In May, the true essence of the worldwide community of surveyors unveiled itself--again. It’s been a refreshing change from other, more controversial topics that consistently flow through the profession such as lowballing, pincushions and anti-engineer remarks. It’s the story of true camaraderie, of true humanitarianism and of Good Samaritans. It’s the story of Michael Porter, PLS, and the surveying community known as RPLS.com.
On paper and in tech circles, Michael Porter, PLS, is a Lawton, Okla., surveyor, a well-known Eagle Point user and teacher of Eagle Point software at Oklahoma State University, and an active member of his state society since 1992. Socially and professionally, Porter is “a man of high morals and integrity,” according to colleague Deral Paulk, PLS. He works outside most of the time and enjoys activities including dirt biking, drumming, hunting, fishing and scuba diving. He appears to live a good, full life with a bright future. But he is in need of a liver transplant.
Few knew much about Porter when they began their outpouring of generosity on the RPLS.com message board in May. Within two days of an initial posting about Porter’s dire situation, posters (supporters) began donating funds for his medical needs. The National Foundation for Transplants reported that more than $1,400 was donated for Porter in those two days alone. Porter was floored. But that was nothing compared to what was to come.
On the evening of that second day, a surveyor unknown personally to Porter raised the idea to auction off a few pieces of equipment, with all the proceeds going to Porter. He wrote: “The ‘In Memoriam’ category will not be for Michael,” referring to one of the categories of the message board. No, I don’t think it will be. In fact, we atPOBwere happy to create a new category for the Michael Porter Fund.
From the first auction item--an HP11C--the cyber auction has grown exponentially. In addition to a running list of impressive items, including custom-made desk plates, historical items and books, and a handmade afghan, MichaelPorterPLS.com was established and a golf scramble scheduled for July 13th was organized by the Oklahoma Society of Land Surveyors. With direct donations included, the surveying community had rounded out contributions to Porter’s fund in the amount of $37,000 in early June. Astounding. Porter needs more than $60,000 for the long term, which includes post-surgery medication. But reaching more than the halfway mark is impressive, especially for the fact that a pool of the donators don’t even know Porter personally, save for a post here and there.
Oklahoma surveyor and RPLS.com creator Mark Deal, RPLS, is no doubt smiling down from the heavens on this remarkable example of generosity and community. His goal to build a message board that would act as a worldwide venue for surveyors has been elevated to new heights with the Michael Porter Fund. Today the valued board acts as a monument to Mark’s thoughtfulness and perseverance to the surveying profession. And the Michael Porter Fund is a testament to true human goodness.
“I do have a different outlook on life now,” Porter says, ironically. “When I see people doing fundraising, I buy something because I know I too am on that side of the table.”
Porter’s legs hurt far worse than his spirit, which continues to strive impressively in the midst of such a situation. He credits much of that to the RPLS.com community that has collectively supported his cause.
“All I can say is thank you,” Porter said. “No words can describe the feelings I have by reading what the board has done and continues to do on my behalf. The money and prayers that are offered on my behalf show true love and friendship. Once again from the bottom of my heart I thank each and every one of you. This is a true brotherhood like none other.”
* And sisters of course!
The RPLS.com IconPOBis currently seeking logo design concepts to represent RPLS.com until July 13th. Serious concepts only should be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or faxed to 248/786-1439. The logo must incorporatePOBsomewhere and represent RPLS.com as an Internet surveying message board, not the surveying profession in general. Posters and lurkers, consider how the profession’s best message board has created the community that raises the funds for a fellow surveyor’s liver transplant. Consider the friendships you’ve made and the great advice you’ve gotten. Then, design!
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