Thumbs up: Roehrs Family
The kindness and generosity of South Sound residents never cease to amaze. Take the case of Air Force Capt. Sean Roehrs, who, when stationed in Afghanistan, befriended an Afghan colonel who pleaded with Roehrs to help the colonel’s disabled, 8-year-old son, Khaled, get to the United States for medical treatment. The father’s request was simple, yet desperate. Roehrs worked with organizations to answer the father’s plea. His parents, Steve and Cindy Roehrs of Olympia, stepped up to host Khaled and his 18-year-old brother, Abed, who speaks fluent English. With the treatment of doctors, the love and guidance of the Roehrs and help from the faculty and staff at Pioneer Elementary School, young Khaled has made considerable progress since July. He can feed himself and can put on his own boots. “My brother is happy here,” said Abed. “Lots of things here have helped him and changed him. He’s so much more happy. I’ve seen lots of changes.” That’s a heartwarming story. For her part, Cindy Roehrs thanks others in the community who stepped forward to make Khaled’s improvements possible: Dr. Bill Beppu, a family friend who arranged medical appointments; Julie Backman, Khaled’s teacher; Dr. Gene Peeples, who provided dental care; Paul Martin, who provided medicine; and many others. This is, indeed, a caring and giving community.
Thumbs down: Grandmother
A Spokane grandmother recently appeared in Spokane County Superior Court after she was arrested Christmas week on suspicion of driving a 14-year-old boy around town so he could sell crack cocaine. The woman, Tyna A. Hilliard, 53, is innocent until proven guilty, but if she is, in fact, guilty of the offense, it’s a horrible crime against the youngster, too. Hilliard is scheduled to be arraigned Monday. According to court records, a law enforcement officer arranged for a confidential informant to buy crack cocaine from a minor. The purchase took place and the substance tested positive for crack cocaine. After arresting the teenager, the officer found two baggies of a substance in the boy’s pocket that also tested positive for crack, according to a police report. “The driver of the vehicle used to deliver (crack) was identified as Tyna A. Hilliard,” the officer wrote. After she was arrested, Hilliard waived her right to remain silent and spoke with the officer. “She admitted she was driving (the youth) so he could sell crack cocaine. Tyna advised she had complete knowledge of (the youth) selling crack cocaine,” the unidentified officer wrote in his report. The boy also told the confidential informant, according to the report, that he pays Hilliard to drive him around because he did not have a license to drive. Has it really come to this?
Thumbs up: Children's Museum
The Hands on Children’s Museum got the year off to a great start hosting a “Noon Year’s Eve” party at its Capitol Campus location. It wasn’t exactly the countdown to the new year that most adults experience just before midnight, but it was close. The kids did their countdown to noon. Children spent the eve of the new year making kazoos and party hats and greeted noon by throwing confetti and singing “Auld Lang Syne.” “We do it at noon so families can celebrate together,” said Anna Sayre, operations and education manager at the museum. What a great idea. And what fun. Six-year-old Tyler Mesaros of Centralia said, “I’m gonna throw the confetti in by brother’s face.” He and Noah are twins. The celebration was a fitting kickoff for the museum which is on a countdown of its own. Together with the city of Olympia and other partners, officials at the Hands on Children’s Museum are looking forward to the day in the not so distant future when the museum can throw open the doors to new $18.5 million museum on property off Marine Drive at the Port of Olympia. The 27,000-square-foot facility will include six major galleries and hundreds of hands-on exhibits. Galleries will include exhibits on Puget Sound, healthful living and forests. An outdoor exhibit space also is planned. The new museum is scheduled to open in the spring of 2012. These are inspiring and exciting times for executive director Patty Belmonte, her staff and the community.