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Residents and those who work in Wilsonville reflect on the season of thanksgiving

The Spokesman

Taking time to give thanks is such an important part of life. One of my teachers once told me to take every breath as though it were an event. And that's what I try to do.

Being alive on this beautiful planet is such a blessing and I try to cherish it — to stay in the moment, to breathe in and appreciate what I have; health, the love of my family and the companionship and support of my friends. I am truly blessed.

­ — Kay Jewett,

Spokesman columnist

Fall has always been my favorite time of year. The changing of leaves indicates that football is back, the school year has hit its stride and Thanksgiving and the holiday season are just over the horizon. This time of year also reminds us of the many things that we have to be thankful for.

For me that list is long, including a loving fiancée, supportive brothers, generous and caring parents, terrific friends and an extended family that is always there for me. I have been incredibly fortunate during my lifetime, and am always grateful for this time of year when I can reflect and appreciate all that I have. I am also grateful to work in one of the best school districts in Oregon every day, where I get the chance to work alongside tremendous leaders and awe-inspiring students. I am grateful to work in two communities that value education, who support ideas of equity and inclusion for all people.

I am grateful to our citizens, neighbors, city leaders and local businesses, and I am grateful to the Tidings and Spokesman, for introducing me to so many great people. More than anything, I am grateful to the West Linn-Wilsonville community, who have welcomed me with open arms. It's been just three short months since I joined this school district, but I'm happy to say it feels like I never left. Thank you West Linn-Wilsonville.

— Andrew Kilstrom,

WL-WV director of communications

This year I am especially thankful for the profound beauty of the natural world around us. I am thankful for the solace, wonder, and strength it provides. This Thanksgiving I am thankful for our community and for friends that feel like family when family is absent from our table. I am forever thankful for my husband, my valued partner in life's adventures, and for our daughter, who always helps me believe the world can be better.

— Kristin Akervall,

Wilsonville City Councilor

Change is in the air! While it usually makes me feel uneasy, uncomfortable, like my feet have cemented to the ground, I have accepted recent changes. Graduating in May, receiving an internship in June and starting my career in September, I walk forth with excitement and great ease. Reflecting on all that brought me to my present position, I would say I am thankful for the schooling I have received. Without attending Pacific University, I would never have met the amazing people I have been able to surround myself with, and formed the connections that would benefit my future self. I am thankful for the ability to have attended a wonderful college, with an odd, but intriguing mascot: Go Boxers!

— Clara Howell,

Spokesman/Tidings education reporter

I am thankful that love defeated is stronger than hate triumphant. To paraphrase the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., I am thankful that the arc of the moral universe ultimately bends towards love and understanding.

— Dwight Brashear,

SMART Transit Director

I thank God every day for the love and support of my family (especially granddaughters Marley and Riley ) and for living in Wilsonville — Heaven on Earth. Practically inseparable as we witness Jason Katz's "The Little Mermaid" at the Wilsonville High School Theater, enjoy the water features or play disk golf and even coach softball in the parks, participate in numerous games and crafts at Angela Handran's neighborhood block party, become "Good Pirates of The Caribbean" at St. Cyril's "Soups around The World" event, dance our hearts out at the Community Center sock hop, and even volunteer at the Wilsonville Friends of The Library bookstore "Twice Sold Tales" on Fridays after school.

— Suzy Sivyer,

President of Wilsonville Friends of The Library

This is a special time of year when we are reminded to slow down, gather our friends and family close, and give thanks for those blessings in our lives that truly matter.

I am grateful for my children, husband, family and extended family. Whether they live near or far, I am deeply aware of their presence and their assurance that I matter to them and am loved.

I am grateful to work in a school district that educates the whole child, celebrates diversity, and is constantly working to create safe and welcoming learning communities for all students. Our school district's theme for this school year is 'Leading Together,' and I am grateful to work in a school community where partnership and collaboration are valued.

I am grateful for the cities of West Linn and Wilsonville, because the children in our school community have the added benefit of two cities' interests, resources, talents, support and leadership contributing to their learning opportunities.

Above all else, I am grateful for the tremendous generosity of time, talent and spirit that fills our schools. To our staff, parents and patrons, thank you for all that you do. Your collective efforts enable the many successes of our students.

