Thumbs up: Sam Pellegrino
When chef Sam Pellegrino and his wife, Pam, opened up Pellegrino’s Italian Kitchen in September 2003, they were happy to return to the restaurant business and equally delighted to restart a long-held tradition. Today, the Pellegrinos in conjunction with other sponsors, will offer a free meal to anyone in the community who wants to attend in celebration of St. Joseph’s Day. It’s a Catholic and particularly Italian tradition to honor the saint, who was the earthly spouse of Mary and the adoptive father of Jesus Christ. Generosity, sacrifice and helping others are themes for the celebration, especially in Italy, where altars to the saint – filled with food for all – are part of the day. The Pellegrinos kickstarted the local tradition in 2004 and have seen the number of participants grow each year for the meatless Italian meal. While the meal is free, any donations collected today will be directed to the Thurston County Food Bank, St. Vincent de Paul Society, the outreach program at Sacred Heart Church and Pregnancy Aid. Such generosity. Pellegrino, whose oldest son is named in honor of the saint, said the St. Joseph meal will be served, with help from the Knights of Columbus and sponsor Mills and Mills, at St. Michael Church, 1208 11th Ave. S.E., in Olympia from 1-7 p.m. with a break for the 5 p.m. Mass. What a great tradition by the Pellegrino family and their supporters.
Thumbs down: Lack of remorse
Kiyoshi Higashi is one tough cookie. Just ask him. His full bombast was on display for the world to see recently when a Pierce County judge sentenced Higashi to 124 years in prison for the invasion robbery that resulted in the death of Edgewood resident Jim Sanders. A jury convicted Higashi, 23, of first-degree murder, first-degree burglary, and two counts each of first-degree robbery and second-degree assault. The Sanders family was put through pure hell before Sanders was slain.
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Sanders, 43, and his wife, Charlene, were tied up, beaten and threatened with death. Their sons were held at gunpoint, and one of them was pistol-whipped. But Higashi wanted to show the world just how tough he was at his sentencing. Higashi said nothing to allay contentions that he is unremorseful about his role in Sanders’ death. He insulted the Sanders family, called the judge a racist and said only God could judge him.
He also seemed to admit to killing Sanders – something he denied during the trial. “I don’t care what sentence you give me,” he said. “Either way, I’m going to be happy. Either way, that man’s still dead, and I looked at him in the eyes and I told him, ‘I pray for the both of us,’ before I killed him. So, hopefully they’re happy about that.” Such disdain. Such arrogance. Such bravado. Such evil.
Thumbs up: Retraining programs
Robbie Davis, 58, of Satsop Valley near Elma, was one of 220 mill workers who lost his job two years ago. In January 2009, Weyerhaeuser shut down two of its plants in Aberdeen. “We just came to work one day, and they said, ‘Go up to the meeting room,’ ” recalled Davis. “They had decided to close the mill.”
Davis signed up for the culinary arts program at South Puget Sound Community College. He was part of the worker-retraining program and last week he picked up the tab for about 25 of his former co-workers, teachers, classmates and staff members to attend a luncheon he helped prepare. What a generous offer. Davis organized the luncheon in the college’s Percival Dining Room. “We all worked together and went to classes together,” said Davis, who worked for Weyerhaeuser’s Aberdeen sawmill for 38 years. “This is a last big hurrah.”
Davis said he wanted to host an event so his former co-workers, teachers and others could celebrate and show that retraining programs work and the dollars are well spent. Message received.