Halloween’s ancient history and nuanced passage

By Shane Richard Bell

Staff writer/Coeur d’Alene Press

Of all the holidays, Halloween is the most contentious.

Angels and demons, Paganism and Christianity, sacrifices and traditions. Superstition, paranormal activity, the unknown.

Merry college parties with too little clothing and too much beer; quaint corn mazes and haunted houses by the Lions Club; black cats, bobbing for apples swirling in saliva, trick-or-treating, and babies in pumpkin costumes.

Why do superstition, religion and culture all collide on this holiday?

Halloween opinions follow an onslaught of influences- some revel in it, some abhor it, and some hardly acknowledge it.

The passage of Halloween stretches from the birth of Jesus Christ to the modern Americas. “Halloween developed from an ancient pagan festival celebrated by Celtic people over 2,000 years ago in the area that is now the United Kingdom, Ireland, and northwestern France. The festival was called Samhain (pronounced SOW ehn).” (“Halloween,” 2012 World Book Online InfoFinder)

The festival marked the end of the harvest season, ushering in the new year and the long, dark winter ahead. This threshold was centered around human death. “Celts believed that on the night before the new year, the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred. On the night of October 31 they celebrated Samhain, when it was believed the ghosts of the dead returned to earth.” (“Halloween,” www.history.com)

The spirits and the Celts had a sort of love-hate relationship. On one hand, they caused them trouble and damaged their crops; on the other, they were mediums to the Druids, the Celtic priests, delivering life-saving prophecies in a very unpredictable natural world. The spirits’ words of comfort and direction assured them during the grueling months of winter.

“To commemorate the event, Druids built huge sacred bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities. The Celts wore costumes, typically consisting of animal heads and skins, and attempted to tell each other’s fortunes.”(“Halloween,” www.history.com)

Geopolitics were a huge factor in merging the Celtics’ festival of Halloween with Christianity.  “By 43 A.D., the Roman Empire had conquered the majority of Celtic territory.” (“Halloween,” www.history.com) The Romans combined Samhain with two of their own festivals, Feralia, a fall festival commemorating the deceased, and Pomona, a festival venerating the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. Pomona’s symbol was an apple, and very well may be the origin of the Halloween bobbing for apples tradition.

In the late eighth century, the Roman Catholic Church adopted the festivals and made it a holiday. “Pope Gregory II designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints and martyrs; the holiday, All Saints’ Day, incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain.” (“Halloween,” www.history.com) “It is widely believed that the church was attempting to replace the Celtic festival of the dead with a related, but church-sanctioned holiday.”

The passage of Halloween crawled through the Americas with the mindset of European, Protestant settlers. However, once again, different people groups began meshing their traditions and festivals together, and the American Indians and various European ethnic groups, established the American version of Halloween.

By the middle of the nineteenth century, emigrants were flocking to America. “These new immigrants, especially the millions of Irish fleeing Ireland’s potato famine of 1846, helped to popularize the celebration of Halloween nationally.” (“Halloween,” www.history.com) Like Halloween today, they organized “play parties,” wore costumes, and went door to door asking for food and money (the precursor to trick-or-treating).

The magic of Halloween lies in how its traditions have evolved each year. Halloween is the culmination of two thousand years worth of stories, rooted in the landscape of culture, climate, religion and geography. It’s a story that began thousands of miles away, traveled across the Atlantic and landed in the Americas; it’s a part of our story, our ancestors, and our past.

Pinterest popular among locals, ideal for holiday ideas

By Shane Richard Bell

Staff writer/Coeur d’Alene Press

Pinterest is a window into the world of a person’s creative mind, an online collage of self-expression, found in discovering and sharing ideas, images, and hobbies.

One of the fastest growing websites to date and nominated the 24th most popular website in the U.S., Pinterest has skyrocketed since its launch in March 2010. Pinterest is an online virtual pinboard where you can organize and share ideas and pictures on the web with friends, family, and strangers.

What may seem confusing to those unfamiliar with Pinterest is really simple and beautiful. “We’re helping people discover things that they didn’t know they wanted,” says Pinterest CEO Ben Silbermann.

