this week's FRONT PAGE (PDF)
in the April 4, 2008,
of Studio Tour 8
to honor local volunteer
Thursday, April 10, 5-10
Dinner, live music, and
Three Rivers Lions Club
If you’re a local senior
citizen, belong to any service organization,
attend the Catholic church, volunteer
in Three Rivers, or are a High Sierra
Jazz Band fan, chances are you know Estelle
Christensen. In the more than a decade
of honoring outstanding community service
at Lions Recognition Night there’s
never been another one quite like Estelle.
“When I was told I was being honored
this year I couldn‘t believe it,”
Estelle said. “Never in my wildest
dreams would I think it was me. I’m
How could Estelle ever give
much thought to being honored for all
that she does? She’s too busy most
days to take time to think about anything
but her next task, such as being president
of the Woman’s Club (she just signed
on for another year) or secretary of the
Sierra Traditional Jazz Club (for more
than a decade now) or a permanent member
(and past president) of St. Clair’s
Altar Society or helping out almost daily
in the kitchen at St. Anthony Retreat
or serving hot lunches to seniors or planning
the next outing of the local Travel Club.
It’s truly amazing
all she does and how she has so much fun
doing it. Estelle credits her good upbringing
in the Inglewood-Hawthorne area of Southern
California and, specifically, her parents
who instilled in her some great values.
“We had an open-door policy in our
home,” recalled Estelle. “My
parents always taught me that in terms
of love and friendship, you get back equal
to what you give.”
When husband Lou and Estelle
finally retired (in 1992 and 1993, respectively)
their dream of moving permanently to Three
Rivers was realized. Originally,
they had to put off retirement a few years
(he from Northrop, she from bookkeeping
for a tile company) even though they had
purchased their Three Rivers place in
1979, formerly the home of Gene and Marion
“I had a bout with breast cancer
in 1985,” Estelle recalled, “so
to keep my insurance I had to continue
working in my one-gal office a little
longer than I planned.”
But in the meantime, the
couple spent as much time as possible
enjoying their Three Rivers home with
its “killer view” of Alta
Peak and the Kaweah canyon. Gene Gray,
a founding father of Valley Oak Credit
Union, who was also an accomplished photographer,
designed and built the home to capture
the essence of Three Rivers and its unique
place in the mountains.
“The home was built about 1940,
and we never did much to change the original
construction,” Estelle said. “Gene’s
studio is still out back, and over the
years we’ve heard the stories of
how people came calling to ask for a loan.
Much of that early business was done with
a handshake right here at the house.”
When Estelle first came to
Three Rivers fulltime she continued her
open-door policy but didn’t dive
right into the community pool. Then she
joined the Woman’s Club in 1994
and soon learned that volunteering was
what she was really cut out to do.
“Once you become involved, you realize
all the ways that your life is enhanced
while helping others,” said Estelle.
The volunteer work, Estelle
said, is really what has defined her life
and her friends in Three Rivers. She said
the entire community should be proud of
all the good works being done, especially
the ongoing commitment of groups like
the Three Rivers Woman’s Club, which
has provided scholarships for local students,
Community Food Pantry support, and donations
to a steady stream of causes from the
heart clinic at Kaweah Delta Medical Center
to Three Rivers School to the Memorial
Building, to name a few.
“It’s really not difficult
doing what I do when you so thoroughly
enjoy it and work with such great people,”
Estelle said. “In this town, we
just move from plate to plate and glass
to glass and count our blessings along
SCE prefers Lemon
After compiling reams of
background data and conducting public
meetings in 2006 and 2007, officials from
the Southern California Edison Company
recently released an updated statement
that contained a revised timetable to
construct a transmission line that would
greatly expand the company’s capacity
to provide electricity for Tulare County.
The proposed line, dubbed the San Joaquin
Cross Valley Loop Project, consists of
the construction of a new 19-mile double-circuit
220-kilovolt line, which would allow SCE
to deliver additional power from the company’s
Big Creek hydrostation in the Sierra Nevada
Mountains into the Rector Substation southeast
The company is seeking the
approval from the California Public Utilities
Commission of its preferred Alternative
1, although two other alternatives will
also be considered as a part of the application.
