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The Lark: Vol 3, Issue 8, September 2023



  • WELCOMING WEEK WITH DORCAS INTERNATIONAL: Sept 8-17 w/ a special invitation to join a virtual Community Conversation (Wed, Sept 13 @ 5:30 PM on Zoom) on future plans and ways to support Dorcas International
  • SNOW GLOBES AND BUBBLES by Noreen Berthiaume
  • WHO STOLE MY BATTERY? by Lorraine Kaul

Saving Lieutenant Klepper

by Allan Klepper

Linda and I were visiting a dear old (a month younger that me) friend, Robert Wellins and his wife, Cindi, in Hampden Bays, NY. Bob was my Georgia Tech Freshman roommate in Harrison Hall in 1953. Unfortunately Bob is in his 10th year of decline into dementia…

Bob likes to watch War Movies, so we watched Saving Private Ryan, the 1998 Epic World War II film by Steven Spielberg, starring Tom Hanks as Capt. John Miller and Matt Damon as Pvt. James Frances Ryan.

Capt. Miller leads a team to find Pvt. Ryan, whose three brothers have all been killed, and take him home from the War. Ryan is finally found but refuses to leave. Instead, they join forces with a rag-tag group of men to defend a critical bridge in a small French town that is about to be attacked by German forces. Near the end of the movie, as Capt. Miller lies dying, he tells Ryan to earn the sacrifices made to send him home.

Years later, an aging Ryan and his family visit Miller’s grave at Normandy Cemetery, and expresses that he remembers Miller’s words every day, has lived his life the best he could, and hopes he has earned their sacrifices.

Bob and I both had served in the USAF. In my second year of service, I was reassigned to the Strategic Air Command Headquarters, near Omaha, Nebraska, as part of an experiment with thirteen other 2nd Lieutenants.  This group of young Officers was an outlier among the preeminent military headquarters of the time, and thus banded closely together. I was newly married and Linda was pregnant with son Scot. Our best friend was Lt. Bill Codell, a bachelor who was destined to become Scot’s Godfather. I was frequently assigned to visit military venders in California or Colorado, as well as military bases in Florida, etc. On one such occasion one of the other 13 Lieutenants, Bill Codell, who also travelled, and I had our assignments switched. Returning from a commercial flight that went through Chicago, he had to take a helicopter from O’Hare Airport to Midway Airport in order to catch a flight to Omaha. That helicopter crashed and he died. That was to have been my assignment. Perhaps luck, perhaps destiny! That incident made me feel that I must do right with my life! It has remained on my mind since.

Following the movie, I was in the kitchen talking with Cindi, and suddenly was overcome with emotion; sobbing! That had never happened to me before. In my mind, Bill Codell had become my Capt. Miller; sacrificing his life that I might live. It occurred to me that manifestation was what drove me to years of public service, and I felt humbled to have had the chance to do the best I could for others.

August 2, 2023


Welcoming Week
with Dorcas International

Welcoming Week, occurring from September 8th to 17th, is an annual nationwide initiative aimed at celebrating and showcasing the endeavors of communities and organizations throughout the U.S. in fostering welcoming spaces for everyone, including immigrants. A heartfelt thank you goes to Amica Insurance, our Presenting Sponsor for Welcoming Week. We deeply appreciate their continuous support and meaningful partnership.

Join Us for a Virtual Community Conversation

During Welcoming Week we will unite our diverse community, and highlight our programs, classes, and dedicated staff.

Our Executive Director, Kathy Cloutier will host a virtual Community Conversation on future plans and ways to support Dorcas International. Join us via Zoom at 5:30pm on Wednesday, September 13th. Register Here!

How You Can Help this Welcoming Week and Beyond

Host a hygiene, diaper or new shoes drive
Throughout the year, these items tend to be needed the most! Our website is frequently updated providing information on current needs.

Rally your friends, family and/or co-workers to put together Refugee Restart Kits
This is an easy & fun way to help our newly arriving refugee families who often come to RI with next to nothing; you can help them rebuild their lives by putting together a Restart Kit of items in need. All the details can be found on our right here on our website!

Fall clothes are needed now (all donations are accepted by appointment only):

  • Men's fall clothes (sizes XS, S, M)
  • Men's t-shirts (sizes XS, S, M, L)
  • Men's jeans (all sizes)
  • New children's clothes (all sizes)
  • Gift cards to provide unmet needs that so often arise
  • Check our website for a full list of current needs

Special shoutout to Starbucks!

Throughout the entire month of September, the following Starbucks locations are graciously organizing a hygiene drive as their way of celebrating Welcoming Week! Those newly arriving in the U.S. and here in Rhode Island are in great need of so much, including hygiene products of all sorts. Starbucks, Wayland Square is making it easy for you to help – stop by for your coffee and support those in need by dropping off a hygiene item for donation!


Wayland Square, Providence
University Heights, Providence
Thayer Street, Providence
Garden City, Cranston
The Barrington Shopping Center
Warwick, Pace Boulevard
N Kingstown Crossing
Richmond, Stilson Road


Volunteers play an important role at Dorcas International, and are needed on an ongoing basis throughout the agency. We are incredibly grateful for their collective help! If you are interested in volunteering, please register to volunteer and let us know your interests.

Give Now

Contact our team for more information: | [email protected] | 401-784-8707

Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island strives to create a welcoming environment for all, working to empower the most vulnerable among us for more than 100 years. We meet our clients where they are by providing innovative, wraparound programs and services helping those seeking to overcome educational, cultural, economic, and language barriers.

