4 Women to be Honored For Work as Volunteers

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Created on Thursday, 03 April 2014 12:03
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Four Sitka women will be honored for their volunteerism to the community at the 17th Annual Honoring Women dinner and silent auction April 5 at Centennial Hall. Doors open at 6 p.m.

   From left, Sherrie Mayo, Marie Murray, Lisa Sadleir-Hart and Nancy Ricketts. (Sentinel Photos)

The heart of the event will be a slide show featuring each of the honorees – Lisa Sadleir-Hart, Marie Murray, Nancy Ricketts and Sherie Mayo – and a ceremony to mark their contributions.
    Joe Montagne and Peter Apathy will play live music, and Heather Hanson will sing.
    Students of the Sitka Studio of Dance, under the leadership of Melinda McAdams, will present a few dances from their recent program. The dinner will be catered by Ludvig’s, and there will be a no-host bar. The silent auction is supported by many individuals and businesses.
    ‘‘It seems that Sitka is never running out of most remarkable women who not only serve their families, but the entire community by volunteering for the good of all, often over decades,’’ SAFV said. ‘‘This is a wonderful event to acknowledge their work which we may often take for granted.’’
    Tickets are available at Old Harbor Books and at the SAFV shelter. Call 747-3370 for more information.
    The Sentinel this week will publish, in alphabetical order, the biographies  provided by SAFV.

    Lisa Sadleir-Hart
    Lisa Sadleir-Hart was born in Lone Pine, Calif., where her father, a California Fish and Game warden, encouraged her love of nature with outings in Inyo and Modoc Counties and introduced her to the rich eco-systems that exist in the rice and tomato fields of Yolo County. Her mother, a homemaker and people lover, introduced her to social justice, volunteerism and a spiritual life.
    Sadleir-Hart’s love of science, especially chemistry, and her knowing that good food can deeply nourish and restore one’s body, community and the planet, led her to declare home economics as her major at Humboldt State University. Her volunteer spirit moved her to share what she was learning through teaching cooking to low-income children and providing food demonstrations for elders attending the congregate meal programs throughout Arcata.
    In 1982, Sadleir-Hart and an HSU friend, bought a one-way ticket to Kodiak with hopes of scoring big with a cannery job. While her job at East Point Seafoods didn’t reel in the dough, it was where she snagged her lifetime partner of over 30 years, Thomas Hart.  While she was  ferrying down the inside passage to return to school, an Alaska state nutritionist gave her sage advise – finish your degree, get some work experience, pursue an MPH, RD and you’ll land your Alaska dream job!
    With her focus set, Sadleir-Hart taught life skills to mentally ill adults in Davis, Calif., then relocated to Berkeley where she completed her masters in public health and concurrent dietetic internship at UC Berkeley.
    While attending a 1988 nutrition education conference in San Francisco, she came across the posting for the SEARHC community nutrition position. In February 1989, she and Tom moved to Sitka and deeply sunk roots in Sitka’s soil. They welcomed Muriel to their family in 1993 and developed lasting connections with their neighbors on Bahrt Circle and Charles Street over the last 25 years.
    Sadleir-Hart’s 24-year career as SEARHC’s community nutritionist afforded her incredible opportunities to serve and grow – steeping herself in the knowledge of Southeast Alaska traditional foods, teaching community wellness and nutrition classes and advocating for strong food and public health programs. She said she’s profoundly grateful for meaningful, collaborative work that she hoped in some small way improved the health of SEARHC communities.
    Along with her passion for nourishing food was her devotion to living an intentional, spirit-filled life. She sought out training as a spiritual director through the Vancouver School of Theology’s Pacific Jubilee program. Since 2002, she has offered spiritual direction to fellow sojourners with a special love of working with Alaska’s Jesuit Volunteer community as well as offering spiritual formation retreats and workshops in Alaska. Her emphasis on an embodied approach to spirituality led her to begin teaching yoga with Yoga Union in 2008.
    In 2008, Sadleir-Hart’s read Barbara Kingsolver’s ‘‘Animal, Vegetable, Miracle,’’ which nudged her to refocus on the intersection between food and spirit, and model a life dedicated to earth and food justice. She and Tomtransformed their front lawn into a vegetable garden. Sadleir-Hart enthusiastically gives her greatest resource – time – to working for more just, sustainable food systems.
    Whether growing starts and volunteering at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm or coordinating the Sitka Local Food Network’s Farmers Market produce table or facilitating the SLFN board or the Alaska Food Policy Council governing board, Sadleir-Hart is wholeheartedly committed to improving the food environment for all Sitkans and Alaskans – one garden, one meal, one food dollar spent at a time.

