Lots of little kids watch Sesame Street on television and wish they could go walk around and talk to Cookie Monster and Elmo, but most never get to do that. One man, who's spent most of his life in Astoria, did get to go to Sesame Street as a child and also had a picnic with Mr. Rogers.
To most people, Joel Bechtolt has already led a pretty interesting life for being only 30. He's been on tour with Everclear, a Northwest rock band. He's produced a record for celebrity rapper, Ice Cube. Bechtolt used to have a punk-rock band called Allegro which produced an album called "Too Cool for School." The cover design included an Astoria letterman's jacket.
All in all, the first word that comes to mind when talking with Bechtolt is interesting.
Bechtolt met Mr. Rogers and went to Sesame Street because his dad worked for PBS. Because of his dad's job transfers, Bechtolt says: "I went to six schools by the time I was in fifth grade."
"You learn how to make friends. You become well rounded," he added.
Bechtolt has been working at the Women's Resource Center for the past four years. He enjoys his job because, "Every day we get the opportunity to help someone, whether it's food for the night or responding to domestic violence."
Some Astoria High School seniors say that Bechtolt's segment on domestic violence and healthy relationships as part of Senior Transitions was the best class of the year. It was developed by a group working at the Women's Resource Center. "I wish we had that kind of presentation when I was in high school," Bechtolt said.
MORE HELPThe Women's Resource Center has two hotlines for those who need assistance, advice, or just to talk. People interested in volunteering may call the Women's Resource Center main phone line.
24-Hour Teen Hotline: 325-5735, Suicide Hotline: 325-5724, Women's Resource Center main phone line (8 a.m. - 5 p.m.) 325-3426."It was amazing how the school seemed to stay the same. The kids seemed so young." Bechtolt graduated from Astoria High School in 1991.
When Bechtolt was in high school, two of his close friends, Honour Lavis and Margaret Navarro, were killed in a drunk driving accident. In 1992-93, Bechtolt organized a benefit concert with local bands to start a scholarship in honor of his lost friends.
Bechtolt has an interesting sense of style. "I try to be interesting. Life's too short not to be."
- Sara Alsbury