Jeanette Bennett, utahvalley360.com
SELFLESSNESS IS BEECROFT’S LIFESTYLE
Although Provo’s Verlane Beecroft has spent her entire 60 years serving others, she’s looking forward to doing things on “her list.” But, like a true angel, her list is far from selfish.
“I want to learn Spanish so I can communicate with people who move into our neighborhood and community who only speak Spanish,” Verlane says. This mother of six also wants more time for genealogy and temple work — not exactly a self-serving “to-do” list.
Verlane’s passion for doing good and finding good in life came partly from a family tragedy. A few years ago her son died at age 20 of a sudden heart attack. Just days before he died, he had built a tree swing in the family’s backyard, which is adjacent to GRA park in Provo.
The Beecrofts have kept the swing there as a reminder of the lessons they learned from their son and brother.
“I came to a different understanding of death — and life,” Verlane explains, with a sense of peace. “I see death as a positive change that is part of our experience on earth. This experience also taught me to concentrate on having good relationships with people.”
A lesson she exemplifies.
Two of her grown children nominated her as an “angel.”
“Selflessness is a lifestyle for her, a way of being that has never been a question,” Charlene Beecroft and Claire Griener wrote.
Verlane’s selflessness knows no generation gap. Verlane cared for her bedridden mother-in-law for a year and a half. And now, after working from 5:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. at Burrelle’s Press Clipping Service as a transcriber in the TV department, she tends her 4-year-old grandson Harley until his parents get off work in the early evening.
“It’s challenging to keep up with a busy boy, but it’s a lot of fun,” Grandma Verlane says.
But family has always been important to Verlane, and that isn’t changing even though her children are gradually leaving home. “I enjoy my children very much as adults,” she says. “The reward for being a good mother is having a good relationship with your grown children.”
Examples of Verlane’s selflessness include searching for recipes her son can use for a party he’s hosting in the canyon, painting the family home and nearby fence, and driving a neighbor friend to her job at Deseret Industries. She also quietly prepares the bulletin for her LDS ward sacrament meeting, and when people neglect to call her with the information, she calls them. “That’s typical of the way she does things,” says her proud husband, David.
Verlane has a simple explanation for her good deeds.
“I’ve always believed that if you see something that needs doing, you should do it,” Verlane says, matter-of-factly.”I suppose service is my gift, but it’s also just what we do as humans.”
Verlane finds happiness in simple things. She enjoys reading a book, being alone, walking and “just being.”
No doubt Verlane’s angel ways will continue to bless her family and neighborhood — even when it comes time to work on “her list.”
TEEN HAS SOFT SPOT FOR KIDS
It’s as if Lacey Bascom was made for this “angels among us” feature.
This 18-year-old collects angels, has written a children’s book about angels, gave a speech at her recent Provo High School graduation about giving angelic service, and is “addicted” to Oprah’s Angel Network. She also hopes to be a pediatrician.
If that isn’t enough, she has organized service projects for the Schools for the Blind, Utah Valley Regional Medical Center, and Primary Children’s Hospital.
Oh yeah, she also put together a book of quotes, stories and sayings to help the families in her neighborhood who have lost loved ones and are mourning.
“People love to serve and help others, but sometimes they just need to know how to do it,” says this confident teen-ager, who has taught countless grown women how and where to serve.
One of her latest projects was to make 50 tactile quilts to be used in Schools for the Blind throughout Utah. Each quilt has 10 sets of matching squares of textures such as velvet, dotted Swiss and satin. The blind child feels the quilt and tries to match the two like squares. One of the squares is a pocket that contains a squeaky toy.
“When they find the toy, the teacher can pull it out and then place it on the back of the quilt, which is solid black,” Lacey demonstrates. “Then the teacher can determine how much eyesight the child has by if he or she can find the toy.”
Lacey is quick to acknowledge that she wouldn’t be able to help others if she didn’t have her own support system.
“Of course my family has always helped me,” she says. “When I need supplies, my mom will say, ‘I can help you go get that.’”
Supplies, love and time were the ingredients that helped Lacey and two friends make 40 baby nightgowns for the infant intensive care unit at a local hospital. Lacey’s design for the nightgowns includes side seams with velcro openings that can close around the various tubes needed to care for each baby.
Another of Lacey’s projects also included children in hospitals. Lacey heard about how Primary Children’s Hospital needed blankets. So, of course, after studying for her AP classes, taking voice lessons, acting as a county ambassador and planning her prom date, she got 50 Provo women to commit to crochet baby blankets, of which they came up with 110.
“I love seeing how my projects directly help others,” Lacey says. “The ICU was so thankful and grateful for what we’d done.”
Lacey plans to attend BYU this fall. There she will have nearly 30,000 new people to meet who will undoubtedly be future recipients of her service.
What an angel.
ARMS STRETCHED WIDE OPEN
An angel, you might say, fills in the gaps between God’s power and mankind’s actions. Payson’s Carol Cadina is an angel.
She has given more than 60 foster kids a temporary home, filling the gaps between what their abusive family gave them and the permanent place their adoptive families provided.
An organization she founded, called Kuddle Kids, fills in monetary gaps for adopted kids who need therapy for their abusive pasts but don’t qualify for government funding.
