He's good with machines. She's good with dogs. Together, they are about to leave voids in the GAC operation.
Jim (two years volunteering) and Ellen (five years) are in the process of selling their Alpine home and soon will be moving to Goldendale, WA (pop. 3,449). Although they're not the longest-tenured GAC volunteers, they've made such impacts that we felt we should recognize them as they prepare for the next chapter in their lives.
If it has moving parts (non-living) and has failed, Jim probably has repaired or maintained it at the kennel. Jim services the vehicles, light towers, generators, phone lines, entry gate, washer, dryer, and more! "I have a good range of skill sets," he says. "I love the dogs, but I'm better with machines." Ellen agrees: "The dogs seem to bark at him a lot." GAC can't even begin to estimate what Jim's talents have saved it in contractor costs.
Ellen's niche with the dogs has been the Thursday 10a-1p turnout. Steady as a rock, she has been a reliable and knowledgeable part of one of the most crucial activities at the kennel. But her involvement hasn't ended there. She also makes and repairs blankets for use by the dogs.
Jim and Ellen worked for the Navy for more than 30 years. They met in an apprenticeship program at the Long Beach Navy Shipyard and wound up working together on a missile defense system called Phalanx. She came to San Diego in 1985; Jim landed here in 1989.
Ellen was introduced to GAC by Jeanne Prins. "I love animals, and I wanted to do something in retirement that was close to home." Her fondest memory, she says, is having the opportunity to work with Brigitte Davis and Linda Weller: "They taught me so much."
Jim had kudos for founder Darren Rigg and the men who built—and continue to maintain—the kennel through an endless series of weekend work parties. "It was great learning from them."
But both of the Crouches sought to downplay their contributions in favor of so many other GAC volunteers "who show such dedication and put so much effort" into whatever it is they do for GAC and the dogs. "They're the ones to admire," says Jim.
Their new home in Goldendale is just north of the Columbia River Gorge—100 miles east of Portland and 15 miles north of the Oregon border. Jim leaves San Diego in March to begin preparing the 30-acre spread; Ellen will join him when the Alpine residence sells.
Although Ellen won't be part of turnout any longer, she plans to continue making blankets that she'll ship to the kennel from Washington.
We will miss the Crouches! Their departure leaves vacancies in turnout and maintenance. If you read this and know of someone with the interest and any of the skills to fill the loving void that Jim and Ellen are leaving behind, let us hear from you. But know up front: they are big shoes to fill!
We appreciate any offer of help and can split the maintenance duties between several volunteers with different skills.