PUBLISHED: 4:10 PM on Wednesday, December 5, 2007
Finding an unexpected blessing
Recently I had the opportunity to assist a gentleman who had lost his boat on Thanksgiving Day when it sank in Auke Bay at Statter Harbor. As a Red Cross volunteer I provided assistance, but as an individual, was granted a blessing.

Tom Carpenter and his friendly feline Princess lost their home when it sank at 7:30 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 22. The American Red Cross was notified and we provided temporary lodging, food and clothing to Carpenter.

As I assisted him, I learned that he had once been a science teacher at Marie Drake, and since my husband is an educator I immediately found common ground with Carpenter.

I spent most of that day with this man who had lost everything, but was grateful for anything, and in the process found unity within a small community through organizational and individual assistance.

I would like to express a heartfelt "thank you" to the Coast Guard Cutter Liberty for their provision of warm clothing and blankets along with other items of comfort. Thank you to Carol Young, manager at Deharts for her sharing of a Thanksgiving meal with Carpenter and her continued care and offer of hope.

Thank you to Jon Stetsen who works tiressly to assist folks in need, such as Carpenter; he extends the spirit and warmth of the holiday season year round. I would also like to thank the Super 8 Hotel for providing a discounted rate so that Carpenter's stay could be extended.

Each one of these agencies and individuals, including myself, have found a friend in Carpenter, and I have had the opportunity to see first hand the need for our community's elderly to be remembered and cared for.

I have had the opportunity to see Carpenter often since Thanksgiving Day, and I have been incredibly blessed to have his company. A cup of coffee or lunch turns into a history lesson for me and offers Carpenter companionship.

So where is the unexpected blessing? It's in looking past my own needs and looking towards someone else that in their own way provides prospective to everything around me and in every situation that I come upon. It's in the recognition of how blessed I am with family and friends, and how humbled I am in recognizing that those things I have thought so important, in the big picture, turn out to be not so important after all.

So in this season of giving, in this season that is inspiration for joy, peace and love why not look to someone else who needs the spirit of warmth and caring of another.

Find out who in your neighborhood may not have the opportunity to share the holidays with family or friends or consider visiting a shelter or assisted living program to offer a few hours of joy to someone else.

In doing so I promise that you will not walk away without receiving a blessing of your own.

Linda Wahl is a Juneau resident and American Red Cross volunteer.