A thorn between two roses
Riding with me is Jan Hunewill. Jan and I are from the 1930s, and delight in the heated seats in my fancy, if not new, car. We are on our way to the home of Melanie Boudreaux, where the University Women’s Club has asked me to form a panel for their meeting. Jeannie Burns is also part of the panel. That’s it, a thorn between two roses.
We arrive at Melanie’s home. Jeannie is already there. The Boudreaux home is Architectural Digest perfect. It resides in a wedge into the Job’s Peak range. Gorgeous is the only word to describe the alpine setting of trees and rock.
The membership women arrive, each pleased to see the other. The group congregates in a room facing the alpine scene. Each lady carries a Valentine’s Day style paper plate, with an assortment of cookies, apricot bars, nuts, and Hallelujah Toffee. Brenda Robertson introduces the panel. Jeannie Burns is up first.
The sweet softness of Jeannie’s “Doris Day like” voice quickly draws us in. Forgoing the niceties of carefully chosen words, Jeannie describes poverty of unimaginable proportions in Kenya.
“If you do not have an education, there is no way out of the squalor or the slums,” she says. Later, taking a positive stance, she adds, “This year we have 100 full-time high school students graduating in Nakuru. We will provide housing for them at our Student Center until they enter college. One thousand dollars provides one year at the university.”
“We made 5,000 pounds of Hallelujah Toffee this past Christmas, collecting $100,000 in sales.We wire the money from our bank here in Nevada to the bank in Nakuru. We have NO administrative costs,” she says proudly. We all are monumentally impressed by what a single person, through God’s help, (Jeannie’s words) can do.
The attention swings to Jan Hunewill. Jan shares her life between two ranches: the Hunewill Smith Valley cattle ranch and the Hunewill Guest Ranch in Bridgeport, Calif. She tells us about the 180 horses they have at in Bridgeport (guests use) and the red and black Angus of their herd. In 1861 the Hunewills took root in the meadows of Bridgeport. Today, guests can leave their hectic urban pace and discover the bliss of Sierra peaks, go on trail rides, and sit around starry sky campfires.
Jan lives a life fully devoted to her expanding family. A new grand baby was recently born and was given the middle name of “Lenore,” Jan’s mother’s name. When she finishes speaking, she is besieged with questions about the Hunewill Guest Ranch.
In mock alarm at the brevity of time left, I rip open “THE INSIDE STORY” (the book I authored) and read a brief segment of the early life of a young male dancer (me) in New York. I receive meager, but sincere applause.
The afternoon wains, the sun drops behind the mountains, and the bonds of friendship loosen. The Club’s business meeting gets underway. Jeannie, Jan, and I quietly withdraw, our mission accomplished.
HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!
(Jeannie’s telephone number is 775-265-3390, should you wish to know more about her efforts in Kenya).
Ron Walker can be contacted at email@example.com