Vashon is powered by people

This week’s edition of The Beachcomber is, in many ways, a testament to the power of individual people.

This week’s edition of The Beachcomber, is, in many ways, a testament to the power of individual people can make a difference.

Our page 1 story, “Point-in-time count details island homelessness,” details how islander Hilary Emmer — known for her tireless work to keep low-income islanders fed and housed — and a team of volunteers worked together to pull off this year’s count of the island’s homeless population.

“I felt it was important to reach out to all the homeless people I know,” she said.

Emmer deeply cares about the plight of the marginalized people on our island, and her daily life is framed by that commitment. Those who know her well know she can be fierce and oppositional when anyone stands in her way.

We need more Hilarys on this island.

Two page 3 stories, “Vashon HouseHold honors Chamber director with Jean Bosch award” and “Vashon Schools Foundation donates $152,000 to the school district,” further illustrate the ability of hard-working individuals to make a difference in our community.

Chamber director Amy Drayer “is a star,” said Vashon HouseHold director Jason Johnson, praising Drayer for her dedication to linking the island’s business interests to those of nonprofits working on Vashon.

We need more Amys on this island.

The work of Vashon Senior Center is also highlighted in this issue (see page 5), with an article that marks the first anniversary of Maria Glanz’s tenure as the organization’s executive director.

Maria — a creative and skilled but also deeply collaborative person — probably wouldn’t like it if we said, “We need more Marias on this island” — she’d point out that it takes a village of dedicated individuals, working in tandem, to serve Vashon’s increasing elderly population.

So, we’ll put it this way: Maria, together with the Senior Center’s small but dedicated staff and small army of volunteers, also deserves our thanks and praise.

So do the members of the Vashon Schools Foundation board (see page 5), who have gone above and beyond in keeping beloved enrichment programs in place in our school district. Programs like Sisterhood, Journeymen, Sources of Strength, and Vashon Artists in Schools are critically important, and partnerships with the DOVE Project and Vashon Youth & Family Services define our district’s promise that all of its students will be “welcome, known and treasured.”

To all those supporting the important work of the Schools Foundation, thank you.

Finally, in this issue, we also remember Glenn Cooper, a 32-year resident islander who died on Jan. 29.

An obituary on page 11 recounts Glenn’s exuberant and welcoming presence in our community — the way he took on the role of Vashon’s unofficial greeter, reflecting his joy in finding a home on Vashon. A page 1 story about Glenn tells a bit more about how he came to live on the island — through a leap of faith made by islanders Bruce and Gina Anderson, who believed that he would flourish here.

Glenn was helped by many on Vashon, Bruce and Gina said — notably including Gary Koch, who became his local doctor, and expert island caregivers who attended to his needs.

But countless other islanders, they said, simply made Glenn feel at home, safe, and loved on Vashon.

“Not everybody did huge things, but everybody did something small, and that adds up to a life,” Bruce said.

The takeaway from The Beachcomber this week? We all depend on each other. Every islander deserves to be seen, heard and loved, but it takes a community to make that happen.