Seaside signal. (Seaside, Or.) 1905-current, December 25, 2015, Page 9A, Image 9

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    December 24, 2015 • Seaside Signal • seasidesignal.com • 9A
New couple hopes to have a
positive impact on the coast
Luciaks arrive
from Vancouver in
February to give care
to family member
OUR NEW
NEIGHBORS
By Katherine Lacaze
HIGHLIGHTING PEOPLE WHO ARE NEW TO THE COMMUNITY
Seaside Signal
Joseph and Britta Luciak moved
to Gearhart in February and feel right
at home in the friendly, coastal com-
munity.
Coming from Vancouver, British
Columbia, where Joseph was born
and raised, the weather and culture
are similar, making the transition
easy for the couple. Also, Joseph vis-
ited the area frequently growing up,
as his grandparents lived in Gearhart.
“I do feel connected to this town,”
Joseph said.
Britta, who was born in Berlin,
Germany, does not have the same
memories or family ties, but she
traveled a lot growing up and feels
she “can call any place my home,” as
long as she is with her dog and hus-
band.
The couple moved to the area to
take care of Joseph’s grandmother.
Joseph currently works for local con-
tractor Timothy L Beatty Builder.
Britta, a freelance graphic design-
er, still works remotely for the fami-
ly’s business in Canada until she gets
permanent residency in the United
States.
The Luciaks are due to launch
their business, Oregon Mold Medix,
an indoor mold consultation, inspec-
tion and remediation company, in
January 2016. The couple believes it
will provide a much-needed service
in the area. The couple hopes, in par-
ticular, to help that demographic and
low-income families, who tend to be
disproportionately affected by the
problem. Joseph said if one in 10 of
their remediation projects could be
done for a low-income family, then
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KATHERINE LACAZE/SEASIDE SIGNAL
Britta and Joe Luciak moved to Gear-
hart from Vancouver, British Columbia,
in February to help take care of Jo-
seph’s grandmother. The couple plans
to open their own business in January
2016.
impact with our effort.”
“I don’t think those goals are that
ambitious,” he added. “We all live
here because we love the air out-
side.”
They are excited to get the busi-
ness off the ground.
“By this time next year, I think we
will be able to say we have had a big-
ger impact,” through both their busi-
ness and charity work, Britta said.
They enjoy living in a small,
tight-knit community. The advan-
tage of having good neighbors was
evident when, during the summer,
By the Way owner Linda Goldfarb
temporarily closed her shop to help
the couple look for their missing bas-
set hound, Columbo. She located the
dog on U.S. Highway 101 near the
Sons of Norway Field.
“It’s nice to not just be anonymous
in the big city,” Britta said. “Here’s
it’s so much closer knit.”
Joseph agreed.
“This place is so neighborly,”
he said. “When we walk down the
street, I wish the locals would start
to adopt the nod, because my arm
gets sore from constantly waving at
people.”
When not working, Britta and
Joseph share time outdoors with
Columbo, going outside during
storms, hiking and camping. They
also enjoy watching documentaries.
In Vancouver, Britta and Joseph
managed bars, dance clubs and live
music venues. They volunteered
with the Access to Music Founda-
WLRQ D QRQSUR¿W RUJDQL]DWLRQ WKDW
provides children in British Colum-
bia with instruments and music edu-
cation opportunities. Joseph recently
resigned his post as chairman of the
foundation. After heavy involvement
at a community level with perform-
ing arts and community service, Jo-
seph said, they “haven’t really been
culturally stimulated yet down here.”
“We’re really looking to get in-
volved in any sort of capacity,” he
added.
They feel Gearhart is a good place
WREHDQGWRUDLVHWKHLU¿UVWFKLOGGXH
in March.
“We’ll give it a good shot here for
a while and see how it goes,” Britta
said.
