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             Wednesday, February 12 2003  

Where are they now? Melodye (Gay) Olsavsky

Jackson Township native Melodye Olsavsky was born September 7, 1959. The oldest of five daughters born to Homer and Bonnie (Savering) Gay, Melodye and two of her sisters, Susan Gay and Esther Primel, along with their parents, live in Jackson Township. The remaining daughters; Deborah Smith, of North East, Maryland, and Heather Baker of Colbert, Georgia, find the southern climate more to their liking.

Melodye (Gay) Olsavsky
recent photo | high school photo

Melodye is a 1977 graduate of Central Cambria High School where she was active in chorus and had singing parts in school musicals. She also attended Grace College in Winona Lake, Indiana, for two years, where she majored in communications.

Married to Daniel Olsavsky from Nanty Glo since May 16, 1980, she and Dan are the parents of two children. Amanda Joy, 21, is a junior majoring in jazz music and English literature at Towson University in Maryland, and their son, Brent, 17, is a junior at Central Cambria and lives at home with his parents.

What started out as a volunteer situation turned into employment for Melodye. She works part-time for the Central Cambria School District as a choir assistant. She provides the piano accompaniment for all the concerts held for the school district, which includes the elementary programs as well as middle school and high school musical events.

"I've been with the school district for eight years," she says, "five years as a volunteer, and three years as an employee." Melodye's musical roots are deeply embedded in Gospel music. Her musically talented family has been singing and playing Gospel music for as long as she remembers. Melodye, her sister Suzie, along with their parents started singing in churches when the girls were three years old. For a while when the girls were very young, the family lived in Telford, near Philadelphia, where the family performed at churches, Gospel radio programs, and campgrounds.

"My mom and dad each played the guitar and we all sang," she says, "But I was very young and the memories fade...." Melodye has been playing the piano since she was eight years old. "I took lessons from a local minister's wife, Mrs. Koontz," she recalls. As she got older and while in high school, she continued to perform in musical productions. In high school, she was the first person from Central Cambria School District to make All State Chorus, and while at Grace College she performed in a singing group and played the role of Lucy in You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown.

"I took singing lessons while in college, but before that, my dad taught me," she says, "He's been singing since he was three years old." At the age of 30, Melodye was diagnosed as having multiple sclerosis. "I went into deep depression and denial. 'I can beat this thing,' I felt, but I learned that you can't beat it, you must work with it." By the time she was 36 years old, Melodye was confined to a wheelchair and had developed a bleeding ulcer from the effects of her medication. Seven years ago, she made what was for her a life-altering decision. "I read an article about the effects of exercize on multiple sclerosis and started going to the gym," she says. "I started using the treadmill and the weight machines...I progressed from the wheelchair to the walker and now I'm ambulatory."

About a year and a half ago, she started using Yoga as a form of treatment and self-management of her disease. "I am no longer wheelchair bound," she says, " I have my bad days here and there, and occasionally need a wheelchair when I go shopping, but for the most part, I'm able to do without it." Melodye uses both the Hatha and the Kundalini methods of Yoga. The Hatha method is used for posing and the stretching of her muscles, and the Kundalini method for meditation and posing also. She has been so inspired by the effects of Yoga on her disease that she is thinking about becoming a Yoga instructor at some time in the future.

"I must keep active to stay active," she says."I live my life in spite of my disease, but I understand my limitations." Melodye says she has stayed away from the various support groups. "I prefer my connections to be more positive; my friends are women my age who have children...they are my support group.

"When I was young, we just had fun as a family; our house was always full of people. We sang a lot and laughed a lot...my childhood was great! My mom and dad provided a safe, fun home for us and we knew we were loved...and I miss the uncomplicated life that it was.

"Jackson Township was a great place to grow up in," she says. "I wish it were more economically stable so the young people wouldn't find it necessary to leave to find work."

Anyone wishing to send greetings, can send them to HRoses2@peoplepc.com for forwarding.

If you have a suggestion for a subject for Where Are They Now, please write Judy Rose.

Click here for an index of all Where Are They Now profiles in this series.

What's in a name?

On a cruise to Alaska, I saw my very first glacier in the magnificent Inside Passage. Excitedly, I asked the ship's officer what it was called. "It's some dumb glacier," he replied.

Disappointed by his attitude, I bought a map to figure it out for myself. I calculated our location and found the name of the ice mass. It was called, just as he had said, "Sumdum Glacier."

Thought for the day

If some are still dominated by their former bad habits, and yet can teach by mere words, let them teach…For perhaps, by being put to shame by their own words, they will eventually begin to practice what they teach.

—St. John Climacus, seventh-century
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