Monthly Archives: October 2014

Neighbors for Kids in Depoe Bay, Oregon… Offers Academics During Extended School Day…

 

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Neighbors for Kids After-School Focus on Literacy…

Neighbors for Kids, Depoe Bay, Oregon…Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, & Math (STEAM)! Quote from this page, Academic Excellence & Achievement Program (AXAP).

“When students master skills in Reading and Math, they go to school feeling good about their accomplishments.  Getting help with homework allows students to go to school prepared and feeling confident.
The Academic Excellence & Achievement Program (AXAP) provides one-on-one support in Reading and Math, as well as Homework Help. Students are taught important skills by caring, professional educators, following a comprehensive diagnostic assessment.”
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Academic Excellence & Achievement Program (AXAP)…K-12 After-School Tutoring & Mentoring

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I am so proud of the work we do at Neighbors for Kids, Depoe Bay, Oregon!  I am also honored to have been part of this outstanding after-school program as a board member for the last 5 years.  It has been the best work of my life!

Even when we are away on vacation, I get fun reminders everyday like the photo above showing our children reading “big books” from our new library.  In cooperation with the Lincoln County School District (LCSD) and the “21st Century Community Learning Center Program,” we take literacy development very seriously as a key priority during the hours of 3pm-6pm.  We also team up with parents and volunteers for additional support during a monthly evening or Saturday event through our “Family Literacy Program.”

Although we are having a great time getting away for two weeks enjoying visits with family and friends and the beautiful weather in Southern California, I am anxious to get home and get back to the work I love, helping Neighbors for Kids succeed as a sustainable 21st Century after-school model for the future.  The children and families in Lincoln County Oregon are the big winners!  It is an honor to be part of the NFK team of staff and volunteers who make a difference each and every day for kids…

Steve Sparks, Vice Chair, Neighbors for Kids , Depoe Bay, Oregon

 

 

 

 

Remembering and Honoring Japanese Americans Interned at Manzanar During WWII…

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Manzanar Japanese Internment Camp WWII… Click photo for expanded view…

 

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In 1942 the U.S. Army leased 6,200 acres at Manzanar from Los Angeles to establish a center to hold Japanese Americans during World War II. Though some valley residents opposed the construction of the internment camp, others helped build it and worked here. Among these were a few Owens Valley Paiute whose own families had been exiled earlier from these lands.

Manzanar National Historical Site…  Click highlighted text for more…  Quote from this website…

One Camp, Ten Thousand Lives; One Camp, Ten Thousand Stories

In 1942, the United States government ordered more than 110,000 men, women, and children to leave their homes and detained them in remote, military-style camps. Manzanar War Relocation Center was one of ten camps where Japanese American citizens and resident Japanese aliens were interned during World War II.

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My mother told me stories about her Japanese American friends in Long Beach, California who were taken from their homes in 1942 shortly after the beginning of WWII.  She was a new military spouse and a young mother at that time following my father’s departure to the Pacific War during the summer of 1941 serving aboard the USS West Virginia.  My oldest brother was born three months before the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.  Mother was shocked about her friends, who were Japanese but true American citizens, when they were taken away to internment camps.  While Dad was away at war, she recalled how close she was to her neighbors, including the Japanese Americans in Long Beach, and how they helped each other while most husbands were deployed for long periods of time.  They gave each other comfort and hope that their husbands and loved ones would return home safe when the war was over…

Manzanar is one such Japanese Internment Camp located off Hwy 395 near Bishop, California, about 250 miles south of Reno, Nevada.  We took the time to stop and look at the camp, which is now well preserved as a National Historic Site.  “Manzanar National Historic Site was established to preserve the stories of the internment of nearly 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II and to serve as a reminder to this and future generations of the fragility of American civil liberties.”

I often visit veterans memorials while traveling and write about our experiences to share with others the rich history of America at War and to honor veterans of all wars and the families who served too.  In the case of the Japanese Americans who were interned in camps like Manzanar, it is my view these good Japanese Americans served too…  Their service to America during WWII, while interned at Manzanar and other camps in the United States, clearly compromised American civil liberties in the interest of protecting American freedoms.  Although at the time the US Government felt Japanese Americans were a national security risk, we know now that we were wrong, very wrong.  We traumatized,  separated, and destroyed families, including the American dream for 10’s of thousands of Japanese Americans.  We honor them now with a promise never to repeat history and this inhumane action…never again… 

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1…  Click highlighted text for my author page…

 

 

“Mission 22!” Why 22 Veterans Commit Suicide Everyday?

