Tapping the power of one

Several years ago, I read a book called “The Power of One.” I was reminded of that title when I learned of what happened after Linda Coble wrote a letter to the Bainbridge Review lamenting the city’s decision to not hang, or fund, the traditional flower baskets on Winslow Way this summer.

Many of us shared Linda’s concern, but because she voiced it for all of us, this is what happened.

The letter was read by the Rotary. Bob Linz told fellow Rotarian Patti Shannon to talk to Tom Kilbane, president of the Bainbridge Island Senior Community Center.

A committee formed, chaired by Coble and Tom Kilbane, president of the Bainbridge Island Senior Community Center. Coble would coordinate volunteers and Kilbane the operations.

Kilbane and Stella Ley, who helps coordinate the Master Gardeners group, began recruiting volunteers. The Rotary agreed to contribute $3,000, and the senior center agreed to take on the liability associated with actually getting the baskets up and watered on a regular basis. Terri Bryant, president of the Village Merchants Association, offered to help hang them.

Senior center members volunteered in large numbers. The baskets were potted with flowers by Fox Glove Nursery in pots provided by the City of Bainbridge Island, although the city would not provide the equipment needed to water them.

Anne Terry, wife of Kitsap County Commissioner Steve Bauer, stepped in and put the group in touch with the Kingston volunteers that maintain flower baskets there. They had purchased a new watering tank and were willing to give the old one to the Bainbridge group.

Next came the question of how to drive the tank around. A couple of months before, Karin Kravitz had offered Kilbane a 1994 Cadillac sedan for his personal use. Kilbane didn’t need the car, but when he heard that the Rotary Auction was getting a 1983 Ford Ranger pick-up truck, he arranged a swap. Now there was a truck for transporting the water tank and volunteers.

This still left the problem of how to pump the water up to the baskets, so Kilbane and fellow senior center board member and volunteer Bob King went down to the docks and got an old bilge pump from the marina manager. King, who used to work for NASA, wired the pump into the 12-volt system of the truck. Now the flower-filled baskets could be hung and watered and a tradition that beautifies our city will be preserved.

The desire to keep the flowering baskets on Winslow Way was fraught with seemingly insurmountable problems. Flowers were needed, and money to pay for them. A water tank and a truck for transport were needed. A bilge pump to make the water reach the flowers, and men and woman to do the hanging and watering were needed.

It sounds overwhelming, yet it happened. And it all began with a single citizen’s letter to the editor. The power of one.

There are currently over 40 volunteers involved in this project, with the majority coming from the senior center. The next largest group is from the Men’s Oatmeal Breakfast Club that meets at the Eagle Harbor Congregational Church, many of whom are also senior center members.

Senior center members include Bill Allan, Jack Bishop, Terri Bryant, Tom Cappadona, Linda and Tom Coble, Joan Cooper, Linda Costello, Bill Cunningham, Sheila Curwen, Bill Evans, Don Fox, Kathy Henrickson, Herb Hethcote, Tom Kilbane, Stella Ley, Ron Luke, Ameta Macaluso, Iver Macdougall, Ed Markham, Rich McDonald, Dick Melton, George Moser, John Munson, Fred Ricco, Ed Samuelson, Jay Schwartzman, and Ron Williamson.

Rod Stevens, in noting this activity said, “This effort gives me hope that we will eventually solve the problems with our local government, for it reinforces what can happen when people work together.”

Stevens also noted the large part the senior center is playing in making the project a reality.

“Perhaps we can reward the senior center by fixing the hole in their roof, something cut out of the most recent city budget,” he said.

Sounds good to me.

Kilbane would like more volunteers to help with the watering. Volunteers will be part of a two-person driving and watering team, and will be asked to water once every two weeks. You can reach Coble or Kilbane to volunteer by calling the Senior Center at 842-1616.

Thank you, Linda Coble, for having and using the power of one!

Marcia Rudoff

writes the monthly

Senior Outlook for the Bainbridge Island Senior Community Center.

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