Heidi Allen’s sister writes about coping with loss

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Lisa Buske, left, and her younger sister, Heidi Allen
By Lisa Buske
On April 3, 1994, Heidi M. Allen, opened the D &W Convenience store in New Haven, NY by herself.
Instead of leaving at the end of her shift, she was abducted and remains missing today.
Many relate to the parent’s loss after the abduction of a child because this resonates to the core of family. You don’t have to be a parent to understand the impact this loss has because we all have parents and know how we would feel to lose them, the impact when the role is reversed is more intense, heart breaking, and life changing.
As the sister to one of America’s missing, I’ve seen the toll it takes on the parents, family, friends and community. Of course the family suffers the greatest loss, yet the pain and after effect is felt farther than anyone may realize. Many lives are changed forever after the abduction of one child or adult.
The family’s focus is more internal initially, our bodies enter survival mode. Sleep isn’t possible. Overeating or lack of eating is common. An inability to focus for more than a moment makes daily tasks difficult. The poor nourishment, lack of sleep, and stress induced brain freeze can even trigger mental and physical disabilities, preventing the family from returning to their daily routines.
There is a void left in the community as they accept the tragedy. The challenge is to move forward without paralyzing yourself, children, and neighborhood with fear of the unknown.
A common and natural thought is “I can’t do this. How can I survive this loss?”
Our thoughts have the ability to take us captive. It’s a choice each member of the family must make, to accept defeat or keep fighting, like we imagine our loved ones did…to survive. Twenty years later, we still wrestle with the loss of Heidi yet with the help of God and each other, we are stronger and more determined to make sure
Heidi is never forgotten and others know it’s possible to survive tragedy.
Think of the family’s journey as a roller coaster ride. The ride starts when the loved one disappears, and over the years, you are forced to travel up, down, sideways, and even upside down at times because of the things thrust at you during the search, investigation, trials and waiting.
Phone calls from law enforcement to say “A body was found. It could be Heidi.” Or “We’re following up on a tip, we’ll keep you posted.” These induce sleepless nights. Recoveries of cold case missing persons’ trigger grief and hope at the same time.
Heidi’s friends get married, have children, and share milestones via social media. Although thankful to be included in their lives, often tears trickle down our cheeks because Heidi was denied these simple joys. Natural twists and turns yet when your loved one is missing, the responses vary.
We hope and pray to know where Heidi is, but regardless of how she is found, the roller coaster ride is never over, we just get on a new one. There is no closure for the families of the missing. If you’ve lost a loved one, you say “rest in peace” when you say good-bye but to the families of the missing, we may never be able to list RIP on the headstone.
Our question is still the same, “Where’s Heidi?” but some things have changed. We are stronger. We’ve learned to endure, persevere, and cherish each moment for what it is, a memory waiting to happen. A life lesson learned years ago yet one that motivates us daily, tomorrow isn’t a guarantee, so make the most of today.
Will you join us April 3, 2014 to remember Heidi M. Allen, on the platinum anniversary of her disappearance? Enjoy a time of fellowship and light candles of hope to light Heidi’s way home. The initial search and rescue organized at the New Haven Fire Barn so it’s only fitting we gather here for this special occasion.
Today’s moment is tomorrow’s memory. Will you join us as we make new memories of hope for Heidi M. Allen? We hope you will.

 

Light in the Darkness

“There is none holy like the Lord, there is none besides thee.” 1 Samuel 2:2

“I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst.” Hosea 11:9

God is holy because He is God and not man. His holiness is his essence and it is utterly unique.  It is who He is, what He is and is not determined by anyone or anything else.

His holiness is what he is as God and is what no one else is or ever will be. He alone is infinite, unchanging, eternal. He is in a class by himself.  He is the Alpha and Omega. Everything begins and ends with God.

We can never understand the full significance of anything until we understand its relation to God. This also means that ultimately, everything is about Him. All praise and thanksgiving; all worship, honor and glory are due Him. All.

Unfortunately, because He has been so very gracious to us who have believed; because Has been so wonderfully kind to us, it is easy for us to begin to think and act like everything is about us, but it most certainly is not.