Marie Murray
    Marie Murray was born in Glendale, Calif., and when she was 3 her family to Monterey, Calif. There her earliest memories were walking the beach with her dad gathering firewood to burn in their rock fireplace. She would also  collect shells, and later her mother would help her create art by gluing them on cotton.
    She loved the ocean, the salty sea smell, the smooth round rocks, and driftwood that kept them warm at night. Those years seem to set the stage for her love of nature, the ocean, and the call to create beauty with natural elements.
    The family’s next move was to San Diego where she graduated from high school, went to college, married and had two children. During those years, she learned to sew alongside her mother and grandmother, both accomplished seamstresses and quilters. Her first quilt was a gift for a friend when she was in high school. Quilts would always play an important role in her life. She learned she was a fifth generation quilter.
    After divorcing, and while her children were spending time at their dad’s, she took a backpacking trip in Alaska. This trip introduced her to Southeast Alaska, its generous people, the wildlife and incredible scenery. The following winter, she and her daughter moved to Juneau with their belongings in a pickup. Her daughter says it was the best move of their lives. There she made friends, raised her daughter, hiked, kayaked, sport-fished, and loved the Alaskan life. Her favorite T-shirt reads: “Alaska, where men are men and women win the Iditarod.”
    She had always felt strongly about women’s rights and knew how important counseling and support groups had been for her. For eight years she led a women’s support group in her home in Juneau forming friendships that remain today. During that time she worked for the Juneau Arts and Humanities and, eventually, the Legislature. During a weekend commercial fishing trip with a friend, she was introduced to John Murray. After corresponding the old-fashioned way with letters, they fished together for two years and then married. When she decided to relocate to Sitka where John had lived since 1978, she found Sitka welcoming, especially the local quilt guild. She knew this could be home.
    As a member of the guild, she helped form “Quilting from the Heart,” making lap quilts for the Pioneers Home residents. When the quilters had covered every lap there, donations to Sitka Community Hospital, and lately to the Office of Children’s Services and the Coast Guard for medevac victims, were included. She is still involved in Quilting from the Heart. She also produced the guild newsletter and served on the board over the years.
    In 2001, Murray collaborated on a grant creating the organization now known as Brave Heart Volunteers. Murray served on the board of directors in various positions including treasurer and is still involved in various ways.
    In 2003, Murray became the guardian of her 5-year-old grandson James. He came with challenges but now at 15 is athletic and a good student, and continues to bring laughter and happiness to her. She also attributes her new skills in pickleball to his willingness to play with her and the powder puff crew at the Hames Center.
    Murray enjoyed a couple of volunteer terms on the Tree and Landscape Committee for the City and Borough of Sitka. She also served as treasurer on the Kenwa Kai Karate board for years and still serves as recycling coordinator for the Baranof Barracuda Swim Club board. She knows these organizations help form our young people into healthy and responsible adults, and give the opportunity for friendships that last a lifetime.
    When at work at the Legislative Information Office, Murray continues to connect people with the right agency and help them navigate the bureaucratic process, whether they are a constituent, senior, single mom, homeless individual or just an individual with a question that needs an answer. Her philosophy is apparent in the smile she offers as you walk in the door. Customer service is not dead, not as long as Murray and her assistants are serving their community.

