Columbian Newspaper

You can help
Author: The Columbian

Volunteer Connections/RSVP promotes volunteer opportunities. To see all the available opportunities, visit or call 360-735-3690.

Area Agency on Aging and Disabilities of Southwest Washington seeks long-term care ombudsman volunteers to advocate for the rights of residents in long-term care facilities, resolving concerns about the quality of life in those facilities. Ombudsman work with residents, families, operators and facility staff to meet the needs and concerns of those who live there, and provide public education to promote a better understanding about the use of long-term care facilities. A four-day, 32 hour certification training is provided. Training dates will be held on Oct. 30 and 31, and Nov. 1 and 5.

Boys & Girls Club of Southwest Washington needs program volunteers and bookworm buddies at various clubs as school starts back up. Program volunteers supervise art, games, gym, tech and education activities, while bookworm buddies help students grades one through five work on their reading skills. A commitment once per week 3 to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday through the end of the school year is required.

CDM Long Term Care Services are looking for activities assistants to run small groups of activities for clients with dementia and traumatic brain injuries. Activities might include bingo, art, trivia, dice and more. Volunteers who enjoy karaoke and/or can play an instrument are also needed to help entertain clients during the week. Research shows that while dementia causes progressive memory loss and impairment, memory for music remains.

Friends of the Carpenter has several volunteer opportunities available including office assistants, food donation pick-up, Friendship Center hosts, activity assistants, woodworking events assistants, shower trailer hosts, and helping with special events.

Vancouver Fire Department is recruiting Fire Corps volunteers to help with smoke alarm installations, targeted risk reduction programs, research, technology, preschool and kindergarten safety, at community safety events and more.

Letter: Teachers deserve better
Author: Kolleen Bouchane, La Center

Hurray for Katie Gillespie and Adam Littman’s reporting on the possible La Center teacher strike (“La Center teachers protest before talks,” Aug. 21, The Columbian) — especially the great photos of teachers in good spirits as they near-unanimously (the vote was 75-1) threaten to strike if their fair demands are not met.

Despite overwhelming support for teachers from the community as they grapple with current negotiations, one antagonist asked on the La Center teachers Facebook page why the teachers don’t just go to other districts.

La Center teachers stay because La Center is their community. La Center teachers educate generation after generation from the same families. They were my teachers, and they were my brother’s teachers 12 years later when he graduated. Kids I went to school with now trust their children with some of these same teachers. La Center teachers have put their own children through La Center schools.

It is a fundamental misunderstanding of what teachers experience and contribute to wonder why they don’t pack up straight away and move on for better pay. The suggestion that they should walk away from their community rather fight to stay (at significant risk), is everything that is wrong with those who do not believe teachers deserve better.

Everybody Has a Story: Wait for the punchline
Author: Nancy Zacha, Bennington neighborhood

It was the late 1980s, and I was attending an industry conference in Monterey, Calif. I was the only person from my office attending, and I knew very few people at the conference — just those whom I had encountered at previous conferences on similar topics. So, I did what one does when one goes to a conference all alone: I made temporary friends so I would not have to eat lunch and dinner by myself.

On one occasion, a group of four of us, who were only vaguely familiar with each other, took a cab to a Monterey restaurant for dinner. There were two men and two women. Starting with wine put everyone in a happy mood. Someone told a joke or two, and we became even happier. Another bottle of wine appeared with dinner, and soon the stories and jokes became more boisterous. Boisterous, but clean. We were, after all, business colleagues of both sexes, not people on a date.

I soon noticed that one of the men was not laughing. He smiled all the time, but for some reason he was not laughing. I watched him quietly during the meal, and he told as many interesting stories as either of the other two people, but he did not laugh at his own stories, nor did he laugh at any of ours.

After one more glass of wine, I challenged myself to make this man laugh. I told funny stories and a joke or two. I really put myself out there.

Smiles, but no laughs.

Over dessert, with time running out on my individual challenge, I launched into another story. I don’t remember what it was about. I only know that I ramped up my performance to the highest level. I soon had two of my three companions in stitches; the smiling man remained interested, but still not laughing.

At last I reached the conclusion of the story, threw out the punchline and sat back, waiting for a result. As before, two of my companions laughed heartily. But the smiling man? He sat silently for a moment, then made a small chuckle, and finally — finally, after all my efforts — burst out laughing.

We were all in a jovial mood as we rode back to the conference hotel. As it turned out, I did not see them again, socially, at the conference. I later heard that one no longer worked in the industry, and another started her own company and seemed to be doing quite well.

And the smiling man? Reader, I married him! And I’ve been keeping him in stitches ever since.

Everybody Has a Story welcomes true, first-person tales by Columbian readers, 1,000 words maximum, and relevant photographs. Send to: or P.O. Box 180, Vancouver WA, 98666. Call “Everybody Has an Editor” Scott Hewitt, 360-735-4525, with questions.

Letter: Supreme Court changes needed
Author: John Kabat, Camas

What, another Supreme Court 5-4 decision? And I foolishly believed that Lady Justice was blind. Too many SCOTUS cases have been settled by 5-4 decisions on a strictly partisan basis. Today, more than ever, our court and society has been plagued by political rhetoric and appointments made according to party affiliations. Efforts to replace jurists with conservative or liberal-leaning judges have become more and more commonplace. These policies have usurped the system from appointing nonpartisan and nonideological candidates to the court.

