May 2005 
Volume 04, Issue 1 
Cover Story

What dollars can do

What dollars can doA man at the end of his rope finds sobriety, a paycheck and a new outlook on life at a St. Louis-based homeless service agency.

A therapeutic riding center in Washington state helps a 12-year-old boy with cognitive and physical disabilities develop new skills, new confidence and new friends.

At-risk children have a place to call home on 125 acres just outside Mesa, Ariz.

A Houston-based nonprofit organization helps cancer patients, their families and friends cope with the emotional ravages of cancer.


Serving up a new life

Serving up a new lifeOne day, Donald Shields decided to save his own life.

His addiction to drugs and alcohol led him to homelessness, unemployment and a dangerous life on the streets of Topeka, Kan. But on this particular day, he resolved to get what he wanted: "Recovery and help, but I couldn't do it on my own," said 33-year-old Shields. "Not with drug dealers on the street corner and no money."

His plan was to head to Canada for a fresh start. But unexpected twists and turns changed his itinerary, and he wound up at St. Patrick Center in St. Louis—a place that altered the course of his life forever.


Miracle in the desert

Miracle in the desertMore than 50 years ago, Rev. Jim and Vera Dingman said they received a calling: to do everything in their power to love and care for children who are unable to be loved and cared for by their own parents.

In 1954, with the help of a group called The Mesa Optimist Club, Jim and Vera purchased 125 acres just outside Mesa, Ariz. They named it Sunshine Acres, and before long they had 10 children living with them.

These are high-risk children who come from homes where their parents are in prison, addicted to drugs or homeless, or from failed adoptions. Today, nearly 70 children are in residence. Since it was founded, Sunshine Acres has provided emotional, physical and educational support to more than 1,500 children.


A 'Little Bit' of help from my friends

A 'Little Bit' of help from my friendsPeter Wehrle is a 12-year-old boy with an engaging smile and a love of baseball. Peter also has Hunter syndrome, a rare disease in which material builds up in his joints and organs, resulting in physical and cognitive disabilities. One of the effects of the disease is short stature. But when Peter's on the back of a horse, he's the tallest kid around.

Once a week, Peter goes to Little Bit Therapeutic Riding Center in Woodinville, Wash., a nonprofit organization that uses horses to help people of all ages with disabilities. Little Bit Riding Center, which was founded in 1976 and receives support from The Employees Community Fund of Boeing–Puget Sound, offers a variety of therapeutic riding programs. These programs are designed to improve the bodies, minds and spirits of people with disabilities through the use of the horse in therapy.


Deep in the heart of Texas

Deep in the heart of TexasCancer knows no boundaries. It does not discriminate based on gender, race, age or socioeconomic status.

Like the disease, the services provided by Cancer Counseling Inc. also know no boundaries. The mission of the Houston-based nonprofit organization is to help cancer patients and their families and friends cope with the emotional effects of cancer. Founded in 1982, the agency connects people needing support with therapists who provide them with free counseling and community education. Therapists affiliated with Cancer Counseling charge the organization a reduced rate for their services, and the majority of the organization’s funding pays those bills.


While the stories in this package focus on the impact ECF has on communities, future issues of Boeing Frontiers will feature articles from the perspective of Boeing employees who support ECF.

For more information

To learn more about The Employees Community fund and how to contribute, visit (internal only link) on the Boeing Web.

Those who are not on the Boeing Web can learn more about ECF from Boeing's World Wide Web site, at


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