PUBLISHER A Generous Community by Judy Hodgson

North Coast Journal


A generous community

by Judy Hodgson, editor and publisher

In all my years of reporting (all of them in Humboldt County), I have never ceased to marvel at the generosity of the local community, especially in light of our socio-economic conditions. When I read or hear about some enormously ambitious project, like the Hospice building on Myrtle Avenue in Eureka, I always shake my head and say, "How did they do that?"

I said it so many times, we finally decided it might make a good cover story. We think you'll agree.

I had an early start to my own modest fund-raising career. I was probably 5 or 6 and my older sister was in Brownies. As we went door-to-door to peddle cookies, we soon discovered that if she shoved me up to the door first while she waited on the sidewalk ready to close the sale, we had pretty good results. Who could say no to a 5-year-old cookie seller?

Later -- I was probably 10 or 11 -- I remember collecting money around my neighborhood to fight childhood diseases such as leukemia. (I didn't even know what leukemia was.)

I apparently did very well with my collections because I won a prize, a ticket to a live show of movie stars emceed by Danny Thomas. The amazing thing, as I look back, is that I raised the money in a poor neighborhood, an L.A. suburb called El Monte, currently in the news for harboring illegal garment industry workers in sweatshops.

Years later I did the mom-thing with 4-H, PTA, and raising money for playground equipment for the school. As my children got older, my fund-raising career lapsed. That is, until recently when a friend asked if I would serve on the St. Joseph Hospital Foundation Board.

I agreed when I heard what particular projects St. Joe's was working on: the establishment of a heart institute here on the North Coast and the Kris Kelly Resource Center, an information center to be housed in the new county library for patients and families to research current medical literature. Both are very ambitious projects and both very much needed.

P.S.: As work on the cover story progressed, we realized that the real story is not necessarily the county's big donors, but the people who beat the bushes to raise the millions it takes to say, build a new county library or fund a heart institute. People like Liz Murguia, who says her friends don't even want to take her phone calls any more for fear of having to buy a ticket. And Muriel Dinsmore, a former reporter who became a premiere fund raiser for College of the Redwoods. And people like Bruce Emad and John Burke (if you see them coming, hang on to your wallet).

There are also pitfalls about a story so broad in scope. Many people were undoubtedly left out. If you know of someone who should have been mentioned, please take a few minutes and drop us a note about the person and their contributions. We'll print the letters in our next edition.

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