Dorothy and Fletcher Jones had a farm in Wisconsin in the 1940s. When not harvesting his crops, Fletcher taught in the agricultural college at the University of Wisconsin. Dorothy worked as a school teacher. They retired in their mid 50s, threw caution to the wind, and created a new life for themselves in the Near East. Their first assignment was in Amman, Jordan. After a brief stint there, they were reassigned to Kabul in Afghanistan in 1956. In Kabul, Fletcher taught Afghan tribesmen how to grow wheat while Dorothy founded several schools for women.
I begin with the Jones’s story because in many ways it is similar to their granddaughter Pam Anderson’s story. Pam graduated from Boston College Law School. Following her graduation, she practiced law, specializing in health care and corporate cases. She soon became a partner in her firm.
Although she found the practice of law challenging and rewarding, there was something missing. This void was filled 20 years ago when she met and became close friends with a wealthy Pakistani family who funded charities in Pakistan dealing with eye care, health care generally and women’s education. Slowly, over time, Pam began doing pro bono legal work for these charities.
Today, she has retired from her law practice and works full time helping to start nonprofits in the United States that funnel money back to Pakistan to educate women and provide eye care. Impaired eye sight in a poor country is a death sentence because you are unable to work. By removing cataracts you can change a person’s life. The charities Pam has worked to fund have performed twenty-four million cataract operations free of charge.
The animation in Pam’s face as she told me her story said it all. She clearly loves giving back in a small way and working to make Pakistan a better place. The Joneses, her grandparents, would certainly be proud.
Last Saturday there was a reception at the East Chop Tennis Club to celebrate the lives of Biff and Proctor Cooper. It was a sad occasion made lovely by the presence of so many Coopers. Jeanne, Biff’s wife, was there with their two sons Stephen and Andrew as was Proctor’s widow, Jen, and their two children. Biff’s brother Duncan and his sister Amy Reese were also in attendance. What was so impressive was the resilience and strength of this wonderful family after so much tragedy. They were the ones spreading cheer at the reception.
Finally, for the last six weeks I have taken our granddog Tucker swimming every morning. One silver lining in this routine has been the fascinating people I have encountered at six in the morning. One of those people is Howard Sashin. Howard walks his dog every morning with a large trash bag under his arm. He begins at the Yacht Club and eventually walks the entire beach picking up trash along the way. If you happen to run into him, please thank him. Like Pam, Howard thinks of his efforts as giving back in a small way. He has been a full-time Vineyard resident for the past 30 years, thinks of our Island as a beautiful place, and wants to do his part to keep it that way.