Mr. West Valley 2018 Miracle Child

Shealyn was diagnosed with Prader-Willi syndrome at about 1 month old and that’s how we came to learn about Children’s Village.

One of the most common causes of genetic life-threatening childhood obesity, PWS occurs when there is an error on chromosome 15.  There are two main stages of PWS: the first stage being hypotonia, poor feeding in infancy, failure to thrive, and delayed motor development due to low muscle tone.  The second is hyperphagia, which is an uncontrollable drive to eat with intense food-seeking behaviors and a constant feeling of starvation, even after eating a large meal.  Their metabolism is slower and they have to consume fewer calories to maintain a healthy weight.

Other effects of PWS can be short stature if they’re not treated with growth hormone; learning difficulties, and low IQ.  They are usually very sweet and loving people, and many other medical issues can occur.  In our personal journey with PWS we have been very lucky; it is a spectrum and we have been on the higher functioning side so far.  We constantly push Shea and treat her no different than any other child.

When we left the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, all of the Children’s Village’s services were set in place for us.  A dietitian helped with weight checks, nutrition, and calculated calories.  A speech and feeding therapist helped with the feeding difficulties.  We also had an occupational therapist to help with low muscle tone and helping reach developmental milestones.

As things progressed we’ve had different challenges along the way.  As Shea learned to bottle feed and started gaining weight, we no longer needed the dietitian or speech and feeding therapist. We did continue utilizing the occupational therapist, due to her low muscle tone.  Shea developed scoliosis around 18 months of age, which is quite common in PWS children, and had to be in a brace for a little over a year.  When she turned 2 years old we started speech therapy, and we chose to have this in combination with hippotherapy, which is horseback riding.  Because of her scoliosis, horseback riding therapy would help strengthen her core muscles.  We did this for a little over a year and her spine has straightened out.  She’s gotten stronger and has been brace-free for a little over a year now.

Even with all these things going on with Shealyn, everything is really good right now and we are on cruise control, in our new way of normal.

We do have lots of hope.  Hope for a medication that will help with hunger.  Hope that someday she can attend college if she would like to.  Hope that someday she may be able to live independently and have a job.

I really can’t imagine where we would be today without the help of Children’s Village and its services.  With a new diagnosis and the grieving process that goes with that, there is no way that we could’ve managed to get everything set up and to obtain all the care that was needed.  Without their help, Shea may not be doing as well as she is right now.  It was a very organized process.  With the help of our family coordinator, they took care of everything and helped set up all of the services and specialists we needed.  We’re very fortunate to have a place like Children’s Village here in Yakima.

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A Thrill of Hope

Ken and Connie live in a beautiful, yet modest, brick house. Standing outside, it is evident that it is more than just a house; it radiates the feeling that this is a home. After stepping inside, the feeling is reinforced by pictures of family, friends and grandkids covering the walls and fridge, the beautiful knick-knacks that decorate the tops of shelves and cabinets, and the overly-excited greeting by their dog Tucker.

What you can’t see standing outside looking in at the warm glow of the house is a cupboard full of medicine, the table covered with gauze, bandages and medical devices, and the love that Ken exudes as he helps care for his wife who now has Alzheimer’s. While this journey alone is exhausting for the couple, Ken is undergoing radiation therapy and receives out-patient palliative care through Virginia Mason Memorial Hospital’s Home Health and Hospice.

Lindsey Catton, the volunteer services coordinator at Cottage in the Meadow, was approached by Ken’s palliative care social worker about the possibility of having volunteers winterize Ken and Connie’s yard. Lindsey recognized that this was a need that had to be met, so she reached out to the YouthWorks Council, The Memorial Foundation’s group of 20 student volunteers representing seven high schools across the Yakima Valley. Without knowing the couple’s story, the students jumped at the opportunity to help community members who needed a little extra help around their house.

On December 6, after a full day of school, extracurricular-club meetings, and sports practices, eight of the YouthWorks Council members arrived to help prepare the yard for the upcoming winter weather. After an hour of raking leaves and cleaning out flower beds and bushes, Ken thanked the group for the act of kindness.

“What you all don’t know,” Ken said, “Is that my bride of 57 years inside has Alzheimer’s and I just had another round of radiation therapy.” The teenagers’ eyes widened and hearts opened. “As you can see I can’t walk very well or do a whole lot with my arms. This never would have got done without you.” He continued, “How can I ever thank you?”

