Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Yachats Gazette, January 31, 2013

The Publisher spends two hours on most school days with the wonderful folks over at YYFAP (Yachats Youth & Family Program, pronounced /y-fap/), and thought it would be a service to the community to share stories from some of the administrators and volunteers who work with this organization. 

Interview with Alice Beck, 
YYFAP Director

TYG: How did you come to Yachats?
Alice: I came here because I followed my husband. 15 whole months before I got this job, Kevin, my husband, got a job as the parks manager for the Carl Washburne Parks Unit, to help restore the lighthouse, because before he did that, he restored the Astoria Column. Every other weekend we went back and forth, and I started looking for a job. And after 15 months, this wonderful job came up. And I was so excited, because if you had asked me, two years before I came here, what would be my dream job, I would have said, “a camp director.” And this is about as close as you can get to that.

TYG: What did you do before you came to work at YYFAP?
Alice: I was the coordinator for the Commission on Children and Families in Clatsop County, in Astoria. And that was a big job that was different from this one, in that I did all kinds of things related to kids and families. I helped non-profits like this do things like strategic planning. […] And we did things like alcohol and drug prevention […] mostly focused on keeping kids from using alcohol and tobacco and things like that, and getting them involved in other healthy activities.

TYG: How much does it cost to go to YYFAP?
Alice: Well, it costs the program about $180 a month for every youth that comes to YYFAP. Whether they’re in the preschool or in the after-school program, it’s pretty close to the same. So that’s the average. But people pay what they can afford. So we have some minimum costs…

TYG (Ed. Ass’t.): Where does the rest of the money come from, if not everybody pays full cost?
Alice: It comes from a variety of different places. People donate money, and we’re really grateful for all of the donors in the community that help. And then we write grants to foundations, who have money that they give out for specific things, like the activities that we have here. And the City of Yachats gives us money as well.

TYG: How do you see YYFAP changing or growing in the next few years?
Alice: Well, that’s a good question. Some of things we’ve been working on since I got here are expanding our Families Together program, with the Yachats Community Presbyterian Church, where we have dinner once a month, and we read stories and work on early literacy. Getting little people, in particular, excited about reading. I’d also like to see us doing more activities for teens, and families.

TYG: It would be good if we had some more adults here.
Alice: Like volunteers, you mean?

TYG: Yeah, like Graham.
Alice: One of the things I’d like to do is to get more young people like Graham involved.

TYG: How did YYFAP start? That’s something that I’ve been wanting to know for a long time.
Alice: Well, what I know, or I’ve been told, is that YYFAP started about 16 years ago, I think. There were people in the community who wanted a place where kids could come together and learn and play. Some of the kids were home-schooled, like you, and they wanted a place where they could be with other kids, and socialize, and have group activities.

TYG: It’s definitely changed since then.
Alice: Yes, right now you’re one of just a couple of kids we have that are home-schooled.

TYG: Yeah, I don’t think there are any other kids.
Alice: There are some others in preschool that may plan on home-schooling. But yes, down here in the Rec Plus program, I think you are the only one who’s home-schooled.

TYG: What do you like to do when you’re not working at YYFAP?
Alice: Well, I like to hang out on the beach. I like to look for agates -- do you do that?

TYG: Yeah, I remember one time I found like 200 agates on one trip.
Alice: I like to read, and I love to garden, although I don’t get to garden very much on the park property, because it doesn’t belong to me, but at my home in Astoria I still get to garden a little bit. And we’re going to do some more gardening this year, right? I’d like us to do more gardening [at YYFAP].

TYG (Ed. Ass’t.): You still have a home in Astoria?
Alice: I do still have a home in Astoria.

TYG: Wow! You only go there on vacation, or something?
Alice: Well, it IS like a vacation home now! I live in a little cabin, what most people would vacation in, right? And I go to my house to vacation, or sometimes on the weekends.

TYG: What was your college degree?
Alice: It was Interpersonal, Family, and Community Relations.

TYG: Holy cow!
Alice: And I designed it myself!

TYG (Ed. Ass’t.): Where did you go to college?
Alice: At Western Washington University, in Bellingham, Washington. Would you like to design your own degree someday?

