The Yelm Area Chamber of Commerce selected Tess Faughn as this year’s grand marshal of the 2019 Prairie Days Parade, which occurs June 29 during the annual three-day event.
“Tess was selected based upon her selfless service to her community,” states a Yelm Area Chamber of Commerce Facebook post. “Her community involvement includes current president for the Midday Yelm Lions Club, president of the Rotary Club of Yelm, Yelm Community Services board member and Hope Restored Christian Ministries treasurer. Her involvement with these organizations allows her the opportunity to do meaningful work within the Yelm community.”
Angie Evans, president of the Yelm Area Chamber of Commerce, said that Faughn is the perfect choice, the very definition of what it means to be a community volunteer.
“Tess is amazing, “ Evans said. “She has got her hands in so many different things and always in a leadership position and always gung-ho and willing to just step in and make things happen in every role that she’s in. I don’t even know how that woman has time. It’s just amazing.”
Faughn doesn’t only take on leadership roles her community work — she’s also a lead in her profession. As branch operations supervisor, she manages the employees at the Yelm Timberland Bank and manages the managers at the Edgewood, South Hill and Bethel Station locations of the business.
Yet her true passion is helping others, she said.
“I do give selfless service,” Faughn said. “I’m not doing it for a recognition. I do it because it’s near and dear to my heart. Two things growing up that were very near and dear to me were the fact that there were kids in the community that did not have the same food that I had … Another thing is literacy. I want kids to have food. Food helps them do better in school and then reading is extremely importation.”
Faughn’s personal journey reflects the work she does in the community.
“As a child, I struggled learning to read the way they were teaching us,” she said. “It wasn’t until later that someone was actually able to teach me to read. And then once I started, I never stopped, and now I write.”
Faughn said she wants all children to have the support she had as she learned to read, but some students are at a disadvantage from the start.
“Children are always a main focus to me because they don’t get to choose the situation that they’re currently in,” she said. “And they don’t have a way of getting them or their families out of a situation or whatever their circumstance is.”
At Rotary Club, she helps facilitate the “10 Weeks of Summer” program, where the club packs lunch bags for children that should last them a week, and hands them out for free at locations around the community.
During the school year, these students often get free or reduced lunch, and an organization called Homeless Backpacks gives them food for the weekends, but the summertime presents a gap in these programs.
“In the summer, they don’t have a way of getting that food,” Faughn said. “So then, Rotary Club, we have stepped in with other sponsors to fill the gap.”
In addition, there will be a 5K run on June 30 at Yelm Middle School, with registration starting at 7:30 a.m. to help support “10 Weeks of Summer.”
Faughn and the rest of the Rotary also give out yearly scholarships to high school seniors.
Also in the vein of education, Faughn works with Hope Restored Christian Ministries to raise money for a primary school in Uganda.
Beyond supporting access to education, Faughn also celebrates the fun of childhood with the community.
To that end, she and the Midday Yelm Lions Club throw “Movies in the Park,” in which admittance is free for attendees.
“I will be there,” she said of the Movies in the Park. “Sometimes I’m flipping burgers. Sometimes I’m helping do other things. Hopefully I’m doing other things. It gets kinda hot at the grill.”
After spending the time to invest in all of this, Faughn still finds time for herself. Specifically, she likes to play golf, read, write and cook, and she wants to get back into running.
“I’m getting super excited about golf, because the weather’s nice,” Faughn said. “It’s warm and not rainy. My husband’s not a big golfer when it’s cold. He likes it hot. So now I have my partner in crime in golfing.”
When it comes to her writing, Faughn said that she enjoys science fiction and children’s stories. In fact, she’s thinking about publishing a couple of the latter.
“I think I’m going to make the push and submit some stories,” she said. “It puts yourself out there, because it can be very personal.”
When all is said and done, though, Faughn said there’s a quote from Mother Teresa that has guided her since she was a teenager.
Throughout the years, the quote has changed in meaning for her, but its essence has remained a guiding force in her life.
“We do no great things, but small things with great love,” Mother Teresa once said.