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Join Mission22.com and help save the lives of veterans…

Mission 22…  Click and watch this powerful 1 minutes video clip…you can save a life…quote from this website…

Published on Oct 21, 2014

Join the mission to end veteran suicide: www.Mission22.com.

Each day, 22 veterans commit suicide. But you can give them the hope and encouragement they need. Each 22 you post, share or tweet lets them know they have an army behind them. Join the mission at Mission22.com and help us win the war against veteran suicide.

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This powerful video triggered memories of my own father, who often had scary nightmares that came suddenly without warning.  I remember Dad yelling, “Japs, Japs, Japs!,” and the loud noise of his fists punching holes in the wall of his bedroom.  My Dad was suicidal for a long time following WWII and Korean War where he served in hard combat during multiple deployments in the US Navy.  My mother’s dedication to his needs at her own risk and sacrifice no doubt saved his life.  Many combat veterans find themselves alone without hope and take their own lives…22 veterans of all ages commit this final act each and every day of the year.

Help save the lives of your loved ones and friends who are suffering from moral injury and PTSD.  Click on the YouTube video and join Mission22.com.  You can make a difference and help save the life of a veteran you know…

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma… Click on the highlighted text for my author page…

Father & Son Connect with “The Lone Sailor Memorial Statue” in Long Beach, California…

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Steve Sparks at the “Lone Sailor Memorial Statue” in Long Beach, Ca.

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US Navy “Lone Sailor Memorial Foundation.”  Click for a larger view…

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Marcella and Vernon Sparks c1940 Long Beach, Ca. Dad was a US Navy Coxswain at the time, serving aboard the Battleship USS West Virginia…destination Pearl Harbor prior to the beginning of WWII.  Click photo for larger view…

US Navy Memorial Foundation…  Quote from this website…

“The Lone Sailor statue represents all people who ever served, are serving now or who are yet to serve in the Navy. The Lone Sailor is a composite of the U.S. Navy bluejacket, past, present and future. He’s called the Lone Sailor.”

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I never emotionally connected with my father’s US Navy career until researching and writing my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story, in 2011.  I didn’t know him well until long after he passed away in 1998.  I didn’t know my mother either…who is still with us at age 96 living in Reno, Nevada.  Growing up as a military child during the 1950’s and early 1960’s was hell.  Carrying around the emotional baggage of a toxic childhood was worse than hell for decades until learning more about the lives of my parents during the years leading up to WWII and afterwards.  I know them both now, far better than those years now lost in time and burdened with anger toward the pain of child abuse and emotional neglect.  I am no longer angry!

I stood by the “Lone Sailor” statue in Long Beach yesterday for a long time.  I was deeply moved…  I thought about my Dad and what he was like when joining the US Navy in 1936.  Dad spent his early years as a young sailor in Long Beach, California, no doubt standing in this very place looking out at sea dreaming about the future and what would come.  His first ship duty was aboard the Battleship USS Tennessee following boot camp in 1936.  I know he had hope and was excited about life.  Dad was outgoing, an extrovert, kind of like me.  He and mother were married in Long Beach in 1940 and experienced some of the happiest times of their lives until he departed on the USS West Virginia on a secret mission at that time during the summer of 1941.  My oldest brother, Jerry, was born in September 1941, three months before the Japanese Attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.

I thought about my own US Navy service during the early 1960’s and felt close to Dad while reading the engraved memorial bricks at the “Lone Sailor Statue” site.  I also thought about Dad’s final words in his own written account (discovered after my book was published) while standing on Ford Island in Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, after abandoning ship and swimming for safety after the USS West Virginia was bombed.  He and his shipmates watched the Battleship USS Arizona and the other ships from the US Navy Pacific Fleet engulfed in flames and smoke, and said, “People like myself could go on and on, but that would take a book!”  (click highlighted text for the full written account).  I am proud of my father, Vernon, and all the “Lone Sailor(s)” who served.  I am very grateful to have been inspired to write this book, which provided the personal strength to start my own journey of healing and forgiveness.