In America, between 200,000 and 250,000 people download the iPhone app for Pinterest every day, according to Brandignity, an online marketing firm. In March 2012, Pinterest traced 2.3 billion page views. That’s enough page views to equal a quarter of the world’s population.

Permeating America and packing its ideas for an international flight, Pinterest is expanding to other countries, markets, and circles of ingenuity.


But the essence of Pinterest is that anybody, anywhere, can be a Pinterest artist. Meet three Coeur d’Alene locals who are discovering the potential of Pinterest.

Robyn Novotny, 21, has used Pinterest for about eight months. She has 20 followers, and follows 98 subscribers. She got hooked when she needed ideas for planning a baby shower for a friend. “It’s opened my mind to new ways of thinking,” said Robyn Novotny. “I understand how I can add my own character to my home without spending a large amount of money. There are so many things you can do all on your own if only given the idea and resources to do so.”


Pinterest is a safe and fun environment, says Novotny. “It is not a place for gossip or dating. It’s simply a network to share common interests. The time I spend on there getting these ideas has become a sort of stress relief for me; it helps me get my mind off of other things and just relax,” she said.

In the future, Novotny looks forward to how Pinterest can help her generate ideas for a family and a home of her own. “I love its positive outlook on life and families,” Novotny said.

Alex Litz, 27, is a bit of an anomaly in the Pinterest world. “Not that many guys get on it, but my sisters really encouraged me to try it,” Litz said. “So I did, and I love it.” According to Pinterest, 80 percent of its users are female, and 20 percent male.

Litz has a reason to love it. As the Coeur d’Alene Resort Social Media Director and Sales Manager, Litz is a strong believer in the social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest) as a way to market the Coeur d’Alene Resort and its hospitality services.

“Our first big thing was getting our presence out there and really sharing our images of the Coeur d’Alene Resort with the world,” said Litz. “We were one of the first hotels in the region to really jump on it. And we’ve learned it’s a great medium to get Coeur d’Alene out to a potentially huge audience.”

Through Pinterest’s “Pin Boards,” sets of content with a particular theme, Litz advertises The Coeur d’Alene Resort through images of dining, drinking, golfing, weddings, spa fitness and beauty services, as well as Lake Coeur d’Alene and the surrounding area. “Pinterest is extremely based on visuals,” he says, “which is great because we like to think of ourselves as a bucket-list destination.”

Litz enjoys Pinterest off the clock, too. “I have a lot of fun with it. The humor part of it is great. You can find great recipes. I made a great queso dip and a dessert with Hershey kisses stuffed inside raspberries.”

Kristi Granier, 27, another local, also uses Pinterest for work and play. “I’ve got recipes, I’ve got clothing, accessories, and decorating ideas,” said Kristi Granier. “I have a quotes section and a board for work materials.”

Pinterest compartmentalizes Granier’s worlds of interest. “It’s a place where I can put everything that I am interested in all in one place, whether that’s a picture I like, a recipe, or a project, it’s all in one place where I can find it again,” Granier said.

“It’s accessible and easy to use. I can visually see something that catches my eye without using a bunch of websites and then store it all in one place,” she said. “Like people who cut things out of magazines because they like it, that’s what I do with Pinterest.”

Granier admits how big of a Pinterest fan she is. “I check it everyday. Although I spend a lot of time on there, I am getting something out of it that helps me with my life.” Perhaps the truth worth of Pinterest is not its trendy looks and features, but its ability to inspire its followers to find his or her place in a technological world.

Standing up and standing out for Red Ribbon Week

Red Ribbon Week is about taking a stand against the insidious devastation of drug and alcohol abuse in our community.

It’s also about standing out in that pledge, united in an indefinite commitment toward a drug-free, healthy community.

More than 2,000 teenagers within North Idaho’s five counties are addicted to either alcohol or drugs, according to the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse.

Addiction affects everyone, the individuals and their families.

This year’s campaign message, The Best Me is Drug Free, is a catalyst for change. This section of the Coeur d’Alene Press is dedicated to how programs like the Good Samaritan, Daybreak Youth Services, the Anchor House and the Idaho Youth Ranch, are working toward these life-saving solutions.

Let us not only make a commitment to remaining drug free as individuals, but let’s pledge to extending a helping hand to people in our lives who are deep in their addiction and want to be helped. Sometimes just pointing a person in the right direction can set them on the path towards healing and recovery.

