North Notes
Spokane-North Rotary Club
January 29, 2024
 
Calendar:
 
            Feb. 5: Noon lunch at the Bark. Speaker: Adam Swinyard, District 81 School bond and levy.
 
            Feb. 12: Noon lunch at the Bark. Speaker: Steve MacDonald, Community and Economic Development agency.
 
            Feb. 19: No meeting. Presidents Day holiday.
 
            Feb. 26: Noon meeting at the Bark. Speaker: Janet Banaugh, Junior Achievement of Washington. 
                        
Announcements:
 
            Club President Ron Noble shared a list from District Gov. Doreen Kelsey to “Nominate Your Fellow Deserving Rotarians” for District and Rotary International awards, with the March 31 deadline for nominations.
 
            Ron Noble also said March 2 is the date for the “Il-Lumen-ate the Night” event hoping to raise $50,000 for the downtown high school for teens who have kids of their own.
 
            Laura Zahn, coordinating the club’s sharing project at the Ronald McDonald House, said five helpers are needed on Friday, March 8, 4:30-7:30 p.m., to feed about 40 people staying there while family members are treated at local hospitals.
 
Happy Buck$:
 
            Sheila Fritts was $20 worth of happiness for the birth of Hartley, her sixth grandchild.
 
            Jerry Logan was happy that he went to Arizona to look at buying a sports car, but didn’t but one.
 
            Bill Simer was happy for the club’s continued high participation.
 
            Ron Noble, in his first for quarter as club president, was happy “for our great board.”
 
Holler for a $:
 
            Coug alum Dave Petersen was happy for the basketball success of the WSU’s men’s and women’s teams.
 
 This center uses child’s play
 to deal with abused and neglected kids 
           
            After long successful careers in higher education, Gordon and Sue Jackson now really like playing with kids and their toys.
            Their real joy involves their volunteer work with the Vanessa Behan Childcare Center.
 
            Gordon and Sue have retired after 32 years at Whitworth University.  They came to Spokane from South Africa in 1983.  Gordon led the journalism program and Sue worked in administrative jobs at Whitworth.
 
            For the past 17 years, they have volunteered at Vanessa Behan.  They shared their stories at the club’s Jan. 29 luncheon.
 
            Vanessa Kay Behan was a 2-year-old Spokane girl who died from a long list of injuries of child abuse. In 1987, the center was opened in a private home to provide safe care for neglected children. The need grew and the operation was moved to a South Hill location and now has been expanded to a spacious building and playground at 2230 E. Sprague.
 
            The center operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and all services are free and confidential.
 
            Children are cared for ages birth through 6 and on a case-by-case basis ages 7 to 12, the Jacksons said.  Many kids are referred to the center, but some drop-ins can be accommodated, they said.
 
            The center serves children of families “in cases of substance abuse, domestic violence, homelessness or just exhausted and worn out from the demands of parenting.”
 
            In 1987, 427 children were cared for at the center. In 2023, 6,860 kids were protected, they said. Over that lifespan, they said, some 132,500 children were served.  The center operates with a nearly $4 million operating budget.  About half of the money is from individual and business contributions, augmented by events, programs and appeals and a few grants.
 
            Gordon and Sue said they work 4-hour shifts twice a week, playing with infants and kids.
 
            “It is a very secure building and every door is locked,” Sue said.
 
            “There is an enormous, kid-friendly great room, with a climbing wall, slides and hidey-holes.  Kids can run and they can build things,” she said, adding, there also are quiet transition places.  An outdoor playground is designed for kid-friendly surfaces and equipment.
 
            Gordon said the youngsters “are incredibly honest,” asking in various ways, “can I trust you?” or “do you like me?”
 
            Sue said that “there are some special need kids who are classified ‘one-on’ children who get single house parents.” 
 
            She added there is “a dramatic room” where kids ages 2-5 can play dress up and use instruments.
 
            “We both enjoy playing with the toys,” she said, displaying for the club a tall plastic pole  with rings that curves around the stack.
 
            Gordon said the Behan Center “has very few male volunteers.  We need more male role models.”
 
            Preventing child abuse and dealing with neglect, unfortunately is a big challenge, but the Vanessa Behan staff and volunteers have made a huge difference.
 
Bulletin editors: Chuck Rehberg and Sandy Fink.