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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

People who make a difference part deux

So I'm a slacker when it comes to writing regularly. I have such good intentions when I start and then it all goes to hell, much like my resolution to stop swearing (which my kids remind me of daily).

Truth is, I did write a page last weekend but then the cable went out and my post sat on my computer for a while. Sigh.....I'm trying......

So let me catch up. The more I look around, the more I realize there are lots of people doing good in this world. They've also been there. They just work quietly and sometimes I don't notice their work until I go looking for it. I'm glad I'm looking for it.

I left off at 11 so we'll start with 12.

12. Unicef - when I was little, we would collect coins for them when we were trick-or-treating. I guess kids don't do that anymore. I thought it was a good idea.

13. and 14. The Trevor Project and It Gets Better Project. - saving and trying to improve the lives of kids who get teased/bullied because of their sexual orientation. How sad is it that an organization was needed to address this need and how awesome is it that they do it.

15. Toys for Tots - this organization is near and dear to my heart. This is how my family and I (my mom and brother) celebrate the holidays with each other. We buy each other a few gifts but mostly what we do is buy gifts for kids who might otherwise not get gifts. People buy for babies and little cute kids but what about the older ones? We try to buy sports equipment and other things those kids might like. The best part is going to the fire station to deliver them. The firemen love us when we go.

16. The Angel Tree - I found out about programs like this through my brother. I'm not usually too supportive of religious programs but this one makes sense. They bring Christmas gifts to kids who have a parent in jail. The gifts come from the incarcerated parent so all the kids knows is that his mom or dad sent a gift. I never thought about those children not getting gifts because they have a parent in jail. What a great idea!

17. Santa for Seniors - My sister-in-law is the head elf for this group. She works tirelessly for a few months to make sure the senior citizens in her area (southern California) get something for Christmas. My mom used to do it when we lived in Lansdale. I'm inspired by both of them.

18. Food and Friends - These folks make sure that people with life threatening illnesses get food. Many people associate them only with patients who have HIV/AIDS but they do more than that. The serve people with all sorts of illnesses.

More to come.....

Friday, November 11, 2011

Saying thank you

I can't quite imagine what it's like to be a member of our military. I have several friends who joined and know others whose spouses are in active duty. I don't think I'm courageous enough to do it. But I'm certainly grateful to those who are and who keep me and my family safe. Living near the Walter Reed Army Medical Center allows me to see the wounded service men and women who live in my community. They're pretty amazing people. Saying thank you doesn't seem like quite enough.

So in continuing with my thread of recognizing groups that help others, here's a few groups that do things for veterans. Check them out. Also, if you know of a group, person or organization that does good for the world, let me know.

8.Amvets - I didn't know all things this group did. I thought they just showed up at my door to get the things I wanted to donate. Turns out they have lots of programs. www.amvets.org

9. The Hugs Project - I didn't know that the post office charges non-profit organizations to send items to the troops. That doesn't seem quite right. Here's a group that sends items to the troops to give them warmth and some comforts of home. http://www.thehugsproject.com/

10. Soldiers' Angels - This group takes on a zillion tasks to help soldiers and their families. Wow - they write letters to soldiers, send blankets, send birthday cakes, makes pictures - many different things to help deployed soldiers know they are not forgotten. http://soldiersangels.org/teams-programs.html

11. Operation Write Home - This is a great idea to help kids get involved! This satisfies my crafty side and my desire to help others. I'm going to do this! Folks make cards - no store bought cards allowed! - to send to the troops so they can send them to their friends and families. What a great idea! http://operationwritehome.org/involved.html

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Teachers

You couldn't pay me enough to be a teacher. Well, that's not entirely true. I already teach. I teach families, kids and businesses sign language. But that's different. That's just a few weeks at a time. I couldn't do the full time teaching thing. But I'm thankful to folks who do.

I wrote before about one teacher who forever touched my life. Mr. Aiken was kind of a lousy teacher but he was an important figure in my life. Mr. Righter was a teacher of mine in 7th and 8th grade and then saved my sorry butt later when I got kicked out of a class in 12th grade and had too many study halls for my schedule. He let me come to his class and co-teach with him. I worked with the 8th and 9th grade kids on their writing, English and life skills. The oh so cool thing about that was the kids who remembered me. I'm facebook friends with two of them - and they sought me out. Very cool.

