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December 2005

A monthly newsletter dedicated to serving the principles of
physical and spiritual health envisioned in the Baha'i Teachings.

Volume 9, Issue No. 10, Theme: Living & Healing with Chronic Illness
- Quote of the month
- From the Editor
- This Month's Theme: Living, and Healing, with Chronic Illness
- Links for further information
- Welcome to Holland
- Stress Management
- Health in the News
- Letters
- Purpose of the Newsletter
- Subscription Information
- Web Site
- Web Log


January: The Healing Powers of Pets. Do you have a story to tell?

February: Music - Sustenance for the Soul. How has music improved your health? Send your recommendations and experiences.

March: The Importance of Celebrations. What kinds and how do you and your family use them to make life better?

April: Feed the Creative to Heal the Body and Mind. What arts and activities inspire you?

May: Nurture the Spirit for Better Health. Retreats, walks, music, poetry,
prayer: what makes you feel refreshed and energized?

June: Coping with Catastrophe. Share spiritual resources.


"The afflictions which come to humanity sometimes tend to center the consciousness upon the limitations. This is a veritable prison. Release comes by making of the will a door through which the confirmations of the spirit come. They come to a man or woman who accepts his life with Radiant Acquiescence."

(Abdu'l-Baha, Divine Philosophy, p. 69)


Dear Readers,

Patience and acceptance have never been my personal strong points. So the inevitable changes and challenges of an aging body are providing me with plenty of opportunities for spiritual growth!

Among the most interesting (because it was unexpected) is the amount of grief that must be dealt with in order to accept a reality that differs from my plan.

I want, for instance, to continue to be able to do everything I could do when I was 20...but a body considerably older than that is unable to follow through. No amount of fussing, praying, extreme medical treatments, or denial is going to change the inevitable.

In other words, giving up MY will and accepting God's will means accepting some very painful losses, especially in giving up some of my favorite vain imaginings. So, okay, I can accept that it is probably too late to be a ballerina when I grow up...but admitting that I might experience the same physical (and mental!) challenges as other mortals? Impossibly difficult!

Since a great deal of religious teaching seems to deal with exactly this conflict between personal and divine will, I must assume that my difficulties aren't unique!

And because of that circumstance, there are many resources available to me, especially (and I think most importantly) the experience and support of others who have passed this way before.

The Internet and this newsletter are tools that help me connect with experience and support that is not limited to my immediate family and coworkers.

One thing advancing age has provided is the hindsight: I have always had whatever I needed, when I needed it -- even when I might not have immediately realized it.

The essence of faith is recognizing that we are never alone, AND that we are surrounded by a Creation whose purpose is to nurture and train our characters -- when we allow it to work in the way it was designed.

May you all discover this goodness and richness in Creation -- but perhaps sooner and with less fussing than I have!

Cheryll Schuette, Michigan, USA


The overall impression one develops after researching (or living with) a chronic illness, is that treatment recommendations largely center on the coping, emotional and social rather than the strictly physical aspects of disease.

This realization is surprising in the world of modern Western medicine, with its emphasis on a very mechanical treatment of illness in terms of isolated individuals and/or diseases, without respect for the larger context of family and community that make up real life, not to mention the upstream/downstream causes and effects.

Living with chronic illness, whether immediately life-threatening or not, will shape both victim and caregiver, the individual and the community around him/her.

There are some, not all of them philosophers or saints, who would say that 'victim' is not even the right word -- that such experiences (most of us would refer to them as woes) are in the long run good for both the individual and the species.

"O Son of Man! My calamity is My providence, outwardly it is fire and vengeance, but inwardly it is light and mercy. Hasten thereunto that thou mayest become an eternal light and an immortal spirit. This is My command unto thee, do thou observe it." (Baha'u'llah, Arabic "Hidden Words," #51)

Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D., is the founder and director of the Institute for the Study of Health and Illness at Commonweal and medical director and cofounder of the Commonweal Cancer Program. She is Associate Clinical Professor of Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, School of Medicine and author of the book "Kitchen Table Wisdom."