Lindsey had mentioned to Josh Munson, the program coordinator of YouthWorks, that Ken and Connie might need help getting their Christmas tree out of the garage. When asked about the tree, Ken replied that he couldn’t ask for any more help and besides, the group needed to get home for supper. Without a second of hesitation each volunteer expressed that they would stay there until the couple’s tree was up and decorated.

The group went straight to work: Braedon, Gunnar and Jorge carried the tree and ornament boxes inside from the shed, while Mykah helped string lights and strands of cranberry-red beads around the tree. Brienn, Dani, Kailea, and Kayla delicately unwrapped ornaments as the group listened to Ken and Connie reminisce over the almost 60 years of Christmas memories each ornament represented. Braedon had the honor of topping the tree with its homemade angel. Together the group decorated the tree and helped honor the lives of strangers by welcoming Christmas into their home. For an evening, if even just an hour or two, Ken and Connie rejoiced and reflected on the Christmas memories shared together instead of anticipating what is ahead in their journey. The peace that overwhelmed the room was felt by all.

As the YouthWorks Council said their goodbyes and wished Ken and Connie merry Christmases, Ken exclaimed to Josh, “What a true Christmas miracle.”

While the group may never fully comprehend what this compassion meant to Ken and Connie during a time of great need in their lives, the couple may never realize the effect this night had on the lives of each student volunteer. The group walked away openly committing to help the couple with more yard work, snow removal, or wherever there is a need.

With this final thought in mind, after leaving the couple’s warm brick home that is so evidently full of love, a well-known carol played on the radio with a lyric that resonated like never before:

A thrill of hope the weary soul rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!


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YouthWorks Council

The YouthWorks Council was created in 2007 to promote the involvement of youth in philanthropy and volunteerism. Applications are now being accepted for the 2016-17 school year.  Being a YouthWorks Council member has many benefits:

A youth empowerment and community service initiative engaging our community’s youth directly through mentoring, volunteering, and philanthropy.

  • Have fun with friends while doing great things for your community
  • Develop leadership skills
  • Gain valuable volunteer experience
  • Learn about philanthropy and children’s healthcare needs in our community

Who can apply:  Any youth age 14-20 who is attending high school in Yakima County and is actively involved in community service either through Memorial Family of Services or another community organization or church or school group.

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Changing the lives of youth in our community

By Honor Stoneman

With 2015 in full swing, the YouthWorks Council has been preparing activities for the enrichment of the Yakima Valley.

One of the projects that the Council will be implementing this year is called Project G.O. The Council believes that it is imperative to instill healthy lifestyle habits into the younger members of our community. Members of the Council will be visiting local elementary schools and speaking to students on the dangers of various addictions, and the growing obesity epidemic in the United States of America today.

The Council has begun planning for this year’s Passion for the Village. An annual event, Passion for the Village is a special evening of celebration that helps to raise needed funds to support the amazing children’s healthcare programs and services that exist at this special place called Children’s Village. The YouthWorks council will work together with the Friends of the Village to organize and facilitate the banquet and to also help raise funds for Children’s Village.

And it is pageant season! All around the valley, pageants at high schools like West Valley and Eisenhower are beginning. For example, Mr. West Valley contestants have been raising funds and participating in activities through Children’s Village for months and are preparing for their pageant on the 25th of February. Proceeds of the high school pageants will benefit children’s healthcare programs at Memorial’s Family of Services and Children’s Village.

Everyday offers another opportunity to inspire others to get involved and help make Yakima great!

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YouthWorks In Action

As the months grow colder, the hearts of those serving in the valley continue to spread warmth. YouthWorks at Memorial remains one of the core organizations of youth led service in the valley. One of the projects that the council members take on every year is a canned food drive. This year, members delivered boxes to various businesses and the donations collected were enough to fully supply the Cottage in the Meadow and the remaining donations were given to Northwest Harvest. Council members have also committed to helping with Children’s Village 17th annual Holiday Festival, as well as being an on call snow shoveling service for those in the valley with that need.


Honor Stoneman
YouthWorks PR Director

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YouthWorks Update

Mahatma Gandhi Once said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” The 2014-2015 YouthWorks members are passionate about our community and believe that if we are to change the world, we must start right here in Yakima.

