Opinion | For Valley wildfire helpers, what goes around, comes around

He wasn’t in it for the glory. He didn’t even give me his full name. But the North Bend man—just Jim to me—who was moved by reports about the massive wildfire blazing in Central Washington, and dropped off a small pile of supplies as part of the growing donation effort, did what he did for good reasons. He acted out of basic humanity, and because he believes that what goes around, comes around.

Time and again, I and others at this newspaper heard similar stories from the folks in our Valley, and beyond, who stepped up over the last two weeks to help families affected by the Taylor Bridge wildfire in Kittitas County.

That fire burned more than 23,000 acres and damaged or destroyed more than 50 homes in the week of August 13. We reported on the local response last week, but felt it was appropriate to recognize and reflect on how that response happened, and why, before the stories fade.

Valley businesses including Hooper’s Deli, Frankie’s Pizza, Pet Place Market, the North Bend McDonalds, Mount Si Montessori, Snoqualmie Valley Hospital Foundation and Snoqualmie Ridge Storage, plus regional businesses including Costco, the Issaquah Hilton Garden Inn and Meadow Creek Business Center, and local individuals such as, Sherwood Koerssjoen, Jennifer Osborn, Bev Jorgensen and Kim Arellano and family stepped up, as did Encompass preschool and ONE Voice, which helped get word out about donation methods.

I’m sure there are many others who did not make this list, but also deserve mention.

This newspaper, too, and its publisher, William Shaw, played an interesting role in the response. Bill was here, at his desk, when the fire reached a crescendo at his son Liam’s ranch outside Ellensburg. Bill was anxious to help, and indeed drove over the pass Wednesday to help where he could. But before he left, he was on the phone constantly, kicking off a Valley drive to round up supplies. He tied in the Valley’s donation efforts with the Kittitas County, Snoqualmie Valley and Issaquah Chambers of Commerce, hoping to ensure that firefighters and fire victims alike wanted for nothing. Bill was proud to help get the ball rolling. Several times, he remarked, “If I can’t be there with a shovel and hose, the least I can do is help Liam’s neighbors and community.”

The donation roundup was an outstanding success. Several warehouses were filled with goods through the generosity of people—most of whom I’ll wager never even saw the smoke from the Taylor Bridge fire. Cash donations are sought now, for specific needs; You can learn how to help at www.kittitascountychamber.com.

Generosity is its own reward, it’s true. And those who help others understand that they’ve been there, and that they might need help again someday. This Valley hasn’t had a major flood in three years, but weather does strange things these days. High water is, sooner or later, inevitable. There could easily come a time when the people of Central Washington may be there for us in the wake of flood waters. Our generosity will come back around at a time when we most need it.


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