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Letters to the Editor

August 09, 2008

Prisoners walk for our community



To the editor:

Something wonderful, but not really unusual, happened at MCI-H on Saturday, May 30. Nearly 400 inmates came together, not to fight or destroy anything, but to lend their aid and support to a sector of the community that, like themselves, is often looked at with both fear and misunderstanding.

The C.A.P. Jaycees, an award-winning, nationally recognized chapter of the United States Junior Chamber of Commerce, held an annual walk-a-thon. For the fourth year in a row, all the proceeds will benefit the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

The walk-a-thon began at 9 a.m. in cool, dry weather with all the walkers receiving a NAMI T-shirt from one of the guest representatives from the local NAMI chapter, Connie Paulie, president; Joe Rutkowski, membership director; Phyllis Keliher; and Donna Rapp. We were also honored again this year with the presence of Margorie Grumbacher of the Community Correctional Services Committee, who also helped hand out shirts and stamped the "lap cards" as the walkers circled our yard.

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For the first time ever, while the walkers made their laps, we had the institutional music groups "Touch of Class" and "Thomas the Promise" playing a variety of Top 40 songs and jazz. Unfortunately, about an hour into the walk it began to storm, forcing everyone into the gym. Many of the participants rose to the occasion, without even being asked, and helped to move everything inside. It was rather close quarters for almost 400 wet people, tables, chairs, band equipment and all our camera-station equipment, but not one word of complaint was heard. Before you knew anything had even happened, the day was back into full swing. People were hanging out with their friends, having pictures taken, and were enjoying the music and vocals of "Alter Ego" while waiting for lunch to be delivered.

The menu this year, provided by the C.A.P. Jaycees, included cold-cut sub sandwiches, potato salad, chips and soda. A vegetarian menu was available. It took quite a while to serve everybody, and this, too, went off without nearly any problems, though we did run short of condiments. For a once-a-year event to run this smoothly says a lot about the people who brought it all together.

Speaking of people, I'd be totally remiss to not mention the great help and contribution made to the C.A.P. Jaycees and NAMI by the staff at MCI-H: Warden Roderick Sowers, Assistant Warden Hershberger, Lt. Flanigan, Sgt. Obitts, our volunteer activities coordinator Robert Cobb, and everyone else who lent a hand in making our walk-a-thon a success.

The final line of the Jaycees creed states: "...That service to humanity is the best work of life." We in the C.A.P. Jaycees know that as we serve humanity, we are also serving ourselves. Even though we've made a mistake, or even many mistakes, we can use this period of incarceration to help some of our society's most vulnerable members, those who suffer any type of mental illness. We only ask in return to continue to be allowed to serve, and that or brothers and sisters in this great society remember that there are a great many people behind these walls and fences trying to make amends and give something back to the people and communities that we love!

A. Portner
Hagerstown




Daddy will be missed



To the editor:

Our daddy, George W. Mong Sr., was not only a wonderful daddy but had a heart of giving for many people, whether it be in words of wisdom or items that were so much needed. Daddy went to heaven on June 13 at the age of 91.

Dad owned a salvage yard for years back in the '50s through the early '70s. He was not one of greed, but one of kindness to others. As I worked, people would tell me, "If it wasn't for your daddy, we would have never been able to keep our cars on the road." I have no idea who these people were. They also said, "If we didn't have any money, George would let us have the parts and we could pay him whenever we could." This always made me feel so proud of him.

When Jump's ice cream truck would come up the road, daddy not only gave us money for ice cream, but made sure that children in customers' cars did not leave without ice cream as well. Even though he and mom separated when I was young, he was always there for all of us.

We always had daddy to look up to and knew he would always be there. Milestone birthdays were never missed for him from his 75th through his 91st. Later in daddy's life, he needed to depend more on us, which of course he didn't like. I once told him, "Daddy, you took care of us our whole life, it's our turn to take care of you."

He would always worry about us driving on the roads. He'd say, "Watch them roads." He was afraid something would happen, therefore we always had to call him when we got home.

Daddy lived through the Depression and wars. His mind was sharp and he could tell us stories from 80-plus years ago word for word. Daddy meant so much to us that I could write endlessly.

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