EDITOR’S NOTE: This email appeared in dozens of inboxes earlier this month – “OK, So I am just going to say it. I will be leaving Tillamook County by July 31st to work with the Cowlitz Tribe in Longview WA.
I will be their new Tobacco Prevention Specialist for a brand new position with their tribe. Tribal Counsel and Gaming Commission dedicated funds (NOT GRANT) to support this position. I will not only be developing programming, policy development but a clinical cessation program as well.
In the meantime, if there is anything you all might need from me, please do not hesitate to call.
DeAnna Pearl, MAT, BS, CPS, SOS Tillamook Prevention Program, Tillamook Family Counseling Center
That prompted this response from Neal Lemery that he agreed to share with the Pioneer as he so effectively summarized DeAnna’s many contributions to this community.
Well, here I am at the coffee shop, gathering inspirations for some writing, when your e-mail pops up, as well as this delicious quote from the US Women’s Soccer Team Capt., Megan Rapinoe: “When we as a nation put our minds to something, when we truly choose to care about something, change always happens.”
You could have authored that quote, and have likely said it many times. Your new job sounds exciting, rewarding and so good for you. I am thrilled for you. Congratulations.
I am personally sorry to see you leave Tillamook. You are a good friend, a soul sibling, and we are on the same wavelength. You have been a profound instrument of social change and personal activism in the community. You have been “real” with “real conversations” and deep thinking, and deep caring. You have shown the way to get real about vital issues, and you speak plainly and lovingly, being a great role model.
Your work on suicide prevention has been personally satisfying and energizing, and, especially, empowering to me. It has been a message and work that has been so long needed. Your work on substance abuse and treatment has been equally profound and a game changer around here. In the last several months, I have had deep conversations with at least twenty people on these issues, and the common thread is that they have had conversation with you. Because of your work, there is a cultural shift going on, re sobriety and self care, and self worth. You have affected lives, helping people make changes and to find the courage to move on with their lives. You have been a real force around here, a strong and persistent voice to move the community into a sense of empowerment. Yes, we can take on these issues, and yes, they are important, and solvable. That is a big cultural shift. Thank you. You and your work are tremendously appreciated. I’ll miss your laugh, and your passion and your strong, big voice urging us to get moving. Longview will greatly benefit from your presence and your work there.
Your friend, Neal
Pioneer readers will recognize DeAnna’s name as it appears often in bylines and blogs as she writes about prevention topics and community issues, and is our “go-to” for research, data, statistics and resources. We are lucky that even as DeAnna moves to another state (okay it’s really only 90 minutes away) and into a new position, we will continue to feature her blog articles. The conversations will continue. DeAnna Pearl has been a change agent for Tillamook County; trained hundreds to help us become a suicide-safer community; taught our youth (and many adults, too) about self-care and feelings; the dangers of drugs and smoking; parenting programs and so much more. The SOS Tillamook Prevention Program has established resources and outreach through it’s website, community conversations and distribution of messaging – that offers “help & hope.”
DeAnna – you have inspired so many of us that you can be assured that we will continue this important work, helping our community to be the best it can, prevention with intention, positive social norming to make cultural shifts that stick. You’ve made an impact, an imprint on this community. We got this – thanks to you. Live long and prosper …