Route changes to the company’s
preferred Alternative 1 were widely circulated
this week and will be scrutinized at a
public meeting Monday, April 7, 6:30 p.m.,
The dilemma facing company
officials is that no matter where the
lines are routed somebody is bound to
object. One thing is for certain, according
to Bill DeLain, SCE region manager, Tulare
County is one of the fastest growing regions
in California and that means an increased
demand for electricity. And despite SCE’s
best efforts to teach conservation and
consumer efficiency through outreach programs
like its Agricultural Technology Center
(AgTac) in Tulare, the present lines into
the Rector Substation are already near
limits so the proverbial handwriting is
on the wall.
What’s changed in the
latest Alternative 1 route proposal is
that the line would be constructed south
of Highway 198 and southeast of Lemon
Cove until it intersects with Big Creek
3, the Springville route located east
of Lemon Cove and west of Lake Kaweah.
Modifications to the proposed transmission
route include constructing the line at
or near existing property lines, roads,
and current right-of-way where possible.
What the public will see is approximately
108 tubular poles and 14 lattice steel
towers ranging in height from 120 to 150
Alternative 2 follows an
existing Big Creek route northward but
then skirts due east to the Springville
route through Elderwood two miles north
of the City of Woodlake and would be approximately
23 miles long. Alternative 3 follows existing
Big Creek route then skirts north of Elderwood
and is 24 miles long.
Alternative 1 makes the most sense, according
to DeLain, because it is a least four
miles shorter, has the fewest environmental
impacts, and would cost many millions
less to construct. The next step, SCE
is advising all interested parties, is
that officials intend to file a Certificate
of Public Convenience and Necessity application
in May 2008 to seek approval of a modified
version of the project that was first
proposed in 2006.
A decision on the proposal
from the California Public Utilities Commission
could be expected sometime in the summer
of 2009. If all goes according to SCE’s
plan, construction of the new transmission
line would be completed in 2011.
For more information or if
you would like to be added to the mailing
list and receive project mapping, contact:
Bill Delain, 685-3213 or email email@example.com.
Kings Canyon entrance
This winter, the Kings Canyon
entrance station has been located outside
the Kings Canyon Visitor Center at Grant
Grove. The entrance station will be relocated
back to the Big Stump parking lot, which
is currently a snowplay destination, about
May 1 or when the snow melts.
See what TRUS is
up for Jazzaffair
As traditional as Jazzaffair
itself, the seventh-grade class at Three
Rivers School and their parents will camp
out at the Memorial Building during Jazzaffair
weekend (April 11-13) to ensure all jazz
fans receive proper sustenance. This food
service is a major fundraiser for the
class’s eighth-grade San Francisco
Here is the schedule and
menu, entitled “All That Jazz”:
—FRIDAY, APRIL 11—
Lunch, 3-5 pm: Po’
Boy sandwiches ($3.50), MILLER’S
Vegetable Pasta Soup ($2.50).
Dinner, 5-7:30 pm: COLTRANE
Chicken (quarter chicken, tea-grilled),
oolong-infused rice, green tea stir-fried
vegetables, cheesecake ($8).
Breakfast: Continental breakfast
for a donation.
Lunch, 11 am-3 pm: Po’
Boy sandwiches (if available), MILLER’S
Vegetable Pasta Soup (if available), hamburgers,
hot dogs, Polish sausage dogs, Gardenburgers,
Dinner, 5-7:30 pm: ARMSTRONG
Chicken Alfredo with roasted red peppers
and pasta, oolong-infused rice, garlic
bread, green salad, brownies ($8).
Breakfast: Continental breakfast
for a donation.
Lunch, 10:30 am-3 pm: Po’
Boy sandwiches (if available), MILLER’S
Vegetable Pasta Soup (if
available), Chicken Alfredo lunch (if
available), hamburgers, hot dogs, Polish
sausage dogs, Gardenburgers, chips, beverages.
In November, many people
who attended the Holiday Bazaar in Three
Rivers completed a survey. It was designed
to assist a new local group called “Sequoia
Mountain Healers” to identify what
information may be of interest regarding
some of the healing services offered by
the group. The following article is, in
part, a response to that survey.
