At Bollman Bridge Elementary, focus was health

NEIGHBORS

September 21, 2001|By Lourdes Sullivan | Lourdes Sullivan,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

GIRL SCOUT Junior Troop 1345 started the school year well. Barely a week into the year, the troop presented a small health fair at Bollman Bridge Elementary during a back-to-school picnic Sept. 7.

Junior Scouts Alyson Marino, Andrea Hricko, Deborah Firestone, Sharnise Hendrick, Heather Jarrell, Rachel Jones and Olivia Owens had spent the previous evening putting together health packets to distribute at four stations.

The girls organized the stations in the cafeteria, with information about dental care, basic first aid, the importance of exercise and proper nutrition. They handed out packets of toothpaste samples and first-aid kits with Band-Aids and antiseptic wipes. They demonstrated easy exercise routines that anyone could do.

The most popular stop was the nutrition station. The samples of nutritious snacks were popular, as the girls encouraged their friends and classmates to eat five fruits and vegetables each day. The girls handed out apples and carrot sticks.

The girls used the project to work toward their first-aid badge, with the help of troop leader Susan Marino, a registered nurse.

Parents of girls - from kindergarten to high school seniors - who are interested in Scouting should call area co-coordinator Dawn Stewart at 301-490-7176.

Always family

A story: A couple fell out of love and divorced. Somewhere beneath the blame, sorrow and anger were the memories of holidays and shared times with each other's families. The families worked at staying close.

He went to work at the Pentagon on Sept. 11. She was home in Howard County with a sick child.

Her sister sees the news - a second plane slices through the World Trade Center tower on live television. And then the Pentagon is hit. She runs screaming to tell the former wife - me. My former husband is in danger.

First comes denial: We tell each other that he works in Crystal City, not at the Pentagon. But our nephew, who lives with him, tells us differently. We can't reach the Pentagon. He doesn't answer his cell phone. The long-distance circuits are busy.

His daughter cries. His sister-in-law shakes and feels ill. His nephew, on the cusp of adulthood, turns pale. This is no video game. We negotiate with God: Please let him be elsewhere; he works in the basement, it's a big building. There's nothing to do but pray.

He is my ex-husband, a member of our family.

Then he calls from wherever he is. He hangs up before anyone reaches a receiver. "I'm OK. I'll be home," he says to the answering machine. His sister-in-law gags in relief. Again, there's nothing to do but pray. And call everyone to tell them he is all right.

The long-distance circuits are busy, but international calls go through. We call the family in Belgium. Related by blood or marriage, the Belgian relatives have often come to visit. His niece by marriage hyperventilates into the telephone, "He's all right. He's all right."

The Internet still works. I send his parents the news by e-mail. The tragedies were broadcast live in Georgia and northern New York state, where his family lives, and across America. Her mother calls him frantically at his house: Is he OK? Incoming long-distance circuits are working.

Five years divorced, and he is still a member of my family. Five years divorced, and I am still one of his. It is barely noon. There is nothing left to do but pray for the dead and bleed for the living.

We go to give blood at the Columbia Red Cross station, but it is not open. Fifty or 60 people are waiting. A smart soul has tacked up sign-up sheets. By 1 p.m., six pages are filled with names. People leave their phone numbers and blood types. Howard countians are an organized lot.

My sister and I sign up and leave to get a sandwich. We choose roast beef to boost our iron count and return to the Red Cross at 3 p.m. The line curves around the building.

Others sign in, ask how long the wait will be and arrange to return in two hours. A 16-year-old is turned away, although her mother will sign a consent form. An older woman donated two months ago; she is not allowed to donate for another two days but wants to anyway. The Red Cross tells her they are following safety rules to the letter. But come back in two days, they say; we'll still need blood then.

It's 5 :30 p.m. before we finish. The volunteers look exhausted, and it has been only a few hours. The nurses have been at Fort Meade earlier that day. They look collected, as if used to pacing themselves. At 5:30 p.m., the donor line still curves around the building.

My former husband returns from Virginia late that evening, hugs our daughter, greets our nephew. No one feels like cooking. We all go out to dinner - my former husband and his sister-in-law and his nephew and his ex-wife (me) and our daughter and his nephew's girlfriend. This is his safety net. This is family.

Woodwind concert

The Woodwind Quintet will perform in concert at 3 p.m. Sunday at Savage United Methodist Church, Baltimore and Foundry streets.The community is invited.

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