Monday, May 6, 2013

Thanks to all who came to our Earth Day~Tab Night Program on April 22nd!  It was a phenomenal success!  Below is an article written for the TJ.  Enjoy!  

Library's Tab Night Refuels Shriners
Erika Schmid

Schoharie Free Library celebrated Earth Day Monday night with a unique blend of environmentalism and community service. Since 2009 the library has been collecting pull tabs for Shriners Hospitals for Children in Springfield, MA in honor of patient, and lower limb amputee, Jubilee Schmid. As part of the library's Earth Day programming a tab collection night was planned as well as a program presented by Shriners John Minozzi, Associate Member of the Board of Governors, Jerry Divendorf, Donald Bond, Jack Norray, and Richard Huntermark all members of the Cyprus Shrine which was chartered in 1877 in Albany.

“The only thing I can say is that Shriners is a place where miracles happen,” John Minozzi began as he shared about the program.

Newly elected to the Board of Governors, Mr. Minozzi has been making several visits to the hospital to meet with the doctors, patients and staff. “One day I got lost, and Dr. D. (Dr. David Drvaric), the chief-of-staff, found me and walked me right to where I needed to go. What other hospital can you to to where a chief-of-staff does such things?”

Mr. Minozzi went on to explain how Shriners has 22 hospitals in the United States that are funded through private donations and fundraising. The very tabs that the library was collecting were going to be used to help fuel the vans that transport patients to their Springfield hospital. “Every single hospital we have built is exactly the same, and we treat patients regardless of their ability to pay,” he shared. “I cannot walk into the hospital without shedding a tear.”

At the close of his presentation the floor was opened for a Q&A session. One participant inquired about how the tab program worked. Jack Norray, a Shriner from Glenmont, shared pictures with the audience of 55 gallon drums filled with pull tabs. “Each one of these containers is filled with enough tabs to fuel a van round trip to Shriners. One drum holds 80 pounds of tabs,” he explained.

The next set of pictures showed pick-up trucks filled with tabs from a school in the Capitol District area whose goal it was to fill one pick-up truck with tabs for Shriners. “They filled two!” Mr. Norray replied proudly.

Another audience member was amazed at how she had never heard of such a wonderful institution. “For many years we confess we have hidden our light under a bushel,” Jerry Divendorf admitted. “We are currently remedying that. We have begun advertising, and of course you can see us in parades. In fact I am one of the Shriners who drives the cars you see in the parades.”

All Shriners are volunteers and donate their time and energy to help support the hospital from marching in parades, to driving the vans, to helping man the visitor desk at the hospital. In fact, Richard Huntermark spends a great deal of time woodworking and making projects for the hospitals which can be seen by the patients upon their visits.

Donald Bond, a Cobleskill resident and president of the Schoharie County Shrine Club, is a van driver who recently made his 80th trip to the hospital. However, it is not just to Springfield where he is asked to drive. Other trips have included shuttling patients to Shriners hospitals in Boston where they have a burn center, and Philadelphia as well. “In all of my time as a driver,” he began, “I have never heard a child cry.”

The goal of the Shriners is to make their hospitals a home away from home for children who go through, for many, a life time of procedures. “Some of these children come into the programs when they are babies,” Mr Minozzi explained, “and are with us until they are twenty-one. I was there the other day when a young woman was graduating out of the program and had come to receive her records. It was very emotional. She was saying good-bye to people who had been her family.”

Mr. Minozzi continues to explain that children are referred into the Shriners program by a local Shriner. They then have an assessment to see if their medical condition is treatable by the hospital. Once this is completed the child is entered into the program where they receive treatment regardless of their ability to pay until the age of 21.

At the conclusion of the Q&A a video montage of testimonials of patients was shared followed by the ceremonial filling of the thirty gallon trash can. Jubilee Schmid received the donated tabs and began to pour them into the can. When it was seen that there was more than she could fill on her own other children from the audience were called in to assist.

The library received word from Shriners on Friday that fifty pounds of tabs were collected on Earth Day, enough to put enough fuel into the van for a one way trip. “It took two people to load the tabs into the pick-up truck,” Director Cathy Caiazzo said. “Fifty pounds of tabs made their way out of the library! That is just phenomenal!”

Schoharie Free Library continues to be a collection center for pull tabs and welcomes residents of Schoharie to drop off their tabs any time during library hours. The library also has literature on Shriners Hospitals and information on how to refer a child. Shriners Hospital in Springfield specializes in Orthopaedic, Cleft Lip/Palate and Rheumatological care. You can also learn more at

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