Being a have or have-not depends on factors

Published 8:32 am Monday, October 13, 2008

I missed Ty Pennington! I was too busy mourning Paul Newman and I missed Ty. Paul died a few weeks ago. My kids were concerned. They knew how much I admired Paul. That told me to sit down and they broke the news that Paul Newman had died. Paul was not only a great actor he also was a great humanitarian. He used his blue eyes and good looks and celebrity for more then being a Hollywood Icon as he donated the profits from his Newman’s Own brand to many different many charities. He gave back to communities.

I didn’t get to see Ty. I was going to volunteer but I was too late and the numbers were filled. I would have been in the unskilled labor category. I managed to view the site on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. It was exciting to see all the workers donating their time so a deserving family can have a home. Of course, I took the time to read all the comments in the paper. I imagine had the articles been about Paul Newman and his gifts to charity that some of the writers could have found fault with that too.

I must have been one of the have-nots that the comments were talking about because I didn’t have a VIP pass. It is funny but even though I am not wealthy I don’t feel like a have-not. I assume, and you know what they say about assume, that when the comments were made about the have-nots the comments meant not having as much money as some of the other people. The comments meant not having an important position with a company or the right connections. The comments meant that in some people’s minds if they do not have money and position in a community they are a have-not.

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Well I would consider myself a have-not if I didn’t have a family that loved me. I would consider myself a have-not if I didn’t have friends that are there in bad times and good. I would consider myself a have not if I didn’t have Sambo my faithful pooch. I would consider myself a have not if I did not find joy when something wonderful happened for one of my friends or someone in my community.

My friends are varied. Some have more money than I do. Some have better positions in employment then I do. I do not think any of us ever consider money or position in our friendships. I find it interesting that the context of the have or have-nots was used in the fact that people got to enter the VIP tent for “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”

I can tell you that I once viewed have or have-nots the same way. I came to realize that I viewed others as being the haves and myself as being the have-not when I was the unhappiest with my life. I had those views when I was feeling sorry for myself because of my circumstances. I had those views because I was frustrated with myself. An accident changed all that. It opened my eyes to what is important.

I missed Ty. I missed the whole “Extreme Makeover” crew. I missed the pleasure of seeing the family view its house. I do regret that, but how wonderful it is that there were so many volunteers to help this family. Is it going to matter tomorrow that I was not a have and didn’t get into the VIP tent? Is it going to matter tomorrow that I was not a have and wasn’t in time to be chosen for a volunteer? Maybe the next time I have to be faster. It is my fault I missed that great experience. What would matter is if I were not happy for this family. What would matter is if this great TV show that helps families would not have come to build that house. Many people made the point that it wasn’t about us, and they were right. It was about a deserving family. The VIPs are this family.

I missed Ty. I also missed Paul Newman. And I imagine I am going to miss Robert Redford. I don’t see meeting him anytime in my near future. This experience wasn’t about meeting celebrities or being on TV or even being in the VIP tent. This experience was about helping a very deserving family. We can carry on what the “Extreme Makeover” team taught us. We can look around us and find other people or families that need some sort of help and continue to be caring communities. This caring might be done more silently and more individually, but we can do it.

We can continue to support one another. We can continue to support charities. We can continue to dream for something bigger for our friends like the friends of the DeVrieses did. These friends took action. Thank you, “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” for letting us know that it is possible to dream big.

In the meantime I am writing to Oprah. I need Nate to nudge my kitchen into the 2008 mode. Do you suppose he could talk Robert Redford into visiting, too?

Wells resident Julie Seedorf’s column appears every Monday. Send e-mail to her at