Readers Take Action

Fred Phelps Helps Family
I'd like to tell you about something positive Fred Phelps (“Debating Hate,” Summer 2003) has done for our family. One Sunday morning, about two years ago, I was sitting on our couch, watching a live TV news story in which Fred Phelps and his followers were terrorizing a church just a few blocks up the street from our apartment. Something about what I was watching didn't seem right to me.

I asked myself: Did these people really know God better than the faithful inside the church? Did God really want people to disrupt church services? Then the big question hit me: Did God really want me to sit on a couch watching people disrupting church services?

I asked my husband if he would be interested in returning to church. He was very interested. (For me, it was the end of an absence of more than 20 years. For my husband Phillip, it had been more than  ten years.) We are now active members of an open and affirming neighborhood church—a church that feeds our neighbors instead of shouting at them.

Paul Dexter, Seattle, Washington

The Riverkeeper's Song
The article “Restoring Nature,Restoring Yourself” (YES!, Spring 2003) spoke to me about issues of heroism, struggle, and rebirth. I was inspired by the actions of John Beal to write and record a song, titled “The Riverkeeper.”

I mailed a copy of the song to Mr. Beal and he was quite moved to be honored in this way. I have scheduled a time to meet with him and tour the Duwamish River on his boat to get a better idea of his mission. In addition, I'll perform “The Riverkeeper” for a group of Concord Elementary School students with whom he is currently doing salmon restoration work.

Patrick Daugherty, Mercer Island, Washington

Educators Totally Committed
Every first Friday of February since 1988, a group of employees in my town known as Educators Totally Committed (ETC) has addressed the ongoing needs of the poor with ongoing efforts. Our focus is to make our school comunities aware of people in need and take action.

School personnel in both the Kenmore-Town of Tonawonda and the Clarence school districts call attention to the plight of the less fortunate, involve students in a socially relevant project, and raise funds for organizations that care for the poor in the western New York area by sponsoring an annual sleepout to collect donations of cash, food clothing, personal care, and household items.

Sleeping out means staying outdoors in cardboard refrigerator boxes and obtaining as many sponsors as possible who pledge cash donations. Students participate in a manner appropriate to their grade level, from making contributions to actually sleeping out. The first Friday of February is designated for the event because of the sharp drop in charitable donations after the holiday season. To date, more than a third of a million dollars has been collected and distributed to those in need.

Stephen Ash, North Tonawanda, New York

Acting Globally
Communities on every continent are asking for our help in their struggles to protect valuable ecosystems, biological diversity, and the health and safety of their land, air, and water. Our voices, joining theirs, can persuade government and corporate officials to stop environmentally destructive projects and make environmentally sound decisions. Global Response supports local communities' struggles for environmental protection by asking members to write letters to key decision makers.

At the request of indigenous peoples and grassroots organizations, Global Response researches, writes, and distributes action bulletins to members around the world. Each action bulletin describes an environmental threat, tells how local communities are organizing, and asks members to write letters.

People of all ages can join Global Response and participate in letter-writing campaigns. Global Response issues Action Bulletins for three age groups: adults, teens, and children grades 3-8. Many church youth groups and classes write letters as part of their community service activities. For more information, go to, call 303/444-0306, or write to Global Response at P.O. Box 7490, Boulder, CO 80306.

Paula Palmer
Program Director, Global Response


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