Christmas lights
Lights from Page 1A
vember. Near the start of
December, everything is in
Her work twice was place and ready to be in-
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² ZLWK ¿UVWSUL]H
“The holiday season
awards in the residential goes by so fast, it’s nice
category for the Seaside to enjoy it while we can,”
Chamber of Commerce’s said Israel, who also likes
House of Warm Lights con- to decorate the interior with
test. Unfortunately, the con- a large tree, garlands, lights
test is not happening this and other ornaments.
year, but that didn’t stop her
Of course, decorating on
from going all out, decorat- the coast is accompanied by
ing with the same fervor, if tasks like making sure all
not more, as previous years. the items are extra secure
Part of it is having two ZLWKVWDSOHVDQG]LSWLHVDQG
children, 7 and 4, who have VRPH ¿[LQJ DQG UHSODFLQJ
illuminated the holiday when things get damaged
spirit with additional ex- by wind and rain, but Isra-
citement and joy.
el said they are accustomed
“Now that we have two to it and they don’t let it
kids, they insist on it,” she dampen the experience.
said. “We can’t really get
The Israels’ house has
away with not doing it.”
become locally renowned
Israel is Seaside born as prime stop for those on
and bred. She left the area personal or group tours to
for college and spent a few look at festive lights. Isra-
years in Portland before el sees people on a regular
moving back in 2008. She basis driving by or stop-
and her husband, Adam, ping their cars to enjoy the
own the Human Bean Christmas music — mostly
drive-thru coffee shops in classic carols or holiday
Seaside and Warrenton.
music from the ‘80s —
Throughout time, Isra- playing on a loop to accom-
el’s passion for Christmas pany the visual display.
and decorating has rubbed
“Seeing the looks on
off on her husband, which their faces just makes it re-
she said described as her ally special,” she said.
favorite part of the holiday
Decorations throughout
tradition. They have turned the rest of Israel’s neigh-
the activity into a family borhood are pretty sparse,
event that has “grown and but she said she doesn’t
grown,” Israel said.
think her elaborate display
“We add things every or the passersby it brings
year,” she added. “We make bothers them. At this point,
it a fun event, and look for- “they are used to it,” she
ward to it every year.”
said. She tries to have ev-
Israel’s husband has even HU\WKLQJVKXWRIIE\RU
talked about wanting to grid 10 p.m.
the roof, “so we’re going in
The decorations will
that direction,” she said.
stay up through the month
They pull the decora- of December. Israel said
tions out of storage and they usually start coming
starting putting them up GRZQDURXQGWKH¿UVWRIWKH
about two weeks into No- new year.
Winter brings increased need for food, shelter
Hands’ rehabilitation pro-
gram after several tumul-
tuous, emotional months of
relapsing and using crystal
methamphetamine
after
14 years of being clean;
having people she thought
were friends turn against
her; becoming homeless;
and having her two sons,
now 7-year-old Kai and
8-year-old Zar, taken from
her custody.
While at the hospital
on suicide watch, a social
worker asked if Cham-
bers thought she could be
a good mom while using
crystal meth, she said.
She knew the answer was
“no.” In October 2014, af-
ter a summer of “kind of
destroying myself,” she
said, and after being evict-
ed from her apartment, she
remembers sitting at the
Short Stop convenience
store in Astoria “feeling
lost.” The Department of
Human Services had re-
ferred her to options for
getting back to a point
where she could be with
her children. Helpings
Hands was one of the op-
tions.
times for her, but it also
was a time of hope. She
had moved into the wom-
en’s home and was going
through the reentry pro-
gram. With support from
Helping Hands staff and
volunteers, she got herself
clean and found a job.
“I was doing everything
I possibly could to get my
kids back,” she said.
ment for Kai to return to.
She hopes to get training
to strengthen her ability to
cope with his autism and
to provide the support and
guidance he needs to con-
tinue developing.
“My gut tells me it’s
not time,” she said. “I’m
not ready to make a wrong
move and have him re-
moved again.”
‘We can’t do everything, but we try
to augment what’s there.’
Executive Director Elaine Bruce, Clatsop Community Action
Her hard work paid
off. On Valentine’s Day,
Zar was back in her care.
She still was living at
the women’s home, and
the environment provid-
ed extra accountability.
Chambers was surrounded
by nine women who she
knew understood her sto-
ry and cared about her but
also could report her if she
slipped up.
