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News / Clark County News

Press Talk: I unscramble last week

By Lou Brancaccio, Columbian Editor
Published: March 12, 2016, 6:10am

Last week was rockin’ for me!

Think about it. If your week started with ham and eggs and ended heroically, wouldn’t you be marking it down as one of the best?

Now, I’d admit it wasn’t quite as good as that week I had back in 2006 when Time magazine named me the person of the year.

I’m not kidding! Look it up.

I think it had something to do with me being marginally perspicacious. (Look that up, too.)

But back to last week. Check this out.

I am the egg man

It began on Monday when I rolled into the Beaches Restaurant parking lot just before 8 a.m. The joint isn’t even open at that time. But that’s OK. I wasn’t there for the Citrus Bamboo Calamari. (Trust me, try this appetizer. Wonderful!)

Anyway, I was at Beaches to help out its owner, Mark Matthias, pull off yet another week of “Green Eggs and Ham.” Correct. That “Green Eggs and Ham.”

Mark had this crazy idea 21 years ago to crack a few eggs, throw in a little green food coloring, fry up some ham and make a classroom of first-graders happy. It was pretty low-key.

But Mark being Mark, low-key was not in his wheelhouse.

So year after year, he added school after school.


Let’s just say a few dozen eggs turned into 11,000 eggs, and Mark had to scramble to look for a little help.

Enter me. And a bunch of other volunteers.

So there I was. Early on a Monday morning. Hanging in his parking lot. Waiting for the go signal.

• • •

Oh, and when Mark says go, he means “GO!!!” Hanging with Mr. Type A is not for the timid.

As we enter the first school, everyone working the shift is assigned a station on the food assembly line. There are plate handlers, ham distributors, fruit placers and orange juice dispensers.

Oh, and then there are the eggs. Dishing out eggs is a lot like herding today’s Republicans. You’d like them to simply go over there, but they end up everywhere, and it ends up being quite the mess.

So, of course, I volunteer to be the egg disher.

Look, in the best of circumstances, it’s a challenge to get the right amount of eggs on the plate. But that challenge can suddenly escalate when you have to adjust the amount based on how many kids are left to feed. Of course, I also have to adjust the amount based on how many eggs end up on the floor and on my shoes.

In the end, I always find satisfaction in seeing the smiles on the faces of those kids and the parents who join them.

And I love helping a guy who is one of the biggest givers in this community.

Thanks for the invite, Mark.


At the end of last week — on a Friday morning — I attended the Real Heroes Breakfast put on by the Southwest Washington Chapter of the American Red Cross at the Hilton Vancouver Washington.

No other way to say it: I love this event. I’m always inspired by those who help others in times of need. And this event showcases those who do just that.

So many of us go about our daily lives doing what we hope is good work. But then you hear stories of those who actually saved lives, who actually changed the course of one’s personal history by doing a heroic act.

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Wow. Just wow.

Those honored were all heroes, of course, but I was struck by one hero who wasn’t even named. Mark Hedgpeth told his story of helping to save a family whose home was on fire. But he mentioned a man who helped him catch family members jumping from a burning house. As Mark would later say, after the emergency was over, the unknown man simply disappeared, never to be heard from.

None of the heroes honored did it to get their name in the paper or to be recognized at this event. But a special thanks should also go out to all those heroes that no one even hears about.

• • •

See what I’m saying? It was a great week for me because I was simply around those who do great things.

Columbian Editor