The Rotary Club of Sinkor (RCS) in partnership with Horten Rotary Club of Norway last Thursday provided cash assistance to 12 female Ebola survivors to help them establish businesses.Each of the beneficiaries received US$100. Mr. Augustus J. Flomo, head of RCS Public Relations, said the cash is intended to help the survivors re-establish their lives, adding, “There is no better way to do this than to start a petty business that they could grow in the long term.”“We want them to do their own businesses. This is why we decided to provide this little cash for them to start,” he said.“They lost everything because of the nature of the disease. Some of them lost their entire families and their stories are so heartbreaking, and we felt that we could not let them go just like that without any assistance.”He disclosed further that throughout the Ebola crisis, the organization provided psychosocial counselling, prevention and education to the beneficiaries.“We have been working with them for a period of time now and we know that they are truly in need of assistance,” he added.He hoped that the beneficiaries would make good use of the cash to help them back on their feet.“Their stories have always broken my heart. I shed tears whenever I hear each one of them explain their ordeal. It is so painful. I pray that God will take them through.”Making the presentation, District Governor of the Rotary District 9101, Marie-Irene Richmond Ahoua, thanked the government and its partners for collaborating to eradicate the virus in Liberia.DG Ahoua urged the beneficiaries to make use of the funds to better their lives.Mr. Kollie Bundo, president of the Ebola Survivors Association, who spoke on behalf of the beneficiaries, lauded RCS and its partner for the gesture.Mr. Bundo promised that the beneficiaries will use the cash wisely to help them rebuild their lives.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
“I was surprised by the number of people who came out for that. There were little kids up on the block wall with little American flags,” said D’Agostino, who is retiring in March after a career that has included 11 years in the Air Force and 31 with NASA. “The Antelope Valley has always supported aerospace, but you don’t often see that kind of outpouring from the public.” D’Agostino’s NASA career has been intertwined with the shuttle program, ranging from security work in the 1970s with the Enterprise test program to serving as the Dryden Flight Research Center’s head of shuttle operations. And it is memories of Enterprise that first come to mind when he reflects on his career. The orbiter never flew in space, but its test flights and test landings proved that shuttles could fly in the atmosphere and land like an airplane, but without power. In 1977 it made five test flights, carried aloft by a heavily modified Boeing 747. Experts weren’t certain before the first flight that it could safely clear the 747’s tail as the two aircraft separated, D’Agostino recalled. EDWARDS AIR FORCE BASE One of the first space shuttle missions Joe D’Agostino ever worked didn’t involve a journey into space – just a long, slow roll down 10th Street East. A highlight of his 42 years of federal service, D’Agostino recalls, was the trip the shuttle Enterprise made in January 1977 from its manufacturing home at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale to Edwards Air Force Base. He was part of the support crew that accommodated the very first shuttle on its daylong journey up what was to become Challenger Way. “It was a great event for the nation,” he said of the first flight and the sense of relief when the two aircraft separated cleanly. D’Agostino, who was in the ROTC program as a student at the University of Connecticut, joined the Air Force in 1964 but decided to leave active duty in the mid-1970s. With the Vietnam War over, D’Agostino figured the military would be downsizing and his future was elsewhere. He started looking for a full-time job and got two offers – one at Dryden and the other from the China Lake Naval Warfare Center near Ridgecrest. “It was an easy decision. The NASA thing always interested me,” he said. “When I interviewed I remember thinking all the NASA people are old. If I play my cards right, I could replace them.” D’Agostino worked with Deke Slayton, one of the original Mercury 7 astronauts, who was leading the Enterprise approach and landing tests for NASA. “Deke was a very fine gentleman,” he said. “He was very much skilled in letting people do what they do.” D’Agostino was also on hand for the April 14, 1981, landing of the shuttle Columbia at Edwards. Columbia’s was the first landing of a shuttle that actually made it to space, and the event drew a crowd of 200,000 to 300,000 people. D’Agostino’s job was to help manage the crowd and assist with guests from the program office – a task he once likened to serving dinner for 500 guests, each with distinct needs. His role at Dryden has changed over the years. At one point he was the center’s deputy director for administration, a post that went away during a restructuring. In the wake of the 1986 Challenger disaster, he went into flight operations until NASA was ready to resume missions. Normally, two government employees and 48 contractors work on shuttle operations at Dryden, but during landings that number can grow to as many as 400. Although Florida is the primary landing site for the space shuttle, poor weather conditions divert about one in every three missions to Edwards. The last Edwards landing was August 2005 – the first flight following the Columbia tragedy. D’Agostino was on hand to shake hands with the astronauts as they exited the shuttle. Columbia landing A team player Susan Ligon, who has worked on the shuttle program since the early 1990s, said D’Agostino has a straight-forward, matter-of-fact approach as a manager and still maintains a sense of humor. “Joe is good people to work for,” Ligon said. “He makes you feel like you’re important. You don’t feel like you’re working on just a piece of the program. He makes you feel like you’re part of the whole.” George Grimshaw, who is taking over as manager of shuttle operations, said D’Agostino has a way of cutting through “flavor of the month” management philosophies. “Joe comes into the office and we talk about it and it always comes down to the people,” Grimshaw said. D’Agostino’s last days with Dryden have included a ride in one of the shuttle carrier aircraft used to ferry orbiters back to Florida. The carrier crew was practicing approaches and landings at Air Force Plant 42. More recently, he went along on a night training flight with astronaut and former Edwards test pilot Pam Melroy, who will be commanding a shuttle flight later this year. The training flight was conducted in a Gulfstream 2 jet used to simulate space shuttles for approach and landing training. D’Agostino said he just doesn’t know yet what he will do in retirement – and he doesn’t worry about it. “I’ve been working ever since I was 10 or 11,” he said. “It’s going to be a change.” firstname.lastname@example.org (661) 267-5743 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!