All existence holds its being in Him and the zeal of God burns for the holiness of his great name. (Ezekiel 36:22).  That holiness is manifested dramatically whenever it encounters un-holiness in any form.

As Habakkuk says: “Your eyes are too pure to look on evil, and you cannot tolerate wrong.” (1:13).

Furthermore, because He alone is Holy, in the final analysis, all the evil in the world is an offense against Him only. David understood this in a most personal way. He cried out, “against you and you only have I sinned.”

I wrote last week that the holiness of God cannot be described or expressed in words. Rather we understand the holiness of God through its effect upon the unholy.

When the un-holiness of men is confronted with the holiness of God, the result is dramatic. Isaiah, upon seeing the Lord cried out, “Woe unto me. I am undone for I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell among a people of unclean lips!”

Even God’s prophet, chosen for his faithfulness and obedience to God, could not stand comfortably in His presence but felt apart. A psychologist would describe his experience as one of personal disintegration.

A person who believes he or she did the right thing to get saved has no awareness of how deeply stained they really are. We must be undone before we can be remade. The Holy Spirit has to awaken us to our sinfulness before we can be summoned to His grace.

I close this week’s column with an illustration. I understand that it is a true account and helps to illustrate the kind of attitude the Lord is looking for as he reaches out to draw a man or woman to him.

KING FREDERICK II, an 18th-century king in Prussia (Germany), was visiting a prison in Berlin when the inmates crowded around him to proclaim their innocence. All, that is, except one man. He sat quietly in the corner, head bowed.

“Frederick walked over to him and said, ‘What are you here for?’”  “Armed robbery, your majesty,’ the man replied. ‘And, are you guilty?’ the king asked. ‘Yes, sir. I deserve this punishment.’

“The king turned to the guard and ordered, ‘Set this guilty man free. I don’t want him corrupting all these other innocent people.’”

Pastor David M. Grey

Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church    

State Senate Report, by state Sen. Patricia Ritchie

By state Sen. Patricia Ritchie

What started as a small-town school event in California held over the course of a week in 1978, Women’s History Month has grown tremendously.

Today, throughout the entire month of March, the world’s focus turns to women and the significant contributions they have made to our history, culture and society. In recognition of Women’s History Month, the New York State Senate has developed its “Women of Distinction” program which celebrates females from the Empire State.

This year, three women have been added to the Senate’s Historic Women of Distinction exhibit, including an individual with ties to Central New York.

Mother Marianne Cope, O.S.F. was a German-born American who lived in Utica during her childhood and early adulthood and then became a member of the Sisters of St. Francis in Syracuse. She helped found St. Elizabeth Hospital Center in Utica and St. Joseph Hospital Health Center in Syracuse.

Known for her charitable works and compassion, she spent much of her life caring for lepers in the Hawaiian Islands.

Despite her close contact with those who had the disease, Cope was never afflicted by it — considered by many to be a miracle in itself.  In 2005, Cope was beatified by  Pope Benedict XVI and in 2012, she was declared a saint. St. Marianne now joins the ranks of other remarkable women who are being celebrated through the Women of Distinction program, including Ella Fitzgerald, Dr. Mary Edwards Walker of Oswego, Estee Lauder, Harriett Tubman and many others.

In addition to celebrating the contributions of great women from our past, the program also recognizes women who are making their mark today. If you know an amazing woman living in Oswego, Jefferson or St. Lawrence County, I encourage you to nominate her for the New York State Senate’s Women of Distinction program.

You can do so by visiting my website, www.ritchie.nysenate.gov or by calling  782-3418. Nominations must be received by April 1. All nominees will be invited to a local recognition ceremony to be held on May 1 and one individual from each State Senate district will be selected to travel to the Capitol to be honored at a special reception on May 13.

Last year, 17 women from Central and Northern New York were nominated for the program. Of the nominees, Rhonda Lyn Roethel of St. Lawrence County was selected as the 48th Senate District’s “Woman of Distinction,” and became the 19th person recognized through the Senate program from the 48th Senate District.

