Tuesday, August 23, 2016

One year later, leader of the effort to protect the natural resources of Eldred Township from Nestlé's grasp pauses, shares reflections and continues to contribute to community

A year ago, Donna Diehl had a table at the West End Fair, to publicize the fact Nestle Waters was in town. The now famous "Stop Nestle" banner was born for the purpose of increasing foot traffic to her table. As Donna says "We really didn't know what was happening at that time, and what the effort to keep Nestle out would expand to, but we were scared." She pauses with a smile and says "All we had to hand out was negative information on Nestle." Imagine that - in this case foresight and hindsight were both 20-20.

A year later, on August 23rd, Donna is perched on a gurney at the Lehighton Hospital, with her husband and son at her side. She has various monitors attached to her. Her hair is "spiked" and looks like a fresh updo, which she points out is not the result of grooming but rather because 30 probes were just removed from her scalp. They don't have a sensor large enough though, to measure the size of Donna's heart. Here she is going through a battery of tests ordered by her doctor, but talking about how to improve the food bank, what to do with community projects such as Mock Park, and how to help other people. She looks like a million bucks on this day, which incidentally is about the amount of profit Nestle would have made each week if its Kunkletown project had been successful. Donna and her family are waiting for the doctor to review all the scanned, electronic and blood tests that have been done.

In the parking lot, I meet a lovely woman who is a member of the Polk Township Historical Society, who had overheard Donna and I in the hospital speaking about the West End Fair. She approaches me from all the way across the parking lot and effusively tells me "you simply must stop to see the Bake Oven, which was moved from the Jonas Hotel by the Amish to the West End Fair site and reconstructed. The last I saw, they made some bread in it." The only reason I know where Jonas is, is a few trips to Penn Forest Township to witness the Wind Farm zoning hearings. This pushed my knowledge of Polk Township as well, having attended a Polk Township municipal meeting with Donna and several others from Edlred Township, in support of those appearing to protest a possible water extraction project there. Lots of scenic and beautiful country all around this area, and beautiful people too. People who help each other. The mention of the Jonas Bake Oven made me think of fresh apple pie, not bread, on this cool August day. How I look forward to baking that first pie of the season.

I have plans to visit the West End Fair, with some new friends I have made in Monroe County, and have a great time. Friends like Donna Diehl. What I've discovered in 6 months of visiting in the West End is that there are several others like Donna - people with big hearts who care about others and diligently work to improve the lives everyone in and around the community - especially the less fortunate. It is a blessing to have crossed paths with this community.

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