–Shane Richard Bell 

How the support of neonatal services and the love of a mother saved two premature babies

Michelle Gillhoover holds her newborn son, Jaxson Gillhoover, on Oct. 11, 2012, who was born prematurely on Sept. 17, 2012, at the new Neonatal and Neo Intensive Care unit at Kootenai Health’s Birthing Center.

By Shane Richard Bell
Staff writer/Coeur d’Alene Press

Michelle Gillhoover knew something was seriously wrong.

Within a matter of minutes, she was rushing to the hospital. She was having contractions and bleeding, her body preparing for birth. The problem was she was giving birth nine weeks early, and the closest birthing center with neonatal intensive care was 40 miles away.

Scared of flying in a helicopter to Spokane, Wash., Michelle opted for an ambulance ride to Deaconess Medical Center from Coeur d’Alene. “I was so afraid; I was having a complete panic attack,” said Michelle Gillhoover.

At Deaconess Medical Center, after experiencing placenta previa and an emergency Cesarean section, Michelle gave birth to her first baby boy, Cash Gillhoover, on Feb. 13, 2010. He weighed three pounds and seven ounces.

For the next 53 days, Michelle lived at the Spokane Ronald McDonald house so she could be beside her premature son during every step of his recovery. Although appreciative of the medical care, the family was divided between Spokane and Coeur d’Alene. “It was really hard on our family,” Gillhoover said. “It takes a toll on your relationships.”

Finally, Michelle took Cash home. Life moved on, Cash became stronger. Near the end of 2011, Michelle became pregnant again with her third child. “My pregnancy was really good. They never saw any problems during my ultra sound,” she said.

On Sept. 17, 2012, it seemed as if her pregnancy with Cash was happening all over again. She was going into premature labor again with her third child, Jaxson Gillhoover.

Unlike her first premature birth, she had somewhere to go within five miles of her home, the new Neonatal and Neo Intensive Care Unit at Kootenai Health’s Birthing Center.

Jaxson Gillhoover was born six to seven weeks prematurely at 5.7 pounds. Like many premature babies, he’s currently being treated for central apnea, a condition caused by an infant’s immature brain failing to signal the body to take regular breaths, resulting in periodic breathing and bradycardia (a slower heart rate). His heart rate, respiratory rate, and oxygen saturation are under constant supervision.

“The true beauty of this program is that babies get to stay with their families in their community,” said Lori Schneider, director of Women’s and Children’s Services at Kootenai Health. “This program improves the medical care for all babies in North Idaho.”

Gillhoover is so grateful for the additions to the Birthing Center. “I’m so fortunate to have been able to stay in my own community with Jaxson’s birth,” she said. “Jaxson has progressed a lot faster here than my other son did. He has three neonatologists looking after him all the time. They push him to progress. They meet together every Monday morning and talk about what’s happened and what they need to do.”

Jaxson is recovering so well and so fast, his neonatologists say he is almost ready to go home.

Michelle appreciates the support. “When I leave the hospital, I’m totally comfortable having the staff look after him. They treat Jaxson like their own. Some of the nurses will even come by on their days off just to see how the babies are doing. That’s been the best experience here. I haven’t had one issue in an entire month.”

Michelle has experienced just how crucial neonatal services are to the health of a premature baby and their family. “Without this team and without this center at Kootenai Health, Jaxson wouldn’t be here today.”

Upcoming Expo attracts women, shopping, food, fun

By Shane Richard Bell

Staff writer/Coeur d’Alene Press

Aiming at enhancing your life for the holiday season with the art of choices, the 2012 Celebrations Expo presented by Great Floors at the Coeur d’Alene Resort, is ready for its inaugural event on Thursday, Oct. 25, from 4:30pm to 8 pm.

This event will be bookended with high-energy cooking demonstrations, fashion shows, massages, presentations, music, hors d’oeuvres, and wine from the Coeur d’Alene Cellars.

Improving upon former years, the expo will be a confluence of the last year’s shows, merging the varying interests of men and women with North Idaho businesses’ products and services.

Inland Northwest vendors will display products and services covering fashion, home décor, cooking, health and beauty, as well as a special section on adventure and vacations.

