Couple gives to the community

When asked how they got started volunteering, Harriet Althouse said, "Our parents did volunteer work so I guess it's genetic. The big bucks are always an added attraction," she added with a smile.

Both Harriet and Howie Althouse volunteer at the Douglas County Senior Center as well as at their church, Carson Valley United Methodist.

Howie is the treasurer of Young at Heart, the volunteer organization responsible for building the Douglas County Senior Center.

"(Young at Heart) just turned it over to the county a few years ago," Howie said. "The group has been able to help residents at the Carson Valley Residential Care Center in the Ranchos with specific medical needs. It's the only facility in the area taking Medicaid patients. We work with administrator Karen Perry-Bass and are able to help pay for some of the Medicaid patients' costs. Karen is planning a fundraiser golf tournament for the center which will be held Sept. 20."

If you would like more information, you can contact Karen at 265-1400.

An avid gardener, Harriet was instrumental in getting the Green Thumb Garden Club started at the senior center.

"Ingrid Texeira, a certified master gardener, and Ron James of Nature's Abundance have been a great help," said Harriet. "Ingrid turned her entire yard into a xeriscape - mostly native plants that require very little watering - and it is just beautiful so she has a lot of knowledge about what works and what doesn't in our area. Ron has donated plants to help beautify the senior center as well as some of the parks in the area. We're having a great time watching the projects take shape. She also enjoys the ceramic classes and helps out wherever they need her. Both Harriet and Howie have taken classes and passed the test to become certified master gardeners through the Douglas County Extension Office."

"The local chapter of the AARP folded due to a lack of interest. It was the same ones over and over running for office and they just got burned out. I was the last president," said Howie. "With the AARP gone, there are fewer volunteers available to help out at the residential care center and the senior center. They need people that can come in to read to the patients or just visit with them or even ask what they need."

"There's going to be a place on the ballot in the fall elections for people to vote on building a new senior center but I'm not sure a lot of the people understand what the options mean," said Howie. "The 1/4-cent sales tax is already approved by the legislature so once the voters approve it, it will be able to be quickly implemented (collecting money for the project); but the 1/2-cent sales tax for the sheriff has not been approved by the legislature so if the voters choose it, the legislature will have to approve it before any funds can be collected, which will mean a delay before anything can be done. They (the legislature) said they'd never do that again because Las Vegas didn't use the money for what it was intended for."

Originally from the Pennsylvania Dutch country - Harriet is from Lebanon, just 12 miles outside of Hershey, the chocolate capitol, and Howie is from the Allentown area - the Althouses have been in Ruhenstroth for almost four years.

"I retired after 38 years as an integration engineer (it's the same as a general contractor) in the aerospace industry. I basically chased a pay check to different places. We lived in New Hampshire for 17 years and in San Jose, Calif., for 18 years before retiring to St. George, Utah," Howie said.

Harriet, who is a retired preschool teacher, added, "We were drawn to the area for the mountain views and being close to the Grand Canyon but it was just too hot so we started looking for something else and the realtor found this."

One of Harriet's requests when they were looking for their home was that it have mature landscaping. She has been able to add her touches to their yard and Howie has added some of his woodworking creations. They have three children: Andy Althouse is executive chef at Gaylord's Restaurant in Kauai, Hi; Amy Biddle lives in South Dartmouth, Mass.; and Lee Althouse is a software engineer in San Jose. They have one granddaughter and four grandsons with another on the way.

Howie had a great suggestion for the neighborhood. After riding through the neighborhood last Christmas, he was impressed with the great decorations.

"The ones on Mule Lane were the best," he said. "I thought about a Christmas decoration contest with a winner for best house and one for best street."

I asked him if he would be willing to make a plaque or ornament for the winner and he said he would. What do you think? Please call or e-mail me with your thoughts and suggestions.

Have a ramblin' good week!

n To reach Gail Davis, e-mail or call 265-1947.


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