The spirit of giving.
The holiday spirit is beginning to fill the air. It's the time of year when people are more caring more giving of themselves. We're reminded to slow down and think more of the needs of others than of ourselves.
The true spirit of selfless giving is one that Arthritis Foundation volunteers practice year-round Throughout the country, they are reaching out and making a difference in the lives of people in pain. Each one is unique; they give in many different ways, but they all give from the heart.
We asked Arthritis Foundation chapters throughout the country to tell us about some of their most special volunteers. And the response was heartwarming - we received over 100 responses to our request, each one describing someone whose efforts have contributed important steps to the fight against arthritis.
We'd like to feature them all, but space restrictions demand that we narrow our selection to a representative few. So we've chosen a baker's dozen - 12 individuals and one family who we feel exemplify the spirit of giving by their varied contributions. We applaud them all, and we applaud the thousands of people they represent throughout the country. Thanks to them - and you - we're winning the fight against arthritis.
99 Years Young
"Top o' the morning to you!" is the sunny greeting Ernie Clapham usually shares when he arrives at the Arthritis Foundation office in Huntsville, Ala., where he volunteers his services several days a week.
The 99-year-old English-born gentleman spends much of his time addressing and stuffing envelopes for the local chapter, all the while entertaining the staff with his songs, stories and lively sense of humor. He also volunteers at the Huntsville library and helps out at the local senior center.
"I would have been dead by now if not for volunteering," Ernie says in his delightful English accent. "It keeps me alive and keeps my brain active." Always the optimist, Ernie has promised the Arthritis Foundation at least two more years of his services!
Thirty-six years of rheumatoid arthritis give Cynthia Nagel of Denver, Colo., a first-hand perspective from which to speak to state and local lawmakers about issues of concern to people with arthritis throughout Colorado.
Under Cynthia's able direction, the Rocky Mountain Chapter has assumed a strong advocacy role in monitoring the heartbeat of local legislation. Cynthia is currently working to convince lawmakers of the importance of affordable health insurance for all people. She is also trying to change outdated local laws that unfairly discriminate against people with disabilities.
Cynthia also lends her leadership skills to many other volunteer endeavors within the Arthritis Foundation. "I enjoy helping others stay on top of their arthritis and maintain happy and productive lifestyles," Cynthia says.
"What would we ever do without you!" is a comment Beverly Burdette hears frequently from staff members at the Arthritis Foundation's Northeastern Ohio Chapter in Cleveland. Beverly just smiles and continues her work - stuffing envelopes, sorting literature for bulk mailings, or whatever project she has taken on that day.
Beverly puts in a lot of hours each week for people with arthritis, sometimes as many as paid staff members. She learned about the need for volunteers at the Arthritis Foundation from an area social service center.
Beverly still lives with her family, who are supportive of her volunteer involvement with the Foundation. Since Beverly doesn't drive, her mother usually drives her to and from her Arthritis Foundation "job."
When asked why she gives her time to the Foundation, she answers, "because I like to help people out, and I know that you appreciate me."
A Heart of Gold
Mary Maurice found help and support at the Arthritis Foundation's Michigan Chapter after contracting arthritis 14 years ago. Today she devotes her time and energy to assuring that others receive the help and support they need by serving as the chapter's volunteer coordinator.
Volunteers are always needed for new and challenging projects. Mary makes personal phone calls, asking people to put their individual skills to work for the Foundation in such capacities as manning telephone helplines and leading selfhelp courses. As a result, the chapter's volunteer ranks have swelled considerably.
"My goal," states Mary, "is to see that all volunteer positions provide a meaningful and productive experience for people." Mary never forgets how much a cheerful smile or helping hand can mean to someone and regularly calls on people who have undergone surgery or are homebound. This dedication was recognized in February 1989 by the United Way organizations in Metro Detroit when they honored Mary with the prestigious Heart of Gold Award.
But still she is humble. "I work with a lot of volunteers and they all deserve an award," she says. "Nothing is done single-handedly."
