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ENCORE Wednesday, February 13, 2019

What’s Inside.... Television & Film Director Mel Damski makes Lynden his home — C2 Staying Fit: The Lynden Community Center’s strength training room — C7 Skagit Adult Day Program hopes to expand to Whatcom — C14

(Courtesy photo/Mel Damski) A supplement of the Lynden Tribune and Ferndale Record

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Lynden Tribune | Wednesday, February 13, 2019 | Ferndale Record

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A Hallmark filmmaker in Lynden

Mel Damski directs an episode of "Psych" north of the Canadian border. The show ended in 2008, but Damski still makes his way up to Canada from his Lynden home to direct movies for Hallmark. (Courtesy photo/Mel Damski)

At age 72, Mel Damski has no plans of slowing down his pace If tax benefits agreed, U.S. side of the border would be great for film shooting, Damski says By Brent Lindquist brent@lyndentribune.com

LYNDEN — Mel Damski is new to Lynden, but people in town have likely seen his work.

Damski is a film director, having worked on a wide variety of television, movie and documentary projects since he got his start in filmmaking in the early 1970s. He bought a home in Lynden about two months ago because of the proximity to Canada, where many of his projects are produced. However, filmmaking wasn’t always the plan. Damski grew up on Long Island, New York, the son of two Holocaust survivors. He was an athlete in high school and worked as the sports editor of the high school newspaper. He went on to Colgate University in New York on a football scholarship, and he also served as the sports editor of Colgate’s student newspaper. Damski’s future work in journalism and film were inspired by two family

members. His grandfather, Paul Damski, worked as a fight manager in Germany. He managed Max Schmeling, the world heavyweight boxing champion from 1930 to 1932. Damski said he found his interest in sports from his grandfather’s legacy. His mother’s brother was Harry M. Rosenfeld, the editor in charge of local news at The Washington Post during the Richard Mattingly murder case and, most famously, the Watergate scandal. Rosenfeld worked closely with Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein on their reporting of the Watergate story. “You get sports from one side and journalism from the other,” Damski said of his family roots. After graduating from college, Damski became a sports reporter for a small paper on Long Island called the Suffolk Sun. After

that, he moved on to Newsday, also serving Suffolk County. “It was really great and fulfilling, but still something was missing,” he said. New York wasn’t in a good place as a city in the early 1970s, Damski said, and he felt he should experience another part of the world. He had attended a film screening with Newsday’s film critic at the time, and he figured he might enjoy work as a film critic. He applied for a graduate teaching assistantship in mass communications and went off to film school in Denver. Although he first got into it intending to be a critic, Damski said it was evident from day one that he wanted to be a director. “So I started making documentaries in Denver, which was a really good way of Continued on the next page


Lynden Tribune | Wednesday, February 13, 2019 | Ferndale Record

ENCORE combining my interest in journalism with my interest in film,” he said. “They turned out well, and I sold them to the local ABC affiliate in Denver.” Eventually, he submitted his portfolio of journalism and documentaries to the American Film Institute, which accepted him as a directing fellow. His first short film was an adaptation of a short story by Theodore Dreiser called “The Lost Phoebe.” This caught the attention of respected film producer Quinn Martin.    “He would ask all the premiere film programs to submit their best film of each year, and he would choose the one he liked the best and give that person a shot on one of his shows,” Damski said. “He chose mine that year. AFI chose mine and Quinn Martin chose mine, so I went right from film school to directing a series called ‘Barnaby Jones.’” Damski was still in his 20s at this point, but he was proving himself. His work on “Barnaby Jones” turned out well. He was then hired to do “Lou Grant,” a spinoff of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” set in a newsroom. He directed seven episodes of “Lou Grant,” the first of which was called “Barrio.” From the establishing shots of Los Angeles, the opening scene in the newsSee Damski on C4

Damski holds many directing credits across a wide variety of television shows, including "Early Edition," shown here. He stands between his two actors. (Courtesy photo/Mel Damski)

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Lynden Tribune | Wednesday, February 13, 2019 | Ferndale Record