The system needs to be overhauled. We must eliminate lifetime appointments. Many countries limit tenure to 15 to 20 years. A SCOTUS commission of objective and totally independent citizens should present to the Senate, not to the president, names of impartial jurists for consideration. Furthermore, we should attempt to have greater diversity among our jurists; we presently have with six Catholics and three Jewish members on the court.

The Supreme Court needs to be more inclusive and reflective of our multicultural society. Constitutional decisions should have a minimum two-thirds vote or a 6-3 decision by the justices.

Letter: Support La Center teachers
Author: Emily Ackerman Mencke, New York City

I read “La Center teachers protest before talks” (Aug. 21, The Columbian) and thought that the last thing any parent wants to hear at the end of the summer is the possibility of the school year not starting back up on time. And yet, as La Center teachers prepare to strike for fair pay, parents, teachers, and the community have been overwhelmingly in support of teachers. And I agree.

After all, who wants to send their kids to a school where those who are teaching their children are afforded so little respect? La Center teachers were part of the grand formula, of parental support, strong teachers, and hard work that has made it possible for me to have the life I wanted and I am grateful. I graduated from La Center High School in 1992, and am now a successful businesswoman in New York City. My education at La Center was excellent, entirely because the majority of the teachers that taught me were passionate and supportive. I believe that education is the foundation of a successful life, and we must support those who provide it. They deserve to make a decent living, not to be the lowest-paid teachers in the region.

Women’s Coalition Against Violence & Exploitation receives $5,000 grant for work to find missing children
Author: The Columbian

First Place — The National Women’s Coalition Against Violence & Exploitation, an all-volunteer anti-violence nonprofit organization that runs a National Missing Children’s Division, received a $5,000 donation from the Jason Houser Foundation for its continued efforts in finding missing children. Houser, a local business owner, and his wife, Lisa, owner of Utopia Salon & Day Spa, presented the donation to Eric Anderson, director of the Missing Children’s Division, and Michelle Bart, president and co-founder of the coalition. The local organization has worked with law enforcement to find, recover and rescue missing children and people throughout the last decade. For more information, visit

17th annual Miss Teen La Center pageant crowns princesses
Author: The Columbian

LA CENTER — The 17th annual Miss Teen La Center Scholarship Pageant was held July 20 at Sternwheeler Park. Crowned were Princess Leah Lee, Princess Joslyn Grek-Porter, Queen Skylar House, Princess Dayna Hines and Princess Anastasia Sneeringer. The court will represent La Center at area festivals and parades, and volunteer for events including Shop with a Cop and Santa’s Posse. The teens also help facilitate the Beautiful Baby Contest and Bingo for the La Center Our Days Steamboat Celebration each year, in addition to working the Clark County Women’s Dairy Booth at the Clark County Fair.

Children, young adults perform talent show to mark end of 5-week day camp
Author: The Columbian

VANCOUVER HEIGHTS — Campers age 13 to 30 celebrated the end of their five-week stay with Vancouver Parks and Recreation’s Access to Recreation Day Camp with a talent show at Lieser School. They marched onto the stage singing “You’re a Grand Old Flag” and performed other songs and dances. The camp offers opportunities for children and young adults with mental or physical disabilities. At the talent show, campers in wheelchairs decorated to look like race cars circled the stage in a choreographed dance. “I love seeing that they enjoy the show, and I love dancing with them,” camp counselor Mike Nguyen said in a news release. Access to Recreation Day Camp is over, but the Access to Recreation Program continues year-round with activities for those experiencing mental or physical disabilities. Registration for fall activities is open. Find out more at

Mountain View High graduate wins Global Beauty award
Author: The Columbian

MOUNTAIN VIEW — Clark County native and 2012 Mountain View High School graduate Angela Cruze, 25, received the Denise White Award at the 2019 Global Beauty Awards in Bellevue earlier this year. She also recently led a workshop, “How to Peer Foster Youth and Adopted Youth in a Peer Perspective” at the Wise Symposium in Kennewick. Cruze was kicked out at 17 and went through the foster system, and she has since devoted much time in helping other foster and adopted youth. “My experience competing in the Miss Washington USA Competition has opened my love for helping other system youth get ready for prom. Now I am starting a nonprofit called The Cinderella Story, in which we give a day to remember by helping high school girls get ready for prom,” she said in an email.

Artistry Night showcases students’ STEAM projects in Ridgefield
Author: The Columbian

RIDGEFIELD — Student artwork spilled into the hallways and covered walls of classrooms at the new campus for Sunset Ridge Intermediate School and View Ridge Middle School during an Artistry Night held in June. An array of artistic science, technology, engineering, art and math projects completed by students from fifth to eighth grade were showcased. Some attendees were seeing the school’s new art studios and STEM labs for the first time. In the STEM Fabrication Lab, parents learned from students how they created their pieces, using 3D printers and robotic parts. Some projects aimed to be solutions to real-life scenarios,such as developing sample braces and splints or designing mechanical toys for children with cerebral palsy.