Northwest NEWS

May 31, 1999

Local News

Alex Sidie Random Acts of Kindness Award winners honored

Sidie winners

Sidie Award winners (left to right) Michael Kaufman, Courtney Wands, and Pete Anthony were honored last week for the random acts of kindness they have performed. The awards are named after the late Alex Sidie, who was known for his kindnesses.
Staff photo by Marshall Haley.

by Marshall Haley, staff reporter

   BOTHELL--A crowd of about 30 gathered in front of Towne Bank on Main Street, the former site of Sidie's drugstore, last Tuesday, May 25. They came to honor the memory of Alex Sidie and the seven Bothell residents whose exceptional acts of kindness embodied Sidie's spirit.

   Courtney Wands, Pete Anthony, and Michael Kaufman were selected winners of the second annual Alex Sidie Random Acts of Kindness Day Awards. Others nominees included Jeanette Backstrom, Jennifer Dwyer, Susan Ericksen, and David Fife. All nominees received framed certificates, while the three winners also received plaques.

   Lois Sidie's joyful face stood out in the crowd at the celebration held on her husband's birthday. Her face reflected the beautiful serenity and satisfaction that must come from sharing 52 years of love with a truly kind person. Close friends would probably cite the adage, "Behind every great man stands a great woman." Lois was joined by her daughter Debbie Vaught of Woodinville and son Regan Sidie of Bothell.

   "I was very pleased and surprised so many people showed up," said Lois Sidie. "I really expected the enthusiasm for this to peter out."

   The awards were presented by master of ceremonies and Bothell City Council member Mike Noblet.

   "Alex has been described as a kind, generous, caring pharmacist who found it not only necessary, but a pleasure to take care of his customers and those in his employ," said Noblet. "Opening up shop in the middle of the night to get a customer necessary medication was not unusual. Carrying customers' credit was also not unheard of for Alex. He cared for his employees as if they were family and loved his family dearly. And let us not forget his soft spot for animals and involvement with Hooterville pets. Encountering a cat sleeping in the window or on the counter was a common occurence."

   Against a wall inside the bank was a plaque with a cat pictured on it, another tribute to Sidie.

   "For these reasons, the city of Bothell, along with the Greater Bothell Association, honor Alex Sidie and other members of our community who perform random acts of kindness," Noblet said. "This year, we had seven persons nominated, and all of them are worthy of recognition. Our blue ribbon panel had a difficult time, but narrowed down the honorees to be singled out to three."

   Courtney Wands was the youth category winner for rescuing a two-week-old kitten from a near-death experience. While walking with a friend near the buses next to the old schoolhouse on Main St., Wands heard a faint meowing, just as a rainy thunder and lightning storm started. She took him to Amazon Pets, where the staff stabilized the kitten before giving him back to Courtney, along with two boxes of infant-kitten formula. Courtney bottle-fed the kitten for five weeks and named him Thunder.

   "I have since found out that Alex Sidie used to feed and look after the alley cats that live at the old schoolhouse site," said Courtney's dad, Scott. "Thunder is probably related to those cats!"

   Pete Anthony, owner of Little Caesar's Pizza on 228th SE, has long donated pizza to a variety of youth activities and school programs. Several years ago, Anthony originated the Junior High Gym Night program which still runs every Monday night from 5-6:30 p.m. at Frank Love Elementary School. He started out supervising the program himself, and has always served free pizza and soft drinks to participants. He has also bought other games for those who don't want to play basketball.

   "I just thought it would be nice for kids to have a place to do something after school in a safe environment, off the streets," said Anthony. "Especially for kids whose parents worked and couldn't get home until after six. It's a public building that wasn't in use during those hours. The school district was very cooperative, making it very easy for me to get the program going. The fire department members have been great, coming over and playing and talking with the kids. We always have at least five kids and average about 15 a night."