Damski Continued from C3

room kicks off with a long take that moves from person to person. It was an unconventional approach, Damski said. “I was really nervous about the consequences,” Damski said. “They liked my first episode so much and they liked the fact that it was daring that I ended up doing five episodes that year and getting an Emmy nomination for one of them.” His work on “Lou Grant” got him a directing job on the wildly popular “MASH,” and that helped him land his feature directing debut on a movie called “Yellowbeard.” “Looking back, it’s pretty amazing that it happened so quickly,” Damski said. “I came from a world that was so distant. That’s what’s so amazing about how I ended up 3,000 miles away from where I grew up in a totally different world. Looking back, I feel so blessed because my parents didn’t get to go to high school because of the Holocaust. They were lucky to have survived. The fact that I got this really wonderful education and had this incredible opportunity, it says so much about what is great about America, the land of opportunity.” Throughout his years in the profession, Damski would serve as director on many projects, but it was the USA Network show “Psych” that brought him to the Pacific Northwest. It would also become his favorite project, and he worked on it for eight years as both a director and producer. “That brought me to Vancouver, and I love the Northwest so much. I said, ‘I’m moving here.’ I never really loved L.A.,” Damski said. “It was eight years with a wonderful cast and crew. It brought me to this part of the world. At this point in my life, I could pretty much live anywhere, and this is where I choose to live, and I owe that to ‘Psych.’” Damski said he remains close with the cast and crew of “Psych,” and he enjoyed the mentoring aspect of the job, having mentored five first-time directors during his time on the show. He said he knew people who met their spouses on the show and then had kids during its run. “I was kind of the grandpa,” he said. When “Psych” ended in 2014, Damski went on to direct episodes of “Working the Engels,” “The Mysteries of Laura” and “Scorpion.” After “Scorpion” was canceled, a producer named Harvey Kahn, who Damski knew, asked if he would be interested in directing a Hallmark movie. Kahn sent to Damski the script for “Love on a Mel Damski's first feature film as a director was "Yellowbeard." (Courtesy photo/Mel Damski)

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Lynden Tribune | Wednesday, February 13, 2019 | Ferndale Record

ENCORE Limb,” the story of a woman who sets out to prevent her town’s beloved oak tree from being cut down, and he signed on to direct it. That was the first of Damski’s 12 Hallmark movies to date. “I’m a Jewish boy from New York, and now I’m doing Hallmark Christmas movies and loving it,” Damski said. “One of them, the one with Candace Cameron called ‘Journey Back to Christmas,’ it’s a time travel one that is one of their highest-rated Christmas movies ever and they run it a lot.” Damski now lives in Lynden, about eight minutes from the Canadian border. He said he wishes the tax benefits in the United States were as competitive as they are in Canada, because he would love to film south of the border. “How great would that be? Can you think of a more Hallmarkian town than Lynden? This is right here between two of the major cities in the world, Seattle and Vancouver. Hallmark would absolutely love the charm of Lynden,” he said. Damski has some documentary projects in mind that he hopes to get up and running, including one that tells historical stories that aren’t necessarily featured in See Damski on C6

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Mel Damski, center, calls the shots in a morgue scene on the set of the USA Network show "Psych." (Courtesy photo/Mel Damski)

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Lynden Tribune | Wednesday, February 13, 2019 | Ferndale Record

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Mel Damski, left, has worked in the film industry for many years, and he has numerous projects to work on into the future, he says. (Courtesy photo/Mel Damski)

Damski Continued from C3

high school history books. This will help further connect his journalism and filmmaking interests. Damski, 72, doesn’t see himself slowing down anytime soon. He said it’s curiosity that keeps him going. “I am fascinated by the world around me, and I almost never sit still,” he said. “I love meeting new people and exploring new frontiers.”

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Lynden Tribune | Wednesday, February 13, 2019 | Ferndale Record

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Fitness room a strength of Lynden center After taking eight weeks of training, it’s just $1 per use by a member By Calvin Bratt editor@lyndentribune.com

   LYNDEN ­— The strength training room may be one of the greatest strengths of the Lynden Community Center — along with the daily hot meals served there, as fuel for physical fitness, of course.    Each year about this time, a very thorough Strength Training Class is offered at the Lynden facility. Center manager Cathi LeCocq is the instructor, as she majored in recreation at Western Washington University years ago and has taught physical fitness aplenty since. See Fitness on C8

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Bob and Joy Schneider use the various fitness stations offered in the Lynden Community Center strength training room. (Calvin Bratt/Lynden Tribune)

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Lynden Tribune | Wednesday, February 13, 2019 | Ferndale Record

Fitness Continued from C7

Wayne and Jean Wilson supplement their visits to the Lynden Community Center strength training room with daily walks of their dog Jack. They were on a stretch of snowy Lynden trail on Monday. (Calvin Bratt/Lynden Tribune)

