When the five children were adopted, the four boys and a girl ranged in age from two- to nine-years-old. SCJ’s Dan Witt and his wife Valerie had already been foster parents to the siblings for a number of years, two of them joining the family at birth. The Witts also had a daughter who was 15 when the family expanded in 1995.
Over the years, each of the adopted children has been diagnosed with some special need, mostly as the result of alcohol consumption during pregnancy. They all are now in their 20s.
Compassion. Integrity. Stewardship. Trust. These are SCJ core values, guiding all we do. We seek out team members who share these same high ideals, and Dan embodies them without a doubt.
As if managing a family of six children wasn’t enough, Dan has immersed himself as a volunteer for both the community and his children’s activities. He was a volunteer firefighter for eleven years in Lewis County and has led worship at Centralia’s Calvary Chapel for more than 20 years, guitar and all.
Dan was also a senior member volunteer for a Civil Air Patrol youth squadron for about four years. The organization taught four of his children search and rescue skills, aeronautical science basics, and how to march, apply self-discipline and be a color guard. They even got some time behind the controls in a plane.
Dan also volunteered at a private school founded by Valerie, who had a Doctorate in Education. He served as a math-tutor and “organized and entertained them” for school outings and significant educational travels to Washington D.C., Yellowstone, and the California Coast. Unfortunately, Valerie passed away three years ago from ovarian cancer after she and Dan spent 35 years together as husband and wife—partners in crime.
“SCJ has been so supportive in allowing me to take care of the frequent family issues that arise from handling things on your own,” shared Dan.
Education became a personal priority for Dan at 48-years-old when he decided to go back to school. After working for more than 30 years in the residential, commercial and industrial construction industry, it was time for a change.
Dan remembers the pain, thinking, “This hurts. I can’t do this for the rest of my life.”
Dan had been working at a sawmill as the head carpenter for 25 years, and had taken an interest in the design and AutoCAD side. At first, he thought he might apply those skills to a medical career in radiology, but landed instead on engineering. Dan obtained his Associate’s Degree from Centralia College in Civil Engineering.
A new career for Dan was launched in a work study program in the public works department at the Port of Olympia. He then spent a few years at a local engineering firm that folded when tough times hit in 2010. Dan made the most of the soft economy by starting his own business and doing contract and consulting work for an airplane builder and engineering firm.
Dan came to SCJ in 2014, first doing work as a consultant and now as a full time designer. He most frequently works on transportation projects.
“My kids should be commended for their patience and putting up with me during the rough times these past few years,” said Dan. “They should know that everything we’ve been through, we’ve been through together.”
Dan’s comment, reflecting praise to his children, is another statement to his character. It’s also testament to why Dan is a good fit at SCJ, where we strive for a culture that allows us to serve not only our clients, but also each other.
We are very fortunate Dan chose to work here.