Since Signature was started we have developed strong relationships with many of our customers that go far beyond maker/purchaser. We have met many of you in person or online. Your life stories have amazed, touched, and surprised us so much that we have decided to share some of them. This is just the beginning of our new monthly feature the Signature Circle.
You, too, will be astonished at the interesting stories that we will be sharing from time to time. Our first Signature Circle member is a person whose life has touched others in times of devastating grief but who remains enthusiastic, kind and just plain wonderful.
We first met Lynne when we were part of a project to help her daughter (an unbelievable person in her own right) get caps knit for the whole ship she commands. Right, her daughter commands a whole ship! I thought this was very impressive but when I found out more about Lynne and the life she leads I was just blown away. I knew she would be a great candidate for the Circle when at my first contact with her she was away in Hawaii searching for ancient bones.
No one will ever forget where they were on Sept. 11. As parents of a college student who lived in Manhattan it was horrific for us, and for all of us once we realized how many people had died. Most of us followed the aftermath in a general way but Lynne did far more.
I know you will enjoy hearing about one of our co-knitters:
Tell us a bit about your life.
I have lived a very blessed life. I was raised on a ranch in Oregon that I didn’t completely appreciate until much later in my life. My dad had three girls so we were his “boys”. I did everything on the ranch that a boy would have done, from milking cows, to driving a Caterpiller tractor, to hauling hay. You name it. I did it. However, I think I’ve been a city girl at heart all my life and moved to Los Angeles after graduating high school.
I have lived all over the country at some time in my life and it’s been great to learn about the different cultures we share in the U.S.
It’s not been a boring life and, while some times were a challenge, I believe that everything I’ve experienced has lead me to where I am right now.
Back in 1982 I moved to the Santa Clara Valley and while at a semiconductor company, I became involved in emergency response. From there, my daughter recruited me into Civil Air Patrol. When I went to work for NASA in 1986, it was as an electrical designer. Within a year I had joined the Disaster Assistance and Response Team (now the Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team) and become a Rescue Specialist, eventually rising to the position of Training Officer. Over the next few years I learned how to go into collapsed structures and rescue people who might be trapped after a disaster. I also became a member of California Task Force 3, one of California and FEMA’s urban search and rescue task forces. These are highly trained teams of people who are the elite of the search and rescue world. They respond to major disasters around the country.
Around 1992 I decided that I was getting too old to be dragging a 90 lb. jackhammer through a confined space, and using it at the other end. I watched a lady do a demonstration with her disaster search dog and I decided that is what I wanted to do. I got my first dog in September of that year. That lady was Shirley Hammond who has literally written the book on Training The Disaster Search Dog, (link: http://www.amazon.com/Training-Disaster-Search-Shirley-Hammond/dp/1929242190/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1330982154&sr=8-1) and she is one of my best friends. I decided that I wanted to be just like her “when I grow up”. My first disaster response occurred before I had a certified dog so I went to the Oklahoma City Bombing in 1995 as a logistics specialist with CA-TF3. That response confirmed that this is exactly what I wanted to do. I was hooked.
Tell us about your work with the dogs? When did you get started and how? What sort of projects have you been involved in? Why do you think this is important?
Working a disaster search dog literally puts me on the front lines during a major disaster. Our dogs search to find the victims so the rescue specialists can begin the rescue process. I have certified two dogs, Lucy, a border collie, in 1996 and Sweep in 2006. Lucy and I worked the World Trade Center after 9-11, and the Shuttle Columbia Recovery Mission in 2003. Lucy was cross-trained to locate human remains and was responsible for bringing closure to the families of two murder victims and one drowning victim at home … in addition to locating the remains of some of the victims of 9-11. She helped put one bad guy away forever in CA. He was a two-time loser and that lady’s murder was his third strike.
Sweep and I deployed in response to Hurricanes Gustav and Ike in 2009. We travelled along the Gulf Coast of the U.S., ready to respond should either hurricane make landfall. Fortunately for thepeople in those states, Ike didn’t hit land until it reached Texas where seven other FEMA task forces were waiting to respond.