She comments, "Many of us are living lives that have profound meaning, but we have not yet opened our hearts, so we can't see this meaning and be strengthened by it...sometimes the angel [messenger] is a disease.
Sometimes the angel that brings us the gift of meaning is loss and suffering. You know, sometimes our heart needs to be broken open before we can know what really matters in life." (quoted by Dean Ornish in "Love and Survival", p. 205)

W. Brugh Joy, M.D., author of "Joy's Way" and "Avalanche," goes even further on this theme:

"There is no question, to me, of the sublime value of suffering. The more deeply one has experienced the mystery of suffering, the more deeply one truly understands its transformational power. I believe it transforms the infantile power-drive, which has sense of unlimitedness, immediacy, self-centeredness, into the mystery of compassion, a sense of 'us,' rather than a sense of 'me versus another.' There is also the mystery of sacrifice, which is a form of suffering in which one gives up one's personal, willful way to something that can only be called transcendent. The experience of this is that the transcendent showers the individual with resources -- which may be a healing, or it may be illumination, or it may be compassion. But something that transcends the ordinary comes out of such sacrifices and suffering, which are interwoven." (quoted by Dean Ornish in "Love and Survival," p. 246)

Advice, from the medical establishment, based on medical and sociological research, tends to define the coping process in stages, and offer tools and skills for getting on with one's life to the fullest and richest extent possible. The tools considered most important are mostly not material or physical.

Denial/Shock, learning/empowerment, and acceptance are the three stages most commonly experienced with any illness or loss, but the chronically ill will go through them repeatedly -- especially when there is no cure for the disease.

Chronic illness may involve repeated episodes of deterioration, requiring confrontation and adjustment to each new level.

After working through the normal responses to loss, many people are able to find meaning despite being in a physical condition which, prior to the onset of their illness, they would have deemed intolerable and unacceptable.

These people handle the burden of chronic illness with amazing fortitude and are able to find meaning and value even when extremely disabled.

Individuals who are able to successfully cope with chronic illness share certain characteristics:

* They generally have good self-esteem and a realistic understanding of their own strengths and weaknesses.

* They retain an ability to define personal goals and to find gratification in their accomplishments.

* They retain some sense of control over their own destiny--a belief that they can still influence their world, including the course or symptoms of their illness.

* They are able to maintain hope.

One truly important aspect of coping with chronic illness is that hope shifts from waiting for the cure to coping daily to make the best life possible in the now. And many of the physicians who specialize in treatment and research have found that a measure of healing is always possible, irrespective of whether the outcome of the disease can be changed. Much of the work done in hospice care, for instance, is about healing, not just dying.

Increasingly, researchers are noting that people who cope successfully with any disease or injury, whether acute or chronic, typically have strong support from family or significant others. These important supporters may not even be geographically close, thanks to the Web.

The wealth of information, advice, counseling, support (and sheer marketing) available, especially on the Internet, is just staggering. Both in general and for specific illnesses, information (and misinformation) is overflowing -- at least for those in industrialized countries.

Developing nations, however, are not without resources -- particularly of extended family and community -- which may be of more importance than sheer medical knowledge. Where a person can have neighbors and family members to share their burdens, they may have less need to search the 'Net for a compassionate ear, for instance.

Lisa F. Berkman, Ph.D., is chair and professor of the department of health and social behavior and professor of epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health. Along with Drs. Len Syme, James House, and Kristina Orth-Gomer, she has conducted some of the most important research demonstrating the importance of social support and community. When asked to summarize her feelings, she tells this story:

"I gave a fellow researcher and his wife chicken soup when their baby was born at home, and they sent me a thank-you note that said, 'I never did know whether chicken soup was emotional or instrumental support.' It is the epitome of both. It's love incarnate." (quoted by Dean Ornish, in "Love and Survival", p.200)

Disease always has multiple causes and influences, among them lifestyle and habits of thought, as well as emotional and spiritual health. For the purposes of this brief article, the treatment of the physical components seemed less important and easier for most readers to access than the emotional and spiritual aspects of coping with a chronic illness.

