Other Voices


Charlotte Palmeri, Cancer caregiver

After Charlotte Palmeri was diagnosed with cancer in 2013, she thought, “I wonder how long until I can help someone.” Inspired by a verse in Ecclesiastes, about how farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant, Palmeri founded a support and prayer group for women with cancer in 2015. She named it In His Presence. The group this month moved from meeting at Hamilton Union Presbyterian Church, where Palmeri is the church organist and choir director, to the Lynnwood Reformed Church to be accessible to those who can’t manage stairs. The group has sent out over 700 cards, often handmade, each with heartfelt messages, to people suffering from cancer. In this week’s podcast at AltamontEnterprise.com/podcasts, Palmeri describes some of the many ways she has helped others. This includes helping those she is close to — being with a friend as she breathed her last breath — and helping those she doesn’t know; she plays music for a weekly luncheon at St. Peter’s Hospice and has organized faith retreats — the first featured a Christian magician and the second a Christian ventriloquist. “When you give, you get so much back,” says Palmeri. She also advises: “Take a bad experience and use it for good.”

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Major David Erickson — citizenship and leadership

Major David Erickson, of Knox, retired from a career in the military that taught him “we’re all much more alike than we are different.” He was stationed in Germany when the Berlin wall came down and soon after visited Prague. A Czech he met there was a boy when the Americans liberated Prague but told him the Russians rewrote the history books, removing the Americans’ role. “I never forgot,” said the Czech. Erickson now teaches Albany High School students in the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps. The battalion is named for Sergeant Henry Johnson, a young African-American from Albany who, during World War I, fought off a German raiding party in Argonne Forest, saving his unit. He was finally awarded the Medal of Honor in 2015. “I tell the kids one person can make a difference,” said Erickson. He stresses that the JROTC is not a military recruitment program but rather a citizenship and leadership program, run by the students themselves. It has both academic and fitness components. “Forty percent of my kids are true refugees,” Erickson said, noting they come from every continent except Australia and the South Pole. He tells several of their stories in this week’s podcast. Francis Hungman, a refugee from Burma, now Myanmar, walked through woods and was in a boat that almost sank. He led his team to a first-place win at a Fort Dix competition. Emmanuel Tay from Liberia was elected president at Boys’ State and remained friends with the Albany HIgh student who ran against him. Tay is now serving in the Marine Corps. Nevaeh Boyd, an Albany native, won an American Legion oratory contest, speaking about the Constitution. She hopes to be admitted to Siena or Saint Rose to become a teacher. His students learn to speak their views and to listen; they are diverse but learn to work as a team, Erickson said. He loves his work with students he calls “my kids” and says, “The future is bright.”