, I miss her,” Anbu sighed. 

Most recently, Anbu committed to picking up a NNN client's mail and garbage cans and enjoys when she can walk or run the 1.5 miles to their home. She said NNN feels “like a formalized, more coordinated version of community. It’s so intuitive - if you talked to your neighbors, you would (help them out) naturally.” Like when Anbu was young, her Mom would cook extra food for an ill neighbor and have Anbu deliver it like a meal service.

Currently, many NNN volunteers are older and not working full-time. Anbu, a 20-something software engineer for Google Maps, is a reminder that we can all find time for the joy and fulfillment of pitching to help our neighbors. 

By NNN Volunteer Writer, Kimberly Cecchini


Member ProfileMeiling Tells Her Story

I was born and raised in Taiwan. My parents were caring and devoted. I have three brothers and one sister. My parents instilled in me and my siblings the wisdom of self-discipline and an appreciation for hard work that remained with me throughout my life. After finishing my college degree in Taiwan, I went to Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee and obtained a Master’s Degree in Library Science. Five years later, after fulfilling residency requirements as well as the American Citizenship examination, I have enjoyed being an American Citizen ever since then. I possessed a profession as a hospital librarian until I retired to take care of my mother.

I married a university chemistry professor in California and have one child, Linda, who is practicing law in both California and Washington State. When I lost my husband in 2015, it traumatically hit me that I had to face an unexpected life change. Then, I realized that I had to adopt a healthy lifestyle along with a positive attitude and constructive activities to bring out meaningful aspects of my aging process. In 2016, my daughter invited me to move from California to Seattle, Washington, to stay closer to her. 

I love healthy food and socializing, and I enjoy classical music, walking, fitness programs, Tai Chi, line dancing, and gardening. I play Mahjong and Chinese chess. I am very fond of friends who have a pleasing smile and joyful spirit to light up my days. I believe that friends are meant to cross our path for a reason. Good friends are key to my happiness.   

Since December 2021 I have become a happy member of NNN. It offers multiple programs including transportation service, social and recreational activities. The transportation service has been most vital to help me deal with many appointments and make friends. I appreciate compassionate volunteers who often go the extra mile to help members. I admire efficient administrators who make members feel important, valued and respected. NNN gives members a sense of belonging; we are just like a family.

Through multiple engagement opportunities at NNN, I hope to find a few precious friends that could support one another in all circumstances, and keep one another strong in times of need as well.

-By Mei-Ling Fang, NNN Member

Suzy and Roshae

Staff ProfileRoshaé Lowe

Roshaé Lowe wants to “sustain and create this better world that (she) believes is possible.” She believes that starts at the community level so she is excited to be NNN’s first Member and Volunteer Services Coordinator. She said NNN’s mission connects well with her experiences and “folds really nicely into the broader world of where we can be and should be” as humanity. 

NNN’s mission also resonates with Roshaé because she has always tuned into the difference between having access to resources and not having them. When Roshaé spent summers with her Grandparents in Washington State, she recognized that the opportunities accessible to Black people in Washington seemed to be greater than those in her hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. At 12 years old, Roshaé chose to live with her Grandparents here. 

Since childhood, Roshaé has found inspiration in the legacies of changemakers and prepared to be one herself through her studies at the Western Washington University in Bellingham. Nine months before the pandemic, Roshaé graduated with a major in Sociopolitical Equity and minors in Black Studies, Education and Social Justice, and Political Science. 

Embodying her belief that intentional individuals can come together to make a difference, Roshaé applies her talents as a facilitator for Seattle-area organizations. She is the Vice President of the Northwest Children's Foundation’s board, where she co-chairs its Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion and Grants committees. She is also on the board of Community in Schools of Washington, an organization that supports students to graduate and access opportunities. 

Roshaé said she lives in NNN’s service area, and joining it felt "in line with being an active and intentional member of the community.” After a month as Coordinator, she is eager to connect with more NNN volunteers and members. Roshaé recently completed her first member service when she drove Ellen K. to Swedish. When Ellen “could not stop raving about NNN and its volunteers,” Roshaé felt affirmed that NNN’s mission is helping to shape the world she envisions.

When she is not working or volunteering, Roshaé exercises creativity through poetry, mini-essays, collagéing, painting, and drawing. She said she is “privileged to travel” and always seeks to understand and appreciate different cultures. Roshaé is fluent in Spanish and regularly visits friends in her favorite locale, Mexico City. Though her Grandma passed in 2020, she is “still very much attached at the hip” to her Grandpa.

-By Kimberly Cecchini, NNN Volunteer Contributor

Bubble 4 edited again

Board Member Profile: Jerry Patterson

The NNN board’s new Vice President’s hobby is making bubbles. Sure enough on Jerry Patterson’s website, you can see photos of him and his wife, Janice, mastering wands to entertain kids with massive bubbles. 

But his hobby is bigger than bubbles. It’s about what Jerry is about. Community
As an educator, he believed in creating a “school that embraced a culture of how important the students are.” When he retired as superintendent, Jerry said he wanted to give back to the community after his district benefited from community support. 

After moving around the country, Jerry and Janice followed their daughter, then a medical resident, to the Pacific Northwest. He’s since served terms on two local boards, the Richmond Beach Community Association and the Dale Turner YMCA. 
Then a friend saw NNN’s call for board members and asked him, “How about another one?”

Jerry said he was ”intrigued” by the ‘virtual village’ model and the role volunteers play. ”I’m a senior now, and I have a great deal of empathy and respect for other seniors who are a little bit more limited than they were when they were younger.” 

Jerry hopes to help NNN become “very visible with other communities” so NNN can meet its key resource - volunteers to serve the members’ “huge appetite” for much needed services. 

-By Kimberly Cecchini,
 NNN Volunteer Contributor

Board Member Profile:

“Everyone who I talk to about (NNN), just lights up and recognizes something that is needed in our community - especially after COVID,” Cathy Webb said. And people want to get involved “on both sides of the member/volunteer equation.”

The retired Applied Technology Teacher sees supporting local seniors as a logical extension of her career in supporting youth as an educator. 

Cathy helps with transportation at a local church. At the Lynwood Senior Center, Cathy has fun helping members with computer - and phone - questions. She says they are “really adamant their phone(s) (are) not a computer.” 

When Cathy first learned about NNN from a local news blog, it made her think of a friend who is homebound on the East Coast. Being 3000 miles away, she can’t be a caregiver for her friend, but she could support people out here. 