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation, A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1…  Click the highlighted text for my author page…

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Steve & Judy Sparks, October 18, 2014, Long Beach, California…

Steve Sparks, Depoe Bay Candidate for City Council, Position 5, had no previous knowledge or involvement with the write-in campaign flyer…

 

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City of Depoe Bay, Oregon… Private write-in campaign flyer mailed to residents of Depoe Bay… Quotes and photos taken from the Lincoln County News – On-line…Click photos for larger view.

Quote from http://www.newslincolncounty.com/ on October 17, 2014…

‘Voter “flyer” developed and mailed by City Councilor Barbara Leff in which whose name appears as a write in for Mayor. The “flyer” also contains three “potential” write in names, including current City Councilors Barbara Leff and Dorinda Goddard, both of whom declined to file for re-election. Also the name of Fred Robison, whose family is a household name around town.

Quote from Barbara Leff…http://www.newslincolncounty.com/

 ‘When asked why there was no suggested write-in name under candidate Steve Sparks for city council, Leff offered only, “We think he’s a good guy.”

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Discovering the subject write-in campaign flyer came as a complete surprise to me!  It was highly troublesome after looking at the flyer and reading the document to see that the appearance of my name on this document strongly suggests that I had direct knowledge and involvement, including a supportive role in this write-in campaign.  Let me make it perfectly clear… that during my campaign, I have presented a platform of “Community Building and Vitality” (click the highlighted text for my recent article published in this blog).  I have often expressed my desire to stay clear of the typical nasty and disturbing politics of Depoe Bay, Oregon.  My goal during the campaign is to become informed by getting engaged in the City of Depoe Bay with the hope of hitting the ground running when sworn in January 2015…a fresh and independent start as a new councilor is my heartfelt desire… Barbara Leff apologized to me on the phone this week for inadvertently including my name on the sample ballot.  I accept her apology, and respect her honesty.  I am also a strong believer in the democratic process and have no problem with a voter’s right to submit a write-in candidate. Please help me spread the word to help clear up any confusion or question voters may have about the write-in campaign.  I stand alone as a candidate for Depoe Bay City Councilor, Position 5.  I am not connected with the write in campaign proposed in the above flyer, and wish to remain neutral on all past Depoe Bay politics.  It is a new day in Depoe Bay!  If elected. I will be honored to have the opportunity to serve the citizens of Depoe Bay for the next four years.

Steve Sparks, Candidate for City Councilor, Position 5, City of Depoe Bay, Oregon

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Steve Sparks

   

Vote Steve Sparks for Depoe Bay, Oregon City Council, Position 5… Read this important blog post!

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Steve Sparks, Author, Leadership Coach, US Navy Veteran & Children’s Advocate

 

Community Building  Click for more on my recent article, “How to Treat “Silo Disorder,” a Detriment to Community Growth and Vitality…  Quote from article…by Steve Sparks

“I was asked again yesterday, what is meant by my reference to a rural community sickness coined by me as “Silo Disorder.”  For starters click on the highlighted text link that defines a “silo” mostly connected with a farming community where grain is stored in tall cylinder structures close to rail transportation.  My work over the past 25 years in rural community building projects reveals that the greatest challenge and obstacle to overcome at the beginning of any project for the “greater good” is to get our neighbors and community leaders to talk to each other, build relationships, discover teamwork, and find common ground…  We often refer to this process as leadership, but I don’t believe defining leadership initially helps…it is too subjective.  Leadership means different things to folks and the dots are rarely connected unless there is a reference to something tangible and attention getting like “silo disorder.”  If we all stay in our tiny sheltered world of self interests only, we never see the light of day or the bigger picture of what we should be talking about to build community vitality where new opportunities are discovered…where innovation happens…where we begin to find new social investment capital never before realized by creating public private partnerships (PPP)… click for graphic images…”

Depoe Bay, Oregon…”World’s Smallest Harbor”  Click on highlighted text for more…

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Entrance to Depoe Bay Harbor…Click for larger view…

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Depoe Bay “Fleet of Flowers” Celebration… Click on highlighted text for more…

 

Following is my candidates statement found on page 21-11 of the Voters’ Pamphlet… Click highlighted text for Oregon General Election for November 4, 2014…

“I believe in the empowerment of community building and outreach strategies through collaborations and partnerships with local, state, and federal government, public private non-profits, private sector, and volunteers, all critical partners for community growth and vitality. Effective team building and collaborative commitments in Lincoln County have proven to be a successful enterprise, enhancing the quality of life for children and families, especially in education.

