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Arlington mother places second in ‘Super Mom’ contest
ARLINGTON — “In our eyes, you won, Mom,” 13-year-old Anastaya Dickson told her mother, Arlington’s Stephanie Dickson, after she’d received the call from KING 5’s “New Day Northwest” producers. “In 10 million people’s eyes, you won.”
Dickson, an active mother of six, made it to the final three in the TV show’s “Super Mom” contest, and while the phone call she received on the afternoon of the show’s May 4 taping informed her that she hadn’t won first place, she still walked away with second place and is set to receive some gifts from the TV producers.
“It’s amazing how much she does for people,” Anastaya said. “She’s always there for us too. She’s a really loving kind of person. How could she not win?”
Dickson herself took the news in stride, and was grateful simply to have been nominated at all.
“I don’t think I’m the best mom out there,” Dickson laughed. “It was nice to get all those good wishes from my friends and family, though.”
To qualify for the contest, prospective “Super Moms” needed to be at least 18 years old and involved in community service in addition to mothering. Dickson has had four children and adopted two others, one of whom has special needs that include “global developmental delays.” Stephanie and her husband, Dorrel, adopted the two children four years ago, after the death of the children’s birth mother.
Family friend Diane Cruikshank nominated Stephanie not only for her hectic home-life, but also for her leadership roles in the Arlington produce co-op, which Dickson started in the fall of 2009, and her service as the program director for the Mt. Baker Council of the Boy Scouts of America for the past nine years. Dickson explained that her Boy Scout work tends to focus on planning activities and training staff for its annual Camp McKinley, while Cruikshank lauded Dickson for organizing volunteers into distributing two tons of produce to 200 families twice a month.
“Anything that you give your attention to, you’re going to get better at,” said Dickson, who also serves as a lay minister and instructor at her church, and uses her teaching degree to home-school her children. “I’ve improved as a mother over the years by focusing on it and learning tricks from other people.”
Dickson noted that she’s not the only hard-worker in her house, since she enlists her children in helping her deliver The Arlington Times. While a small stipend of that money goes to the children themselves, the rest funds the family’s annual vacation trips.
“Last fall we went to Disneyland, and last June we visited in-laws in Illinois,” Dickson said, before laughing, “The Arlington Times paid for my son’s school trip to Florida.”
The May 4 taping of “New Day” became a small family trip to Seattle, with Dorrel taking the day off and Stephanie getting more and more nervous the longer she waited in the green room. She respects the community service work of her fellow “Super Mom” nominees, but when it came time to introduce herself to the TV audience, Dickson chose to speak about her adopted children instead.
“It’s easy to get sad over orphans in Africa, but there are thousands of kids without parents right here in Washington,” Dickson said. “Africa might be too far away to fix things for those orphans, but these kids are so close to us. When you adopt a child, you change their whole world.”
Even as she did her errands around the house later that day, Dickson’s children took the time to share quiet hugs with her, as both 10-year-old daughter Elizabeth and 6-year-old son William described “cuddling” as one of their favorite things to do with mom.
“My kids thought I should have won the contest, which is the most gratifying thing,” Dickson said. “When it’s the people who see you every day, even when you’re not at your best, that’s when it really means something.”
“She’s practically perfect in every way,” Dorrel laughed.