“I am passionate about helping these kids who are crying out in this senseless world,” Carol says. Her passion has led to organizing Kurt Bestor concerts, testifying before the Utah Legislature, and contacting local businesses for support. Although it’s taken patience, she’s been successful in putting Kuddle Kids on the non-profit map, and enabling children to get the therapy they need.
Carol’s success isn’t because of her upbringing — or at least not in the way we traditionally think of success patterns.
Carol’s mother, who in her prime was second runner up to Miss California, became an alcoholic who had a string of abusive relationships.
“I remember hearing mom come home from the bar with someone,” Carol says. “I would go get the babies and put them in my room with me and lock the door. I could hear the abuse happening. When it was over, I would unlock my door and put my mom to bed.”
Carol’s childhood was anything but carefree and worry-free. Her mother committed suicide, leaving Carol and three other children behind. Up until this point, Carol hadn’t had much religion in her life, other than hearing a few sermons from the doorstep of Las Vegas chapels. But when her mom was gone, she spent an entire night on her knees.
“I told Heavenly Father that if he existed, now was the time that I needed help,” Carol remembers.
In the morning, there was a knock at the door that changed the course of Carol’s life. A woman came to check on the family, and she ended up adopting the four children and introducing them to the LDS Church.
“I saw what I wanted my family to be like,” Carol says with conviction. “It had always just been me and my siblings on our own, but I learned of the strength a family can provide.”
It is gratitude for her adoptive family, among other things, that drives Carol’s passion to help others.
“I have just been given so much,” Carol says. From the outside, it may not appear to be so. Her Payson home, although warm and adequate, is no mansion or architectural phenomena. But the love within the walls of this church-turned-home defies limitations.
Carol’s husband is her biggest cheerleader. “I have always trusted Carol’s heart,” Dwayne says. This trust has brought dozens of foster kids into their home, including three they adopted and added to their own six children.
Carol has an uncanny ability to see worth in others, even in her mom who was the cause of a lot of pain in Carol’s life.
“My mom did all she could,” Carol says, without any bitterness. “She never got in touch with a path that showed her what her value was. I feel deep sorrow for my mom.”
Carol has had plenty of chances to feel anger — when holding a child whose parents threw him in a river, chained him to a table or put him in an electric chair. But she prefers to hold the child tight and let God take care of the rest.
If you are interested in helping with or donating to Kuddle Kids, call Carol at (801) 465-4704.
SPREAD HER WINGS AGAIN
Imagine the shock if your unmarried 19-year-old daughter came to you and said, “I’m pregnant.” Then imagine a year or two later nominating her as an “angel among us” for the way she turned a negative situation into a force for good in the lives of the parents she placed her child with, confused pregnant teen-agers, and parents longing to adopt a child.
Meet Gina Crotts, now a newlywed living in Eagle Mountain, who was nominated by her parents as an angel.
She recently married in the Salt Lake LDS Temple to American Fork’s Brandon Crotts, who says “Gina lights up the room whenever she walks in.”
And although their tidy, well-furnished condo is peaceful, the road to getting there wasn’t the traditional path couples in Happy Valley take.
Gina had been dating her high school boyfriend for two years when they discovered they were pregnant. They decided not to marry, and Gina went to Arizona for a few months to clear her head and decide what to do.
“When I could see things clearly, I knew I wanted to place my baby and I felt so confident in my decision,” Gina says. While in Arizona, she began looking through profiles of couples looking to adopt and got a strong feeling about a certain couple. Eight months ago, she handed her baby to this couple who had been longing for children.
“As I watched, the moment the precious bundle from heaven was placed in the arms of the tearful new father, I knew that there stood before me two angels — one the new born baby girl, and the other my tender hearted daughter making the ultimate sacrifice that a mother can make to give up one of her own because she knew it was the right thing to do,” wrote her mother, Shari Phillips. “Gina knew that if her baby was to have a chance at a quality life with two loving parents she must with all the love she could muster give up something so precious.”
And now Gina doesn’t try to close the door on this chapter of her life. Instead she seeks out opportunities to help girls who are trying to make decisions about their unborn children. She also speaks to groups of couples who are desperately hoping to adopt.
“Talking about it helps me as well as those I speak to,” Gina says. “It becomes easier for me to have peace about the situation the more I talk to others and help them.”
Gina grew up in Highland, the youngest of four children. Brandon is the oldest of four. They hope to have their own family someday.
“Once I have my children, I want to treasure every moment,” Gina says. “It is amazing to me how my maternal instincts have kicked in.”
Gina acknowledges the difficulty in being in an LDS community and facing the consequences of bad choices.
“Once I made the decision of how I was going to handle the situation, I didn’t care what other people thought,” she says. “I was focused on what I needed to do, and I spent a lot of time praying and staying close to the Lord.”
Obviously Gina wouldn’t want to go through her experiences again, but she wouldn’t change the result. “The Lord has had his hand in my life, and a lot of blessings have come from the experiences I’ve had.”
Gina wrote a poem about her daughter Kalyn titled “My Little Butterfly.”
Gina had a butterfly necklace made for her daughter that includes both of their birthstones. Gina, who is a talented artist, has butterfly depictions around her house.
She brings lessons from her past to a bright new future.
Truly this angel has opened her own wings.