I first met Mark Pitner backstage at the Variety Show, where he helped me get my horse, Alma, onstage. He was very kind and helpful, and I was impressed by his calm and humorous demeanor. I had only lived here a few months, and it was a fine, if odd introduction to this very special place. Mark has been involved in helping everyone that's asked for it as long as he's been around these parts (about two decades). He can fix about anything, has a knack with electrical stuff, especially solar systems. He will always go out of his way to do what he can for everyone who asks. He gave his time and materials to me years ago when I needed a little light and music up at Peterson Ridge, and he installed a small two battery, one panel solar system, for free.
Nothing seems to make Mark happier than getting the opportunity to do a favor for someone he knows. He has been involved with our volunteer ambulance service for two years, the same service that brought him to safety just last week. He gives so much of himself to anyone who asks, and now he needs our support.
Last Wednesday night, Mark suffered a debilitating stroke due to a blood clot in the left side of his brain. The volunteer ambulance service that he himself serves on a regular basis answered a call and had him airlifted to Ukiah. After administering some medication, the staff at the Ukiah hospital determined that he needed urgent care at the UC Davis neurologic center in Sacramento, and he was transported there by helicopter. He has had surgery to alleviate swelling to the brain, and is receiving round the clock care in Sacramento at this time. His family, including his partner, Philo resident Joansey DeWolff, have been present throughout his hospitalization.
Mark faces a challenging and lengthy recovery. He has already impressed his doctors with his humor and unexpected cognitive abilities so shortly after his major stroke and surgery. Those of us who know him have faith that he will have the strength and fortitude to face these challenges. He is an amazingly capable person, both physically (as anyone who has seen him in yoga class knows), and mentally, as is evidenced by his clever solutions to almost any problem. We all have a lot of hope that he will fully recover, as he is a young, healthy, positive person. Being supportive includes harboring our positive thoughts about his healing and recovery.
We are all so fortunate to belong to such a supportive and loving community. Mark Pitner and Charlie Paget-Seekins are both generous contributors to the Anderson Valley in so many ways, and we have the opportunity to give back to them and their families this August 3rd. There will be a party to honor our two friends, with many opportunities for the community to contribute to their recovery.
Here are the details for the upcoming benefit-party to honor our friends:
It's Sun Aug 3, early evening til 9 or 10--we will have more specific times soon. The Ambulance and Fire Department will be fully involved in planning the party and fundraising. There will be a low cost at the door. We will have music by several local bands, and other acts, to be announced soon.
There will be a raffle with great prizes from local merchants, craftspeople, and other professionals.
We will have delicious local food at the heart of our summer season.
WDan will host a large auction, both silent and LOUD, with great offerings from our community and beyond.
The Lions club will offer our fantastic local beer and wine.
So far everything has been donated. We are still asking for auction and raffle items, please be creative and let us know what you have that might be interesting and desirable...products, services, creative impulses...call Dawn Ballantine 621-3227 with any ideas.
Though there is not a desperate need for money right now, if you will be out of town or busy that day, a fund has been set up to accept donations through the AV ambulance. Make checks out to: "AV Ambulance Service" with a notation, "We Care for Our Own." And if you wish to designate either for Charlie or Mark - IMPORTANT, DO NOT write their names on the check but add on a post-it or piece of paper.
Both guys won't be working for quite a while and then there's the medical bills, rehab, rent or mortgage and on and on. Even if you donate now you are welcome on Aug 3 to come have a great time, get something cool for your donations and be with friends and neighbors.
We truly do "take care of our own" and folks, these guys are truly our own! I am so honored to belong to this community of people. I have seen us rally to support other community members in need, and I know this will be no different. As tragic as these trying times can be, they do show us the strength and beauty of our very special A.V. community.
Please also note that since Charlie and Mark often serve on the Ambulance at the same time, we are in need of volunteers with EMT experience to step up and volunteer.
See you August 3rd!