Red Cross honors Pacific County heroes with awards banquet

<I>ALLEN RICHARD CURTIS photos</I><BR>Christopher D'Amelio of the U.S. Coast Guard accepts the community's thanks for his rescues.

SOUTH BEND-Citizens from throughout Pacific County were recently recognized for heroism, volunteerism and other selfless acts at the 2002 Pacific County Heroes Banquet, organized by the Cowlitz-Wahkiakum-Pacific Chapter of the American Red Cross.

The Chinook Observer, Weyerhaeuser, Willapa Veterinary Service, Pacific County Title Company, Sid's, Harbor Community Bank and Everybody's Grocery were the primary corporate sponsors of the event.

The following remarks were prepared by Sue Piper of the Red Cross. This is part three of a series.

Water Rescue - Christopher D'Amelio

Christopher D'Amelio was awarded the Group Astoria 2001 Enlisted Person of the Year. He is extremely dedicated to the Coast Guard, his unit, and the public he serves.

Petty Officer D'Amelio can be counted on to do the "right thing" at all times. His judgment and decision making ability during day-to-day operations are consistently above the norm. He is highly regarded by everyone he works with because of his keen ability to make wise and prudent decisions. Seventeen lives were saved in one year from the treacherous waters of our Columbia River because of his courage and the courage of his peers.

On his off hours Christopher does not miss a beat as far as the children in his community are concerned. He reads with the smallest children, he delivers Santa safely (by boat of course), and stages Cape Disappointment's annual Haunted Bunker which brings in the food for the food bank.

In September 2001, Station Cape Disappointment received a call reporting a vessel capsized in the heavy surf in Peacock Spit. Petty Officer First Class Christopher D'Amelio and his crew were underway within minutes negotiating the dangerous Columbia River bar in horrendous seas. Shortly after making the turn at the north jetty he learned that four people were holding onto the side of a capsized vessel. A series of giant waves impeded their progress, but he persevered and reached the capsized vessel. Meanwhile overhead, a helicopter deployed a swimmer and landed an unconscious man on D'Amelio's deck. The man was not breathing and had no pulse. D'Amelio made the difficult decision to focus his attention on the victims still in the water. In the heavy surf, the three remaining victims were brought aboard. Meanwhile, the unconscious man was hoisted to the helicopter.

Officer D'Amelio received a Coast Guard Commendation medal for his extraordinary efforts.

Community Advocate - Dwayne Deskins

Community Advocate Dwayne Deskins is the pastor of the New Life Fellowship Church in Raymond. Dwayne encourages his growing congregation to volunteer in the community and leads by example. He is ever present at community meetings, functions, and fund-raisers.

"He is the one who helps the homeless man on a cold winter night, when others look the other way. He brings comfort when you have nothing left. He is a professional who always has a kind word, a knowing smile or just a discreet nod. He is a friend to all, a brother to most, and never turns away. Just knowing him, makes us all just a little bit better," said Officer Ken Boyes.

"One story in particular that I felt demonstrated the type of person Dwayne is. It was a chilly Christmas Eve, two years ago, when the Raymond Police received a call of a man laying at the side of the road. They found the man was homeless without necessary shelter. As the officer was trying to help the man, he noticed a car sitting down the road.

"Quickly running out of options, as we have nothing here, and due to his intoxication, the mission in Aberdeen would not take him, the officer was having dispatch check for family and friends. He then noticed the car slowly approaching. As it neared the officer the driver's window slowly rolled down. The driver was Pastor Deskins who said he just felt compelled to offer his assistance.

"With the help of Dwayne that night an unknown homeless man spent the night in a local motel, rather than the cold shoulder of a busy interstate. It was a selfless act that demonstrates why Pastor Dwayne Deskins is a true hero. Hope this helps. The officer was me. Thanks, Ken Boyes."

Community Advocate - Johnnie Engelson

The mother of three children, Johnnie has been the link between the Red Cross and the twice a year blood drive in Naselle for nearly a decade.

The entirely volunteer, Naselle Fire department has had her services for eighteen years. As the director of the all voluntary ambulance the community is dependent upon her to find enough people going through training and ready to volunteer for the ambulance crew. "What makes her different from the rest of us is that she is strong willed. She gets off work at 8 a.m. from working nights at Naselle Youth Camp, she sleeps a few hours, I think she knows that it has to be done that someone has do it," according to Doug Sandell

"I am so glad you are honoring Johnnie because she has done so much for our community. She has saved countless lives as a voluntary EMT," said Sherrie Sandell.

When asked what she wished for Johnnie said, "If I could volunteer all the time, people want to be there and it's very important to them; volunteers are happy. It is amazing to me the commitment they make to train as a First Responder and them EMT and then to be leaders for others."

Youth Rescue Heroes - Ken and Kelly Boyes

Ken and Kelly Boyes have been foster parents to Pacific County's most vulnerable citizens for four years.

Julie Sanchez, a social worker, said, "I look at what Ken and Kelly are able to do and I'm awed. They take strangers' children into their home and care for them unconditionally, without ever losing sight of the big picture: They love each child enough today to prepare them for whatever happens to them tomorrow."

Transitioning children to what is next is a particularly difficult job. Ken and Kelly have shown exceptional skills in cooperating with the biological parents when the children are to be returned home or working with the children to transition to their permanent home when they can't return to their parents.

Ken and Kelly demonstrate pride to these children by becoming actively involved in their extracurricular activities. They provide an example of hard work as they balance their jobs while maintaining traditional family routines.

Ken is a Raymond Police Officer and Kelly is a school bus driver for South Bend Schools. And they have been examples of faith and service.

