by Peter Jakey–Managing Editor
Rogers City native Abbey Idalski, who served her community as Miss Rogers City in 2011, served her country for five years in the United States Marine Corps and wants to pay it forward.
Abbey is getting ready to help give children in poverty the care they need by volunteering in an African orphanage for three months. The daughter of Tom Idalski and Kathy (Tim) Lijewski will be traveling to Kenya later this month.
“I feel called to go to Kenya,” said Abbey, during a trip to Rogers City last week to attend the funeral of grandmother Shirley Idalski. “I have talked about it in the paper before, the loss of Emilio Harvey, the baby I lived with in California. Losing Emilio made me realize that a child does not have to be blood to love them,” said Abbey, who went on a 10-day mission trip to Nicaragua during her high school days. She leaves tomorrow (Friday) for Kenya.
Abbey booked the flight during the Thanksgiving break while visiting Rogers City, but had to return to town following the passing of Grandma Ski.
“I said good-bye to her on Dec. 10 (2017),” said Abbey. “She always said, ‘I will be OK.’ It was her slogan in life.”
Abbey said she was not dealt the best hand in the Marines, serving in Afghanistan at a young age and suffered hip injuries that eventually forced her out of the service and was honorably discharged. She is scheduled for hip surgery later in the year and would stay longer in the orphanage if it was not for the planned procedure.
Through it all, it was what her grandmother would say, that would always ring true. “No matter what happens, I’ll be OK. I know that,” said Abbey.
Abbey is a 2012 Rogers City High School graduate, who walked across the stage at the age of 17. A few months later, she joined the Marines, and following successful completion of boot camp, became a Marine.
During her five years in the service, she earned a bachelor’s degree in clinical and social psychology from Park University.
“Upon separation out of the Marine Corps, I went straight to working as a behavioral therapist for North County San Diego,” she said. “It was a very difficult transition because I was a Marine from the age of 17 to 23 to going right into working in the civilian sector. It was difficult, that’s the only way I can describe it. I felt like there was something more out there.”
Abbey’s path crossed with the owner of the orphanage, who she calls Aunt Becky, and it was her passion for the orphanage and compassion for the children that inspired her to make the decision.
“I want to get a little bit of my nanna’s ashes and put it in something and take it with me,” she said. “It will be meaningful to me.”