Harriet Ludwig: Serving in faith
Published: Monday, November 12, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, November 8, 2012 at 11:07 p.m.
The old saying, “An army marches on its stomach,” sums up my year's education in today”s health care system.
That army is backed by health care workers who often work double shifts to give patients life-changing care. They also somehow find time to lead in community health services.
Take Roy Reece, African American licensed practical nurse.
He works two Gainesville nursing jobs to educate a college student son and a fifth-grade daughter. Yet he still finds time to lead Sevaclub, a food plan and other human service projects of the Hare Krishna Church, in the city of Alachua.
He came to America in 1972 from Georgetown, Guyana, at age 13 with his mother, a United Nations official. Now retired, she had requested a transfer to a New York U.N. branch because she wanted her son to experience life in a mixed race society.
“I had been the only black person in my Catholic school. My friends were all black,” Reece told me. “School had taught me that in America everyone was free and opportunity was open for everyone. I knew the names of Freedom Movement leaders like Martin Luther King. I knew nothing about the years of struggle for change, or about white opposition to equality for black people.”
This time he was not the only black student among the mixed races but his belief in the American land of the free soon faded. Not all of the other races liked the black stranger. Even some of Reece's fellow blacks seemed to resent the intrusion of a foreign immigrant.
Reece described himself as “always an introverted youth and seeker after truth. Religion became a refuge for me and started me on a life-long search for a religion right for me.
“I finally found the right church for me,” Reece said. “The Hare Krishna's accept members of all faiths, races, ethnic groups and social status. As a leader of the Sevaclub I have found that living for others brings more happiness than living for myself.”
Currently, the Sevaclub project is supplying food to homeless students and others on the campus of the University of Florida, in Hare Krishna's long tradition.
Harriet Ludwig is a retired journalist who lives in Gainesville.