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Thumbs Up - Aug. 18, 2014

Thumbs Up! August 18, 2014

In early 2013, work began on a garden at St. Patrick’s Episcopal in downtown Albany. The Food for a Thousand garden program was the vision of Juby Phillips and the vegetables have thrived through the volunteer recruitment efforts of Brenda Gray. Because of the volunteers, the project has produced about 1,300 pounds of fresh, wholesome and tasty produce. The items have been donated to local food pantries such as The Lord’s Pantry and Neighbors in Need. Among the flavorful foods of this plot are tomatoes, okra, peppers, broccoli, beets, squash and more. The newest addition to the garden is blueberry bushes. Food pantries, especially small ones, distribute needed groceries year round but rarely have the opportunity to hand out homegrown fresh produce. The laborers are willing workers and those who cannot physically assist with the project have been generous with donations, whether it is money or fertilizer, plants or tools. Each is to be commended for feeding the less fortunate among us.

Veterans’ health care has been much in the news of late. Stories about long wait times to get an appointment followed by less than excellent care are chilling. Every American should be both embarrassed and angry at the idea that any citizen willing to serve in the military be treated in such a fashion. Albany is, thankfully, an exception to the norm when it comes to the newly opened VA clinic aboard the Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany. On the first day of operation, more than 40 veterans from all branches of the military were seen by highly qualified medical personnel. Primary care, specialty care and mental health services are available. Specialty providers include podiatry, audiology, optometry and physical therapy. Nurse Manager of the clinic, Ophelia Thomas, said, “Our mission is to make sure the veterans are taken care of, their needs are being met and we want to treat them with the utmost respect and make sure they get everything they need. The veterans have done so much for this country, given us the right to do so many things and it’s definitely an honor to be given an opportunity to do this.” If all VA clinics and the people that work in them, from the front desk to the physician, adopted the attitude of the clinic at MCLB-Albany, there would be little need to worry about veterans’ health care in America.

If you missed the story in The Albany Herald about Phillip Hajek (Aug. 9), make an effort to read it. Hajek tells how the harder he chased the dollar, the harder times became for his pocketbook. An orthopedist by profession, Hajek quit his job and his life took a turn he never could have predicted. First, on impulse, he wrote a check to the Albany Humane Society. That donation more than came back to him when he was chosen as a raffle winner among donors. From that point in 2001, Hajek has given as much of his money away as he can and says “It has been returned 100 fold.” Musculoskeletal Associates is Hajek’s practice now and its charitable arm, the Fifth Friday Foundation, has made donations from money generated on each fifth Friday of any month. The Lee County Humane Society received $200,000 for construction. Another $275,000 has been distributed to 70 different charities right here in Southwest Georgia. It is for his heart for others that Hajek was given the district-level Service to Mankind Award from the Sertoma Club. Read the rest of the story, it’s well worth the time.

A small church in Meigs has made a big difference in the lives of children far away. It all started with a presentation about a mission trip to Uganda and the reports of skin-burrowing insects on bare feet. During Vacation Bible School in June, with donations of denim ( mostly old blue jeans) and plastic jugs, shoes to cover the children’s feet, were cut from a pattern kit ordered from Sole Hope. The cutting continued on Wednesday nights as the material was abundant and enthusiasm was high. Children, youth and adults surprised themselves when they realized 225 shoes had been cut out. A mission team has delivered the shoe parts which will be assembled by shoemakers in Uganda, allowing them to earn wages.The closed-toe shoes will save the feet of many children, all because Hinsonton Baptist Church in Meigs cared enough to do something.