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News Roundup -- Interfaith service Tuesday/BYS bolsters counseling

Interfaith service Tuesday

“Unity in diversity” aptly captures the spirit of the Bainbridge Island/North Kitsap Interfaith Council’s annual Community Interfaith Thanksgiving Service.

“There were a number of us who felt we needed more opportunities...to join together in worship experiences. Thanksgiving doesn’t know any particular religious boundaries in our country,” said Dick Goff, a member of the organizing committee and a past president of the council. The service “allows people to celebrate thanks for each other and share some of their very important traditions.”

The third annual service will take place at 7 p.m. on Nov. 22 at Rolling Bay Presbyterian Church.

Fourteen local faith groups will take part in the service, including Rolling Bay Presbyterian Church, Eagle Harbor Congregational Church, Congregation Kol Shalom, Cross Sound Church, Seabold United Methodist Church, Agate Passage Friends Meeting and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Bainbridge Island Ward. Poems, spirituals, meditations, a youth choir and poetry will highlight the service. The youth choir will feature singers from different faith groups.

“Each of us human beings is different. When you layer that on top of age and race and ethnicity, we get more diverse. Yet the human condition is a part of each of us,” said council president Donna Mohr. “Our beliefs may be different, but we are all here in a sense to serve. We are reaching out to a wider community. We are thankful and we are grateful.”

It works, she said, “because everybody comes together. It’s a team.”

The council hopes islanders will fill the room as in past years. The first service drew about 300 people, Goff said. More than 350 came last year, causing attendees to spill out of Grace Episcopal Church’s sanctuary. This year’s service is in Rolling Bay’s larger sanctuary.

“Here on Bainbridge Island and in North Kitsap, we have quite a lot to be thankful for. We tend to have fewer people here fall through the cracks than in other parts of the world,” Mohr said. “We are so unbelievably fortunate. Even if we have just lost a job or have a sudden illness, we can look anywhere on the planet and see much worse. It’s appropriate to come together and give thanks.”

Goff likes to think of the service “as a very rich spiritual Thanksgiving feast.”

Community members of all ages are invited to attend the service, which lasts about 90 minutes. Child care will be provided for children ages 4 and under. Nonperishable food will be collected and distributed evenly between Helpline House and North Kitsap’s Fishline Food Bank.

For more information call Goff at 842-3564.

—Rhona Schwartz

BYS bolsters counseling

Island teens who need a guiding hand now can seek help from two drug and alcohol counselors who recently joined the Bainbridge Youth Services staff.

Heidi Roth and Stephen Parsons earned master’s degrees in psychology-mental health counseling and psychology from Antioch University in Seattle, respectively, and are experienced in dealing with issues that plague many teenagers.

The organization’s lone counselor with such expertise, Truth Griffeth, resigned last summer because of family obligations.

Although BYS has general counselors on board, “We were looking for someone with more particular skills in drug and alcohol use,” said Lois Lee, executive director.

“Cathy Nickum’s article (‘Take the next step for our kids,’ Nov. 16) is right,” Lee said. “The (‘Healthy Youth Survey’) shows there is a problem.”

Roth’s professional background includes working as a chemical dependency therapist and program supervisor at Ryther Child Center, an outpatient adolescent treatment program in Seattle; a chemical dependency therapist in outpatient and juvenile services for Cascade Recovery Center in Silverdale; family therapist for the Institute for Family Development in Bremerton; and chemical dependency therapist for Coastal Treatment Services in Bellevue and Barth Clinic in Yakima.

Parsons is a private counselor in Seattle and Bainbridge Island with a focus on such areas as HIV/AIDS treatment/bereavement, substance abuse issues and peer pressure.

Roth’s hours at BYS are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Fridays only. Parsons is in the office from 1 to 5 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays.

BYS’ counseling staff also includes Ronnelle Browning, a counselor at Sakai Intermediate School and Woodward Middle School; Kris Rogers; Merrylee Lord; and Millie Loughnane.

BYS takes referrals from schools, parents and probation officers, among others.

“We see kids ages 12 to 19...and we want (them) to continue to do what they always do, which is self-refer,” Lee said.

Counseling is free of charge and strictly confidential. For more information call 780-1849. The office is not open during winter break.

—Rhona Schwartz

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