As a US Navy veteran from the Vietnam era and a post WWII military child, I am passionate about caring for veterans and families as a commitment to their sacrifice of service to protect our freedoms during all wars past and present. We have an eternal obligation and debt that can never be fully paid back to those who have served America in the military, as a first responder or in  public service.  We can never thank appreciate enough the service of the hundreds of volunteers in Lincoln County who work tirelessly and passionately to make a difference in our community.  The spirit of volunteerism is ever present right here in Depoe Bay.

As a City of Depoe Bay Councilor, I promise to be fair, objective, and compassionate about community service with the goal of achieving the very best quality of life and economic growth for all citizens for generations to come. It is my duty and heartfelt honor to serve!!!

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1…  Click highlighted text for my author page…

 

Don’t miss Neighbors for Kids Annual Fall Music Fest II… Eden Hall, Gleneden Beach, Oregon Oct 18th 7pm…

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2nd Annual Fall Music Festival flyer – 2014

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June Rushing Band, Click highlighted text for YouTube music clip…

 

Neighbors for Kids 2nd Annual Fall Music Event!  Click on highlighted text for more…

Neighbors for Kids, Depoe Bay, Oregon is holding its 2nd annual music event on October 18th at Eden Hall, Gleneden Beach, Oregon.  Our first annual music event last year was a big success, so we decided to put this fund raiser on our calendar again this year by popular demand.  Please come out and enjoy The June Rushing Band (click highlighted text for video music clip) and other local bands for an evening of dancing and fun to benefit children and families of Lincoln County Oregon…

Steve Sparks, Vice Chair, Neighbors for Kids

 

 

A Tribute to Good Samaritans, at Roads End Beach in Lincoln City, Oregon!!!

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The Bret Lucich Show… Click photo for larger view…  Click highlighted text for schedule of shows…

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Judy, just before her fall on October 3, 2014… Thank God she was not injured!

 

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Roads End Beach at North end during low tide…we could see the other side… Click on highlighted text for more…

Bret Lucich, “One Hero at a Time.”  Click on highlighted text for YouTube music/video clip…

Bret Lucich was at the Roads End Beach on Oct 3rd…when my wife, Judy, fell on the rocks at the north end.   Another hero, Clayton, from Elko, Nevada was there to help as well. We are grateful that Judy did not hit her head and sustain serious injuries…  It was one of those unexpected moments that can happen to anyone that could have changed our lives in an instant if Judy had been seriously injured…   Bret and Clayton were very kind and comforting to Judy and stayed with us until she recovered from the fall.  I then learned about Bret’s musical genius and his work honoring veterans. This was no accidental meeting!  Judy and I look forward to thanking Bret again soon and listening to his music. We are also thankful for Clayton’s help!

Our lesson learned from this experience is that we are not youngsters anymore and have limitations.  Judy lost her balance and was wearing  walking shoes, not climbing shoes.  I was not by her side to help her when she fell.  I was taking the above photo just before she fell over backwards into a hole and landed wedged between two rocks, which was luckily a protected fall as opposed to falling head first.  We all value exercise in our later years…keeps you fit and feeling younger.  But please stay close to your partner when venturing into risky rock climbing or hiking in general.  And remember to wear the right shoes to avoid the prospect of slipping.  Judy and I are so grateful for the help from Bret and Clayton during this stressful time.  We made new friends to be sure, and thank them both for their kindness on that day.  As a tribute to Bret and Clayton, I am sharing Bret Lucich’s music video, “One Hero at a Time.”  We both have much in common with our mutual passion in supporting veterans who protect the freedoms we enjoy in America.

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1…  Click highlighted text for my author page…

“I was easy prey.” October is Month of Awareness for Domestic Violence!

 

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“Be a Kids Hero!” Click banner for larger view…

 

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“I was easy prey.” Her first memory of being sexually abused is when she was just four-years old…

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Ginger Kadlec… Impassioned child advocate. Enthusiastic dog and cat mommy. Proud aunt. Happy wife.

