The T-shirt Boge Gebre wore for running in the Culver City Western Hemisphere Marathon last Sunday read, “If my people can walk 400 miles, barefoot, hungry & sick, I’ll run 26 miles to help them. Will you help Ethiopian children?”
Her people are from famine-ravaged Ethiopia. And although when she came to this country in 1977 to be treated for a back injury she was told she would never resume normal physical activities, she did run 26 miles.
“It was wonderful,” she said later. “I ran. I surprised myself and finished in less than four hours. I think there was a certain thing pushing me. I wasn’t running for competition. I was running for a cause.”
Gebre is a health planner and a founder of Parents International Ethiopia, a local organization that promotes self-help projects in Ethiopia. Currently they are planning a children’s center for Ethiopia that will provide relief and rehabilitation to 500 orphaned children “who have nowhere to go,” Gebre said after the race. “They have to be reintegrated back to society.”
It won’t be an orphanage per se, Gebre said, but a place that will teach health, agricultural and cottage industry skills.
“We have to develop human as well as material resources, otherwise all the money that goes into projects amounts to nothing. There’s no one who can maintain them,” she said.
Sponsors pledged about $2,000 in advance, she said. Now she is hoping she has generated enough good will to bring more donors forth. Those interested in the children’s center may call Parents International at (213) 452-5188 or contact the office at 2258 31st St., Suite 203, Santa Monica, Calif. 90405.
A Place in the Summit
Among those in Geneva for the swirl of activity that surrounded the summit meeting between Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev were three Los Angeles women, Assemblywoman Maxine Waters, Lila Garrett of Southern California Freeze Voter and the Hollywood Women’s Political Committee, and Linda Palevsky, representing Plowshares, a San Francisco-based foundation that funds efforts to reduce the threat of nuclear war.
They were part of a delegation of 35 women, an ad hoc coalition formed in August called Women for a Meaningful Summit. According to Palevsky, who returned from Geneva last week, their purpose was to raise expectations for substantial results from the summit, namely a mutually verifiable moratorium on nuclear testing on the earth and in space, and an agreement between the two superpowers to negotiate with the United Kingdom for a comprehensive test ban treaty.
They went seeking meetings with Reagan and Gorbachev. Three of their members were granted an interview with a U.S. undersecretary of state, Palevsky said, whereas Gorbachev received the whole delegation. Nevertheless, the summit did not come close to their goals.
It was still worth going, Palevsky said.
“The results of the summit are not what made us optimistic,” she said. “Not enough was done on arms control. We expected more. We do expect more. We came out of this realizing we have to work harder.”
Santa and Your Pet
Just when it seems there is nothing new in the fund-raising world, which of course has as its capital Greater Los Angeles, Martha Wyss and her co-volunteers at the Animal Alliance have come along with something innovative: “Picture Your Pet With Santa.”
At three separate sessions during the month of November pet owners and their cats, dogs, birds and rabbits gathered at Marcella’s Hotel for Dogs and Cats in West Los Angeles for a photo session with Santa Claus volunteer Sherman Figland. Alliance volunteer Gayle Bloom estimated at least 150 people paid $20 for the 5x7 color print and two wallet-size photos.
“It was really funny,” Bloom said, describing the pets that arrived dressed for the holidays with bells and tinsel, or with stuffed animals. “The dogs were fantastic, and so were the cats for that matter. People are just funny, as well as animals. It was an unusual day to say the least.”
The organization will be photographing pets with Santa again next year. In the meantime, those interested in the nonprofit agency and its work can write Animal Alliance, 2265 Westwood Blvd., Box 636, Los Angeles 90064 or call Martha Wyss at (213) 475-3331.
Food for the Homeless
When Ron Miller, a 15-year-old student at South Hills High School in West Covina and member of Boy Scout Troop 443, needed a project for his Eagle badge, he decided to collect food for the homeless.
He read an article about the Union Rescue Mission in downtown Los Angeles and figured that would be the place he’d help. He contacted the mission. Jim Martin, director of food service there, who describes himself as “always grateful for whatever help people can give,” thanked Ron and figured privately that “a couple cases of this; a couple cases of that” might arrive.
That was four weeks ago. Tuesday night Miller arrived with what he estimated to be his 30th truckload and ninth ton of food--namely the hams, turkeys, potatoes and cranberries that companies he had written earlier now had ready for him.
“You can carry your (Eagle) project as far as you want. This one just kind of grew,” Miller commented.
Miller started out in Santa Ynez, contacting growers through the Chamber of Commerce. A local Scout troop helped him pick up the two tons of apples and pumpkins. Freight companies delivered the food to the mission free of charge. Next came more fruits and vegetables from Yucaipa, frozen juices from Ontario, eggs from Pomona.
The food was more than Union Rescue could process, Martin said, and the mission shared the wealth with “12 or 13 missions. We spread it out citywide.”