Supporter, Tom Hoban, was chatting this winter with Tulalip (“too-lay-lip”) tribal elder, Mel Sheldon. The two meet regularly at the marina that serves tribal fisherman or at a local coffee shop on the Tulalip Indian Reservation where both grew up some 40 miles North of Seattle. Both are avid Dungeness crab fisherman, comparing notes on recent catches in between sips. But on this particular visit, Sheldon opened up to Tom about his time in combat as an Air Force helicopter pilot in Viet Nam. As the conversation carried on, he mentioned that their Tribal VA building was in some disrepair.
A light went off in Tom’s head. “Have you ever heard of Brady Quinn?” he asked.
“The football player? . . Hell yeah!” replied Sheldon.
“Well, let me tell you about his dad, Chopper” quipped Tom. A conversation carried on from there around that meaningful shared connection, leading eventually to Tom introducing 3rd & Goal as a solution to their VA office and gathering space need.
Tom inspected the site and within weeks, 3rd & Goal had it’s second partnership with the Hoban’s in the Pacific Northwest, building a large deck and accessible ramp for outdoor gatherings to serve all tribal vets. This is our first project in Indian Country and also serves shines a light on the Native American community, where military service is a source of great pride. “It’s in our blood” says Sheldon.
While COVID-19 has prevented us from celebrating it’s opening and using it just yet, a ceremony will be scheduled once Washington State opens up again.
“Thank you for everything you’ve done” offered Rocky Renecker, the Tulalip VA office liaison for the project. “Ninety percent of our veterans are over sixty years old and this new accessible space will make it possible for us to come together as a veteran community.”