A couple walking a dog on the sidewalk go by, smile and wave.
A jogger on the other side of the street goes by, smiles and waves.
An officer in a police car drives by, smiles and waves.
That’s the reaction Vickie Helsi gets all the time as she sits in her lawn chair on a sidewalk along High School Road in Bainbridge Island.
“Everybody’s having such a hard time, and I’ve just always been happy so I smile and wave,” she said.
Amanda Sageser, a teacher at Bainbridge High School, said students in her second period 9th grade advisory class are fans.
We “were having a conversation today about a wonderful lady who stands across from the high school and waves at people as they drive by. My students are very inspired by her,” Sageser said in an email to the Review. “In these challenging times (especially for the high school students) even just her simple wave is enough to offer them hope for the future.”
Sageser passed along some of the comments her students made about Helsi.
“My students just love her so much. They were saying things like, ‘She is a queen”, “she just makes me so happy.’ Very nice to have some positivity right now,” the head athletic trainer said.
They aren’t the only people who appreciate Helsi.
One person gave her an alpaca coat to stay warm. She’s also received bouquets of flowers. She’s had picnics out there, and kids will come by and talk. On a recent cold afternoon she sat there with one of her caregivers, Scott McDonald.
Helsi started sitting out there last winter. After living in nearby apartments for 24 years, they changed to no longer allow smoking. Showing respect for that law, she moved out to the public sidewalk.
Helsi said years ago she used to pass out bibles. She thinks He is behind this new mission of spreading happiness.
“God put me out here,” she said. “No matter where God puts me, there’s a reason for me” being there.