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.”

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