Almost everyone has times
in their lives when difficult choices
and decisions are to be made. Relationships,
health, family matters, jobs, career emphasis
or retirement issues, finances in general,
spiritual direction, and sometimes living
arrangement concerns rise up to be resolved.
“What should I do?” or “What
would be the best choice for me in the
larger picture?” may be some of
the basic questions one wants to resolve.
When we look outside ourselves
for answers, then we usually end up in
a double bind: If someone gives us advice,
we take it and the result is “good,”
then someone else had the power to affect
our life. They were the powerful one!
In contrast, if we take their
advice and the result ends up being “bad,”
then we are still disempowered and in
a new stuck place.
The “Insight Counseling”
process allows someone to discover their
own inner guidance. In compassionate and
confidential sessions, clients are gently
coached using active listening and reflection.
The individual is assisted
to bridge the gap between where they are
now and where they want to be. They explore
possibilities for resolutions of their
challenges. They reach a deeper discovery
of their creativity, their strengths and
A primary goal of each appointment
is practical application of the individual’s
new awareness of positive possibilities
to their daily life challenges.
Clancy Blakemore, Ph.D. (psychology),
D.D., has over 25 years experience using
this process she calls “Insight
Counseling”. She has assisted many
people to create new directions and more
success through their choices.
For more information or to
make an appointment, phone 561-4435 or
email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Clancy Blakemore is part
of a local network of professionals; Sequoia
Mountain Healers, “Partners in Wellness.”
The group’s goal is
to encourage and support health and well-being
within our local and global community.
Their mission statement is to:
—Create opportunities for enhancing
health and well-being;
—Encourage and promote diverse healing
—Provide a network for
health and well-being professionals.
Three Rivers hosts
the Tajik girls
Dig a hole from Three Rivers
through the center of the Earth and you
will reach Tajikistan, a mountainous country
about the size of Wisconsin.
Only seven percent of the
land is flat enough to be livable. With
peaks that make our local Sierra seem
like hills, the country’s average
elevation is about 10,000 feet.
Two charming young ladies,
Madina Rustamzoda and Shahlo Islomova,
are living in Three Rivers and attending
Woodlake Union High School as part of
a foreign exchange program called FLEX
or Future Leaders Exchange. Operated by
the U.S. State Department, FLEX brings
top-achieving high school students from
former Soviet Union countries to the United
States to learn about democracy and the
American way of life.
The ultimate goal is to develop
the future leaders of these countries.
Of the 50,000 students that apply for
FLEX each year, less than 1,000 are accepted.
After almost seven months
in Three Rivers, Madina and Shahlo may
on outside appearance seem to be typical
American teenagers with a bit of an accent.
But their culture, customs, and traditions
are far from the way of life to which
we are accustomed.
Although they wear jeans
and Nikes in their home country, the difference
between men’s and women’s
roles more closely mimics America 100
years ago. Tajikistan is the poorest of
the former Soviet Union countries with
60 percent of the population living below
the poverty level.
When Madina returns home
in June, she will prepare to attend college
in Tajikistan’s capital city. Shahlo,
who has longed to be a doctor as long
as she can remember, currently faces a
more traditional destiny.
Tajik girls, who remain under
their parents control until they wed,
are expected to marry and start a family
at 18. Shahlo turns 18 this month.
Shahlo hopes to convince
her parents, who are highly educated,
that she has learned a better way from
her time in America. She dreams to attend
medical school and someday open a hospital
in her country, which lacks adequate medical
care for its citizens.
For those who have struggled
to learn a second language, Shahlo speaks
Tajik, Russian, Turkish, Uzbek, English,
and Persian. She can also understand several
Both girls volunteered as
interpreters for the World Ag Expo, assisting
visitors from other countries in learning
about and purchasing American farm equipment
The Tajik girls have a wonderful
sense of humor. Shahlo attended the Tulare
County Fair’s livestock auction.
When a prize cow sold for $10,000, she
commented, “If I knew they were
worth that much I would have brought one
This past winter, Tajikistan
faced its most severe winter in the known
history of the country. The country, already
lacking in sufficient electricity found
itself in trouble.
