The end-of-year holiday season is an emotional time for many, and this one is proving no different in the generous hearts of many, but with a deep touch of sadness for some families.
Norm Reformat was brought to tears as he witnessed the results of a tremendous volunteer effort to repair his partly finished bungalow on South Blossom Street in Elma.
Members of his Crossroads Christian Church and longtime friends have a special appreciation for the 51-year-old single father. Reformat is a regular volunteer with youth projects and does home repairs for people in need at the church he attends. They wanted to give back during his own time of need.
Reformat’s plans to refurbish his home were delayed due to kidney disease and subsequent dialysis treatments. The response from friends, along with the Christian Youth Corps and other volunteers, was immediate as they flocked to Reformat’s house to do repairs. As reported, the work begun two weeks ago coincided with a small heart attack that sent him to the hospital just as he was adjusting to a kidney transplant.
Reformat insisted he doesn’t deserve this kind of treatment, but it seems that he does. The same is true in the case of another heartwarming holiday story in which the community has so far donated money to the Response to Love Center on Kosciuszko Street.
The center, which had only purchased its building from St. Adalbert’s Church for $125,000 three weeks earlier, had a spot of bad news. The center’s boiler broke nearly 24 hours before a Thanksgiving dinner planned for 300 people. Members of the community responded to a potential $75,000 repair by quickly donating what they could, even if it meant $5, as did one woman believed to be living on Social Security Disability. The note of apology she left because she couldn’t give more was hardly necessary.
Whether $5, $20 or, as in the overwhelming surprise donation from one couple of $25,000, the gifts were delivered in time for the holidays and now the total donations stand at more than $57,000.
The world isn’t always kind, of course, and there were tragedies and even horrors last week. Levi Clayton’s family and his East Side community have gathered around the 96-year-old after he was badly beaten by three home invaders Saturday evening. Clayton is a deacon at his church, a pillar of the community and a World War II veteran who was an infantryman in Europe. Anyone with information has an obligation to step forward.
And two separate shocking events involved babies – a 2-year-old was shot in the face while in a car with her father in Niagara Falls and a 7-month-old girl was killed when a Town of Brant woman, later charged with vehicular manslaughter and drunken driving, crashed into the car the infant was riding in.
Even in tragedy, though, the full hearts of Western New Yorkers are much in evidence, as family, friends and even strangers have rushed to help.
It is natural, perhaps, to focus more attention on deviations from civility, and it may even be necessary. Today, though, we are content to give more attention to those whose acts of kindness and giving, especially during trying and tragic times, are what every season, not just the holidays, should always be about. We are fortunate, indeed, to have such an abundance of those individuals in our corner of the world.