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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: We have read your column for years, with its examples of acts of kindness and references to Iowa hospitality. This letter is about that hospitality.

During the week of Aug. 16-22, I was visiting my terminally ill aunt in Waterloo, Iowa. I am severely hearing-impaired. One of my hearing aids shorted out and left me virtually unable to use the telephone. I contacted several hearing aid offices before finding help. The person who came to my aid was an audiologist named Ron Potter.

When I contacted Ron and explained my situation to him, he came to my motel and inspected my hearing aid, but was unable to make the required repairs. He took me to his shop and fitted me with a loaner hearing aid. When I asked about my bill, he said, "No charge. Just mail the aid back when you get home."

I was in a state of shock. I couldn't believe that someone was trusting me, a complete stranger, with an item worth several hundred dollars. I mean, no deposit, no ID check, nothing! I persuaded him to make a copy of my driver's license and let me buy him lunch.

Yes, Abby, there are some good people left in this world. What really made me feel even better is the fact that I am black and Ron is white. Yes, we CAN get along! -- DIAMOND B. BEARD JR., SACRAMENTO, CALIF.

DEAR DIAMOND: Although it may be out of season, I'm sure Ron Potter will be thrilled to see your "valentine" in the newspaper. And, may I add -- your letter made my day!

DEAR ABBY: I'm writing in response to the recent letter by "Linda of Howell, Mich.," regarding her son who decided to become a vegetarian. In addition to your suggestion that she visit her pediatrician, I thought you might like to know of the services that can be provided by a registered dietitian.

The initials R.D. indicate that a person has completed at least a four-year degree in dietetics or nutrition, a 900-hour internship in the areas of clinical and community nutrition and management, and has passed a national credentialing exam. Registered dietitians are food and nutritional professionals who provide counseling in maternal and sports nutrition as well as for vegetarians and individuals with heart disease, diabetes, eating disorders, and a host of additional medical diagnoses that are affected by a person's eating habits.

The American Dietetic Association is the world's largest group of food and nutrition professionals serving the public. The ADA is currently active in trying to get states, insurance companies and the federal government to allow for reimbursable "medical nutritional therapy," so that the public may benefit from health-promoting counseling to prevent and cure disease.

Thank you for the opportunity to inform you of the work of these professionals. -- MARY M. BILZ, M.S., R.D., RUTLAND, VT.

DEAR MARY: I have mentioned the American Dietetic Association in my column in the past. Although it didn't occur to me that a registered dietitian might also be able to help the mother of the little boy who refused to eat meat because of the cartoon he saw on television, it makes sense that an R.D. could offer valuable input to mothers of picky eaters. Thank you for the timely reminder.

Abby shares more of her favorite, easy-to-prepare recipes. To order, send a business-size, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, More Favorite Recipes, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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