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Heroes among US (02/08/2009)
By Janet Lewis Burns

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Extra! Extra! Read all about it! As the years turn from one to another, it’s been a trend for news media and magazines to share stories of heroism and everyday Good Samaritans of the past 12 months. Though a hefty dose of heartwarming news all year long is in order, it’s a refreshing turn about. We need to focus on success stories!

Small Town USA! Small communities display some of the most courageous and unselfish acts of kindness, neighbor to neighbor, stranger to stranger. Sam Dhareeb and the other Lewiston police officers launched a highly successful drive to raise monies for Christmas gifts to underprivileged families in the Lewiston area this past holiday season. Many others, of all ages, pitched in to make this effort a big success. There were plenty tears of joy to go around last Christmas season.

Kudos to a generous benefactor! Herff Jones, the former Camera Art, has dismissed 200-some employees, closing down its original building south of Highway 14. They will be sorely missed for a multitude of reasons. The little company that could grew from humble beginnings to a nationwide conglomerate. All along the way, the business has generously donated to every local cause, benefit drive, and town event, including the yearly Fools Five road race for cancer research…deeply appreciated!

Rude awakenings! I recall Lewiston’s massive tornado disaster of 1999. Circumstances seem to indicate that it takes something as catastrophic as that to draw out the compassion in individuals toward fellow townspeople in need of a helping hand. Isn’t it sad that after the dust settles and the debris is cleared away that the same old back-stabbing, bitterness, narrow-minded attitudes, and ill will set in?

Movers & Shakers! A loving spirit is all about individuals like Winona’s Dennis Theede, executive director of Home & Community Options Inc. Theede oversees about 350 staff members who support more than 200 people with mental disabilities. Business- woman and active community volunteer, Pam Culver, of LaCrosse, says she’s “a doer not a spectator,” remarking in the River Valley Business Report , “…we are economically

interdependent, so we need to work together on issues and opportunities. The concept is that we can do more together.”

Renewing America – a combined effort! A hero was born in the hearts of Americans, even before Barack Obama took the oath of office to become the 44th President of the United States of America. As trillions around the world looked on, masses of people cheered, cried, hugged, and celebrated together. For a moment etched in time, Inauguration Day, 2009, brought all sectors, races, and nationalities together in hope, for the common good, and in the spirit of unity. The success of the new U.S. president can prove be a victory of global proportions!

The rainbow connection! It’s about high school sophomore Alan Nettles, 15, Nashville, who cares for his divorced mother as she battles M.S. Alan cooks, cleans, and does laundry, and especially he lifts her spirits. Alan says he’s grateful for his life and remarks, “It may not be the norm to take care of your mom, but it should be.”

It’s about Kody Swencki, a brave 6-year old with type one diabetes who, along with his father, goes online most evenings writing to stricken kids all over the country to give them companionship and encouragement.

Miraculous transformations! 25-year old Fitzgerald Gittens died not knowing that his family would offer his heart to save the life of a stranger, 63-year-old bookkeeper and abuser of cigarettes and alcohol, Donald Arthur. So touched by the generosity of the Gittens family, Arthur quit his bad habits, began racewalking and running in marathons. His goal is to compete in grueling 26.2-mile road races in each of the 50 states.

It’s a small world after all! Does a dying man question the color of the hand that brings him comfort and soothes his aches and pains? Heroism is not defined by race or age, nationality, financial status, or academic degree.

It’s a challenge for all human beings to become necessary in the lives of others.

Janet Burns lives in Lewiston. E-mails are welcomed. She can be reached at patandjanburns@embarqmail.com



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