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Monday, Mar. 5, 2007

Social worker serves as hero to the broken

There are everyday heroes among us. We’ve already talked about a police officer who saved a young life and a mother-and-son team who feed and minister to the homeless.

Yvette Brown is a social worker for the Horry County Department of Social Services. Some months Brown, who focuses on in-home treatment services, must keep up with 70-plus kids and their families.

There aren’t enough hours in the day. There aren’t enough days in the month. But she does it anyway, even when she has to have visits as short as 15 minutes at a child’s school, knowing it’s the only way to eyeball them enough to determine they are clean and not hungry and not bruised, that no deep-seated fear is hidden in their eyes.

“You need to build a rapport with broken, battered kids in order to move a case forward,” she said. “We see child abuse every day, the kind that doesn’t hit the newspaper. It’s happening, and it’s deep. It’s real deep. You look at the kid and they are crying out for help and you don’t know where to begin.”

Brown, who once worked for the Horry County Sheriff’s Office, saw the prison population getting younger by the year and wondered if there was a better way to help.

A fellow officer, Randy Gerald, who was shot to death trying to intervene in a domestic dispute, told her she had more to give.

“We feel like we are making a difference,” Brown said. “You have touched a life. You have made a difference. But at what cost?”

She’s had to witness babies born with illegal drugs in their systems being given back to their mothers – because their grandmothers also tested positive.

She’s had to go into homes where maggots reside in refrigerators, where little girls have suffered unimaginable sexual abuse.

She’s had to watch co-workers leave: one, a 17-year veteran who earned only $31,000; and another who took a lower-paying job to escape the stress of dealing with the maladies of an exploding and more needy Horry County population.

She’s commiserated with fellow workers who are now on high blood pressure medicine and take pills to go to sleep. They fight fears that a child might be hurt or killed because they can’t do the kind of detail-oriented case management they know they should do.

This past week Gov. Mark Sanford appointed a new DSS director, charged with revamping a broken system. It must be fixed, so that Brown and others like her won’t have to be so heroic.

Heroes in the Sky

When Lissa Klueter decided to take flying lessons in 2000, her interest was purely recreational. When her husband David began taking lessons in March 2001, it was still just for fun. But now the two Belmont residents, and their plane, are involved in something much larger. Last year the husband and wife team began flying missions for Angel Flight of Virginia, the local chapter of Angel Flight of America, a nonprofit charitable air medical transportation organization that gets patients to the treatment facilities they need.

“We heard about it from the pilot community we were involved in,” David Klueter said.

“It is kind of inspirational,” Lissa Klueter said. “If you’re going to fly anyway, you might as well do something that is going to help someone.”

Angel Flight of America is a national network of seven member organizations, including Angel Flight Mid-Atlantic, parent organization of Angel Flight of Virginia, which arranges free flights, transporting patients and their families in private small airplanes to specialized medical treatment facilities around the country. The pilots fly patients for special surgeries, to visit specialists or as part of their continued care. Only flights for patients going for an organ transplant are arranged at a moment’s notice.

In 2006, the organization arranged flights for more than 34,000 passengers on 22,000 missions nationally. Of the Mid-Atlantic region’s 1,500 pilots, 311 live in Virginia. In 2006, the Mid-Atlantic region flew 565 missions carrying 900 passengers.

“These pilots truly are humanitarians,” Suzanne Rhodes, director of public affairs for Angel Flight Mid-Atlantic, said.

Recently Angel Flight of Virginia received a 12-month Compassion Capital Fund grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children and Families. The $50,000 grant will go to a program to increase the organization’s pilot and volunteer recruitment in Virginia’s rural communities in order to improve its social service casework throughout the state.

“This money is really important to the work we do,” Rhodes said. “It lets hospitals know about us and it lets those with medical need know about us.”

All of the pilots involved with Angel Flight are volunteers, often flying their own planes, and must absorb the cost of flying missions for the organizations, including gas, insurance and training.

“Some airports will give us a fuel discount because they know we’re with Angel Flight,” David Klueter said. “It can dictate where we land.”

“Fuel is more expensive at the larger airports, so 50 cents off a gallon can really make a difference,” Lissa Klueter said.

Money and time are the biggest factors in how many missions the Klueters can run in a year. Since joining, the couple has flown eight missions for Angel Flight.

With his job as computer software designer, David Klueter is tied to flying only on weekends, when a lot of other pilots are also available. His wife has a little more flexibility with her job as an options trader, but even then it can be difficult to support flying missions.

“We strive to do one mission a month,” Lissa Klueter said. “We think that is a good goal, but we could fly every day if we could afford it.”

Rhodes said the demand for Angel Flight’s services and pilots continues to grow with the ability of doctors to treat illnesses and medicine becomes more specialized.

“Specialized medicine is a good thing, but patients might not be able to get to a specialist on their own,” Rhodes said.

While Angel Flight Mid-America only flies patients in trips less than 1,000 miles long, the organization will help a patient reach a specialist in California or however far they need to go, Rhodes said.

“We work with some airlines so we can get people on a commercial flight to get them to specialist they need,” she said.

Many of the missions that the Klueters fly are only one leg of a longer journey. David Klueter’s first flight was helping to transport a 14-year-old from Bangor, Maine to a specialist in Atlanta.

“I met him [and another pilot] in Bridgeport, Conn., and flew them to Danville, Va.,” he said. “There is a lot of coordination with Angel Flight Northeast and Angel Flight South or Southeast.”

To choose which missions they take part in, the Klueters get a mission roster of all the patients that need to be transported. The couple then picks which missions they might be able to fly, based on their availability, fuel requirements of the flight and the capacity of their airplane. They have flown as far north as Boston and as far south as North Carolina.

“It was kind of intimidating, landing at Logan [Airport in Boston] with all the big boys,” Lissa Klueter joked.

In order to become Angel Flight pilots the Klueters each had to fulfill a series of requirements above and beyond earning their pilot’s license. Each Angel Flight pilot must receive an instrument rating as a pilot, which means they can fly a plane when there is zero visibility, using only their instruments as a guide, Rhodes said.

“It is the equivalent of what commercial pilots have,” Lissa Klueter said.

In addition to being licensed through the Federal Aviation Administration, pilots must be medical certified, meaning they have been cleared by a doctor to fly, and they have to have logged at least 250 hours flying as the pilot in command. Twenty-five of those hours must be in the plane they will use for Angel Flight missions.

Dealing with weather, ill patients and other pilots means that missions do not always go off as planned. David Klueter’s first flight for Angel Flight, where he was supposed to meet a 14-year-old patient in Connecticut was supposed to happen on a Saturday. The night before, he checked the weather reports and conferred with the other pilots flying legs of the mission.

“There was a nor’easter in the Maine area,” he said. “We would have been in the clouds the whole time and on top of it there was freezing precipitation in Atlanta.”

Knowing that the boy had to be at his doctor in Atlanta on Monday morning, Klueter and other pilots conferred and arranged to run the entire mission Sunday instead.

“And we had clear, blue skies the whole way,” he said.

For Lissa Klueter’s first flight, she was scheduled to fly to New Jersey to pick up a patient and take him on the first leg of his flight to Charlestown, W. Va., so he could make an appointment in Arkansas.

“The other two pilots couldn’t fly because it was too windy in their areas,” Lissa Klueter said. “I went and picked the patient up in New Jersey, but I took off not knowing where he was going to end up.”

To compensate for the fact that the smaller planes could not fly, Angel Flight arranged to get the patient on a commercial flight out of West Virginia.

“They made sure that he was going to get to his appointment,” she said.

Rhodes said it is the pilots who generously give of their time and money that deserve the credit for the work that they do.

“They will do anything they can to help those who need it,” she said. “They truly are heroes.”

Thursday, Mar. 1, 2007

Miracle Workers

Imagine never hearing music, laughter, or even the sound of your own voice. Children in many third world countries loose their hearing unnecessarily as babies, due to poor medical conditions.

A local couple is trying to change that, by providing their skills and time to help children in the Dominican Republic.

Andrew Morabito with Advance Hearing Centers says, “If you can’t communicate with other people and loved ones it’s a lonely world.”

Andrew and Carrie Morabito are newlyweds. They share a new life, a business, and a passion for helping others.

Carrie says “Hearing aids are good, hearing loss is bad and this is a way we can help.”

Andrew adds, “Hearing loss has been swept under the rug.”

For Carrie and Andrew, giving people back the ability to hear is more than just a nine to five job. In January they traveled to the Dominican Republic where they fitted 900 people, adults and children with 1,800 hearing aids.

The Moribioto’s made the trip as part of the Starky Foundation. The mission provides hearing aids to people in under served countries. The foundation donates the equipment, and people like the Moriboto’s give of themselves for one week.

For these children, sound is foreign and most don’t understand what they are suddenly able to hear.

Andrew says, “It’s a major sense you just gave back to someone.”

Sadly most of the kids were not born deaf. Their hearing loss could have been prevented with proper healthcare.

Carrie says, “They still use Gentimicine to treat infections they use it as an ear drop then it goes to the hearing mechanism and damages it even more.”

The Dominican only has two audiologist to treat the thousands of adults and children with hearing loss. A hearing aid would cost most families here three months wages.

But the reality is, even with hearing aids, these children wont get the needed verbal skills or follow up care they need.

But that doesn’t dim the drive for this ambitious couple.

Andrew adds, “If you fit 900 and 50 wear them you still have impacted 50 people..at least for a short period they will be wearing hearing aids.”

Detachment, anxiety, hypertension can all be traced back to hearing loss. Carrie and Andrew say this is their small effort to change the lives of these children forever.

Carrie says, “We have to take care of our children because they are our future..if we don’t take care of them we won’t have a future.”

The Starkey Foundation provides hearing aids for dozens of these missions. The Morabito’s say they hope to go on another on this year.

Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2007

Honors bestowed on those who make a difference

A number of Woodland police officers were awarded Thursday for their leadership, volunteerism and dedication to the WPD.

Most of the awards were given by Police Chief Carey Sullivan, while others were recognized by their peers.

Sullivan awarded Officer of the Year to Dallas Hyde for his varied involvement in the department – from being a member of the Crisis Negotiations Team and the Honor Guard to being a school resource officer.

Meanwhile, officers selected Crime Analyst Officer Liz Gunson for Employee of the year. She was recognized by her peers as a team player in her daily work with individual officers, the Gang Violence Suppression Unit team, the investigations division and administration in providing information and analysis of crimes and crime trends.

Gunson is credited with asking to have the Crime Analysis Unit office moved to a location that would be closer to the patrol officers’ work area to facilitate their access to CAU. She has developed flyers and binders for specific beats and subjects.

Hyde was hired by the WPD in August 2000 as a Police Officer Trainee while he was attending the Sacramento County Law enforcement Academy. Upon his graduation from the academy in January 2001, he was sworn in as a full-time patrol officer.

