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A private woman has a very public life

Lucille Hastings by Bruce Stambaugh

Books have always played an integral part of Lucille Hastings' life.

By Bruce Stambaugh

For someone who relishes her privacy, Lucille Hastings of Big Prairie, Ohio has led a very public life.

Perhaps that seemingly contradictory situation is because of her love for life long learning. Hastings has had this instinctive drive to share what she learns. In short, contributing personally and professionally to the community at large has been a way of life.

That shouldn’t come as a surprise for someone who has her major life concepts down pat. Her life has revolved around her personal faith and church fellowship, service to others, which includes family, friends and the larger community.

Having lived on a farm for most of her life, she heartily reveres the land as a true gift from God. To accomplish and enjoy all that, she also believes in healthy personal lifestyles.

“I do water aerobics three times a week,” she said. “I need to watch my weight.”

Once she began her own well-researched and devised low carbohydrate diet a dozen years ago, Hastings lost 100 pounds. She has continued to be very careful about what she eats.

“Physical and emotional health are very important,” she related. Hastings said that as much for herself as for the benefit of others.

Hastings is fastidious about everything she does. But some things in life have been out of her control.

Hastings retired in 1992 from West Holmes Local Schools after serving 34 years as the library/media director in charge of the district’s libraries. Since then, she has continued as a part-time educational library/media consultant to the district.

“I retired because Jim retired,” she said, referring to her late husband. He died in 2000. “I miss Jim,” she said wistfully, “but I worked through it.” They had been married for 43 years.

She still lives on the Hastings family farm, which is rented out to an area farmer. The farm’s old barn was burned several years ago when a string of arson fires hit Holmes and surrounding counties.

Lover of the land that she is, Hastings said she marvels at how the agriculture around her has changed over the years. She has a great appreciation for her neighbors.

“The Amish have gradually moved into our area because the land was cheaper,” she said. “They are simply wonderful neighbors.”

With her background in library, it should come as no surprise that she considers herself a very organized person. She attributes that trait to enabling her to be of service to the larger community.

“Services like libraries, schools and churches happen because people make them happen,” Hastings said. “They just don’t happen by themselves.” Given her life long service to the surrounding community, Hastings clearly has done her best to improve those services for the community at large.

Here is a sampling of the many positions in which Hastings has served. She was president of the State Library Board of Ohio. She served on the Holmes County Library board for 16 years, 10 of which she was president. She was chairperson of the Ohio Reading Circle board for 16 years. That volunteer position allowed her to donate $350,000 worth of Reading Circle books to the county and local school libraries.

Hastings is a member of the Ohio Director of Agriculture’s 12-person advisory committee for administration of Ohio’s $25 million Clean Air/Clean Water Fund for Farmland Preservation.

She was the first woman president of the Holmes County Farm Bureau, and she is the only woman Sunday school teacher at her church. She has taught Sunday school for 60 years, and she is chairperson of the Mission Ministry at Ripley Church of Christ. She was a member of the Holmes County board of elections for eight years.

Hastings good works haven’t gone unnoticed. She has been dooly recognized for her many efforts. She received the Martha Holden Jennings Outstanding Teacher Award in 1974. She was inducted into the Ohio Women’s Hall of Fame in 2007. That same year Hastings received the Outstanding Alumni Award from Kent State University, where she received her Master of Arts Degree.

Hastings has two sons. Joel lives in Dallas, Texas, and Sidney resides in St. Louis, Missouri.

“I feel like I have been blessed,” she said. “I have had some unique opportunities.” And because she made the most of those chances, the community has reaped the benefits.

That’s what happens when life long learning is generously and graciously shared.

This article appeared in the Holmes Bargain Hunter, August 30, 2010.

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Vivian Miller offers compassion through cards and visits

By Bruce Stambaugh

After the doctor informed Vivian Miller, 68, four years ago that she had Parkinson’s disease, he asked how she felt about the diagnosis.

Miller didn’t flinch. She mustered up her usual pluck and said, “It’s not going to put me in a corner someplace.” Indeed it hasn’t.

In the time since, Miller has spent her life quietly helping others.

“It’s not about me,” she said modestly. “God uses me as an encouragement and support for others.”

Miller, who lives in Berlin, Ohio, intentionally looks for those in need, though she clearly tries to be subtle and discreet. If she finds out about someone with health or personal problems, Miller doesn’t hesitate to help, even if it’s simply by sending a homemade card.

She uses a software program to create personally appropriate cards. Miller often incorporates a picture of the person or herself into the card’s design.

Vivian Miller by Bruce Stambaugh

Vivian Miller enjoys making personalized cards for people.

When she was unable to go on a cruise with her Sunday School class, Miller knew what to do. Instead of being envious, she made a welcome home card for each member. On the front of the card was the picture of the cruise ship on which the group had sailed.

“I wanted them to have a special memento from their trip,” Miller said.

That statement pretty well sums up Miller’s approach to life. Her doctor told her she would do well with that positive attitude, and Miller has. Miller said it really boils down to a pretty fundamental formula.

“It’s about listening to others,” she said. “Everybody has a story, and all you need to do is listen.”

Miller retired as a deputy director in the Holmes County Treasurer’s office in 2006. She had also worked in the office at Rodhe’s IGA in Millersburg for several years.

“From my vantage point in the office, I would see the same people come into the store over and over,” she said. “They usually just wanted someone to talk to.”

