Life on Whidbey: Women of Whidbey inspire us

By Eileen Brown

So she went all the way to Tanzania and now she is back. What were your impressions of the country, I asked GWEN OEST.

She threw her head back and laughed at my question.

“I had the most wonderful sensation for the first time in my life,” she said, explaining how her ebony skin blended into a sea of other ebony faces. “I was invisible! Really invisible!”

She was also surprised at the need she found, helping out as she did at the Light of the Children orphanage in Moshi. Gwen’s beautiful voice led the 14 children in song at every opportunity.

Gwen went in early October, accompanied by KAREN COX and JENNIFER GLIDEWELL, followed later that month by the COLLAZO family of Oak Harbor.

“They are raising funds to purchase land on which to build a new church and I plan to help in some way,” Gwen said before leaving.

Karen’s blog at gives day-by-day accounts and includes photos. She writes how they managed to rewire the entire building and install interior and exterior lights, re-plumb most of the building, install an exterior water storage tank, remove a wall to provide interior entry to bathrooms, install a wall between boys and girls bathroom, install two showers, two squatty potties and two sinks, install a metal security gate and front door, close off front windows for privacy and screen all windows, build 14 beds with mattresses and a whole lot of scrubbing.

Karen writes the children are all excited to know they will be going to school soon. “I do not know how long they have been out of school but many of them asked when they would be able to go. Our children in the U.S. do not know how lucky they are to have access to quality education so easily,” she wrote.

Much work needs to be completed. Contributions are tax deductible. Make your check payable to Africa Now Ministries and send it to Karen Cox, 1000 NE Koetje St., Oak Harbor, WA, 98277.

‘Don’t go into the white!’

SHAWNA SCHLOE of Oak Harbor says, “The Web is very boring. All the pages are in white.”

She creates custom graphic designs that make a Web page sing, building dozens of templates using the full spectrum of colors. She even reminds people at the bottom of her web page, “Don’t go into the white.”

“I have created dozens of Web templates that can be used for all types of businesses,” she said. “No two templates are exactly the same. Each one is unique in color and artistic design.” She can add the customer’s own graphic.

Her training and experience can give a small business the look of its larger competitors.

Even if you think your business does fine without a Web page, people are likely to check out several companies before selecting one. A new Web page design can help your business soar.

When it comes to PowerPoint, she creates designs that float unobtrusively on the background of a presentation.

Think about whether or not your Web page is attracting customers to you and your business. If it’s time to shake things up, call 360-639-4410 or write to

Early detection is key

We women living on North Whidbey Island do not take for granted our wonderful doctors, support staffs and the excellent care we get at our local hospitals. We’d do anything we could to make breast cancer a thing of the past, and like women everywhere, we come together as one voice, one sisterhood.

SUE TINGSTAD of The Academy of Hope attended the Chamber of Commerce luncheon last week at which the Soroptimists of Oak Harbor announced they were raising $240,000 to buy a digital mammography machine for Whidbey General North.

Her reaction startled even her when guests were asked to stand up for a relative who is a survivor of breast cancer. “I literally shot up to stand for my mother, who turned 98 last week,” Tingstad said. “She was 87 at the time of her diagnosis of breast cancer, the resulting surgery and radiation therapy. We know early detection by mammography is why she will celebrate Christmas with us again this year.

She felt the Soroptimists’ presentation was moving and informative about the disease that strikes women of all ages and lifestyles.

“I bought six of their beautiful scarves as stocking stuffers and am using this opportunity to have a discussion with my four wonderful granddaughters. I want to thank the Soroptimists of Oak Harbor for their efforts on our behalf.”

There are many interesting people living on North Whidbey, doing what they can to make our lives better. Our neighbors can meet them on this page if you will write to me at or call 675-6611.

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