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Friends of Children of Walla Walla breakfast postponed

Friends of Children of Walla Walla’s annual Breakfast with Friends was originally slated for April 28 at The Marcus Whitman Hotel & Conference Center, 6 W. Rose St.

However, the event has been postponed until after the Walla Walla County Fair & Frontier Days ends on Sept. 6 because of COVID19. The breakfast is free to attendees, who are invited by table captains, board members and staff.

Businesses also buy tables for their employees or others. Any sponsorship for the breakfast is a year-long commitment that includes sponsorship for the Friends Free Kids Festival on Sept. 20 at the Walla Walla County Fairgrounds.

For information, call 509-527-4745 or stop by the office at 120 E Birch St. Suite 120 or online see wallawallafriends.org.

When it occurs, the 20th anniversary event will cover the past, present and future of the multiple Friends mentoring programs with multiple partners, said Jim Byrnes, Friends executive director.

For example, a new partnership with Whitman College students, Walla Walla Public Schools and Friends “is one of trust, respect and purpose of mission and is huge for the Valley’s children,” Jim emailed.

Breakfast speakers lined up were Friends founder Teri Barila, David Lindstrom, Walla Walla University executive director of student development and WWU Friends Mentoring Club sponsor, and David Lopez, executive director of the WWU Center for Humanitarian Engagement, plus other conversations about community partnerships and cooperation.

Teri also founded and is current CEO of Children’s Resilience Initiative. She’s been tireless in bringing awareness of the effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences and the power of resilience through education, teaching and mentoring. She was instrumental in bringing Jaime Redford to Walla Walla to film “Paper Tigers” at Lincoln High School.

David Lindstrom sponsors the mentoring group at WWU, which brings awareness of the power of mentoring children to all WWU students through FriendRaising events, community gatherings and festivals. They coordinate recruiting and training for mentors and getting the word out about mentoring kids at Davis and Rogers elementary schools. He is integral to the WWU student exchange program and his family has been host family for many foreign exchange students in the Valley.

Davis Lopez’ Center for Humanitarian Engagement promotes the idea of community involvement by students through different means, such as mentoring. He spearheaded Friends’ new web design and has helped coordinate club functions on campus. He brings groups together for a common cause, kids and community.

Jim said for more than 20 years, Friends has supplied volunteer mentors to children in the Walla Walla Valley. Matches of adult mentors with children occur either at lunch and recess, or in after school programs that are currently in the pilot phase.

Its mentor/mentee capacity is projected to be 300 by the end of this year with help from educational partners, Wade Smith, WWPS; Jim Fry, College Place Public Schools; Pastor Troy Fitzgerald, David Lindstrom and David Lopez, WWU; Eric Bridgeland, Brian Kitamura, Noah Leavitt and Pastor Troy Fitgerald, Whitman College; and Tim Toon, Craig Richards and Vince Ruzicka, Walla Walla Community College.

Marissa Ruzicka Lopez has been named Friends coordinator for all Walla Walla Public Schools and Merri Anne Huber has been named Friends coordinator for College Place Public Schools.

The service is free to the community’s children. Funding comes from United Way and Blue Mountain Community Foundation, Key Technology, Coffey Communication, Northwest Collision, Williams Team Homes, Caldwell Banker First Realtors, Windermere, Tallman’s Drugs, Impress Salon, Hayden Homes, Walla Walla Valley Honda and Marshalls, the last two that supplied mentors from staff for two schools.

Other businesses, financial institutions and organizations help, such as Banner Bank, Columbia REA, Baker Boyer, GESA, La Chiquillas, Super Milton, Wildhorse Casino, Exchange Club, YMCA and others. Funding comes primarily from many Walla Walla Valley residents who send in donations and attend the breakfast and other events every year.

“Staff, everyone of our 12-board members and I agree it is not about us, but about children with ACES whom we serve and to whom our mission is dedicated,” Jim said. “It truly takes an entire community to this kind of generational change in eliminating the long term effects of ACEs.”

WWCC Quest social canceled

The free Quest program spring social for the from 1-3 p.m. Wednesday March 18 in the Titus Creek Café on the Walla Walla Community College campus, 500 Tausick Way, has been canceled out of concern for the novel coronavirus.

The educational membership program is for active learners 50 years of age and older. Stress-free learning is provided in friendly, sociable settings free of tests, grades and credits.

Quest offers senior adult participants opportunities for continuing intellectual and cultural enrichment, activities through which to discover or enhance creative talent and energies and a congenial, supportive social environment for avocational and academic learning.

A wide range of topics are covered, from academics, arts and natural sciences to field trips to points of interest. For additional program details, contact WWCC Continuing Education at 527-4331, continuingeducation@wwcc.edu, or see wwcc.edu/quest.

Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at annieeveland@wwub.com or 526-8313.

Annie joined the U-B news staff in 1979 and since 1990 has written Etcetera, a daily community column. She was promoted to a copy editing post in 2007. She edits copy, designs and lays out pages, including the weekly arts and entertainment guide Marquee,