Community spirit is alive and well on Whidbey Island

Posted in Duff 'n Stuff

Duff ’n Stuff, May 6, 2013

The sun was shining this week on the island, while I was busy trying to keep up with the spirit of a community that never rests.

My Mother Mentors' Tea proper head-wear.  (Photo by Sharon Lundahl)

My Mother Mentors’ Tea proper head-wear. (Photo by Sharon Lundahl)

Mother Mentors of Whidbey Island held its annual fundraising tea on Thursday afternoon with a culinary spread that would have impressed the Queen of England herself. Founded in 2009, Mother Mentors is non-profit corporation that provides mothers and other caregivers of young children practical and emotional support in the form of trained volunteer mentors. The program has served more than 33 families and 68 children to date and if the attendance of the tea was any indication, Mother Mentors has the support of its community.

About 100 (mostly women) were welcomed at the Fellowship Hall in Langley and offered the proper headgear on their arrival. I chose a vintage number that reminded me of something my maternal grandmother (aka “Gram Dandy”) would wear. The traditional English tea featured a delicious banquet of finger foods and pastries, including exquisite cucumber sandwiches, strawberry trifle and fancy cakes and cookies, as well as scones served with real clotted cream! and kitchen-made Whidbey Island preserves. It all brought me back to my year abroad in England, and that extra fifteen pounds I gained thanks to clotted cream.

Happy tea-takers at Mother Mentors Tea in Langley. (Sharon Lundahl photo)

Happy tea-takers at Mother Mentors Tea in Langley. (Sharon Lundahl photo)

But the real highlight of the tea was Mother Mentors’ honoree, Mully Mullally, an early childhood and parent educator on the island for more than 40 years. Mullally founded South Whidbey Children’s Center in 1980 and is an educator at South Whidbey Parent Co-operative Pre-School. She is also the lead educator at Mother Mentors’ newest program, “Playscape,” a free, indoor park-like space for children younger than 5 and their caregivers.

Mully said a few words that modestly deflected the spotlight away from her and reminded us to honor our mothers in the tradition that Julia Ward Howe had envisioned when she founded Mother’s Day. That is, she reminded us to “find our peace and carry it forward.” Then she led the audience in a rendition of Melvina Reynolds’ “Magic Penny” song. Here’s the chorus:

Love is something if you give it away,
Give it away, give it away.
Love is something if you give it away,
You end up having more.

It’s quite an appropriate song for the self-effacing Mully, a woman who oozes kindness and love, and is the type of person who one instinctively knows will have a good influence on young children and their parents.

Anyway, Mother Mentors is a great program, which needs funding and volunteers to continue. Here’s the website.

The Central Whidbey Heart's & Hammers crew before the start of the workday. (Photo courtesy of Hearts & Hammers)

The Central Whidbey Heart’s & Hammers crew before the start of the workday. (Photo courtesy of Hearts & Hammers)

The island’s community spirit was at its highest level Saturday for the annual Hearts & Hammers all volunteer, one-day work blitz for both the South Whidbey and Central Whidbey organizations.

My family has been participating in the Central Whidbey work-day for the past three years, when we help to repair and rehabilitate homes for homeowners in our community who are physically or financially unable to do the work themselves.  There is no cost to qualified homeowners for work done on their home and in my experience, by the end of the day, everybody is sore and tired and feeling great about a job well done.

Pictured above is the crew, fresh and ready to go just after the breakfast meeting at Four-Square Church in Coupeville, where we would meet again later for a delicious lasagna and Caesar Salad dinner at 6 p.m.

We helped a lady named Cathy get her yard in shape, as well as fix a few things around her home, which were in dire need of repair. It was pretty hard work in the persistent heat of the day, but we got it done in time and made some new friends in the meantime. Here’s the website for Hearts & Hammers, a program I recommend to anyone looking for a way to get involved in the community. It feels good and you meet a lot of large-hearted folks while doing your part to help those in need.

This driveway project took several hours to complete.

This driveway project took several hours to complete.

A crew member and her dog are hard at work in the sun.

A crew member and her dog are hard at work in the sun.


Linda Werhman was one of a 12-member Central Whidbey H&H team. (Photos by Patricia Duff)

By Sunday, I was kind of tired, but I still had the rehearsal for the Langley Main Street Association’s Centennial Parade coming up at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 11 in downtown Langley.

I’m playing suffragette and speechmaker Hetty Maxwell, a fictional character of 1913 who is a composite of the all the women who were on the front lines of getting women the right to vote during that important period in American history.

A rehearsal for the Centennial Suffragette Parade took place at the Whidbey Island Fairgrounds. (Bob Thurmond photo)

“Hetty Maxwell” stands on her rally platform surrounded by other “suffragettes” during the song rehearsal for the Centennial Parade run-through at the Whidbey Island Fairgrounds. The parade will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, May 11 in Langley. (Bob Thurmond photo)

Thanks to Langley historian, Bob Waterman, Hetty’s speech is rousing and poignant and, although it was tough rehearsing in a wool skirt, jacket and hat in the 80-degree heat, I couldn’t help but feel honored to play the role.

As choir director Cheryl Veblen led the group in a rehearsal for a series of authentic march songs sung by the real suffragists of the period, I felt grateful for the suffragists’ audacity; for their perseverance in spite of intense opposition at every turn. Long after the parade is over and the Centennial passes, I will try to continue to remind myself of the great debt that I owe the suffragists.

To find out more about this event and other Centennial programs that are planned for this 100th birthday year of Langley, visit here.

Whidbey Island is full of community spirit and I’m grateful to live among the folks who make it that way.

From the heart,
Patricia Duff


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