Training a search dog is an incredible challenge, to reach certification is very rewarding, but nothing can top helping others. I am a complete adrenaline junkie … I love it when I don’t know if the overriding emotion is fear or excitement. Working in a disaster environment feeds that addiction, but the best part is being able to help people when they need it most. The ultimate tragedy is to loose a loved one in some type of a disaster. To bring closure to a family is the most gratifying thing a human being can do.
What other sorts of projects besides work are you involved with?
I retired from emergency management a couple of years ago and have dedicated myself to training my own dogs, and to helping others train theirs. I travel all over the U.S. helping trouble shoot problems, advising regional task forces and bring other dogs into my home for intensive disaster training. I was recently asked to become an adviser to the newly formed Japan Search and Rescue Association. I will be traveling there to start their training of disaster search dogs. I’ve also travelled to Vietnam and worked with detection dogs there. I am currently on the Board of Directors of the Canine Specialized Search Team, (link: http://www.csst.org/) a resource of the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Office.
I am currently training a Historical Human Remains Detection dog and hope to become certified within a couple of months. We will be working projects that involve ancient burials in various locations. Some of the recent projects our organization, the Institute for Canine Forensics, (link: http://www.K9Forensic.org/) has worked involved locating lost cemeteries, locating ancient burials at construction sites, working with Native American monitors to locate burials so they can be protected. We also work cold cases for law enforcement.
I am increasingly being asked to run canine operations to large responses where teams are brought in from several search and rescue organizations to search for possible victims of major fires and explosions.
Tell us about your family? What do you think they would say was your biggest way of influencing their lives?
I have a wonderful family. I have four children, two biological children and two step-daughters, who are amazing. They are all very successful in life. Shanti is a Commander in the U.S. Navy, in command of a guided missile destroyer. Samir is in pharmaceutical research, as is his wife. They have two little boys, Caiden (4) and Ian (2). Lisa is a project manager for a major software company, as is her husband, Denis. Jennifer is a Marriage and Family counselor who has two wonderful children, Allie (9) and Nick (7). I have been truly blessed.
I raised Shanti and Samir as a single mother. I was a pretty tough, but I’d like to think, fair mother. I tried to set an example for them through my actions. They were raised to understand that they could do (or be) anything they wanted to be if they were willing to work hard for it. They have done just that. My son is on my urban search and rescue task force. And my daughter has dedicated her life to her country. Who could ask for more than that?
Lisa and Jennifer were pretty much grown when their father and I married. I’m not sure how I’ve influenced their lives, but I hope I have in some positive way.
Do you have much time for knitting? What appeals to you about knitting?
I actually do quite a bit of knitting. Because I travel so much, I knit a lot on airplanes and in cars when I’m not driving. In the evening, while I am watching my silly reality shows (I love Survivor and the Amazing Race), I find knitting very relaxing. It really does settle me.
A year ago, when Shanti was preparing to deploy to the Persian Gulf on her ship, I decided I would like to provide a Christmas gift for every sailor on her ship. I put a little note on our blog, Adventures in Paradise, asking that any knitter who was interested to knit a hat for a sailor. Several other bloggers picked up the project and within two months I had received about 576 hand knit wool hats … enough to outfit her ship, three Coast Guard cutters and the military personnel (British, Australian and Iraqi) on the oil terminal her ship was guarding. The knitting community was amazing and continues to be as the Hats for Sailors project has continued and we were able to outfit two more ships this past Christmas. What appeals to me about knitting? The ability to take a string and some awesome Signature needles and make a beautiful garment … and the camaraderie it builds with other knitters.
What else do you do for fun?
One would think that all my time is taken up with knitting and training search dogs, but I do love the theatre and hold season tickets to the San Jose Repertory theatre, I hike, read a lot and spend time with friends. And sometimes I sleep.
How did you come to be part of the Signature family?
I had been lusting over Signature needles since they first became available. My daughter, Shanti, knew that and I got my first pair of Signature needles for Mother’s Day a few years ago. I’ve been a fan ever since and own several pair. I love them!
I really became family when Cathryn Bothe offered a generous gift certificate to one lucky knitter who donated a hat to our first Hats for Sailors project in 2010, and again in 2011. Both of the recipients were ecstatic over their prize and I know are loving knitting with their new Signature needles … just like I am.