In mankind's past, healers addressed spiritual even more heavily than physical healing. In the Solomon Islands, for instance, custom doctors have practiced their skills for about 4000 years. Their duties encompass health, religion and law, since they functioned as judges and spiritual leaders, as well as healers.

Religion has served humankind far longer than 'medicine', and can still offer much of value when learning to cope with chronic illnesses. People get tired over time, and discouraged, and angry. Acute illnesses come and go, but asthma or diabetes can be there for a lifetime.

Learning to cope, then, requires not only developing all the information, skills and positive attitude, but also building a support network to keep one going over time. It requires an equally knowledgeable community, a social structure to provide not only the assistance with treatment, but also the emotional nurturing to make the effort worthwhile.

Linda Kavelin Popov, psychologist and counselor and author of the Virtues Projects is polio survivor and was struck down in mid career with post-polio syndrome. She recently published a book on her healing experiences that is an excellent workbook for anyone dealing with a chronic illness: "A Pace of
Grace: the virtues of a sustainable life."

She recommends going beyond just our family and community and asking for help from the spiritual realm, as well:

"Experts say that most of us use only 10 percent of our intelligence. I believe we use only 1 percent of spiritual powers. The sacred traditions of the world teach that there is a spiritual dimension that is more real and more abiding than the material world.

"In my study of sacred traditions, and in my own experience, a vast array of helpers are available to us at every moment. They are the greatest untapped source of power, help and inspiration in the world... There is an entire team of beings whose fervent wish is to be of service to you, to guide you and help you get the very most out of your short span on earth: angels, ancestors, and advisors...," what she refers to as her A-team.

"The meaning of angel is messenger," she continues. "I do believe it is part of God's design that spiritual beings are part of our lives and that from a spiritual perspective we are always capable of living in both worlds."

Accessing and processing assistance from any source, and especially from our own inner voice, requires being able to sit still and listen. Prayer and meditation have a history of providing insight and knowledge. Medicine is now echoing the recommendation that quiet meditation is a useful tool for dealing with chronic illness.

Sri Swami Satchidananda, founder and director of the Integral yoga Institutes and the Light of Truth Universal Shrine (LOTUS) in Buckingham, Virginia, USA, when asked what was the root of healing, said:

"Contentment. Contentment comes by quieting down the mind and body enough -- whether through meditations, yoga, or prayer -- to experience an inner sense of peace and joy and well-being, and ultimately, to experience God within." (quoted by Dean Ornish in "Love and Survival," p. 210)



* My favorite site for overall assistance that isn't trying to sell something, and includes online support group links:

* A nice selection of current articles, both personal and technical:

* A good info site designed for children to access information about chronic illness and how they can help themselves and others deal with it:

* S.T.A.R. site for teens dealing with chronic illness. Great personal stories from teens themselves - former US Surgeon General C. Everett Koop's


"Love & Survival: 8 pathways to intimacy and health," by Dean Ornish, M.D.
Harper Perennial, 1998.

"A Pace of Grace: the virtues of a sustainable life," by Linda Kavelin Popov. Plume, 2004

"Minding the Body, Mending the Mind," by Joan Borysenko, Ph.D. Bantam Books, 1987

"Overcoming Difficulties," by Ginny Tod. George Ronald, 2003

By Emily Perl Kingsley

I am often asked to describe the experience of raising a child with a disability - to try to help people who have not shared that unique experience to understand it, to imagine how it would feel. It's like this......

When you're going to have a baby, it's like planning a fabulous vacation trip - to Italy. You buy a bunch of guide books and make your wonderful plans. The Coliseum. The Michelangelo David. The gondolas in Venice. You may learn some handy phrases in Italian. It's all very exciting.

After months of eager anticipation, the day finally arrives. You pack your bags and off you go. Several hours later, the plane lands. The stewardess comes in and says, "Welcome to Holland."

"Holland?!?" you say. "What do you mean Holland?? I signed up for Italy! I'm supposed to be in Italy. All my life I've dreamed of going to Italy."

But there's been a change in the flight plan. They've landed in Holland and there you must stay.

The important thing is that they haven't taken you to a horrible, disgusting, filthy place, full of pestilence, famine and disease. It's just a different place.