He worked as a patrol officer until June 2003 when he was selected to be a school resource officer for the department. He was an SRO until July 2006 when he was then selected to fill a detective vacancy in the investigations division. Hyde is also a member of the Crisis Negotiations Team and the Honor Guard.

Hyde is recognized for his involvement in the community with his support of the Woodland Soroptimist’s annual holiday bazaar, the PTA, Woodland High School cheerleader’s fundraisers and fundraising events at the Willow Springs Elementary School. He has participated in the Every 15 Minutes Program at our local high schools and the Woodland Police Department’s Shop-With-A-Cop program presented in conjunction with Wal-Mart and he is a Cal Ripken baseball coach.

Sullivan awarded police volunteer Gerald Dawson Volunteer of the Year for donating 313 hours in the traffic division since March 2006. Dawson retired from Spreckle’s Sugar Company in 2001 after working there for 42 years.

“Every Tuesday and Wednesday he has patrolled the city streets and neighborhoods looking for Abandoned Vehicles and also report on hazardous code enforcement issues as well,” Sullivan said.

The GVSU and Crime Investigation Unit were both awarded a Meritorious Unit Citation. Both units were recognized for their performance that is above and beyond their normal duties and is accomplished by functioning as a team.

The GVSU was recognized for their handling of a series of thefts in Yolo County that exceeded $50,000, Sullivan said.

The CIU is comprised of three Community Service Officers: Dale Phillips, Kelly York and Norma Rodriguez. Supervisors praise CIU members for their quick and eager response, even when called during off-duty hours; the skill they demonstrate in performing their duties; and the way they integrate their activities with others involved in the investigation.

Sullivan recognized four employees for their leadership skills – Ricky Wright, Omar Flores, Ted Ruiz and Derrek Kaff.

Wright joined the WPD in 1999 after serving in the US Marine Corps. Wright serves the department in many different ways as a sniper on SWAT, representing the department as a member of the Police Honor Guard and acting as a field training officer.

Flores, since joining the department in 2002, has established himself as a leader, said Sullivan.

“He frequently stops at parks, play areas, or elsewhere where children congregate to provide a positive influence and to let them know that the police are there to help. Omar has especially worked to maintain a bridge between the department and the Hispanic community. This past year he organized a power bench press contest in support of the Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Center,” Sullivan said.

Ruiz joined the WPD in August 2004. He moved through the Field Training Officer program and upon becoming a solo beat officer demonstrated an exceptional ability and determination to provide the highest quality of law enforcement services.

Kaff has been with the WPD since 2000 and promoted to sergeant in July 2003. Kaff has been assigned as the administrative sergeant since March 2005. Kaff has sought to hire the very best people at the WPD.

Monday, Feb. 26, 2007

Neighbors rescue elderly woman, son from burning home

Next-door neighbors came to the rescue of an elderly woman and her son who were inside a burning home.

Hampton fire investigators said the neighbors were putting their children to bed Saturday night when they noticed flickering lights in the window of the Ronsonet home.

They called 911 and then banged on the door of the Lamington Road home to wake up the two people inside – Opal Ronsonet, 81, and her son, Ricky James Ronsonet, 51.

They got out but had to be taken to the hospital.

Investigators are trying to determine how the fire started.

Friday, Feb. 23, 2007

Group makes Valentine’s less lonely for widows, widowers

Valentine’s Day isn’t the happiest time of the year when you’ve lost the love of your life.

Much of the joy slips from Christmas, too. And anniversaries mostly remind of what was. A lot of days feel lonely for empty nesters when the nest truly is empty.

“It’s even tough to pick up the pictures,” said Elaine Johnson of Dallas. “I don’t have a lot of pictures of Kenneth around, but when I pick one to dust … it’s hard.”

On the second Tuesday of the month, though, Ms. Johnson and dozens of other widows and widowers spend a couple of hours together, talking and eating, laughing and sharing, and in the process, making life a little brighter.

On this cool, blustery Valentine’s eve, 76 showed up for lunch, many at a time when most people are still savoring breakfast. The lunch officially begins at 11:30 a.m., but regulars warn that if you aren’t there by 11, you might not find a seat. And when the group’s leaders arrived shortly after 10, some people were already waiting.

Arrangements of red and pink roses, red carnations and other flowers graced the tables in honor of Valentine’s Day, and a small, pink chocolate heart sat beside each place setting.

“It makes you feel a part of something,” said Jennie Free of Sunnyvale. “I was married 54 years and just lost my husband in November ’05, and we always ran around with couples.

“But now when you run around with couples, you feel like the odd person out. Here, you feel more a part of the group.”

“Here” is a big banquet room at the back of a Red Lobster in Mesquite, where a L.I.F.T. group – for “Living Information for Today” – attracts 80, 90, even 100 people to its monthly meeting, people who know exactly what it’s like to be alone, and who relish this chance for fellowship.

Not grief support

L.I.F.T. is an outreach of Dignity Memorial, an association of funeral homes that created the program to help survivors cope with the loss of their spouses.

“My first thought, when they said this was for widows and widowers, is that it was grief support. And my second was they’re trying to pair us up with someone,” Ms. Johnson said. “I don’t need that, and they’re not.

“It’s just a group of people who like to get together.”

“It’s something you look forward to each month,” added Pat Henderson of Dallas. “You go and see people, you see how they’re doing.

“Most of us married young – well, I was young and my husband was a little older and he was the only man I’d ever dated. I think a great many of us are the same way. Most were married 50 years or close to it. So we’re all kind of in the same boat.”

But this is no singles group. Like Ms. Johnson, few people seem to have any interest in that. The men mostly sit with other men and talk sports and politics. And women sit in friendly groups, talking of family and common acquaintances, smiling and laughing.

In a way, Ms. Henderson said, the gatherings help them deal with this particular phase of life.

“We always sat at the table to eat,” she said, “and people have to find a way to cope with that [after a spouse dies]. I’m a reader, and I fix my meal and put it on the table and read while I eat.

“That’s my way of coping.”

‘Sense of loss’

After spending a lifetime with someone, finding a way to cope with his or her loss is critical, said Timothy Wolff, an associate professor of psychiatry at UT Southwestern Medical Center.

“Humans are social creatures by nature, and interaction is a need. So when someone is in a long-term intimate relationship with a spouse, they have someone who fits that need on a daily basis,” Dr. Wolff said. “And they don’t have the expectation that that person will someday be gone.

“On Valentine’s Day, at Christmastime, other important family times, those bring joy to us and are memorable in healthy lives,” he said. “And to not have that person in those times creates a longing, a sense of loss.”

Ms. Free understands that.

“Matt and I never had children, so we always just had each other,” she said. “We always did something for Valentine. Each Valentine’s Day, we’d give each other the Valentines we gave the first year we were married.

“They’re getting a little yellow with age, but I still have them.”

The cards are dated Feb. 14, 1952, and except for a hint of tanning, they’re in perfect shape, right down to the red satin ribbon that adorns the card from her husband.

Some years, Mr. Free would add a little note on a separate piece of paper. His wife still has one from 1972: “Better every year – Love, Matt.”

“It’s good to be here with people who have gone through this, too,” Ms. Free said.

Highlight for many

Ben Coleman, director of this L.I.F.T. group, said the meeting is a highlight of the month for many attendees.

“They get out and meet people and have fun,” he said. “They really enjoy it.”

And while the group is in no way a dating service, well, sometimes things happen.

“This past September was three years since we started this,” Mr. Coleman said, “and the first luncheon we had, we had maybe 30 ladies and gentlemen there. And at that first luncheon, we had a couple meet for the first time.

“They came back each month and saw each other, and to make a long story short, they started dating and wound up getting married.

“Even though we aren’t a matchmaking group, it’s nice to see what can happen.”

Teddy bears for soldiers’ children

More than 200 teddy bears have been sent from a Canadian British Columbia community to the Canadian Forces garrison in Edmonton, destined for children of Afghanistan-bound soldiers.

The project is the brainchild of Warren Mears, manager of the government liquor store in the northeastern city of Fort St. John.

He said the store sells the bears to raise money for charities every Christmas, and there were lots of bears left over this year.

“I had a couple hundred bears sitting here, and I was thinking of something different to do with them. I was watching the news the night before, and it was the Canadian Army in Afghanistan and I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be kind of interesting if we could maybe set something up with the military?’ ”

Mears decided to get local children involved in the effort. He phoned Doug McCracken, principal of Bert Ambrose Elementary School in Fort St. John, to see if his students would write notes of encouragement to go with the teddy bears.

McCracken said the students were more than happy to participate. “We talked to 200 students and everyone was in favour of the project. They thought it was a cool idea.”

The bears and children’s notes are now at the Edmonton garrison and will be given to soldiers as they prepare to deploy overseas to give to their children.

Soldiers from the Alberta base are heading for Afghanistan this month.

Thursday, Feb. 22, 2007

Township comes up with money for police dog

Clinton Township’s new canine cop will reside with his handler, but in the few weeks he’s been in town the dog has already won the hearts of members of the community, who have practically adopted him.

Jack, a 3-month-old bloodhound, won’t formally start his new job with the Clinton Township Police Department until this spring after he and officer Kevin Frabotta undergo specialized training.

Already, however, the dog has visited with elementary school students who participated in a contest to name him and has met with business owners who helped finance some of the dog’s needs.

“Actually, he’s the community’s dog just as much as he is mine,” said Frabotta, the department’s new canine officer.

A non-profit organization donated the dog, while a committee of residents, business owners and police officers has launched fund-raising efforts for equipment.

Shanon Rupkus, the leader of a committee supporting the police department and the canine team, said the group is trying to raise about $35,000 for a specially equipped police car for the canine unit. So far, they’ve collected about $10,000.

“We’ve had a lot of people helping out months before we even got the dog,” said Rupkus, who is married to a police officer. “Now that Jack’s in town, everyone wants to see him.”

Clinton Township police have been without a canine team for several years after the last dog retired. That dog wasn’t replaced when budget cuts forced the elimination of the canine program.

Elegant Jewelers owner Marty Clauw, a longtime law enforcement supporter, donated $950 to the effort, while Parkway Small Animal and Exotic Hospital owner Thomas Bankstahl is helping out with basic medical issues and training.

Jack came from the ALIE Foundation, a Colorado-based organization that provides bloodhounds to police agencies. The group was formed by Richard and Leticia Berrelez in the 1990s after their 5-year-old granddaughter was abducted from her home and killed. A bloodhound located her body.

Police Capt. Fred Posavetz, Clinton Township’s first canine handler, said bloodhounds are known for their uncanny ability to track human scent over miles. He said the department will use the dog to help find lost children, Alzheimer’s patients and escaped prisoners.

Officials said a second canine, one that could be used for drug or bomb detection, may be added. Frabotta, 40, who begins scent training with Jack in April, said he is amazed at the bloodhound’s abilities. Jack is a welcome addition to the Frabotta home where Kevin and his wife, Terri, a Center Line High School volleyball coach, live with their four children.