 

“I was easy prey…”  click on highlighted website article by Ginger Kadlec…  Quote from the article follows…

“He was close to my mother, he visited our family home,” Susan Crocombe recalls in an interview with Steve Harris of BBC Radio Solent’s Breakfast in Dorset 103.8 fm. “If mum was having a bad day, she would be in bed… so he had complete access to me. I actually loved him. I would have done anything for him.”

“He” was a member of Susan’s extended family who sexually abused her for years. She recalls, “Things he did became quite serious 18 months leading up to my 13th birthday,” at which point her molester began feeding his addiction by sharing her with other adults, including taking photographs of and filming her.

“I associated presents with rewards for being good. I was easy prey.”~Susan Crocombe

In this BBC Radio Solent interview, Susan reflects on the sexual abuse she endured as a child and the impact the abuse had on her as a teenager and adult. She discusses issues like being groomed and says, “Who doesn’t like to feel special to get gifts, presents, be validated? For me, it was very subtle. I was very young, so I didn’t know what was happening was wrong… I associated presents with rewards for being good. I was easy prey.”

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In my view, the above reference is absolutely the worst case scenario and tragedy connected with domestic violence and child abuse!  I lived in a highly toxic home while growing up in the 1950’s and early 1960’s.  The vivid memories of being scared and living with domestic violence still haunts me at times.  My home was affected by the hard combat trauma my father experienced during all of WWII and deployment during the Korean War.  We did not have any kind of domestic violence awareness during the post WWII era…let alone a month like October designated to help children and families become more aware of its seriousness, long term impact on mental health, and ways to get help.  We siblings, as military kids, felt scared and alone most of the time.  We were afraid to go home when Dad was home for fear of the next beating that could come our way or the threatening emotional outbursts that often came out of nowhere as Dad struggled with his own demons.  Mother was affected severely as a wartime military spouse and from her own traumatic childhood during the “depression era.”  Our entire family was emotionally damaged and we thought it was just normal and mostly our fault as kids for not being good.  What happened in our home stayed at home.  From all appearances our family behaved as normal adults and kids outside of the home and in school.  We would not dare speak of being scared to go home…  Dad was a WWII US Navy hero by day and an angry and dangerous man by night.

Thousands of families were toxic like ours during this post WWII era, but we didn’t know it until later in life when the topic of combat related PTSD was finally revealed and understood more clearly.  But the stigma of mental health challenges and the intergenerational effects of post trauma symptoms referred to as secondary PTSD or complex PTSD kept countless children and families from seeking help.  The stigma of PTSD remains a big challenge to this day!

I lived with the emotional baggage of child abuse and domestic violence until later in life while doing research on our post WWII family’s toxic culture and the how war affects the mental health of soldiers and sailors long after the war ends.  Writing my book, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story, was finally the beginning of my own journey of healing at age 64, and I am not alone… If it had not been for the gift of awareness, I would still be living with emotional pain.  It is a joy to look forward to each day now with peace of mind.   The anger, depression, and anxiety tearing away at my heart and soul is now gone, but is a work in progress to keep the pain of past trauma at a safe distance.  I am very blessed and thankful for the work of Ginger Kadlec  and many others in the mental health community for building awareness through social media.  I am also grateful for the support of my family and friends who help keep me grounded with positive energy each and every day…

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1…  Click the highlighted text for my author page…

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Steve Sparks, Age 10, 1956…

“The Desiderata of Happiness” by Max Erhmann… Uplifting for any day of the week!

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1976 edition of The Desiderata of Happiness poetry collection…go to the sidebar of my website and order the book…

Desiderata…Quote from this website from Wikipedia…

“Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence. As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and the ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass. Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should. Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.”
Max Ehrmann, “Desiderata”.[1
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I was touched and uplifted from a distressful couple of days.  By no coincidence a close friend must have heard my silent call for support by sharing the above poem by Max Ehrmann.  My friend, who’s mother passed away recently, reads this poem often as a way of healing and shares with others.  The poem was read at his mother’s memorial service some months ago, reflecting her wishes.  I love the last verse the most… “With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be cheerful.  Strive to be happy!”
Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1… Click highlighted text for my author page…