Sometimes we have hero's living right in our own neighborhood. Living down the street from me is such a hero! Helene has been a part of our family's life for such a long time. She taught my kids German and every Christmas Eve for several years, she came and told us stories about what it was like growing up in Germany and being so poor and hungry, they would eat sawdust just to keep the hunger pains away.
Both of Helene's parents were Americans, but they were so absorbed in their work as scientists, that when she was born, Helene was sent to Germany to be raised by her Grandmother.
Photo: cousin, Helene, Grandmother
When she was 11 years old (1938), due to the impending war in Europe (WWII), Helene's parents brought her back to the United States and put her in a Catholic Convent. Here she was raised by the Nuns and received an excellent education. She's made the comment several times, that this was a happy and healthy time for her. (When she arrived in the USA, she was suffering from malnutrition.)
Photo: Mother, Father, Helen when they brought her to USA
After leaving the Convent, she pursued her education and joined the Army as a Bio Chemist. At one point she was allowed to do research at John Hopkins University School of Medicine. The nations #1 Medical School. She also married a Navy man and had 2 children.
While she and her husband were stationed at Panama Canal (they didn't have children yet), she was introduced to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints by their neighbors. She was baptized while still in Panama, her husband joined the church after they returned to the United States.
As long as I've known Helene, she has been a vounteer for the American Red Cross. During this time she developed Rheumatoid Arthritis. When she could no longer travel, she did her volunteer work from home. A few years ago, she receive the prestigious Clara Barton Award for distinguished service.
According to Wikipedia, this is what's required to receive the Clara Barton Award:
The Clara Barton Honor Award is the highest award the American Red Cross bestows on volunteers. It recognizes meritorious service in volunteer leadership positions held over a period of years. Recipients of the award are inducted into the Clara Barton Honor Society.
The award demands leadership positions in each of the Red Cross's main departments:
Health and Safety Services
Armed Forces Emergency Services
Poetry also plays an important part in Helene's life. She has published 3 books of poetry and received several awards for her work. I have her first volume and can testify that she has a depth of feeling and vision that is beautiful and heartfelt.
Through her poetry you come to feel her joys and heartaches, her trials and blessings.
Even though, Helene's parents never had time to take care of her while she was growing up, she brought them into her home when they were elderly and cared for them.