By Jean Clark
Through the United Church of Christ Partners in Service program, Mary and Bill Ruth of Pleasant Hill, volunteered at Heifer Ranch in Perryville, AR, during the month of March. The Ruths were presented the “still sweating” appreciation award in recognition of their many hours of enthusiastic labor and their continuing commitment and dedication to the mission of Heifer International, which is to “end world hunger and poverty while caring for the earth.”
The value of their full-time four weeks of volunteering is calculated as $3,615 each, which equates to the purchase of one heifer, two sheep, one llama, one water buffalo, two goats, one camel, one milk menagerie, two flocks of chicks, two flocks of ducks, two flocks geese, two honeybee Hives, one pig and one promise basket.
They hosted 19 residents of Uplands Village who not only visited the Learning Center at Heifer Ranch, but toured Heifer International Headquarters and the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, AR, as well. They visited the Global Village at the Ranch, featuring structures that represent living conditions in Guatemala, Thailand, Zambia, Appalachian housing and a refugee camp. Several of the group tried milking goats. Heifer International’s gifts of livestock offer benefits that can feed, clothe, house, educate, protect, empower and motivate resource-poor families living around the world. What makes Heifer unique is “Passing on the Gift” in which recipients agree to pass on one or more of their animals’ offspring to another family in need. Since 1944, this common-sense approach to development has helped 13.6 million families in more than 125 countries improve their quality of life.
During the four-day visit, there were tours by foot and hay wagon, and programs about Heifer International adult education. Current Ranch volunteers talked about their experiences. One evening program featured the “Seagoing Cowboys”. They were the 7000 young men from 1946-49 who cared for the cattle placed on Liberty ships to help the United Nations replenish animals lost during WWII in Europe. Among the visitors from Pleasant Hill was Dick Riesz, who was one of those “cowboys” on a summer job while in college. Riesz helped transport 777 horses to Poland in 1946. He regaled the visitors, Ranch staff and volunteers with humorous stories of his adventure. Joyce and Dick Riesz were missionaries in Madurai, a big city in the far south of India for thirty years. Dick started a new Graduate School of Physics in The American College of an Indian University. He feels that the Seagoing Cowboy experience was responsible for his desire for overseas mission. The late Charlie Lord of Pleasant Hill was also one of those Seagoing Cowboys, although not on the same ship with Riesz. Heifer Project was officially started in 1944 by sending cattle to Puerto Rico. Dan West, a Church of Brethren Indiana farmer, was the originator of the concept.
Jeanne Chappell-Kingsbury of Pleasant Hill, organizer of the trip and her late husband, Bill Chappell, lived at the Heifer Ranch in Perryville, AR, for four-plus years. They were the host and hostess of the visitor's center and also ran the gift shop. Jeanne remembers well the summer that Peace Corps volunteers came for extended training in animal husbandry and planting gardens as they would be planted and tended in the particular African countries to which they were being sent. A group of 40 Hondurans spent a month at the ranch, also learning skills to take back to their homeland. Visitors during their stint included the prime minister of Madagascar and Ed Asner of TV fame.
Others from Pleasant Hill who have volunteered at the Heifer Ranch in Arkansas are Lyle and Sharon Weible, Rita and Jerry Kummer and Bob and Connie Waidmann. Roy and Evelyn Siewert were volunteers at the Heifer Overlook Ranch in Rutland, MA, before moving to Pleasant Hill. All who visit these Heifer facilities can’t help but go away impressed with the mission accomplishments of Heifer International throughout the world.