When Jasmyn Pope was born 3 1/2 years ago with the often-fatal birth defect known as spina bifida, her parents, Monica and Regi Pope of Hawthorne, were told they had two choices.
"We could have left her spine open, she would have eventually gotten an infection and would probably have died," her mother recalled. "We chose the other alternative, to have her spine closed by a neurosurgeon and a plastic surgeon. It was done when she was 12 hours old, and she was in two hospitals for 4 1/2 months before she came home."
Today, not only is Jasmyn able to walk with braces and a walker, but her mother said she gets high scores on intelligence tests and shows artistic talents.
"I take her three times a week by taxi to Orthopaedic Hospital for therapy," Monica Pope said. "I have two younger children also, and I need a minivan, because my husband uses our car to get to work."
Orthopaedic Hospital has pioneered care and treatment of spina bifida. With the help of this, plus the girl's own determination and joy of being alive, she has beaten the odds.
Who better, thus, than Jasmyn Pope to be United Way's first "campaign ambassador." She has been the center of attraction at festivities as United Way's 1987-88 campaign begins its six-month fund-raising drive--one of the many reasons for the new campaign's theme of "Get Change for Your Dollars."
Not Just Passing the Buck
Downtown Los Angeles workers will be asked for a handout this week--$1 each for the homeless on Skid Row.
The first Downtown Dollar Days, to be held Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, is the brainchild of Pamela Boucher, a 32-year-old leasing agent for area developers Westgroup Inc. who plans to make it an annual event.
After visiting Skid Row in January, Boucher told a friend: "It's really sad. We live in one of the richest cities in the world and here are all these homeless people. We go downtown in our nice cars and then go back to our nice houses and don't have to live with it, so we can ignore it." If everybody working downtown could just give a buck, Boucher concluded, "we could make a big difference."
Boucher decided to go for it. She enlisted the help of friends and co-workers "so all the funds raised will go directly to downtown programs for the homeless," specifically the Downtown Women's Center, Las Familias del Pueblo, Chrysalis Center, Los Angeles Men's Place and 9th Street School Foundation.
City officials have loaned blue barrels to use as collection bins and 700 students from the Fashion Institute and USC will oversee the bins and deliver envelopes to the 27 corporations and office buildings participating. The city also will include donation envelopes with all employee payroll checks that week.
"This gives every person an easy and inexpensive way to make a difference," said Boucher. "Collectively we can raise a lot."
Answering Her Call in Mexico
She has had four heart attacks and undergone heart surgery requiring five bypasses, but Ruth Marquez continues to work six days a week helping residents of poor, mountain villages outside Tijuana.
Marquez, 60, of San Ysidro, has been providing food, clothing and housing for the four villages for 19 years. She has also helped build a church that seats 500 and serves as a kitchen and dining area for residents.
A missionary for the Church of God in Christ, Marquez said she thought of Mexico as "a place to go eat tacos and Mexican food" before she felt called to go there 19 years ago.
When she arrived in the villages, she recalled, "it was very, very poor. . . . I remember the women coming to meetings with the same shoes, the same dress. They'd be very clean. They'd wash the dresses."
When she first saw the villagers' houses, Marquez said, "one of them was made of walls of old carpets. There are some better homes now, but there are still a lot of shacks."
Marquez said food is still the first priority for the villages. She buys beans, rice, lard, oil, and flour from donated money whenever she can. She does not intend to leave the villages soon.
"As long as I can move, as long as I can breathe, as long as there is no pain, I think I'll continue," she said. "I'll probably die with a microphone in my hand telling the people that there's hope and there's a better life for them. I live for the people of Mexico."
A True Peak Experience
Atop Annapurna IV in Nepal is a snowy little dome maybe 20 feet square from which you can see 300 miles on a clear day. That's just what Tim Schinhofen of El Toro did last month on the birthday of his Sherpa guide, Pemba Norbu.
Schinhofen and Norbu became the first climbers ever to scale the north face of the 24,682-foot high Himalayan peak. They were part of a seven-member team of Southern California alpinists who spent a month in Nepal.
"The north face is extremely difficult," said team leader Steve Brimmer, 37, chief sound engineer at Disney Studios in Burbank. "It involves a lot of vertical ice climbing, a lot of exposure. There are only a couple of ridges along the face you can get on to get out of avalanche chutes."
But from the base camp at 15,500 feet to the top of the mountain took just 10 days, not the 30 or so the team had expected, Brimmer said.
Schinhofen, 34, an AT&T; communications executive, and Norbu set out from Base Camp 3 at 23,000 feet at 6 a.m. on Oct. 10, planning to make part of the 1,682-foot ascent, camp and then climb on the next day. Instead, they pressed on, reaching the summit about 3 p.m.
"I was so tired and exhausted (upon reaching the summit) that it was hard to be elated and jump up and down and realize what we'd accomplished," Schinhofen said in a telephone interview from Katmandu a few days after the ascent.
The pair spent about 20 minutes at the top, enjoying vistas deep into Tibet, and taking photographs before beginning their descent. How hard was it? They battled not just thin air but winds of 40 m.p.h. and temperatures that Brimmer estimates fell to 15 degrees below Fahrenheit once the sun set.