“We’re taking the best of all of our shows and putting it into one fantastic show,” said Celebrations Expo Event Coordinator Andreas John. “This is a great opportunity for people to explore all the different avenues to find what cutting edge products and services work for them.”

The event is designed to offer every person something valuble. “We want it to be intimate and fun. It’s not just an Expo to show off vendors, it’s an event where every person can come and participate, have fun, and enjoy this atmosphere,” John said.

“I can’t think of a better way for someone to explore everything that’s out there,” John said. “It’s going to be a busy, vibrant, and fun event with a great turnout.”

Coeur d’Alene Press Sales Manager Jennifer Alexander is thrilled for the 2012 Celebrations Expo. “As a woman, a professional, a wife and a mother, it’s the perfect evening to explore all of the region’s best holiday attire, shopping and entertaining,” says Alexander. “It’s your one-stop shop. Instead of shopping all over Idaho and Washington, you can come to the Expo.”

Alexander also notes how helpful the Expo will be to consumers. “Think about it. As a consumer, I may love scarves but not know the different ways to wear one. Our fashion show will show you that. So I am planning my first holiday party, our vendors can help you with that. It’s all encompassing,” Alexander said.

A portion of the proceeds from the ticket sales will be donated to further develop the Kootenai Health Birthing Center, which provides neonatal and neonatal intensive care services.

“We have VIP tickets for sale, which include a free glass of wine complimentary of the Coeur d’Alene Cellars, hors d’oeuvres, special prize giveaways, and early admittance to the show at 4pm,” John said. Furthermore, there will be prize giveaways throughout the evening, with the announcement of the grand prize at 7:45pm.

VIP tickets are $25 and general admission tickets are $10. Buy tickets in advance by visiting the Expo’s sponsors: Super 1 Foods, Great Floors, Coeur d’Alene Cellars, Studio 3B Hair Design, and the Coeur d’Alene Press, or call Event Coordinator Andreas John at (208) 664-0219.

Boys & Girls Club plans auction to expand services

Photo courtesy of BOYS & GIRLS CLUB. Construction workers from Polin & Young Construction build the new clubhouse for the Boys & Girls Club of Kootenai County at 200 Mullan Ave., in Post Falls, Idaho. The new site is located within walking distance of a handful of schools and school bus transportation.


Staff writer/Coeur d’Alene Press

The Boys & Girls Club of Kootenai County is saving lives. According to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, 57 percent of alumni said the club saved their life, and 91 percent of alumni said they are satisfied with their adult life. 90 percent of alumni graduate high school.

These statistics are reflected in the lives of North Idaho’s youth. Since 2007, this youth development organization has been providing a safe and positive environment to our youth. Oftentimes it is the only place some youth can go after school. They learn how to develop self-esteem and skills to succeed; they can have fun and be kids.

This club preserves a youth’s childhood while giving them a future.

Bill Clinton, Michael Jordan, and Denzel Washington are all Boys & Girls Club alumni. This school year alone, upwards of 5 million American youth will be a part of a Boys & Girls Club.

Around 500 youth are currently participating in Boys & Girls club after-school programs in Coeur d’Alene and Post Falls. Around 200 youth are on a waiting list for these sites.

This organization is making progress because it fulfills a huge need in our community. With the generosity and support of many, the club will open a brand new building, The Boys & Girls Club of Kootenai County Jordan Johnson Center, in Post Falls. With 10,000 sq ft of space, the facility will be able to accommodate more youth with more services.

To raise funding for the new site’s operational budget, the Boys & Girls Club of Kootenai County will host an auction, “The 6th Annual Boys & Girls Club Gala Event,” at the Coeur d’Alene Resort on Friday, Oct. 19 at 5:30pm. Buy tickets online at www.bgc-northidaho.org or call the club at 208-457-9089.

Photo courtesy of BOYS & GIRLS CLUB. Jared Conrad, center, poses with club members from Baskethoops, a summer program focused on teaching children the skills and rules of basketball. The members also learned about fundraising by collecting the funds to pay for their own jerseys. Left to right: Dylan Clark, Andrew Shaver, Parker Shaver, Caleb Culver, Brennen Froelich, Cody Chamberlain, Jared Conrad, Charlie LaBrosse, Kobi Love, Dylan Brown, Lindsey Angelo.


