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Special People Among Us

Story ID:2116
Written by:Suzana Margaret Megles (bio, contact, other stories)
Story type:Musings, Essays and Such
Location:various various USA
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Special People Among Us

The daily news is often filled with horrific accounts about pedophiles, scam artists, the bombings and carnage in Iraq, etc. Thank goodness, for all the bad news there are stories of good happenings and wonderful people. We meet
them in real life or between the covers of a magazine or newspaper.

The first lovely lady I am going to write about I met through e-mail. She was the one whose friend found my book in a second-hand store and expressed interest in buying a copy. I gladly obliged. Vicki and her husband Craig live in
rural Ohio. I think many of us envy people like them because they live so close to nature. I know I do. Vicki admits though that there is a lot of work living in the country and mowing 3 acres of grass is an example. And then problems
come up which are so very different from what we city folk experience.

Case in point - ducks have infected their pond with duckweed- something very difficult to eradicate. If they would opt for a chemical to do the job -it costs $300 a gallon! Costs aside, they don't want to use chemicals. (Rachel Carson would be proud.) So what's left? - baking soda and vinegar? Teasing aside - not only are these two natural products often great household cleaners, I find that baking soda and water takes care of my queasy or upset stomach better than any of the over-the-counter drugs. I'm also taking cider vinegar supplements to
help address creeping arthritic pain. Yes, I'm a believer in alternative cures.

Both Vicki and Craig are involved in animal rescue and in one e-mail Vicki enumerated for me their dog family by breed: 3 greyhounds, a lurcher (greyhound/hound mix), 2 lab mixes, a shepherd mix, a Borzoi, a border collie-husky mix, a pit bull, a spaniel mix and a blue heeler mix. A blue heeler mix? - couldn't imagine what kind of dog that is. I will be going to a search wagon when I finish my musing.

And they have 12 cats. One if them is a Himalayan. His owner who had a large number of exotic cats gave him up to the Humane Society after he had become ill with FUS, a urinary problem. She didn't want to put any money
into helping him become well. Obviously, definitely not a person who loves animals for

After 2 surgeries for urinary blockage, this beautiful cat- inside and out, whom they named
"Mecca" came to live with Vicki and Craig. He is on a special canned Hills Science diet XD. Vicki also noted that he has long hair which
never gets matted. A small but welcome blessing indeed--one less grooming task for Vicki.

Another rescued cat they called "Peace" came to them after being hit by a car and having his jaw broken. Because the vet had to wire his jaw, Vicki had to clean out his mouth after every meal until his jaw healed. This white long-hair
cat with black tabby spots had a black peace sign on his head. And appropriately, reflecting his name, he is very laid back with a Maine coon temperment. He had to be -allowing Vicki to clean out his mouth daily. Most cats don't like man-handling of any kind.

So I find this lovely lady and her husband worthy of note and admiration. And Vicki is also hoping to become vegetarian. Whether Craig wants to join her or not is uncertain, but she says for her part she is trying. She wrote me that last night's meal was pierogies with a side dish she created using sauteed mushrooms, onions, spinach, and feta cheese over mahogany brown rice. Sounds delicious to me. I hope Craig liked it too. Since both of them are trying to live green, eating less beef is good for the environment. I repeat this statistic as
often as I can-- vegetarians contribute 1.5 tons less greenhouse gases each year than meat eaters. Finally, this belief is slowly being recognized by the media.

With a lot of companion animals- both joy and grief are part of the equation. Vicki and Craig lost Helen, a cat and Dan, a dog a couple of weeks ago. I hope the pain of losing not one but two of them in the same week is slowly subsiding. But, as we all know, grief tends to hang in there for a considerable amount of
time. Thank you Vicki and Craig for all you do for God's animal creation.

