Benefit brings in bundle for babies’ book fund


A recent yard sale to benefit the local Books for Babes program brought in $645.61. That means more books are destined to reach the hands of Walla Walla Valley families with newborns. The intention is to encourage early literacy.

Kay Barga and Missy Peterson founded the community service project and since May 2005 more than 2,000 families in the area have received bags filled with books in English or Spanish.

Missy was 62 when she died at her Walla Walla home on Sept. 14, 2011. Kay, a retired Edison Elementary teacher, continues on as coordinator of the effort.

Books for Babes’ Facebook page, at, reports that in each newborn’s bag are books on the ABCs and counting and on the importance of reading to babies, written in English by Edison second-graders or in Spanish by the dual immersion classes at Sharpstein and Green Park, along with three new, commercially available books.

Contributions to Books for Babes may be made to P.O. Box 2995, Walla Walla, WA 99362.

Robert Keatts, Walla Walla-Sasayama Sister City Affiliation Committee chairman, had to scramble to accommodate a student from Japan who wished to attend school in Walla Walla during the upcoming academic year.

Without an agency avenue in place, Robert became certified and registered with the U.S State Department so he can serve as an academic coordinator with the Northwest Student Exchange organization based in Seattle.

It was in October on a visit to Sasayama, Walla Walla’s sister city in Japan, that Bob found out a Homei High School student wished to attend school here.

“The rest of the process was simple since a host family and school placement had already been secured,” he said.

The committee is eagerly anticipating Hogara Ikuma’s arrival in Pasco on Tuesday.

Pete and Shelly Crump Peterson, who originally hosted Hogara in March 2012 for a two-week homestay, will again provide a home for him.

“Hogara was so impressed with his host family, Walla Walla and the high school that he immediately wanted to return for a one-year exchange,” Robert reported in the committee’s 2013 semi-annual newsletter

The two-week homestay program has itself been in place for 20 years now, Robert noted.

It is a complement to the one-year high school exchange program and conceived by Syunzo Hata from Sasayama.

More than 500 students have participated since then. “A few of the students have made life-changing decisions because of their involvement,” Robert said.

“Careers have taken former students around the world, students have returned to their respective home country or returned to their sister city home country to further their education. There are former students from Walla Walla who are currently living abroad studying or working because they had the opportunity to partake in a two-week home stay in their respective sister city. There are students from Sasayama currently studying in Seattle or other locations in the United States and Canada,” Robert added.

The local homestay program has only been interrupted when Walla Walla did not go to Sasayama in 2001 and Sasayama did not come to Walla Walla in 2003, cancellations contributed to by political/military/health concerns resulting from 9-11 and the avian flu and North Korea instability.

“We look forward to continued success of this great homestay program.” Five students from Walla Walla are slated to go to Sasayama on Oct. 9.

Participation and support of the committee’s activities is encouraged and appreciated. Their next meeting will be 7 p.m. Oct. 7 in the Pioneer Park Garden Center off Alder Street.

Pediatrician Kenneth Ginsburg will give the talk, “Our Kids are Not Broken: The Importance of Resilience in Overcoming Adversity,” between 9-10:30 a.m. Monday in the Reid Campus Center Young Ballroom, 280 Boyer Ave., at Whitman College.

He will discuss “applying core principles of positive youth development and resilience to support youth to be better prepared to thrive through good and challenging times,” according to the Walla Walla Public Schools Week in Review online newsletter.

Sponsored by Blue Mountain Community Foundation, the event is in conjunction with a James Redford documentary film production that highlights Lincoln High School. Kenneth specializes in adolescent medicine at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and is a professor of pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

For more details online, see

Saint Michael’s College awarded Desales Catholic High School students Patrick Giedman and Elizabeth Ruthven with Book Awards for Academic Achievement with a Social Conscience.

The Walla Walla students were honored for demonstrating a commitment to leadership in volunteer service and academic achievement.

Saint Michael’s, in Burlington, Vt., was founded on the belief that serving others is part of its Catholic tradition, and through the award recognizes those who demonstrate the true spirit of volunteerism.

Award recipients, named at schools throughout the country, are high school juniors who are inductees of the National Honor Society or an equivalent school-sponsored honors organization.

They must demonstrate a commitment to service activities in high school or community organizations, taking leadership roles in these activities.

Winners received the book “First They Killed My Father: A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers,” (HarperCollins 2000) by Loung Ung, a 1993 Saint Michael’s alumna who has become a widely acclaimed author.

In her book, Ung gave an autobiographical account from a child’s perspective, of surviving captivity during the genocidal Pol Pot regime in Cambodia.

“She reveals an indomitable spirit in the face of profound suffering, including the loss of both her parents and two of her siblings,” according to a release.

Ung wrote her memoir about a family’s survival, and in turn, about the development of her ongoing crusade for a landmine-free world.

Etcetera appears in daily and Sunday editions. Annie Charnley Eveland can be reached at or afternoons at 526-8313.


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