Each and every day, women across our state — and our world — are doing amazing things. Throughout the years I have had the opportunity to recognize dozens of them through the state Senate’s Women of Distinction program.

If you know a woman who is truly exceptional I hope you’ll take the time to nominate her for this special honor.

Oswego native enters residency in ophthalmology

Reprinted with permission from Upstate Medical University

Three Upstate students — and one from Oswego — are heading into  medical residencies in ophthalmology.

Oswego native Laura Andrews (University of Maryland), Mark Breazzano (Vanderbilt University) and Spencer Langevin (Nassau University Medical College) will report to those schools in July 2015 after spending a transitional/preliminary year at a medical center to be determined on Match Day March 21.

Laura Andrews

Laura is a native of Oswego and earned a bachelor’s degree in Cell and Molecular Biology from the University of Michigan.

On ophthalmology: It is a fascinating field with a good mix of medicine and surgery. I enjoy microsurgery and I like the pace of the clinic and getting better at my exam.

It is also a very nice lifestyle for someone who plans to have a family, and there are several interesting subspecialty options. I’m currently most interested in retina but I also enjoy general ophthalmology.

Laura said she’s motivated by “a feeling that I want to be the best that I can possibly be, at whatever I do.” She’s not sure about a career goal, but there are things she likes about both private practice and academic medicine.

“My husband and I will probably try to stay on the east coast or maybe move a little farther south,” she said. “After my training, I’d love to live and work abroad at some point.”

Upstate highlights: Her favorite courses were Anatomy with Dr. Berg and Eye Pathology with Dr. Barker-Griffith. “The friends I made during first year are one of the best parts about med school,” she said.

Hannibal school district updates website

Submitted by Oswego County BOCES

Months of dedicated efforts among the Hannibal Central School District’s technology department, administrators and staff have culminated with the successful launch of a new website.

The site, which can still be found at www.hannibalcsd.org, experienced a significant overhaul and was unveiled recently.

It addresses some of the flaws that users ran into with the previous version. It also is much more user-friendly, said district director of technology, Matt Dean.

“From what I’ve gathered from the people who have provided feedback, (the new site provides) ease of access, it’s cleaner, all the information is centrally located,” Dean said.

In addition to being streamlined and easier to navigate, Dean said that instead of stock photos, the website creates a feeling of Purple Pride, as district students are featured prominently throughout the site.

“We’ll do what we can to make sure you have updated information and pictures right at your fingertips,” he said.

With access to information and school news at the top of the priority list, the district has also added a YouTube channel and joined Twitter as other communication tools.

To follow the district on Twitter, search for the handle “HannibalSchools,” or click on the Twitter icon at the top of the district’s home page.

Hannibal food services receives an A-plus grade

Submitted by Oswego County BOCES

Students in the Hannibal Central School District are not the only ones who are subject to testing, as the Food Service Department recently passed its semiannual inspection.

The department, under the leadership of manager Debbie Richardson, receives a full examination from the Oswego County Health Department twice a year.

Each school undergoes a comprehensive inspection that checks for sanitation problems, safety violations, storage issues and a plethora of other potential hazards.

“They come in and they inspect Part 14 of the health code, which entails a little bit of everything,” Richardson said. “They check the temperatures of the foods and make sure everything is sanitary.”

Richardson said cold foods must be kept below 45 degrees while hot foods must be held at 140 degrees. Anything in between the 45 degree and 140 degree range is known as a danger zone and food can’t be in that zone for more than two hours.

“But we are stricter than that, we’re extra careful with what we do,” Richardson said. “We have a driver and we temp the food before the driver takes it and again when it arrives at the other site.”

For Richardson, the fact that the district received no major violations during its inspections speaks to the efficiency and commitment of her employees.

“We have a head cook in each building who ensures day-to-day operations run smoothly and on time. We have a driver and other food service employees who all work together and make our operations successful,” Richardson said.

“My staff here is so unique; yes they come for a paycheck, but that’s not the only reason,” she said. “They really care about the students. They want to make sure we are giving the students what they want within the regulations and that they are happy with it.