   "Pete never thinks twice about ordering more pizzas on heavy use nights," said Kevin Kullberg. "The program has had as many as 30 kids a night. When the program started to slow down last year, while he took on the task of opening his third store, Pete came to the Bothell Parks & Recreation Dept. for help. Instead of letting the program die, he went that extra mile to get help to keep it running. The program is currently staffed by at least one Recreation staff member. Pete has given the rec staff the authority to order as many pizzas and soft drinks as needed. Pete has shown that he cares about the youth of this community."

   Dr. Michael Kaufman leaves his home phone number on his office answering machine so he can treat people at all hours of the day or night. In an emergency, he even treats people at his home. Last year, Dr. Kaufman donated partitions from his clinic to a patient's church, used to divide Sunday school classes. He also travels to convalescent homes to treat patients unable to get to his clinic. When a patient burst into tears because she had no money to buy her children Christmas presents, Kaufman walked her outside and gave her enough money to buy a Christmas dinner, toys, and a tree and decorations. Although he tried to do it privately, his staff noticed. Every year, Kaufman gives an entire day of free treatments to anyone who donates a toy or food to charities such as the Bothell Multipurpose Center.

   "Dr. Kaufman is an inspiration to all he comes in contact with," said McPherson. "I have more stories that could fill this page."

   Jeannette Backstrom provides comfort to those in need on Friday nights, at the Crisis Line Clinic. She often donates her time to drive needy people to appointments, and has spent years helping establish the Bothell museum. She often drives to Roundup, Montana to help her mother, who needs fulltime care but doesn't want to leave Roundup.

   Jennifer Dwyer was moved by the devastation left by Hurricane Mitch in Nicaragua last November. She got her kids together to collect all the spare change they could find around the house. Then she thought of taking her idea, "Loose Change for Nicaragua," to her children's school, Kenmore Elementary. Ignoring her own personal health problems, she quickly organized the drive by making flyers for students to take home, then stood outside the school with buckets for the children to deposit their donations. Expecting to collect around $100, Dwyer was surprised and delighted that the collective effort raised over $1,000 for Nicaraguan relief.

   "Dealing with her own health issues, Jennifer could have easily sat on her couch just watching the news reports, as so many of us did," said Dwyer's friend Jeannette Eggerman. "But her heart told her she needed to do much more. I am so proud of my friend and her many acts of random kindness."

   For over ten years, Susan Ericksen has greeted Northshore visitors and new members with a friendly smile, warm handshake, and the words, "Welcome to the Northshore YMCA." As a YMCA nursery attendant, safety and fun are Susan's priorities for her wards. She also teaches the children good manners, sharing, and kindness. Daughter of a Bothell pioneer family, Susan keeps track and comforts senior citizens and others who are sick or in trouble.

   Last, but not least, David Fife has voluntarily served many needy people for years. Fife has mentored boys at the Skyland Boys Home in Sultan, and still delivers them a Christmas tree every year. A Sunday garage sale scavenger, he convinces people to donate unsold items to various homes for the developmentally disabled, donating his time and gas to deliver the items. Fife and his wife have befriended many of those disabled folks, and spend a lot of their free time taking them out for picnics and shopping.

   Fife helps his elderly Woodinville landlords maintain their 100-acre property, recruiting many other volunteers to help him. While laid off from his job as a heavy equipment operator this winter, Fife gave his landlord 24-hour nursing care, including meal prep, diabetes injections, and other very personal care while the man's wife was away.

   Fife was also credited with saving the man's life. While working on a resurfacing job on Aurora Ave. last summer, Fife saw a Seattle Public Schools employee assaulting developmentally disabled teens, whom the man was supervising on a trash cleanup project. Fife reported the incident to Seattle police, who said they didn't know the state codes governing care of developmentally disabled.

   Fife went right to his wife's office, got a copy of those codes, and delivered them to the police precinct. Fife also reported the incident to Seattle Schools Superintendant John Stanford. The child abuser was arrested and eventually fired.