Normally, most homes are
provided only six hours of electricity
per day. But this winter there was less,
and in some villages, electricity was
In just a few weeks, more than 200 newborn
babies died because of insufficient power
for hospitals. After a plea for help to
the United Nations, the United States
— which provides annual aid to Tajikistan
— added $2 million in assistance
in the form of blankets, fuel, and other
Some of the firsts Madina
and Shahlo have experienced in America
include seeing the ocean (Tajikistan is
a landlocked country), watching a movie
in a theater, McDonalds and Taco Bell,
sandwiches, and microwave ovens. They
laughed the first time they saw a frozen
In Tajikistan, most foods
are prepared from scratch with fresh ingredients.
Shahlo, who does most of the cooking for
her family back home, had never used a
When Shahlo volunteered at
the Three Rivers Christmas Caroling event,
she was handed a shovel to begin digging
the fire pit. Keeping with the separation
of male and female roles in her country,
though she had seen a shovel used by her
father and brother, she had never held
one in her hands.
Shahlo and Madina live in
the country’s second largest city.
Although it is a small country, it takes
12 hours to drive from their city to the
capital. Shahlo explains that the trip
through the mountains makes the road to
Giant Forest seem like a superhighway.
Shahlo lives with her Three
Rivers host parents, Mark and Kristi Tilchen,
and Madina resides with her hosts, Lee
and Heidi Crouch and their daughter Hillary.
Seeing Madina and Hillary together, one
might assume the two have been lifelong
The Crouches and Tilchens
say that for the best experience these
students must be accepted into the home
as a member of the family. The FLEX program
requires volunteer activities and community
service, and Shahlo and Madina have done
their fair share.
Combined they have volunteered
more than 200 hours to organizations like
the Sequoia Natural History Association,
the Sequoia Foothills Chamber of Commerce,
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Lake Kaweah,
National Park Service, and the Fresno
In January, Shahlo, who led
her sponsoring organization’s (World
Link) 80 students in volunteer hours,
was selected to attend a conference at
Orlando’s Disney World Resort. The
“Better Understanding for a Better
World” conference brought foreign
exchange students from 21 countries together
to learn how they can make this small
planet on which we reside a better and
more peaceful place.
Shahlo’s favorite place
so far is Manhattan. She describes the
huge buildings, crowds, and traffic as
beautiful with the same passion we might
describe a magnificent sunset.
Her second favorite spot
is Las Vegas. Disneyland, a place she
has dreamed of seeing since she was a
young girl, is also high on her list of
Madina, more of a nature lover, had the
opportunity to join the Crouches on a
Spring Break trip to Kauai, where she
snorkeled with sharks and sea turtles
and hiked in Waimea Canyon (Hawaii’s
“Grand Canyon”). Last fall,
upon seeing her first Three Rivers tarantula,
Madina gently picked it up and held it
to her face.
Heidi, Kristi, Lee, and Mark all say they
have gained a stronger appreciation for
the things we often take for granted by
having had the privilege to be born in
Hosting FLEX students is
a lot of work, but if you ask Shahlo or
Madina’s host parents, they will
tell you this has been one of the greatest
experiences of their lives.
World Link is currently seeking
hosts for the next school year. Contact
Mark or Heidi at the number below if you
would like more information.
Madina and Shahlo enjoy speaking to Americans
about their country. Some of you have
already had the pleasure of meeting these
young ladies. If not, and your group or
organization would like a fascinating
guest speaker, contact Mark Tilchen or
Heidi Crouch at 565-3759.
Their time is limited as
they have various activities required
for their program and they return home
in June, but they will try to accommodate
for visitor center
Stretching back for decades,
folks from all walks of life in Three
Rivers have one thing in common: a dedication
to volunteerism. In fact, one might say
that Three Rivers runs on volunteerism.
From school functions and
fundraisers to church or community service
projects; from landscaping projects around
public buildings to providing safe places
for children to play; from festivals and
concerts to tours and events; for the
young, sick, homeless, old, or needy,
locals dedicate countless hours providing
service in all facets of our community.
The Sequoia Foothills Chamber
of Commerce is managed and operated like
many of the groups in Three Rivers: solely
by volunteers. From the board of directors
to project committees and visitor services,
the Chamber runs on the efforts of volunteers,
all dedicated to improving the economic
health and stability of this area.