“I’m raring to get going with this little guy,” he said.

Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2007

‘Cinderellas’ make it to special ball

When two young Cinderellas went looking for knights in shining armor to escort them to a dance, they found two men who fit the bill — literally — and they didn’t even have to fit into glass slippers to get them.

Tori Bolen, 7, and her sister, Jordan Albert, 10, are both members of the Girl Scout Troop 700 at Central Christian Church in Ironton and planned to attend the annual Wilderness Road Girl Scout father-daughter dance at the Kentucky National Guard Armory in Ashland, Ky., Saturday night. But the ladies needed escorts.

Enter those knights: U.S. Army Specialist James Owens, who is their uncle, agreed to escort Tori; his friend, Private First Class Robert Van Antwerp, agreed to escort Jordan.

Both men were attired in military uniform complete with medals, including the Military Order of the Purple Heart ribbons each of them received in the Iraq war. Both are members of the 101st Airborne Division stationed at Fort Campbell, Ky.

“I’m kind of looking forward to it,” Owens said. Both he and Van Antwerp said they had not been to a dance lately, and it was the first such dance for Tori, too.

“I don’t know what kind of dance I’m going to do,” Jordan, replied, when asked if she had been practicing her moves.

When reminded she could try the cha-cha slide, Van Antwerp turned to Owens and mused, “God help us both.”

Jordan donated approximately 30 Bibles she won through The Ironton Tribune’s Bible verse contest last year to injured soldiers. The act will earn her a Girl Scout bronze merit badge.

“I just wanted to do it because people should know God is the reason we are all here,” she explained.

“I’m proud of her,” Owens said.

Tory cut her hair and donated the tresses to Locks of Love to help another girl scout earn her merit badge.

More than 200 Girl Scouts from Ohio and Kentucky attended the annual dance.

Monday, Feb. 19, 2007

Neighbours Rescue Woman From Fire

A woman has been taken to hospital suffering smoke inhalation after neighbours rescued her from her burning house.

Metropolitan Fire Brigade and Country Fire Authority crews raced to the scene of the fire at the corner of Seares Drive and Old Lilydale Road in Ringwood East about 3.20pm (AEDT) today, an MFB spokesman said.

The fire had engulfed the single-storey weatherboard house when firefighters arrived.

“The female occupant, who was recently released from hospital, was assisted from the premises by neighbours (and was) suffering smoke inhalation,” the spokesman said.

MFB firefighters gave the woman oxygen until an ambulance arrived.

Kids Helping Kids With Diabetes

For many teens, high school is a time to get an education, learn about the world around them, and even have a little fun with your friends.

But for one Mililani teen, high school has also turned into a time for helping

Whether its playing a difficult solo on his french horn or orchestrating a student driven fundraising campaign, Kyle Monette likes a challenge.

“I like to see young people can make a difference” says Kyle.

Especially, when that challenge helps hundreds of other island kids. Many Kyle has never even met, but all are struggling with diabetes.

“A lot of people think diabetes has a cure.”

But there is no cure yet for type 1 diabetes. Kyle hopes to change that. Three years ago he created “Kids helping Kids with Diabetes” to raise awareness about this disease.

He encourages fundraising drives at different schools, reaching out thru the internet, and thru this video, motivating other students to step in and help.

They get to see the people who are affected and the people who they are helping.

“I think it’s a good experience for teenagers to see that what their work is doing or see the people that their work is affecting.”

Kyle’s group has also worked outside of schools to raise money, like putting on a “Shoes in the Chute” event at the Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park. All told, his efforts have helped raise over $40,000 for diabetes research.

Surprising achievements for someone only 17-years-old, but its no surprise to his dad.

“I look at what he does and its always trying to help other people, arrange for rides, its just in his nature, he doesn’t want to leave anyone behind” says Mike Monette.

While Kyle has received recognition for his work, his biggest rewards come from those he helps.

“Meeting people who say thank you so much for doing this, its making a big difference in my child’s life”

And that thanks, is music to the ears of this enterprising high school senior.

Because this is kyle’s senior year, he worries about who will keep the programs going next year. But the monette’s are hopeful kyle’s younger sister melissa, a freshman at mililani high, will not only continue his efforts, but expand them as well.

Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2007

Angel Food Ministries helps area families

Are you looking for ways to stretch your grocery budget without clipping coupons or running around town to compare prices? Consider taking advantage of Angel Food Ministries, a money-saving program that provides a convenient way to manage both your grocery list and your budget.

A nonprofit, nondenominational organization, Angel Food Ministries got its start in 1994 with 34 families in Monroe, Ga. Since then, it has expanded to serve thousands of families across the United States. The Myrtle Beach area program is run out of the Freedom Center, just off S.C. 544 near the Surfside Beach area Wal-Mart.

Angie Ashurst, director of the Freedom Center, said the program aims at filling in the gaps for those people who may bring in too much money to qualify for government assistance but who aren’t making enough to support themselves and their families. “We want to assist those people that are not being served by the community.”

Ashurst said the program is ideal for single parents, the working poor and senior citizens on a fixed income. Although these groups definitely benefit, the program is open to everyone – there are no applications or eligibility requirements.

The Myrtle Beach area food distribution program began in November and has been averaging about 170 families a month. Ashurst said the goal is to build that number up to 300 families each month. Without enough participants, she said, it won’t be cost-effective to keep the program in Horry County.

Ashurst said she’s been trying to spread the word through local media, including spots on local TV and radio public service announcements. Although it has been somewhat of a challenge getting the word out, word of mouth has played a large role in bringing in more participants. Additional obstacles in getting people to take advantage of the program, said Ashurst, are people’s skepticism about charities, the belief that there must be a “catch” and, for some people, pride.

For Candice Cook, a single mother of three kids, ages 13, 8 and 7, the program has been a lifesaver. Cook, who home-schools her children, attends school herself and works temporary jobs, said the program definitely has made her money go further. A Conway resident, she found out about the program through her home-schooling group.

“I use it because it makes sense for the budget,” she said. “It helps things stretch definitely. It’s a good deal.” Cook said the generous portions in each unit have even allowed her to share extra food with others.

The way the program works is simple. Each month, participants have the opportunity to buy a $25 “unit” of groceries on a specified day. Exactly what that basic unit will include varies from month to month, but buyers will know in advance what they are purchasing. The food includes a variety of both frozen and fresh items, and usually has a retail value of about $70. Along with each order comes a publication titled “The Servant,” which includes religious and inspirational messages and the menu for the next month.

There are no restrictions on the number of basic units that can be purchased by an individual or group each month. According to Angel Food Ministries, one unit of food should feed a family of four for one week or a single senior citizen for one month.

Monday, Jan. 29, 2007

Working with homeless heroes is rewarding

The first week of December I got a call from an employee of the gas station in front of the Smokies Stadium. He said a homeless man had been wandering around for almost three days. My wife and I jumped into our car and went to catch this man.

A policeman got him first. He checked to see if he had warrants against him. When he checked out OK, the officer bought the man something to eat. We got there at the 407 exit and we gave him more food and a warm blanket. We stood over him and prayed with him. We always pray with our homeless.

My wife cried because we couldn’t talk him into going to a shelter in Knoxville. I told her he was now in Father God’s hands and our new friend will be fine. After we left a passerby stopped and got our friend a room at a hotel. The next day he called me and asked if I would take him to Knoxville to the veterans’ stand-down. My friend Mike Smith from the Veterans Center took him under his wing and he made sure he got help.

I stayed with him most of the day because I gave my word to him.

I need to tell everyone in Sevier County about these heroes. They very well may have saved an honored veteran’s life. It’s OK to feel proud because you are now our heroes.

And, to all the volunteers at the Smoky Mountain Area Rescue Ministry, what an honor to work with you. We have a hungry hearts dinner at Parkway Church of God every Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. We have people working in the office that always do an outstanding job. They are my heroes and I’ve learned so much from all of them. Dick Wellons, I believe, has some great heroes helping. And if you see someone in trouble, help them. We always need another angel.

Our new friend is in a veterans hospital.

Thomas Bordeaux
Father God’s Ministry
Sevierville

Friday, Jan. 26, 2007

Restaurant comes to rescue as power cut hits school

A Ledbury chef cooked for 100 hungry school children when a power cut made it look certain hot meals would be off the menu.

The kitchens at Bromesberrow Primary are used to cook daily dinners for youngsters at both Bromesberrow and Eldersfield schools.

But when storms caused a power cut last week, the ovens went off in the kitchen and pupils were facing an early home time without a warm meal.
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Bronwyn Mabey, head of Bromesberrow Primary, said: “When children have ordered roast beef and Yorkshire puddings, that is exactly what they want. They look forward to it.”

Fortunately, Mrs Mabey and her husband Dave are the owners of the Black Pepper restaurant in Ledbury High Street.

She said: “I phoned some extra, unexpected orders through. Otherwise, we would have had lots of sad, hungry children.”

The semi-cooked meals were driven the four miles from the school kitchens to the restaurant, which was not affected by the power failure.

The heroic Mr Mabey got busy in the kitchen and, with the meals transported back to both schools, the children were able to eat a hot meal at lunchtime.

Thursday, Jan. 25, 2007

Miracle In Progress For One Man’s Home

Roy Whalen was living in a shell of a home before Christmas, burned out after he tried to get drug dealers off the street.

Roy said God told him that if Roy took care of God’s house, God would take care of his. The first call came in to help Roy right after that story aired. The response was amazing and of course, Roy’s been keeping his part of the bargain.

“I seen the story air on FOX 4 news and I knew I was led to be the facilitator on the project,” Robert McDaniel said.

McDaniel was just one of more than 20 volunteers determined to give Roy a safe and sound home.

“This is miracle in progress, and boy is it in progress,” Jo LeCount, homeless advocate, said.

On the second day of work, those of all ages gather to tear down walls and clean up debris. After a lot of work his place was completely gutted. Roy and the house are now ready for a new start. Those organizing “miracle in progress” have already made huge steps.

“In less than a week we had about $50,000 in materials donated,” McDaniel said. “And everybody kept askin’ how are you gettin’ this donated, and I’m like we’re not. God’s doing it.”

Ferguson Enterprises, Home Depot, and Anderson Rental are just a few businesses helping out. The project still needs more volunteers and supplies, like temporary fencing.

Meanwhile, Roy is still keeping up God’s house by volunteering every day at Faith and Hope Ministry. He said whatever happens next, is in God’s hands.

More Information On The Miracle In Progress

Companies that have helped with Roy’s house:
Home Depot
Tommy’s Building Material
Ferguson Enterprises
Rew Material
Anderson Rental
Nelson Electric
Kit Smith-Fire Restoration

Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2007

A miracle in the kitchen

It’s likely you won’t see any of these chefs on the Food Network anytime soon. You won’t find their recipes on any restaurant menus, either.

