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Melanie & Ryan

Leave it better than you found it


Melanie and her mother used to love going to parks when she was little. “My mom would pick out someone in the park who was around my same age,” says Melanie. “She’d say to me to go over and introduce myself and say ‘Hi my name is Melanie do you want to play with me?’ and that’s what I did and that’s what I pretty much continue to do to this day.”

When Melanie and her husband Ryan moved to Dupont with their son Luke, they knew they had found their ideal community. “You walk down the street and everybody waves at you,” says Ryan. After arriving, Melanie joined up with some fellow neighbors to create P.A.R.C.S.- a citizen led non-profit with the goal to rejuvenate the parks, recreation, and facilities currently available in the City of DuPont.

Ryan and Melanie have been married over 15 years, having met shortly before he was deployed to Iraq. Ryan admires Melanie’s “superpower” for reaching her goals and credits it for giving her the energy and tenacity to create P.A.R.C.S and work to better the community of Dupont. Melanie admires Ryan’s service to the country in Iraq and his commitment to their family and community. Together they are loving living in their new community and are committed to leaving it better than they found it.

“Just go next door and meet your neighbor,” says Ryan. “Just by taking that initial step you’re going to open up a new connection.”

What happens when you meet your neighbors? How can we increase the feeling of connection between members of our community and their neighbors? Over the past few months we here at Windermere Professional Partners have set out to answer those questions. Based on recommendations from our REALTORS® we set out with a camera crew to speak to our neighbors from the heart about what it means to be a neighbor, to live life fully, and to connect with our community.

Want more Melanie & Ryan? Click here to watch the Behind the Scenes video!

Produced by Gabriel Ng

- My name is Melanie Stone, I live in DuPont, Washington and I recently started a non-profit called PARCS, P-A-R-C-S, and it stands for partnerships aligning recreation parks and community services. Basically it started through Facebook and three residents just willing and able to make the effort to get things done. And so far we have. Our goals are to renovate the historic community center over in Historical Village. I would love to see a spray park for Luke and the other kids to use, along with the city I want to build additional recreational facilities but primarily a community center. Really just the opportunity to engage more of DuPont and be inclusive of all the different groups that live here. When I was little, my mom and I would go to parks and my mom would pick out someone in the park who was around my same age and say to me to go over there and introduce myself and say, hi my name is Melanie, do you want to play with me. And that's what I did, and that's what I pretty much continue to do to this day. You know, I'm not afraid to talk to people, introduce myself, and I want Luke to be the same way. And so just like my mom did with me, I do with him. Except Luke is so outgoing and social, and has been for, I mean he's only two and a half, and he's just, he just loves to engage with people and so he on his own, without me even saying anything, will just find a kid on the playground and say, do you want to play with me? And so without even really having to instill it in him, somehow we did and he just does it on his own. Having these outdoor spaces and the parks allows him to you know, increase his communication skills even more and socialize and it really just makes it an engaging you know, way to get to know people. Being that it is a smaller community, the parks and the spaces help to really get people to engage with other people. Do what it takes to get the job done, go big or go home. Ryan is amazing and he's the hardest working, most devoted, giving, caring person. Super patriotic, he went active-duty after 9/11.

- [Ryan] Yeah.

- Saved three people's lives, no. Four people's lives. Just recently got officer of the month. He's a devoted father that while you know, other guys on their days off and in between waking up and going to work would be off doing their own thing, he's with me and Luke, you know,

- Yep, my little boy.

- Going with us to the park and grocery shopping, and doing honey-do lists and does it all with a smile on his face. He was so shy when we first met. He couldn't, yeah, he was so, so shy.

- Quiet, reserved, right. You only spoke when you're spoken to.

- Yeah, and then there's me, where I'm like, go up to anybody. That's thanks to my mom, but together for 15 years and married for 12 and together for a third of our lives.

- Yeah.

- [Melanie] Then he proposed six months after we met?

- [Ryan] It was a rush 'cause I was going to Iraq.

- And then he deployed to Iraq for a year.

- The first time I met her, like I said, it was not even three weeks and I was like, I'm gonna marry her. Right, because there's something special about her. Not just attractive, but super intelligent. Never settles for less than what she wants. And she'll always get it no matter what. Not in like, a spoiled manner, but she's so driven with her visions that she creates what she sees. It's almost like a super power to me. Nothing really surprises me anymore. Like the PARCS DuPont thing, she's like, I want this for the community, I want this for Luke, why don't we have this? Well let me go find out. I'll talk to the mayor and figure this out. You know, you just don't email a mayor, well Melanie does. So that's the kind of person that's, she's above and beyond, not to downplay or downsize anybody else, but she's above and beyond any person that I've met or ran into that, in those qualities and values, you know, ultimately help us reach our goals, and it's super. But I don't think they have an award for her. I like the tight-knit and the close, where you know Dave and you know Bill and Sarah and John, and just everybody knows everybody. And you walk down the street, everybody waves at you. People still hold doors open for each other here. There's a common courtesy and there's a respect. I think there's also, there's a certain set of values in a smaller community.

- [Melanie] You know, you know your neighbors. You, it's the kind of community that you can go next door and ask to borrow a cup of sugar.

- Just go next door and meet your neighbor. Because it's just by taking that initial step, you're gonna open up a new relationship or new connection and then within, if you do that on either side of your house, you have two opportunities for even more happiness or more feeling of like togetherness, I guess. But if you don't take that step, you're never gonna know. If you just shut your door, shut your blinds, get in your car and leave, and then come back then I mean, nobody knows you. And you don't know anybody. So it opens you up for more opportunity, more connection, and I think ultimately, I think since we've been here, Mel can probably attest to it, but it's more happiness. I just feel happier here.

- Mm hm, yeah. Sammy loves it here, Luke loves it here, you're not gonna reach your full potential or reach your success or your goal by just thinking about something. So like Ryan said, get out and meet your neighbor, get our and try a class that you wouldn't be used to doing. You know, get out and just get involved. Volunteer for something. And so if you're a more shy or reserved person, I think that's probably the easiest way to start is just volunteer at an event that they say they need help. It's a small-knit kind of country feel community, but it's right next to I-5. It's just a city that has a million things to offer. And it's, life is what you make it, so we have decided to put down our roots here, in our forever home, and we're gonna try and make it even better than, what do they say? Leave it better than you found it. And you know, DuPont set the bar to begin with, but you know, through PARCS and our volunteer work, and helping in the community, we just, that's what we hope to do.

- From the deer to the neighbors to just, the walking paths and schools and, it's awesome. Just really awesome here.

- Yeah.

- Hashtag blessed. I'll say one thing. Be the change that you want to see. And whether it's your community, your family, your career, life, whatever it is, be that change. So take action. And just do it. Otherwise you're not gonna make a difference.