People of PayneWest
Tom Davis is not your typical 9-to-5 employee. It’s outside of Tom’s job that he really makes a lasting impression, having a love for volunteering. Much of it is spent among youth on the soccer field, one of Tom’s passions since he was a boy. In the past, he’s served as coach for various youth soccer leagues, but today, he’s assumes a different role.
“I decided to take a referee course, ostensibly to help me with my coaching,” Tom said. “But I quickly found out that I enjoyed refereeing even more than coaching.” The rest, as they say, is history, now nearly a decade removed from when he first donned a whistle, officiating at all youth levels.
Beyond the hash marks, there’s another type of volunteerism Tom engages in that has fundamentally changed the lives of millions of young people over the years. Along with his wife, Heather, Tom decided to become a foster parent a few years ago after getting involved with Antioch Adoptions, a nonprofit organization headquartered not far from his home in Kirkland, Washington.
In the early going, Tom and Heather lent their services on a part-time basis. But the emotional bonds they formed with some of the foster kids made them realize they wanted to do more.
“The majority of foster children are in and out of the process over a few months,” Tom said. “We quickly learned that this was something we weren’t very good at because we got attached to the children easily.”
That same year, Tom and Heather became full-time foster parents, adding three kids to their former family of five. In April, they opened their home to then 7-year-old Elizabeth, 6-year-old Ainsley and 2-year-old Jaxson, each of whom came to them through Antioch Adoptions. Their biological daughters, Alanna and Kaytlynn, are both in their early-to-mid twenties. They additionally serve as the adoptive parents to Kaytlynn’s long-time best friend, who’s also named Caitlinn.
Tom and Heather noted how even outside of their work with Antioch Adoptions, foster parenting seemed like their destiny.
“We’d talked about [becoming foster parents] for a long time,” Tom said. “Heather had been working at Starbucks, and during her time there, she consistently experienced situations that prompted her to want to adopt.” Working with the State of Washington wasn’t a simple process at the outset. Tom and Heather indicated that there are many rules and regulations that have to be sorted out, which made the process take longer than they planned.
In the end, though, it’s all been worth it. “Adoption is parenting to the next level,” Tom said. “Anybody can be a foster parent. People may shy away from it at first, but truly, anybody can be a foster parent.”
Even though Elizabeth, Ainsley and Jackson – now 9, 8 and 4, respectively – have only been with the family a relatively short amount of time, Tom and Heather can’t imagine what life would be like without them.
“Family isn’t determined by DNA,” Heather explained. “There are some amazing kids out there who need structure and love in their life. A lot of kids have so much potential. They just need a chance.”
Not all heroes wear capes
Dan Antonietti (Spokane) was at a pool on the 4th of July. There were lots of kids in the pool diving, splashing and using floaters and rafts. As Dan started to swim to the deep end of the pool, he noticed there was a girl under him in the water. Not wanting to accidentally kick her, He stopped to wait. After a few seconds, he asked another girl if her friend was diving, but her friend informed Dan that she did not know how to swim!
Dan immediately went down to the bottom of the pool in an effort to help. After another person dove in, together they were able to retrieve her. Luckily, a friend of Dan’s (who happens to be an ER nurse) was there and performed CPR on the girl. The nurse was able to revive the girl before the emergency crew arrived to take her to the local hospital and later that evening, she was sent to a Spokane hospital on a Life Flight.
The nurse, who coincidentally worked at the hospital, was able to keep Dan and others updated on the girl’s status. After spending three days in ICU, she was released and is doing well.
Share the Road
The Share the Road program was started in 1986 by the American Trucking Association as a means of educating teens and the public at large on how to safely operate vehicles around trucks on our nation’s highways. Since its inception, car/truck fatalities have dropped by almost 75% while the numbers of cars on our roads have nearly doubled. The fact is that although teens represent only seven percent of the motoring public, they are involved in over 27% of all fatal car/truck accidents!
During the program, we go over “no-zone” and safe driving tips such as: passing, stopping distance, rear blind spots, side blind spots, wide turns and backing up safely. Students climb into the cab of the tractor-trailer parked at the school to see first hand that cars located in the truck’s blind spots (the no-zone) are not clearly visible to the driver of the truck.
Safeco Personal Lines Achievement Award winners
- Erika Close
- Lindsay Fisher
- Justin Montelius
- Lisa Sickles
- Sharon Johnson
- Carol Hocevar
- Michelle Pfile
- Sam Lytle
- Kelsy Ployhar
- Troy Stowe
- Brett Arnold
- Peter Howard
- Rob Swallow
- Megan Madruga
- Darla Avery
- Tara Vanderhoof
- Laurie Larson
- Josh Richard
- Jessica Laabs
- Jennifer Neil
- Sheri Bardessono
An old cowboy and a horse
Horizon Hospice in Spokane is a client of PayneWest with similar community goals. Horizon Hospice helps their clients fulfill their final wishes whenever they can. Recently one of our colleagues, Lisa Wren, was contacted by her friend, Lori Hrasdzira, who works for Horizon Hospice. One of their patients, Roy, had a last wish that she wanted to help fulfill. Roy was an old-time cowboy who was missing his horses terribly. Before he passed, he had a simple wish to “smell a horse” one last time.
His birthday was on Monday, August 14. Roy was turning 84 years old. As a birthday surprise, we were able to make his wish come true. We arrived with a very gentle and old Appaloosa named Apache. Apache appeared to have a sense of what was going on as he was extremely cooperative and grateful for the grass!
Roy was able to smell, touch and pet a horse in the presence of his extended family and many Horizon Hospice employees. As a parting gift, we left Roy one of Apache’s horse shoes—he is going to hang it above his bed.
Through the many tears shed by everyone, there were lots of smiles. Even if it was for only a few moments, this old cowboy was with his horse again.
Earned Designation and Completed Program
- Kim Fossum-Associate in Insurance Services (AIS), Construction Risk Insurance Specialist (CRIS)
- Cheree’ Dennison-Commercial Lines Coverage Specialist (CLCS)
- Allison Freisz-Steward-Agriculture and Farm Insurance Specialist (AFIS)
- Tim Martin-Accredited Customer Service Representative (ACSR)
- Brandon McEwen-Commercial Lines Coverage Specialist (CLCS)
- Chelsie Metzentine-Chartered Private Risk and Insurance Advisor (CPRIA)
- Beth Miller-Accredited Customer Service Representative (ACSR)
- Josh Richard-Personal Lines Coverage Specialist (PLCS)
- Andrea Sutton-Accredited Customer Service Representative (ACSR)
- Nikole Wieweck-Chartered Private Risk and Insurance Advisor (CPRIA)