My mother had an expression for the altruists -- the selfless people who do good things. She said, "They will go straight through to heaven."
I was reminded of that while following the local news over the past several months. While they might not all skip by St. Peter, there are a good many people who are destined for good things ahead.
Here are just a few.
Mike Reagen, the outgoing president of the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce, has no enemies. Only admirers who have good things to say about him.
By nature, most of us are territorial. We protect our turf. As individuals or organizations, we mark our territory. Reagen doesn't. He doesn't care who does something or who gets credit for it, as long as it benefits the community. And not just the business community.
I had the pleasure of working with Reagen on various projects over the years. He was unfailingly helpful. His ideas were always good and often original. And he never took credit for anything. He was and is, pardon the cliche, one of a kind.
Alan Dimmitt, the founder and president of the Liberty Youth Ranch, is another. With his own money, Dimmitt bought property in Bonita Springs, then raised funds -- no government money, thank you -- to build and run the ranch.
For those who may not know, the Liberty Youth Ranch houses foster children -- orphaned, abused, neglected and abandoned children -- and provides the structure and tutoring and care to help them develop. It's a remarkable story.
I met Alan some years ago when we both served on the Republican Men's Club board. In a room full of movers and shakers, Alan stood out. His accomplishments weren't measured in dollars and cents, but in the number of troubled lives he helped turn around.
Myra Janco Daniels, founder and past CEO of the Phil, could have rested on her laurels. And they are considerable. She has won every conceivable award and been feted by countless groups. (In one small example, our Pelican Bay Property Owners Association named her Person of the Year in 2010.)
But Ms. Daniels didn't rest on her laurels. She saw a need for a center for "latchkey" children and set about to make it happen. It's a big project. Money must be raised for a 21,000-square-foot facility in Naples.
People are used to Ms. Daniels stepping up for kids. Among her accomplishments at the Phil were the many programs she started for young people. She's now building on that legacy.
Dr. Sam Durso has headed the local Habitat for Humanities since 1999. As chief volunteer in an organization of volunteers, he leads a group that builds homes for low-income families in Collier County -- builds homes with hands-on labor. (A retired radiologist friend of mine has become an accomplished electrician.)
I first came across Durso when he spoke at the Pelican Bay Men's Coffee many years ago. When he began to speak, those seated around me were clearly uneasy. They did not like being solicited. By the end of his presentation, people were lining up to volunteer.
Durso had and still has a good story to tell. Almost no overhead. Little or no government help. "Sweat equity" work by the new homeowners. And an army of retirees wielding hammers and saws.
Like Dr. Durso, the thousands who volunteer their time don't have to do that. Like Dr. Reagen, many in power don't have to push the envelope to help others.
But they do.
And we all benefit.
Straight to heaven? Let's hope so.