But the meals Cecelia Parks and her crew can prepare in two hours for 80 people, many would say, are miraculous.

Parks dropped just $93 at the supermarket last Friday, and a few hours later, with the help of her reliable team of volunteers, served pots of steaming chili, salad dressed in balsamic vinegar, chips and dessert to tables full of hungry souls.

Parks’ crew from St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church and the Lutheran Church of Framingham is just one of dozens of groups who prepare meals almost every day in the Framingham Salvation Army’s “Miracle Kitchen.”

Church groups, children from local schools, scouts and even employees from some local companies rotate in and out of the tiny downtown kitchen to provide free meals to anyone who needs them.

Parks and her loyal group have prepared meals on the third Friday and fifth Thursday of every month for almost 20 years.

Their ham casserole is by far the most popular, Parks said. But the chili is also a favorite.

“This is one of the easiest for us to fix,” she said, “and you don’t have to cook macaroni or something.”

The work began just after 4 p.m. Friday when Parks arrived with her bags of groceries. In all, 10 volunteer chefs crammed into a kitchen no larger than two office cubicles and began the prep work.

George Johnston and Fred Walsh browned 12 pounds of beef in two giant pots where they would later mix the chili. Ernie Deluski opened 20 cans of kidney beans and sweet corn. Doris Johnston, Suzy Ten Broeck and Anita James chopped onions for the chili, and tomatos, carrots and lettuce for the salad.

“It’s an insane number of people for the space,” Ten Broeck said.

Once the beef was cooked, they dropped in the other ingredients and then argued over how much chili powder to add. By 5 p.m., the concoction was simmering, and the group began setting out trays of bowls and plates.

The size of the cooking group changes every month, but they are all regulars. Members of St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church have been cooking meals at the Salvation Army so long they include a line item for it in their budget.

The chefs don’t follow a recipe and cook as though they’ve made the dish 100 times before, which they’ve probably done. Deluski, like a professional, brings his own chef’s knife. They consider the 80 or so people who depend on their meals every day their guests.

“I honestly feel we’re a few paychecks away from being on the receiving end of the ministry,” Ten Broeck said.

Sometimes as many as 100 people show up for a meal, said Judy McPherson, who is in charge of the Miracle Kitchen at the Salvation Army.

“It’s a wonderful thing, because where else would these people eat?” she said.

About 70 people arrived for the meal Friday night, which was served at 6. The cooks and a handful of other volunteers delivered the food directly to the guests, who dug in after McPherson said a prayer.

On Friday, there was even enough for seconds.

Cooking on the cheap for 70 people can be a daunting task, but they make it work at the Salvation Army.

Finding new recipes is especially difficult. One member of Parks’ group sent an e-mail to the producers of the Web site www.ask.com seeking tips for cooking for 80 people.

The response they got was this: “If you have more than 50 people we’d recommend you get a caterer,” Parks said.

“Our church budget doesn’t have the money to have it catered,” she said.

Parks said the average age of her group is about 75, but they have no plans for slowing down.

Their motivation, Doris Johnston said, is “the people who come up afterwards and say, Thank you very much. That was delicious.”‘

Recipe for Miracle Chili

This recipes makes enough chili for 80 guests in just about two hours.

INGREDIENTS:

12 pounds ground beef

10 15-1/4 ounce cans sweet corn

10 15-1/4 ounce cans red kidney beans

3 40-ounce jars spaghetti sauce

2 29-ounce cans tomato sauce

6 white onions, chopped

Garlic powder and chili powder

DIRECTIONS:

Brown the beef in the largest pots you can find. Add spaghetti sauce, tomato sauce and onions. Drain water from the cans of corn and beans, then add. Add chili powder and garlic powder to taste. Reduce heat and simmer for one hour.

Makes 80 servings.

Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2006

Angels on Call answers a prayer

Carol Alford is the sort of woman who finds it tough to turn her back on someone in a jam.

So when a stray puppy showed up on her front porch recently, Alford didn’t hesitate to take her in and provide her with a permanent roof over her head.

But when the 78-year-old retiree found herself in a wet mess last spring because of that same roof, she soon gave up all hope of being rescued by anyone with a kind heart.

“We had leaks in our roof and with the money our insurance company gave us, we paid someone to fix it,” said the mom of six, grandmother of 13 and great-grandmother of seven.

In preparation, the workers took off the entire high-pitched roof of her central Phoenix home.

Then they took off with her money.

Family members quickly covered the bare trusses with bright blue plastic tarps as the summer rains moved into the Valley.

“I’d watch the sky and the minute it looked like rain, I’d get out every pot and pan I had that would hold water,” said Alford, who fought the drippy elements without much success.

But it wasn’t long before the rains ruined the interior of her 1932 vintage home, damaging wood floors, walls and ceilings while providing a perfect environment for mold.

Securing a loan was futile, and while family members were willing to donate some cash, estimates as high as $14,500 for a new roof put the home improvement far beyond Alford’s financial reach.

“I was so upset that I lost 37 pounds,” said the normally slender senior, who has shared the Tudor-style house with her husband, Burl, for the past 45 years. “The neighbors were complaining because of the tarps, and I couldn’t blame them. I was so embarrassed that I wouldn’t go out in the front yard.”

It was one of her neighbors, however, the president of her F.Q. Story Historic District’s preservation association steering committee, who introduced Alford to her salvation.

“I put her in touch with Dee Larson and Angels on Call, who does small repairs for people in need,” said the neighbor, Steve Dreiseszun.

But this was no small repair.

“And I made her no promises,” said Larson, program manager for Angels on Call, the Valley-wide program sponsored by Stardust Building Supplies Inc., that provides no-cost home repairs to homeowners on low, fixed incomes.

“We usually don’t do jobs as big as roofs,” said Larson, who added that the 6-year-old program is more inclined to have its team of skilled volunteers tackle leaky pipes, install hot water heaters or paint the exterior of a house or two with materials secured from the two Stardust warehouses. “But this seemed like a special case.”

After a few phone calls, Larson, who has worked for Angels on Call since September, was able to get ABC Supply Co. in Mesa to donate all the roofing supplies, Gryphon Companies Inc. in Mesa to provide the labor at a discounted price, Homewerx Home Inspections in Mesa to analyze her mold problem for free, and Global Prevention Services in Scottsdale to donate all the products for the mold remediation.

Normally, Angels On Call provides not only the materials but also the labor at no charge to qualifying homeowners.

“But in this case, since we were not using people from our labor pool of volunteers, she will have to pay for the labor,” said Todd Singley, executive director of Stardust Building Supplies.

Still, Alford will save more than $8,000 just on roofing materials.

And with her new roof that was completed only days before Thanksgiving, along with the removal of mold, Alford will be able to secure a reverse mortgage, which will provide her with enough money to make other, much-needed repairs on her home.

“A man in the neighborhood is going to make me new windows and replace things like my front door, and we’ll also paint the outside,” Alford said. “Then one of the my grandsons is going to help me fix up the yard.”

Alford figures it will be six months before she can get her home back in shape and maybe even longer before her health catches up.

“I think I’ve gained back a little weight, but I’ve been so down about this that I couldn’t talk about it without crying,” she said.

That was until Larson came into her life.

“God sent her to me,” said Alford, who added she once feared she would accidentally burn down her parish church because of all the candles she lighted there, seeking divine intervention.

But Larson and Angels On Call are just getting geared up to help others like Alford.

“Our goal is to do two to three smaller projects in a week and in a year, be doing six to eight a week or 200 to 300 projects a year,” Singley said.

Friday, Nov. 24, 2006

The spirit of giving; Rescue Mission gives back to the community

More than fifty volunteers gave away about 350 to 400 Thanksgiving food boxes at the Oroville Rescue Mission, Monday.

“This is fantastic,” said Pastor Steve Terry of the Oroville Rescue Mission. Cars were lining up single file and volunteers were loading their vehicles with large food boxes filled with ingredients to make a traditional Thanksgiving turkey dinner. [Thanksgiving]

“People started signing up for the food baskets on September 1 through last Friday,” Terry said.

Hobbie Auto Center donated 60 turkeys, Operation Gobble donated 50 turkeys, and the Oroville Police Officers’ Association gave 294 boxes of stuffing this year.

“Mitch and Sue Webber Brown donated 135 boxes of stuffing too,” Terry said. “The community has been very generous, and we also had some anonymous donors who contributed greatly.”

Mayor Gordon Andoe, Supervisor Bill Connelly, and Tony Carasco of Cal Water arrived with Operation Gobble to help spread the Thanksgiving spirit, Terry said. “I want to thank Tres Hobbie and Marcia Chipperfield for their incredible generosity in donating turkeys, too.”

Oroville Assistant Police Officer Kirk Trostle also arrived to spread the community spirit, Terry said.

Terry picked up the donated lunches for all the volunteers who worked organizing and handing out the food baskets. “This year, Blueberry Twist, Hof Brau, and Jakes Burgers donated all the lunches for our volunteers,” he said.

He especially thanked John Case, the senior chef who did the pre-planning and organized the event, and Allen Dikes and Loren Rush for all their help. “They did a fabulous job and made my job easy this year. Also, thanks to the Christian Motorcycle Association and to the community of Oroville ­ to those who not only donated food for this holiday, but who give every single month. We are 100 percent donor funded, so it’s vital we receive these donations and we so much appreciate them,” Terry said.

President George Kirbey of “Eternal Riders,” a Christian Motorcycle Club, joined his members in loading boxes of food in people’s vehicles. “We are wishing all the people a happy and blessed Thanksgiving and making them feel good. Our chapter is part of an international organization with some 100,000 members and has about 35 members in Butte, Sutter, and Yuba counties,” he said.

“This is our fifth year supporting the Oroville Rescue Mission,” Kirbey continued. “We minister here and speak about the bible and witness with our testimonies on the 30th of every month to encourage folks. The purpose of my life is to share my faith with others. A commandment of Jesus is to share your time and resources with those less fortunate, and we are fulfilling that commandment of the Gospel in being here today,” Kirbey said.

Volunteer Dora Domoe commented. “This is great. We are giving back what we get all year long. We hope this makes it easier for the people. And, you meet the greatest people who come out here to volunteer. My kids come out and help, too. It’s important to teach kids to take care of their neighbor. I let them miss a day of school to come out and do this. It’s an important lesson for them. Without this today, a lot of people wouldn’t have Thanksgiving dinner. I love doing this,” Domoe said.

Pat Fore has been helping the Rescue Mission for almost 20 years. “It’s fantastic and Mac McComas and Terry do a great job. It’s grown over the years. Sometimes we work in the rain, but today the weather is holding so far,” she said.