   The system of about 12 workout stations was developed by WWU and was installed in Lynden around 2005.    “I would say it is particularly a draw with our younger seniors, younger volunteers,” LeCocq said.    No one may use the room until they have graduated from the Strength Training Class, which is 15 hours of instruction in how to use each station and how to put together a personal plan for balanced exercise.    The current class began Jan. 29 and goes through March 21, happening at 10:30 each Tuesday and Thursday. Dozens of people have now been through it over the years.    The 22 of the 2018 class included 13 women and nine men, among them couples Wayne and Jean Wilson and Bob and Joy Schneider, who all continue to capitalize on the benefits of the training. They are regularly signing in their names and paying the mere $1 per time using the room.    The strength training program is a main reason all of them chose to become members of the Lynden Community Center ($25 per year) in the first place.    “We’re getting to know people,” Bob Schneider said.    “It’s really made a difference in our lives,” Joy Schneider said. “It’s so comfortable here.”    They note with appreciation a matter as simple as the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance and a prayer at the start of the noon meals in Lynden.    Bob had a career in middle school education and driver’s training in the Lynden School District. Joy is now also enjoying a painting class at the senior center in their retirement.    But the routine and ease of the strength training room is most important to them. “There’s enough equipment that we’re not having to wait [for others using it],” Bob said.    The Wilsons live on Beard Road south of Lynden. In addition to frequenting the Lynden Community Center, they also have a membership at the Bellingham Senior Activity Center and can use its gym equipment as well.    The Wilsons have a miniature Australian shepherd named Jack. Since he is a bit younger than they are, “his main job is keeping us active and off the couch,” Wayne explains.    To that end, they take energetic Jack on his leash “everywhere, every day,” from Lynden’s parks to Bellingham’s trails, and vice versa, and even in challenging conditions. They were out on the Jim Kaemingk Sr. Trail Continued on the next page


Lynden Tribune | Wednesday, February 13, 2019 | Ferndale Record

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between City Park and Bender Fields in spite of several inches of snow on Monday.    They obtained Jack from a shelter just a week after Wayne retired in 2015. Wayne had put in 31 years with Whatcom County Public Works, during which he was also an active Teamsters member and served on the executive board of Local 231.    Jean ended her career working 22 years with Office Systems Northwest. She had an earlier life being co-owner of the famous former Rondevoo Drive-in of Lynden (now the original Bob’s Burgers & Brew at Guide Meridian and Birch Bay-Lynden roads), known as much for being a teens’ hangout as for the milkshakes served. Get her going, and Jean can tell plenty of stories.

Schneider clan stays together, and stays fit Four brothers and spouses go somewhere to walk each Friday    WHATCOM — The Schneider clan See Fitness on C10

Led by Jackie and Ken Schneider, three of the four Schneider couples walk in Bellis Fair mall Friday. (Calvin Bratt/Lynden Tribune)

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Lynden Tribune | Wednesday, February 13, 2019 | Ferndale Record

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Fitness

Ken Schneider looks on as grandson Mick Matheson, who is in the U.S. Army, tries out one of grandpa’s regular weight routines on Monday at Homestead Fitness in Lynden. (Calvin Bratt/Lynden Tribune) Continued from C9

believes in family togetherness.    Four Schneider brothers and their wives, all ages 68 to 76, gather somewhere at 10:30 a.m. each Friday to get their exercise together. In challenging winter weather, it is often to walk the interior of the Bellis Fair mall, at least once, starting from the food court area.    The pairs — Bill and Sharon, Ken and Jeanie, Bob and Joy, Don and Jackie — were “all high school sweethearts,” notes Bob, and now have each been married at least 45 years, so this togetherness has been going on for a while.    And they are all graduates of Meridian High School, he adds, except Jackie, who is of Lynden, and totally accepted.

   This routine of walking regularly is to keep themselves in shape — something simple they have chosen to do — while also keeping up the family bond, they say. They are diligent in making sure of good walking shoes, and in mild weather much of the year they will find an outdoor place to walk. This could be Bender Fields of Lynden, Bellingham trails, Lake Padden, or Ferndale’s Hovander Park and Blaine's Semiahmoo Park.    It so happens that an older one of the pairs, Ken and Jeanie, both 75, are still working in jobs, part-time, three days a week. Ken is a tool and die maker at Signature Plastics of Custer. Jeanie is a facilities manager at the Northwest Medical Center.    “He’s got to keep working to pay my Social Security,” ribbed older brother Bill.

