More to lo­cal folks than meets the eye

The Hazleton Standard-Speaker - - OPINION -

In the ’60s ev­ery hippie pad in Ha­zle­ton had posters plas­ter­ing the walls. My fa­vorites were drawnby M.C. Escher. You’ve seen them. Arun-of-the mill pic­ture at first glance morphs into a star­tling won­der upon closer in­spec­tion. Men­march­ing up and down­steps de­fy­ing the laws of per­spec­tive; a hand draw­ing it­self; pos­i­tive geese fly­ing out of neg­a­tive geese.

Escher’s draw­ings are greater than the sum of their parts. Noth­ing’s as it ini­tially ap­pears, and ev­ery­thing’s pos­si­ble. His draw­ings are re­ally spe­cial.

Whenyou think about it, the peo­ple of the Ha­zle­ton area are like Esher’s posters. Maybe you don’t ap­pre­ci­ate this fact when you live in town. I didn’t al­ways when I did, but fromwhere I nowsit an ocean away, I see that our pluses far out­weigh the mi­nuses. And our great­est as­set is our peo­ple.

TakeRev­erendRober­tYori. At first glance, all you see is an 82-year-old cler­gy­man. But take an­other look. Ac­cord­ing to the Stan­dard Speaker’s Amanda Christ­man, the good fa­ther’s been mak­ing gal­lons of his own tasty veg­etable soup, do­nat­ing it to the Sal­va­tion Army kitchens to dis­trib­ute to hun­gry folks in our area for years. Yori tells ev­ery­one he meets, “Je­sus heals and re­stores,” but this mod­est pri­est says he him­self is noth­ing spe­cial. Maybe. Butwhat a dif­fer­ence his life’s made to count­less peo­ple.

Ha­zle­ton Area teacher Amie D’An­gelo may be con­sid­ered a typ­i­cal ed­u­ca­tor in many re­spects. But ac­cord­ing to TomRa­gan of this pa­per, at sec­ond glance, you’ll dis­cover more to this ed­u­ca­tion­al­ist than her job. She or­ga­nizes stu­dents and fac­ulty mem­bers for vet­er­ans’ hos­pi­tal vis­its. She also col­lects sup­plies, cards and let­ters for care pack­ages sent to grate­ful de­ployed US troops, dis­patch­ing scores of pack­ages and many cards and let­ters to Afghanista­n, Iraq and the Far East.

You don’t need to be a pri­est or a ped­a­gogue to help oth­ers if Foun­da­tion 58 is any­thing to go by.

Foun­da­tion 58 is a non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion, es­tab­lished in mem­ory of a well liked reg­u­lar guy, for­mer Ha­zle­ton City Deputy Fire Chief Gabriel A. Mh­ley. Trag­i­cally, “Gabe” died on July 7, 2003.

Af­ter grad­u­at­ing Ha­zle­ton High School in 1974, heworked for the Stan­dard-Speaker. Later be­com­ing a fire en­gine driver, he also put in time at St Luke’s Nurs­ing Homedriv­ing the res­i­dents to doc­tors’ ap­point­ments and so­cial events, chores he loved.

All told, Gabe spent 17 years serv­ing the city, not count­ing the ad­di­tional years as a vol­un­teer fire fighter and am­bu­lance mem­ber. He be­came deputy fire chief be­fore cancer forced him to re­tire in March 2003. The fa­ther of Nick, Justin, Danny, and Chris, he’s also sur­vived by wife Diane Gur­gal Mh­ley Demshock and his mother Mrs. Dolores Mh­ley and other si­b­lings, in­clud­ing younger sis­ter, Mrs Lori Mh­ley-Kem­pchin­sky.

Foun­da­tion 58 is ded­i­cated to pro­vid­ing fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance to fire fight­ers, po­lice of­fi­cers, and emer­gency med­i­cal ser­vice per­son­nel di­ag­nosed with cancer. Mh­ley-Kem­pchin­sky told me, “Gabe’s son Justin and nephewKeit­h Mh­ley started Foun­da­tion 58 in 2005. The num­ber 58 was Gabe’s badge num­ber.

“Since 2007, Foun­da­tion 58 has do­nated more than $25,000 to 10 fam­i­lies whose fi­nan­cial need was strain­ing their bud­gets and their al­readyfraug­ht emo­tions.”

Ac­cord­ing to Mh­ley-Kem­pchin­sky, “Gabe meant a lot of things to a lot of peo­ple. They still tell mehowhis kind words or ac­tions touched some­one.”

In typ­i­cal Ha­zle­ton spirit, Gabriel Mh­ley gave of him­self when he was alive, and he still gives of him­self to­day through the ded­i­ca­tion of the small group of vol­un­teers who run Foun­da­tion 58. Get in­volved with Foun­da­tion 58 by log­ging on to http:// www.foun­da­tion58.org/ or phon­ing 1888-426-0058.

Fi­nally, con­sider Michael A. Scat­ton of Ha­zle­ton who died ear­lier this month age 60 af­ter a lengthy ill­ness. Michael spent his en­tire adult life in ser­vice to oth­ers. Em­ployed by the Car­bon Le­high In­ter­me­di­ate Unit, he taught spe­cial ed­u­ca­tion in the Weatherly, Palmer­ton and JimThorpe school dis­tricts.

Anen­thu­si­as­tic sports­man and ath­lete, he’ll be re­mem­bered best by area sports fans for his time as var­sity foot­ball coach for the Weatherly and Ha­zle­ton Area high schools. Michael also coached with the Ernie Va­lente Mid­get Foot­ball League, Lit­tle League and BabeRuth. Ask any­onewho knew the guy. His life was about help­ing young­sters to learn, to have fun, and to dis­cover the value of team­work. He’s one more ex­am­ple of peo­ple who, year in and year out, put oth­ers first in our area. Rest in peace, Mike. And thanks for a life well spent. We’re all go­ing to miss you.

The Ha­zle­ton area faces se­ri­ous eco­nomic, racial and cul­tural prob­lems now, and our gov­ern­ment agen­cies may no longer solve all these prob­lems. But our peo­ple can.

Like Esher prints, one per­son alone may be de­cep­tive at first glance. But take an­other look. You’ll see Rev­erend Robert Yori, Amie D’An­gelo, Justin andKeith Mh­ley, and Michael A. Scat­ton, plus count­less oth­ers, too many to men­tion here. Such in­di­vid­u­als prove it only takes one or­di­nary per­son to make the Ha­zle­ton area a bet­ter place in which to live and­work, like Ge­orge Bai­ley in Bed­ford Falls in the film “It’s aWon­der­ful Life.”

What about you? Why not sit down over a cup of joe to­day mak­ing a list of ideas to help over­come any prob­lems where you live? Like an Esher poster, dare to be greater than the sum of your parts.

For­mer Ha­zle­ton res­i­dent Michael Apichella is a writer liv­ing in Europe. Some of his books may be or­dered by log­ging on to: http://www.kev­in­may hew.com/info/con­trib­u­tors/michael apichella.html

Michael Apichella

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