OTTUMWA— If your business has ever had cookies delivered to them, or if you attend Christ’s Church or have ever spent time at Wolfe Clinic, chances are you encountered Charlie Hart and his wife Mable.
“They’re good people,” Wolfe Clinic Manager Susan Swan said. “Charlie told me this, but there’s this saying that I heard, ‘every minute you’re angry, you lose 60 seconds of happiness.’ That’s how they live their lives. They find the goodness in every situation and instead of being upset or negative, they find the one little good nugget there and that’s what they hang on to and go with.”
The Harts have been trying to stay positive after Charlie was recently diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The cancer became aggressive, Swan said, and it required chemo. He ended up at a Des Moines Hospital having to deal with the bad reaction. Mable hasn’t left his side since.
Swan, Kathy Stetter-Cornish and Linda Hoffman have been in contact with the Harts. Swan said Mable described this circumstance as a “roller-coaster,” overwhelmed by the amount of support friends, family and acquaintances have shown.
“I’ve seen comments and reactions [such as] ‘oh, that’s awful,’” Hoffman said, “but then they ask, ‘what can we do to help?’”
Stetter-Cornish and Swan said people can help by offering prayers, positive thoughts and donations which can be made payable by check to the Harts and dropped off at the Ottumwa Savings Bank or at the Wolfe clinic.
Stetter-Cornish is constantly checking on Facebook to see how Charlie is doing. Stetter-Cornish cried when she heard about Charlie’s condition. She grew up with the Harts, meeting them at church, something she said was forced to participate in. She said it was them who made a difference in her life as she dedicated her life to Jesus Christ in 2004.
“I could drive you to that church, but I couldn’t tell you the name of that church,” Stetter- Cornish said, “I can’t remember the name of the pastor, I can’t remember anything about that church outside of Charlie and Mable Hart.”
“They poured into me, all of me,” she added, “an awful mean teenager. It was really cool to close that circle and be able to talk to Charlie and Mable about that,” she said. “They were part of my spiritual journey. If it wasn’t for the way that they loved me, I could have gone off the tracks.”
Hoffman has heard about the Harts’ ability to be role models to Stetter-Cornish and continues to admire about the work they pursue at church and the community.
“One thing I admired about Mable and Charlie is their work with the youth,” Hoffman said. “They go above and beyond and they’re real and expect nothing in return. I’ve seen Charlie work at the church for weeks at a time, remodeling and making the church better.”
“They’ve done so much more in the community,” Hoffman added. “They’re never a stranger you could be out of town with them at dinner. They know everybody and everybody knows them as real people.”
Stetter-Cornish chimed in. “They don’t want any credit,” she said. “They’re not out bragging [about what they do.] I think a lot of people don’t realize they’ve been a recipient of their kindness. They don’t have great financial wealth. What they have, what they’re incredibly rich in is love and gratitude and compassion and humility. They are bazzilionaries when it comes to that.”
Swan said she was in awe of the perseverance they clung to in the face of adversity such as Mable getting breast cancer and Charlie getting severely burned.
“They made it through, they’re energizing bunnies,” she said. “They’ve been through some hardships and things but they just give to other people. They get true joy out of helping and serving other people. You can’t help when you’re around them to want to be more like that. It makes you stop and examine yourself.”