How logging saved Cd’A from extinction

By Shane Richard Bell

Staff writer/Coeur d’Alene Press

Coeur d’Alene was near extinction at the turn of the century. The mining industry was touch and go, jobs were far and few between, and the town’s population was waning. Coeur d’Alene’s population was less than 1,000. Luckily everything changed. While prospectors were discovering gold and silver in the West, we began logging our forests.

Between 1900 and 1910, 90 percent of the buildings downtown Coeur d’Alene were funded by revenue from the commercial logging boom. In the late 1880s and 1890s private loggers began building homes and small buildings. The logging of North Idaho forests exploded with the advent of an official U.S. Geological Survey lead by John Leiberg. “It was phenomenal,” said regional historian Robert Singletary.  “They hired thousands of people; and that’s what built the modern town of Coeur d’Alene.”

Logging built Coeur d’Alene, Sandpoint, St. Maries, and Priest River.  By 1910, there were four major sawmills in the Coeur d’Alene area. “Logging goes back to the first sawmill and Fort Sherman,” Singletary said. “They didn’t just build houses and buildings, they built roads, banks, railroads and steamboats with the money. They were extremely diversified and they stimulated the economy. It was these people who built homes on Sherman Avenue.”

This industry launched Coeur d’Alene into the world and established an industry that we rely on to this day. Covering 40 percent of Idaho’s lands, forests are one of Idaho’s most valuable resources, and logging is one of Idaho’s most valuable industries.  Since the early 1900s, more than a century ago, the timber industry has been providing jobs, resources, and taxes to the people of Idaho.

Managing Idaho’s forests sustainably and resourcefully is one of our greatest challenges, and directly determines our future. How we treat our lands will effect the coming generations. That’s why the 2012 A Salute To The Timber Industry publication features articles that educate readers on succession planning (the legal and financial footwork that can secure family-owned forests), continuing education-classes on succession planning, as well as tree species identification, ecology, and silviculture.

Cd’A Cellars: A family in every way

The Coeur d’Alene Cellars family


Staff writer/Coeur d’Alene Press

Sitting in the passenger seat of a truck headed to the Columbia Valley’s vineyards, she busily types away on her laptop. Despite a bumpy ride, she responds to e-mail, takes a phone call, and simultaneously writes an article while processing company payroll.

The next day, she’s driving a forklift at the Coeur d’Alene Cellars, transporting the grapes they picked up from the Columbia Valley.  Each cluster of grapes will be hand sorted. The grapes glimmer with the morning sun. They’re perfectly ripe, delicately sweet on the edge of your tongue. They’re ready to be pressed, fermented and bottled into Viognier wine.

Workers walk by, tasting, chatting, laughing, gesturing, and preparing. It’s a typical harvest morning, and the beginning of the Coeur d’Alene Cellars’ tenth harvest. While Co-owner and Manager Kimber Gates Travis is juggling the responsibilities of running a business, it is family that keeps this winery going between harvests.

The Coeur d’Alene Cellars is a family business in every way.

The Gates family established the winery in 2002 in Dalton Gardens. Today it is operated and managed by the Gates family at their new location, 3890 N. Schreiber Way, in Coeur d’Alene.

Kimber is administrator and co-owner. Her parents, Charlie and Sarah Gates, are the other co-owners. Sarah Gates also makes gourmet meals every Thursday for a friends and family lunch and provides the beautiful watercolor artwork for the wine labels. Kimber’s daughter, Scarlet, 8, hand sorts grapes. Friends and family pitch in to help during harvests. It really is one big family.

“The Coeur d’Alene Cellars is not just the family blood,” said Kimber Gates Travis. “Even those who show up to make wine really become family. It’s very family focused and that’s the most rewarding part of the business.”

The feeling is mutual. “I love this place,” said Coeur d’Alene Cellars employee Ben Anderson. “This place is amazing. These guys have taught me everything. It’s like a family.”

Robin Chisholm has been a part of the winery’s family for eight years. “Robin is as close as family gets,” said Kimber Gates Travis.

