More to local folks than meets the eye
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