If you’ve had any involvement with Little Star Montessori School in the Methow Valley, you probably know Sandy Welfelt. Sandy co-founded Little Star with Rayma Hayes in 1982 and taught there for 35 years, touching the lives of hundreds — or maybe even thousands — of children, many of whom are now adults with their own children at Little Star. Sandy threw herself into the work required to ensure that all Methow Valley children have access to a high-quality, joyful early learning experience, remaining loyal to the school and its mission even when times were tough.
Now 65 years old, Sandy recently retired from Little Star because she began having trouble with her memory and was worried that a memory-related situation would affect her students. She has since been diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s disease.
Sandy is still sharp and active, but has some short-term memory issues. She is an avid trail user and still loves doing her favorite activities — like hiking and Nordic skiing — but now she always brings along friends, who act as a bit of a navigation safety net, in case she forgets where she is. One of Sandy’s frequent hiking companions is her brother, Gary.
Gary and Sandy were born and raised in Everett, but Sandy made her way to the other side of the mountains and settled in the Methow Valley decades ago. Gary visited whenever he could get a chance, and about five years ago moved into a guest space on Sandy’s property.
Now Gary has hatched a plan to take Sandy on a trip from her “bucket list.” Sandy has apparently wanted to visit Hawaii — Maui or the Big Island — ever since she graduated high school in 1972. Gary is thinking that next March would be a great time for that trip, which will include snorkeling, hiking, swimming and sightseeing, and probably a lot of mangoes and papayas too.
In order to make the trip a reality, Gary is embarking on a fundraising campaign that will at some point include a sale of his collection of kayaks, other boats, and outdoor/camping equipment. If you’d like to support Sandy’s trip but don’t need any recreation gear, you’re encouraged to make a donation to one of the Sandy Welfelt Living with Alzheimer’s accounts at Farmers Bank in Winthrop and North Cascades Bank in Twisp. Donations of lodging, plane tickets, and/or airline miles would be accepted gratefully as well.
Sandy has long been dedicated to the Methow Valley — to the people, the places, and things that make a community thrive. Now, it seems, we have the opportunity to help Sandy continue to thrive and, as her brother says, “see to it that every day in front of her is lived to its fullest.”