Monday, June 30, 2014

With a Little Help from Their Friends

Julie and Alden Lanphear
I've written uncounted obituaries in my time as a reporter, but there is one that sticks out in my mind -- the one for Alden Lanphear.

I remember it not because it was particularly well written, but because of the person I was writing about.

Alden died in 2011, at the age of 74, after a lifetime of helping others.

For 39 years, he was the executive director of Woodrock Inc., the non-profit organization that brought urban youth from Philadelphia to Fellowship Farm in Limerick.

He was also tapped to keep the Cluster Outreach Center going as interim director when they were undergoing a (successful) change in leadership.

Knowing Alden for years, as a result of covering organizations with which he was involved, I also got to know his wife Julie very well.

In fact, there was little Alden did that Julie was not also intimately connected with. They were a real team.

And beyond those they helped in the community, that included their family, two sons and five daughters.

One of those daughters, Jody, has cerebral palsy and lives in a facility that cares for her in Media.
Jody on an outing.

But Julie and Jody's siblings visit often and take her home or on outings -- or at least they did, until the handicapped van they used to transport Jody went "kaput," as Michael Lanphear wrote on 

That's where he and his family are trying to raise $10,000 to buy a replacement van, which they have identified.

"Jody is 40 years old with cerebral palsy, which has left her wheel-chair bound, but for us and those who know Jody, we know that this chick likes to get out and do her thing," Michael wrote on the site.

"My Mom -Julie Lanphear is now the sole caretaker of my sister Jody," Debi Rutkowski, Jody's sister, wrote to me in an e-mail. "Her van just died and now she has no way to get Jody home for short visits or even on an outing from the facility she lives in."

I have written a few appeals before. 

I'm a little wary as The Mercury has been scammed at least twice that I know of by people who claimed to have needs, problems and even diseases they didn't have.

But I know the Lanphears and that is not the case here.

I also know all the help the Lanphears offered to others, which made them very happy, did not make them rich.

So it is without reservation that I ask for anyone who is so inclined to make a contribution on the funding site the family has set up through -- -- and make a contribution if you can, so Julie can bring her daughter home.

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