August 25, 2011

Ordinary People - Extraordinary Activists

I called Melissa Montgomery to thank her for the uplifting evening I was privileged to share with the dedicated and inspiring folks in the South Texas Affiliate of MADD. It was obvious that they are close. I told her I could feel their mutual trust and personally felt invited into their family with open arms.

Melissa replied, "Everyone should be. There is not one person who doesn't want to be doing what we are doing. It is not a job to us. It is a passion for each one of us and we work as a team in whatever we do." What a team they are. They are everyday people doing extraordinary things!

Starting from the left, in the photo you see Angela and R.J. Dittmeier. Angela serves as a victim advocate. She exudes kindness and professionalism. Next to her is Melissa Montgomery with her husband, Thomas, standing behind her. (He says that is his role all of the time.) Melissa is the Victim Services Manager.

Next to Thomas in the back row is Rudy Rodriguez. What a delightful dedicated individual. After retiring from law enforcement, Rudy now continues his care of protecting us through the Take the Wheel Program. I am standing between Melissa and Dorene Ocamb, National MADD's brilliant and delightful marketing and communications specialist. Melissa said of Dorene, "I really like her. She is honest and dedicated and real." I agree!

Nicholas Cheatam is devoting his college semester as an intern with MADD. How lucky they are to have him. On the right is Carlos, who teaches humanities at Northwest Vista College. He was there with Nicholas and immediately expressed his desire to connect MADD with his students to help them learn the benefits of community service.

The picture is missing two very important persons in this MADD family. Carly Johnson is their gracious and very competant volunteer coordinator, and my friend, Executive Director Jennifer Northway, their illustrious leader. Jennifer made sure that in her absence I was able to spend time with her Southwest Texas MADD family.

Thank you, Jennifer. I send my thanks to each of you for devoting yourselves to helping others through MADD - be it supporting those victimized by drunk driving, or working to save lives and prevent underage drinking.

Warmly, Jan Withers
MADD National President

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