And, with an accounting background and two decades of experience as the treasurer for her “little church,” it’s not surprising that NNN’s outgoing Treasurer, Don Beacom, persuaded her to take the baton. 

She understands that it is difficult for small organizations to secure their footing and she respects the “brain trust” that Don has “deservedly built up” as the treasurer. 

As part of the board, Cathy is hoping to help grow the organization and help bolster the volunteer numbers to keep up with member needs. 

“I've just been delighted to meet the people that I have met,” Cathy said, “it’s a highly capable group of people” and she is “honored to be a part of the organization.” 

steven 2

Steven Gimurtu

When we met, Steven offered me a broad smile and complimented me on a firm handshake. He was waiting for me at one of the red and white tables in the brightly lit Costco food court. “Let’s start with my age. I’m 88,” he told me. Warm and to the point, I was not surprised to find out he had taught 6th grade for 33 of his years. 

I imagined his attributes as a teacher also served Steven well in other areas of his life. As the District Governor of the Greek American Association, he said he traveled around the Northwest encouraging Greek immigrants to deal with discrimination and adjust to life in the States by “get(ting) into business” like his father.  

Steven’s father arrived in the United States and opened an American restaurant, "John's" in Bellingham. Later his mother joined him from Greece via a transatlantic ship and transcontinental train. In an arranged marriage, his parents first met at the King Street Station in Seattle. Staying close to home, Steven earned a Bachelor of Arts in History and a Bachelor of Education at Western University.

After college, Steven started his career teaching 6th grade at a North Shore elementary school. He spent his weekends assisting the Seattle Police on its Reserves. Summoned to testify in drunk driving cases on too many school days, he had to step away after five years. But he didn’t keep his weekends idle. Later, Steven was a sergeant for the International Guard at the Bellingham Airport - the 262nd Communications Squadron - for the Air Force. He was responsible for leading communications at different sites with teletype and crypto. I asked Steven if he had any stories, but a guy at the next table reminded me with a laugh that’s not happening with the military. 

After retiring from his classroom at North Shore, he subbed at Shoreline. Remember when your teachers were absent and class devolved into movies and paper airplanes? Steven was not having that. What did he expect from you in his classroom? “Be a student first. Then a lady or gentleman. Work your hardest, do your best.”

When I asked about NNN, Steven said, “Gee whiz. It’s a great organization.” NNN Volunteer Melanie often takes him to his monthly doctor’s appointment. Speaking like a teacher, he said Melanie has “outstanding cooperation” with his needs and thinks she and Danie, Volunteer Programs Manager/Services Coordinator, are both wonderful.

So where can you find Steven? He “enjoys people” so he’s often out and about. And, you can tell people enjoy him too. At one point, he paused to tease a friend who had sat near us and then told me that the guy starts his shift at 3 AM in the megastore. About twenty minutes into chatting, Steven gestured towards my two pages of scrawled notes - it was enough attention on him. 

-By Kimberly Cecchini, NNN Volunteer Contributor

Board member Profile: Don Beacom

Spend an hour with Don, and you'll see his self-assessment rings true; he’s a “techie with personality.” And this has served him well in his career and his term as NNN’s Board Treasurer.

In the 1980’s Don was charged with helping University of Chicago business students adapt to personal computers. It was the era of MS-DOS, and as Don joked, “Press shift and f7 (to print); that’s intuitive, right?” So he and his colleagues programmed macros and developed training to meet student needs. 

Don and his wife, darci, of 50 years, moved around the country for her insurance career, but they were back in Chicago when their daughter and son-in-law called from Seattle. Don and darci were going to be grandparents. 

So their plan to settle in the Pacific Northwest became the obvious choice. The midwesterner said he enjoys the area “despite the hills and it (being) colder than it's billed to be.” And, of course, “it’s a real treat to be around while (his grandson) is growing up.” Don wrapped up his career in the University of Washington’s Continuing Education department before joining darci in retirement in 2020.

Meanwhile, darci reached out to NNN to volunteer in its infancy. Don said Sandy Moy, NNN’s President at the time, recognized darci's skills and convinced her to be a board member in 2019. Then, darci volunteered her husband. And, Don thought he would be a handyman. But, Sandy had a different idea. Don said he took over as treasurer when there was “like $13 in the bank," and when King County awarded NNN with a sizable grant, it was time to upgrade the financials. NNN “needed to be able to slice and dice our data” between its work in King and Snohomish Counties, so Don tapped another volunteer, David Rood, for his financial experience. Moving the accounting from Excel to Quickbooks helped them with grant reporting and growing NNN. 

According to Don, his other accomplishment is convincing Cathy Webb to take up the torch of treasurer. As the organization grows, so do the complications. Don said Cathy has the “passion and expertise” to meet its growing needs and “is a great addition to the Board.” 

NNN fulfills an urgent need, and Don is proud of its work. People instantly understand the mission because everyone knows someone who needs the support he said. "Most members have been in their homes for 30 or 40 years. It's where they raised a family…they don't want to leave it.” But as people get older, “they shouldn't be climbing up on ladders to change the batteries in the smoke detector.” 

Don has not put away his ladder or his tools. He’s woodworking. With their house embedded into a hill, Don had searched for planters to stop their grandson from rolling off their yard. Not finding an affordable option to fit the space, Don built his own. And, “one of the things (he) noticed around (his) fellow woodworkers is they run out of people to give things to.”  So he and darci developed a local planter business and did the farmer’s market circuit for a few years for some market research. Don said the markets “are a hoot as a vendor. There’s a whole culture.” And the customization continues to challenge and grow his skills. 

-By Kimberly Cecchini, NNN Volunteer Contributor

Winifred and Son

Member Profile: Winifred

Winifred's Story -- 17 world Records
Fall 2021

The first time I saw girls playing basketball I wanted to play...and I did. I went on to play softball, volleyball...and track. I became the city all around champion...but stopped at fifteen years of age. At seventeen years of age I got married and had two children. 

After having my second child, I played a little ball...and then went to barber school. I gained weight and lived a sedentary life. I lived the sedentary life at two different times in my life. My doctor said that I needed to lose weight and that he would get me a scholarship at the "Y"...the YMCA.

I lost weight and became stronger than all of the other young women...younger than me. None who came to the gym were of my age. There was a competition there, and I won. My son came to see me...and has been with me ever since.

I have seventeen world records...and I'm still going strong. My best in the deadlift is 278 pounds...and in the bench lift, 185 pounds. 

