My name is John Maxwell Baker. I was born in Centralia on May 10, 1982. I graduated from WF West high school in 2000.
My father is John Charles Baker, former owner of Sticklin Greenwood Memorial Park. Undoubtedly he has caused pain and consternation to some of you in the community over the years. Hopefully there are some good memories too.
I am writing this letter because I want to share with the community that I recently reengaged in a conversation with him after eight years of estrangement. In the process of reengaging him I felt like I was gifted back a part of the state and a part of my life that has been missing.
I currently live and work in Seattle. That said, I am grateful for the opportunities that I have, in no small part because of the life that I experienced when I was younger in Lewis County. I have neglected Centralia and Lewis County for most of the last twenty years. That neglect has caused me to miss out on a part of my life.
For those of you that do not know, my father has been an active meth user for at least the last 15 plus years. Meth and death are the two words that comes to mind for me when I think about my dad. I no longer recognize the man that he is. He is alive yet the soul of the man that I knew is gone.
My father taught me to fight for what I believe in. In honor of that ideal, I want to say thank you to all of you (city employees, police, fire, medical staff, community organizers, and others) in the community that have been there as support and help to those struggling with addiction and mental illness, as my dad has and does. While I avoided my father’s problems, you helped him and others when they needed your help, consciously or not.
In order to thank you, I want to put on a gathering, bigger the better, on Saturday, Oct. 12 (rain or shine). The event will be designed to thank those that have helped those in need because you deserve it. At the event there will be space for people to share the pain that they have felt while dealing with these experience in their own lives. It is my hope that through the exercise of thanking those that have helped and sharing the pain experienced there can be healing and growth. I realize that the described event is somewhat vague. Please let me know how I can help clarify it as we move forward.
If this idea in anyway touch, moves, and inspires you please connect with me and let me know how it is meaningful to you and what you want/can do to help. There is a public event page “Thank you Lewis County” on Facebook. You can connect and or learn more there.