“They’re eternal optimists,” said Robin Chisholm referring to the Gates family. “Kimber has great relationships with her growers. She’s consistent, reliable, and has a business plan,” Chisholm said. “And she sticks to it. Kimber’s work ethic and her relationships are the key to the success of this winery.”

The winery is currently producing 3,000 cases of wine per year and has a membership of around 500 members. Three of the Coeur d’Alene Cellar’s wines made it into the top 100 Northwest wines list, according to Kimber Gates.

But with the gifts and contributions of every member of the winery’s family, Kimber wants to continue growing Coeur d’Alene Cellars.

“I want to build,” Gates said. “I want to continue to be one of the best wineries in the region.”

From New York City to Cd’A: An outsider’s take on life in North Idaho

Jacob Myong

Name: Jacob Myong

Age: 37

Nationality: Korean American

Profession: Marketing and Advertising Executive

Education: Graduated from CUNY with a B.S. in Computer Science

When and why did you move to Coeur d’Alene?

“I moved to Coeur d’Alene in January 2012 for a change of pace, and because my aunt and uncle live here.”

What is your favorite place in Coeur d’Alene?

“My Aunt’s home in Hayden, which is where I live. It’s relaxing and quiet. I live in a neighborhood with a lot of kids. It’s a great family oriented environment.”

What’s your favorite resource in Coeur d’Alene?

“Real Life Ministries. It’s really a great church. I like their philosophy and vision. It’s where I’ve really come to grow my relationship with Christ.”

What are your hobbies?

“Film, quality TV, and most of all, music.”

What does faith mean to you?

“I’ve been an atheist most of my life until I got here. This is where I first found faith and spirituality. I became much less of a skeptic and critic of all things. I love to read and in my 20’s was drawn to existentialists like Nietzsche, Sartre, Camus, and other writers. I truly believed you just died and turned to dust. At some point while attending Real Life Ministries, I finally knew what it meant to feel the spirit of God. I think so far it’s changed me for the better, but I have a long way to go. I am the most imperfect person I know. Your walk with Christ is a life long journey and it never stops.”

What are some differences between Coeur d’Alene and New York City that you notice?

“If you were to take a random sample of my friends and acquaintances from the New York City area, most of them are single and have never been married. Now if you were to do the same in the Coeur d’Alene area, most of them are married or divorced and have kids. It seems like most people get married earlier here. Most have children early. I like the importance of family. I know that starting your own family does not always mean happiness, but there is something very sacred about marriage and having children which I’m drawn to. I wish sometimes that I got married and had children as well.”

What does faith look like here?

“I’ve never been to a place where there are so many churches. In all of the places I’ve been to in the U.S., which is quite a lot, I’ve never seen more Christian churches.”

Where did you grow up?

“I grew up in suburban New Jersey where everyone was pretty wealthy. Most of my friends came from wealth, except for me. I was the poor kid in the group, haha.”

How did you your family afford to live there?

“We rented in one of the cheaper neighborhoods. My sister and I were raised by a single mother, whom I love dearly and am very grateful towards.”

Have you ever been married?

“Nope. Never. I have met one person my entire life that I wanted to marry. It’s a really long story. I am still completely in love with her.”

What are your long-term goals?

“If you would have asked me 10 years ago, I would have known exactly what my goals were. But now I am not exactly sure. I guess my long-term goal is to find a peaceful and simple life, to have love and companionship, and to serve God.”

Do you think you’ll always live here in Coeur d’Alene?

“I am not sure yet. I hope to stay as long as possible. I really like it here, except for the long winters.”

Have you traveled?

“Yes, but I’d like to travel more. I’ve been to Europe… London is my favorite city, Paris is beautiful, Venice is surreal, Dublin is small in its charm. Asia… I’ve been back to Seoul, Korea several times. In the U.S. I’ve jumped around here and there. I like upstate New York. San Antonio, Texas is a great city. Northern California is wonderful. I spent significant time in the Bay Area. Los Angeles and Southern California is a bit like New York’s been squashed flat and spread all over.”

When you lived in New York, did you get to meet some interesting people?

“If you spend so much time in Manhattan it’s inevitable. I’ve bumped into a handful of B List and some A List celebs, but one precious moment was when I got to have drinks with the Icelandic band Sigur Rós in Atlantic City after their show. It was at the Borgata Hotel and I was completely star struck because they are one of my favorite bands.”

