Forum, Dec. 7: A Shining Light in Her Community

Thursday, December 06, 2018
A Shining Light in Her Community

I write with sadness of the passing of Mary Dalton, of Brownsville, on Nov. 21 at age 98, and also to celebrate her life. I met her 20 years ago when I moved to Windsor to begin a job with Volunteers in Action, an interfaith neighbor-helping-neighbor program.

The list of Dalton’s community service and volunteer activities is long and inspiring. She delivered Meals on Wheels into her 90s, worked on community suppers, participated in the life of two different churches, trained as a volunteer chaplain and visited residents in two nursing home. She served as a driver for Volunteers in Action, as a Girl Scout leader and attended meetings of the Episcopal Diocese of Vermont.

As a volunteer coordinator, I always loved those like Dalton, who would take on almost any assignment assuming that it was possible to fit it into her schedule. As I approached my retirement from Volunteers in Action, I sought out a group of women to talk with about the joys and challenges of retirement. Mary Dalton was one of the first people I called to join in this discussion.

I note with interest that early in her career, she worked in a settlement house in Cincinnati. Upon learning this, I wanted to say “alleluia” for her long life of giving and service to others, while at the same time feeling great sadness that her ethic of helping neighbors, and thereby building stronger communities, seems to be rapidly disappearing from our society. No amount of texting can possibly replace the Mary Daltons of our society, who (with joy) rolled up their sleeves and did the hard work of helping those in need.

I am honored to have known and worked with Mary Dalton — a shinning light in our community. I know that light perpetual will shine upon her as her light in life shone on so many people.

Margaret A. Campbell

West Lebanon

Thanks for Thanksgiving Support

On behalf of the Mascoma Valley Ecumenical Council, as the 2018 coordinator, I must give thanks to the Mascoma Valley community for the immense support given to the 103 families served with boxes of food and turkeys or chickens during this year’s “Thanksgiving Ingathering.” Hundreds of people were involved, including those who delivered bags with food, the Boy Scouts who walked miles or waited in the cold for the bags to be brought to them, the people who delivered boxes to those without transportation, and each church that sent volunteers to pack the boxes.

I am warmly grateful for the diligent, caring team on the council, which worked for hours behind the scenes and on the ground at Enfield Methodist to sort, pack, label and be sure everyone got food for their Thanksgiving meal. We have an amazing community of volunteers who truly care about each other and who have given tirelessly of their time for the past few months. Each did something to make this truly a community-helping-community event.

Cheryl Sisson

Danbury, N.H.

Seductive Power of Smartphones

In reference to the opinion column by Jason Feifer of The Washington Post (“Fear of New Technology Usually Unjustified,” Dec. 3): I am by no means technophobic. I embrace my MacBook, use it for emailing friends, writing and researching the wonders of the internet, YouTube, etc. My concern is about the quantum leap that seems to have occurred with smartphones.

The seductive power of these devices is such that, if you have lunch with smartphone-owning friends, they may often choose their phones over conversation with you. I’ve seen sightseers fixated on their phones instead taking in the beauties of Paris or the glories of turning leaves. Smartphones are so seductive, with their bells and whistles, that we may forget that each of us has only one life to live on this planet. Unless we decide to be truly present in the moment, listen to the birds sing, take in the beauties around us, we are settling for a secondhand life. What a tragic waste.

Even worse, insofar as we are living vicariously, in technologically enhanced distraction, we risk not caring enough about this planet — our unique, dear spaceship Earth, which human impact has already ruined, perhaps beyond repair. If we do not wake up, as a species, it may soon be too late to see many of the wonders of Earth — except on a smartphone.

Margaret Brightman


A Pilgrimage for Book Lovers

I read in the Valley News that, according to Lyme novelist W.D. Wetherell, the town of Hanover will be “intellectually barren” when the Dartmouth Bookstore closes (“Literature Needs an Infrastructure and the Valley’s Is Crumbling,” Nov. 30).

My deepest sympathies extend to the people of Hanover and their coming dearth of a place to acquire knowledge. What I might suggest for those in need of intellectual stimulation is that they hie themselves across the river into the town of Norwich. There you will find, tucked into a quiet corner of this pretty town, a haven when in need of peace, an eclectic collection of truly marvelous books to delight the senses and, in Shakespeare’s own words, a “demi-paradise.”

The Norwich Bookstore has been all of the above for me during the 24 years it has been open. I beg Hanover residents, and anyone from anywhere, to make a pilgrimage to this very special place. You will find yourselves, as I do, returning there again and again.

Rosalind Finn

South Strafford

Put Another Adult on the Bus

I note that there have been a number of articles and letters in the Valley News about school bus problems. An important point that is missing is the assumption that a bus driver can safely drive the bus while his or her mind and eyes are responsible for 65-plus youngsters. It is ridiculous and dangerous.

As a former school bus driver, teacher, administrator and school board member, I feel qualified to suggest that there should be another adult on the bus at all times. This could be reasonably accomplished through the school budget for a paid, qualified adult.

Martin Smit

Newbury, Vt.