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Good news for a change Alumni

There’s so much bad news on TV and in the papers. Seems like the hopeful, upbeat stories get buried. But the CBS Evening News had a great one on New Year’s Day, and an RIT grad figured prominently in the story.

The New Year’s Day “American Spirit” segment, titled “The Golden Rule” and reported by Jim Axelrod, related the story of John Helmstetter, whose family has worked a farm near Cumberland, Md., for three generations. Last July, his picturesque barn burned to the ground. This was a tragedy for farmer John, but the loss was deeply felt by steam railroad enthusiasts as well. The rail fans frequently hop aboard vintage trains for photo excursions to Helmstetter’s Curve on the Western Maryland Railroad. One such fan is Carl Franz ’65 (imaging science).

Franz launched a campaign “to do something to bring back what we once had, and recreate what was lost.” The goal was $10,000, but ultimately more than $41,000 was raised on the farmer’s behalf. Then, the story explains, a legion of local Amish men spent three days raising a new red barn on the site where the old one had stood for more than a century. The John Helmstetter Farm Fund Web site provides a bit more information.

David Page ’65 (imaging science) turned us on to this very moving story. Page and Franz were classmates and he recognized his old friend, although RIT was not mentioned in the CBS piece.

For another story guaranteed to make you feel good, please check out the piece about George McGee ’71 (business administration) on the Alumni News Web site. Rita Micciche in the Office of Alumni Relations brought McGee to our attention when he filed a class note about a recent event. For the past several years, McGee has been helping to support a family in Kenya. He traveled to Africa last fall to meet his long-distance friend.

McGee called the experience “life-changing.” At the very least, it shows that even when times seem tough, each of us has the potential of making the world a little better for someone else.

Anyway, it’s a brand new year, a whole new decade. Let’s hope for more good news.


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