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July 25, 2005

Labor of Love brings sound to those in need

From: Alton Telegraph, IL - Jul 25, 2005

Labor of Love brings sound to those in need

TYLER BENNETT , For The Telegraph

GLEN CARBON -- Giving the gift of hearing to those in need is a priority for the Labor of Love Association. Bob Lammert, founder and president of the Labor of Love Association, began his mission in 2002, when he decided to open up a bank account to start a nonprofit organization. His mission is to visit Third World countries and the Appalachian region of the United States, and to provide hearing help to the poor.

He is working on his fourth and final mission, a trip to Mexico to bring hearing aids to small children. His destination, along with two other professionals, is Nuevo Casas Grandes in the state of Chihuahua. He will visit the APNI Clinic and the La Gaviotta School, which is run by the clinic. Because there is no infrastructure in Northern Mexico to provide therapy for disabilities, the school systems there do not accept children in wheel chairs, which is why the clinic originally built the school. Lammert said many of the children have severe illnesses or must use wheelchairs.

Lammert said the school is named La Gaviotta because it means seagull in Spanish; it was named for the book "Jonathan Livingston Seagull" by Richard Bach.

"He was a small seagull, but he soared high with the other seagulls," Lammert said. "It gives the kids hope."

He said this will be his last trip because of health reasons. He and his associates will be on the trip for eight days, and they are hoping to be able to provide BTE hearing aids. Lammert already purchased 45 small children's BTE hearing aids from a manufacturer, but they have not been entirely paid for yet.

"I've made some payments, but I'm about $1,150 short," Lammert said. "I trusted in God, and it's going to happen. It always happens.

"I will pay that bill if I have to," Lammert said. "Whatever I have to do to get it, I will get it."

Last year, the association finished "Mission 3," a project to raise funds for a cochlear implant for Ivan Arturo Lopez Sandivar, an 8-year-old.

Lammert said when he met the boy, four professionals already had diagnosed him as a hopeless case and said he had been born deaf, but the boy's mother came to him for help, anyway.

"The mother cried and she begged me," Lammert said. "I performed the test, and I got sound in the low tones, but it was pronounced hearing loss."

Lammert said he performed the test a few more times and had an associate do the same and got the same results. When he was certain, he recommended that the boy go to a specialist; it was determined that he had a chance to hear if he could get a cochlear implant.

Lammert spoke with organizations in the area to raise the funds. St. Cecilia Vacation Bible School in Glen Carbon, a collection of first- through fifth-graders, raised almost $1,800 by doing chores such as mowing the grass and washing windows for neighbors. The St. Cecilia Knights of Columbus also contributed to the fund by sponsoring a charitable event. Another $5,000 was donated by Walt Jones, a grand knight for the St. Cecilia Knights of Columbus, who was awarded the money from his employer, Boeing Aircraft. The Wood River Lions Club also was instrumental in raising the money. With the help of Jerry Barber, a member of the Wood River Lions Club, the club raised $2,000 to add to the fund.

The boy finally got an operation on Dec. 4, 2004.

"Through my daughter, who speaks Spanish, I finally got a phone number down there where I could talk to the parents directly," Lammert said. "He's in the fourth grade, and he's participating in classroom discussion, which he never did before. He socializes now. The bonus for me is that I'm going to get a chance to see that boy and his family (on this last trip.)"

The Labor of Love Association is still in need of monetary donations and also BTE hearing aids of any size. To donate to the Labor of Love Association, send money or items to 6 Ginger Lea Drive, Glen Carbon, IL 62034, or call Lammert at 656-6570.

©The Telegraph 2005