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Making a difference in the community you live in

Posted on Aug 5, 2016 by
Yvonne's Blog

Making a difference in the community you live in

Disabled Veteran Hill assists Elder

By Yvonne Kaquatosh


It’s the little things that people do without being asked that make a world of difference in the lives of those who are the recipient of such great gestures.

One grateful citizen wanted to ensure the generosity of another didn’t go unnoticed.At 84, Noel (Summers) Cleven faithfully goes to the Oneida Family Fitness Center at the break of dawn to exercise in the pool. This is where she met her friend Mike Hill many years ago.

“Since this past winter 2015, I’ve had a rut in my driveway,” explained Noel.   Out of the goodness of his heart, she explained, Mike, a handicapped veteran, took it upon himself to repair a rut in her driveway.

She said he delivered “a bucket of stones on his scooter – on two separate occasions” to fill the hole in her driveway.

Hill was diagnosed with PTSD. His health is further compromised with diabetes and other health related issues.  But that doesn’t deter him.

He is a combat Veteran, who served our country during the Vietnam War from 1965 – 1966 in the U.S. Navy. He had high hopes initially while in high school, he says, when he was offered sports scholarships but had to pass on the opportunity when he was drafted at 18.

Upon his return home from the service, he worked at Procter & Gamble for 22 years. He said he invested wisely upon his retirement from the company and was able to take an ’11 year break’ throwing caution to the wind and living life in California.

With all the negativity during the Vietnam era, Hill shared the painful experience of coming home to a divided country, where he, along with other Vietnam veterans, were looked down upon for their service.   It’s an unfortunate memory that has stayed with him for the past 50 years.

Through the years, he says he came to understand and overcame the personal struggles that took hold of him for many years.

He’s in a better place now, like a big teddy bear, doing what he can for others in the community. Despite lingering health issues, Hill is very active in the community, serving on the ONCOA Board for the last 5 years.  He is a lifetime VFW member; he is a member of WIVA (Wisconsin Indian Veterans Association) and also serves as the Chairperson of ONVAC (Oneida Nation Veterans Association Committee).

He also shared that he is a proud father of three daughters, and a proud grandfather of 11 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren. And we can’t forget his sidekick Noah.  His longtime companion, Harley, a Lhasa Apso, passed on some time ago.  His daughters saw how much he missed him and surprised him with another pet of the same breed.

Once the interview was completed, he was back at it, as he stepped outside of Cleven’s back yard and asked her what else she needed done on her property.

With all that is going on in society today, it’s always reassuring to hear about simple gestures that make a person’s day and change the perspective that there is still a lot of good people in the community. That is what Cleven wanted to convey to the Oneida community.