So you must go out and buy new guide books. And you must learn a whole new language. And you will meet a whole new group of people you would never have met.

It's just a different place. It's slower-paced than Italy, less flashy than Italy. But after you've been there for a while and you catch your breath, you look around...and you begin to notice that Holland has windmills...and Holland has tulips. Holland even has Rembrandts.

But everyone you know is busy coming and going from Italy... and they're all bragging about what a wonderful time they had there. And for the rest of your life, you will say, "Yes, that's where I was supposed to go. That's what I had planned."

And the pain of that will never, ever, ever, ever go away...because the loss of that dream is a very, very significant loss.

But...if you spend your life mourning the fact that you didn't get to Italy, you may never be free to enjoy the very special, the very lovely things...about Holland.

(c1987 by Emily Perl Kingsley. All rights reserved)


A lecturer, when explaining stress management to an audience, raised a glass of water and asked, "How heavy is this glass of water?"

Answers called out ranged from 20g to 500g.

The lecturer replied, "The absolute weight doesn't matter. It depends on how long you try to hold it. If I hold it for a minute, that's not a problem. If I hold it for an hour, I'll have an ache in my right arm. If I hold it for a day, you'll have to call an ambulance. In each case, it's the same weight, but the longer I hold it, the heavier it becomes."

He continued, "And that's the way it is with stress management. If we carry our burdens all the time, sooner or later, as the burden becomes increasingly heavy, we won't be able to carry on. As with the glass of water, you have to put it down for a while Refreshed, we can carry on with the burden."

"So, before you return home tonight, put the burden of work down. Don't carry it home. You can pick it up tomorrow. Whatever burdens you're carrying now, set them down for a moment if you can."

So, my friend, why not take a while to just simply RELAX. Put down anything that may be a burden to you right now. Don't pick it up again until after you've rested a while. Life is short. Enjoy it!

Here are some great ways of dealing with the burdens of life:
· Accept that some days you're the pigeon, and some days you're the statue.
· Always keep your words soft and sweet, just in case you have to eat them.
· Drive carefully. It's not only cars that can be recalled by their maker.
· If you can't be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.
· If you lend someone $20 and never see that person again, it was probably worth it · Never put both feet in your mouth at the same time, because then you won't have a leg to stand on.
· Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance.
· Since it's the early worm that gets eaten by the bird, sleep late.
· The second mouse gets the cheese.
· When everything's coming your way, you're in the wrong lane.
· Birthdays are good for you. The more you have, the longer you live.
· You may be only one person in the world, but you may also be the world to one person.
· Some mistakes are too much fun to only make once.
· We could learn a lot from crayons...Some are sharp, some are pretty and some are dull. Some have weird names, and all are different colors, but they all have to live in the same box.

· A truly happy person is one who can enjoy the scenery on a detour.

(from a Yahoo Groups list, on the Web)


Just came across this exercise suggested for seniors, to build muscle strength in the arms and shoulders. It seems so easy, so I thought I'd pass it on to some of my friends and family. The article suggested doing it three days a week.

Begin by standing on a comfortable surface, where you have plenty of room at each side. With a 5-lb potato sack in each hand, extend your arms straight out from your sides and hold them there as long as you can.

Try to reach a full minute, then relax. Each day, you'll find that you can hold this position for just a bit longer. After a couple of weeks, move up to 10-lb potato sacks. Then 50-lb potato sacks and then eventually try to get to where you can lift a 100-lb potato sack in each hand and hold your arms straight for more than a full minute.

After you feel confident at that level, put a potato in each of the sacks.

(Rick in Florida, USA, shared this)

BOOK CORNER: SUPERPARENTING, Child Rearing for the New Millennium, by Dr.
William Maxwell, Mary E. Maxwell, Ruth Leilani Smith and Jim Pearce

What are the unique characteristics of families that produce the world's most successful men and women? How do parents within all societies prepare their children to become morally strong and professionally successful? How should young people prepare themselves for parenthood? What birthing procedures should couples adopt that best protect the infant? What should the parent's priorities be in the first three years of their child's life?

