Local residents reflect on the season of Thanksgiving and what they treasure most in life

I don't wait for a holiday (to be thankful)! Daily I rehearse my gratitude for my children and their children, my siblings, cousins, relatives living and passed on all presences in my life, for my circle of friends at Senior Center, CCC, church, for women everywhere, for all mothers back to the beginnings of Mother Earth. I look with pleasure on my home and surrounding community for the bounty of our lands for my good health and sense of well-being. May all beings be well and happy.

— Mary Jean Rivera,

West Linn Adult Community Center volunteer

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

I am thankful for friends. Old friends from the past, still with me now . . .friends gone to a new world, yet we will always be friends. . . and new friends, giving me love, joy and great conversations!

— Annemieke "Mieke" Wiegman, West Linn Adult Community Center volunteer

I am thankful for the wonderful family, friends, and coworkers in my life. My family is awesome and I actually look forward to spending time with them during the holidays. No matter how long a gap between seeing each other I know I can always count on my friends. My coworkers and bosses at the West Linn Public Library are like a second family to me and make this such a rewarding place to work. I am also thankful to live in this beautiful corner of the world. Being outdoors in our scenic Pacific Northwest forests and mountains brings me immense peace and happiness. 

Cheryl Hill,

Adult Services Librarian at West Linn Public Library

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 every day that I wake up and can make a difference in the world. Everyone has the power to do it one good deed at a time! The eclipse and the LO Reads Book Good Morning Midnight brings life into perspective.Take the high road and do what the right thing is, no matter how difficult it may seem to be. My talent is painting and with that I am saving one Western Pond Turtle at a time with Rock...Paper...Turtle...Art for Wetlands in May. I am thankful for the individuals that have the courage to make that difference with their special talents.

— Jan Rimerman, West Linn artist and art advocate

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 West Linn Tidings

Growing up in England, we of course did not celebrate Thanksgiving because, let's face it, the pilgrims were celebrating survival after getting out of the mother country. We did have a Harvest Festival and the children all took a vegetable or fruit to school as a celebration of a good harvest. These offerings would be piled up, prayers said (yes in school) and then distributed to the needy in the community.

Now of course as an American, I celebrate Thanksgiving, especially as I also survived leaving my native land. I give thanks for the love of a wonderful family, my home and good health, but also try to remember those less fortunate. So like my childhood Harvest Festival, aid organizations like "Turkey Bucks," "Food Bank," "Toys for Tots" and "Rescue Mission" are also an important part of the season for me.

— Brenda Perry, West Linn City Council president

I am truly grateful for my family and friends. I am thankful to be part of a community where people care for each other, and work together to make our world a better place. Wishing you and your loved ones a beautiful holiday season.

— Jenni Tan, West Linn

Library Foundation Board member

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 "Stranger Things" — exhibit A being the Papa John's pizza chain tweeting earnestly about the merits of patriotism and scourge of 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 West Linn Tidings

I am grateful to be alive. This life has given me the opportunity to learn from my mistakes and to be humble, which warms my heart and softens my stance. This sense of humility helps me to forgive and have deep compassion for others who are struggling. I am also grateful for all the kindness that I have received from others, which opens my heart to be generous and kind towards others. May all beings be happy and live in peace.

— Surja Tjahaja, West Linn resident and Adult Community Center cooking instructor

We moved to West Linn in 2012 to take care of my stroke-affected mother in her condo there. Never in my wildest imagination would I have thought we were to become part of such an awesome community. From picnics with a local FaceBook group, or sharing things we no longer needed with others and being gifted in return, and even having a "buy nothing" garage sale that benefited a local dog rescue ($200!!).

And let's not forget all the times our "Gunner the Runner" took off and was found by neighbors and folks were on the lookout for him. Got him back every time.

— Janet Burdick, resident

The West Linn Police Department is thankful for the dedicated officers and staff that make up its core. We are thankful for the support and drive of the citizens that we serve. It is the collaboration of these two groups that makes us successful. By working together with the community, we are able to find new ways to provide superior services to the citizens of West Linn.

Over the last year we have worked to expand our role in the community by reaching out and teaming up with local businesses, schools, charities and other West Linn agencies such as the library. Through these projects, we have been truly impressed with the passion and willingness to help that exist in our city. We are thankful that we are a part of this amazing community and look forward to the year ahead together.

— Officer Jeff Halverson and the West Linn

Police Department

We are grateful for the health of our two-year-old little girl, Cheyenne Lynn Stocks.

She's a tough little fighter. It was just about this time last year that our lives started to change, but in a way we never imagined. She was a little off last year during Thanksgiving, walking funny.

By Dec. 5 we were being admitted to the ER at Doernbecher. On Dec. 8 she had her first of three very long spinal cord surgeries for a tumor. They weren't telling us it was the "C" word. Not yet at least. That would come the following week.

Just three months later they broke the devastating news to us. It was back. After five-day-a-week radiation treatments, she was in a wheelchair and was starting to give in to defeat. I wasn't going to let that happen.

She walked out of the hospital on April 20, 2017 —in a brace and using a walker. But she walked. She is now a crazy kid running around and causing trouble.

