Busy Karen McNamara is not too busy to dance

Choreographer Chris Harmon partnering with Community Star Dancer Karen McNamara. (Photo by Jeannie Malik)

ATASCADERO — Karen McNamara’s remarkable history is an awe-inspiring one and she shares her story with a modesty that belies her achievements. Karen, who is the Atascadero Printery Foundation’s Community Star dancer, for Dancing with Our Stars (DWOS) 2019, suffered life-threatening injuries in an automobile accident and later, was left almost homeless, after the death of her husband, Mike. She has worked her way back to health and productivity, making significant contributions to the community, and perhaps her philosophy is best summed up by a saying from Shakespeare which hangs in her office:   “And though she be but little, She is fierce.”
Karen owns the Hope Chest Emporium in downtown Atascadero. She tells us, “We have been branded an eclectic store with a unique blend of items for home and garden.”
One of the activities that gives Karen joy is bringing a sad piece of furniture back to life, usually while singing, and her store is a perfect end-point for her restoration work. Karen is also a realtor, with Classic Coast Realty Team of Pacific Home Brokers.
Karen and Mike were early supporters of the effort to save the Printery. There was a lull in activity after Mike passed away and then Karen put up a homemade banner, “Save the Printery,” at Colony Days, and she shares that an awesome group of people volunteered to be part of the Printery project. Since then the Printery Foundation has been able to purchase the building and begin rehabilitation. Their project is a huge one but the end result will be a tremendous addition to the City: multi-purpose rooms of all sizes, a Community Performing Arts Center, a working Printery. Karen hopes that her DWOS appearance will not only be a means of securing needed funds but will serve to educate folks about the Printery, and draw additional volunteers to their ranks.

Karen McNamara
Does Karen already seem like a busy lady? Wait! There is more. She currently heads the Colony Days Committee, is an active Optimist Club member, serving on their Scholarship and Golf Tournament Committees. And she recently started Mike’s Light Foundation, to help with the issue of loneliness in our culture by providing activities to connect. Karen is grateful to the Printery folks, who she describes as so hard-working and so committed to their project. It seems fitting that she is paired with choreographer Chris Harmon, a hard-working, committed dancer. Chris has been dancing and teaching dance for years.  He rose to prominence in the DWOS community when he choreographed the dance for the 2014 champion, Rolfe Nelson. He followed up in 2015 with a second champion, Vicky Morse. He has been partnering Community Stars ever since and has also been featured in Frank Sanchez’ production numbers. This year he is partnering two Community Star dancers, a much-appreciated gift of his time and energy. When he is not dancing, Chris teaches high school economics in Santa Maria.
Atascadero’s Dancing with our Stars will be held March 21, 22 and 23, at the Pavilion on the Lake. Theme is Atascadero Time Machine: Back to the 80’s! Directed by Molly Comin. Opolo Vineyards is the exclusive wine sponsor. Catered buffet dinner by Pacific Harvest Catering. Tickets are on sale through Eventbrite.com. No ticket sales at the door. Interested in sponsoring? Contact Event Chair Jeannie Malik- [email protected] Interested in donating a silent auction item? Contact Linda Zirk- [email protected] Tickets will sell out! Don’t delay securing your seats for this popular community event by Friends of the Atascadero Library supporting seven local non-profit organizations.

2019 DWOS $1,000 and over Sponsors as of Feb. 22

Diamond Sponsor $10,000
Opolo Vineyards

Platinum Sponsors $5,000
Vicky Morse
Julie C Fallon MD
John & Yvonne Webster
Wysong Construction

Emerald Sponsor $3,500
Howard Products
Donna O’Shaughnessy
Atascadero 76-Don Giessinger
Awakening Ways Spiritual Community

Gold+ Sponsors $2,500
Colony Magazine

Gold Sponsors $2,000
Justin Vineyards
Ron & Liz Helgerson
Greg Malik Real Estate
Eric J. Gobler, Civil Engineering
So Cal Gas
Atascadero News
Bill Gaines Audio
BHE Renewables

Silver Sponsors $1,000
Bill & Grenda Ernst
Grigger & Alice Jones ($1,500)
Richard & Marguerite Pulley
Idler’s Home
K.Jons Diamonds & Gems
David Burt & Virginia Severa
Leon & Sandy Fairbanks
Sue Hayes
Geo Solutions
County Supervisor Debbie Arnold
Rob Garcia Wealth Management
El Camino Veterinary Hospital
American Riviera Bank
Quota International of Atascadero
The Real Estate Book
Cheryl Strahl Photography
Highlight Media
Bloom N’ Grow
DJ Joy Bonner
Brian Reeves
KPRL-1230 am
Central Coast Brewing
On the Wall Galaxy Theatre Advertising
Central Coast Tent & Party
Mid Coast Geo Technical
MGE Underground
Ingram & Greene Sanitation
Hope Chest Emporium


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