The kindness of Waitsburg
December 16, 2021
WAITSBURG-Kindness is alive in Waitsburg. It seems like a prerequisite to becoming part of the community. It comes in all shapes and sizes, in acts big and small. From receiving an unexpected smile on a bad day or heading up an event, kindness is everywhere.
The year started strong, with more than 2,000 pounds of food distributed to Waitsburg and surrounding community members. The Waitsburg Christian Church, then led by Pastor Matthew Wyatt, helped organize the day-long event, partnering with Restoration Community Impact and New Beginning Christian Community Church. People went home with as many boxes of food as they could carry. Columbia County Undersheriff Robby Patterson showed up with a trailer to bring dozens of boxes to the Dayton Food Bank.
This summer, the Weller Public Library became a hot topic in the community. The historic library building was in the early stages of being considered for sale as surplus by the city. Starting at the city council's public meeting regarding the potential sale, the community came out to make it clear they wanted the library to stay at the current location.
Since then, the Board of Trustees and the Friends of the Library have been busy as bees fixing up the aging building, focusing heavily on bringing the building up to American Disability Act requirements. After the Friends of the Library's successful Halloween fundraiser, they could pour a large cement pad behind the building. At a recent city council meeting, Marie Gagnon shared updates about the wheelchair lift that would allow even more people access to the thousands of books hidden inside. The city has offered city funds, and donations have been steadily pouring in, getting the library closer and closer to the goal of letting everyone enjoy a good read.
This year saw residents volunteer to be on the library board and run for Waitsburg's Parks and Recreation. New members for Parks and Rec are Bart Baxter, Leroy Cunningham and Beth Daves.
It's the neighborly care that stands out in Waitsburg. One resident recently saw Kathy Mason helping Anita Baker pump gas and added that Mason and her husband, Gerald, help care for Jack McCaw's lawn. It's what neighbors do in Waitsburg- we take care of those who built the town that we know and love.
Last Christmas, the Henze family had quite a tasty surprise. Their neighbors from across the street, the Constantino family, brought the family a fresh batch of tamales on Christmas Eve.
"It was the pandemic, so Dane and I were home alone with 3-month-twin boys and a 3-year-old," Jillian Henze shared in an email. "It was not an easy time for us. That meal changed our whole (sleep-deprived) holiday."
Doug Biolo, co-owner of Nancy's Dream Garden Center, is always willing to help where he can. When snow-covered our streets and made for dangerous driving conditions, Doug was out on his tractor, moving snow, clearing sidewalks, and lending a hand where he could. The little garden shop supports the community, from unexpected donations to heavy lifting.
December 12 was Poinsettia Day at the Waitsburg Christian Church when members bring poinsettias to the church in memory of a loved one. When City Councilmember Henze went to the garden center to purchase a memorial poinsettia, she said she struck up a conversation about the upcoming holiday celebrations in town.
"Without me asking or mentioning the Christmas Light Contest, Doug said he was donating a $20 gift card as a contest prize and made out the transaction on the spot," Henze said. "I lovingly deposited this act of goodwill into the hands of Cindy Daves the next morning. He is a treasure."
The businesses of Waitsburg are some of the most supportive small-town businesses you can find. It's not a surprise to see Waitsburg Grocery's name on a Tee-ball jersey or a youth soccer uniform. The crew at Ten Ton Coffee doesn't hesitate to whip up hot chocolates for the local preschoolers as they decorate the Downtown Christmas Tree.
The giving starts early in this town. In November, the Waitsburg Elementary second grade class held a canned food drive and donated over 200 pounds of canned and boxed food to the Waitsburg Resource Center, just in time to help with holiday baskets and meals.
Long-time resident Cindy Daves has stepped up to bring holiday cheer back to Waitsburg. In November, she announced the Christmas Light Contest for the town. Daves gathered sponsors, created contest rules, and organized judging for the contest she hopes will become an annual event. More than 180 houses joined the competition, and the sparkling lights have been greatly appreciated by the locals and drivers just passing through.
The light contest was just the start of Daves' holiday projects. She has helped spearhead the upcoming parade with former Commercial Club President Joy Smith. After the uncertainty of the past holiday season, residents and businesses have come together to help create the heARTfelt Christmas celebration for December 18. The parade will start at 5 p.m., following a slightly different route than past parades. Please check the map to plan the best location to view the parade.
Downtown, Markeeta Littlewolf will kick off the procession with her rendition of National Anthem as the first of the floats turns left out of the Banner Bank parking lot onto Main Street. The parade will continue a route down Main to 4th street, to Orchard, left on 7th, and back to the elementary school parking lot on Main.
This is just a glimpse of what Waitsburg does best. The kind spirit of Waitsburg shines bright- even through a two-year-long pandemic. Our community spirit is stronger than politics, brighter than viruses, and thicker than floodwaters.
We are all Waitsburg.