TYG: Probably not. Unless it would be in specifically designing and building trains.
Alice: Well, if I hadn’t done this, do you know what my other choice was? A landscape architect.

TYG: Cool! I’d love to do that someday.
Alice: I would have designed gardens, which is like designing trains, only different. ‘Cause I like flowers.

TYG (Ed. Ass’t.): Not as much steam.
Alice: No, not as much steam.

Interview with Beverly Trute, Volunteer

TYG: How did you come to Yachats?
Beverly: Well, a very long time ago, almost 15 years, I came here for a vacation just to get away for a couple of days, and I drove in to Yachats and I fell completely in love. I left a card with Valeria, at Toad Hall, and said “If you hear anything about a place to live, let me know!” and within a couple of days I got a letter from someone who owned a house, and he said “Would you like to move in? It’s for rent, or sale.” And I was there six weeks later, lock, stock, and barrel.

TYG: Cool!
Beverly: Yeah, definitely cool. That was almost 15 years ago.

TYG: Why and when did you start working for YYFAP?
Beverly: I started last summer, when I signed on with the Foster Grandparents Program. The Foster Grandparents Program is funded by Senior Corps, and that’s federal. And I volunteered with them, and was placed with YYFAP each year and I just love it. It’s the best [placement].

TYG: I see! Has YYFAP had any personal influence on you?
Beverly: Oh yes! Oh yes. I keep learning. I did a lot of things probably not the right way when I first got here, and I see that now. It’s a constant experience where I have to be very upbeat and positive no matter what I feel.

TYG: I think I know what you mean about both points there!
Beverly: I love coming here every day and being with you and the other kids. I love working with Alice and Pam, I love working with Graham… this is such a wonderful experience! I get to come here every day and play.

TYG: Cool! What role do you play in the YYFAP personnel hierarchy—pardon the expression!
Beverly: [laughter] I sweep the floors. We’re just going to talk lower-archy!

TYG: I mean, how do you serve in comparison to Graham?
Beverly: Graham is paid-for staff. I’m not. My services to YYFAP are provided at no cost.

TYG: I see! Thank you so much!

Interview with Graham Shields, Program Assistant

TYG: How did you come to Yachats?
Graham: Well, my Mom and my brother and I moved here three years ago because my Mom, and Leon Sterner, met while juggling at the Da Vinci Days in Corvallis! And they just got married last April. So I’ve been here for three years now, and [it’s] been a real nice place to live.

TYG: That’s great! Why and when did you start working for YYFAP?
Graham: I volunteered here at YYFAP during the summer two years ago, mostly because I really like running around and playing with all the kids here. Then I started working here last summer in June and I’ve been working here ever since. It’s been a great experience for me.

TYG: What happened on your trip to Argentina?
Graham: Ooh, that’s a good question. Well, I learned how to speak Spanish; I tried all sorts of different new foods; I learned how to play “Truco,” which is an Argentinian card game, very fun to play. There’s a lot I can tell you—it would take me about two hours to tell you everything that I learned and did! [laughter] I also went on two trips: one to Patagonia, and one to the North of Argentina. Those were beautiful places to visit.

TYG: Man, you must have had a good time!
Graham: I had a wonderful time. It was probably the best decision I could make for last year, for me.

TYG: Did your trip to Argentina change you at all, make you see the world differently?
Graham: Yes, I think it did. It was really nice to see what they thought of the United States, and it was really nice to learn their culture, like tango; and eat all their foods. I think that I have a better view on how the world should communicate—all the countries with each other.

TYG: I see! What do you like best about YYFAP?
Graham: Hmm. Well, you would be one of the better parts… [laughter] I like all of you guys being here, because I can actually really learn a lot from you kids. I also like that it’s fairly free on what you get to do. You guys can basically do anything you want, and I get to follow you and help you, and make sure that everything’s going OK. And that feels really good to me.

TYG: Thank you so much!
Graham: You’re welcome!

Interview with Pam Luderitz, YYFAP Administrative Assistant

TYG: So, how did you come to Yachats?
Pam: Well, my husband and I wanted to retire on the Oregon Coast, and we found this town, and we loved it, and so we decided to move out here when he retired.