Nancy Ricketts
    Nancy Ricketts was born in Pacific Grove, Calif., in 1924 to Ed and Nan Ricketts. Her father was a marine biologist in Monterey. During her early years, the family, which included her brother and sister, would drive to Puget Sound to collect marine specimens in the tide pools.
    Ricketts was especially close to her father and her relationship with him has had a major influence on her life. Ed Ricketts, with Jack Calvin (who lived in Sitka for many years), authored the definitive text on West Coast marine biology titled “Between Pacific Tides.” He had a marine lab on Cannery Row in Monterey and collaborated with his friend, author John Steinbeck, whose book “The Sea of Cortez” related the story of their voyage to that area. Ed Ricketts died in an accident in 1948. Over the years Nancy Ricketts has faithfully gathered information on his life and studies. She and her brother have been featured in several symposiums in the Bay area on the life and work of their father. There is also a statue of Ed Ricketts on Monterey Plaza.
    Following graduation from high school in Bremerton, Wash., Nancyworked at the Navy yard there for a few years before returning to California. After marrying, she and her husband moved to Baltimore where their two children, Chris (Christina) and Ed were born. Ricketts ran a newspaper in Westwood, Calif., for 10 years. Combining her family with her second husband’s family, Ricketts and her husband raised eight children before moving to Sitka in 1974.
    Following their divorce she worked and studied at Sheldon Jackson College where she received her associate of arts and bachelor of arts degrees in the 1980s. She is a certified archivist and received a master’s degree in humanities from Cal State, also in the 1980s.
    Music has been a part of Rickett’s life from an early age when her father introduced her to Gregorian chants and other liturgical and classical music. Her love of music has been a part of her private life as well as volunteer activities. She was a member of St. Peter’s choir for many years and a founding member of the Sitka Recorder Society.
    Ricketts is distinguished by her enduring dedication to volunteering as a member of St. Peter’s Episcopal by-the-Sea Church and throughout the community. She believes that her church and her many volunteer activities, within and outside of the church, express her personal faith. Using her talents as an archivist, she has served Sitka in many ways. She started and has maintained the archives at St. Peter’s which chronicle the history of the church not only in Sitka but throughout Alaska.
    She currently writes an article for the church’s monthly newsletter on the history of the church and Sitka.
    Ricketts authored a book titled “A Brief History of St. Peter’s by-the-Sea.” She organized the archives at Sheldon Jackson College when she worked at Stratton Library and continued that work for 10 years after her retirement. She has worked on history projects for the National Park Service and has written histories of organizations such as Sitka Conservation Society, Sitka Community Hospital and Sitka Summer Music Festival.
    She has been an active member of the Sitka Historical Society and edited their newsletter for 10 years. Ricketts has volunteered at the local history room at Kettleson Memorial Library where she wrote a paper on the cemeteries of Sitka as well as kept and filed newspaper clippings concerning the history and events of Sitka.
    Rickett’s volunteer focus, besides historical projects, has also included her dedication to tutoring reading for first-graders at Baranof Elementary School where she has worked with the children for the past 21 years. She also regularly visits the Sitka Pioneers Home where she reads to residents who have poor vision or who have lost their eyesight. She volunteered at UAS-Sitka Campus in the ESL program for several years,  working with Japanese and Chinese students. She has knitted hundreds of baby hats for Sitka Community Hospital.
    Ricketts says she enjoys working with the diversity of age groups and cultures that she has been involved with over the years and, at age 89, plans to continue as long as her health permits.

Sherie L. Mayo
    Sheryl Lee Morrow was born in 1951 in San Francisco, where her father, Clint, was serving in the U.S. Army. She was raised in Washington state, primarily Seattle. She is the oldest of five siblings – three girls and two boys. The three youngest were much younger, so she was often in a role of caregiver and mother’s helper at a young age.
    Her father was in land development and throughout her growing-up years it was not uncommon for her mom and dad to pack up a huge picnic and the kids into the family car and head east of the Cascades or west to the Olympic Peninsula to spend the day to check out some new property interest. There were many trips to the Columbia River Gorge where a newly built dam created a new lake and opportunity for development. Oftentimes family friends would join them and the day was spent swimming and hiking. It was from these trips that Mayo developed her love of the outdoors and a penchant for adventure.
    Through Scouting she developed a sense of service to others outside her family, but it was her family life that developed her sense of responsibility toward others. After graduating college, she worked in an institution for the mentally disabled, teaching life skills and running an exercise program.
    In 1974 she and a friend hopped onboard the M/V Columbia for Alaska. For the next couple of years she worked for a special needs daycare, Health and Social Services and the Department of Fish and Game in Juneau. In 1977 she gave birth to her first born, Jeb. The following year she met Michael Mayo, and they started a 23-year relationship, and had five more children. There are also three children from Michael’s former relationships.
    The years were full and busy, raising family and building a successful fishing business. There was also lots of travel involved in the off-season, taking the boat to Washington for upkeep and family trips for fun. The year her last son was born in 1990, Mayo was invited to join a grassroots group of people working to get household recycling started in Sitka. She sees this time as a defining moment because it set in motion her life in service to her community. Over the years she has sat on boards, volunteered in various capacities in the school district, and for various causes.
    If you’ve had crepes at the Brave Heart Volunteers 4th of July booth, chowder at last year’s Elizabeth Peratovich’s Day, or black cod tips at the Sitka Farmers Market, you’ve tasted Mayo’s contributions to Sitka events.
    In 2002 Mayo took the second volunteer training offered by Sitka Faith In Action (now Brave Heart Volunteers). She had helped her father as he passed away in his apartment, two years earlier, and as a result felt people should have the opportunity to die at home, or stay at home as long as possible, and Brave Heart Volunteers offers services to support this decision.
    Volunteerism has enriched her life in many ways, offering opportunities to work with and meet new people, learn new skills and stretch the comfort zone.
    She also currently sits on the board for the Sitka Unitarian Universalists, and volunteers at KCAW. Getting involved in community allows a feeling of investment and belonging and; most importantly, a means to give of oneself. She says she feels blessed to be able to have had such a wealth of opportunities, not only in her personal life but in her community life as well.