One couple traveled from Red Bluff to help volunteer today. “I heard about it from friends,” said Pastor Art. “We do prison-friend ministries at 12 state prisons. We give out Bibles, books, fliers, and write letters to inmates. I see the Christian Motorcycle Club is here. They do really great work and they are everywhere.”

Annie Terry organized the volunteers. “We also placed food barrels for donated canned food at businesses around town,” Annie said. These barrels were decorated by students in Jim Oleczwicz’s class at Mesa Vista School.

The food boxes given away contained a frozen turkey, 1 box of stuffing, 4 cans of vegetables, 60 ounces of canned sweet potatoes, 2 cans fruit cocktail, 2 cans chicken broth, 1 can cranberry sauce, 1 can black olives, 1 can cool whip, 5 lb. of potatoes, an onion and stalk of celery, stick of margarine, and 2 liters of soda.

“Now we’re looking forward to putting on our Thanksgiving dinner on Wednesday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. No reservations are needed, and the public is invited to the free dinner. The menu will be a traditional Thanksgiving dinner,” Terry said.

Terry also wants to remind people about the Community Christmas Dinner at the Municipal Auditorium next month sponsored by the Oroville Rescue Mission and Community Action Agency. “Last year we served 900 people and expect more this year,” he said.

Thursday, Nov. 23, 2006

50 unsung New York heroes

Back to the community

Volunteering more than 40 hours each month, Tasha Y. Jelks has established herself as an extraordinary community leader in New York. She works an average 45 hours a week for Ernst & Young’s NYC office, and despite her chaotic schedule that balances work, travel and family, she finds time to make a difference. Jelks holds an executive position for two charitable organizations – first, she is the financial secretary of the National Association of Negro Business and Professional Women’s Clubs. She is also a four-year member and Neptune-area chairperson for the Monmouth County Cotillion, working to provide scholarships and social responsibility programs for area high school students. As an active participant in her daughter’s school, Jelks helps out in various fund-raisers, organizations and sporting events. Additionally, she is a supporting member of the March of Dimes and participates annually in WalkAmerica. Jelks, 32, says that “giving back to the community in which you grew up is like paying a debt that will possibly never be repaid.”

Brood awakening

While most 65-year-olds look forward to retiring, Marilyn Sermon, of Flushing, is single-handedly raising her six grandchildren. Ryan, 17, Dorian, 12, Dominique, 10, Arielle, 9, Tyler, 5, and Davin, 4, were adopted by their devoted grandmother after their mother lost custody. “If you or a family member don’t adopt, then they put them up and anyone could take them,” says Marilyn. “So I had to adopt them.” She has no surviving family to help out, but her neighbors lend a hand picking up the little ones at the bus stop or going to the store. “At one time I was dealing with five different schools,” she said. “I got the PTA meetings all mixed up!”

It’s a daunting task caring for six kids at any age, but Sermon does right by hers. “We sit down to dinner every night. It’s a must,” she said. She buys groceries in bulk from BJ’s and doles out chores around the house. She still finds the time for family bowling nights at Jib Lanes and trips to the Bronx Zoo. “I just do what it is that I have to do, and the Lord has been with me to give me the strength,” she says. “The main thing is to make sure they finish school and are decent human beings.”

Heals on wheels

Growing up on the Ho-Chunk Nation (aka Winnebago) reservation in Wisconsin, Alec Thundercloud watched his ailing grandmother be disrespected by a hostile off-reservation doctor. “I saw the way my grandmother was treated, which to me was very shocking,” says the 36-year-old Manhattanite, who is the medical director of the Mobile Health Long Island program for the North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System. That motivated him to attend med school at the University of Minnesota, and now he provides free health care daily to Long Island kids without insurance. His mobile van, one of the Children’s Health Fund’s 21 nationwide, is a full-service doctor’s office on wheels, giving full physicals, screenings, lab workups, immunizations and more. He also gets uninsured patients enrolled in Child Health Plus – and most choose Thundercloud as their primary pediatrician. “As long as they’re able to access health care,” he says, “we feel like we’ve done our job.”

Running for his sister’s life

Daniel Giblin, 44, of Rochester, began running a mile a night in 1999 to lose weight and become an active dad. He’s completed 20 marathons and one Ironman triathlon since then, but this year’s New York City Marathon ran deeper because he did it for his big sister, Sheila Kahl, who’s been on New York Presbyterian Hospital’s waiting list 17 months for a double-lung transplant. “I train in the morning [5 a.m.] and it gets hard this time of year because it’s dark and it’s cold,” Giblin says. “I just think of my sister, Sheila. She would do anything to be able to get out of bed and run six to eight miles. So that’s my motivation.” Giblin, Rochester’s deputy sheriff, has so far raised $85,000 of the $100,000 operation needed to replace Sheila’s lungs, which were scarred from the radiation treatment she received battling breast cancer in the early ’90s. (Donations can be made by visiting www.transplants.org and looking up Sheila Kahl.) “She said her dream is to some day come down and watch me run a marathon, even walk a 5K with me,” he says. “I really, really hope that happens.”

Pooling her resources

As director and head coach of the St. Sebastian swim team in Woodside, Queens, Shawn Slevin (above, left) puts 210 kids, ages 5 to 15, through their paces – freestyle, backstroke, butterfly and breast stroke – all school year. She logs 30 hours a week at intensive practices at the St. Sebastian Parish Center, at CYO meets throughout the Brooklyn-Queens diocese, and in administrative work. (Of course, this is on top of her regular job running her own human resources management firm.)

“My huge salary,” she says with a laugh, “is seeing the kids thrive.”

And indeed, they do. The boys’ and girls’ teams regularly place first in diocesan championships, and all the children learn discipline and self-confidence.

The New York-born-and-raised Shawn is herself a product of the team; she started helping coach at age 15 and has been running the show now for 21 years.

And if all that weren’t enough, Slevin recently launched the Swim Strong Foundation, a nonprofit to help foster new community-based swim programs and get disadvantaged kids into such programs.

9/11 families remembered

Retired FDNY member Lee Ielpi swallows hard whenever he passes the Tribute Center exhibit of a firefighter’s dusty jacket taken from Ground Zero. It belonged to his 29-year-old son, Jonathan, who died in the line of duty on 9/11, leaving a wife and two young children. Ielpi found his son’s remains after three months’ searching through the rubble, but worked for another six months helping other bereaved relatives locate their loved ones.

He helped establish the September 11th Families Association and co-founded the Tribute Center on Liberty St., a museum of artifacts, images and stories from that terrible day.

“It shows what ignorance and intolerance have done and continue to do,” says Ielpi, 62, who regularly leads tours of the exhibition.

The charismatic grandfather of four is also undergoing chemotherapy for a rare form of leukemia – which could be related to his time at Ground Zero.

The caring vet with a pet cause

When he’s not running his private Manhattan veterinary practice considered one of the best in the city, Dr. Andrew Kaplan heads the Toby Project, an organization dedicated to ending pet overpopulation. “Our goal is to make New York a ‘no-kill’ city by educating the public and launching a massive spay-neuter campaign,” says Kaplan, who aims to increase the amount of spay and neuter vans on our streets in the next several years. City Veterinary Care, twice named the city’s best by New York magazine, provides medical and surgical care to nonprofit rescue organizations. But Kaplan recently offered his services for free to several out-of-town patients – eight dogs and four cats rescued from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. “All were given physical examinations,” says the 42-year-old vet, “and any problems identified were addressed.”

Torch bearer

In 1994, Clyde Frazier Jr. (no relation to the Knicks guard) started the SlamJam women’s basketball league as a way to display the often unnoticed talents of the city’s female players.

By 2001, its Classic Tournament had moved from a small gym at P.S. 194 to a national showcase. It had also become a key part of the mission of the Frederick L. Samuel Foundation, which Frazier started with his father, Clyde Sr. (left), in 1992 to help neighborhood youths with education, jobs and parenting.

On Sept. 11, 2001, Clyde Jr. was working his day job as a police officer at the World Trade Center. He guided others out one of the towers until it fell. He was 41.

Clyde Sr., a longtime community activist and veteran of the music business, picked up the Foundation torch. Hundreds of players from its tournaments have played Division 1 college ball. Thousands have been steered to college, employment and better lives.

Clyde Frazier Sr. says this is what he does: He keeps alive a dream no force of darkness could kill.

Monday, Nov. 20, 2006

Rescue workers from across region come to help neighbors

The tornado that cut a deadly swath Thursday morning through the Riegelwood community was Columbus County’s worst natural disaster in recent memory.

Search and rescue teams from throughout the region were left to sift through piles of wood, bricks and rain-soaked debris and trod through thickly wooded areas in search of survivors.

It was painstaking, emotionally wrenching work that went on into the night.

“We’re leaving open the possibility there are people we are not aware of,” Columbus County Sheriff Chris Batten said Thursday afternoon. “We have search and rescue on the ground, and we are covering the total area.”

Fire and police agencies, many accompanied by search dogs, were assisted by volunteers, including Whiteville-based members of the Army Reserve.

“It was very difficult. I was way out in the woods,” Capt. Randy Kirby said. “It was amazing what was picked up and dropped out there.”

Kirby was accompanied by his pet German shepherd, Aubrey. The Army Reservist said he saw a mind-boggling variety of debris in the woods, including parts of homes, refrigerators, furniture and personal effects like family photo albums. Many were blown hundreds of yards from the nearest dwelling.

The search effort was challenging for everyone involved, Kirby said. “It’s an impossible, herculean task. The stuff is strewn all over,” he said.

Search groups coordinated their efforts in a building near N.C. 87.

“We believe we have everybody accounted for, but we have not given up the search and rescue effort until we know for sure,” Columbus County Commissioners Chairman Kip Godwin said.

The helicopter just put into service by the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office also was employed in the morning search for survivors. Inclement weather eventually forced the chopper to land, Sheriff Sid Causey said. Search and rescue units from Brunswick and Bladen counties also helped. In all, hundreds of rescuers and volunteers searched the area.

“I think it’s important to note that we have had a tremendous amount of assistance from all over this region,” Godwin said. “There is tremendous devastation here.” [The Generous Man: How Helping Others is the Sexiest Thing You Can Do]

As search and rescue teams looked for survivors Thursday, other volunteers were trying to comfort family members and those displaced by the tornado. The Old Farm Estates development on Holly Tree Drive was especially hard-hit, said Charles Corbett, a Columbus County American Red Cross volunteer.

All of the 30 mobile homes on the unpaved road sustained some damage. More than 80 percent were destroyed, Corbett said.

“Most of (the survivors) have relatives in this area where they can stay, but the thing of it is, it’s a disaster,” Corbett said. “It will still be a disaster tomorrow when they come back.”

A command center was staffed throughout the night, and volunteers will fan out again into the tornado-ravaged area this morning.

“Now, the real recovery effort takes place,” Godwin said.

Thursday, Nov. 9, 2006

My guardian angel

NEVER have there been such devoted neighbours.