She is full of life and love. She's had two scans since surgery and radiation that show no signs of new tumor.

As we approach the one-year mark of diagnosis I look back on what our little girl has been through over the last year and how strong she is.

Most of all how grateful we are that she is here with us. How thankful we are for her pediatrician Dr. Cooley at West Linn Pediatrics and all of her medical teams.

We are thankful for the love and support from our family and friends and our wonderful community of West Linn for the constant prayers and well wishes for our little one.

We will continue to hope for clean scans. We are thankful for Cheyenne. #teamcheyenne

— Christina Stocks, resident

I am grateful for my parents' leap of faith. They immigrated to Oregon from Ireland with $500 and a baby girl. It was tough, they were homesick and they stuck out as "foreigners" in 1960s Oregon. But they believed in the American Dream and their proudest day was when we became American citizens.

I am grateful for the love, strength, compassion my husband demonstrates every day to our sons and to me. His resilience is inspirational as he faced corporate downsizing, the sudden loss of his father and his mother's terminal cancer diagnosis.

He continues to put our marriage, our sons' and his mother's needs before all else, without complaint.

I am grateful for work I love to promote the story of the Willamette Falls Heritage Area that makes our little corner of the world uniquely Oregon.

Faith, love and inspiration surround me. I have much to be grateful for.

— Siobhan Taylor, Willamette Falls Heritage Area Coalition Executive Director

In this season of gratefulness my two boys remind me daily to be grateful for every moment we have together. As they grow so quickly I realize family time is such a special time and the memories we create together are long lasting. I am grateful to spend every day with these two!

— Dorothy Berry, resident

I have more blessings than I can count. At the top of the list is my family and those life-long friends who make every day a joy. My dogs teach me how to love, my children keep me young and my wife keeps me humble.

Somehow I have managed to end up in one of the best places in the country to live and have been given an opportunity to give back to it. Finally, I am thankful for a chance to meet and work with so many wonderful people in our community.

— Bob Martin, West Linn City Councilor

Visiting with people in Vietnam and Cambodia this year left me with a sense of amazement at the grace and resiliency of the human spirit of those who endured the hardships of war, including my husband Cary, a Vietnam veteran.

I will be forever grateful for the freedoms I enjoy each day, thanks to our hard-won democracy. The unpredictability of life also makes me grateful for each day I am alive and for each day those I know and love are still with us.

— Teri Cummings, West Linn City Councilor

I'm grateful for every day on this beautiful planet. I'm grateful for my children and our family and friends. This was a big year for my two girls finding their voice in this world, and I can't wait to see them grow.

My wife also published her first book (a memoir about her dad) and I'm so proud of her. I lost my best male companion (Oscar), but his passing helped me better understand life's meaning.

My hope is that people smile more and reach out to each other with respect and appreciation of our different perspectives. We need to honor our diversity and fill the world with more love.

— Russ Axelrod,

West Linn Mayor

I'm grateful for 1,000 small things in life and a few very big ones. I'm surrounded by family and friends in West Linn whom I see reaching out daily to support and lift others.

Those acts of selfless service inspire me and encourage me to do more, myself. I'm grateful for the teachers in West Linn schools whose fine work has enhanced the lives of our children.

I'm grateful for our West Linn Library, its amazing staff and the volunteers who work to support it. I'm tremendously grateful for an abiding faith, a kind and loving husband and great kids who get my sense of humor.

And I'm very grateful that there's always next year to lose those 20 pesky pounds.

— Melinda Robinson, West Linn Library Foundation board member

There's not a day that goes by where I don't think about how incredibly lucky I am to live and serve in a community where so many people are involved in contributing to the lives and well-being of others.

This month, I was the keynote speaker at a naturalization ceremony where 49 people from 21 countries were sworn in as newly minted Americans. I am grateful to live in a nation that continues to be a light for so many others around the globe who do not live with the freedoms we enjoy.

On a more personal note, I'm thankful for three wonderful sons, a husband and network of friends and family whose love and support remind me daily that I'm not alone in life's journey.

— Julie Parrish,

state representative

Here's to those we walk with throughout the week for they offer friendship, good cheer, news of the day and always what ails you (Our Walking Groups).

We are thankful for our health and the sense of safety provided to our community. We are thankful to those who provide the opportunity so that we may give to those most in need (West Linn Lions).

We are thankful and look forward to having family and friends to gather, hug, toast and feast on this very special day (Peg's great cooking).

We are thankful for those who keep our local history present and our heritage alive (Heritage Foundations and History Societies). Giving can be so thankful.

— Mike and Peggy Watters, residents

The West Linn Riverview Lions Club is grateful for all the support given to us by the West Linn community. 

This support allows us to annually offer two college scholarships of $1000 each to graduating WL High seniors. 

Annual donations are also made to the WL Library Summer Reading Program, the West Linn Food Pantry, Guide Dogs for the Blind, the Childrens Center of Clackamas County and so many other organizations. 

Thank you and all the best to everyone this holiday season.

— WL Riverview Lions

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