What was a great job you had?

“I worked for a very popular men’s magazine for about 10 years, mostly during their heyday. It was a great time and I was doing really great work… challenging and fulfilling.”

Who’s an inspiration to you?

“Vladimir Nabokov. He wrote “Lolita,” which is the greatest piece of literary nonfiction written in the last 100 years. Just my opinion. A few other inspirations… Tchaikovsky, Thom Yorke, Ridley Scott, Salman Rushdie, Ravi Zacharias, and of course Jesus Christ.”

What’s a fun fact about you?

“I never misspell words. I have not misspelled a word since the 2nd grade, not even in an e-mail or a text. Not on purpose at least. Never.”

The value and substance of a North Idaho family

A counselor, a social worker and a pastor share their thoughts on the North Idaho family


Staff writer/Coeur d’Alene Press

Values are the very substance with which we build our lives.

They influence the biggest decisions we will ever make in life. Framing our existence, values determine where, how and why we live. They are the foundation of our political views, religion, careers and purpose in the world, and are reflected in our relationships with friends, spouses, and children.

And values shape families.

“First of all, we need to ask families what their values are in North Idaho,” says Betty Magnus, a soroptimist at the North Idaho Violence Prevention Center in Coeur d’Alene.

“What is a good man? And what is a good society?” asks Magnus. “Those are the first questions I ask a woman (in counseling) to think about and write down in her journal.”

Knowing what you consider to be a good society is the first step, according to Magnus. “I am a teacher and I think education is the single most important element of society. Secondly, people need security- police officers and firefighters. Thirdly, jobs. How can a father provide for his family if he doesn’t live in a community with a variety of jobs?”

April Near sees how a lack of jobs impact society. People of every age come into the Kroc Center for services and scholarships, says Near, pastor and Salvation Army Kroc Center social worker. “Poverty is not exclusive to age.” 26 percent of the Kroc’s approximate 15,000 members receive a scholarship, cited Near.

Sharing the powerful message of hope in Christ and providing assistance with tangible services, Near helps struggling people almost every day. “They’re seeking answers; they’re desperate; sometimes they simply want prayer. Many people I work with are looking for God; they’re looking for the one who has answers.”

The act of looking for these values runs deep. “Families are searching for community, belonging, and faith,” Near said. “I meet many people who are searching for hope at the Kroc Center. Our desire is to share the hope in Christ as opportunities allow and connect people to a variety of resources, programs, and life-giving activities at the Kroc Center and the community at large.”

Faith is a cornerstone to the foundation of the North Idaho family.

In Near’s opinion, faith and family are of the same mechanism, divinely grafted together by the Lord’s ingenuity and love. “In God’s creation, He created the family. God started family as the foundation of society. The God of the Bible has the answers to help the family function well and to His glory. Churches are designed to preach the story of redemption and walk alongside families, doing life together.”

This concept of ‘doing life together’ is one of the first things Craig Sumey noticed about Coeur d’Alene when he moved here from Florida to be the new senior pastor at the First Presbyterian Church of Coeur d’Alene in December 2011.

But other aspects of the areas’ families drew his attention as well, including exercise, the outdoors, and adventure. “We like Coeur d’Alene because it’s provided us with the opportunity to get into the natural world: hiking, biking, camping, swimming,” said Sumey.

“Coeur d’Alene has a very active population,” Near said. “This area prides itself on being adventurous.”

Taking care of one another by providing community resources is another value of immense importance to the North Idaho community and family. “We love the resources for families- the Kroc Center, the Coeur d’Alene Library, and educational opportunities,” Sumey said.

“For North Idaho, I am really surprised at how many resources we do have for families, and yet the services are really good. That’s been a pleasant surprise,” Sumey said.

All of these values culminate in one place: the family. “Families are the place where you can learn best the things that are so important in life- grace, redemption, humility and forgiveness,” Sumey said.

“My dream for Coeur d’Alene is that we continue to provide places for families to come to and enjoy, that we continue to protect our children, and that we provide resources for families who are struggling,” Sumey said.

“It is something we all need to band together and make a priority and that will continue to make Coeur d’Alene a great place for families.”