   Ken is also the one who still enjoys riding his motorcycle.    Here is another bond of the brothers: All are U.S. military veterans, Bob of the Air Force, the other three of the Navy.    When they were boys, the Schneider family first lived on the northwest corner of the Guide Meridian-Pole Road intersection where they operated a small store and gas station, and their dad also ran a mink ranch. Later, the Schneiders moved some miles east on Pole.    “We all shared one little bedroom,” Bob said of the brothers. And that is where their sustained ability to be together started.    On Monday, Ken Schneider welcomed home for a visit his grandson Mick Matheson, who is halfway through a six-

year enlistment hitch in the U.S. Army. Matheson has been in Afghanistan and will now be based out of Joint Base Lewis McChord for a while. The 2011 Meridian grad and his wife, Cassie, have a 9-monthold son, Axel.   Grandpa and grandson together did the fairy rigorous workout that Ken puts himself through twice a week at the Homestead Fitness facility in Lynden. He got into the habit of working out with weights when he joined the Navy at age 17 right out of high school, Ken said, and it is a pattern that he has kept up ever since, for well over 50 years.    “It’s important to stay active in your older years,” he said, even if there is some reduction in the weights used and the demands made upon the body.


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Lynden Tribune | Wednesday, February 13, 2019 | Ferndale Record

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Lynden Tribune | Wednesday, February 13, 2019 | Ferndale Record

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Technology provides ‘moments of joy’ Residents of CHCC’s Cedar Cove use various items for comfort    LYNDEN — In Cedar Cove, the Christian Health Care Center’s memory care residence, healthcare professionals employ a number of different methods to supervise and care for residents in a home-like setting. Days are spent helping individuals engage, relax and improve their quality of life.    “We develop and organize enriching activities that are designed to inspire moments of joy,” says Josh Friesen, a social worker who runs many of the therapeutic recreation programs in Cedar Cove. “The training and tools we have provide each person under our care a better quality of life through meaningful engagement, including social engagement. Even though dementia is a tragic, progressive disease process, we have a wonderful opportunity to meet them in the place where they’re at on any given day.”    An increasingly important tool in that effort, he says, is technology. To help meet the needs of the people who live in Cedar Cove and improve their day-to-day lives, CHCC employs a number of tech-related tools. Personalized music    CHCC, which is Music & Memory-certified, uses iPods to create individualized music playlists for residents. Those who enjoy this amenity seem to get a huge benefit from being able to hear music that sparks certain happy memories or transports them to familiar times.    The center received a grant from LeadingAge Washington to buy the necessary equipment for music therapy, and the results have been wonderful so far, Friesen says.

A robotic cat may look and feel like a real cat, and even act like one in rolling over and meowing. Most important, it gives real enjoyment to a Cedar Cove resident. (Courtesy photo/CHCC)

Community television    An important feature of Cedar Cove is that the layout — complete with a center-hub activity room — allows CHCC to supervise long-term care residents in a home-like but communal setting. The large-screen, smart television in the common room comes in handy in a variety of ways, such as showing videos or even magazines that bring joy to all.    “With YouTube, we can call up content immediately, speaking right into the remote control,” Friesen says. “I’ll say things like, ‘Show me videos on YouTube of national Continued on the next page


ENCORE parks, or babies laughing, or classic Western music performers,’ and the videos come right up.”    The TV also can be used to share engaging content with the group.    “Sometimes, I’ll have a really good magazine that I want to share with everyone,” Friesen says. “I can take a picture with the iPad and cast it right away to the TV. This ‘casting’ capability opens up a lot of opportunity for our staff to engage the group in a shared experience with a variety of media.”    The smart TV also is used to display song lyrics during chaplain services, to display calming background imagery, to play soothing nature sounds, and to show movies.    Of course, in a community setting, not everyone will want to do the same thing at once. Wireless headphones, each with their own volume control, allow some to watch movies while others rest and relax. Robotic pets    Favorite additions to the memory care center are the cute and cuddly robotic dog and cat, which offer novel ways of interacting with long-term care residents, Friesen says.    “The pets are a lot of fun — a great source of fun and engagement," Friesen says.    The dog barks, nods and wags its tail, and the cat rolls over, purrs and meows. Residents find the Joy for All Companion Pets quite soothing and relaxing, Friesen says, often just sitting and petting them. They can be helpful during chaplain services, for example, by helping soothe residents so they can be more engaged in the service. Audiobooks    “In a dementia care environment, we have people with varying degrees of ability and disability, and sometimes e-books aren’t the best option,” Friesen says. “Audiobooks, however, provide great engagement for each

