Family & Friends
By Jake Kessler, F147069
Chapter members in 81 motorhomes (plus some who stayed at a nearby motel) traveled to the York Fairgrounds in York, Pennsylvania, for the Penn Coachmen chapter’s 40th anniversary rally Thursday, August 13, through Sunday, August 16, 2009.
The opening event on Thursday was an evening dessert buffet of pastry confections, cinnamon sticks, whipped cream, chocolate pieces, coffee, and flavored teas. Our evening speaker, a representative from the York County Convention and Visitors Bureau, provided a history of the area.
There was no sleeping in on Friday morning, as our factory tours began at 9:00 a.m. York County touts itself as the “Factory Tour Capital of the World,” and the area has plenty of sight-seeing opportunities. That day attendees could choose to tour the Harley-Davidson, Susquehanna Glass, Wolfgang Candy, or Snyder’s of Hanover factories.
Seminars offered Friday afternoon included “Beauty Tips for Women on the Go,” presented by Carol Becker. Other seminars that day were “Reverse Mortgages “” Pro and Con,” and “TV Viewing in an Older Motorhome: Converting from Analog to Digital.” Also, two of our chapter members led approximately 20 crafters in making a beaded badge holder.
Our Friday evening catered buffet included a birthday cake to commemorate our 40th year as a chapter. The evening’s entertainment was presented by Maria Rose and Danny Elswick, who provided 90 minutes of songs with guitar accompaniment. The duo appears frequently on the RFD TV network show “Midwest Country.”
Saturday was another early start with a large catered breakfast buffet. Morning activities included downtown walking tours of the Agricultural and Historical Museum and the Colonial Complex. York was the host city for the Continental Congress from September 1777 to June 1778. A Saturday picnic lunch at the fairgrounds included hot dogs, baked beans, sauerkraut, and beverages provided by chapter member Joe Veniziale.
Saturday evening’s dinner featured chicken cordon bleu or roasted top round of beef each with salad, vegetables, and dessert. Entertainment was provided by Red Hot and Country Roundup. The 90-minute Branson-type show included classic country hits along with toe-tapping bluegrass and some down-home comedy.
On Sunday we wrapped up the rally with another catered breakfast buffet and a worship service led by our chaplain, with our chapter choir providing appropriate music.
The following Eastern Area Motorhome Association (EAMA) officers attended: president and FMCA Eastern Area vice president Otho Tew and his wife, Alice; senior vice president John Reynolds and his wife, Jayne; secretary Gaye Young and her husband, Jerry; northern regional vice president John Breisch and his wife, Nancy; and past treasurer Horton Lain and his wife, Dolly. During the celebration, Otho Tew presented a 40th anniversary check to Penn Coachmen president John Breisch.
An Educational Anniversary Year
Family & Friends
By Erleen Allred, F380647
The WesTex chapter celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2008, and it turned out to be quite a year for the group. Among the highlights, the chapter increased membership, won the South Central Area best newsletter award, and hosted an anniversary party for former charter members.
The group also purchased an automated external defibrillator (AED) that is brought to all chapter functions. Forty-one members received CPR/AED training and became certified by the American Heart Association to perform lifesaving procedures should they be necessary. The AED is transported to rallies by the chapter president and kept in a readily accessible compartment in his coach. The local EMS office is notified of the location of the AED when our chapter arrives at a rally site. WesTexans believe that the life you save may be your own.
Perhaps the most significant chapter activity of the year began in March 2008, when 25 family members gathered for a rally at the SeaWind RV Park near Riviera, Texas. What began as a typical gathering evolved into something much more, touching the lives of chapter members and others to this day.
John Beverly, Ph.D., retired vice chancellor at Texas A&M University, was one of the first members to arrive at the rally. While waiting for the rest of the group to get parked and situated, he was approached by a young man named Stephen who asked whether he’d be interested in having his motorhome washed for $40. It was a deal that he could not pass up.
While the work was being done, Dr. Beverly learned a little bit about Stephen. The 17-year-old was living with his grandparents and two younger brothers in a small trailer at the RV park. Stephen was a high school junior and helped to support his family by washing RVs and working at a local vegetable stand. His grandmother had a small roadside business; his grandfather was in ill health and could not work.
When the job was completed, Dr. Beverly tipped him $20, telling him to put it away for college. Stephen responded that he couldn’t do that, because he needed to take care of his family. A short time later, Stephen returned to Dr. Beverly’s motorhome and said: “Sir, you gave me too much money. You gave me $80.” He returned $20.
The word spread about Stephen, and soon a number of WesTex motorhomes were sparkling clean. After speaking with Barbara Dietz, the long-time manager of SeaWind RV Park, and discussing Stephen’s situation during our chapter business meeting, we decided to help. Donations were made and several chapter members took the collection to the family’s trailer. After giving Stephen’s grandmother the money and exchanging brief comments and hugs, the chapter members left with tears running down their faces.
A couple of months later, Dr. Beverly received a call from Stephen asking whether he could help him with getting into college, since he believed it was important to get an education. Dr. Beverly learned that Stephen’s grandfather had passed away and that the boy was now living and working at a small farm several miles away from the RV park. Stephen’s grandmother’s roadside business had been closed, and his earnings were being used to support the family.
In August, another chapter member, Dan Ives, Ph.D., retired superintendent of Lamar Consolidated Independent School District in Rosenberg, Texas, called Stephen’s high school counselor to make sure the boy was doing everything necessary to pursue a college scholarship or grant.
