On Saturday, Jan. 30, the City of Prineville City Hall Plaza was buzzing with an excited group of hopefuls all gathered around a wishing well of aspirations.
Two women, Jeanne Zerbe and Hedda King, were responsible for this celebration as the event culminated the Wishing Upon a Wish Stick, project, which consisted of placing wish sticks around town, and a wishing box inside businesses for customers to add their wishes.
The names were then drawn on Jan. 30 by City of Prineville Manager Steve Forrester with the assistance of Oregon Representative Vikki Breese-Iverson.
Laurie Joneikis was one of the lucky winners of the drawing. Joneikis works at Chevon, and her business decorated their own wish sticks for the project.
"I think that was a wonderful thing that they did. I was literally crying because I was so excited," she said of her response to being selected as a winner.
She went on to say, "I was so excited, because I struggle with my bills because I live alone. My wish was to have one month of my bills paid."
She indicated that she had recently been sick and contracted pneumonia. She was in the hospital and missed a great deal of work.
"I am better now and the $1,000 was a blessing," Joneikis said.
Charline Brumfield was the other happy winner.
"My husband has wanted to go back to the Smithsonian, and he hasn't been there since the '60s when he was a kid," Brumfield explained. "He wants me to see it, and I have never been back there."
She said that they also had never had a honeymoon, although they have been married 42 years this March.
"My wish was to be able to take him and go back to Washington and go to the Smithsonian and have him show me all over back there," she added.
Brumfield noted she was impressed with the wish sticks project and the many projects that the Prineville-Crook County Chamber of Commerce has done during this difficult year.
"It reminds me of the small town that we came from in the Napa Valley where the chamber was about the town and what was best for it and no politics," she concluded.
The idea for the wish sticks and City of Wishes came from Zerbe and King and was made possible by an anonymous donor, with a $1,000 "wish" to the two winners of a drawing held on a windy January day. The Associates Real Estate donated the other $1,000 to the project for the second drawing from the wish boxes.
The wish sticks consisted of a large star at the top of a pole in front of local businesses on Third Street. The stars were constructed in Zerbe's wood shop, and the women enlisted the assistance of their local ukulele group—which is made up of half a dozen members—to help paint the stars and boxes. The idea was not just to grant wishes, but to stimulate community members to go into businesses during this slow time of year.
The wish sticks were handed to businesses and high school students to paint and decorate and then place along Third Street in the existing flagpole holders. Businesses also placed a wish box inside their store to place wishes for one of the two $1,000 drawings.
Zerbe and King gathered 1,500 wishes from the wish boxes, and they are hoping to pull some more of them to make more wishes come true. They have had a great deal of support from businesses and community members who have committed to making more wishes come true.
"It was fun," commented Zerbe. "The drawings were good, and the ukulele group played their song that they had written about wishing sticks, and that went over good, and we had a sing-along. Steve Forrester did a wonderful job drawing and talking and Vikki Breese did a good job also."
Altogether, 40 businesses on Third Street participated. The women would like to include businesses on Main Street and other locations next year.
"Next year we are pretty much committed to doing it again because the wishing sticks was so fun," stated Zerbe.
King was also pleased with the outcome and the participation from the community.
"We were thrilled all the way around," she added. "We had great acceptance from the retail community. When it came to decorating and putting them (wish sticks) out, everybody that we contacted accepted to do that. It was just wonderful, and we certainly didn't expect everybody to respond like they did. We were really pleased with the drawing."
She added she and Zerbe had to even replenish blank tickets in some businesses because they had so many wishes in their boxes and ran out.
"It was a nice afternoon other than the wind, and we had a great time. We really appreciated everything that everybody did," said King.
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