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A look at active senior living in Whatcom County.


  • A supplement of the Lynden Tribune and Ferndale Record

    Ferndale Record


    ncoreEWednesday, February 15, 2012

  • ENCOREC2 Lynden Tribune | Wednesday, February 15, 2012 | Ferndale Record

    Shirley Speelmans needlework has contributed various items to the gift shop shelves. Lynden Tribune | CALVIN BRATT

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    Calvin BrattLynden Tribune

    LYNDEN Everything in this gift shop is locally handmade. Everything carries a surprisingly low price. And everything sold helps out the Lynden Community Center to some extent. Just a small sign marks the spot near the entrance of the 401 Grover St. center. But the obvious color and craftsmanship of the items inside entice the passerby. The gift shop attendant on a Mon-day morning is Shirley Speelman. She is also a bountiful contributor to all the knitted and crocheted items that you see on display. How about some brightly patterned kitchen towels? Or a baby sweater set, again in a variety of appealing hues? Producing them comes naturally to this lady. I can make a couple of them in an evening, she says of her additions to the towels. But these sweater sets take a little longer. And when does she make all these things? Im kind of watching

    Craftsmanship high, prices low at Lynden Community Center

    Senior centers gift shop is a treasure trove of handmade items

  • C3ENCORE Lynden Tribune | Wednesday, February 15, 2012 | Ferndale Record

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    TV and knitting at the same time. Speelman might even be knitting while she is playing cards or calling bin-go games at the senior center, where she is a regular for the noon dinner. Try these on for warmth and com-fort: stocking hats, scarves, slippers, bed socks, childrens clothing. Or consider these for usefulness: aprons, pot hold-ers, table runners, tea cozies. Others who do much of the needlework are Al-ice Van Egdom, Sophia Van Wyk, Mary Jane Radney, Sarah Haveman and Har-riet Rich. We have our own patterns and our own designs, and we kind of go by the season, Speelman said. She also makes cloth dolls. When one of them recently disappeared from view, word filtered back to Speelman to check inside the miniature wooden out-house made by George Van Achte and on display in the shop. Sure enough, thats where it was, and thats where its staying for awhile. The two can be bought separately, however. The doll is only $20, the out-house just $50. The babys wear area sees the great-est demand. Besides Speelman, contrib-utors are Frances Jordan, Francis Neff and Alice Heckhausen. Theres more artistic talent. Most of two walls is devoted to the quilts, com-forters and pillows produced by the centers Quiltmakers group that gathers each Wednesday morning. Prices range from $14 to $25.

    Kelli Wisniewski and Harriet Rich make jewelry. Esther Meyer, Cora Jean Buma, Aly Johnson Vos, Bonnie Van Als-berg and Karen Aase contribute their handmade cards suitable for all sorts of different occasions. For 25 cents. Where do you find a card for 25 cents? exclaims Speelman. Miniature windmills are contribut-ed by Ernie and Sharon Buss of Lynden. Ruby Blasingame fashioned a red Barbie Furniture set of plastic canvas. Nora Sundstrom is the main con-tributor of assorted finished dishware, from salt and pepper sets to vases and mugs. The wintery things in the gift shop will soon give way to symbols of sum-mer. This week, one table definitely had a pink Valentines Day feel to it. Clara Zoet is the current gift shop representative on the Lynden Commu-nity Center board of directors. Because of the legal nonprofit status of the community center, the gift shop area must be operated as tenant space and really cant be advertised, said cen-ter director Cathi LeCocq. Some items, such as the quilts, are donated for their proceeds to go fully to the center. Much merchandise is consigned, with 10 or 25 percent of the sale price as display fee. Alice Fairall, office manager, said that in 2011 the gift shop raised $6,500 for the senior center. The quilts were the biggest piece of that, making $2,600. Email Calvin Bratt at editor@lyn-dentribune.com.

    A Barbie Furniture set was made by Ruby Blasingame. Lynden Tribune | CALVIN BRATT

  • ENCOREC4 Lynden Tribune | Wednesday, February 15, 2012 | Ferndale Record

    Eileen Wascisin, a former Lynden High School teacher, has served as president of the Washington State Business Education Association and Western Business and Information Technology Educators. Courtesy photo

    Tim NewcombLynden Tribune

    WHATCOM Eileen Wascisin simply cant imagine retirement without activity. So, after 35 years of teaching at Lynden High School, the early retiree has extend-ed her former Lynden job into a chance to support current teachers including those at Lynden and keep herself per-sonally on a path of continual learning. As a business educator for so many years at LHS, Wascisin developed an ex-panding network of contacts. Upon retire-ment in 2008, she grew those connections even more. She got heavily involved with a pair of state associations for business edu-cators (she has served as president of both association) and with the National Busi-ness Education Association, once serving as the secondary school program direc-tor and currently a candidate to become the director for the western region. And if those duties, including helping to plan curriculum and conferences throughout the nation, werent enough to fill her time, she recently joined on as the Northwest representative for the Washington State School Retirees Association. Oh yes, it keeps me active, she said about her activities. I think you could get into a rut if you retire and it would be very easy to do nothing. There are a lot of things I like about retirement, but a lot of things I miss about teaching. And that is what makes her roles so ideal for her; she gets a mix of both worlds. For example, Wascisin is currently in Cali-fornia, teaching a class to business educa-tors. But the joys of retirement afforded her and her husband a leisurely route to the conference, one that involved a vaca-tion in Scottsdale, Ariz., along the way. We figured we might as well go down to Arizona, she said. We made it a round-about trip. When Wascisin, 61, returns home from her trips, staying involved with lo-cal teachers has proven a great way to stay connected, she said. Even as an active teacher, she had always been a member of the retired teachers association. Now she joins with the group, which meets once a month, usually at Bellingham Technical College, as a group of around 30 to couple their love of education with their desire to learn and socialize. Each month, the group brings in a speaker to discuss wide-ranging topics (recent speakers have ad-dressed decluttering and health issues). The group also took a recent field trip to the newly remodeled Whatcom Middle School, providing some teachers a chance to see the changes made at a school they once taught in. The retired teachers also support cur-rent teachers in Whatcom County by hand-ing out 30 mini-grants of $150 for things

    Retirement full of extended learning opportunities for Eileen Wascisin

    such as field trips that a school district is unable to fund. Wascisin said that extra items, such as special books, help support teachers trying to create innovative class-rooms. Recently, a school in Bellingham that supports students who cant function in a normal school setting applied for a mini-grant. The retired teachers were able to help fund the purchasing of products to help students learn hygiene skills. The retired teachers have also worked with PEMCO Insurance to hand out 16 recur-ring scholarships of nearly $1,000 each, including last year to Kailey Weidkamp at Lynden High School. During the holiday season, the differ-ing retired teachers associations in North-west Washington all did a little something special to celebrate Christmas, a chance to both support teachers and stay connected to a profession and a group of people they love. Wascisins work as a business edu-cator has certainly been more involved, including stints as the president of the Washington State Business Education As-sociation and Western Business and Infor-mation Technology Educators, jobs that encompassed travel and conference plan-ning. Pair those responsibilities with her work with the national association and her retirement has been filled with trips to the Midwest, the South, the East and all across the West, trips she has been able to plan for both pleasure and business. The people Ive met is one of the most unbelievable aspects, she said. I use programs and conferences to keep up with what is current out there. That is why I stay involved, so I can stay current. It amazes me sometimes to see teachers now not as up-to-date as I am and Im not as up-to-date as I should be. It is interest-ing to stay up with the new technology out there. W