With the height of visitor
season upon us, the Chamber seeks additional
volunteers to help staff its visitor center
located in the Three Rivers Museum. This
facility is operated in partnership with
the Three Rivers Historical Society.
Volunteers provide information to area
visitors about Three Rivers businesses
and recreational opportunities in Sequoia
and Kings Canyon National Parks. Volunteers
do not need to be an expert on this region
or the parks; the Chamber will provide
Beginning May 1, the visitor
center will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
daily, and the Chamber is looking for
folks who can staff the visitor center
in four-hour shifts, one day a week. Benefits
include, but are not limited to: meeting
people from around the globe in an air-conditioned
office; access to free, high-speed Internet;
and learning new skills, potentially a
great opportunity for home-schooled young
adults (age 16 and older, with parent).
In addition to operating
the visitor center, the Chamber works
on a variety of projects that would benefit
from your volunteerism: providing exhibits
and/or information booths at fairs, festivals,
travel, and trade shows; creating outreach
publications, like brochures or newsletters,
and upgrading the website; organizing
local events for businesses and residents;
and much, much more.
Now is the perfect time to
donate your time, learn new skills, or
lend your knowledge and experience. To
volunteer with the Sequoia Foothills Chamber
of Commerce, contact Tom Marshall, volunteer
MESSAGE OF THE
Three greatest example of a leader
by Pastor Alex Garcia,
First Baptist Church
Two weeks ago, Three Rivers was introduced
to the First Baptist Church’s new
pastor, Alex Garcia, in the Neighbor Profile.
The following is another contribution
by Pastor Alex, which readers may now
look forward to monthly.
Leadership is for everyone;
all of us lead in some respect. For example,
we volunteer for positions in a church,
a community, at school, at work; as a
Big Sister or Brother, an advisor for
a friend, or a role model for those who
are younger than us.
And, of course, if you are
a parent, you lead through fathering or
mothering. We are leaders, and whether
good or bad, people look at our lives
and consider if they are worth imitating.
What exactly is leadership?
One expert in the field of leadership
estimates that there are over 350 definitions
of the term “Leadership.”
But in almost all definitions of leadership,
the key component is people. A leader
once said it this way: “He who thinks
himself a leader, and turning around finds
no one following, is only taking a walk.”
Leadership can be summed
up in one word, INFLUENCE. That’s
One of the best leaders (influencers)
of all time was and is Jesus Christ. What
was his priority in leadership?
Serving people, this was
his main concern. The Son of God was people-oriented.
This was the style of his
leadership — caring, listening,
loving, and serving each and every person.
Several times in the gospels, Jesus spoke
of a different kind of leadership, usually
ending with a poignant summary:
“...if anyone wants to be first,
he must be the very last and the servant
of all” —MARK 9:34; “…just
as the Son of Man did not come to be served,
but to serve…” —MATTHEW
20:28; “The greatest among you will
be your servant” —MATTHEW
To Jesus, greatness and power
were not measured by the number of people
serving a leader, but the extent that
the leader was serving the people under
him or her.
Oswald Sanders summed up
this thought by writing, “True greatness,
true leadership, is achieved not by reducing
men to one’s service but in giving
oneself in selfless service to them”
(Spiritual Leadership, Moody Press).
The Bible teaches that leaders serve us
best by leading us and lead best by serving
us. The focus of the leadership style
of Jesus Christ is on the growth, success,
and welfare of his followers.
His example teaches us that
leadership flourishes with a meaningful
relationship, not by regulations, rules,
and requirements. Christ wasn’t
into power, position, or prestige. His
leadership was selfless not selfish, that’s
a leader’s heart.
We influence others by serving,
sacrifice, and surrendering our rights
all in the context of a relationship.
Jesus spoke of a different kind of leading,
whatever the “service,” the
servant-leader looks not only at his own
interests but to the interests of those
he or she is leading and serving.
Are you looking for ways
to improve your leadership and influence?
Jesus Christ offers a very effective life-changing
leadership style. I invite you to read
the gospels and explore His different
kind of leading: servant-leadership.