Dorcas International Institute of Rhode Island | 645 Elmwood Avenue, Providence, RI 02907

Snow Globes and Bubbles

by Noreen Berthiaume

It's a cool, Spring day, a good day to purge out the shed, that repository for everything that doesn't fit in the house and would get rusty skin from the dampness in what we lovingly refer to as our root cellar. The cellar floor is dirt. There's also a humongous rock that we work around, cobwebs that get swept away as they dangle from the low ceiling almost touching the top of my head, and mice that we trap and bring miles away. One mile is too close. They know their way home. I've wondered what I could grow in that dingy, damp root cellar besides mushrooms.

But today, I walked to the shed, sweeping the oak tree tumbleweeds with my foot and opened the door to my cocoon of special bits and pieces from my past. Finding a box to rummage through, I gently lowered myself to the floor, wondering how I will hoist myself up later. But the box beckons! The first thing I come across is a snow globe, glass broken, the water having frozen because I forgot it was in there but the little village still intact.

Sitting on the wooden floor, gently picking up each tiny piece of glass out of the box, I thought about the many unique scenes in those globes with their pretty white, iridescent glitter gently falling when we shake them up. It occurred to me that my memories are enclosed in thousands of tiny snow globes, resting on my never-ending psyche shelves, nostalgic past experiences, wistfully waiting to be shook, to be recognized again.

Life is all about those moments that, like the scene in a snow globe, can just sit, quietly, in a deep corner of your mind, then some unknown external force tips the globe with our memory, shakes it up, and by its beauty lures us in to thoughtfully reflect. Not all memories are pleasant. Shaking up that globe can cause a need to wallow in the past, become melancholy. It's OK. Hopefully, we can watch the globe of a memory, then return it to its shelf once the snow has quietly fallen back in place, peaceful again. Other snow globe memories, much larger and colorful than the rest, bring a smile, cause our heart to fill with the joy of reflecting and knowing that little snow globe will always be there for us to shake.

A little more rummaging and I found a little bottle of Magic Bubbles, a leftover from little grandchildren babysitting days. Sitting there thinking, I made the executive decision in my head that some memories didn't deserve even a puny snow globe, like past relationships, arguments, even people. Some just deserved a bubble. I scooted on my fanny over to the doorway with the little bottle of bubbles, feeling just a soft breeze at the entrance. So, I gently started to blow those annoying memories away, no longer needing a space on my psyche shelf. Some memory bubbles popped right in my face, defiant, their last hooray, while others, full of shimmering color, gracefully drifted away in the wind, maybe to return another day.

Continue to make snow globe memories, or bubbles, if that's your preference. They are limitless. There are lessons to be learned, people to meet, experiences to be had, always moving forward with new memories for your psyche shelves. Enjoy your journey!


Who Stole My Battery?

by Lorraine Kaul

I’m often surprised at the silly and sentimental little incidents from my past that stay with me. I can be in full concentration mode, on a project, or even reading an interesting article, and find my attention drifting into long-forgotten events. My mind monkeys then seem to go on an archeological dig to unearth memorable treasures.

One evening, in my Freshman year in college, my brother, Warren, two years my senior, whom I will describe as having few to no boundaries and barely an ounce of emotional regulation, came crashing into my bedroom, ecstatic to share with me his exciting news. He roared; I found a buyer for my car! This news was a big deal because he had had his eye on another car for some time. With the sale of his car and the money he had saved, he could buy his dream car. I thought he'd be exchanging one junk heap for another, but he had a different perspective.

The potential buyers agreed to come to look at the car the next day. I feigned interest in his news and responded, That’s great! I cautioned him, however, with one of my mother’s idioms. Remember, don't count your chickens before they hatch.

I then told him to leave my room and knock the next time. That was the extent of my supportive sister capabilities.

After he left, I became interested in his potential car sale. I remembered that he had just bought a new battery for the car he was about to sell. Knowing that my car’s battery was old and corroded and had very little life left, I conjured a plan where both my brother and I could benefit from this sale.

I woke early the following day, knowing he would sleep in on Saturday. I grabbed my channel lock pliers and slipped out, quietly raised the hood of his car and expeditiously removed his car’s battery, brought it back to my bedroom, and crammed both the tool and battery under my bed. I figured anyone who wanted to buy his car would not refuse the opportunity because of a missing battery. I had no money for a new battery. If the buyer could afford a car, they could afford to spring for a battery.

I was again in my room working on school papers that afternoon when the potential buyers arrived. Warren was in full fluff car salesman mode.

I could hear his charismatic greeting as he talked about the car's merits and reason for selling. Then the voices faded, and I could only hear muffled sounds. It seemed all was going well when Warren came unexpectedly crashing into my room again. His face was beet red this time, with purple blood veins pulsating from his temples; in his unregulated emotional tantrum, Warren raised and shook his arms and hands in a hell-fired rage. He struggled to muffle the volcanic shriek trying to erupt from his fuming lungs, fearing the buyers would hear. Someone stole my battery, he bellowed.

I, in full supportive sister mode, said in surprise, Really? How could anyone do that without us hearing it? Then still in the caring sister role, I asked, when did you last start your car? I was talking as if it was a question leading to an investigation. He said, yesterday! I said, well, go out there and apologize and tell them you are sorry but don't offer to buy the battery.

Whatever he worked out, they left, came back with a battery, and started the car, and I believe they drove it a short distance, and the vehicle sold. Warren calmed down. I returned to my room and peeked under the bed to glimpse my gift, a brand-new battery!

Now I marvel at how this unearthed silly and sentimental memory is a prized treasure.




September 12, 2023