Thursday, October 25, 2007

'Only thing I heard was 'How can I help you?' '

Posted @ 12:04 PM

Russian-born Adel Massarskaya effervesces about her American neighbors and friends. When she moved to La Jolla 11 years ago, she was thrilled how welleveryone treated her. Now, in the wake of the fire that chased her and her husband, Vladimir, from their new Carmel Valley apartment, she's waving the flag -- sometimes, literally.

“In La Jolla, the only thing I ever heard was how can I help you and what are neighbors for.”

Last week, former neighbors Lian and Richard Reed invited the Massarskayas to stay with them when fire threatened. “We returned home after two days; they wanted us to stay.”

Back in Carmel Valley, Adel found her voice-mail filled with concern from other neighbors wanting to help.

“Americans are wonderful. When I hear people saying something (negative), I'm absolutely indignant. I was so happy when we became citizens, absolutely. Maybe I've met the best of American people, maybe they all are.”.

It's a fact that in this time of crisis San Diegans have reached out to friends, neighbors and even strangers. With the help of e-mails, phones and cells, reaching arms have extended from as far away as Chicago, New York and Florida to Puerto Rico, Switzerland and beyond. Some callers hadn't reconnected with friends for years. Even though many are too far away to help physically, San Diegans say they are comforted by knowing others care.

Hilde Buchmann, a Swiss-born homeowner in Pacific Beach, says, “Oh my god, I've gotten dozens of e-mails and at least two dozen phone calls from friends and relatives in Austria, Belgium, Switzerland and Canada. They wanted to know if we were OK. They certainly couldn't help from a distance, but at least they cared and worried about me and my husband, Walter. It made me feel good inside.

Victory Lareau of Mission Beach says her husband, Richard, was surprised to receive phone calls from two fellow graduate students from UC Berkeley. He graduated 50 years ago.

Elena and Bob Ortic of Rancho Bernardo returned from a brief stay at their son's house last week to an intact home and neighborhood. Elena was excited that a friend of 32 years, who has kept in touch only through Christmas cards, phoned from Florida to check on them. “In all these years, “we've only talked on the phone once.”

Paradoxically, Kathy Fackler, who lives in the village of La Jolla, says she's received more e-mails about the sink hole on Mount Soledad, than aboutthe fire.

Betty Wheelock of La Jolla has amassed about 15 e-mails and phone calls from friends and relatives around the country. She would agree with AdelMassarskaya. “Sometimes we're so criticized by the rest world. And it's so false, because the true American spirit, who we really are, certainly has surfaced in tragedy. I think this volunteerism is much part of our people and our culture and much to be very proud of.”

Safe in Mission Beach, Steve Reck says he's been sending more e-mails than he's received. “I want to see what people need, food or shelter. All I did was give blood.”

By Marsha Kay Seff
Eldercare Editor

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

We all are concerned that once lived in San Diego County! We were there during the Cedar Fire and just moved last year to Montana. My daughter is in Germany studying & is very concerned about her friends from her school years in Vista. Even though we are so far away, we still send our prayers & thoughts and wish we could be there to help.

Don & Mel