Although I do have arthritis all over the place, it has never stopped me before...but I slipped in the bathroom and fell. I was on the floor for seventeen hours and needed a total hip replacement at that time. So it was February 19 of 2020...when I got the hip replacement...and the physical therapy for the arthritis at the same time. It took me a year and three months. Now I'm back at the with my son. I'll compete next year. 

That's the plan...and I'll be eighty-three years young.

Winifred with Medal

RObert and Madeliene Kaiser

Member Profile: Robert and Madeleine

Robert and Madeleine were both born before World War II; Robert in Strasbourg, France and Madeleine in Fribourg in the French part of Switzerland.


Robert’s family emigrated to the United States in 1942 as refugees fleeing Nazi persecution. He was raised in New York City. His primary education was obtained in the NYC public education system; his secondary education followed at the Lycée Français de New York. After receiving a French Baccalaureate from the Lycée, Robert obtained his technical education at MIT, where he received his undergraduate and graduate degrees in Chemical Engineering. He was a National Science Foundation Fellow from 1956 to 1960. After graduating from MIT, Robert served as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, stationed at the Quartermaster Research and Development Command, Natick, MA. In addition to his duties as a Research Officer, he was also tasked by the Command to provide interpretation/translation services for distinguished French visitors.


After graduating from high school in Switzerland, Madeleine spent a year as an au-pair in England to perfect her English. Madeleine eventually emigrated to Boston, MA in 1968 as a temporary resident when USM, the American Company she worked for in Fribourg transferred its operations to the U.S. She planned to return to Switzerland after a few years, but these plans changed when she met Robert.


Robert and Madeleine were married in 1970. They moved from Cambridge, MA to Winchester, MA in 1974 after their son, Pierre, was born. His sister, Martine, followed a few years later.


Robert initially worked in industry, first for the M.W. Kellogg Company in Piscataway, NJ as a research engineer, and then for AVCO Systems Division in Lowell, MA, where he did some pioneering work in nanotechnology. After becoming a Registered Professional Engineer in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and a dozen years as an employee, he hung out his own shingle and became a consulting engineer in 1974. This initial effort led to the creation of <ARGOS> Associates, Inc., a consulting company in 1977, and of Entropic Systems, Inc., a technology development enterprise in 1985.


Between being a mother, working for the Canadian Consulate in Boston, supporting her husband’s business operations, and being an active volunteer in the Friends of the Winchester Library and the local chapter of the League of Women Voters, the Winchester years were busy ones for Madeleine.


They became empty nesters after their children had graduated from college and moved to the Pacific Northwest. In 2009, they emulated them and moved from the East Coast to Edmonds, which they now call home. After they moved to Edmonds, Madeleine remained active in the Friends of the Library and League of Women Voters for about ten years until it became time for her to fully retire. Robert remains active as a Consulting Engineer, and in helping Northwest Neighbors Network with grant writing support when required.


Madeleine and Robert have been involved with NNN for nearly a year. ¨We are so very fortunate we found NNN. It changed everything and allowed us to remain at home, in our community and together.¨


Member Profile: Fekerte

This January, Fekerte Ketema is going to fulfill a promise to her older sister. She is going to visit her sister in Ethiopia so they can enjoy time together while they are still young. 


Fekerte is the second youngest in a family of five children. She said her parents raised them in Addis Ababa “with dignity and love.” And, on summer trips to her Grandma’s farm, she grew to love nature and dreamed of marrying a farmer. 

As a “big shot” of the Ethiopian government, Fekerte’s father worked closely with the late Emperor Haile Selassie. When she was young, her cousins teased her for saying that she hoped to not outlast the aging emperor, but it was in part due to a fear for her Dad’s safety in an unsettled political climate. 


At 19, Ferkerte moved to Kansas City to earn her Associate’s Degree. Although she is always a proud Ethiopian, she has loved building her adult life as an American. In the 1970’s, she moved to California and met her former husband, “a cowboy”??? from Montana, while working at an insurance company. Fekerte gave birth to their two children and trained to be a Montessori preschool teacher before moving to the Pacific Northwest. 


She loved the children and recalled how they seemed to find comfort in tracing the freckles on her face. But her memories of one little girl still brings tears to Ferkerte’s eyes. She said the parents were professionals who did not have time for their child and she lamented, “All the material things, you can’t even take care of your blood and flesh?”  


Ferkerte and her husband separated, and as a single mother, she enrolled in Washington State’s Pullman campus and credits her professors’ wives and her children’s grandmother for helping to balance her responsibilities. Earning a degree in Sociology, Ferkerte later became a counselor and supervised a nonprofit for young mothers. One of her team’s biggest successes was one of the clients that most perplexed her. Ferkerte was surprised that one of the women, an accomplished person who had earned a law degree, was afraid of the outside world. She is still proud that they were able to help the woman to move beyond her struggles. 


“No matter what mother nature throws at you, you keep going,” Ferkerte said. So, even with the challenges of aging, Ferkerte relishes her independence and appreciates how the Northwest Neighbors Network helps her to maintain it with transport to appointments and light cleaning in her home. And, she is grateful for the volunteer who is assisting her with the arrangements for her trip to Ethiopia. 


It is a challenge to accept help for herself, but she does so with dignity by finding ways to contribute to the community.

-By Kimberly Cecchini, NNN Volunteer Contributor

Amy Nathanson Young

Member Profile: Amy

As soon as she sat down for her interview, Amy professed it has been a “learning experience” to seek help from the Northwest Neighbors Network. After a shoulder injury and a bout with Vestibular Balance Disorder, this is the first time that the “73-year young” woman has been on the receiving end of caretaking. 

A “fiercely independent” woman herself, Amy recognized that as more and more people were living longer, she could make a difference in people’s lives by caring for the elderly in their homes. Although Amy established elder care as her own business, she saw her clients as family. She spoke about building joyful moments with her clients as she assisted them through their day-to-day and sometimes being there through their last days to provide comfort and dignity. 

Amy has been drawn to the wisdom of mature generations since her childhood visits to her Grandpa’s nursing home in Connecticut. Before she would go home with her Mom, she insisted on visiting all of the patients, “plopping onto their laps, gazing into their eyes, and listening to their life stories.” Just as those patients used to “light up” in front of their miniature audience, Amy lights up when she speaks of her decades devoted to caring for others. 

