February 18, 2002
Two Hollywood Hill neighbors receive Unsung Heroes Award
By Bronwyn Wilson
Senior Staff Reporter
As rain pummeled streets, rooftops and lawns last December, Dick Baer noticed a problem developing at the home of his new neighbors, the Smiths.
While driving by, he observed a clogged ditch in front of their house. Water overflowed and sloshed into the driveway. Baer stopped, thinking he should check on the situation.
Patty Smith was home and said she hadn't been aware of the flooding and that her husband was out of town. Baer drove home, but was soon back at the Smith's attired in hip waders. In the midst of torrential rain, he worked to unclog the ditch.
Now, twol months later, Patty Smith recalls that day and says, "What an act of kindness that he would come and clean that out for us so we wouldn't have a secondary problem."
Although she has only lived in the 35-home Hollywood Hill subdivision since September, Patty Smith already realizes that Dick Baer is a special person. She says that he voluntarily takes care of the neighborhood.
"In a true caring way," she explains and adds, "and he does it with a smile on his face and a happy heart."
Carol Stolz lives in the same neighborhood. She has witnessed Bear's kind efforts since 1987 when she first moved there.
When the Woodinville Rotary asked for nominations of unsung heroes who generously give their time, talent and energy to the community, Stolz thought of Baer. She submitted his name to the Rotary along with the name of another dedicated neighbor, Carol Smith. Of her nominations, Stolz says, "We always recognize people at their funeral, but we don't take time to do it when they're alive and they can hear it."
Stolz says that neighbor Carol Smith donates her time to District 8 Little League, the Woodinville High School Drama Club, the Woodinville Repertory Theater, Hollywood Hill Elementary and Leota Junior High.
Baer, she says, dedicates his off-time to helping others, arranging for a machine to blow out the neighborhood sprinkler systems in the fall, clearing blackberry bushes from an empty lot, helping pound nails when a neighbor undertakes a remodel project and fixing broken lawnmowers, cars and bikes.
Baer also looks for ways to help beyond the neighborhood. When the metal cows on the Woodinville-Redmond Road were defaced with graffiti, it was Baer who took the initiative to clean up the statuary.
When nominating Baer, Carol Stolz wrote: "Dick just quietly does things that need to be done in our community." On a personal note, she stated: "Dick has come to our children's soccer and baseball games just to watch them play and support them."
Nominee Smith also supports children in sports and Bev Newsome of District 8 Little League can attest. "We can't say enough about her, she's so energetic," Newsome says.
Smith coordinates the District All Star tournament and has taken on the job of team scheduling. Newsome recounts the time the Woodinville West Little League Team traveled to San Bernardino for the Western Region Tournament in 1998.
Smith accompanied the group to California, serving in a leadership role for the kids and their parents.
Says Newsome, "She was there the whole time rooting them on, even though she didn't have any children on the team."
Hjalmer Anderson, president of the Woodinville Repertory as well as drama teacher at Woodinville High, sums up Smith's 'rooting' volunteer spirit, "It's a spirit of unselfish devotion, giving up her time to help others excel."
Anderson says Smith has been an asset in keeping the books for the Woodinville Rep. "She keeps copious notes and she's very efficient."
This month, the Rotary acknowledged Smith as well as Baer with the Unsung Heroes Award.
"Carol and Dick truly follow the Rotary motto of 'service above self,'" said club Community Service Director John B. Hughes in introducing the club's first two recipients at the weekly breakfast meeting.
"They are bona fide, unsung heroes willing to unselfishly give of themselves to make a difference in Woodinville."
The Woodinville Rotary plans to contribute $500 to Boy Scout Troop 909 of Woodinville in recognition of Baer and $500 to the Woodinville Repertory Theatre in Smith's name.
The "random acts of generosity" project is part of the club's annual community service work.
Two more recipients will be named before the Rotary year ends in June. Also, the club will name a Citizen of the Year in June with a $1,000 contribution to be made in that person's name.
The Club now seeks new nominations of other deserving unsung heroes. Club President Larry Duffield urges community members to submit names and information by mail to P.O. Box 2016, Woodinville 98072, or fax (425) 806-9153 or via the Web at www.rotary5030.org/woodinville/.