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Meet our ambassadors of good will

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By Barbara Rutledge

Years ago I wrote a feature package entitled “Angels unawares.” It was based on Scripture found in Hebrews 13:2, basically saying that sometimes strangers can be “angels unawares.”

The package featured several Lancaster County folks who shared their experiences of being helped by a stranger. Almost all of them described these helpful strangers as angels.

I, also, have encountered similar strangers. And I am eternally grateful to them.

But these angels weren’t white-robed figures, complete with wings and halos. Far from it. They ran the gamut – male, female, old, young, white, black, able-bodied and the disabled. But the common thread was compassion for others.

Those compassionate people still exist.

Let’s face it. We haven’t had a lot of positive news lately. We’ve just come off a local election that left us reeling after some nasty campaigning and questionable voting practices in some of the city races. Forbes.com has ranked Lancaster County as the most “vulnerable town” in the nation. A County Council member recently referred to Lancaster as a “thug” capital of America. And our unemployment rate is still in double digits.

OK, you’ve heard all the bad about Lancaster, now let us tell you about the county’s best assets – its people. Throughout Lancaster County are people who share the greatest gift – themselves – every day of their lives.

They give of their time to distribute food and clothing to the less fortunate. They try to help those who are about to have their utilities turned off. They give backpacks full of school supplies to children whose parents don’t care or don’t have resources. They work hard to break down the cultural barrier and mentor young minorities. They try to find a temporary dwelling, guidance and financial counseling for homeless families. And much more.

Their purpose – to help others; their reason – because they care; their reward –  only they can tell you.

They give freely of their time to help in many ways. The truth is they don’t get a lot of ink. But they don’t seek it, either.

And we would like to introduce you to some of these local ambassadors of good will. In this and the next four editions, we will feature folks from different areas of the county who daily exhibit their compassion for others. You’ll get to meet Beverly Timmons, Jackie Brown, Macy Mullis, Clarence Witherspoon and some of the folks with Family Promise.

In this season of gift giving, what better time to introduce you to some big gift givers?

Maybe you’ve seen the movie “Pay It Forward,” or read the book by Catherine Ryan Hyde. The premise of the book is instead of repaying a good deed, we should pay it forward with another.

During a difficult time of my life, a very close friend of mine listened, counseled and shared similar experiences. I once asked him how I could ever repay him for his help. He said to pass it on. Someone had done the same for him and maybe I could help someone else.

Our local Good Will Ambassadors practice the philosophy of paying it forward or passing it on every day. There are many more. We may not know them all, but we would like to share their stories, too.

If you know a Good Will Ambassador, tell us about him or her. You can write to me at The Lancaster News, P.O. Box 640, Lancaster, S.C. 2972, fax at (803) 283-5079 or e-mail me at brutledge@thelancasternews.com.

– “Only a life lived for others is worth living.” – Albert Einstein