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Happy anniversary, Self Help Enterprises

We honor Self Help Enterprises for its half century of service to people with disabilities, tip our hat to a best-selling author, salute a Korean War veteran, and note the improved visibility of a local business.

Published: Friday, July 18, 2014 1:15 a.m. CST

The Sauk Valley Media Editorial Board is pleased to note several positive developments from recent days.

•  •  •

We begin with the 50th anniversary celebrated this week by Self Help Enterprises.

It was on July 16, 1964, that incorporation papers for Self Help Enterprises were signed and filed with the state.

From humble beginnings, the Sterling-based agency, at 2300 W. LeFevre Road, grew to serve about 300 adults with disabilities with employment training and residential support.

Carla Haubrich, executive director, praised the faith of local residents that has kept the agency up and running.

“Our primary goal is to put people with a developmental disability to work,” she said. “Without the community’s faith, we would have closed in 1965.”

That isn’t the only year Self Help Enterprises faced an existential threat.

The challenge in recent years has been unreliable funding from the state. Not long before the late John Stern, executive director from 1979 to 2009, stepped down, the agency faced the threatened loss of $500,000 in state funds.

Stern had the sad duty to report that if the money was not restored, Self Help might have to close its doors in 9 months.

Fortunately, that didn’t happen, and Self Help continues fulfilling its vital role.

What about the future?

Haubrich believes if the support from the community and state continues, “We will be here 100 years from now.”

By accepting those with disabilities, attending fundraisers, and supporting the agency’s efforts to adapt to the future, community members can do their part to help ensure Self Help’s continued survival.

•   •   •

We’re pleasedthat Sterling native Terry Brooks, the New York Times best-selling author of the Shannara fantasy books, has finally gotten his wish.

The stories and characters that Brooks created starting in the 1970s are headed for a 10-episode television series to be produced by MTV.

Fans of Brooks have long wondered when they might see Shannara on the screen. So has Brooks, 70, a 1962 Sterling High grad.

“I really couldn’t be happier with how it’s all coming together,” Brooks wrote on his website.

We congratulate Brooks on his outstanding writing career and wish him best of luck as the adaptation of his work proceeds.

•   •   •

What a coolstory. We speak of the project by Rock Falls resident Frank Ochoa Jr. to see that his dad, Frank Ochoa Sr. of South Holland, finally received the military medals that he earned more than 60 years ago.

Ochoa Sr., now 86, served in the Korean War. He earned four medals but received only two. As the decades passed, he wondered whether he would ever receive the others.

His son finally decided to enlist the help of his congressional representative, U.S. Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-East Moline, and she helped facilitate the acquisition and presentation of the remaining medals, which took place Saturday.

Ochoa Jr. has now set his sights on getting his dad signed up to take an Honor Flight to see the military memorials in Washington, D.C.

We salute Ochoa Jr. for his dedication to his father, and Bustos for her role in making the dream come true.

And we offer a special salute to Ochoa Sr. for his service to the nation.

•   •   •

The visibility of pawn shops has risen in recent times, due in part to television shows such as “Pawn Stars.”

Now a local pawn shop has increased its visibility by moving from Rock Falls to Sterling, according to an SVM story from last weekend.

The decision is good for downtown Sterling, as the former Goodyear Tire building at 220 E. Third St. is now occupied.

And it’s good for the pawn shop owner, Ricardo Rangel, because the visibility and higher traffic at the new location has increased his business.

Sounds like a win-win situation to us.

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