“I try to see the goodness in people,” Miller said, “no matter what their situation is.”

Miller credits her term as a deaconess at Walnut Creek Mennonite Church with giving her the courage and opportunities to be in a helping mode. She did hospital visits and checked in on the less mobile.

Miller looks for every possible way to help and to meet new people. She even works at the polls at times to help expand her circle of friends.

Miller especially has sought out others who have been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. She explained that support, no matter what the issue, is critical for quality of life.

According to the National Institute of Health, Parkinson’s disease is a motor systems disorder, which is the result of the loss of dopamine-producing brain cells. The four primary symptoms of the disease are tremor or trembling in the hands, arms, legs, jaw and face.

Often times the onset of Parkinson’s is due to surgery or a head injury. In Miller’s case, she noticed the symptoms after a series of unrelated surgeries following her retirement.

For Miller, the disease has affected her left side. She discretely calms her left arm with her right hand and continues her conversation. That in itself is a physical sign of the inner awareness that Miller has. She is determined to share her compassion no matter what.

“Sometimes people seek me out,” Miller said, “and sometimes I go to them.”

Each situation is different, and Miller tries her best to be mindful of that. Miller just takes her illness in stride.

“Now it’s my turn to help,” she said. “Some of my best friends have come as the result of just being with families in need.”

Strident comforter that she is to others, Miller recognizes that she, too, needs support to do what she does. Miller credits her husband, Duane, and adult children, Valerie Gerber of Sugarcreek, and Scott Miller of Chapel Hill, North Carolina, with providing the emotional and physical uplifting that she needs to maintain her active and involved pace.

“Duane has been wonderful,” she said, “and Valerie calls me everyday.” Her son sent her a laptop computer while she had an extended stay in the hospital. In part, that gift is what led to Miller’s practice of designing, printing and sending the personalized cards.

“I have been blessed by everyone I have met,” Miller said. Most likely, the recipients of her kindness could say the same thing about her.

This article was initially published in the Holmes Bargain Hunter.

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Weatherwax lends a helping hand

By Bruce Stambaugh

Jill Weatherwax, 59, of Glenmont, Ohio likes to lend a helping hand whenever she can.

Weatherwax, who by day works at Rice-Chadwick Rubber Company in Killbuck, spends several evenings each month helping others feel better. She provides reflexology treatments for residents at area retirement and nursing homes.

Weatherwax has been offering her services to seniors for a dozen years now. In fact, she specifically focuses on the elderly for a personal reason.

“I got into this because I missed my grandparents, Bob and Sally Allison,” the petite woman said. “I felt a void without them around.”

Jill Weatherwax by Bruce Stambaugh

Jill Weatherwax provided reflexology treatments for Esther Miller, a resident of Walnut Hills Retirement Home in Walnut Creek, Ohio.

Weatherwax has easily filled the void all these years with her gentle touches. She is careful to differentiate what she does from that of massage therapy.

Reflexology is considered a complementary touch therapy. Weatherwax gently, but firmly, works with the hands and feet of senior residents at Majora Lane Nursing Home, Sycamore Run Nursing Home, both in Millersburg, and Walnut Hills Retirement Home, Walnut Creek.

Residents who receive her treatments report relief from pain, stiffness, and other maladies.

“I like it because I can sleep better,” Esther Miller said. Miller is a resident at Walnut Hills Retirement Home and said she looks forward to the helpful visits by Weatherwax.

Weatherwax said it is not unusual for residents to report such extended advantages to the reflexology treatments.

“Relaxing the hands and feet improves the circulation,” she said. “Consequently, the entire body is relaxed, which is why some people report being able to sleep better.”

Her visits, which are paid for by the facilities and offered to the residents free of charge, are regularly scheduled at each location. She said she visits Majora Lane twice a week, Sycamore Lane weekly, and Walnut Hills every other week. And she does so after completing her daytime shift at Rice-Chadwick, where she has worked for 33 years.

“I am on my feet for eight-hours a day,” Weatherwax said. “So I know how important taking care of your hands and feet is.”

Weatherwax, who is certified to offer the reflexology services, said that before she works on residents, she gives the facilities’ administrators the opportunity to experience her treatments. That way they know exactly what is happening when she is there, she said.

“After my grandparents passed on, I asked God to do something to help me fill the void,” she said. After the third time of having her own hands and feet treated by a reflexology therapist, she realized she could provide the same services.

She said she knew such services were not offered in the area. “People don’t want to handle other people’s feet,” she said. “But I feel called to do it.”

According to the Farber Family Foundation, reflexology is a unique method of using the thumb and fingers on reflex areas in the feet and hands that correspond to all of the glands, organs and part of the body to elicit areas of potential or actual disorder. Pressure applied to the reflex points promotes better blood flow and nerve impulses, along with other physiological benefits.

Weatherwax began at Majora Lane, and then reached out to the other retirement centers. She actually finds the sessions therapeutic herself.

“The therapy works both ways,” Weatherwax said. “I get to listen to them while I work on their hands and feet, and they get to listen to me.”

“You need to be in tune with the person you are working with,” she said. “You have to be compassionate for each situation. If not, you are going to hurt them.”

Weatherwax’s gentle touch, soft-spoken approach and years of experience help provide positive results for many area seniors. That’s what helping hands are meant to do.

This article first appeared in the Holmes Bargain Hunter, Millersburg, Ohio, August 2, 2010.

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