Before starting her business, Amy began her medical journey as a ‘candy striper’ in a hospital. Later, she volunteered with the VA to help Vietnam Veterans who had sustained paralyzing injuries and at the City of Hope with children battling cancer. In 1967, she was a member of the first medical assistant training class in the United States and spent the intervening years between medical assistance and administrative positions in universities. 

Amy says that she enjoys “every minute” of her life and credits her Mom’s independent spirit as her inspiration for both how she has lived her career and her personal life.  

Before settling in the Northwest 30 years ago, she grew her hippie roots in Southern California. She loved being part of the movement for its dedication to changing the world and its artistic spirit, seeing the likes of Jimi Hendrix, and Bob Dylan (at least 12 times!) - and thrilled this author with a brief reenactment of Janis Joplin at the Hollywood Bowl. 

As an artist, Amy sold her jewelry and weaving at fairs at the Santa Barbara seaside. Because she feels travel is one of the best ways to feed her love of learning, she took extended leaves to travel Europe, and once took a tour of the United Kingdom with her Mom. Amy also credits her mom for being a model of how to age well; she said everybody loved being around her Mom who preached joy and was still “giggling” until she passed away in her 97th year.

Although her recovery has kept her adventures closer to home, Amy believes that you “never know what’s around the corner” and is currently finding joy in art collecting and writing. She just completed her memoirs which are a reflection of her time as a caretaker. 

Now, Amy knows firsthand that aging well means that she is sometimes the one that needs a hand, and she has been impressed by the “fabulous, bright professional people” of the Northwest Neighborhood Network” who are doing what she did for a living as volunteers. She said, “There is no greater reward than giving to people. NNN volunteers are really finding that out.” 

But Amy’s not done with being on the giving end of caretaking. Now that her health is improving, she gladly accepted the opportunity to care part-time for one of her previous clients. 

And, as inspired by her Mom’s example, Amy is cheering her elderly client to “think younger, act younger, be younger.” 

-By Kimberly Cecchini, NNN Volunteer Contributor

Volunteer Profile: Michael

I am Michael Birmingham, son of Harry G. Birmingham Jr. and Yolanda Zarate Birmingham. In case you are wondering, I am proud to say I am half Mexican and American. I grew up my entire life in the Bay Area, have lived in various parts of San Jose, CA, Santa Clara, CA, and Mountain View, CA. My father worked for Lockheed Missiles and Space Company for 27+ years, in the Sunnyvale "Blue Cube", and retired from there at the young age of 55. I recently relocated here to Kenmore, WA and bought a home in late 2018. We are the first of our immediate family to move to the PNW. My wife and I truly love the Seattle area, especially all the four seasons you get to enjoy here. We love to ride bikes, kayak, hike, garden, cook, bbq, and many other things that get us outside.

I recently used to work for a few years in Bellevue, WA in the heart of downtown. Since November 2020 I am now working remotely for a company based out of Los Angeles, CA. I love what I do for a living and would never change careers for anything.

I started out as a teenager working in jobs for example in a grocery store, specifically in the meat department. Then I spent several years working as an irrigation tech for San Jose Country Club golf course. I eventually landed a position in technology in an on-call role at a help desk. I did all of this while attending San State University part time.

Eventually I ended up spending the last 20+ years working in the tech industry for companies like Sun Microsystems (acquired by Oracle),, Adobe Systems Inc., and several other smaller tech companies recently. I am proud to say that I went from literally digging ditches at a golf course to working on some of the most complex, high tech computing environments in the world. I would say I am pretty experienced with server hardware, various softwares for automation and infrastructure as code. I have supported all of the popular Unix operating systems. I am quickly becoming pretty advanced at using and deploying Cloud Computing (Google Cloud Platform and AWS).

I come from a very large family and have a twin sister. My family lives all over the US, including Hawaii, Texas, Missouri and California. I do not have any kids but try to be the best uncle I can be to my many nephews and nieces.

I am very proud to become a volunteer with NNN and will do my best to help with anything tech related I can get my hands on!

Trudy Tankus as a Young Woman

Member Profile:  Trudy

May 2022

Born a year later than Shirley Temple, Trudy started singing for audiences at a young age.  Adults and friends would tease her by calling her by the more famous person’s name, sometimes even requesting that she sing some song about a lollipop.


Growing up in Harlem and later other parts of New York City, Trudy lived through some rough times. She raised three children, who are now working with her to help her stay in her own home while she ages. On both the east coast and here on the west, she volunteered to take care of children who needed a stable adult in their lives, as well as in the Shoreline schools. One of the classrooms Trudy volunteered in was that of Marty B, a NNN volunteer, who recalls Trudy’s amazing singing voice.

Trudy has used her beautiful voice to make music, and to speak up for and improve the lives of children. 

Her last public singing was with Seattle Shore’s Sweet Adelines, where she also booked all of their events, communicated and tracked them on the computer--until Covid paused their voices just after she turned 90. She is still concerned for children and what they are suffering all over the world.

In 2003, “Snapshots of Hope” by Loyd & Hosford was published. It contains stories about foster care, and Trudy has a chapter. One anecdote is about her finding a foster child awake in her kitchen at 2 a.m. Knowing he needed more than being sent to bed, she decided to bake “a cake with a child who definitely needs some kind of distraction, control and validation.” 

Distraction from the challenges of aging, control over our own lives and validation that we make a difference in other people’s lives… seems as though Trudy’s formula applies to us at any age.

Trudy Tankus 2

Muschi H and Mel B

Mucschi and Mel & Quality Cheese

NNN volunteer Melanie recently signed up for a 3 month project to help NNN member Muschi with a downsizing and packing project. When asked about her weekly meetings with Muschi and the project she was helping with, NNN volunteer Melanie shared her experience. 

¨It starts with a cup of coffee and ends with an empty cup that Muschi will not let me wash.¨ Melanie, smiling, goes on. ¨Muschi has a comfortable presence. Maybe it's our ties to European heritage. Hers Germany. Mine Hungary. Or possibly our opinion about what constitutes quality cheese. Maybe we just silently understand each other, each having our own challenges, adventures and paths that led to now.¨ 

¨As for the packing and moving project, it has been fun and inspiring. It has only been a month but it feels longer, in a good way. I feel fortunate to be invited into Muschi's world of experience through the things we are packing up and the conversations that follow. I learn so much from her stories. Things that make me think.¨

¨The work is easy and I enjoy spending time with her, even though Muschi always worries Iḿ going to hurt myself. She is also literally a neighbor, living about a 5 minute drive away. So helping Muschi on this project is convenient with my schedule. I like that NNN can offer nearby and flexible opportunities for volunteers.¨ 

Muschi requested volunteer support, sharing with NNN that this June she must reluctantly move out of a place where she has called home for nearly 20 years. Her landlord and friend must sell the property and so she will leave the area and live adjacent to her son and close to extended family. Muschi explains it as a feeling of  mixed emotions to Melanie. ¨Her current community has been a huge part of her life. But she has a very loving and supportive family who is going to make her next journey feel secure and loving. Muschi shared with me that her grandchildren think sheś wild and one of their favorite people ever.¨ ¨I can see that¨ Melanie adds with a grin.

