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A Word from the President

February 14, 2012

Sometimes We All Need a Helping Hand

Dennis W. Felty
Dennis W. Felty
President, KHS

This year marks Keystone Human Services’ 40th anniversary supporting individuals and families in the community. The Keystone story is a story of individuals and families encountering the realities of the human experience and finding the courage and strength to build meaningful lives.

Since we first opened our doors on Green Street in 1972, we have grown and changed, but one thing has remained constant throughout our 40 years. We continue to remain dedicated to the people we serve.

At some point in our lives, all of us will experience some sort of disability. It is an inherent part of the human experience and we all travel the same path. In times of turmoil, we all struggle to know what our personal obligation is to each other. When I think about our human obligation to the people around us, I am reminded of an experience my father, Warren Felty, had.

On a cold November night in 1940, my father was driving along the icy roads near Harrisburg when he saw the car in front of him swerve and crash into a culvert. The driver was thrown from the car and lay bleeding and unconscious in a snow bank. My father stopped and drove the driver to the hospital. The young man, whose name was Bill Miller, regained consciousness a few days later and learned that my father had saved his life. They met at this time but soon lost touch with each other.

My father went on to enlist in the Army Air Corps and became a B-17 bomber pilot. On his seventeenth mission, his plane was hit and the crew had to bail out. When they landed, they were captured by the German SS and held as prisoners of war.

During a bitterly cold winter, over 10,000 prisoners of war were marched 200 miles to a different detention camp. The prisoners were starving and did not have shelter or adequate clothing, and many of them died along the way. As my father and the others trudged through the snow, he saw a fellow prisoner collapsed in total exhaustion in the snow. My father stopped to help him and discovered that it was Bill Miller. Unbeknownst to each other, they had both become B-17 bomber pilots. A few months later, my father, Bill and the other prisoners of war were liberated by General George Patton. Bill and my father remained friends until Bill’s death a few years ago.

My father passed away in December. He was 94, lived with us and had a long and rich life.

Now more than ever, we need to think about our relationships and obligations to one another. In the current economic downturn, all of us feel anxious and challenged, and there is no certainty where our current circumstances will lead us and our families. Should we choose to stop, reach out and help, or should we stare straight ahead and march on by? In reality, though, we must fully engage with each other to truly make a difference in this world for our children and grandchildren.

We all like to think that we would play the role of the hero and reach out a helping hand, just like my father did. But in the end, all of us are called to play the role of Bill Miller. We have times in our lives when we are the ones who need someone to hold us up.

In this time of unprecedented need and shrinking resources, I ask you to renew and deepen your commitment to the reality that we all travel the same path and should help each other along the way.

Keystone is a remarkable resource that gives each of us the ability to personally make a difference in people’s lives and in the world. Keystone offers everyone the opportunity to contribute and participate in work that is relevant, meaningful and needed. We are celebrating 40 years of service this year because so many people recognized their commitment to each other and offered their support. I thank you for your past and continued support as Keystone moves forward into the next 40 years.


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