Two things: People you meet, books you read

By Janet Hommel Mangas

My brother Kevin sent me an old photo he found in a shoe box of old photos. It was a picture of me in my early 20s wearing a black “past the knee” uneven hemmed skirt, black scoop leotard and tights and black cape around my shoulders — accompanied with some type of matching gold glitter belt, sunglasses and calf-high cowboy boots. Your brain may be asking lots of questions like “was this Halloween?” Thank you for asking and yes, it was, because there are Halloween decorations on my parents front door where the photo was taken.

But my brain hovers over the questions: “Where and why, for goodness sakes, did I get matching gold glitter boots, belt and sunglasses 30 years ago — and why do I not remember this?”

And what was I dressed up as? — a modest Batwoman?

Subsequently, I began to think about Charles “Tremendous” Jones’ famous quote: “You are the same today as you’re going to be in five years from now, except for two things: The people you meet and the books you read.”

He continued: “If you hang around good workers, you become a better worker — if you hang around thinkers, you’ll become a better thinker — hang around givers, you will become a better giver — hang around a bunch of thumb-sucking, complaining, grappling bone-heads, you will become a better thumb-sucking, complaining, grappling bone-head.”

As I write this, I am anticipating yesterday (Friday) when I get to hang out with some fun-loving thinkers and servants from Grace United Methodist Church in Franklin who call themselves the “Lunch Bunch.” I haven’t even met them yet and I already know I will be challenged to become better. I am confident of this because as I was corresponding with Ministry Team Leader Bev Bonsett, she shared with me several senior members of Grace United Methodist who are serving.

Joyce Elliot shares her talent playing her harp at church services, Otterbein Franklin Senior Living Community and at hospitals.

John Waggoner voluntarily provides all computer and network services for Grace UMC.

Jesse Shively volunteers at Johnson Memorial Health’s Cancer Care Center where he scans patient charts into the electronic medical records.

Nina Miller and Georgia Stiff are the head chefs providing meals for groups meeting at Grace in addition to planning funeral dinners, Fellowship Hour and Lunch Bunch Meals.

Dave Sever is a homeless advocate and works with Bridges Alliance and Kic-It.

Sharon Brockman consistently serves weekly restocking the pew cards and Ken Demaree runs the sweeper and performs other maintenance needs.

Martha Milhouse continues the work at the McCurdy School in New Mexico, spending four weeks there this year.

Shirley Tanksley and Joella Patterson collect donations and serve annually at the Henderson Settlement, which was founded in 1925 by the United Methodist Church to meet the basic needs of people living in Appalachia.

After hanging out with the Lunch Bunch on Friday, as Charles “Tremendous” Jones suggests, I am going to be a better worker, thinker and giver — and a better servant of God. (And I promise I will not be wearing the Batwoman outfit!)

Janet Hommel Mangas grew up on the east side of Greenwood. The Center Grove area resident and her husband are the parents of three daughters. Send comments to