It is difficult to imagine Sultan without Dave and Christina Sivewright. Over the past four years, they have woven a patriotic swath of red, white and blue throughout the tapestry of the community.
Their volunteer efforts have had a broad scope of influence, from serving food during Sultan Harvest to co-chairing Sultan’s Veterans Day Ceremony. They are both integral parts of Sultan VFW Post 2554, Dave as the newly-elected commander, and Christina as an Auxiliary member. They’ve promoted patriotism in Sultan schools, engaged in numerous public speaking events and have prepared and distributed care packages to newly-enlisted servicemen and women. Christina’s American flag project lined Main Street and parts of U.S. 2 with a grand total of 152 American flags, which she and Dave, along with other VFW volunteers, post and retire 16 times a year.
They’ve often recruited their kids to help, wanting to instill a lasting sense of community pride. Their most recent efforts have included giving the city’s fire hydrants a brand-new red, white and blue paint job, along with the bell that rests in front of the Sultan Post Office.
It all started with an American flag, and a vast love of all things patriotic. Dave’s first appearance as the Highway 2 Freedom Runner took place on July 4, 2013, and the Sky Valley was immediately enchanted.
Christina created a Highway 2 Freedom Runner Facebook page, which was instantly popular, gaining 650 “likes” from people in 20 different countries in less than a month. Right away, the couple knew they wanted to use that positive momentum to have an impact on their community.
They designed custom stickers, which feature Dave’s likeness superimposed on Old Glory herself, along with the catchphrase, “American Pride in the Sky Valley.” They made the stickers available for a donation of $3, and used the money to support the Sultan Food Bank and Operation Christmas Child, an annual holiday outreach effort hosted by Crosswater Community Church.
Sticker funds also helped support their veteran care packages and the American flag project.
“Whenever you see that sticker, there’s a good chance that person was given that sticker for giving back to their community,” Christina said.
Dave and Christina’s community involvement grew quickly. Dave honored Sky Valley veterans during the 2013 Veterans Day Ceremony, and after the event was over, accepted the committee chairmanship from Mayor Carolyn Eslick. He and Christina have been co-coordinating the Veterans Day Ceremony ever since, adding new features including a diverse group of key-note speakers, youth essays and more.
Remarkably, 2014 was more than just their first Veterans Day Ceremony; it was also the year of the flags. Christina wanted 25 American flags to line Main Street in time for the ceremony, so she set out to get them. She obtained city council and public works department approval, and started fundraising. Her biggest priority, along with having the flags up by Veterans Day, was to keep the project community-based. She succeeded, avoiding corporate sponsorship and raising $10,000 in small increments.
“There was so much support from the community,” Christina said. “Whether $5 or $30, it wasn’t just one major business. It was everybody.”
“If that’s not patriotic I don’t know what is,” Dave said. “That says a lot about our community.”
Other volunteerism performed by Dave and Christina includes showcasing Sky Valley veterans, hosting Sultan’s annual Memorial Day service including posting flags at the headstone of each veteran, weekly job search assistance, grant-writing, service on committees, supporting local nonprofits and more. Dave was recently recognized by his unit with an Outstanding Volunteer Service Medal, for achieving over 500 volunteer hours in a year’s time. It was the second time he has earned that particular honor.
Christina has been honored for her efforts as well, including during last year’s Veterans Day Ceremony, when the guest speaker surprised her with a Military Challenge Coin.
When it comes to their long list of volunteer achievements, they each have a favorite; one project that stands out above the rest. For Dave, it’s the Veterans Day Ceremony. For Christina, it’s the American flag project, because it embodies the spirit of patriotism in the Sultan community in a way that is absolute.
“That one just touches my heart,” Christina said. “Not because of the flags, but because of how many people were involved.”
They plan to continue their service to the community in the future, and are busy tackling their current projects. For Christina, it’s the Freedom Rock, a patriotic piece of art slated for Travelers Park. For Dave, it’s his new position as commander of VFW Post 2554, which will likely have an expanded role in terms of community outreach and advocacy.
“I see us doing more in the next couple years,” Dave said.