Volunteer Profile: Ellen

I’m a Physical Therapist. When I retired at the end of 2020 my thought was ¨what’s next?” I like to help people and to keep busy so I searched online for opportunities to volunteer. I was open to helping animals or people; basically anyone who needed help. I found NNN, not realizing it was the place that my friend BarbTraaen had told me about some time ago. I liked that the community at NNN reminded me of what my own mother was doing at the time for seniors in Wisconsin. She can no longer volunteer but she and I both love the concept of helping seniors with rides, errands or whatever we can.

I started in June of 2021 and I remember when I first started I didn't want to start too fast or commit to a structured environment. I liked the flexibility that NNN offers. I did dive in quite quickly after I learned of one urgent need and I said ¨sure.¨ It was also winter by then and there wasn't much to do outside. And so it began. I enjoyed the experience of backing up the organization in urgent situations and after a while I started wanting to do more. 

I don't necessarily love to drive. I am open to help in any way that NNN and our members need. I just see, especially recently, how much the need for transportation has increased.  And when I see rides that have not yet been taken by other volunteers, I feel a sense of worry…¨Oh no, these people need help, and rides to various places are what they need most!¨ I can't help it; call it my Catholic guilt. So I do a lot of driving. 

While waiting I park somewhere with no parking fee, and find something to do. I can read a book in the car or take a walk. 

My husband, who just retired, now knows to consult the calendar on the refrigerator to find dates I am not volunteering with NNN. He understands the importance and is very understanding.  We love the outdoors and getting away.  We hope to keep enjoying what we love for as long as we can.  Just as our members do.

Beyond the nearly 50 wonderful people and personalities I have met, I enjoy really connecting with individual members and paying attention to their health and safety. I always try to help if I can or report back any concerns I have. I am a bit handy and very alert in situations that are unsafe and attempt to help a member to the best of my ability. I recently helped a member with the gliders on her walker. I enjoy all the facets that come into this kind of volunteer work.

Member Profile: Colleen

Colleen's jeans were marked with spattering of colors that looked like an art piece themselves. She responded to my very first question. ¨Well yes I am. I am a painter.¨

I learned quickly that Colleen had a lot of appreciation for NNN volunteers. She shared how she had nearly completed a portrait of a particular volunteerś dog. ¨He just went out of his way for me when I needed help. This is my way of doing something nice for him.¨

Colleen shared more about her life and how it continues to thrive despite her challenges and in part now because of the support of NNN volunteers.

But it has been art that has gotten her through the roughest of times for over 30 years, including her diagnosis of MS. Colleen had been working as an Art Director at the Boys and Girls Club and was forced into early retirement because of her new disability.  ¨It wasn't exactly new; it was just unknown. Even as a young girl, I remember walking to church, as I did every Sunday, sitting down in the first row because I just loved to sing. And the next thing I know, I woke up at home in a bath of ice. Thatś how we treated seizures back then and it works!¨

Colleen is fortunate in that her MS did not hit her as hard as doctors expected. She quickly jumped back into work with Edmonds Community College, where she was offered a job teaching art. For years she taught those over the age of 60 how to paint through the Creative Retirement Institute. She moved on to be part of the permanent teaching roster at Edmonds College, and eventually added Everett Community College to the list.

After a while, she went through some tougher times with MS, among other things. Colleen pushed through and got deeper into her exploration of art. Eventually, she opened Lambert Art Studio, where she revealed her accomplishments as a painter and instructor of Representational Art. Colleenś website features impressive seascapes and striking still life work. Clearly she brings many years of experience to her community.

¨While I maintain my Art Studio, I most enjoy working with my students.¨ Colleen now teaches independently from her home. She talked fondly about a few  students she has been working with for over 20 years. ¨They are so talented and they are so kind. They are dear to me and an important part of my life. I actually met them through their parents who once attended my classes through the Creative Retirement Institute. It seems everything comes around again full circle in so many strange ways. There have been many meaningful connections in my life. I pay attention to that.¨


When asked how it all began, Colleen pondered as she responded. ¨When I really think about it, I was always an artist and I was also an entrepreneur. I remember I was about 8 years old when I set up my art studio in a cubby under the stairs of my childhood home. I would recruit local neighbors to join my art classes. And they would come.¨ ¨Thinking back, I believe my family contributed a lot to my business sense. My parents ran a multi-generational business and our home was part office and storefront. As a young girl, I enjoyed  handing out coffee to a line of customs in our home. My mother was also a Rose Grower. Our yard was lined with 188 rose bushes. It was almost like a public gathering spot in our neighborhood. So often our coffee line consisted of local tourists as well.¨

Colleen is more than an artist. She continues to lead an adventurous and interesting life. She she shares many of her interests with the NNN community, including the Tulip Festivals, Lavender Field trips, Ferry Rides and Ice Cream in Kingston, Woodinville Wine Tasting spots, The International District in Seattle, Whale Watching, Molbak's Greenhouse and Nursery and of course the brilliance of Washingtonś outdoors….. The list went on much further. ¨Wouldn't it be nice if we could get together and relive some of our memories and enjoy these trips again or for the first time?¨  ¨I think itś just wonderful that NNN listens wants to listen to what we have to offer for ideas of how we would like to get-together and meet each other.¨ 

¨So far, NNN has been a huge support for me. I have met many wonderful people. It has been an incredible experience. And I haven't even begun to get involved in the social activities that NNN has to offer. What I like most about NNN is that it simply makes seniors' lives easier, happier and more comfortable.¨ She added at the end and with a nudge ¨I do plan to attend a Tulip Festival event if NNN gets a group together.¨

Social Spotlight: NNN Book Club Host, Eileen

NNN started a Book Club in our early days, way back before the pandemic started. We gleefully met in person then, enjoying each other’s company on a member’s deck. We now meet on Zoom, but we’re still gleeful! We have a core group of about 7-8 people, but we’ve been known to reach 12 participants.

