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Much of Dr. Hal Ott’s
life is spent helping others. Through his business, the Ruskin Animal
Hospital, he brings compassion and relief to pet owners throughout the
region. Through his tireless volunteer work with C.A.R.E., the no-kill
animal shelter he helped to create, he brings salvation to pets without
owners. And even through the no-leash dog park he built in Ruskin,
arguably one of the most beautiful in the area, he brings joy and
solitude to hundreds of south county residents and their dogs.
now Ott, a longtime philanthropist, is seeking help from the
community. Late this month, he will make his tenth trip to Haiti as
part of the Rotary Club to continue efforts towards bringing hope to
some of the most impoverished people in the Western Hemisphere.
missions to the country are not without risk – Haiti is considered one
of the world’s most dangerous places with pockets of virtual anarchy
and rampant kidnappings. While his work takes place in an area
relatively free of such problems, the poverty is extreme. Despite the
odds, despite the risks, Ott feels compelled to do what he can to help.
him, regardless of the situation, the people there are fellow human
beings and without a helping hand, they will almost certainly perish.
The challenge is immense but he is not tilting against windmills -
because Haiti is not yet a lost cause. Despite more than a century of
turmoil, people like him are patiently sewing the seeds of change, and
little by little, the roots are taking hold.
Ott needs $20,000 to complete construction on a small clinic in a
remote village 200 miles west of Port-au-Prince. He won’t talk about
his own outlay, but I’m certain the amount out of his own pocket is
significant. He isn’t the type of man to ask for help - and if he had
the money, he wouldn’t ask. Likewise, if I had it, I would give it to
him - I know what is in his heart.
are others like him in Haiti working to begin solutions to a huge
spectrum of problems – and taken together, they are bringing Haiti back
from the edge.
But they can’t do it without the help of their neighbors.
$20,000 means much more than a building. Today in that village there
is nothing. If somewhere there is a doctor or dentist interested in
donating their time and expertise, they would have nowhere to go, there
would be no facility from which to work. When the building is
complete, however, the outlook changes dramatically. Suddenly
volunteers have a base from which to help local doctors. That building
could well become the focal point of change for thousands of human
lives. It is a small investment that will pay huge dividends for a
long time to come.
is something in the hearts of those who are compelled to act. A stray
dog was recently seen walking down a south county residential street.
Many of the people along the street simply shooed the dog away – it was
just another in a long line of strays, after all – and you can’t save
them all. One woman, however, stopped and picked up the dog. For
whatever reason, she decided that she would try to save that one. The
woman’s first call was to Dr. Ott. Like everyone else, Ott can’t fix
them all - but he does what he can. When he sees a problem, he feels
compelled to act. He helped the woman and the little stray puppy.
yesterday, an elderly woman had parked her car in the middle of a busy
street - as cars lined up behind hers, she was out on the road herding
a turtle out of harm’s way. She can’t save all of the turtles, but she
chose to save that one.
problems in Haiti are not comparable to that of a stray puppy or a
turtle – but the motivation in the heart is the same. Ott has seen the
effects of extreme poverty on children – children just like yours – who
are taking care of their siblings because their parents are dead or
dying. In many cases they are dying from diseases that could be cured
with readily available and inexpensive medications.
|The walls are going up on a medical and dental clinic in a small village in Haiti. It is a project of Dr. Hal Ott and the Rotary Club. But Ott needs our help to complete this project - and for the people in the village, it is a matter of life or death. Photo courtesy of Dr. Hal Ott|
fate of Haiti is precariously balanced on a sharp precipice. To ignore
the problem will allow the balance to rapidly fall towards ruin. If
that happens, more people will suffer and die – and they will do it on
our doorstep - it will all happen within two hours flying time of the
greatest and wealthiest nation on the planet.
the other side, however, are those willing to lend a helping hand –
either through building a small clinic or merely writing a check that
could be used towards completing the clinic. In either case, the
weight of that act is monumental – and it directly shifts the balance
of fate towards success and opportunity. Literally, the simple act of
writing a check translates to a helping hand pulling people out of
seemingly impossible despair. They may not know your name to thank
you, but in their souls you will never be forgotten.
after all, in the case of Haiti, they can’t pull themselves up by their
own bootstraps until they can afford to buy some boots. And Ott
doesn’t want to give them a handout – just a helping hand.
Ott, I strongly prefer to keep my charitable contributions private. As
a reporter, I’m supposed to simply tell the story and not get
involved. But my responsibility as a human being is greater than that
of my job.
sometimes I do get involved – but that is not something I would discuss
with even my closest friends. In this case, however, I need to make an
exception – this is a matter of life and death. My wife and I gave Ott
a check for $200. That is one percent of the building he hopes to
complete. Now he just needs 99 others to do the same – or a thousand
others giving $20 – or 10,000 giving $2. It can be done. Together, we
can do this.
began his career as a veterinarian hoping to make a difference in the
lives of others. He discovered, however, that in doing so that it was
actually his life that was enhanced. Privately, he says the same thing
about his visits to Haiti. He has witnessed things that no one could
ever be prepared for and yet returned home humbled by it all. He is a
modest and gracious man who has quietly stepped off the path of
convenience to take on something that defies description.
now he needs our help – our neighbors in that small village need our
help. There is still time but the clock is running. For them, it is
life or death. We can’t save all of the people, but we can save some –
and don’t think otherwise because that is literal: Together, we can
save human lives.
this month, Ott is going to board an airplane bound for Haiti. Even
with the experience of his prior trips, I have to believe it is going
to be at least a little scary. But we can make it less so. We can put
our hands on top of his – we can be with him every step of the way by
directly turning the dream of a clinic into a reality. He’ll be the
first to say that it wouldn’t be his accomplishment – it would be all
in doing so, we can create a miracle – and I suspect we’ll find that
our own lives will be enhanced because for each of our remaining days,
we will know that we saved lives. We can’t do much better than that.
should be made payable to Missionary Ventures, Inc. All donations are
tax deductible and may be dropped off or mailed to the Ruskin Animal
Hospital at 715 South Tamiami Trail, Ruskin, FL, 33570.
Write to me, confidentially if you prefer, to let me know your thoughts. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
If we can do this, I will personally commit to accompanyng Dr. Ott on a
future trip to record the progress in photographs - and I will send
them to you as a reminder of what you have accomplished. Would I be
scared to go? Yes, probably. Would I be honored to go? Yes,
But if you want to help, do it today - the clock is ticking and the toll is enormous.
© Copyright 2007 by The
News Publications and M&M Printing Company, Inc.
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