Friday, February 23, 2024

Local woman helps keep our valley beautiful

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CHELAN – Susan Fisher is known for many efforts in the Lake Chelan valley, though her devotion to keeping clean roadsides has garnered her quite a reputation. Nearly every morning she walks different lengths of SR150 between Chelan and Rocky Point, picking up pieces of garbage and recycling from the roadside.

Fisher’s been providing this service to the community for over 8 years, and residing here for 71. She recently turned 80 in August.

Fisher came to Chelan Falls at nine years old when her father took a job at Washington Water Power. She attended fourth and fifth grades in a two-room schoolhouse in the Falls before transferring to Chelan for middle and high schools. From there, she would go on to study nursing in Wenatchee and worked at the original Chelan hospital after finishing her studies. At the time, there was only one registered nurse on duty for evening and night-shift, and she became skilled in every kind of nursing.

Fisher now volunteers for Habitat for Humanity a couple times a week and belongs to the Hospital Guild, P.E.O., and Tender Loving Care For Seniors (TLC). With TLC she is committed to visiting a senior citizen at least once a week.

She clearly holds dear more than just the valley, but, of its natural glory—and aims to protect it.

“We live in the house that’s up on the hill, so I have a beautiful view,” Fisher said. “We’ve traveled worldwide and never found a place prettier, and that’s the truth.”

She now travels on foot at least a mile a day, if not two (accounting for her walk back), while out cleaning. She used to walk farther each day, but has lessened her trek. When asked about how she got started with this ritual, it turns out she began her daily clean-up efforts while out walking her dog.

“I used to do the walks, and then when I saw all the litter and stuff I decided to pick it up,” she explained. “

She carries two bags—one for garbage and one for recycling.

“It is really fun, the number of people that will look at me and say, ‘Are you the lady that walks on the highway?’ she said. “There was a man the other day that said, ‘I hardly recognized you without your vest.’”

Every time cars pass by her while she’s out cleaning, Susan steps to the side of the road for safety and to acknowledge the people passing by. She counts how many people wave and beep at her, and she puts the number on her calendar every day. The most waves she’s counted has been over 500,  and usually on her walks it amounts to at least 200.

“I count my waves, and one thing I would like is for somebody to come along and count how many cars pass by so that I can know the percentage,” Fisher shared. “I think it’s 1 of 10 maybe.”

Beyond morning waves, Susan has been very surprised by some of the ways community members have responded.

“Sometimes people will roll down their window and say, ‘Thank you for what you do,’ that type of thing, too,” she said. “There was a lady one time that stopped and said, ‘I just wanted to give you something because I really appreciate what you do.’ She had her hand folded and she handed me what turned out to be money, bills. So I just closed my hand and thought, ‘Well, okay, I’ll look when I get home.’

“It was $200—two $100 bills. So I gave it to charity,” she added.

Katie Lindert: 509-731-3211 or katie@ward.media

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