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Why I do what I do

December 19, 2018
By Mike Weland

Quite often, people who see me ask why I put so much effort into keeping up with news and the website I share it on with readers. I don't get around very well at all, I only have one hand that works. I'm medically retired. Why do I bother?

It goes back to those bad winters in the late 1990s, school roofs collapsing, barns crumbling under the weight of snow, people snowed in so deep fire trucks nor ambulances could get into homes where they were desperately needed.

I was working at KBFI Radio then, back when it was a "live" station. We were supposed to shut the station down overnight back then, but so much was happening, I quite often kept it on through the night, spinning CDds, cuing up ads, listening to the scanner and talking to people who seldom talked back.

Law enforcement and emergency services personnel were stretched extremely thin that winter, and one night a call came over the scanner of an elderly handicapped woman, alone in her home on the West Side, reporting that her husband had gone out for firewood a while ago and hadn't come back in yet.

Deputies on duty reported in, but all were far from the West Side Road, and with road conditions what they were, it would be a considerable time before they could get there.

Song over, I went on the air and told a dark, cold night about it, not knowing for sure if anyone was still listening or not. For a good long while, I thought my call went unheeded ... and then the phone rang.

A man, I don't know who, said he'd found the elderly man, firewood scattered around him, stuck in the snow where he'd fallen.

"I got him inside and warmed up," he said. "He was pretty cold. Brought in their firewood and plowed their driveway and a path to the woodshed. Anybody else needing anything that you know of?"

That's the good that journalism can do, and why I do what I do, day in day out. Trying to keep readers interested until the time comes again when a neighbor, or a community, needs help and getting the news out in time can mean the difference between life and death. A voice in the dark reaching out to neighbors willing to help neighbors.

Since then, there have been a few times I've called out, and I have never been let down. I can no longer get out to help others, but I can be that voice letting others know where their help is needed.

This morning I again put out a call for help for a family facing tragedy as their young son fights for his life in a Spokane hospital, knowing but not knowing if my call would be heard.

In just over two hours, 32 people commented on the Facebook post, which has reached over 3,800 people and been shared 173 times so far. Arrangements are being made to fill the need and others are asking how else they can help.

It is nearly overwhelming how this community always responds. No names given or asked, just the knowledge that a neighbor is in need.

It's not a lot I can do, but it is something. That's what keeps me at it, day after day, year after year. Those times when timely local news can make a difference are few, thankfully. But they always come. That's why I am so grateful for those who advertise with KootenaiValleyTimes.com, making it possible for me to stay at my post.

My hope is to always be here when news is needed.

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