“We’ve got some good foundation as far as years of experience and dedication,” Richardson said.

The food service department is much more than workers dishing up meals to the district’s students each day, Richardson said. She noted the department is responsible for “anything and everything” that needs to be done with food service, from ordering and preparing food to ensuring sanitation guidelines are met on a daily basis.

Students and families learn how to be healthy

Submitted by Oswego County BOCES

Fairley Elementary School transformed into a massive health fair on March 3 as dozens of local health care agencies, businesses and organizations set up shop in the gymnasium for the first-ever Healthy Family Night.

The event was a huge collaborative effort and a significant undertaking, according to organizer and school psychologist Geri Seward. However, Seward noted that months of planning paid off as hundreds of people packed the school’s two gymnasiums.

“It was a lot of work but really was a fabulous event and successful in every way,” Seward said. “The presenters were amazing; the donations were amazing; the families and kids were amazing.  The feedback from all participants was amazing. What else could you ask for?”

Vendors were on hand from Oswego Health to provide information about their services and display X-ray images of bones. Businesses like Ontario Orchards also participated and gave out free bottles of apple cider. Representatives from police and fire agencies were on hand as well, discussing safety and even issuing child identification tags. Even youth development organizations, such as Boy Scouts, provided demonstrations.

“It was such a great bridge-building (effort) between home and school and community and school,” Seward said. “We all had a chance to learn, have fun and be together.”

In addition to holding raffles and hosting different vendors, Healthy Family Night focused on physical fitness as well. Students had an opportunity to show their parents what they learned in physical education class by using some of the equipment in the small gym.

Although the inaugural event just wrapped up, organizers are already looking toward the future.

“We hope it will be the first of many Healthy Family Nights,” Seward said.

Kenney students behave, achieve good grades

Submitted by Oswego County BOCES

At Hannibal’s Dennis M. Kenney Middle School, student achievement has soared this school year while disciplinary referrals have plummeted, creating a cause for celebration among faculty and pupils alike.

During a recent school board meeting, DMK Principal Dee Froio, DMK counselor Meg Jaworski and school psychologist Meredith Furlong discussed the reinvigorated Character Education Program. The program has gained traction since the beginning of the school year, when members of the building leadership team first got together to discuss their goals for the year. That team has evolved into a separate subcommittee and developed various initiatives to help boost student achievement while also addressing student disciplinary issues.

“We are looking to infuse character education within the culture and climate of the school,” Froio said.

The principal noted that the eight-person character education subcommittee meets monthly to decide on a particular trait that they want to see reinforced in the school community. However, rather than simply expecting students to know what respect is, there is an educational process that teaches students exactly what respect looks like.

“The focus of the committee is to take those traits and make them a focus every month so students can see these things in action, being practiced. “We have different activities for each trait that really helps reinforce everything.”

Morning announcements typically incorporate a word of the day that correlates with that month’s character trait, which also helps emphasize the trait. Respect, citizenship, kindness, caring and other qualities have been the focus of the initiative so far this school year, with announcements, incentives and activities held in conjunction with each. Activities include a free breakfast pizza event, an ice cream social, prize drawings and other celebratory happenings.

“We are trying to couple each character trait with academics and expectations and help our kids grow into (well-rounded) individuals,” Furlong said.

So far, mission accomplished. Teachers, counselors and faculty members have reported a noticeable change among the students. According to Jaworski, students are going out of their way to exhibit the character trait of the month. In addition to positive feedback from staff members, disciplinary data also confirms the strides students have taken to exhibit good behavior.

“We’re holding the students accountable and we’re also asking the staff to enforce those expectations,” Froio said. “If you compare the total referrals from September to December last year, we had 529 for that period; this year we’re at 435. We are trending in the right direction.”

With the district placing an emphasis on character education, Froio said she expects that trend to continue into the next marking period, the next school year and beyond. Judging by the 20 percent increase in students who earned recognition during  a recent character education breakfast, the principal’s vision is becoming a reality.

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