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Opinion: Searching for Tim Velleca’s email

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I was running out of space on my Mac Book so finally, I did the unthinkable. You see, I guess I am a hoarder of sorts. I have been told that all men are in some way. I didn’t know that but, maybe its true. So, at that time I had well over 400,000 emails stored on my laptop. I never delete emails. Never. Until a few months ago when I was faced with the choice of losing the use of my laptop or deleting something to create more space on the hard drive. 

The emails, to me, were history. They are my lifeline. They are how I, in a twisted sort of way, stay “organized.” Constantly, I want to remember something or find something or get some sort of reference, so I just search my emails and almost every time, there it is, that bit of information I wanted, in an old email.

But a couple months ago I deleted the oldest four or five-year’s worth of emails and of course, almost instantly, I regretted it. I needed something and searched my emails and what I needed was somewhere in the years that I no longer have. “Of course it is,” I thought to myself, “of course. “

What I was looking for was the oldest email from my friend Tim Velleca who owns restaurants, including Qdoba on Windward Parkway. We go way back. He is one of the early advertisers in our newspapers and, now 30 years after we started publishing in North Fulton, he and his restaurant are still in business. So many are not.  

Tim had called me recently to ask if I might be interested in writing a story about a benchmark that had occurred in his personal and professional life. “Of course,” I said, “what do you have in mind?”  Here is the gist of the email he sent me in response: “Hi Ray it’ Tim. I just celebrated my fifth year donating meals to Children’s Hospital of Atlanta (CHOA).  We go every Wednesday night and feed the entire AFLAC Cancer and Blood Disorder Center — everyone in the center, patients, parents, staff — on average about 50 people. I thought it might be a easy good feel-good story during the holidays. If you want, I can send you a post I made on Facebook when I first got the idea five years ago. Your readers might find comfort in it.”

Tim emailed me his post. It’s a bit long. And with his permission, I have posted it — unedited — with this column online on our website, NorthFulton.com. It’s a good read and has a heart-felt message that will raise the spirits of anyone who may be feeling down this holiday season.

In his post, Tim explained that around first grade, his son had heart surgery at CHOA. While attending to his son in the hospital Tim observed how difficult a time it was for the children and parents and siblings. Many were from out of town and were staying in hotels and camping out at the hospital while their child was there. So, after his son was discharged, Tim donated two well station carts that could be wheeled from room to room for children who were too sick to get out of bed to go down to the central playroom. With time, that donation evolved to what Tim and his staff do today — feeding the entire wing every Wednesday.

In these hard times, we often must look deep — somewhere — to find comfort. Often however, we need look no further than those small — and sometimes large — acts of kindness and selfless generosity being made by our neighbors, by someone in our church or club, by total strangers, and, yes, by the local restaurant where we sometimes dine, like Tim’s Qdoba.

So, I couldn’t find that oldest email from Tim but, in this case, it really didn’t matter. What mattered was Tim and his Qdoba staff. 

I suspect there may be no better antidote to the pain, darkness, and misery in the lives of so many these days, than reaching out to comfort someone else in need or hearing about someone who has. It is a light we can shine into dark places, if we choose.

Merry Christmas, happy holidays to all and thank you Tim and staff for your example.

PS: Of note, I know that there are so many in our North Fulton area who do help others on a daily basis —  businesses as well as individuals. I know that many local restaurants like Tim’s also reach out and you never hear about their acts of generosity and kindness. Dave Filipowicz who owns downtown Alpharetta’s Smokejack restaurant has always stepped up, donating food to local elementary schools and others. Ron and Terri Altman who own BurgerFi on Windward Parkway make supporting local charities an integral part of their official mission and heavily support a different nonprofit each year. Ralph Rucker and his wife Sara — long-time area residents — every year raise money to buy Christmas presents for over 250 needy kids in West Virginia, then load all the presents into a container and drive them up to the kids. Steve Beecham does something similar every year, except more locally. And the list goes on and on.

I was always taught by Mom when I was growing up, “giving is better than receiving.” It surely is. Thanks Ma.  And you know, just maybe, maybe all these folks who like to post all this disparaging, negative, toxic stuff on Facebook and other social media platforms might consider sharing good and positive supportive news instead and make this world just a little bit brighter instead of a little darker.

Ray is the Publisher Emeritus for Appen Media and the Herald newspapers.

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