Monday, August 31, 2015

What Chelan Means to Me: Heather Smith-Mateo #lovechelan #chelanfire

The #lovechelan logo was designed by Rose Weagant Olcott,
known as @dinmutha on Twitter. It is being used to raise funds
and awareness for Give Naked, a non-profit org which actively
raises funding for individual "gives" to meet the needs of those
who need assistance within the Chelan community.
This post is part of a series I will be running in the coming weeks, called "What Chelan Means to Me." It is my hope to share the stories of the grown (and growing!) children of the Chelan Valley, and its current and past residents, in order to raise awareness of the devastating fires which have ripped through our valley, and to help promote a beautiful, meaningful fundraising effort.

Visit to view our fundraising progress, and to contribute. When you make a donation at any of the listed levels, you will receive a unique and heartfelt gift, contributed by someone who has their own connection to our peaceful community.

All funds will be donated to Give Naked, a non-profit organization which actively raises funding for individual needs through Chelan Valley Hope.

You can help by:

  • Sharing this post through social media. Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram... However you connect with your people, please feel free to share.
  • Using the hashtags #chelanfire and #lovechelan in your posts, to help us trend and to raise awareness and participation.
  • Making a contribution to the Indiegogo campaign, linked above. Even donations as small as $25 are rewarded with a heartfelt gift!
  • Praying for our community, in whatever way is sacred and meaningful to you.
Today's post is by Heather Smith-Mateo, a 1993 graduate of Manson High School, located on the shores of Lake Chelan. She currently works as a graphic designer in San Francisco, California.

I sat down to write this several times. I kept having trouble finding the words, not because I don’t know what it means to me but because it means so much. I could tell you about my first kiss, my first love, my first heartbreak, my first everything, really.

I could mention riding in the parade when I was a little girl, thrilled to wave at the crowd from the float, that same thrilled feeling when I was honored to ride in a float as Manson Apple Blossom Princess in 1993, and the wave of nostalgia I had when I rode on the back of a convertible with Heather Jeffries Coe and Amy Griffith Allan at the ten year anniversary of our time as princesses and queen.

1993 Manson Apple Blossom Royalty, left to right: Heather Smith-Mateo, Heather Jeffries Coe, Amy Griffith Allan
I could describe best friends, my parents, cousins, proms and homecomings and my first car (a totally 80’s Datsun 310 tricked out in black with hot pink stripes), playing on the softball team and yelling “Good Eye, Good Eye, Good Eye, Good Eye, Good Eye” when someone didn’t swing at a ball, learning ballet and how to swim from Pat Beratta and just a million other things but what they all come down to is: Home.
Heather, learning ballet in Pat Beratta's class
Manson is home. Chelan is home.

Heather, as a baby, with her father
I’ve lived in Moscow, ID for three years, went to college in Pullman, Washington for four years and lived in San Francisco, CA for the last 15 but no other place resonates in my heart the way Lake Chelan does. I feel like I’m my most authentic self there. I’m more relaxed and more completely in my skin.

Heather, enjoying the sun during a summer visit to Lake Chelan
Every time my dad considers selling the Cabana (his home on the lake) I have a complete meltdown. I want the best for him but most of what I envision for my long awaited future child revolves around teaching them to swim off the same deck, taking them to opening day of Lakeview Drive-in, showing them where I grew up and went to both grade school and high school, introducing them to local friends and family, watching the fireworks over the bay, tasting an apple picked right from the tree and, of course, their first Manson Apple Blossom parade.

The lake view from Heather's father's dock
I have traveled some since graduating Manson High School: Home of the Trojans, but the Chelan/Manson area is still the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen.

A panoramic view of Lake Chelan, from Manson
And no fire is ever going to change that.

***Cross-posted at

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