Categories
Animals Antofagasta Chile Family

A Man and a Dog

From the time of his birth, my mother doted on him, and should she have lived to see his maturity her impressions would have been confirmed. Along with many others who now understand, she would have known my brother, Farrell E. Forrest, Jr., to be a rare individual. Our mother died at 39 years. Junior was seven. I was twelve. Our sister was ten.

He left home at seventeen, served in the military, spent time at university and obtained a degree in electrical engineering. He invented things, the main one having to do with mining procedures. After his wife died of cancer, and after he had retired, in conjunction with his expertise, he lived for years in Antofagasta, Chile, which is heavily involved in copper mining. In his late fifties or early sixties, beginning with six workers, he founded a business. Before he sold it and retired again, the company employed a thousand people. He exceeded the expectations of a “regular” company owner providing unusual perks to his people, including health insurance.

On the streets of Antofagasta roam many street dogs. Of a particular one, he learned. She is of the Boxer breed, around nine-months-old, the vet thought, skinny, scared of golf clubs, a tendency to cower, and with burn marks on her neck. Junior took her home with him.
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Then it was time for Junior to retire from that phase of his life and to return to the United States. Sally. She is incredibly smart, loyal, and beautiful; he could not entertain the thought of leaving her. A handler accompanied her as she was shipped home in an enormous crate. The trip included lots of shots and being quarantined in several countries . . .but finally she arrived in Pittsburg and the handler transferred her to Junior’s vet. The cost? $10,000.

“Ten thousand dollars?” I exclaimed.

“Yes. Ten thousand dollars, and I’d do it again for this dog.”

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Sunday after church I dragged a chair onto a lawn. “Pictures, Junior. I want pictures of you and Sally.”

imageI, too, love Sally. She is an incredible dog. Tried to talk her into packing up some bags and moving to California. “Lots of Spanish talk there, Sally,” I told her. “You’d feel at home.” She declined my invitation.

imageFarrell, E. Forrest, Jr. My brother. A man. Kind, gentle, generous, successful.

Categories
Food

Panera–Not Only Bread, but Heart

A great sandwich, an excellently brewed cup of coffee, and first-class ambience makes for a fine lunch–especially with a friend or family member thrown in for good measure. Such a place is Panera Bread, and although there has never been one where I live, in my travels I have visited many of them and have always enjoyed the experience.

This morning I learned that the company has now established a non-profit site that is serving up its food with a pay-what-you-can philosophy.

Panera Bread Co. has reopened a downtown Clayton location as a nonprofit where customers can pay what they can afford.

“Take what you need, leave your fair share,” says a sign at the entrance of the Saint Louis Bread Company Cares Café. Patrons who can’t pay are asked to volunteer their time.

The café, which reopened Sunday as a nonprofit, has cashiers who provide receipts with suggested prices and direct customers to the store’s five donation boxes. The menu is the same, except for the day-old baked goods brought in from sister stores in the area. The money goes to help the hungry and train troubled youth.

“I’m trying to find out what human nature is all about,” Ron Shaich, who stepped down as Panera’s CEO last week but remains as chairman, told USA Today. “My hope is that we can eventually do this in every community where there’s a Panera.”

What an amazing, generous act. Kudos to this great company, Panera Bread. One more thing: Lake Havasu could surely use one of these places. 🙂

Categories
America Culture Life Medical/Technical Photography Social The World

James O’Neal, A Most Remarkable Man

He’s an amazing man. He works at a Safeway store in Kirkland, Wa. and his customers adore him. Despite his terribly disfigured face, little children “high-five” James O’Neal. His story is a lesson in courage and inner fortitude, a tale of grit and steel. His life reveals a man who has grasped the sometimes illusive understanding that the housing of a man often shows his deep and intimate being in a mistaken manner. The James O’Neal account is the brilliant display of a noble soul.

'He is an amazing man'

Unlike many persons with such disfigurements, Mr. O’Neal has made the decision to refrain from hiding. Instead, he has immersed himself in a job where, every day, he meets the public.