TYG: I see. What did you like best about Yachats?
Pam: I liked the people, I liked the community, I liked [raucous children noise in background] the quiet here [laughter]. And of course we liked the area, the ocean—I need to have an ocean around me.

TYG: Where did you live before now? 
Pam: We lived in the Monterey Bay area in California; up in the mountains above the Monterey Bay.

TYG: That must have been a scenic spot!
Pam: It was! It was very pretty, but there got to be wayyyy too many people.

TYG: Right—simply for the fact that it is so pretty! […] What is your role in YYFAP? 
Pam:  I’m Administrative Assistant to Alice. I help with whatever needs to be done. I do paperwork, help with Helping Hands, make sure there are snacks and things when you guys come, interact with all of you guys when you come in from school. It’s fun!

TYG: Are you a volunteer, or a paid […] employee of YYFAP, and therefore the City [of Yachats]?
Pam: I’m paid. But I also volunteer with Helping Hands, and some of the things  that I do on the Board of Directors, so those are not paid positions, so when I go up to meetings my paid day ends, and I start my volunteer day!

TYG: That must be weird! 
Pam: It is, but it works. […]

TYG: What was your job before YYFAP? 
Pam: Before YYFAP? Well, when we came up here I worked at a physical therapy office in Newport, but I also had a job before that when I was up here and when I was in California: I worked with race cars.

TYG: Cooooooooool! Oh, that must have been awesome! Were you a driver, or just in the pit crew—or were you an instructor? 
Pam: No, I worked for factory teams: for Nissan, and Jaguar, and Mazda. I did their scoring, and did some of their strategy, and worked right in the pits alongside all of the rest of the team. We went to Le Mans and several of the other places—races all over the country and in Canada.

TYG: Cool! That must have been an awesome job! Tell me more!
Pam: It was a lot of fun! I did that for quite a few years and then I got a call from NASCAR [National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing], and they asked me if I would like to work for them, so I said “yes” and worked for NASCAR for about nine or ten years, and I retired from them—the travel got to be too much. For 10 years, I was flying three times a month across country and back, and working, and I’d have about 1 day a week at home.

TYG: Aïe aïe aïe! I’m guessing the flights were covered? 
Pam: Yes, all my expenses were covered.

TYG: I’m guessing you’d have to be a millionaire [if they weren’t]! 
Pam: Yes, you would. […] But they were very good. They paid from the time you’d leave home to the time you’d get to the track, and then they’d pay your hours there. I did different things there: I worked in the tower with the race director, and I worked at the start/finish line, and I worked in the pits.

TYG: Did you ever fix cars then?
Pam: No, I didn’t fix cars.

TYG: What did you do then?
Pam: Well, I mainly kept track of where every car was. I called who was in what position…

TYG: Oh, so you were an announcer while you were in the pit!
Pam: No, I kept track of where the cars were for the teams and for the announcers. So when I was in the tower, if there was a yellow flag, I would do the buttons for the yellow flag and I would tell the race director where every car was when the yellow came out […].

TYG: What do some of the different flags mean? 
Pam: Well, the different flags mean different things. The yellow flag means caution—that there’s either an accident or there’s something else; and when a yellow flag comes you can’t pass anybody. […] The minute I hit that button I would have to know where every car was on the track, so in case somebody passed, I would have to go back and tell them who needed to be in what position. Now they’re getting some computers that will help that; but when I first started, it was all pencil and paper. […] And it’s pretty fast, because on the Bristol track …

TYG: Is Bristol in England? 
Pam: No, Bristol is back east, in Tennessee. […] But at Bristol, you have 43 cars on the racetrack, and it’s a quarter-mile track, so each lap takes about 15 or 16 seconds, so you’re keeping track of 43 cars for every 16 seconds.

TYG: So laps don’t really matter? 
Pam: Yeah, you’ve got to be sure for every lap. What I would do before we got the computers, is I’d have a piece of paper. And when they started, I would write down every car and the number it went by at start/finish, when it crossed the line.