Professor William Maxwell and his co-authors have skillfully woven together the collective wisdom of the world's longest-lasting and most successful cultures and modern child- development research studies to produce a book that will help revolutionize the way humankind parents its children. From pre-natal practices in southeastern Nigeria, to post-natal infant-care in Fiji, to Scotland's "family hour" practices, this book distills the experiences of all human cultures into over 50 powerful prescriptions for raising children who will "carry forward an ever-advancing civilization."

"This illuminating handbook on how to raise a child has been written by two experts in the fields of education and health. It is conveniently organized so that a parent can read through it step- by-step as the child grows. The approach is practical and is a beautiful combination of the spiritual and the scientific, with emphasis on such matters as calmness of spirit; being natural; good habits, including courtesy and tidiness; on the encouragement of curiosity. This book is a must for all parents and potential parents. I wish it had been available fourteen years ago when we began our family." - John Huddleston, Chief, Budget and Planning Division, International Monetary Fund.

Dr. Maxwell, earned his doctorate from Harvard University and has authored numerous books and research studies focusing on the intellectual development of children. He has been an astute observer of child rearing practices throughout his life and for over twenty-five years of pioneering, teaching and research experiences on all continents and within the cultures of Korea, Nigeria, Fiji, Japan, and the United States. He has lectured and studied in more than forty nations. Dr. Maxwell has been a professor since 1955 and was among the first contingent of Continental Counselors for Northwest Africa and has served on many local and national spiritual assemblies, including in North East Asia, Nigeria, Korea, Fiji, and the United States.

The book is available from Badi Publishing Corp., PO Box 39651, Phoenix, Arizona 85069 USA --Emailto: Web:


- If Meditation is good, God makes it better

"God can help you relax, according to a study of meditation. People practicing spiritual meditation were more relaxed and better able to withstand pain than those performing secular meditation." College students were randomly assigned to one of three groups, regardless of their spiritual beliefs. Each group was to practice their technique for 20 a day for two weeks. Those in the spiritual group were told to concentrate on a phrase such as 'God is love' or 'God is peace.' The secular group meditated on a phrase such as 'I am happy' or 'I am joyful,' while the third group was simply told to relax. Results showed those practicing spiritual meditation showered greater reductions in anxiety that the other two groups and were able to keep their hands in freezing water for nearly twice as long.
(Journal of Behavioral Medicine, DOI: 10.1007/s10865-005-9008-5)

- For a Good Night's Sleep: Eat Breakfast for Supper

Sleep researcher Ahmad Afaghi of Sydney University told the Australasian Sleep Association conference held the first week of October this year that men in his study who ate a high glycemic index meal before retiring fell asleep faster and deeper than did men who ate a low GI meal before bed. He thinks this might be because high GI meals raise blood sugar levels, leading to a potentially higher concentration of tryptophan, an amino acid that induces sleep. But he has yet to finish testing that...

(Reported in the 15 October 2005 issue of New Scientist Magazine)
- Ionizing Air Cleaners May Not

Popular and expensive ionizing air cleaners could expose users to lung-damaging levels of ozone, and they do a poor job of actually cleaning the air, according to an article in the May 2005 issue of Consumer Reports Magazine. They tested six popular ionizing cleaners and one HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter, and found that two of the ionizing cleaners emit 150 to 300 parts per billion of ozone in samples taken 2 inches from the machine, while three other ionizing cleaners are in the 26-to-48-ppb range. The US Environmental Protection Agency's standards for outdoor ozone concentration exposure is 80 parts per billion over eight hours. Most machines tested did more harm than good, producing potentially harmful ozone while doing a poor job of removing dust, smoke and pollen.