Getting the World Out
It's an hour-long ride on two different buses for Mildred Barski to get from her home to the Arthritis Foundation office in Arlington, Va., but that hasn't stopped this 72-year-old widow from volunteering her time and services four days a week for the past 11 years.
Last year, Mildred filled 30,000 requests for information from people with arthritis in the Metropolitan Washington area. And the chapter expressed its appreciation for her dedication by naming Aug. 10 "Mildred Barski Day."
Mildred says there's not much that could keep her away. "I like helping others, and it makes me feel like I'm needed," she says. "I just want to help get the word out."
Giving Is His
Country music deejay Joe Hoppel will do just about anything to make a buck - that is, if it's a buck that will help people in pain. And that includes riding a bicycle for 10-and-a-half hours, from Norfolk to Richmond, Va., despite being hit by a cab on the way.
A vigorous 30-year volunteer who has served three times as president of the Arthritis Foundation's local branch, Joe Hoppel's popularity as WCMS radio's morning deejay has brought attention to the needs of people with arthritis in Virginia. Not the least of Joe's fund-raising projects is an annual Bowl-A-Thon that is now bringing in more than $14,000 a year.
At other times Joe can be found recruiting local businesses to hold fundraisers, hosting the local telethon and delivering wheelchairs to people who need them.
Ironically, Joe doesn't have arthritis and neither does anyone in his family. "Thirty years ago, I had the local branch director of the Arthritis Foundation on my radio show and became aware of how serious arthritis can be. I just wanted to do what I could to help," Joe says.
Philip S. Magaram, Esq., never asks people to give anything he isn't willing to give himself. For more than 15 years, Phil has been giving his time, talents and money to the Arthritis Foundation. One of his greatest talents is encouraging others to give, too.
A prominent Los Angeles attorney, Phil has single-handedly raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Southern California Chapter. Through his dedication and legal expertise in estate planning, he was instrumental in helping to form the chapter's highly successful planned giving program, which is a major source of income for the chapter.
During his association with the chapter, Phil has held almost every volunteer office, including that of chairman from 1982-83. He has also served on the National Planning Committee and the National Board of the Foundation.
"Giving of my time and money to a worthwhile cause makes me feel good about myself," Phil says. "Perhaps that makes my commitment a selfish one - but if it benefits others, then everyone wins."
Not Just Another
When the Arthritis Foundation Telethon signs off for another year, Pittsburgh television personality Eddie Edwards doesn't forget about the people or cause the program was designed to help.
"The way I see it, the telethon host shouldn't be just another smiling face on camera," he says. "As host of the telethon, I wanted to get involved in the Foundation's work year round."
One way Eddie helps the Foundation is by keeping its name in front of the public - via the airwaves - throughout the year. He also assists with fund-raising events and has organized a telethon committee that meets once a month to plan for the following year's production.
Eddie's commitment to the Arthritis Foundation began four years ago when he hosted his first telethon on WPTT-TV. While interviewing local people with arthritis, he discovered just how devastating the condition can be. Ironically, the following year Eddie's mother was diagnosed with arthritis, which strengthened his commitment to the Foundation even more.
"Being in TV you get people knocking at your door all the time," he says. "You don't have the time to donate to all their organizations, so you have to choose your commitments wisely."
Eddie believes he chose well. "My work with the local chapter has been a rewarding experience."
Making a Difference
"I'll just ask!" is Marge Burnham's motto, and people just can't say "no" to her. Thanks to her efforts, programs and services for people with arthritis have blossomed throughout Eastern Iowa.
When Marge moved to Davenport, Iowa, seven years ago, she enlisted the support of the Arthritis Foundation's Iowa Chapter three hours away and immediately formed a support group for people with arthritis. Bolstered by its success, she approached YMCAs in the area and convinced them to offer the Arthritis Aquatics Program.
In order to raise money for these services, Marge handles the logistics of the local telethon each year. And she is currently helping start a support group for parents of children with juvenile arthritis.
"I love helping other people feel better about themselves and their arthritis," Marge says.
