By Joe Hyer
For many years of publishing this newsletter, I have suggested that there are superheroes all around us, if only we look for them. Be they our mentors, or friends or colleagues- the world is filled with amazing people doing amazing things, and we spend far too little time celebrating them. To help bring out the superhero in each of us- we created Dangerboy, very very loosely based on Jason Mahr, one of ALPINE’s earliest employees who eventually became marketing director.
When Dangerboy had been written about for a decade- the stories got old. Hence, The Legend of Whitey, the on again off again superhero of the last few years. Oddly, we based Whitey off of Whitey, ALPINE staffer since 1996 who is himself, well, a little larger than life in general. So making him into a superhero wasn’t a stretch. Coming up with superpowers for him has been a challenge- that’s why you’re never quite sure what makes him ‘Super.’
Last winter, however, I learned what makes our own Alex White (AKA Whitey) a true superhero. We were riding home from Crystal Mountain on the Ski Bus, and I learned something about Whitey. He sponsors a child, somewhere in a developing nation, giving every month, to help feed, clothe, and educate someone in need. Now, a lot of people do this- but it struck me, right then, for several reasons. Whitey has been doing this for a long time- but I only learned about it offhandedly on the bus trip- because he doesn’t flaunt it. Like that MASH episode from long ago, when Charles Winchester had to keep his charity a secret, and Klinger found out about it, Whitey doesn’t make a big deal or talk about it. He just does good works.
More important- well, we pride ourselves at ALPINE on paying a living wage. But I know what Whitey makes, and it’s not a lot of EXTRA than just living. I am certain he could spend it all on new gear and equipment, and still not have enough stuff. But he chooses, even at his own expense, to give to others. Like on The West Wing, when President Bartlett said his aide’s charity was even more special – because he couldn’t really afford to give, but still gave anyway.
So Alex White, in a quiet way, gives of himself, when he really can’t afford to – because he is a superhero. And once we realize that, we begin to see all the superheroes around us.
As I began writing this article, I sent an email to the ALPINE staff, asking where they volunteer. What follows is what I heard back. If you read nothing else in the newsletter, read this. I think it defines us better than any other words could ever hope to…
Corey Thompson & Ian Shopland are volunteer ride organizers for the Seattle International Randonneurs (http://seattlerando.org)
Joanne Kennedy is a board member and committee chair for the International Human Learning Resources Network….whose mission is to foster human growth and development.
Steve Hyer Sr. is on the board of the Washington Youth Academy.
Russ Gilsdorf serves on the board of the South Sound Estuary Association.
Val Hyer’s group, Sassy Chicks, does great community service year round.
Alex Whitey White replied to let me know he is mentoring a student in his eighth grade project of building his own climbing wall. A former camper from rock climbing camp. Way to go, Whitey.
Helen Miller is quite involved – Secretary/Treasurer for LakeRun (that puts on the Lakefair Runs), and is on the board of directors for the Masterworks Choral Ensemble.
Heather Antanaitis serves on the Harlequin Production Board of Directors, chairing the special events & fundraising committee and also serving as board secretary.
I serve on 4 key volunteer boards right now – Sustainable South Sound, the PARC Foundation, The Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition and as President of the Board at Harlequin Productions. The first and last of these organizations are ACTIVELY seeking boardmembers. I have also been asked to serve on more than a dozen boards this year, and had to say no, because of too many commitments.
So if you volunteer in this community- you are a superhero, and we applaud you. If you don’t, but want to, there’s lots of opportunities to serve. Be it on a board, or just pulling ivy for Volunteers in Parks. Without volunteers, the world would quite literally fall apart.
And if you want to be really different- find some good to do and form your own non- profit! That’s what my Mom did, forming a local chapter of Womenade, helping local women in need. You will see them down at ALPINE during the holidays, doing gift-wrapping as a fundraiser. Be sure to let them wrap some of your gifts- it’s a great cause.