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Still giving back after all these years

Even though Isabel DeLuccia will soon turn 89, she has never stopped caring about others and trying to make the world a better, more beautiful place.

Her friend, Helen Fleder, a fellow Palm-Aire resident, says “Bett” is an artist and photographer “who has given most of her life to helping others.”

Maybe this sensibility to look beyond herself goes back to raising nine children.

Ask DeLuccia about Haiti, or the Gulf oil spill, and tears may run down her cheek.

It distresses her that while individuals may try to be good stewards of the earth, a disaster like the Gulf oil spill can do so much harm.

“It is so discouraging. The Gulf will never be the same,” she said.

Though there is hope that BP will soon have the underwater oil gusher choked off, the effects will likely be felt for decades.

In some ways, the disaster in Haiti has been overshadowed by the one in the Gulf of Mexico.

It’s been six months since the Port-au-Prince earthquake devastated the already impoverished nation.

Were it not for her age, DeLuccia said she would be in Haiti right now helping out.

“It’s just the hopelessness and the helplessness. It’s awful. It makes me very sad,” she said.

But she said Haiti also presents an opportunity to do a good deed.

“When you give to a cause like that, you get more than you give, really,” she said.

She’s no johnny-come- lately to caring about Haiti. Since 1989, DeLuccia has donated to an organization that helps feed the hungry in Haiti, and more recently has been aiding a mission that tries to rescue children there.

One of the things that is striking about DeLuccia is her ability to find beauty, in the photographs she takes, in her abstract paintings, and in the lovingly tended blaze of flowers outside her front door.

Coreopsis, zinnias, geraniums, hydrangeas, marigolds, begonias, pentas and more.

There’s a saying from Martin Luther, the German reformer who helped launch the Protestant movement, that DeLuccia has posted near her doorstep:

“God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars.”

Her flowers may be God’s creation, but DeLuccia helps them bloom beautifully by feeding them scraps from her table.

She puts the scraps into a blender, and returns them to the earth as fertilizer.

She has taken some of her favorite flowers, dried and pressed them and turned them into bookmarks with a message of friendship on the reverse side.

What she hopes to do is interest a Christian book store in selling them, or maybe see if her congregation, Redeemer Episcopal Church, will allow her to set up a card table to sell them.

“Every penny I get will go to a charity in Haiti,” she said.

It’s a mark of her caring, her creativity and ability to find inspiration in nature.

Another of her sayings she collected from a daily devotional: “Draw beauty from every flower, and joy from the song of birds.”