With her determined attitude, warm smile and contagious giggle, Carol Krueger is an example that arthritis doesn't have to keep a person from being productive or from having a fulfilling life.
Carol, who uses a wheelchair because of severe rheumatoid arthritis, has served as president of the McHenry County (III.) Arthritis Action Council from its inception in 1984. During that time she has organized patient education programs, led an Arthritis Self-Help Course and provided an understanding ear to anyone who needed a friend. Members of the council, sponsored by the Arthritis Foundation, meet once a month to provide mutual support for one another and to learn about various aspects of arthritis.
Volunteering "gives me a positive outlook on life and enables me to deal with the negative aspects of my disability," Carol explains. "In three words, it makes me feel loved, needed and important."
During football season, screaming crowds cheer for John Kidd, punter for the NFL's Buffalo Bills. But off season, the professional football player attracts crowds for another favorite pursuit of his - the fight against arthritis.
An enthusiastic, high-profile board member of the Arthritis Foundation's Western New York Chapter, John Kidd serves as celebrity chairman for special events such as the annual "All-Star Salute to Secretaries" and "Up, Up and Away...With Arthritis" balloon launches. He also recruits other Buffalo Bills players to turn out for events when necessary.
"I'm glad the Foundation can use my high visibility to get more people involved with their activities," he says. "I am honored to be named as one of the top volunteers, but this honor is really a reflection of all the staff and volunteers of the Arthritis Foundation working together as a team."
as a Family
When their 11-year-old son Brian was diagnosed with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis two years ago, Bob and Carol Willson decided to "turn their anger and frustration into more positive things," says Carol.
Carol began by designing an educational program for Brian's school, directing a juvenile arthritis support group and assisting at health fairs. Soon the other family members followed her example, each taking part in the fight against arthritis.
Brian gives frequent talks about juvenile arthritis at schools around Tucson, Ariz. Seventeen-year-old Trish, who has osteoarthritis in one hip, has volunteered for "Up, Up and Away" and the phonathon and has attended the American Juvenile Arthritis Organization conference each year.
Last spring Scott, 16, took first place in oratory at a regional Forensic League Speech and Debate Tournament with his eloquent plea for more support and understanding for juvenile arthritis. He and his mother also have organized a group of nearly 60 healthy young people to ride in this year's El Tour de Tucson, the longest perimeter bicycling event in North America, to benefit children with JA.
"I volunteer mainly so that I can understand arthritis better and be able to help my brother and also so that I can teach other people so they can help," explains Scott, expressing the sentiments of the entire Willson family.
"The greatest reward for me is knowing that the more I help, the closer researchers come to finding a cure."
Helping people with arthritis regain their independence is Carolee Moncur's vocation, as well as her avocation.
By day she's a busy physical therapist, teaching people in Salt Lake City range-of-motion exercises and other ways to control their arthritis. Plus she has conducted Arthritis Foundation-sponsored research in several areas of interest.
When she's off the clock, she's a committed volunteer for the Arthritis Foundation. Her determination and energy have played a role in many of the chapter's successes, including the formation of its professional section, the Arthritis Health Professions Association.
Carolee has personally trained about 30 people to lead Arthritis Self-Help Courses throughout Utah, in addition to teaching the class herself. "It's rewarding to see my efforts help people regain confidence in their abilities," she says.
"I believe in the cause of the Arthritis Foundation and the programs we sponsor. There are so many people who wouldn't even come into contact with arthritis information if it weren't for volunteers helping increase awareness."
We Need You, Too!
The Arthritis Foundation needs many more volunteers just like these to carry on the fight against arthritis. Whatever your interests or abilities, your contributions are needed. To find out how you can help, call the Arthritis Foundation chapter in your community today! If you don't know the location of the chapter nearest you, write to: Arthritis Foundation, P.O. Box 19000, Atlanta, GA 30326. Your letter will be forwarded to the chapter in your area.
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|Author:||Witter, Dianne C.; Dunkin, Mary Anne|
|Date:||Nov 1, 1989|
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