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Special Friends at St. Mark’s

Judy, Malorie, Doris with cakeI grew up in a small town, and like most small-town youth, I thought it would be so much cooler to live in a city. I did eventually end up in a city, and yep you guessed it, I missed living in a small town. Returning to small-town living is something I’ve never regretted, and I’m so glad we landed in this small town. Writing for The Gyp Hill Premiere gave me a condensed compilation of the history of the area, and the people who settled here and kept the community viable through the years. One of these families was the Rickard family. Little did I know during the times I talked with Dub Rickard about some story, that years down the road I would become acquainted with one of his grandsons, Arron Small.

Laurel Harrison “Dub” Rickard, the youngest of twelve children, was born in Zenda in 1920. His parents, Charles and Mima, moved to Barber County with their five youngest children in 1925.

Dub was just a few weeks from his 95th birthday when he passed from this life in 2015. He had packed his life full to the brim with events, experiences, and encounters as he had sampled college life, had seen some action-packed military years, had married and became the father of two daughters, and in due course, he purchased the Hibbard’s Rexall Store from his father-in-law, George Allan Hibbard. Even after retiring, he stayed busy and involved in several different organizations and his church, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church.

Dub’s interest in the people and happenings of this community turned his mind into a huge storehouse of stories that he was more than happy to share with all he met. His jaunty way of telling stories, with his head tilted, eyes sparkling, and lips twitching in laughter, brought those stories to life in the mind of the listener. Some of that storytelling went on in the Lincoln Library.

Dub married Mary Jean Hibbard in 1945. Their family increased in size to four with the addition of two daughters, Georgia and Martha.

Georgia’s son, Arron Small, returns to Medicine Lodge, when time allows, to stay active in St Mark’s Episcopal Church. While he is in Medicine Lodge, he uses the computers in our library to take care of his internet needs. His visits to the library often include cookies, good stories, and great conversation. During the holidays, he invited the library staff to the church for a get-together with members of both St. Mark’s and the Presbyterian Church. They served us up a lasagna meal with all of the trimmings, along with a great time of fellowship, and our own special cake.

Soon after, the library received a card from St. Mark’s with a generous donation for Phase Two tucked inside. We appreciate the donation and those who gave. We appreciate the members of the St. Mark’s Episcopal Church and the First United Presbyterian Church, churches that were established in Medicine Lodge in the 1800s. We appreciate Arron and his wife Cathy; it has been a real pleasure getting to know them.

I feel it is safe to say that Dub would be proud!

Grant from National Gypsum

National Gypsum big checkWe at Lincoln Library have had an abundance of surprises in the past few weeks. They are the good kind that leaves you speechless, eyes dripping, and brain reeling. Some of these surprises involved just a few words strung together that provided unmeasurable encouragement. Some were mindful acts of kindness that were so appreciated. Some provided funds to finish up Phase One and some provided funds to begin Phase Two.

As we began to prepare for Phase Two, we opened a bank account on November 16th designated only for the remodeling of our annex. A month later on December 16th, we have a balance of $29,625.80, to be exact.

It was a total surprise to receive $25,000.00 from National Gypsum. I was approached by an employee of National Gypsum asking a few questions, and was asked by another employee to write up a short synopsis of our goals for Phase Two. In only weeks we were notified that we were going to be presented with a $25,000.00 check.

The background story behind the gift involves the decision by Thomas Nelson, chairman, president, and CEO, of National Gypsum Company, and his wife, Anna. They made the decision to donate a total of $1 million divided up amongst the communities in the United States and Canada where National Gypsum and affiliated companies are located. These donations were to go to nonprofit groups that had a focus in the areas of community services and education, and were to be selected by associates at each facility. The presentations were planned in conjunction with Giving Tuesday.

We definitely appreciate the money as we begin the financial challenge of raising $250,000.00. We appreciate Jeff Hawk, Plant Manager; Jo Wedman, Office Manager; and Miki Jackson, HR and Safety Manager; and every other National Gypsum employee involved in this amazing gift to Lincoln Library’s Phase Two.

We have the “big” check on display at the library; it’s pretty impossible to miss when walking through the door. I look at it as a placard of encouragement, a reminder that we are not in this venture alone. We are sliding into a new year with that reassuring thought reinforcing our motivation, and after experiencing 2021, I find that surprising!