Dr. Ives also called Ms. Dietz at the RV park, who said she would help to make the necessary transportation arrangements for Stephen to take a qualifying test and register for dual-credit classes (high school and college credit) at Coastal Bend Community College. A letter was sent to Stephen and his grandmother saying the WesTex chapter would cover the costs for the dual-credit program, with the remaining money to be used for immediate family needs.
When it was discovered that Stephen’s textbooks would cost upward of $300, Dr. Ives contacted the publisher to inquire about getting a set of textbooks donated. After several attempts, he received word from the company that it did not consider individual requests, but that an exception would be made and the textbooks were being shipped to Stephen.
More good news came in October when Stephen’s high school counselor told Dr. Ives that Stephen had been accepted into Texas A&M-Kingsville. At about the same time, Stephen said that he would like to continue taking dual-credit courses in the spring. He was told that financial help would be available from the WesTex chapter. His reply was a sincere and soft-spoken “Thank you.”
Right before Christmas 2008, Stephen was told that he would be receiving a check from the WesTex chapter for the spring schooling and for family needs at Christmas. His response was another heartfelt “Thank you,” because there was no money to buy Christmas presents for his two little brothers.
In the spring, Dr. Beverly and his wife, Marsha, and Richard and Paula Hicks from the WesTex chapter attended Stephen’s high school graduation. While there Richard helped him set up a new computer that had been provided by two Dell employees, along with a printer that the Hickses had donated. They also treated Stephen, his family, and several other special people who had helped the family to a celebration dinner.
Stephen enrolled at Texas A&M for the fall semester with the nine credit hours that he earned through the dual-credit courses, and he is taking 15 semester hours of class work. He received grants to pay for his first year of college, as well as his room and board. He lives in a campus dormitory and works on weekends as a restaurant busboy to help pay for his books.
As a group, we are so happy to see Stephen realize his dream of going to college and know that we were able to be a part of it. During the past year and a half, we’ve been able to help this young man do something that he never thought possible. But this “project” of ours is not over. In fact, it’s just beginning as we look ahead to when Stephen receives his college diploma several years from now.
Anyone interested in helping provide support for Stephen, financially or through other resources or connections, is encouraged to contact WesTex chapter president John Beverly at (979) 229-3808; [email protected].
Heartland Travelers Visit The Heart City
Family & Friends
By Don Short, F333234
Nineteen coaches with 39 attendees were able to make the rally. As it turned out, our rally was the first group event held at the campground, which is owned and operated by Jim and Patty Coburn. It became a learning experience for the couple as well as for our members. We discovered that the RV park is situated on the Coburns’ 4,000-acre ranch where they raise cattle. Ranch operations also include growing corn and hay. A cattle roundup is still done the old-fashioned way with horses, ropes, and branding irons. Their brand, the T 9, is distinctive, and well regarded in the area.
Downtown Valentine had much to offer us, with its arts and crafts stores, bookstores, museums, consignment shops, and an exceptionally large Western wear store. Members also visited Merritt Reservoir, a 3,000-acre lake featuring fine fishing and plenty of areas for swimming, skiing, and sailing. Merritt Reservoir is also known in amateur astronomy circles for being a premier place to gather for nighttime skygazing.
Anyone who has traveled along Interstate 80 in the Platte River Valley knows that the state is not just flatland and cornfields. This area has canyons, buttes, and pine trees. Smith Falls drops 70 feet at its highest point and feeds the Niobrara River, which is designated as a National Scenic River. It is the most popular river for canoeing in Nebraska. Each summer tens of thousands of visitors come to canoe or tube the river as it winds through riffles, chutes, and small rapids.
Another feature of interest was the Fort Niobrara National Wildlife Refuge, just east of Valentine. The refuge is home to elk, buffalo, antelope, and prairie dogs, and serves as a temporary stopover for many migratory birds. The visitors center has displays showing previous inhabitants such as mastodons, giant bison, and three-toed horses. The name of the refuge came from a fort that operated in the area from 1879 to 1906.
Our group tour made its way through the Sandhills countryside north to St. Francis, South Dakota, and the Rosebud Indian Reservation. Here we visited a church established in 1886. It was built to meet the religious needs of students at the St. Francis Indian School, who resided in dormitories. It is in the final stage of restoration that was begun in 1995.
Food and fun are always on the Heartland Travelers’ agenda. The food we found in Valentine was great. Since Valentine is an economic hub for the area, the selection of restaurants was very good.
Several members also went to a public shooting range. Here they were able to fire rifles, pistols, and even a Thompson submachine gun. Cherry County sheriff Mel Christianson helped make this outing a success. As a side note, Mel usually maintains a summer RV spot at Fishberry Campground, but because the Heartland Travelers filled the spaces, he was temporarily “evicted” by Jim and Patty to accommodate our group.
Saturday was a special day for the chapter. The Saturday business meeting concluded with chapter member Zean Carney taking a group photo of all the attendees. In addition, Jim Coburn arranged for a local pilot to take Zean up in an airplane. He flew overhead, capturing aerial views of the coaches and waving rally attendees.
On Saturday night we enjoyed a catered all-you-can-eat Western feast, and after dinner the group was entertained by cowboy poet Otto Rosfeld. Otto, a Valentine resident, is a nationally recognized cowboy poet who has participated in events around the United States.
Thanks to Tony and Muraine (Dutch) Ball for organizing the rally and to Jim and Patty Coburn for being such wonderful hosts. Hospitality like theirs is an experience that will not be forgotten.