Within these first few months, the council has been busily working on a multitude of different activities within the community. YouthWorks has its regular monthly meetings to discuss the status of events it is involved with and what more could be done to improve the atmosphere in Yakima. Members of the council also meet regularly with the Friends of the Village to plan Passion for the Village. Aside from the monthly meetings, our young leaders have spent time volunteering at social gatherings for the Friends of the Village, as well as waiters for a dinner event at Cottage in the Meadow.

This fall in particular has been a busy time for the council. In October, we launched our Pink Purse campaign to raise money, as well as awareness for breast cancer. Members took the purses to various organizations and businesses throughout the valley to see if any were willing to participate in this event. Many were, and our endeavors were quite successful. With the arrival of November and colder weather, comes our canned food drive. Boxes will be dispersed throughout the valley and all the donations will be given to the Union Gospel mission as well as other areas in need. One of our most popular events kicks off around this time of year, Pageants for the high schools in and surrounding our community. These events raise much needed funds for programs and organizations that do so much good in our community, such as Children’s Village.

With all of the startling figures regarding health in the United States today, the council thought it beneficial to address this topic in our city. This year we are starting a new program, Project GO, and it will be directed at elementary schools with the intention of informing kids at a young age of the importance of staying active and leading a healthy lifestyle. On a similar note, members of the council have attended one 2 one volunteer mentor training to learn more about developmental disabilities strategies for effective communication, how to better provide for persons with disabilities, as well as general awareness of disabilities.

Overall the Yakima YouthWorks Council has been quite a force of good and will continue to do so throughout the year.

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Capturing Precious Memories with YouthWorks


By Branden Johnson

yw2 yw

Karlee Jones, Raegan Ramynke, and Jessica McCallister came to Cottage in the Meadow with one goal in mind—to create a memory book for one of our hospice patients.  We all sat down and went through family photos and studied the patient’s family tree.  The hospice patient’s family tree was quite large!


The three high school students are from East Valley and West Valley High Schools.  They are actively involved in YouthWorks and The Memorial Foundation’s four major initiatives— End-of-Life Care, Cancer Care, Children’s Care, and Healthy Yakima.  Our students need to be recognized and commended for their hard work and dedication to enhance the lives of our hospice patients.


The funding for these memory books came from a grant through The Memorial Foundation.  We were able to give the hospice patient a memory book, a digital CD of her pictures, and copies of her pictures. If you know a student who may be interested in YouthWorks, please call Branden Johnson at 574-3655 or email at

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Cancer Awareness and Prevention Month

By Jessica McAllister, YouthWorks Council Vice President and East Valley High School Student

In America alone, over 1,600,000 people are fighting the battle against cancer. Around 500,000 cancer related deaths occur each year in the United States. Billions of people worldwide suffer from various types of cancer. The fight against cancer is a fierce, ongoing battle. The entire month of February has been dedicated to Cancer Awareness and Prevention.


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Pageant Season 2014 is here!

A new year means that a new season of “Mr.” pageants is fast approaching!

Since 1997, the YouthWorks at Memorial program has been engaging area youth through philanthropy in a plethora of ways – the biggest of which, perhaps, is in the student organized projects that have become known as the “Mr.” Pageants.

Funded by The Memorial Foundation, the “Mr.” pageants aim to raise money, as well as awareness, for healthcare needs throughout our community. For many of the students, the experience of participating, either as a contestant or in the coordinating efforts, marks the beginning of a new perspective.  They see, firsthand, how their philanthropic efforts can touch the lives of our community through their contribution towards the benefit of local healthcare programs and services.

This year, three schools will be participating in the “Mr.” pageants:

  • Toppenish High School
    Mr. Toppenish 2014 Pageant

Wednesday, February 19 at 7pm – Toppenish HS Auditorium

  • West Valley High School
    Mr. West Valley 2014 Pageant
    Wednesday, February 26 at 7pm – West Valley HS Auditorium
  • Eisenhower High School
    Mr. Ike 2014 Pageant
    Wednesday, March 26 at 7pm – Eisenhower HS Auditorium

Thus far, $6,000 has been raised through sponsorships and over $900 has been raised by West Valley High School alone.

Throughout the next few months, you can help these three high schools in their fundraising efforts by visiting

There, you will find the names of selected contestants and options to donate, as well as additional information on the YouthWorks at Memorial program and the “Mr.” pageants. Visit today!


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