Woman Is Hoping Soldier's Compassion Is Contagious

Senior Center Volunteer Opposes Budget Cuts

March 10, 1991|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,Staff writer

Joan Davis says she is counting on County Executive Charles I. Eckerto be as compassionate as an American GI who wrote her from Saudi Arabia recently.

Donald Williams, a sergeant major for the Central Command Provost Marshal's office in Riyadh, was so moved by a January "any soldier" letter that Davis wrote U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf, that he sent her $20 cash to help feed the "frail elderly" served by the county nutrition site at Glenelg Methodist Church.

Davis was not expecting contributions. She merely mentioned her work at the center in the context of a chatty letter in which she mentioned she is a retired geriatric nurse with three children, includinga paratrooper son serving in the Army in Korea.

She also told about spending three hours each Thursday with senior citizens of "very limited income," five of whom are in wheelchairs.

They gather at the center four days a week to "gossip, make crafts, and just talk," she said, adding that for some, the meal they receive is the only one they will have that day.

"Those who can afford it pay $1" for a simple meal prepared at Glenelg High School, she told Williams. One person recently praised "absolutely horrible Hawaiian chicken," she said,adding, "It was her only meal of the day."

A 95-year-old client "would have died if it were not for the program," and other clients have been "delayed from going into a nursing home" because of program, she said. She ended her letter the same way she does letters to her son, saying, "Be a good a soldier."

Williams responded like a son. "Being here away from our families is probably one of the hardest things a soldier will go through -- I'm sure your son understands this,"he told Davis. "But being soldiers we accept the separation because what we will do here is for the good of all mankind.

"I have neverfelt prouder to be an American than I do at this moment. Not just because of what we do here, but because of people like you, who make usall feel that what we do is worth the sacrifice that we are making now and in the near future. We love each and every one of you."

Williams wrote his note 12 days before the start of the ground war. He said he wanted Davis to take his $20 bill and help feed the poor. A Saudi Arabian bill "worth about 26 cents" was also enclosed as a present solely for Davis.

Davis says she will use Williams' $20 to provide fruit juice for people to enjoy with their meal.

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