Helping out in prayer, good works

Greg Jennings has worked for the Modesto Irrigation District for 18 years. The computer programmer also is part of a group of about 25 Christians who meet once a week to support and pray for each other.

They also help others when they can. So when Claudia Hermann, another MID employee, mentioned that her daughter has Guillain-Barré syndrome, a debilitating and rare disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system, the group wanted to know how it could help.

Claudia said that her daughter, Angela Rodriquez, 42, drives an old, undependable van to transport her two sons, ages 9 and 4. The group decided to raise about $10,000 before the end of the year to buy her a better wheelchair-accessible model. To do that, they’ve asked for donations, staged a huge parking lot sale at a downtown Modesto church and are having a bake sale this month. To date, they’ve raised about $3,700.

Jennings said they’ve set up an account for this project at a local Bank of the West. If you would like to help by participating in the bake sale or making a donation, contact Jennings at 380-7191.

Donna Bridges is the transit coordinator for the Riverbank Oakdale Transit Authority. She wrote to applaud the Riverbank Rotary Club, which every year donates funds so that she can buy bus tickets for those who need help.

Recently, she said, the club donated $200.

“I promptly went down to City Hall and bought 14 books of tickets,” she said. “When I arrived back at my office, the ROTA dispatcher asked me if I had any donated tickets. She said one of the regular ROTA riders had not been on the bus for six days, and she knew this rider went to dialysis three time a week.”

There was no way to call the rider, because he doesn’t have a phone. It turned out that he hadn’t gone to dialysis because he didn’t have enough money to pay for the bus ride there. They gave him some of the newly donated tickets.

“It’s refreshing to see those groups and individuals reach out during these tough economic times,” Donna said.

Such help is not simply nice; sometimes it’s life-saving.

Grace Kiesel is the kind of 10-year-old girl who makes people smile. The fifth grader at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School held a three-day summer camp for other children. The $150 she raised from the project — where the kids tie-dyed T-shirts, had a soccer day and a swimming day — was given to a foundation to benefit Cricket’s House.

The nonprofit house is one of five shelters in Stanislaus County for abused, neglected and at-risk children. Grace liked the idea of giving the money to a place that helps kids, said her mom, Erin Kiesel.

“She’s always been a generous child,” Erin said. “We’re a strong-knit family. My parents and in-laws are both involved in charity work. She’s seen that.”

This is the second year Grace has helped Cricket’s House. Last year, the camp she ran led to a $75 donation.

“She’s hoping some of the children from Cricket’s House can attend her camp next summer,” Erin said.

“She thinks BIG,” said Jean Walker-Lowell, a Cricket’s House board member. “We were just so impressed with her caring and hard work for the little ones at Cricket’s House. Quite a job for a young girl!”

Do you have a story about someone who has helped others or is a terrific role model? Send a brief item to Sue Nowicki at P.O. Box 5256, Modesto 95352 or e-mail .