It’s a dark, lonely road from Mazama to Winthrop at 6:30 a.m. — an occasional car driving west and, of course, the dependable yellow school bus headed to pick up sleepy students at such an early hour. I admire all the Kiwanians who honor their commitment to meet every Tuesday morning at 7 a.m. at the Winthrop Barn. Their No. 1 mission is to help kids, but they do so much more in the communities.
I groused out of bed on Dec. 27, for the annual Kiwanis Christmas Breakfast to which spouses are invited. The valued guests at this breakfast each year are the recipients of the Kiwanis scholarships from the last graduating class. For the second year, I was struck by the intelligence, motivation, maturity and goals of these young people.
This year the students are ensconced in colleges and universities from one coast to the other. I also found it impressive that these collegians — coming from rural communities — venture out, seemingly fearless, to large cities and/or environments completely foreign to what they are used to.
Sister and brother Ava and Michael Mott are both at Canadian universities, but at opposite ends of the expansive country: Ava at McGill University in Montreal and Michael at the University of Victoria on Vancouver Island. They each expressed satisfaction with their choices and are enjoying what Montreal and Victoria have to offer in addition to their highly demanding coursework.
Amelia Oborne and Kyleen Romero both hopped over the mountains to the West Side. Amelia is pursuing a nursing career while attending Whatcom Community College in Bellingham. She’s off to a good start with 45 Running Start credits in her back pocket. Kyleen is busy with studies and participation in club activities at the University of Washington-Bothell.
Another scholarship recipient, Icel Sukovaty, chose the University of Rochester in New York. Planning one day to return to the valley, she wanted an opportunity to see other places while getting her education. She gave a lively description of her major, optical engineering, a field of study that deals with design of optical instruments utilizing the properties of light.
Henry Jones is basking in California sunshine on the beautiful campus at the University of Santa Clara while Nick Fitzmaurice is enjoying a Montana winter (and skiing) at Montana State University in Bozeman. Both young men are pursuing rigorous studies during their freshmen year.
Recipients Larkin Lucy and Lillian Cooley were unable to attend the breakfast but have been successful in completion of the requirements for the scholarship monies.
Kiwanis has given out $11,000 to these remarkable young people this year. Since the first scholarships were awarded in 2001, Kiwanis has given out $98,500 to worthy students.
The Mission Statement of Kiwanis International is to improve the lives of children one community at a time. Local Winthrop Kiwanis throws its net even farther out by helping seniors, cleaning a section of highway, repairing structures at the Barn and Methow Recycles, preparing and delivering groceries for Neighbors Helping Neighbors, and preparing donated food for use by Room One — among other things too numerous to mention!
Bite of the Methow is by far the most ambitious project undertaken by the club and provides the lion’s share of scholarship funding. Members begin working on it months in advance of the March event. Local businesses are generous with donations of auction items and local eateries supply their best tasty morsels.
Currently, Kiwanis Club of Winthrop has 32 members, all of whom are passionate about community service. They have undertaken a membership drive in order to add many more hands to make the load even lighter. This is not a good ole boys’ club; it’s a hardworking group of men and women who genuinely want to make a difference in the Methow.
Since there are currently only two Mazamans in Kiwanis, perhaps a few more will come out of the woodwork and join this worthwhile club. Check out @winthropwakiwanis Facebook page and scroll through all the meaningful things these 32 members and Friends of Kiwanis have accomplished. Further information is available from Suellen White, membership chair, at 997-3252 or email@example.com.
Back to noxious weeds for a minute: Skeletons of invasive Russian thistle break off and become tumbleweeds driven about by wind. On New Year’s Eve, a horde of tumbleweeds buried several vehicles with drivers trapped inside on Washington State Highway 240. State troopers and transportation workers spent 10 hours to free the vehicles from the 12-15 foot stack of tumbleweeds. #tumblegeddon