I don’t go out and solicit for money for my non-profit, River House PA. I’d rather be putting what little time and extra energy I have left over from being a writer into just being with the Veterans. I quietly go about doing my important work at helping them get better and every now and then, angels drop out of the sky to help.
That would be “Women Who Care,” a women’s organization in my local town of Orwigsburg, organized to do, you guessed it, be of help wherever they are needed because they care. How wonderful. A member of the group, Deb Cooper, my dear friend, invited me to speak at their monthly dinner meeting. I told them about River House and shared stories of the Veterans getting better, of one Vet hiking 4 miles on crutches with one leg, up and down the Blue Mountain, crossing a rocky stream and descending down a steep game lands road hill that makes us wipe out every time on our cross country skis. Wayne was a rockstar and gave every Vet a reason and a purpose to fight the good fight, to get better and heal and make better choices in life.
I told the Women Who Care about my upcoming programs and how the Vets LOVE to inner tube as it makes them feel like kids again and takes them back to their happy childhood. I told them we only have a handful and I have to get them to share and what I really want to do is let them go down the Little Schuylkill River like Huck Finn and forget life and their nightmares. One of the Women Who Care looked at me across the table and said, “You want inner-tubes? We’ll get you inner-tubes.” OK!
The women said they enjoyed doing hands on work and so I mentioned that they could sponsor an event and bring the food for dinner. Fifteen covered dishes! Women who care, I bet you cook up some pretty sweet casseroles and pot luck recipes. How lucky the Vets who sign up for that event.
I left that evening with 15 new comrades in my work to help these Veterans get better.
The very next day, I was invited to speak at luncheon benefit for International Women’s Day. It was being held at a huge engineering firm outside Reading, Worley Parsons. The young women in charge, Kristine Wessner is the niece of my wonderful friend, Dale Derr, Director of Berks County’s Veteran’s Center. Kristina gave me a short list of River House PA topics she suggested I cover in my talk over lunch, and then asked me what kind of sandwich I would like to eat for lunch- Italian, ham on roll, or turkey sub? I was surprised to hear that but also happy to hear it would not be a formal lunch and I didn’t have to get too dressed up. My husband said, “They probably want you to come in to entertain them over their lunch break.” Whatever.
The fifteen or so engineers that shared their lunch with me, as they unwrapped their hoagies and opened their crackling potato chip bags, seemed very interested and asked good questions. Dale Derr was there and he spoke first about his program and then I spoke second. They were very nice people, especially Kristine.
As I’m gathering my belongings and heading over to say good bye to Kristine to thank her for the opportunity to share my non profit with them, she was occupied counting a boat load of money with her colleague. A ton of ones, many fives, tens and twenties, they gathered the wad of bills together and handed it over to me. “This is for you, for your Vet programs,” they said.
“What’s this ?” I asked incredulously.
They told me that they held a fund raiser, the first of its kind, where they pre-ordered sandwiches from a local grocery store and sold them to the employees along with homemade cookies, chips, and drinks. ALL THE PROFIT went to River House PA, as in $374. I couldn’t believe it. I had no idea. They girls also generously gave me a large plastic tub of leftover homemade chocolate chip cookies and a large cardboard box half full of individual chip bags, as I was holding a RH event in the next few days and always need a ton of food to feed the guys.
I packed up my car with a swelled heart. First the Women Who Care and now Kristine Wessner and the engineers at Worley Parsons who also care very much. It sure is nice that there are so many out there wanting to help, doing their part anyway they can, so I can do my important work. Such healing work for us all, helping and taking care of each other. America should could use more of this right now and I feel very blessed to be the recipient. Passing it forward!
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