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July 26, 2008

 

TC3 gathering donations for Afghan children

Students, instructors collecting clothing, school supplies as couple speaks of its own fundraising efforts

TC3

Ida M. Pease/staff reporter
Nursing professor Linda Pasto points to a picture of her son, Tim Pasto, who is serving in the National Guard in Afghanistan outside her office at Tompkins Cortland Community College. Pasto is collecting school supplies and clothing for children in Afghanistan.

By IDA M. PEASE
Staff Reporter
ipease@cortlandstandard.net

DRYDEN — A Vermont couple whose son was killed on Sept. 11 talked Thursday at Tompkins Cortland Community College about recovering their lives by collecting school supplies for Afghan children and building a school for girls.
Beth VanDine, director of TC3 global program administration, said she had been trying to schedule Sally and Donald Goodrich to speak to global students since reading a Reader’s Digest article about them in April.
VanDine learned only Tuesday that they would be able to come to speak.
About 30 people, many global students, attended the talk.
“It was very inspiring,” said Honduran global student Mauricio Chong, 20, after the talk.
The Goodriches’ son Peter was killed in the second plane that hit the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001.
“I’m not sure I would have reacted the same way,” said Ana Cerrato, 21, another global student from Honduras. She said if she had a child who died because of a terrorist attack, she was not sure she would have helped the people of the nation that had a hand in it.
The urge to help did not come immediately.
“It left us in shock, but not in privacy,” Sally Goodrich said of her son’s death. “Peter’s death marked the opening of a chasm … We could not recognize who we had become.”
Goodrich said her “moment of grace” came about three years later in 2004 in an e-mail from one of her son’s childhood friends — U.S. Marine Maj. Rush Filson, who served two tours of duty in Afghanistan, the first of which was spent close to the Pakistan border.
That e-mail asked for school supplies for the children there because they had nothing, said Sally Goodrich, who lives in Burlington with her husband.
The couple formed the Peter M. Goodrich Memorial Foundation in 2004 to help the children.
Goodrich showed a documentary that is not completed, which showed Filson during a visit to the Goodriches.
He said in the film that he did not need food, but the children did not have school supplies so that is what he wanted sent. Filson said Sally Goodrich took up the cause.
Besides the school supplies, the foundation has raised $236,000 to build the school in Shekhabad, Afghanistan, said Sally Goodrich.
“We never, ever had to ask for anything,” she said of the fundraising. She said she has visited Afghanistan five times since 2004.
The school has about 500 students, said Donald Goodrich, a lawyer who worked to help American families of victims recover financially from the attack. He said the government was more concerned with making sure the airlines did not go bankrupt.
“It became difficult for me to deal with this,” he said of the victims being used for political agendas.
“We have to look at the world differently now,” said Donald Goodrich, explaining the importance of cultural awareness of places the United States is involved in and that religious groups should not be excluded from discussion about borders or else it leaves an opening for religious fundamentalists.
“The young people in this room — these are the ones who will have to carry this ball … to bring about a much greater hope for peace than we have today.”
VanDine’s global students involved in the international honor society Phi Theta Kappa had already planned a clothing drive benefit for children in Afghanistan that will be held in front of Wal-Marts at Ithaca and Cortlandville from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday. They will collect gently used clothes and shoes for children, from infants and teens. She said this idea came about after she saw Linda Pasto, a nursing professor, with a load of clothes in her arms, walking down a hallway at TC3.
Pasto said she has been collecting clothes and school supplies that she sends to her son, Tim, who is stationed at Camp Phoenix in Kabul, Afghanistan. He is second in command of a National Guard unit there.
“My garage is full of clothes right now,” said Pasto, who lives in Lansing. She said she has 92 boxes filled with clothes, which will be shipped free on an Air National Guard cargo plane. She said she has collected a lot of warm clothes — sweaters and jackets. She said shoes are badly needed, especially for the winter.
“It’s given us a positive outlet for our energy,” Pasto said, referring to two other women who are helping her.
Pasto said she had spent seven weeks in Cayuga Medical Center three years ago. She was in a coma after a surgery resulted in her contracting sepsis. “It changes your perspective,” she said. “You feel like you’ve been given a gift.”
VanDine said she is hoping to extend the project to the global students’ home colleges.
Both Cerrato, an international business major, and Chong, an international trade major, said they would try to promote the Afghan benefit in their hometown communities. Both attend Unitec College in Honduras.
Cerrato said she had talked to VanDine about making her college community in Honduras more aware of the situation in Afghanistan.
“Instead of complaining about it, they’re doing the right thing,” Chong said of the Goodriches. “That’s all that’s needed to make the world a better place.”

 

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