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November 16, 2011
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Hope, honor and happiness: Moving forward with cultural health, honoring veterans

TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. — Monday's autumn sun fired a triangular brocade of diamonds sparkling on Donner Lake, where three young goslings ducked and dipped, foraging for food. Watching, I wondered, where was mother goose? Surely they are too young to fend for themselves, the mom in me worried. And the one baby, it's not keeping up with the pair. It strays and lingers far off, a loner, not mindful of potential danger on the sun-dappled lake.The trio portrayed an age-old scenario. The ugly duckling, the runt, the loner, ever present in nature, is also found in middle and high school halls. Last year, Truckee witnessed the horror of two teen suicides. Psychological distress, cultural decay, the roots are many. Teen depression and suicide rumbled a bass note of tragedy and pain through our town. I feared no voice would speak for the children. No place of healing would develop. I wondered, what can I do?In comes a new kid on the block — the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District Wellness Program, with Kim Bradley and Chauncey Parker at the helm. The program, which held its inaugural meeting on Monday, will be an umbrella for existing help centers while also developing a youth council, a command center where teens may go for help, activities and literature. It targets youths who are a little lost or buckling under the pressure of accelerated academics and sports.As attendee Cindy Maciel, Sierra Continuation High School STEPP program director said, “All teens are at risk. All it takes is one life-altering event.”What can we do? Keep our eyes on TTUSD e-mail blasts, contact Parker at, or attend the next Wellness Program meeting, loosely scheduled for Dec. 12, 2-3:30 p.m. at the TTUSD district offices, 11603 Donner Pass Road, in the old Sierra Middle School building. Get involved in the physical, social, mental and psychological health of teens at Truckee, North Tahoe and Sierra high schools. Help make a haven for proactive teen culture.Another positive push in support of mental wellness, personal strength, united families and clean and sober living comes from the renamed Sierra Family Services, now Sierra Mental Wellness Group. You are invited to an open house celebration Nov. 17, 3-5 p.m., 2690 Lake Forest Road, Tahoe City, to celebrate the new name and new look. For information give a call at 530-581-4054.Friday was a ceremonial day, honoring the United States of America's veterans. David C. Antonucci, whose son is a member of Boy Scout Troop 266, said: “It is important that young people learn about and honor the sacrifices of those who went before them. Generations of American and immigrant men and women have sacrificed and laid down their lives so that others may continue to live free.” About 50 people attended the Veterans Day ceremony in Tahoe City.In Truckee, the Civil Air Patrol performed the presentation of the colors with their usual panache under the direction of CAP Cadet 2nd Lt. Jon Friesen. Vietnam veteran Tim LoDolce, who served in the United States Air Force 1966-71 and flew 301 combat missions — 256 into Hanoi, North Vietnam — spoke at the Truckee Veterans Building. A small crowd heard the words: “… We served in a war that deeply divided our nation, but America is resilient, we are a country of temperance, compassion and reason … and with the passage of time, we healed our wounds.”But as a veteran, hurt and wonderment was present in Truckee. Where were the people, the firemen and women, the police, the mayor? Let's think — let's make Truckee's Veterans Day 2012 an event that's the talk of the town.Perhaps we'll start by speaking with the Sierra Seniors, who were cuttin' the rug Friday at the Community Arts Center. Susan Duffey-Smith, of the Truckee Donner Recreation andamp; Park District, and Sarah Deardorff, executive director, Sierra Senior Services, held a Veterans Day dance, with help from a grant from United Way. There were professional dancers cha-chaing, waltzing and teaching the two-step to the lively Vibra Tones. This event was open to the public, with about 40 people attending, including residents of the Extended Care Center in Truckee.Folks in wheelchairs, walkers and strollers decorated the dance floor. “I was flabbergasted, everyone was out there when they played the twist,” said Deardorff. “This is our opportunity to honor those who have given of themselves. We are making a big push to have a public event for all ages, families, all generations to honor present and past service men and women.”A “holidaze” potluck in Floriston rocked the historic one-room schoolhouse in the tiny town on Nevada County's eastern fringe. It was a blast to the past when community potlucks brought neighbors together on a regular basis. The multi-generational affair had old and young dancing to Guitar Woody and the Boilers and dining on deep-fried turkey with all the trimmings. The night wrapped up with a community raffle for liver transplant hopeful Tammy Anagnos, netting more than $500 (find her story at

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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Nov 16, 2011 12:39PM Published Nov 16, 2011 12:16PM Copyright 2011 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.