Always something for which to be thankful

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, May 13, 2003

Last week my intention was to publish a column about Thanksgiving. In that column my main point was to drive home that no matter what situation you are in, there is always something for which to be thankful . When I read the story about the families and children being evicted and good Samaritans who came to their rescue, I realized that this statement is very true thanks to the love and compassion of some very wonderful people.

I, too, was in disbelief when I saw the evicted families on television. However, in covering the shelter in the past, I was aware that one of their rules was that residents should seek shelter with family members or elsewhere during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays so that the employees would be free to celebrate the season. This action has always made me wonder what would happen to those who had no family members to turn to because this time of year is known to be depressing, particularly for people in stressful situations. I have always thought that if anyone was in the need of shelter, This was the most crucial time for one to be provided.

Webster’s Dictionary defines shelter as being a refuge or something that provides protection or cover. Those evicted families who were thrown in the street without any concern about where they were going needed at least two things from those who were suppose to protect them-love and compassion. Cathy Prutsok and the City of Suffolk possess these qualities which are the kind that make people act. Violations or not I feel the same as Andy Prutsok wrote in his column Sunday, no reason is important enough to throw anyone in the street without a concern of what may happen to them.

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As for being able to celebrate holidays away from the work place, I can remember a time at this paper when the press was in the building that most of us only got one day off and that was Christmas Day. We worked half a day on Christmas Eve because the only day that the paper is not published is on Christmas Day. We rotated Christmas Day off on during other years and all other holidays we worked at least half a day. This schedule was followed this way from the time I was hired in 1972 until 1997 when the press was moved to Ahoskie.

I am sure that some doctors and nurses would like to spend holidays at home but in a lot of cases they have to work around the clock no matter what holiday it is. They must be dedicated, with plenty of compassion and love.

I don’t know what it may take but it seems to me that shelter rules should change a little to include schedule changes and volunteers because I have also seen the positive and loving attitudes of volunteers in this city. With my free time, I am even willing to take a part.

I wonder how shelter personnel would have felt if they had put themselves in these families’ positions.

Prutsok’s column usually prompts some of my friends or others calling me to comment about statements that he sometimes makes about his family. On Sunday I was resting after returning from a trip from Cowtown, New Jersey but the phone rang occasionally from a few callers. One of them was irritated about the shelter’s actions and said that it seems like in most cases the ones who have are not concerned about the ones who don’t have. &uot;I am glad that Mr. Prutsok stuck to his comments about the shelter. I wish I knew who that minister was so I don’t ever attend his church,&uot; she said.

Another commented about the warm hearted gesture that Prutsok’s wife, Cathy, made by going to the motel to take families items that she took precious time to gather up.

&uot;No matter what kind of hang-ups she has been described as having in the past and no matter what she may do in the future, this action will not change the fact that I now think that she is an angel of mercy,&uot; she said.

After these calls a revolution came to mind. Cathy and the City of Suffolk reached down from the top of the ladder to pull up those who were less fortunate than they were. It is people like these who give the underprivileged a certain amount of hope that God will always provide and rescue them from danger, protect them and provide them cover. This is the exact role that homeless shelters should play in people’s lives not only part of the year but all year long.

These families weren’t in the best of situations on Thanksgiving Day but at least they still had something and someone to be thankful for.

I along with many people are also thankful for is the life and medical expertise of the late Dr. Oswald Hoffler. His accomplishments and people he worked with have already been published. However, as a patient I was also touched by this great man.

During the 50s, 60s, and 70s black surgeons were in short supply and he served nearly the entire black community. A four o’clock appointment may have had you finally seeing him about midnight.

I had a 3 p.m. appointment once and entered the examining room about 11 p.m. I was curious about the time I was finally seeing him and asked him what time was he going home since the office had about 10 people still waiting to see him.

&uot;Not until I have seen every patient,&uot; he said.

This was the kind of dedication that this man had but while we were sizzling with anger at having to leave the office as late as we did, we never thought about the fact that he wasn’t at home either and that he was taking time away from his family or being in bed to provide the best possible medical service that he could to his patients.

This man has contributed a big part to black history in this community and will be truly missed by everyone who knew him and received his services.

Evelyn Wall is a former News-Herald reporter and regular columnist.