That didn’t happen,
though. Chambers stayed
the course, and by June,
had moved into her own
Support and
apartment. She believes
accountability
her success was due to
Chambers made her Helping Hands, which she
way down to Seaside on said “is a very, very loving
an evening bus from Asto- and helpful place,” and her
ria. Upon her arrival at the motivation to be the best
emergency shelter, staff version of herself for her
member Alicia Camberg sons.
“There’s one thing that
greeted her.
“Alicia took me and just makes my heart beat, and
hugged me and told me, it’s my two kids,” she said.
She still is working to
‘You’re going to get your
kids back,’” Chambers strengthen the family. In
said. “From that point on, October, she was given
I knew what I had to do. the ability to have custo-
dy of Kai, who has severe
There was no question.”
Chambers told herself autism. However, he is
nothing could stop her. By thriving and developing
December, she had visita- well with his foster family.
tion rights to see her sons Chambers feels it is best to
two hours once per week. keep him there for a while
6HHLQJ WKHP IRU WKH ¿UVW longer.
“It’s not better that he’s
time made her stronger
in her pursuit to provide away from me, but it’s bet-
a stable environment for ter that he’s growing,” she
said.
them and herself.
She wants to make sure
Christmas last year
was one of the saddest she has a stable environ-
She has full access to
him and calls and visits
frequently. Her hope is
they will be ready for him
to return home late in 2016
or 2017.
Chambers is grateful
for the difference a year
has made. From being
homeless and removed
from her kids, she now has
a job, Zar living at home,
access to Kai and wonder-
ful people around her who
will not let her fall, she
said.
“Life is way better,” she
said. “I couldn’t have done
it without Helping Hands.”
Countywide
housing assistance
Clatsop
Community
Action, which provides a
variety of services and re-
ferrals to those in need in
the county, is reporting a
large increase in demand
for all of its social services,
in particular, housing and
emergency food requests.
7KH RUJDQL]DWLRQ UHSRUW-
ed housing assistance
requests have increased
about 600 percent from
two years ago. Many fam-
ilies and individuals — in-
cluding numerous children
DQG VHQLRU FLWL]HQV ² UH-
main unsheltered.
Food distribution also
increased by about 50
percent over the past four
years. More than 25 per-
cent of residents qualify
for emergency food assis-
WDQFHWKHRUJDQL]DWLRQUH-
ported.
Clatsop
Community
Action runs multiple hous-
ing programs with dif-
ferent eligibility require-
PHQWV 7KH RUJDQL]DWLRQ
assesses people who are
homeless or in danger of
becoming homeless to see
if they are eligible for any
of the programs. Typical-
ly, the people have some
type of income, although it
may not be much, Execu-
tive Director Elaine Bruce
said.
“We can’t do every-
thing, but we try to aug-
ment what’s there,” she
said.
Clatsop
Community
Action assists Helping
Hands by diverting some
of its grant money to the
ODWWHUQRQSUR¿WLILW¿WVWKH
FULWHULDIRUDVSHFL¿FIXQG-
ing stream, Bruce said.
The agency also works
with the Northwest Or-
egon Housing Authority
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and agencies.
As for seasonal need,
WKH RUJDQL]DWLRQ¶V HQHUJ\
assistance program runs
from October to Febru-
DU\ DQG XVHV ¿YH GLIIHU-
ent grant sources to help
reduce energy costs for
those that qualify.
“In the winter, that’s
when people really need
that,” Bruce said. “We
have a lot of applications
that come in.”
She said multiple socio-
economic factors contrib-
ute to the increasing need
for housing assistance in
the county. They include
a lack of manufacturing
and other living-wage job
sources in the county; a
lack of housing in general;
and slow recovery from
the economic recession in
2008.
“Those are heavy con-
tributors to people asking
for help,” she said. Some-
times people are hit by
more than one factor at a
time, she added. “It’s just
a complex myriad of prob-
lems.”
KATHERINE LACAZE/SEASIDE SIGNAL
Kristi Israel and her family take pride and joy in elaborate-
ly decorating their house on Skyline Drive for the holiday
season.
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