TYG: And that was from memory? You didn’t do that time after time, that would be crazy! 
Pam: No, I did! And the next time the leader came by, I went to the next piece of paper and did that [one], for that lap. So this piece of paper was for lap 1, this piece of paper was for lap 2…

TYG: You must have had really fast writing skills!
Pam: You write very fast and you learn the cars too, a lot of the times, so you know which car is coming.

TYG: I’m thinking you could pre-prepare a data sheet based on who was going to be in the race. 
Pam: Yeah, you do the qualifying [race] so you have a list of who’s there. Then, the first lap they come by at speed, that sheet doesn’t mean anything because everybody has passed everybody else and they’re all in a group, so you have to pick out who’s in which position and write them in the order that they go by. The next lap, you do the same thing. And […] if the leader goes in the pits, you would have a new leader coming by, so you have to know at least the top five or six cars in your head so you know who comes by, he’s the new leader. The hardest time was at races like Le Mans, in France, because it’s a 24-hour race. So they’re out there for 24 hours…

TYG: You didn’t actually stay there all that time? How did you keep your eyes open? 
Pam: Adrenaline! [laughter]

TYG: How long are those laps? 
Pam: Those are long laps, like five miles or something. [So you have to keep track every] couple minutes.

TYG: Were there ever any races that were no laps, just a straight line, start to finish?
Pam: No, every one of them was laps. Different times, different miles. Most of the NASCAR [races] were 300 or 500 miles. Then sports cars are a 12-hour race. One year I did three 24-hour races. I’d never do that again. [wry chuckle]

TYG: Not in a row, right?
Pam: No! But a month apart. […] So I did a 24-hour race, and the next weekend I would be back to do a regular one, a 300 or 500 mile.

TYG: What does a red flag mean? Or is there a red flag?
Pam: There is a red flag. It means “immediate danger: stop” –you stop on the track. You stop where you are. In NASCAR usually they put out a yellow flag, and there’s a pace car that comes out. And sometimes if there’s too much on the track, too much clean-up, they’ll put a red flag out, and the pace car will stop with all the other cars behind it, and they’ll clean up the track.

TYG: And green flag means go?
Pam: Green flag means GO!

TYG: And the checkered flag means finish.
Pam: It means finish, right! And then there’s a blue flag with a yellow stripe diagonally across it, and that means there are faster cars approaching you, and to use your mirrors because you’re about to be overtaken by faster cars. And there’s a flag with yellow and red stripes all the way down it, and that’s mainly used in road racing, with sports cars, and that means there’s oil or some slippery substance on the track.

TYG: Ah! 
Pam: We had one guy, a German driver, Hans Stuck, who drove for BMW. He got pulled in one time because he didn’t have brake lights going into turn one—you know, every car has to have brake lights—so he got pulled over going into turn one, and he came in and he said “I never use my brakes in turn one!” [chuckles]

TYG-Editorial Assistant: Braking is overrated. […] Can I ask how you got into this profession?
Pam: My husband volunteered at Laguna Seca Raceway in California. I got bored so I got a stop-watch, and then I went up to do their timing, and started with club racing, and met people from the professionals.  When I was teaching, I’d travel on the weekends in summer with them. Then they asked me if I would go full-time, and it was kind of … did I want to teach, or did I want to travel all over the country or the world on somebody else’s dollar!

TYG: Personally, I think that sounds like a good life. 
Pam: It was fun! I met a lot of very nice people.

TYG: Although I’d probably want to be a driver.
Pam: Well, I did take a driver’s school in an Indy type car at Laguna Seca, which was a lot of fun. […] Problem is, it costs a lot of money for the cars. Most of these, like a Le Mans type car, with research and everything that they do, you’re probably talking a million and a half dollars [for your own car]. There are a lot of private racers. […] But a lot of times [if you race for a company] you have to bring your own sponsorship so you have to pay to do that. Some of the top drivers, most of them have a salary. But they have to have endorsements to help the salary. It’s a lot of money to run those cars! One set of tires is about $600—and depending on the length of the race, they probably use ten to twelve sets of tires per race. And that’s the race—that’s not qualifying, and practice. There are more tires for that.

TYG-Editorial Assistant: What kind of teaching were you doing before this?
Pam: I taught in a high school; I taught science, and swimming, and tennis.

TYG: Wow, thank you! That was a great interview!