And this week Mrs Ada Pilling, of Christie Avenue, Morecambe, was officially named the best neighbour in the Lancaster district. [The Perfect Neighbor]

The 68-year-old, who lives with her husband Fraser, was nominated for giving endless care and support to neighbour Pamela Bennett during her most stressful times. Pamela said: “If it wasn’t for Ada’s help and support, I’d have topped myself a long time ago.

“She’s been my rock and my guardian angel and deserves this award so much.”

The 53-year-old said: “When my husband was seriously ill it was such a difficult time but Ada would come and sit with him until all the hours of the day and night, change his dressings and generally try and help out as much as she could.

“Then when he died I wanted to commit suicide but she stopped me and helped me out.

“She’d do my shopping and hang my washing out on the line.

“Now we’ve even been working together to lose weight. I’ve lost nearly eight stones and Ada’s lost about seven stones.”

Ada was surprised but delighted to win Lancaster City Council’s Good Neighbour Award. [Neighbor Power: Building Community The Seattle Way]

“I was so shocked and nearly collapsed when they told me I’d won. I’m the sort of person who would help anyone out and I don’t like to see anybody in trouble so if I can do anything then I will.”

The two runners-up were Maureen Knowles of Laburnum Grove, Marsh, and Barbara Arkwright of Highfield Road, Carnforth. Mrs Knowles was nominated by Sally Ann Dooke of Lime Grove while Mrs Arkwright was nominated by Pat Lovering of Highfield Road.

Monday, Nov. 6, 2006

Teen hailed as a hero for teddy bear project

Since the fourth grade, Taylor Crabtree’s nonprofit has raised more than $100,000 to purchase teddy bears for 23,000 young cancer patients at 300 hospitals throughout the nation.

This week, the Rancho Buena Vista High School junior was honored for her good deeds through her TayBear Co., when People magazine named her one of its top five heroes of 2006. She was featured on “The Early Show” on CBS and has been contacted by “The Oprah Winfrey Show.”

Taylor’s nonprofit raises money by recruiting youth volunteers to paint hair clips. Taylor then sells the clips and uses the profits to pay for the bears. She has been doing this since age 7, when she was inspired after her grandmother was diagnosed with colon cancer, from which she recovered.

Taylor, 16, said she’s unsure whether she’s deserving of the hero title, but is excited about the recognition.

“TayBear has just become a part of who I am,” she said. “If I didn’t have TayBear I’d feel like I was letting our society down. Starting at a young age has made me less self-centered, and I think it would be great if everyone was a little more that way.”

Taylor has recruited about 1,300 young volunteers during the years from churches, schools and youth groups such as the Girl Scouts. They paint the hair clips, put the TayBear tags on the stuffed animals and give each bear a hug.

During the years, Taylor has sold the hair clips online, in front of supermarkets and at school for $2.50 a pair. Today, she sells them after giving speeches about her organization to churches and community groups. She has spoken twice before the Million Dollar Round Table, an international association of financial professionals. Taylor also accepts donations online.

“TayBear is so much a part of who she is, it’s almost like honoring her for walking,” said her mother, Tricia Crabtree.

According to People magazine, the heroes selected were ordinary citizens who donated their time to charitable causes. On “The Morning Show” on CBS, those who knew Taylor praised how long she had stuck with her cause. This was no passing hobby or summer project.

At school, Taylor earns A’s and B’s and has a schedule packed with advanced placement and honors classes. She is also passionate about volleyball and plays on her school’s varsity girls team and for a selective Southern California girls team, on which she has been nationally ranked.

Joanne Pastula, president and CEO of Junior Achievement of San Diego, in which Taylor was active when she was younger, said Taylor is a role model for other children.

“They learn from her that anything’s possible,” Pastula said. “If they have something they want to do, they can do it as long as they have a goal and drive.”

The biggest challenge with TayBear is raising money for shipping costs, which are paid for through cash gifts and business donations. Taylor has about 2,500 bears in her home office, which is the garage, waiting to be shipped out, but doesn’t have the money to send them.

Friday, Nov. 3, 2006

Doing the work of angels

Every month in the Tri-City area, hundreds of families are benefiting from Angel Food Ministries – a program which is designed to give people a helping hand, not a handout.

Through the efforts of Woodland Hills Baptist Church in Newcastle, and starting next week, Tuttle First Assembly of God, families can purchase a box of high-quality food for a fraction of the cost through the program.

Angel Food got its start in 1994, at Emmanuel Praise Church in Monroe, Ga. Pastors Joe and Linda Wingo started the program by feeding 34 families, handing out the food from their back porch.

Angel Food now has hundreds of locations in more than 30 states, with more than 400,000 boxes being distributed in one month.

Woodland Hills are celebrating their one-year anniversary with Angel Food, led by Kim Martin and Stephanie Phillips, this month. It was in 2005 that Martin, along with her parents, Paul and Mary Williams, and other friends and family, were ordering Angel Food boxes from a church in Oklahoma City.

According to Mary Williams, at one point, they were picking up 17 boxes at once, and seeing other people from the community there as well.

“We just felt like there was a need, so we enquired about starting our own program,” said Williams, who volunteers every month with Woodland Hill’s Angel Food. “We found out that for every 50 that we sell, we get one free that we can give away to a needy family in the community. This is what really peaked our interest. We have a lot of needy families in this area.”

Participants picked up food at Woodland Hills on Saturday, Oct. 21. Ten days later, the cycle begins again.

The Assembly of God church will be holding their very first ordering day on Tuesday, Oct. 31, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., which will be followed by Thursday, Nov. 2 and Saturday, Nov. 4 ordering opportunities. Woodland Hills will take orders on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.

Brandi Hernandez and Kimberley Owen are spearheading the effort at the Assembly of God, and they both said they were planning to copy Woodland Hills’ streamlined program. At the Newcastle church, several volunteers are set up at a long table to take orders, armed with calculators. Angel Food customers come by during the specified times and pay for their orders, which will come in after two weeks. Personal checks are not accepted, but cash and food stamp cards are.

A box full of food costs $25, and add-on specials of items like steak or chicken tenders are also available at a reduced cost. A first-time customer must also put down a $4 deposit for a plastic tub, which the food is delivered in. Customers who have previously ordered Angel Food bring back their plastic tub when they order, waiving the $4 deposit. There is no limit to the boxes of food ordered, and many families order four or more boxes a month.

When a customer pays for their food, they are given a receipt with the pick up date and time. Woodland Hills staggers their pick up times so customers don’t have to face a long wait on pick up day.

Menus are available at the secretary’s office at the Assembly of God. Woodland Hills posts the menu, plus additional information, on their website at www.whbcok.org.

Orders are sent to Angel Food Ministries headquarters in Monroe, Ga., and the food is delivered to the local area on refrigerated trucks. Most months, the truck delivers food directly to Woodland Hills and other area churches pick up their orders there before distribution.

Volunteers at Woodland Hills start unloading the truck around 5:30 a.m. on distribution day. The 50 to 60 volunteers man different stations at the church. Some are runners, delivering receipts to the front desk. Others load food into the plastic tubs. A volunteer might stand for hours, placing a sack of potatoes into each plastic tub scooted along past them. Others load the tubs into the back of pickups or into car trunks. Everyone is an important part of the process.

Most customers have no idea what’s going on inside when they pick up their food. They enter the church parking lot from the south entrance and drive around the church building to the first entrance. There, a volunteer takes their receipt and runs it in the building, where another table of volunteers sit. Each has a list of customer names. Those names are checked off as their receipts are brought in. The customer drives forward to the second entrance, where one or more tubs full of food, plus add-on boxes, are delivered right to their vehicle. In most cases, the customer has no wait and doesn’t even have to get out of their car.

Customers also get a flier with the next month’s menu on it, plus the official Angel Food Ministries magazine, “The Servant.” Woodland Hills also hands out a booklet of menu suggestions and recipes, compiled by the McClain County OSU Extension office. Recipe ideas include Easy Italian Meatballs and Pasta or Tangy Chicken Cordon Bleu. Most items required for the recipe come straight from the Angel Food box.

Volunteers stress that this program is for everyone, not just “needy people.”

“This is not a program for low income families. This is not a program just for people on Social Security,” said Mary Williams. “This is a program for anybody who wants to participate and get really, really good food at a really, really good price, and cut down on the grocery shopping bills. In this day and age, I think everybody needs to save all the money they can.”

At the Assembly of God Church, Brandi Hernandez said that Angel Food was a good way to save money without compromising quality for the family.

“The quality of the food is unbelievable, really,” she said. “If anybody has ever gotten any kind of commodities or food from a food pantry, this is almost uncomparable. It’s such a blessing.”Every month in the Tri-City area, hundreds of families are benefiting from Angel Food Ministries – a program which is designed to give people a helping hand, not a handout.

Through the efforts of Woodland Hills Baptist Church in Newcastle, and starting next week, Tuttle First Assembly of God, families can purchase a box of high-quality food for a fraction of the cost through the program.

Angel Food got its start in 1994, at Emmanuel Praise Church in Monroe, Ga. Pastors Joe and Linda Wingo started the program by feeding 34 families, handing out the food from their back porch.

Angel Food now has hundreds of locations in more than 30 states, with more than 400,000 boxes being distributed in one month.

Woodland Hills are celebrating their one-year anniversary with Angel Food, led by Kim Martin and Stephanie Phillips, this month. It was in 2005 that Martin, along with her parents, Paul and Mary Williams, and other friends and family, were ordering Angel Food boxes from a church in Oklahoma City.

According to Mary Williams, at one point, they were picking up 17 boxes at once, and seeing other people from the community there as well.

“We just felt like there was a need, so we enquired about starting our own program,” said Williams, who volunteers every month with Woodland Hill’s Angel Food. “We found out that for every 50 that we sell, we get one free that we can give away to a needy family in the community. This is what really peaked our interest. We have a lot of needy families in this area.”

Participants picked up food at Woodland Hills on Saturday, Oct. 21. Ten days later, the cycle begins again.

The Assembly of God church will be holding their very first ordering day on Tuesday, Oct. 31, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., which will be followed by Thursday, Nov. 2 and Saturday, Nov. 4 ordering opportunities. Woodland Hills will take orders on Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday.

Brandi Hernandez and Kimberley Owen are spearheading the effort at the Assembly of God, and they both said they were planning to copy Woodland Hills’ streamlined program. At the Newcastle church, several volunteers are set up at a long table to take orders, armed with calculators. Angel Food customers come by during the specified times and pay for their orders, which will come in after two weeks. Personal checks are not accepted, but cash and food stamp cards are.

A box full of food costs $25, and add-on specials of items like steak or chicken tenders are also available at a reduced cost. A first-time customer must also put down a $4 deposit for a plastic tub, which the food is delivered in. Customers who have previously ordered Angel Food bring back their plastic tub when they order, waiving the $4 deposit. There is no limit to the boxes of food ordered, and many families order four or more boxes a month.