Before I leave this topic of animal concerns, I enjoyed reading something relating to animals in an article about the McCaughey septuplets when they were 6 in 2003. Things most probably have changed since then, but I found Nathan to be most endearing to me, because, of all of them --he seems to have started a budding kinship with animals. Well, maybe not all animals but bunnies to be sure. When asked what they wanted for Christmas, he said he wanted a live bunny.

And then towards the end of the article, they were each asked what they wanted to be when they grow up. Pretty challenging question for a 6- year old, but they all had a ready answer: Brandon hopes to be "a police," Kenny "a
superhero," Joel "a navy boy," Natalie "a baby doctor," Kelsey, "a doctor and a princess," (most ambitious it seems) Alexis wants to be "Rapunzel," but Nathan--dear Nathan, wants to be a bunny! It made me laugh. Those bunnies surely have a hold on him. But, of course, both
Alexis and Nathan are unrealistic in their goals!

In November of 2007 they will be 10. I wonder how their answers have changed since then! I'm sure they have, but I still entertain the
thought of Nathan becoming a veternarian!

The next account brings to mind Paul Newman's camps for kids. I don't remember what kind of kids -maybe those who are on drugs or come from
families with serious drug abuse. I say this because I believe his son Scott died of an overdose. It's one of those things you read about and then hope you got it right. But the camp part for kids is accurate. It is to his credit and his wife's that they are using the profits from Newman's Own in this very worthwhile
way. They are also lucky that they have the funds to be able to do this, but this in no way diminishes this wonderful charitable undertaking. Kudos to all those who use their "overflow" in such wonderful compassionate ways.

The lady I read about in Family Circle didn't have a great deal of money, but she more than made up for this lack with her creativity, spunk, and hard work. She amazingly reached out to kids with HIV or AIDS and found for them
a place of healing- even if it was just for a week of fun at a summer camp site.

It all started when she gratefully remembered that as a native of southern California her
parents sent her to camp every summer from third grade through high school. Of that experience she said: "Setting goals, trying things I never
would have otherwise, being away from parents and becoming independent-- you can't put a price tag on any of that. I loved every minute."

The camp experience so much impressed her that she volunteered as a camp counselor after enrolling at the University of Nebraska in 1994. She also began working at the Nebraska AIDS Project in Lincoln. All this lead to the
realization that these people who were afflicted were suffering not only from their illness but from the stigma attached to it.

This then led to her spending a summer volunteering at a camp for children with AIDS in Minnesota. Then things began to really fall in place. She took a class in children's theater and read "The Yellow Boat, a play based on a true
life story about a boy who dies of complication from HIV. What she did next amazed me. She realized that she would have to stage a play based on this book herself!

I can't imagine doing anything like this but I guess her camp experience really "kicked in" and she started soliciting contributions from local businesses. Then she rented a theater, brought together a student cast and then successfully put on a 5-night run. She realized then that she was committed to help children with HIV or AIDS and decided the best way she could do this was by providing them with a summer camp experience. She envisioned "kindling a fire of hope" in these kids and so the plan for Camp "Kindler" began to take shape.

There is so much to tell about all she did to get her dream off the ground but I can only mention here the most salient points which resulted in her starting not only one but two camps. The first one was in Nebraska.

Her first step involved taking a class on writing grant proposals. She received a $5,000
grant from the Robert D. Wilson Foundation in Omaha. Then her huge letter writing campaign to family and friends netted her $10,000. With this relatively small "bankroll" she launched her first "bare-bones" summer camp. It was a success! She had found her niche and she would continue to find monetary supporters as well as volunteers as each summer camp became better than the last.

Beside the camp in Nebraska, she has started
one in California. If she has her way, she wants the California Camp to be opened year around. With her $630,000 yearly budget she has added health education and self esteem sessions
so that the kids can boost their confidence by helping not only themselves but others.

I think you'll agree that Eva Payne is one amazing woman. I fully expect that her year-around summer camp in California will become a reality. Don't you?

(Picture is Vicki with foster greyhound dog Murray who has since been adopted.)