- (Kurt H., USA) says: To keep my mind and soul refreshed and focused, I read (and share) some of these every day... [a couple pages of good stuff; samples included here]

"Nothing is too much trouble when one loves, and there is always time."
--'Abdu'l-Bahá (cited in Portals to Freedom, p. 52)

"He that can't endure the bad will not live to see the good."
--Yiddish proverb

"Sometimes we're forced into directions that we ought to have found for ourselves."
--Maid in Manhattan

"Pila-mahya" (Lakota). Literally: "Thank You." Behind that interpretation is "You have honoured me." And, behind that is "...because you have allowed me to experience a true manifestation of God's presence, which is: (in this
case) the Generosity, Compassion, and Understanding which adorns our relationship."
--Jacob Bighorn

"Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, "I will try again tomorrow.""
--Mary Ann Radmacher

"Is it so small a thing to have enjoyed the sun, to have lived light in the spring, to have loved, to have thought, to have done?"
--Matthew Arnold

"If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain:
"If I can ease one life the aching,
"Or cool one pain,
"Or help one fainting robin
"Unto his nest again,
"I shall not live in vain."
--Emily Dickinson

"To be the champ, you have to believe you are the champ even when no one else does."
--Sugar Ray Robinson

"In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends."
-- Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

"If you're going through hell, keep going."
--Winston Churchill

"Little by little the veil is lifting, grief tore it in two. And grief was also a step leading me ever nearer truth; therefore do I not cry out against grief!"
--Queen Marie of Rumania

"Trust in God. Let nothing disturb you, let nothing frighten you; all things
pass: God never changes. Patience achieves all it strives for. You who have God lack nothing, God alone suffices."
--Teresa of Avila

"Understanding is the reward of faith. Therefore seek not to understand that thou mayest believe, but believe that thou mayest understand."
-- Aurelius Augustinus

"We have not come into the world to be a number; we have been created for a purpose, for great things: To love and to be loved."
--Mother Teresa

"People are like stained glass windows: they sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light within."
--Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

"...When first diagnosed with M.S., I felt very discouraged. I liked to drive and owned a jazzy new sports car. On a mid-winter nighttime trip through the dangerous Fraser Canyon, I was driving erratically.
"Obviously the disease was taking over. My eyesight was failing and my driving days were at an end.
"Stopping with great reluctance and grief I gave up driving. My wife and I sat for a long time in silence while snow slowly covered the car. We were parked‚ in the unknown‚ emotionally adrift and indistinguishable from any other snowdrift somewhere on the Trans Canada.
"Suddenly panicked by this realization, we frantically changed seats. As my wife ran round the front of the car, her thigh brushed the muck from the headlamp. Light shot down the road.
"I could see clearly!
"Relentless, irrevocable tragedy was only "mud on the headlights."
-- Ray Walker

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that."
--Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Namaste - The soul in me recognizes the soul in you."
--India greeting

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate - our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, "Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?" Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn't serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are born to make manifest the Glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
--Marianne Williamson


"Healing Through Unity" is published for the purpose of sharing thoughts, comments and experiences on how the teachings of the Baha'i Faith are being applied to physical and spiritual health. Other than the quoted Holy Writings, the material in this newsletter represents the thoughts and opinions of the writers and has no authority. None of the material published in this newsletter is intended to be a substitute for the advice of a physician.

You are free to copy articles, provided you indicate the source of the article. There are 10 issues per year; it is not published during July and August. The newsletter is produced in Ann Arbor, Michigan.


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All of us have had healing experiences, as well as climbed out of low points along life's way - physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual. Please share your stories, tips, useful links, and quotes from the Baha'i Writings about staying healthy in a stressful world. Your articles do not have to be long - even a few paragraphs in length is fine. Baha'u'llah gave us each other as a big part of a healthy lifestyle, and sharing stories and ideas that work for you brings encouragement to others. Asking for information and support from others can bring encouragement to you!


Many thanks to all of you who share helpful ideas for the Healing Through Unity Newsletter. The decision to select and edit material submitted for publication is determined by the editor. We welcome submissions from everyone.

Please e-mail your stories, comments, suggestions or "Question for the Month" ideas to the newsletter editor, Cheryll Schuette, at:


Editor - Cheryll Schuette
Contributing Editor - Lynn Ascrizzi
Founding Editor - Frances Mezei
Medical Reviewer - Dr. Diane Kent
Circulation Assistant - Kathy Yonash
Web Master - Russ Novak

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