— Kathy Ludwig,

West Linn-Wilsonville Superintendent

When I'm throwing a really good pity party I call myself a slave to my 105-year-old house. Seemingly endless weekends spent on upkeep and improvement projects: paint scraping, paint application, digging holes in the garden, filling holes in the garden, glazing windows, putting up storm windows, taking down storm windows. You get the idea. It feels like our house controls our life, instead of the other way around. And then I leave my home on Portland's east side and before I've gotten a block away I start to see the tents, tarps and detritus of the homeless residents of my neighborhood. And I think of my old house and its relentless neediness and I am thankful. Thankful I have a place to sleep out of the elements, a place my friends and family can come to visit me, a place for the possessions and people I hold dear. Thankful that inside its walls I feel safe and cared for. Thankful for every last missing shingle and chip of paint.

— Leslie Pugmire Hole,

editor of the Wilsonville Spokesman

First and foremost on a serious note, I'm grateful to my family both immediate and extended. This year has had its share of challenges for me, and if it wasn't for their support and love I couldn't have gotten through it all. Thank you.

I'm also beyond grateful for my friends near and far. Words can't express how much I appreciate our friendship, and the experiences we share together. I appreciate we can go from being treated like royalty at a spa to sharing the daily grind of being a mom together. I'm grateful for the dinners you brought, to the fun-family driven things we do together. You've all been such a blessing to me, and I'm so grateful for each of you in your own special way. For those friends far away, it's a special type of friendship that keeps us united, and I'm grateful that despite the miles we are still in this journey together — it takes a special friend to make that happen, and I'm grateful you are in my life. I'm also grateful to my readers; I never thought how much this little recurring column would bring me closer to the town I love and live in. I love hearing from you all! I'm also grateful to my editor, who makes me sound better than I actually am.

­— Allison Browning,

Wilsonville Spokesman columnist

I am grateful for my parents who showed me the meaning of love, my church that taught me the meaning of grace, my friends who show me the value of laughter, my husband who supports my dreams,  my community that makes me feel whole, and my children who keep me young and humble.  

—Kimberly Nelson,

Wilsonville resident

This year, I am thankful for baby snuggles, sharing an occasional bottle of wine with my husband while watching HGTV, fitting back into my non-maternity pants and waterproof foundation. I am also thankful for a loving and supportive family and group of hilariously clever coworkers.

— Claire Green,

Wilsonville Spokesman reporter

2017 has been a wonderful year and I have so very much to be grateful for.  Not only do I have the privilege of living in the same town that I work and volunteer in, but I have the best job I've ever had!  My coworkers are incredibly supportive, my work is challenging and full of variety, and I get to help people have fun and be healthy. On the evenings and weekends, I get to teach yoga and meditation, spreading mindfulness and healing one breath at a time. I am also honored to be a member of the Wilsonville Ukulele Players Society.  Playing music in a group of such fun and kind people is truly a highlight of my week and nourishment for my soul. My plate is overflowing and I owe it to my partner, John, and my cat, Pumpkin, for their endless love and support. They recharge me so that I may continue to help others and be of service as much as possible. A little over four years ago, we stumbled upon Wilsonville not knowing the gem this beautiful, sweet community is and every day I am grateful to be here.  Thank you friends and neighbors!

— Ahsamon Ante-Marandi,

Wilsonville Parks and Recreation Administrative Assistant II

In a world that seems scarier and more unpredictable by the day (hour? minute? Is another scandal breaking as I type this sentence?), I find myself ever more thankful for the constants in my life. There's my loving family, especially my mom — the kindest and hardest-working person I know, who inspires me every day. There are my friends, who are a constant source of joy and a much-needed salve in my lower moments. There are my colleagues here at the West Linn Tidings, Wilsonville Spokesman and Lake Oswego Review — a formidable group of editors and reporters who believe in the best of what journalism has to offer and prove it in their work every day. And of course, there are the community members — like you, if you're reading this — who engage with us, ask questions, tell important stories and help all of us understand the world a little better.

Following the relentless news cycle of 2017 felt at times like being trapped in the "upside down" world depicted on the Netflix show "Stranger Things" — Exhibit A being the Papa John's pizza chain tweeting earnestly about how it would not serve neo-Nazis. So here's to the constants we all turn to when little else seems to make sense.

— Patrick Malee,

assistant editor of the Wilsonville Spokesman

First and foremost, I am thankful for my family. They support me in all of my endeavors, and don't ask for anything in return. I know they will always be there for me, and I for them. Next, I am thankful for the dedicated, innovative, and passionate teachers that have taught me over the years. I would not be the same person I am today without any of these people. 

— Brandon Kyung,

student columnist

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