O’Neal knows his deformity shocks people. He knows others with the same genetic disorder would rather hide than work, but for 7 years James has proudly worked the registers at the Kingsgate Safeway on 124th Avenue NE in Kirkland.

“I just tell people this is who I am, it’s the way I am. If you don’t like me, you don’t like me,” he said.

His customers don’t like him — they love him.

“He is an amazing man and we love him. He’s the kind of person that makes your day,” said customer Aubrey Richins.

“I really love James,” said shopper Katie Knopf.

All of them say they were stunned at first when they saw his disfigured face.

“I have to admit I was a little taken back, but when I walked through his line I felt this spirit come over me, this man is out here, not hiding,” said long-time customer Cindy Peay.

Every shopper said the same thing: O’Neal is an inspiration. If that wasn’t enough, he’s lightning-fast on the register.

From KOMO News where a video is also available.

There are others involved here who are to be commended. The first are the management at the Safeway store who courageously hired James to be a cashier at this major grocery store. Not knowing in advance what the response of the public would be, they valiantly took a chance.

Now, his customers and his fellow workers are raising money to help pay for operations that doctors say will greatly improve his appearance. While his medical insurance will cover much of the expense, it will in no way fund all the medical treatments that are needed.

Across the country, and even around the world, people have read of this remarkable man, in loving ways have written of his story, and have contributed thousands of dollars. He has captured our hearts. Holly emailed me about James as his story broke on network news, the next day Trish Groe suggested I would be interested in his story, and now multiplied times over I have read and heard his story.

The kindness and generosity of Americans impress me. I’m glad I live in this great country and can make claim to its nurturing humanitarian concepts. The thoughtfulness of the peoples of the world thrill me. I’m glad that from continent to continent we can hold hands and revel in common goodness.

Let us continue to pray for James, for his support team, and for his doctors.

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My devotional blog is here.

Categories
America Arizona Christianity/Religion Culture Friends Goodness of man Integrity Life Money Social The World Travel video Workplace

Tipping Tales

“We hate waiting on Christians, for they tip so poorly.”

It was last Saturday as I sat in a restaurant where the meal for several of us had been paid by someone else, that I had asked about the tip, and that the ensuing conversation had included the retelling of that sad comment.

“Was the tip included for our meals?” I asked as we finished eating.

No one seemed to know immediately, but after they asked around the message was returned, “No, the tip was not included. We need to leave some.”

We had occupied a fairly large area in the restaurant, some of the others had already left, and my friend and I were concerned that perhaps many people thought the tip had been included, when indeed it hadn’t. We came up with more money from our wallets until we felt sure adequate money had been left for our group.

” We feel really strongly about tipping well,” one of the women said. “We teach in our church that one should always leave 15 percent regardless of the quality of the service. We think of our testimony in the town, and what our generosity–or lack of–says about our church and about Christians in general.”

She went on to tell of an occasion where her husband had left a $45.00 tip for a modest bill. On accepting the money the waitress had begun to cry, saying, “Thank you. Thank you. I didn’t have money to buy milk for my baby tonight.”

Someone else told of a waitress who said, “We hate waiting on Christians, for they tip so poorly.”

While reading around this morning, I came across this story of a waitress receiving a very large tip. You will probably want to watch this moving video as she tells of her reaction to this exciting unexpected gesture.

Jerry had an interesting experience the other day when we went into the new Golden Corral here in Lake Havasu, and the cashier asked as he paid his bill prior to having eaten, “Would you like me to add 15% for the waitress?” (The Golden Corral is a buffet style restaurant, where you get your own food. The waitress does refill drinks, and takes hot rolls to the tables.)

How do you feel about tipping? Do we tip enough? Does it continue to be an added amount of money given because of good service, or is it just an expected gesture, regardless of the attentiveness of the waitress?What about tipping in hotel rooms? How much do you usually leave?

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My devotional blog is here.