Members choose our books, then we meet from 1 – 2:30 on the 4th Monday of every month. We read all sorts of fiction and non-fiction and lean toward books easily accessible at the library. Who needs more stuff? Books are often picked up and delivered to members, then returned after our meeting. We have books selected through next January, but if you’d like to join and suggest one, please contact Eileen Carter at We can be flexible with scheduling our reading choices!

We all look forward to meeting in person again soon, Omicron-variant-willing. Till then, join us on Zoom at this link:

Check us out with no obligation to join!

Editor’s Note: Eileen has been a volunteer with Northwest Neighbors Network for almost 4 years and has a passion for reading. In addition to her many other volunteer services with NNN, she turned her passion for reading and conversation into action when she became our Book Club host. We are so thankful for her generous gift of time and energy! To learn more about becoming a host for a social event or activity, please contact She is seen here with NNN Member and Volunteer, Susan (on the left).

Volunteer Profile: Sarah

Sarah joined NNN as a volunteer in August of 2021, after meeting an NNN volunteer at a ¨Meet me in the park¨ event in Lynnwood the preceding July at Wilcox Park. ¨It was a welcoming event that drew me in.¨ 

Sarah has a natural empathy for those facing unnecessary barriers like many of our senior neighbors. She has an Epileptic condition which keeps her from being able to drive, on top of her battle with Social Anxiety. She understands personally how much these often invisible barriers can hurt and wants to ease the pain of others, in the ways that she can help. 

Sarah wouldn't let anything get in the way of her volunteering with our NNN community. ¨I remember my first job. It was August 1st. It wasn't easy for me. I recall a feeling of just jumping into the deep end head first.¨

It was less than a week after Sarah made that plunge that she met a woman that she would make a mark on her life. It was her second service job with NNN.

Sarah spoke fondly of her new friend and NNN member. ¨I truly enjoy her company, hearing her stories and sharing comfort. I know that she appreciates having me, maybe just somebody, there to visit.¨ 

¨Her short term memory suffers greatly and she doesn't know exactly who I am, like my name.¨ Sarah shrugged it off as though names didn't really matter anyway. ¨Her long term memory is incredible. We spend time together and she shares wonderful memories of her childhood and beyond. The stories are fascinating. And then sometimes we just chat about the weather.¨

¨I may have to remind her of my name and of the nature of my visit but I know that she knows who I am. She shares a familiarity with me, often asking about my life.¨ She will often stop in the middle of a conversation with Sarah asking ¨So whatś up with you?¨ Sarah seemed tickled pink as she pondered and shared that thought. 

The two meet weekly and Sarah feels ¨a tugging on my heartstrings when it's time to go.¨ They share a special relationship, bound not by words and names but by something stronger.

Sarah ends with a simple summary of what her experience with NNN is like. ¨I like helping people.¨ ¨Itś a challenge for sure but now, with my friend, it's much more comfortable and I enjoy it.¨

Volunteer Spotlight: Anne

Anne is a determined gardener and enjoys all things outdoors. She was pulling weeds while we spoke about her experience as a volunteer with Northwest Neighbors Network (NNN). There was a lot of ground to cover.

Right off the bat, Anne said being part of NNN as a Volunteer has given her ¨the opportunity to feel as though you are out there doing things for others, but finding that you are also out there doing these things for yourself.¨ She also added that she appreciated how flexible the programs were and that there were many ways to support the community as a volunteer. 

¨It all started when a neighbor of mine hosted an event about 5 years ago. It was an in person meet up among neighbors, where the story of NNN and what it was hoping to accomplish was being told. I remember thinking one day it will be me who will need these services, so I joined NNN as a volunteer in 2019 following the death of my husband.¨ It seemed right to Anne to pay it forward. She comes from a family of volunteerism, which clearly shows by the realm and depth of Anneś  service to the organization and community of members and other volunteers. 

For nearly a year, Anne was volunteering for a small handful of other local nonprofit organizations as well, until they started shutting down. Northwest Neighbors Network, on the other hand, kept growing, and of course evolving. ¨At that point I had met and had been actively visiting with 2 people on a regular basis. We quickly went from home visits to door way visits, and finally to phone and outdoor visits.¨ But Anne never left our community, and 2 years later is still visiting with the same people, while also enjoying a bit of help with gardening in the process. 

Anne shared much about how her overall experience with NNN has shaped where she is at, and how it has added value to her life. It seems that Anne has also shaped the organization on many levels. Anne certainly has a knack with community engagement, frequenting community outreach and social events, sitting on the NNN Outreach Committee and maintaining her direct service work.

Anne has been behind the scenes and on the front lines throughout NNNś years of growth and somewhat immersed in the volunteer experience from a few perspectives, having much to say about how far we have come and how far she can imagine us going.  Without volunteers like Anne, NNN could not exist. 

As she was finishing her gardening and we were finishing our dialog, Anne added with emphasis. ¨What I really discovered was that the service or job I was doing was a very small part of the experience. Most people just appreciate somebody coming around. I've enjoyed the connections I have made, and have gained so much wisdom from the insight of those I meet. I have gotten much out of  my experience with NNN members and I believe this is an organization people can rely on, regardless of unforeseen barriers.¨

Our New Service Coordinators Volunteer Team at NNN!

Have you ever wondered why Sandy and Danie share the same NNN phone number, 253-237-2848? This is our official NNN Services Line and at times Danie is answering it and at other times, Sandy. The reason for sharing a number is so that there is always somebody there to answer the phone during our normal business hours (9a-5p, M-F), as well as during any hours for which you have a Service. We respond daily, 5a-10p to urgent matters regarding a Service in Action. Expect to hear even a few more new voices when you call in the future. 

Sandy Moy is our Membership director and sits on the Board of Directors. You most likely know her best as our number 1 back-up driver and the primary leader in anything having to do with Services, including answering the phone. We are hoping to free up some of her time so that she can focus on larger goals for the organization. And Danie Belfield-Vigh, is our Volunteer Program Manager and supports Communications and Outreach efforts for NNN. We also hope to free up a bit of Danie's time on the phone.

Marty B, Lyn C, Evelyn S and Melanie B have answered the call for volunteer help. These four are our new Service Coordinator Volunteers to help Danie and Sandy on the phones. 

