Update 03.03.14: GA URISA Benefit Workshop to assist Joe Bless Family – Building an Address Repository Using the FGDC Standard. Find out more by clicking on the link to view the latest GA URISA newsletter. Thank you to all those who are so generously contributing to this effort. I know the Bless family appreciates everything being done right now.
During my time at Gainesville State College (now UNG) as a student and a staff member, I had the unique opportunity – the privilege – to meet many wonderful people, most of them my fellow AESA and GIS certificate students. I consider them not only as GSC family, but also as family within our broader GIS community. I’m convinced that the GIS network is closer than the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. I’m hoping that’s true by sending out this blog post and reaching out to my fellow GIS family members to ask for your support to help one of our own – Joe Bless, and to tell you about another family member – John Nesbitt.
I recently found out that two of our alumni and their families have been going through very challenging times. I’m saddened that one, John Nesbitt, lost his battle in late January with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. He was bright and one of the most entertaining people I’ve had the pleasure of meeting. Those who had class with him and Brian together surely remember this well. Some of the fondest memories I have of John involve hearing the GIS Lab in Rm. 257 erupt with laughter on most days (and evenings) and trying to schedule Saturday field trips to Lake Lanier for our Limnology class around UGA game days because of John’s obsession with the Dawgs. Unfortunately, I don’t have more information on John and his family. If you would like to share more, please leave a comment here or send me an email and I will share it here with updates.
In the same week of hearing about John, myself and others received a message from another AESA graduate, Tim Guant. He told us about what another fellow graduate, Joe Bless, and his family has been going through. Joe, and Tim, were part of the IT concentration of the AESA program. During his time as a student and even after graduating, Joe was the embodiment of professionalism and always found time to help others, fellow students and faculty alike. I spoke with Joe’s wife, Lucy, yesterday. Between what she and Tim have told me, the Bless family is in desperate need of our help. Joe was hired by GeoFields but found out in November that he had a yet to be diagnosed brain disease that is strongly suspected to be Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease and had to take extended medical leave as his brain mass decreased by 45%. Lucy tells me that GeoFields has been extremely supportive and wonderful to the family. During the last several months since finding out about Joe’s condition, Lucy’s mother passed away, she now cares for her elderly father, younger sister (both need special care) and their young daughter, and their house was flooded which has left the entire family living in a hotel until repairs have been done.
In response to this news, several of us have been trying to figure out ways to help and spread the word. As more concrete plans are made, myself and others will certainly share more. Until then, you can find out more information and leave messages for Joe on the Supporting the Bless Family Facebook page. If you would like to donate to the Bless Family, I’m told the best way to do so is through the Fundly.com page they have set up called Aiding the Bless Family.