Delivering Fig Tree is part of community volunteering
Anne Salisbury first learned about The Fig Tree when she began attending Shalom Church in Spokane in 2006. She was so impressed with its peace journalism that she sought to learn more.
She attended a breakfast benefit event at which Peter Storey, a South African bishop, spoke. She had been interested in the South African struggle for a long time.
“I decided to be involved in peace journalism, so I volunteered to distribute The Fig Tree to locations in North Idaho, where I live,” she recalled.
It fit with her commitments.
Anne said she has always had a “thing” for the underdog, perhaps because she was the youngest of six children. Her family was made up of public-spirited people.
She grew up in California. She met and married her first husband during her first year in college. She never finished her formal schooling, but she has taken classes at Chico State College in California, the University of Washington in Seattle, North Idaho College, Gonzaga University, and Mt. Diablo Community College.
While her three children were still quite young, Anne had to deal with mental health issues. These led to several years of therapy, which became a lifeline for her.
“I traded learning about myself for learning about other things,” Anne said.
Her husband, Fred, owned an automobile dealership in Coeur d’Alene. Anne and her two sons were on a backpacking trip when he died of a heart attack.
At about the time he died, she had a sense of his love and presence. When the rangers came, and they started home, the weather was vile. They slid down a hill, and her younger son became soaked. Her ability to care for him in this risky situation gave him and her confidence in her ability to live without her husband.
Eventually, Anne met another man, but four months before the wedding, he died. By then, Hospice of Spokane had formed, and she attended a support group.
“I vowed that if ever Coeur d’Alene had a support group, I would help with it,” she said.
When Hospice of North Idaho began, she took the first class. Instead of working with those who were dying, she helped those who were grieving.
Because she was the only grief counselor when the need for grief counseling was great, she created a support group, whose members helped each other.
“My main contribution to Hospice of North Idaho was telling them they had to hire someone professional to offer grief support,” she said.
When Anne had first moved to Coeur d’Alene, she had become involved with the League of Women Voters. A similar group in California had been helpful to her. Through chairing its education group, she learned to navigate Coeur d’Alene’s education system for her sons and others.
Through volunteering, she learned the political system and helped with elections.
Another aspect of her volunteer involvement grew from her first husband’s Jewish roots.
Fred had grown up in Dresden, Germany, as Adolph Hitler was coming to power. His parents sent him and his siblings in different directions, eventually to the United States.
In Coeur d’Alene, Anne became friends with Ellie Rosen, whose husband, Sid, owned a restaurant. After Ellie’s death, Sid became a target of the Aryan Nations.
He and Anne would talk about it. He thought that, because the full name of the Aryan Nations was Church of Jesus Christ Aryan, all Christians thought in the same bigoted way. Anne helped him learn that was not true.
In the early months of the Kootenai County Task Force on Human Relations in 1981, her minister at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Coeur d’Alene appointed her to serve on the task force.
She was working with it when the Aryan Nations bombed the home of Fr. Bill Wassmuth, the human rights activist priest at St. Pius X Catholic Church. They also bombed a luggage store owned by two Baha’i men and a federal courthouse. As the task force became prominent, she served on the Support for Victims Committee.
Anne, who is still active both at Shalom Church and at St. Luke’s, affirmed, “My Christian faith drives me to be involved.”
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Copyright © September 2014 - The Fig Tree