All have been in training, learning our platform for creating and fulfilling Services for Members by Volunteers. And they are very close to answering the phone to help all of you with any needs or questions about Services. 

So please welcome Marty, Lyn, Evelyn, and Melanie to an essential new volunteer Team at NNN! As an organization and community of real neighbors, we should all be thankful for their service as it allows us to grow and help even more people.

Marty Behnke from a zoom
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A tribute to Jerry Carriveau’s service on NNN Board

Let’s go back in time just a few years…how about 2015? You know, when a bag of groceries with milk, eggs, bread, and peanut butter would cost you about $10.50, and gas was just over $2 per gallon. That same bag of groceries today? Well, first you have to BRING your own bag to the store, then bring an extra $6.

This is not a story about groceries, but about change, and what big changes can happen in just a few short years. In 2015, Jerry was one of the initial members of the planning group hoping to launch a successful village model that would be fully self-sufficient within eight years. 

October 2015, there was an IDEA for NNN, but no official nonprofit name, no website, no bank account, no tax exempt status, no bylaws, and even the service level boundaries were not set! (There were plans to stop at 196th in Lynnwood.)

Jerry was one of the original Board members behind the scenes, helping on governance and planning workgroups, and elected as the first Board President in 2017. (He may still have that gavel hidden somewhere around his house, who knows?)  In 2018, we joined the Village to Village network and had a 501(c)(3) status bylaws, working phone, website, logo, brochures, and early partnerships with senior centers and community outreach. In February of 2019, NNN officially launched, with all of the foundational materials in place. 

Now that those Bylaws clearly state Board officers need to bow out after six years of service, we’d like to reflect back on the drive and determination Jerry brought to help us successfully launch, and be self-sufficient within eight years. I think we all agree that we’ve successfully met that initial target and are expanding well beyond. Did you know that according to our numbers, we have over 250 people involved in NNN? Last year, we provided over 4,400 hours of volunteering, with over 3,700 services. 

Member Profile: Gail

I am an active, retired Kindergarten teacher and mother of four adult daughters. When not volunteering for NNN, I also volunteer as a baby rocker at Edmonds Swedish Hospital NICU and as an usher at 5th Avenue Musical Theater/Downtown Seattle. I have exercised at Jazzercise since my daughters were in high school and love music of many genres attending many local music shows/venues. 

I sing as an alto in OK Chorale, a community choir in North Seattle and assist my choir director with singing through Greenwood Senior Center with a group called All Present for memory-loss folks and their care-givers. I travel as often as I can, to CA to visit my siblings and their families and also abroad. Now that I have 3 daughters on the US East Coast, I will be flying across country more often, too!

I have really enjoyed the social aspect of NNN for myself! I stroll Edmonds on Sundays (in fair weather), participate in the Friday lunch meet-ups, and attend outings. I have truly appreciated this time with others during Covid (since many of my other things mentioned above were put "on-hold" or "on Zoom" until recently)!

Member Profile: Patricia

When Patricia welcomed me into her home, I had just missed NNN’s volunteer Kristy, who had dropped off groceries with one toddler strapped to her back and another strapped to her front. Patricia offered me an armchair and she sat on the floral couch next to where her cat was nestled into his corner. She repeated her doubt that her life was not worthy of a profile. Then her landline rang, and she went over to her favorite nook, where her desk is framed by a lattice wooden screen, to answer it, “Hello, Goninan residence.” 

I took the moment to glance around her living room and saw she had some stories to tell.  I asked if there was one behind the Japanese artworks. Patricia attended high school in Japan while her US military parents were stationed in Sendai. She recalled riding horse-drawn carts to the ocean and experiencing “sushi from a street vendor (that was) 100% better” than any you can get in the US. 

Transferring between a dozen or so schools as she grew up, she said, broadened her outlook as she experienced attitudes and cultures that widely differed - even among regions in the States. 

When she moved on to the University of Washington to study psychology and anthropology, a professor discovered her drawing talents and recruited her to illustrate artifacts from their archeological digs. She went on to learn additional techniques from anthropologist, Dr. Alex Krieger, and later to illustrate lab work for UW’s hospital. 

Patricia's passion for learning is reflected in her varied career, transitioning from engineering, architecture, social work, merchandising, and her most challenging position in a prison release program.

But what fascinated Patricia the most is learning to be so independent that she could live off the grid or on the road. Although she never built the yurt she designed, she realized the first dream with a house in the woods so close to Emerald Lake that you could “practically fish” from the second floor. Patricia and a roommate would cut and split the fuel for their wood-burning stoves and she would climb up from a ladder on the second-story deck to clean the huge chimney.

Redesigning a small RV, Patricia realized the other dream. With an interest in holistic medicine and a sign in the window, “New Driver,” she took off on a solo trip to learn from experts in northern Mexico and spend time with people being treated.

Patricia rerouted her long-term RV’ing dreams to be a caretaker but keeps exploring her curiosities. She has done week-long mediations and was a member of the International Association for Near Death Experiences. Currently, she is pursuing volunteering with the International Archive Association to transcribe handwritten historical texts. And, she just might try to pick up a book on quantum physics again.

Now, Patricia is an unofficial recruiter for NNN clients, telling her peers that NNN is the “best thing you can do for yourself.” She praised its volunteers who have done everything for her from light housekeeping and driving to fencing off an area for her cat on the balcony. And, to her, NNN’s board Secretary Sandy, is a “miracle” - if “she thinks you need something, you don’t have to say anything, she will go out of her way to help.”

-By Kimberly Cecchini, NNN Volunteer Contributor

Member Profile: Winifred Wins Again

I am in Las Vegas, Nevada, in a world powerlifting competition.  I have been here many times before, but it always seems like it's the first time.  With God at my side, the plan is to set another world record.  I feel good.  

My son, who is  my trainer and coach, is taking very good care of me.  This is the first time we have lifted together and me on his team Teams all Natural.  That is the name of his team.  Tomorrow, Friday, all hell will break loose because the plan is we will rock the house.  I have the strength of man.  And I passed it on to my son by God's hand.  

I don't like flying but this was a good one.  We were able to see free movies on the airplane.  I don't look at television very much, but the movie was very good and the two hour flight went fast. Very few people wore masks.

It's expensive to fly. This journey to compete would not have been done without my sponsors: my church (St Matthew), Sound Generations, NNN Volunteers and some other good friends of mine stepped up to the plate and did their part. 

