Teresa Rugg lives in Snohomish, but the former Peace Corps volunteer has spent years working to help people a world away. Karen Guzak focuses on local rather than global issues. A yoga teacher, artist and the city’s previous mayor, Guzak serves on the Snohomish City Council.
Both concerned about others, they’ll cross paths Saturday at a musical celebration and fundraiser for the Snohomish County chapter of RESULTS, which Rugg started in 2004. The nonprofit advocacy group, based in the nation’s capital, lobbies members of Congress on issues related to health, education and poverty.
Saturday’s event, scheduled for 5:30 p.m. at AngelArmsWorks in Snohomish, will mark the 15th anniversary of the local RESULTS. And Guzak will receive the group’s Seeds of Hope Award.
AngelArmsWorks is an 1889-vintage former Catholic church at Third Street and Avenue B. Guzak bought it at a bankruptcy sale in 1993, and renovated it with her partner, historian Warner Blake. It’s her art studio and their home. After 25 years together, Guzak and Blake were married April 1.
“She’s inspiring,” Rugg said Monday. “Karen just attracts people who want to take action.”
Now 80, Guzak will finish a dozen years in elected office at the end of 2019. “I’ve only missed one council meeting in 12 years,” she said Tuesday. That absence was due to an invitation to see Michelle Obama.
Guzak was recently a presenter at a Compassionate Leadership Summit at the University of Washington. Along with teaching yoga and making art, Guzak has created an array of tote bags. She sold them at last weekend’s Snohomish Harvested Holiday Market.
Regarding yoga, Guzak said that while postures and breathing are important there are ethical principles that may be more so. “The first is do no harm, the second is to tell the truth,” she said. “They have served me extremely well.”
Rugg, in the meantime, has shared her global perspective with members of Congress in Washington, D.C.
In a 2016 commentary published in The Herald, Rugg wrote that RESULTS “creates long-term solutions to poverty by supporting programs that address its root causes: lack of access to health, education or opportunity to move up the economic ladder.”
“Together, we will learn how preventable diseases like tuberculosis, malaria and HIV infections can be reduced provided an investment by Congress,” the local chapter’s Facebook page says.
Just Friday, the 52-year-old Rugg was walking the halls of Congress as an advocate for the Friends Committee on National Legislation, a social justice lobbying organization founded by the Quakers. She was there during the impeachment inquiry testimony of Marie Yovanovitch, the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine, but didn’t get a chance to witness the dramatic proceedings.
Back home in Snohomish Monday, Rugg said she was able to see Yovanovitch and a cadre of others walk through a hallway.
Her interest in global issues dates to time spent as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Republic of Cameroon. Raised in Sumner, Rugg’s three years in the west African country followed graduation with a biology degree from Pacific Lutheran University.
A mother of two, Rugg worked nearly four years, 1997-2000, as a health educator with the Snohomish Health District. In 2005, she shared with Herald readers a personal loss that spurred her to raise awareness that tuberculosis isn’t a disease of the past. That article begins: “Ask me about my friend Claudia. Ask me about how she died from tuberculosis here in the United States eight months ago.”
In 2018, Rugg said, RESULTS volunteers used their voices to counter proposals to cut funding for global anti-poverty programs, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) once known as food stamps. They also worked to bring about a United Nations meeting on TB.
As she looks to the wider world, Rugg admires the example Guzak has set in her adopted hometown.
“I’m so happy to have her here in our community,” Rugg said. “She brings people together and is a role model — to use your voice.”
Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; firstname.lastname@example.org.
A celebration of the 15th anniversary of Snohomish County RESULTS, a nonprofit that works to end poverty, is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Saturday at AngelArmsWorks, 230 Avenue B, Snohomish. Music will be performed by Tim Noah, Polydendron (Jack Brand and Rebecca Guthrie), Kerrie Vespaziani, Karen Totten, Kim Kramer and Teresa Rugg. Karen Guzak will be honored with the 2019 RESULTS Seeds of Hope Award. Free event, but it’s a fundraiser. For information, email Willie Dickerson at: email@example.com