H.U.G.S. Grant

big checksThe Southern Pioneer Electric Company has an amazing way of giving back to the 10 counties they serve. They recycle their steel, aluminum, and copper that can no longer be used. H.U.G.S. (Helping Us Give to Society) was established to oversee the money received from these recycled metals.

As Phase One neared completion, we were confronted with the challenge of furnishing the new adult computer room, the multipurpose room, and equipping our storage room with shelving. There was also the need for office chairs in the other areas of the library to replace chairs that had lost their comfort over the years.

A community member taking a tour of Phase One suggested applying for a H.U.G.S Grant. We did just that; we received an email on September 20, 2021 that we had been approved for a $1,500.00 grant. We were thankful and excited.

November 4th was the date set to receive the check and take a picture with the big check! Tom Walters, a member of the Southern Pioneer Electric Advisory Council, and Southern Pioneer Electric Company employee Dennis Lunsford came in first. Before too long, two more Southern Pioneer Electric Company employees joined us, Anita Wendt, Vice President of Energy Services, and Rae Gorman, Manager of Energy Services.

The atmosphere was casual, the conversation light, and the mood happy! I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but all at once there were two big checks being held up. One check for $1,500.00 was from the H.U.G.S. Grant and the other check for $1,500.00 was from CoBank. Quite frankly, I felt a little off balance and was struggling to comprehend what was happening.

Anita explained that after receiving our info, she applied to CoBank for a matching grant. CoBank is the main lender for the Southern Pioneer Electric Company, and they also have a program, Sharing Success. It is through this program that they match selected donations.

It goes without saying, our level of excitement exponentially increased. The $3,000.00 covered the cost of every chair, including the rocking chair for the multipurpose room, and the shelving needed for the storage room. The chairs are all in place, they look good and feel comfortable, and are being thoroughly enjoyed by staff and patrons.

We so appreciate the generosity of Southern Pioneer Electric and their H.U.G.S. Grant. Receiving the matching funds from CoBank not only surprised us in a very good way, it also took Phase One to absolutely and completely done.

Chase Down That Christmas Spirit!

Christmas lightsWith Thanksgiving behind us and Christmas less than a month away, I still feel like I’m in total denial that the holidays are upon us. I also recently realized that along with that denial comes a lack of Christmas spirit.

Unfortunately, I think that happens to a lot of us. The holidays make our already overwhelming to-do lists grow into a perpetually smothering frenzy, topped off by the hyped-up expectations that seem impossible to satisfy!

I returned to work after dark one evening and the lights of downtown barely registered in my thought process. Have you been downtown after dark? It is beautiful! I caught myself being lackadaisical over the beauty of the season and chastised myself for my lack of joy. It gets pretty easy to get callused over by life, and we have to take responsibility for removing that callus and participating in all that December has to give.

Sometimes we need a little priming to get that joy flowing; many prepare by watching Christmas movies. We have a display in the library of some of the favorite Christmas movies for you to choose from, with more on the shelf. It is a method definitely worth investigating, and at the least, it will provide a nice break from reality.

We also have a display of Christmas books set up. If movies are not your thing, a feel-good book about Christmas might be just what you need to unleash your joy! Or, maybe music would flip the switch on, whether listening to Christmas music or joining a group of carolers who are spreading Christmas cheer.

No? Okay, may I suggest giving? Look around and set your sites on someone who could really use some happiness channeled their way. Plan, prepare, and see if you can be stealthy enough that you can anonymously dump a huge load of happiness and joy on them without the recipients ever knowing who did it. That kind of excitement will be forceful enough to dislodge nearly anything that is blocking your flow of joy!

There are a lot of celebrations that go on around the world during November, December, and January. My choice of celebration is the birth of Jesus. Now I know that December 25th is probably not the actual date that Jesus was born, and I know that there is a link, back there in history, to pagan holidays. The first time they found record that the birth of Christ was celebrated on December 25 was in AD 336. If my family only celebrated holidays on the actual day, we would never celebrate, ever! We know that it doesn’t matter the day; it is all about love, relationships, and being together. That is how I feel about Christmas!

So, if you don’t already have that Christmas spirit bubbling inside, chase it down. Read a book, watch a movie, sing a carol, tour the Christmas lights, help those in need, give generously, and be ever so grateful for all of the good in our lives!