On behalf of the nation’s YMCAs, which serve 18 million of America’s families and children, the YMCA of the USA commends President George W. Bush’s commitment to strengthening communities nationwide. Today, it’s more important than ever that we make sure families have access to community-based resources like the YMCA, where people of all faiths, ages, incomes and abilities can come together to build stronger ties with their neighbors and communities.
I am particularly pleased that the president emphasized the importance of community service. Last year, over 600,000 volunteers helped the Y serve 17.9 million people in 10,000 communities nationwide. Numerous YMCA programs such as child care, literacy, mentoring, GED classes, job training and sports exist because of the service and dedication of our volunteers.
The YMCAs also support values-based education and faith-based solutions to community problems. With their longtime emphasis on values, YMCAs are well positioned as leaders in building strong kids, families and communities. YMCAs work to teach and demonstrate on a daily basis the four values of caring, honesty, respect and responsibility. These values are evident in every YMCA program, whether a teen club, a pick-up basketball game, an after-school program or an older adult volunteer activity. Truly, individual character is the basis for a healthy society.
YMCAs are committed to expanding their efforts and stand ready to assist the president as he focuses his attention on building strong American communities and families.
Kenneth L. Gladish, Ph.D.
National Executive Director,
YMCA of the USA
Likes NORC NewsTo The Editor:
I am very glad to have read [in] your Feb. 6 issue of the Gazette the most interesting and informational article that pertained to the providing of grants to programs such as NORC.
As an educational social work and recreational volunteer working with senior citizens for 11 years, and as an advocate for the rights of senior citizens and also as a 51-year resident of a large cooperative housing development that now has a NORC program, this article appealed to me greatly meaning and was dear to my heart.
It is about time that our senior citizens who live in large co-ops have the opportunity to be provided with services such as chore and housekeeping help, home care and personal care services for the homebound, social service advocacy recreational services, etc. that will enable them to live independently in their apartments and to have a meaningful positive quality of life. Senior citizens make up 12 percent of our population, but they are the fastest growing segment of our population.
Thank you Gazette for informing us about this very important matter and thanks to the governmental officials who gave this grant. More grants should be given to senior citizens centers.
Long Island City
Search EndsTo The Editor:
I must write to you about the letter from Martha Wondra that was in the Gazette (Dec. 5, 2001). Though she lives in Long Lake, Minnesota, I’ve been in constant contact with her since Nov. 28, which is probably around the time that she wrote to you.
She was somewhat upset that, after writing to you she was never answered. But, then, Martha didn’t realize that "Letters" to the editor, while printed, are not acknowledged by return mail. When I happened to spot her letter in the Gazette I made her aware of this.
Truthfully, I can’t imagine how your readers (yourself included) could have made any sense from her letter at least those things that she wrote which aren’t accurate. This is not a criticism, for Martha, after what she came across on the Internet—and after her talking with me—must have been beside herself with pure joy.
About her letter (to begin with), the Gilbert Masson who she refers to, lives in Belgium. Also, when (as she wrote) she entered her father’s name on the Google™ Web site, there was no such "wonderful letter" from Gilbert Masson. But, as I said, Martha’s head must have been a bit delirious from what she did see on her PC monitor.
Not Gilbert Masson’s letter (he’s never written): but, my own letter–"No Man Is An Island…" which was in the Gazette (Sept. 12) which I had never seen (what a surprise?), and the Newsday article (Oct. 28) which their columnist had written about me, and my extensive search for her father—and then her, his daughter.
Both Julie Wager and John Toscano are very familiar with the story, but I doubt (if they caught Martha’s letter) whether they were able to connect these two things together. And, that’s why I’ve said that Martha's Dec. 5 published letter probably drifted by completely unnoticed by anyone.
In her letter she asked whether the Gazette could put her in touch with Gilbert. I can’t imagine how you could have done that. She also thanks you for writing—"…this wonderful story."—when, as I said above, the "story" was my own "No Man…" article.
The story, briefly, goes this way—
During Sept.–Dec. 1944, 12-year old Gilbert became very friendly with our soldier, Charles Sellhorn, who was stationed with the 50th Field Hospital in Dave, Belgium, and then Namur, Belgium.
Sellhorn gave Gilbert his Astoria address but after the war, due to Sellhorn’s move to Valley Stream, he was never able to contact his soldier–friend and spent the rest of his life asking for help in finding Sellhorn.
In Nov. 2000, Gilbert’s friend Andre Scaillet (writer/historian) wrote a tribute to the 50th Field Hospital. Gilbert read it, and then asked Andre to help in his search. Andre wrote to Peter Vallone, who, in turn, handed it to John Toscano. Thus, the Gazette’s article (Nov. 29, 2000) asking readers to help find Charles Sellhorn.
When almost by a minor miracle I found that Sellhorn had died in 1956, and was buried in Long Island National Cemetery, Toscano wrote the follow-up article in the Gazette (Dec. 13, 2000).
And then began my year-long search for Sellhorn’s daughter. I won’t detail here how many letters I wrote during that year, and the various ways/methods I tried that were complete failure. I’ll just say that I became very depressed when it became obvious that no one cared.
Newsday—one of the many, many contacted—finally picked up on it. Sent a photographer here, and interviewed me over the phone. The article was published on Oct. 28 last.
Martha cannot explain why she did what she did, for she had completed researching her father’s genealogy. She said it was a "whim!" And, it was so simple it makes me hysterical.
It took her just a few seconds to turn on her PC, select Google™ and type in her father’s name. She went into shock when the two articles I’ve already mentioned, appeared on the monitor.
She looked for me on the Internet, and phoned me the next morning. "If you’re the Ray Culkin who’s been searching for Charles Sellhorn, I’m his daughter."
I immediately phoned Andre in Belgium (at $2.65/minute) to give him—and Gilbert—the unbelievable news. After a few problems with fax and e-mail, Martha is now in firm contact with Gilbert, who has searched for her father almost all his life.
If this doesn’t give you a laugh, then nothing will. Sellhorn’s obit—in the L.I. Star-Journal, May 14, 1956, listed his daughter as Margaret, when her name is Martha.
For almost a year, I had been searching for the wrong name. And, so I didn’t find her, but she found me.
This story has lately appeared in La Meuse, a Belgian newspaper. I’ve also received a letter recently from the Belgian vice consul in New York, which expressed the most beautiful compliments.
Well, this has been quite a bit of writing, merely to explain the gist of Martha’s letter to the Gazette.
Now that it’s over, for some reason I feel somewhat saddened: especially when Andre recently wrote, "…and now, you and I must tip-toe into the shadows." And, he’s so right! As I see it, a 10-year old girl who lost her father–and a 12-year-old Belgian boy who lost his soldier-friend have found each other.
Yes, I am really sad that it’s ended.
What the hell!…there’ll always be another windmill to fight–another Impossible Dream!
P.S. I can’t resist adding this: Newsday’s sub-headline reads: "A story that began in ’44 in Belgium ends in Queens." Actually it ended exactly one month after Newsday’s article, in Long Lake, Minnesota.