Home>>Blog>>Helen Marsh – Haines

“I moved to Baker County with my husband a little over eight years ago. We were in the San Francisco Bay Area, primarily for work, and knew that’s not where we wanted to end up. So for several years we were on a quest to find our place. We wanted some land and more space than just a house-on-a-lot. We looked in Idaho, Montana, and Oregon. We were searching in the John Day/Mt Vernon area when our realtor told us about a place in Haines. Although we didn’t exactly know where Haines was at that time, we decided to go ahead and take a look. The place we saw in Haines was the first and only place that we both looked at and loved right away. The very next day we put in an offer that was accepted.

Bob is from a small town in Kansas and I was raised in Illinois, but lived mostly in large cities. At the time of moving here, we were both retiring and ready for a new adventure. One of the very first visitors to our place in Haines was Jerry Hampton, Fire Chief of the Haines Fire Protection District. During that conversation, Bob said, ‘I want to volunteer.’ This was his way of getting involved in our new community. Starting back then, Bob was a fire department volunteer for several years. I was invited to become a member of the Mutual Improvement Club and that was my way to get to know women in the community. These wonderful women were (and still are) very welcoming to me. Subsequently, I became a member of a local PEO chapter, Philanthropic Educational Organization. By reaching out and being open to new experiences, we both found a sense of community here.

One day about four years ago I was at the Haines School with the Mutual Improvement Club. In pre-pandemic years, the Club would make popcorn balls for the students’ holiday party. Going in I noticed a dog wandering around and thought it probably lives around here. Hours later when I was coming out, I saw the same dog still wandering around and then coming toward me, like it was asking, ‘Are you somebody I can trust?’ The dog went right into my car and I drove over to the general store in Haines to ask if anybody was looking for their lost dog. The store clerk said ‘No, but that woman getting into her car right now is really big on animal rescue. You should talk to her.’ So I went out and met Megan Kendall. I said, ‘Excuse me, but do you do animal rescue?’ And she said, ‘Yes, with Best Friends of Baker.’ When I described the situation with the dog I’d found, Megan said she’d take the dog from me. But I said, ‘No way! This dog has a home – with me – as of this very moment if we can’t find its owners.’ Megan smiled and at that moment we formed a bond.

Helen and Andrew

I didn’t get back in connection with Megan until a few years later. I had been looking for a local family to adopt and who, in turn, would adopt me, maybe a family that didn’t have extended family here. It turns out that Megan and her husband don’t have immediate family in Baker City. Quickly, they embraced the idea that I could be an adopted “auntie” to their two young boys. I knew she was involved in Best Friends animal rescue, and at that point, I was volunteering with the group, too. It’s been about a year and a half since we started that part of our relationship. I love the boys and get to see them every week. It’s been great, just such a joy.

To finish the lost dog story…we did, in fact, locate the dog’s owners. In 2018 after our beloved pooch, Lola, died we adopted another rescue dog; Pete a border collie. He’s white with black markings, a fantastic addition to our family and is completely devoted to my husband. And we have three cats. And then we have chickens. Personally, I’d love to add goats to the mix, but we need to figure out fencing first. We began fostering kittens in 2020. Best Friends always needs volunteers to help with kittens and cats so if there’s anybody out there who is willing to open their heart and home, let us know. Fostering and caring for the kittens is one of the ways I made it through the pandemic with a smile on my face. They are uplifting and adorable. I feel really fortunate that we found the place we were looking for and a sense of community in Haines with our assortment of adopted animals. And I’m especially happy that I was adopted by the Kendalls.”