When a customer pays for their food, they are given a receipt with the pick up date and time. Woodland Hills staggers their pick up times so customers don’t have to face a long wait on pick up day.

Menus are available at the secretary’s office at the Assembly of God. Woodland Hills posts the menu, plus additional information, on their website at www.whbcok.org.

Orders are sent to Angel Food Ministries headquarters in Monroe, Ga., and the food is delivered to the local area on refrigerated trucks. Most months, the truck delivers food directly to Woodland Hills and other area churches pick up their orders there before distribution.

Volunteers at Woodland Hills start unloading the truck around 5:30 a.m. on distribution day. The 50 to 60 volunteers man different stations at the church. Some are runners, delivering receipts to the front desk. Others load food into the plastic tubs. A volunteer might stand for hours, placing a sack of potatoes into each plastic tub scooted along past them. Others load the tubs into the back of pickups or into car trunks. Everyone is an important part of the process.

Most customers have no idea what’s going on inside when they pick up their food. They enter the church parking lot from the south entrance and drive around the church building to the first entrance. There, a volunteer takes their receipt and runs it in the building, where another table of volunteers sit. Each has a list of customer names. Those names are checked off as their receipts are brought in. The customer drives forward to the second entrance, where one or more tubs full of food, plus add-on boxes, are delivered right to their vehicle. In most cases, the customer has no wait and doesn’t even have to get out of their car.

Customers also get a flier with the next month’s menu on it, plus the official Angel Food Ministries magazine, “The Servant.” Woodland Hills also hands out a booklet of menu suggestions and recipes, compiled by the McClain County OSU Extension office. Recipe ideas include Easy Italian Meatballs and Pasta or Tangy Chicken Cordon Bleu. Most items required for the recipe come straight from the Angel Food box.

Volunteers stress that this program is for everyone, not just “needy people.”

“This is not a program for low income families. This is not a program just for people on Social Security,” said Mary Williams. “This is a program for anybody who wants to participate and get really, really good food at a really, really good price, and cut down on the grocery shopping bills. In this day and age, I think everybody needs to save all the money they can.”

At the Assembly of God Church, Brandi Hernandez said that Angel Food was a good way to save money without compromising quality for the family.

“The quality of the food is unbelievable, really,” she said. “If anybody has ever gotten any kind of commodities or food from a food pantry, this is almost uncomparable. It’s such a blessing.”

Half-price groceries: $50 of food sold for $25 in Angel Food program

MARION – Shepherd’s Closet, an outreach of the First Apostolic Church, is about to place it’s first order as part of Angel Food Ministries.

“Angel Food Ministries is a nationwide program that provides grocery savings to anyone,” Shepherd’s Closet founder Charles Fox said.

Each month, Angel Food Ministries puts together a $25 food package of high quality, name brand foods that anyone can order. The package, which is typically valued at more than $50, contains fresh meats, fresh or frozen vegetables and fruits, as well as staples.

“We (Shepherd’s Closet) will get a percentage of each sale, and that money will help fund our pantry,” Fox said.

The Shepherd’s Closet pantry began as a small mission for Marion’s First Apostolic Church a mere six months ago, but has grown at a rapid pace.

“In October we served 1,497 people,” Fox said. “The Angel Food Ministry is just another way we can help people stretch their grocery dollars. We’ll be using our portion of the proceeds to add more food to our pantry.”

Shepherd’s Closet will be offering the food packages through Angel Food Ministries every month. Although the contents of the food packages will change month to month, the price will stay the same.

“People may wonder why the price is so low,” Fox said. “Well, Angel Food Ministries is the largest buyer of Tyson meat products. They buy more than Wal-Mart does.”

The food packages are available to anyone. There is no application or qualifying process, and no limit on the quantity of packages purchased. All package orders must be prepaid, and Fox said they accept cash, check and even food stamps.

“People need to know that this is not outdated food or damaged goods,” Fox said. “This is all name brand food, trucked here in refrigerated trucks for delivery on the same day.”

This first order, which Fox will place next week, will arrive for pickup on Nov. 18. The cut-off date for the November food package is Nov. 4.

Each month there are additional packages available to anyone who buys the basic $25 package. Anyone who orders the November package may also buy the one of three other November Specials.

For example, November Special 1 is a Steak Combo Box, which includes (4) 8-ounce T-bone steaks and (4) 8-ounce New York Strip steaks for only $18.

MARION – Shepherd’s Closet, an outreach of the First Apostolic Church, is about to place it’s first order as part of Angel Food Ministries.

“Angel Food Ministries is a nationwide program that provides grocery savings to anyone,” Shepherd’s Closet founder Charles Fox said.

Each month, Angel Food Ministries puts together a $25 food package of high quality, name brand foods that anyone can order. The package, which is typically valued at more than $50, contains fresh meats, fresh or frozen vegetables and fruits, as well as staples.

“We (Shepherd’s Closet) will get a percentage of each sale, and that money will help fund our pantry,” Fox said.

The Shepherd’s Closet pantry began as a small mission for Marion’s First Apostolic Church a mere six months ago, but has grown at a rapid pace.

“In October we served 1,497 people,” Fox said. “The Angel Food Ministry is just another way we can help people stretch their grocery dollars. We’ll be using our portion of the proceeds to add more food to our pantry.”

Shepherd’s Closet will be offering the food packages through Angel Food Ministries every month. Although the contents of the food packages will change month to month, the price will stay the same.

“People may wonder why the price is so low,” Fox said. “Well, Angel Food Ministries is the largest buyer of Tyson meat products. They buy more than Wal-Mart does.”

The food packages are available to anyone. There is no application or qualifying process, and no limit on the quantity of packages purchased. All package orders must be prepaid, and Fox said they accept cash, check and even food stamps.

“People need to know that this is not outdated food or damaged goods,” Fox said. “This is all name brand food, trucked here in refrigerated trucks for delivery on the same day.”

This first order, which Fox will place next week, will arrive for pickup on Nov. 18. The cut-off date for the November food package is Nov. 4.

Each month there are additional packages available to anyone who buys the basic $25 package. Anyone who orders the November package may also buy the one of three other November Specials.

For example, November Special 1 is a Steak Combo Box, which includes (4) 8-ounce T-bone steaks and (4) 8-ounce New York Strip steaks for only $18.

Thursday, Nov. 2, 2006

Hero Inspires Children With Music

The music played at Hollywood’s United Methodist church each Saturday is the sound of The Harmony Project, a music outreach program for inner-city kids in Los Angeles.

The project began in 2001 with a belief that giving free instruments and music lessons to kids from low-income families just might change lives. Under the leadership of Abel Delgado, it’s working

“It makes me feel really, really happy,” says Jaime Medrano, a Harmony Project student. “I like that I’m actually playing music that I like instead of just turning on the radio or something”

Delgado says his goal is not to produce musicians, but to give the children life skills.

“It changes your point of view on the world,” student Leslie Cardenas says. “It makes you think, ‘Oh, look. I can do something better than other people because I’m trying to do something.'”

Delgado joined harmony project as executive director when he was just 23. To board members, he was the perfect fit.

“The thing about Abel is that if he didn’t exist, you’d have to invent him because, first of all, he comes from the same background as most of the kids we serve,” board member Tony Silbert says. “So, he can empathize with the kids and the kids empathize with him.”

Delgado grew up in Texas, the son of Mexican immigrants. He discovered his love for music in grade school and began playing the flute at 10. Teachers quickly realized his amazing talent, but it didn’t make life easy.

“Like a lot these kids in the program, sometimes if you come from the wrong side of the tracks or your parents don’t have the financial means to make something happen, sometimes it’s easy for you to get overlooked,” Delgado says.

Today, Delgado’s resume boasts a principal position with the El Paso Symphony and solos with the Los Angeles Philharmonic. But for now, his main role is inspiring kids.

“He’s fun because he teaches and he does little jokes sometimes,” a young student says.

But no one appreciates Delgado’s work more than the parents who hear, and see, the difference music makes.

“It’s a great benefit because like we couldn’t afford classes for all of our children,” parent Maria Elena Burgos says. “It gives them a lot of self-esteem that they can do something for themselves that is really good.”

“We could’ve ended up somewhere else, doing something different and he saved some kids,” says another parent, Leslie Cardenas. “Some kids could’ve been out on the streets and he basically just gave them a lifeline.”

Like most true heroes, Delgado is reluctant to accept the title.

“I don’t feel like a hero, sorry,” he says. “I just think that this is really important. If somebody hadn’t stopped and just paid attention, I have no idea where I would be today at all. I mean, music is my voice. It’s the only way I know how to relate to this world and I want these kids to find a way to relate. But I’m not a hero, I just do what I do.”

Monday, Oct. 30, 2006

Girl turns hobby into help for homeless

Ashley Susi has turned a hobby into a good deed.

The 11-year-old, who is in the fifth grade at Copley-Fairlawn Middle School, learned how to knit from her mother, Wendy Deyoung Susi, a year ago.

“I saw my mom doing it and I kept bugging her to show me how,” Ashley said.

She did, and Ashley soon realized the good that could come from her new pastime.

The youth decided she wanted to knit 100 scarves to give to Akron’s homeless population.

When she told her mom her goal, “it made me cry,” Susi said.

Ashley said she was inspired by the events of the past year.

“After Hurricane Katrina, I saw all those [homeless] people and I thought about how in Ohio we have a ton of snow,” Ashley said.

She also got her mother on board. Since the two began the project, they have knitted about 50 colorful scarves of various sizes.

Ashley, who is also involved in cheerleading, music and dance, said it takes her about a week to finish each scarf.

Her mother said she does as much as she can to help out, even though she has multiple sclerosis.

“It depends how my hands are doing,” Susi said.

Susi said she purchases the yarn the two use, and they try to pick out fun colors and textures to keep the project interesting.

She added it’s not unusual for Ashley to do something for others. In the past, she has donated her hair for wigs through Locks of Love and has been a teacher’s helper at school.

“She’s a very helpful person,” Susi said. “She’s been helping my mother babysit my new niece. She recycles cans for the fire department and pop tops for the hospital. You ask her to do something and she’ll do it.”

To donate the scarves, Susi has contacted the Haven of Rest in Akron, and she and Ashley plan to deliver their stock the first week of November.

In the meantime, they plan to continue to knit and hope to make another delivery next year.

“We’re just going to keep going,” Susi said. “Originally Ashley thought 100 scarves would be enough, but I told her, ‘Honey there’s more than 100 people out there who need them.’ Neither one of us plans on stopping.”

Friday, Oct. 27, 2006

A Closer Look: On the value of a hometown newspaper

It has been almost two years since I began my job as public safety reporter for the Oroville Mercury-Register. Some people have wondered why I remain in this job after I worked so hard in college and earned two bachelor’s degrees with honors, a social science teaching credential, and earned a 4.0 grade point average during two years in graduate school. How can I describe how incredibly rewarding this job has been over the last two years? Yes, it can be stressful at times, but the intangible rewards are truly momentous.

