MAY 12, 1997
Photo by Deborah Stone/Northwest News.
Photo courtesy of Tom Ehrlichman.
by Deborah Stone
Twenty-five years ago, the American Institute for Public Service established the Jefferson Awards to recognize the dedication, sacrifice, and accomplishments of people who serve their communities. This year, two hundred individuals were nominated in Washington State for the awards. Two of the nominees are Eastsiders who have contributed much to benefit children in their area.
Maggie Windus of Woodinville is well-known at her son's school, Wilder Elementary, as she has been instrumental in helping enrich science for the students and in motivating parents to volunteer in the various programs she has developed. In 1995, she helped acquire a grant from King County Surface Water Management for Wilder to adopt a watershed and do water quality monitoring on nearby Colin Creek. Classes are now involved in water chemistry and plant and wildlife inventory. Students do stream and wetland surveys, phosphorus and pH testing, and flow and velocity measurement.
Activities were designed so that each class could participate, using specifically devised forms for the children to enter their data and observations. Windus set up seven different sites to mark the tributaries of the creek, wetlands, and outflow areas around the school. Students break into small groups with fully-trained parent volunteers to do the prescribed activities. The goals of the project, according to Windus, are to give students a more complete idea of their environment, educate them about stream health, and how people affect the stream.
In addition to spearheading the watershed project at Wilder, Windus coordinates the Noontime Science program, where visiting local scientists come and talk to the children about their areas of expertise during the lunch hour. As head of the PTSA Science Enrichment Committee at the school, she also arranges science assemblies and organizes the annual Science Fair. Last November, she planned a revegetation project around the school's ponds and was successful in getting over eighty children and their parents to participate.
Windus claims she is no scientist, but she has always been intrigued with the subject. "I'm fascinated with nature, plants, and flowers, and how the growth cycle works," she said.
Because of her avid interest, she is also a Land-Water and Native Plant Steward, as well as a King County Master Gardener. "The outdoors is such a great classroom for kids, and the more they know about the environment, the better they'll be able to take care of it, now and in the future," Windus said.
Tom Ehrlichman of Bothell is the second nominee. He is a lawyer who specializes in land use issues; a father of two; and a man who has a strong interest in contributing to his community. For four years, he has served on the Board of the Kirkland-Redmond Boys and Girls Club as vice president and now as president. He has donated his legal services for the past three years to help acquire a site for a new Boys and Girls Club on the Sammamish Plateau.
Recently, a lease to a seven-acre site next to Inglewood Junior High School was granted to the club, and groundbreaking will occur in the coming year. The new club will be known as the Redmond-Sammamish Boys and Girls Club, and it will house a gym, teen center, daycare, and eventually a swimming pool. When completed, it will serve approximately 5,000 children.
Ehrlichman was instrumental in wading through all the legalities involved in this acquisition, including analyzing the zoning and environmental issues and requesting various amendments from the King County Council. He met weekly with the consultant team to provide feedback, advice, and help in achieving the goal of a new club.
Ehrlichman's involvement in the Boys and Girls Clubs was an outgrowth of his own experiences with the clubs, both when he was a child and as a father with his own son. "I grew up with the Bellevue Boys Club, and then later, my son and I would go on a weekly basis to the Kirkland-Redmond Boys and Girls Club to play hoops," said Ehrlichman. "The clubs are unique places where any kid can walk in and participate."
He got to know the staff members and then later joined the Kirkland-Redmond board. "It's great to be a part of a team of dedicated individuals who are helping provide healthy recreational outlets for youth," says Ehrlichman.
Both Windus and Ehrlichman portray positive role models for children as they demonstrate that community involvement does make a difference.