By Don Moore, F154921
In our daily lives it seems as though we “” figuratively speaking “” either are entering a storm, in a storm, or exiting a storm. Life deals us many storms. Weathering these storms helps to make us stronger.
Recently, we traveled from California to Florida to attend the Southeast Area Rally in Brooksville, and we found ourselves near the path of a literal storm. We had a few days before we were due to arrive at the rally site, so we stopped over in Clermont, Florida. We arrived just before the tornado hit in Florida on Friday, February 2, 2007, around 3:00 a.m. when everyone was sleeping. There was very little if any warning. We were staying about 20 miles south of the hard-hit areas “” The Villages, Lady Lake, and DeLand. We experienced lots of wind and rain but no damage.
Until you really experience the damage of a tornado, you have no idea what those folks are going through. Imagine waking up and witnessing the complete destruction of your home and belongings “” everything you’d worked for all your life. Most residents left their homes with no medicines, clothing, money, car, in some cases not even a toothbrush, and with no place to go. They must start over. Of course, the true devastation was that this storm claimed 21 lives and injured many others.
It was reported that the people of these close-knit communities stood ready to help each other. It’s a shame that sometimes it takes a tragedy to remind us of the need to be good neighbors. Everyone leads such busy lives today with work and family, etc. that sometimes the concept of caring for people becomes lost in the hubbub.
Hearing about these people pulling together and working to help others reminded me what a great organization FMCA is, and how it brings people together. The volunteer spirit permeates our organization, and the friendships formed through membership in FMCA are priceless.
FMCA is a volunteer organization owned by you, the members. We could not have an international convention or area rally without volunteers. Many members who attend conventions and area rallies may not realize that the parking crew members and teams that take care of security, safety, trams, greeters, will call, goodie bags, the youth program, etc. are all volunteer members. The same goes for the officers and committee members “” all volunteers. They volunteer for the enjoyment it brings them, and because of their love of FMCA and their desire to give back to the organization. I would personally ask you when attending events to please be patient, courteous, and respectful when it comes to our volunteers. Take time to tell them how you appreciate what they are doing. Better still, become a volunteer yourself. A variety of needs and various time commitments exist. FMCA members who have served as volunteers will tell you how rewarding the experience can be. It’s a great way to contribute to the association and to make some new friends in the process.
Darlene and I were able to witness volunteerism in action during the Southeast Area Rally in Brooksville, February 7 through 11. The weather was great this year. The theme was “A Sweetheart of a Rally,” which also was the focus of the large parade that took place on Thursday. Activities were plentiful, among them seminars, forums, an ice cream social, a ladies’ tea, coffee hour, indoor and outdoor vendors, and new coach displays. Rally attendees were treated to four nights of entertainment. The Frustrated Maestros “SEA Sharps” were the entertainment on Thursday night, with lots of local talent. The Maestros also played each morning during coffee hour. Total motorhomes on-site were 1,939, which included family coaches, live-in vendors, and display coaches.
During the Southeast Area Rally, Ave Vinick, director of development at Good Will-Hinckley in Hinckley, Maine, came by our motorhome to meet us and tell us how he and the school appreciate the support of FMCA. As a result of my July 2006 column in Family Motor Coaching magazine about their school and homes for children, and FMCA’s ties to Good Will-Hinckley, they received some donations from our members. Of course, Good Will-Hinckley receives the ongoing support of FMCA members via donations to the “Round-Up” program. Mr. Vinick also delivered a letter from a young man who is a student at Good Will-Hinckley School. I want to share portions of the letter with you, but first a little background.
During the November 2006 Executive Board meeting, one discussion involved outdated computers that had been replaced at the national office. Board members discussed the fact that these computers were of little value on the open market (or to the FMCA areas), since computers with newer technology (and equipped with appropriate software) are available at reasonable prices. Consequently, the board voted to donate the computers to charity. Good Will-Hinckley, where FMCA began in 1963 and where the FMCA monument is located, was picked as the recipient. These computers were much appreciated by the students at Good Will-Hinckley, as the letter writer, Fabio O’Donnell, describes. It is heartwarming to know that in a small way, FMCA is able to make a difference in the lives of children such as Fabio.
In the end, that’s what life is all about “” caring and sharing.
Until next month, safe travels.
Dear Mr. Moore and all of the members of the FMCA,
I would like to express my utmost appreciation of the recent donation of computers you and your association have made to Good Will-Hinckley. Your contribution to us will help further our education and development in the classroom. Most, if not all the students that attend the schools at Good Will-Hinckley will use these computers you and your association have so graciously provided us with ….
This letter is not intended only for just the most recent contributions you have made, but to all of which you and your association have made throughout the years. Please know that your loyalty and the unwavering willingness to help us have not gone unnoticed. It’s caring people like you that have made it possible for me to grow up in a warm and caring home.
I, Fabio O’Donnell, have been here at Good Will-Hinckley for over three years. I arrived here in fifth grade at the age of 13, and I am now 15 and in the eighth grade. I hope to soon transition into the ninth grade, hopefully before next year.
I was born in Curitiba, Brazil, and lived in an orphanage for the first eight years of my life. I was not in the best of situations. There I attended school only part-time so I lacked in education. At 8 years old and living in an orphanage, education was not a high priority.
I was adopted in 1999 at the age of 8. I came to Maine with my new parents and lived there for a few years. During this time I endured many problems growing up with a new family and learning how to get along with my new brother and two sisters. With ongoing and potential problems, I was hospitalized for being suicidal, along with some other things. A month or so after I was released, I tried to work things out with my parents and new siblings, but could not. Then my parents found out about a place called Good Will-Hinckley. They asked if I wanted to go and I said yes.
I was shocked that my parents wanted me to go to another place to live. A nice woman from admissions came to talk to my adoptive parents and me. She showed me information and assured me that it would be a warm, caring place to live and attend school. This did little to lessen my fears but I really didn’t have any other choice. Before I knew it, at age 13, I was whisked away again and found myself walked down the long hallways of Alfond Middle School.
I have learned and developed in many ways throughout the years I have lived at Good Will-Hinckley. It wasn’t long before I started feeling comfortable with my surroundings. Life started to be more dependable for me. I could get up in the morning and know what my day was going to be like. I can’t say I actually built trust but I can say that my life became more predictable. In fact, I have learned how to respect people, how to be responsible and, most important, how to interact and act around others. Hinckley has helped me in many ways and has taught me many new things. While living here, I have been exposed to many opportunities; drama club, sports manager, attend chapel services, and on-campus employment. I feel these opportunities will help me in my adult life.
I can now look back and remember where I was only seven years ago. The kind of place I am in now is okay. Good Will-Hinckley may not be my biological parents’ or adoptive parents’ home. But it has brought me a long way from where I started.
So I want to thank you again for what you have so thoughtfully done for us. I want you to know that your support of us at Good Will-Hinckley is greatly appreciated by all of us.
“” Fabio O’Donnell