Let me briefly share a tiny glimpse of why I love being a reporter for the Oroville Mercury-Register.

It provides infinite opportunities to help people. I cannot tell you all of the times this newspaper played a positive role in bringing people together and building community. Well, I could just share with you some most memorable moments.

• I remember covering the Oroville Police “Shop with a Cop” day when officers gave young children in need $50 to spend in Wal-Mart during the holidays. When one of our subscribers read in the OMR how a little girl wished she could buy her mother a sewing machine, she called the newspaper to find out how she could donate her old sewing machine to the little girl’s mother.

• I’ve covered numerous heartbreaking stories about house fires that left parents and children homeless and in need of clothing, furniture, cooking appliances, utensils, toothbrush, soap, and everything else you can imagine a family would need. Many times we have run the shirt, pant, and shoe sizes of all family members and the locations where people could drop off donated items to help the family. Our newspaper also informs people where to send money to a trust fund set up at a local bank to help fire victims or other victims of unexpected tragedies. This is another example of how this newspaper has helped to bring people together to help make a difference.

• When the Sheriff’s Captain Bob Pancake Wagon was damaged in a fire, and the sheriff needed to raise $30,000 to repair the wagon, our newspaper put out the word and let people know the wagon’s historic significance and how it raises money for non-profits and funds Little League, soccer, Boy and Girl Scouts, veteran’s groups, among other worthy causes. Many non-profits groups and citizens rallied the cause of the pancake wagon and learned about its need for restoration after reading about it in the OMR.

• Our community has learned about many fatal, tragic accidents and the precious lives lost by reading about them in our local newspaper. Hundreds have turned out for funerals and there have been numerous times people told me they read about the deceased person’s life in the newspaper and felt moved to honor the deceased and their family by attending funeral services or by donating to a charity in his or her name. Oroville is still a “small town” at heart and when a young person dies, the community mourns. And, it is the newspaper that informs the public about these events. I remember a high school principal thanked the Mercury-Register for reporting on the fatal collision that claimed two teens’ lives. She said the article greatly helped to dispel the rumors that had started to circulate about the deaths. The OMR articles also remembered the teens’ lives and helped bring the community together to remember them and mourn.

• When the owners of a local market had one of their beloved relatives drown in Lake Oroville, the community came out in support of this family after reading about it in the newspaper. Neighbors, friends, and customers came to their store to express their sympathy and support. Some even offered to loan them a boat to search for their relative’s body in the lake. The family expressed their appreciation to the Oroville Mercury-Register and said even their relatives who lived out of the country were able to learn more about what happened on the OMR’s online edition of the newspaper.

• When an Oroville Police officer suffered major injuries in a motorcycle accident, the community turned out to support him after reading about it in the newspaper. The officer said it made such a big difference to receive so much support in the form of cards and letters from well-wishers and also donations to help with expenses.

• When the local fire departments needed support for their fund-raisers, the local newspaper spread the word. The first disc golf tourney was successful and the newspaper played a role in publicizing the event. When El Medio Fire’s water tender broke down and they needed support, there was an in-depth report about the tender and one generous person gave them $1,100 check after reading the newspaper.

• The public health department expressed their gratitude to the newspaper for the story about their upcoming seminar on obsessive compulsive hoarding. A nursing supervisor said the response from the article was overwhelming as many people called to say they knew someone with the disorder who needed help.

• The sheriff wrote a letter of thanks for the OMR’s three part series on the severe methamphetamine problem facing our community.

• Members of the Oroville Rescue Mission also expressed thanks to this newspaper for covering their annual Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. We helped spread the word they needed more volunteers and donations, and the dinners were a great success with feeding over a thousand people at the Municipal Auditorium and giving out toys to every child.

• There were countless times when the Oroville Police Department and Butte County Sheriff’s Office have been helped by this newspaper in getting out information to the public, such as warning people to “be on the look-out” for armed robbers or missing persons. The newspaper also publicizing their fund raising events like Shoes-That-Fit and the Bike-Give-Away every year. The newspaper also educates people on how to protect themselves and their property by practicing safety habits. We also publish the Butte County’s Most Wanted every Friday.

• When locals were having fund-raisers to start up a horse rescue ranch, they later said the newspaper was an enormous help in their succeeding to raise the required funds. We’ve also covered many stories about the local SPCA.

• I’ve had a number of people express their appreciation for my weekly “A Closer Look” column. One woman said the column about “care of the soul” and learning to love yourself “changed her life.”

There are so many other examples I could share with you. (I cannot even begin to address them all in this small space.) These are only some of the ways this hometown newspaper has made a difference and helped people in our beloved Oroville.

There are so many good, caring people who live in Oroville and who work hard to build a wonderful community and place we are proud and delighted to call home. And, the Oroville Mercury-Register has a special place in the history of this community and has an invaluable role to play in continuing to bring the community together and make a positive difference in people’s lives.

And, experiencing being a part of building community and helping people (and, of course, animals too) is extremely rewarding.

As a battalion chief at a local fire department once said, “When I first started out as a firefighter, I thought my job was all about fighting fires. But when I got older and gained some experience, I realized it was really all about the people.”

Thursday, Oct. 5, 2006

Angel Food Ministries; Feeding families in need

Many people in Southeastern Iowa , like the rest of the country, have a hard time supplying the basic necessities for their family. These people are not necessarily unemployed, but just the victims of being left somewhere in the middle. They make too much money to qualify for public assistance, but make too little to pay all of their bills and put nutritional meals on the table. Fortunately, there is help available.

Founded in 1994, Angel Food Ministries started out by helping to feed thirty-four families in Monroe, Georgia. Today the ministry serves thousands of families throughout seventeen states, including Iowa . Angel Food Ministries is a non-profit, non-denominational organization dedicated to providing grocery relief and financial support to communities throughout the United States.

Angel Food’s groceries are sold in a quantity that can fit into a medium-sized box at $25 per unit, and each month’s menu is different than the previous month, consisting of both fresh and frozen items with an average retail value of approximately $50.

Generally, one unit of food assists in feeding a family of four for about one week or a single senior citizen for almost a month. The food is all the same high quality one would purchase at a grocery store. There are no second-hand items, no damaged or out-dated goods, no dented cans without labels, no day-old breads and no produce that is almost too ripe.

Additionally, there is no limit to the number of units or bonus foods an individual can purchase, and there are no applications to complete or qualifications to which participants must adhere. Angel Food Ministries, like most all other retail grocery stores, also participates in the U.S. Food Stamp program, using the Off-Line Food Stamp Voucher system.

Food sales and distribution are handled by local church host sites, which are manned by volunteers. Angel Food Ministries supplies the groceries to the host churches at prices much lower than grocery stores due to minimal operating costs by using volunteers. Orders and payments are collected by the host sites during the first part of each month. These orders are then turned in to the Angel Food main office in Monroe, Georgia, on a predetermined date.

Later that month the food is delivered to the host site through various means throughout the country in preparation of the delivery date.

Friday, Sep. 29, 2006

Guardian angel picks up award

A community group leader who helped shut down a drug den has been commended by the Government for his efforts in tackling anti-social behaviour.

Lyn Davies set up the Angel Estate Neighbourhood Watch when residents became so intimidated by drug addicts and dealers using a house on Queen Street, Clay Cross, as a meeting place that they were frightened to leave their homes.

Working with police and the NE Derbyshire Community Safety Partnership, the residents helped put a stop to the problems by reporting anti-social incidents and keeping diaries, which were later used as evidence in court against the offenders.

Their actions helped shut down the house for several months and Lyn has now been honoured for his part by receiving a Respect Award for Taking a Stand – recognising the commitment and courage needed to combat anti-social behaviour.

He said: “Life has really improved. People are more relaxed and talk together, children are in the street playing. I am very pleased that those who stuck together achieved their goal.

“My name is on the award but as far as I’m concerned it’s the people of the Angel Estate working together who have won the award. We are putting the ‘neighbour’ back into ‘neighbourhood’.”

The award is the third the Neighbourhood Watch has picked up for its success and Lyn received it – plus a £1,000 community cheque – at a ceremony in Birmingham attended by the Government co-ordinator for Respect, Louise Casey.

Geoff Butler, chairman of the NE Derbyshire Community Safety Partnership, said: “This is a well deserved award. These residents were prepared to stand up and be counted for the good of the local community.

“They showed great courage and determination in taking a stand against extreme anti-social behaviour.

“It is gratifying that such courage has been recognised.”

Wednesday, Sep. 20, 2006

Father repairs school’s climbing frame

A VANDALISED school climbing frame is set to be rebuilt by the dad of a pupil left heartbroken by the attack.

Colin Farrar had no hesitation in reaching for his toolbox after his nine-year-old son Lewis told him that the £1,000 play facility at St Peter’s Primary School in Hindley had been destroyed by vandals.

He went down to the Kildare Street school, assessed the damage and declared that he could repair the climbing frame with the exception of the smashed plastic slide.

Undaunted, his wife, Debra, then contacted Solowave, the makers of the climbing frame which was destroyed in an attack on Monday September 11, and they agreed to send a free replacement slide.

Local timber firm Laycocks, which is based in Ince, also agreed to supply some wood to help Colin with the reconstruction.

Now the couple have even managed to get another firm, GET Security Systems, to step in to provide a CCTV camera to deter vandals from launching another attack against the school.

DM Posters has also provided signs to warn people that there is CCTV installed at the site.

Debra, of Crompton Close, Hindley, said: “We didn’t want to rebuild it and these vandals to destroy it again. That would just upset the children more than ever. We wanted a CCTV camera and were hoping that a local company could donate one.

“People might also see the CCTV and it might deter them a bit.

“I just don’t understand what goes through these children’s heads.”

Lewis suffers from a little-known genetic illness, Common Variable Immunodeficiency, which affects him immune system and means that he must be injected with anti-biotics every three days.

Debra said that Lewis would often use the play area as a “quiet area” with other sensitive children wanting to get away from the more frantic atmosphere on the playground.

“Lewis came home in absolute tears because it had been broken. He was heartbroken. He always used to go and plays in that area. That’s his quiet space,” said Debra.

“We decided that there must be something that we can do. So Colin went to the school and he’s come back and said, ‘I can fix it’

“The school has been really good with Lewis so we really wanted to so something to help. We want to give something back and it would be great if we could get them a camera.”

The school has been experiencing a string of problems with vandals but the destruction of the climbing frame was the most costly so far.

Headteacher Carol Close was delighted that the climbing frame was being rebuilt and a camera was being installed.

She said: “It is fantastic. I was over the moon when I was told. It really is an answer to our prayers. The great majority of people are fantastic but the minority are affecting it for them

Inside Good News Blog