Ken serves as president of the Foster Parent Association and is a DARE officer, providing education and awareness to 6th graders about drug use. Kelly is a foster parent recruiter, trainer, and mentor. They have passed positive traits on to their children, and the result is an energetic, happy, caring, and cohesive group, where once there was only chaos.

"Ken and Kelly are skilled parents, and they draw on their faith, their friends and their family to guide them through situations that are challenging and unfamiliar. They are heroic in their service to the community, and I am privileged to work with them," said Julie Sanchez. "We're honoring some very well defined human beings. Believe me, Ken and Kelly Boyes are beautifully defined by their work with abused children."

Family Advocate Hero - Becky Marvin

In 1994 Rebecca Marvin assisted in the successful bid to organize a Habitat for Humanity affiliate and has acted as the permanent administrator since.

She lends her professional accounting and office skills to the ongoing tasks of record keeping, newsletters, insurance, bill paying, grant writing, correspondence, and to the writing of thank you notes to the hundreds of volunteers and financial donors.

Rebecca has held the offices of secretary and president, has chaired the Family Partnership committee, and has the important role of Family Advocate for two families. When no other volunteer could be found she has twice crawled under the house to put up insulation - a heroic step on her part given she gets claustrophobic in dark enclosed spaces.

For a while during her two-year tenure as president, Rebecca was gravely ill and hospitalized. She continued to lead. The ability of her board to carry on the task of building a house is a testament to the strength of the organization Rebecca has built and her ability to inspire others. By giving a hundred percent effort herself she brings out the best in each of the board members. With the completion of the sixth home, twenty-two children are arriving in area schools coming from a home that they are truly proud of.

Despite holding a full-time job at Raymond Federal Bank, Rebecca said. "I'm a volunteer just like everybody else is. I have time to donate, and I'm happy to do that."

Youth Emergency Response Hero - Richard Payne

On May 25, 2001 Richard Payne was at the Eighth Street Boat launch in Raymond when two kids ran to him for help. Since one of them could not swim, they needed Richard's help.

Without hesitation, he took a running leap off of the dock and into the water. It was low tide and he hurt his foot badly in the landing, but was able to pull the thrashing and panicking boy off of the other person who was trying to save him. She had become exhausted in her effort and needed rescuing as well. A Christian group had given Richard the opportunity to take a life saving class a few years earlier. He is grateful for that and for the fact that he has become very close to the families of the victims.

Richard Payne, now a junior at Raymond High School, said his dad has shown him how to be capable person and his weightlifting teacher, Mr. Makaiwi has made him physically strong. His parents are John and Heidi. Randy Henneman, the youth director of The Place said, "Richard is an incredibly helpful kid. He will help anyone at any time; you can count on him."

Richard's youth pastor at the Raymond Assembly of God church has known Richard since he was a small boy. "He is the biggest help I have. He is very reliable and has my total trust whether it is working with power tools or to follow through with what has been requested of him," said Mike Karchesy.

Youth Advocate Hero - Bill Martin

Bill Martin's drive and enthusiasm for the youth in our area has given them more opportunities to be active in a positive way.

About a year ago a committee that included Bill decided that new drainage and soil was necessary to upgrade our softball fields and make them playable during marginal weather events. He has spent countless hours at the ballpark assisting the contractors. It is because of his persistence and undaunted commitment to the reality of having a superior ballpark for the community's girls that this project was finished.

"I don't know of anyone else in our area that could have pulled off what Bill has pulled off," said assistant fire chief Kevin Miller. Think uniforms, equipment, concession stand, scoreboards, grant writing, skill clinics, coaching, umpiring, and you begin to get the picture of why Bill Martin has been identified as a tireless volunteer. Everything Bill does makes the softball association an organization people are proud to be a part of Bill has improved morale among the adults who are involved in the league and he has increased the number of girls who participate in softball.

As President of the Girls Softball Association, Bill has instilled pride, sportsmanship, and fun back into the association. These young girls are able to experience competition, develop athletic skills and increase their personal strengths. "You would think Bill Martin is paid a six figure salary for the professionalism and commitment he brings to the Willapa Harbor Girls' Softball Association, but he does not receive one dime."

"Bill Martin's drive and enthusiasm for the youth in our area has given the youth more opportunities to be active in a positive way," said Roger Ashlock "Bill has an uncanny ability to get people to work together, and his phenomenal efforts benefited nearly 200 north Pacific County girls this past season," said Julie Sanchez.

Youth Advocate Hero - Randy Henneman

The turmoil in our logging industry was not really a displacement for Randy, but a blessing in disguise, "There was nothing difficult about making the transition and my heart was crying out for what the Lord had for me, which is to reach out to our youth."

He has been involved in restoring the community's swimming pool, leads a drug awareness program throughout the year for teens and assisted with Raymond football. He coached baseball for more than a decade and was very involved with "Christmas on the Willapa." He has helped individual people reach their goals in many ways. Randy was nominated to be a hero because he fills critical needs in this community.

The drug awareness program is called W.T.I., which Randy co-directs with Mike O'Brien" My wish and hope is to see more people involved with the youth and to see the hearts of all parents turned toward their children."

Randy tells of a time when he was driving down the road and saw a parked vehicle with the hazard flashers on. He found a man with a loaded rifle to his head who intended to end his life. "God gave me the knowledge to speak to this man and let him know that he is loved, which gave him hope. He is now clean and sober and has a loving family." Randy can be found at most of the sporting events on the harbor as way of showing his support for youth.

Our entire community shares in the happiness Randy Henneman has generated with his contributions to our youth.

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