At the competition I ran into a lot of people who knew me. I did not know them. The weigh-in and all the paperwork, my son took care of everything and he is competing as well.  The only thing I have to do is lift the weights.  My nephew and his wife and her sister came to see the event for the first time because they had never seen one before.   

Now it's Friday morning and I am rip-roaring and ready to go.  First we would eat a good breakfast.  My son will come to get me at 6 a.m. and on with the show.  The rules will be said at 8 a.m.  The show will start at 8:30 a.m.  I will bring back the gold. That is the plan.  I don't know about anyone else but for me, it's the gold which matters the most.  That is what I trained for.

In the bench press I brought home the gold and I set a world record.  In the deadlift I set two world records in two different divisions. My best was 203.9 lb.  Since I am starting all over I was pleased with that.  I rocked the house with my lifting.  It was a very long day and into the night.  

Today, now Saturday, my family and I will have some fun.  For breakfast I  just wanted a bowl of oatmeal.  We will be home Monday.  My birthday was on December 16. I am eighty four years young. 

By NNN Member, Winifred Pristell

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Volunteer Profile: Kirk

For 49 years, Kirk Whiteley drove for a living. Now he drives to make sure fellow Seniors are living well. 

When he retired, he volunteered to drive for Hyde Shuttle to bring local Seniors everywhere from stores to doctors’ offices to tax advisors. COVID interrupted the Sound Generation program, but Kirk did not let that interfere with devoting his time to supporting local seniors. Kirk had been and continues to volunteer four days a week, delivering hot lunches to seniors with programs including Meals on Wheels.

Last year, he also got behind the wheel for the Northwest Neighbors Network after he met NNN’s Sandy Moy  at the Shoreline Lake Forest Park Senior Center Holiday Bazaar. Instead of driving a shuttle, Kirk uses his Toyota Rav 4 to resume his mission of making life easier for local seniors. 

Kirk regularly drives one of his favorite members, Kim, who visits her husband three times per week in a nearby facility supporting his needs . “When she gets in the car, she’s talking about her husband and it is important to her.” Kirk appreciates that as a volunteer “you kind of become part of people's lives...They just want to talk to you; they’re not looking for answers.”

“I guess I just want to let them have their say,” Kirk continued, “Oftentimes people are cooped up in their homes and that’s the reason for NNN.” And many like Kim, face barriers of their own, on top of the barriers to see their loved ones. 

Though the destinations may be difficult, Kirk and his passengers find ways to create joy on the commute. Kirk reminisced about his travels with one NNN Community Member who had three weekly six-hour dialysis sessions. He often took the night shift and they began to laugh about how business was booming at two side-by-side marijuana shops - and, fittingly, at the Dairy Queen up the road. “It got to be a joke between us. We (would get) to see what the marijuana place was doing and how the Dairy Queen was doing” on her way home.  

A few months ago, Sandy sent an email to the circle of NNN volunteers who brought the member to dialysis, that the member had died. “That’s the hard part,” Kirk said, but “it’s just part of the territory of life.” 

This is not new ground for Kirk. His wife of 30 plus years, “survived lung cancer for 11 years before passing away, I was often her caretaker. I’ve always been a caring person who wants to help people.” 

It can be difficult to be directly involved in helping people, but the rewards are worth it. Kirk reflected on the difference between donating and volunteering. ”When you write a check you don’t know where (the money) ends up…doing this I know it ends up in my hands; I can see the results.”  People are so grateful. When you take them to the store, they want to get you a gift and it’s really hard to tell them volunteers can’t take anything. Kirk said, “They’re expressing the fact that before NNN they didn’t know how they were going to get things done.¨

At 74 years young, Kirk feels fortunate to be more physically fit than many of his peers and be able to help them. He credits his career driving a semi for Dawn foods, hauling 50-pound pastry mixes for bakeries and 2000-pound stainless steel totes of the fruit processed for the bottom of yogurt cups. Now when he’s not driving for NNN, he “tinkers” with his ‘85 Corvette. 

But, Kirk recognizes he eventually may not be as active as he is now. Though two of his three daughters are local, he hopes NNN will be around when he needs it, “Then I won’t be a volunteer, I'll be a member.”

-By Kimberly Cecchini, NNN Volunteer Contributor

Volunteer Profile: Sharon

Do you love to play games?  Any particular type?  At NNN Games at the Commons, we play all types of games, whether there are just a couple of us or a couple of tables’ worth.  Dominoes, cards, dice games like Yahtzee and Farkle and various board games are some of the games we’ve enjoyed.  We even completed a custom jigsaw puzzle once!  

Join in the fun at Third Place Commons in Lake Forest Park. There’s plenty of free parking and yummy food options (or bring your own) if you want to munch and play. I would love to see more faces from our members and volunteers. It’s a great way to meet others in our NNN community. We play for fun as we get to know each other better. Everyone is welcome, whether you’re a member, volunteer or guest. 

I’m so excited about playing games that, if you’re a member of NNN, I’ll even come to your home if we can find compatible dates and times. Contact Social@NorthwestNeighborsNetwork if you’re interested. 

Editor’s Note: Sharon has been a volunteer with NNN for a year. In addition to NNN, Sharon also volunteers with two local Food Banks and is an active member in several MeetUp groups (Games, Tall Club, Mystery Book Club). Sharon brings some of her favorite games to each Wednesday Games Day to share, and she is an enthusiastic and patient coach for those who’ve never played games. She encourages people to bring their own games, since she loves to learn new games too! 

Submitted by NNN Volunteer Sharon L.

Member Profile: Marilyn

Why watch live shows? A quick google search offers this list of benefits:

There is something special about watching a live show. The energy in the room is palpable and you can feel the audience's excitement. 

Live shows can raise your spirits. It's a great way to pick yourself up when you are feeling down.

If you feel isolated, live shows can help you feel connected to the world. You may even make some new friends in the process.

If you are looking for a way to experience something new, watching live shows is a great option.

Finally, by watching live shows, you are supporting the arts. LIve shows require a lot of time, effort and money to put on. This is especially true as all kinds of arts and artists expend so many resources to rebound from pandemic losses. 

Watching live shows is a great way to particle being in the present moment. When you are watching live shows, you can learn to appreciate the beauty of being in the present moment. You'll be able to relax and enjoy the show.

By Marilyn B, NNN Member 

If you are a music lover and want to work with Marilyn (and NNN) to build a group of neighbors interested in getting out to live shows together, please contact to let us know if you’d like to be included in hearing about these opportunities.