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Mister Joe[Program 104]
Mister Joe

"They're outstanding children. All they needed was a chance in life, a chance to show that they can do it. That they can get ahead, they are important, they're people and that they have some value. They are worth, life is worth living for them. Before they come here, it's not true for any of them. They have no hope, they don't care, they just move along like a zombie, but you see by the time they're through, they're in college or whatever and they feel good about themselves, that's the main thing."

-- Joe Bodanza, founder of Child Medical Connection



This is a moving story of how one man used his retirement years as a time to make a lasting contribution in the lives of disabled youth. The kids from Vietnam call him "Mister Joe," a gravel-voiced former school teacher and administrator, now in his late seventies and retired. But Joe Bodanza doesn't exactly enjoy the tranquility and serenity many retirees seek. Instead, from his apartment in Leominster, Massachusetts, he devotes his days as a volunteer to managing the considerable special needs of young polio patients from Vietnam. Mostly they're teenagers and twenty-somethings who arrive from poor rural areas. They have crutches and wheelchairs if even that. When they arrive in America, he arranges -- at no charge -- their medical care (often involving surgery), their housing, their food and schooling, all at a level they may not have received back home. He has touched and transformed scores of lives.

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