Lynden Tribune | Wednesday, February 13, 2019 | Ferndale Record person.”    Friesen uses tablet computers to connect to the Whatcom County Library System and download audiobooks on demand. People who live in the long-term care memory unit can listen to treasured stories while relaxing or engaging in other tasks. The audiobooks work so well that Friesen would actually like to get some more iPads so more people can listen to audiobooks simultaneously. Community music    In addition to personalized, individual music playlists, memory care specialists engage individuals through group music sessions and other community events.    Friesen has a 360-degree bluetooth speaker that he can place in the center of a circle of people to enhance social listening and interaction.    “We also have a lot of group dynamic programs coming through here — performers, piano players, church services and more,” he says. “Sometimes, this technology is a nice complement to something that’s already going on, and it helps to keep people engaged.”    The ultimate goal in Cedar Cove, Friesen says, is to help improve quality of life, making each day better in notable ways. That sometimes is challenging in a memory care environment, he says, but the staff continue to learn and grow as they employ different ways of reaching each person.    “Technology is helping us connect and build meaningful relationships with our residents in Cedar Cove. It provides us with a wide variety of tools that often inspire moments of joy,” Friesen says. “In spite of the challenges and changes of the dementia disease process, it is exciting to see ways in which technology is allowing us to get to know each other again.”

Wireless headphones can let each resident customize their own audio input. (Courtesy photo/CHCC)

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Lynden Tribune | Wednesday, February 13, 2019 | Ferndale Record

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Skagit Adult Day Program aims to expand to Whatcom Plans are to have a building at The Firs    WHATCOM — ­ The Skagit Adult Day Program hopes to open its third location, this one in Bellingham in the Rutledge Building at The Firs Camps & Retreats near Lake Whatcom, sometime in 2019.    It will fill a gap that developed when the Northwest Adult Day Health and Wellness Center of Lynden closed its doors in August 2018. That program had been started in 2015 due to the ending of a 37-year program based at PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center.    “2019 will be an exciting time for Skagit Adult Day Program,” said executive director Pauline Smith, who stepped into her role in June 2018. “SADP was approached to fill the significant need in that community.”    About $100,000 needs to be raised to open the Bellingham location. Some

Pauline Smith, Skagit Adult Day Program executive director grants have been applied for, but those take time, Smith said.    “We would love to open in May, but honestly, until we have the funds to purchase all the furniture, kitchen appliances, washer/dryer, tables, chairs, sofas, televisions, office desks, computers, etc., we will have to be delayed,” Smith emailed this week.    The announcement about extending up into Whatcom County, while

The Skagit Adult Day Program already operates The Bradford House in Burlington and The Gentry House in Anacortes. A goal is to open a Rutledge house at The Firs in Whatcom County in 2019. (Courtesy photos)

continuing to build services in Skagit, was made in January in conjunction with the retirement of Nancy Gentry after eight years of leading the organization on a volunteer basis.    Gentry’s experience supporting her father through his dementia journey led her to co-found SADP in 1992.    With day program homes now in both Burlington (27 years) and Anacortes (10), Skagit Adult Day Program has provided therapeutic day programming for adults with dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease, as well as education, support and respite for their caregivers.    “Over her tenure Nancy’s efforts supported thousands of Skagit County individuals and their families to navigate the challenges of dementia,” the organization said in a press release.

   Now Smith brings a background of 30 years in the social service industry, with over 20 years in leadership with seniors. She will lead SADP as it responds to new demands for service and growth opportunities ahead.    The organization’s annual dinner and auction fundraising event, Music and Memories, happened Jan. 19 at the Swinomish Casino & Lodge.    SADP’s mission is to provide highquality, compassionate care in a safe environment to those who have dementia diagnoses, of which Alzheimer’s disease is most common. In addition to day program services at Gentry House in Anacortes and Bradford House in Burlington, SADP runs education and support groups for caregivers.    Dementia affects 20 percent of adults 65 years and older. Both Skagit

and Whatcom have higher percentages of older adults than neighboring counties. Day program services are vital in extending the time individuals can remain in their own homes, maximize self-determination and personal dignity, support caregivers, and ease the financial demands of the disease.    A wide range of community members have invested time, talent and financial contributions with SADP over the years. One person in particular being acknowledged is Deanna McDougle, leading marketing strategies for more than seven years.    For additional information or to donate, contact Pauline Smith at pauline@skagitadultdadyprogram.org or 425-345-5224 cell. The website is http://www.skagitadultdayprogram. org/.


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Lynden Tribune | Wednesday, February 13, 2019 | Ferndale Record

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Lynden Tribune | Wednesday, February 13, 2019 | Ferndale Record

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