I had two teachers in my interpreting classes that made a difference in my life. Nancy DeKorte Sullivan and Eve West taught me things I didn't realize I needed to know. I hear their voices in my head sometimes during challenging interpreting situations.

I didn't think I'd have the opportunity to be influenced by a teacher again. Oh, was I wrong. One of my daughters, M, has had struggles with her teachers year after year. Last year, in fourth grade, I was fully prepared for the yearly lecture I heard during parent-teacher conferences: M is smart but here's everything that's wrong with her (insert very long list here). But this teacher didn't do that. It started like this: "M is my favorite student". I have no idea what she said after that because I started to cry. Really.

She helped both girls through the changes in our family. She made M feel special when no one else could. She made me feel like I wasn't fucking my family up when I was sure I was. And she did it all with a smile. I love her. It's an interesting feeling to be influenced by this awesome teacher who I'm pretty sure is younger than me. Humbling might be a better word. Grateful is probably most accurate.

Monday, November 7, 2011

People who make a difference

I'm trying to keep the idea of being thankful in mind. It's tough when I have crying kids, a mom who needs things, clients who need me and a business that can't run itself. However, staying mindful of such a positive feeling will benefit me. That's what I'm telling myself.

My first goal was to post every day. That's not going to happen. So every few days will have to do.

More people who make a difference and organizations that do good.

4. Manna on Main Street - this is a food pantry in Lansdale, PA (my home town). I've served holiday dinners there several times - as have my children. If you're in the area, Thanksgiving is a wonderful day to volunteer there. Tons of fun and it makes your heart grow bigger. http://www.mannaonmain.org/

5. St. Luke Evangelical Lutheran Church
Phone: (301) 588-4363
Address: 9100 Colesville Road, Silver Spring, MD 20910
These folks run a food bank that serves local folks in need. When I was a girl scout leader, we did a lot of work collecting food for this group. I've delivered food and home made holiday cards from our troop on days when people were picking up food. So many of the patrons were elderly - and several told me they wouldn't get any other holiday cards except the ones our troop made.

6. Mike Prien. This one is going to sound weird because I don't think most folks write kudos for their ex-husbands. But he is worthy of such a post because of what he's doing for kids going through cancer treatment. The dude can sew. And sew he does. He makes awesome hats for kids going through chemo who have lost their hair. He makes them for little kids, big kids, any kid at the National Children's Medical Center who is in need.

7. Any and all hospice organizations. I have a special place in my heart for them and have worked with PG County hospice to help train interpreters to work with hospice patients. The folks who work for them day in and day out are clearly angels on earth.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Being thankful for the work of others

I've been thinking about what I wanted to do to acknowledge the season of being thankful. My friend Alissa at Have Stroller Will Travel (http://www.havestrollerwilltravel.blogspot.com/) is doing a Pay It Forward series. The things she does make me more aware of the kindness I can provide to others - simple things that make a difference. Today I met people from various organizations that provide help and services to my local community. I decided to showcase some organizations that are making a difference between now and Thanksgiving. Maybe it will help them get some much needed support.

Since today is November 3, I'll list three.

1. Deaf Reach - http://www.deaf-reach.org/ - In 1972, the National Health Care Foundation for the Deaf--doing business as Deaf-REACH-- was founded as a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization within the District of Columbia. Our mission is to maximize the self-sufficiency of deaf adults needing special services by providing Referral, Education, Advocacy, Counseling, and Housing.

2. The Children's Inn at NIH- http://www.childrensinn.org/site/c.kkI1KiMXIvF/b.2213417/k.9765/Get_INNvolved.htm

As a parent, my heart breaks a little every time I see children in the Clinical Center at NIH. I'm very aware how lucky I am as the parent of healthy children.

3. Parkinson's Foundation - http://www.parkinson.org/. They work tirelessly to end this horrible disease.

Do you have a charity or know someone making a difference in the world? Let me know - I'd love to give them a voice here.

Learning to Date

While having a discussion recently with a male friend of mine, it dawned on me to ask him "How do boys learn to date?" I don't know what answer I expected but his answer sort of surprised me.

What was it?

"Um, I don't know." That was the answer. I started thinking about it. How do children (or teens or adults) learn to date? That's a tough one.

If you look at my background, I certainly didn't learn it at home. My mother thought it was terrible if I so much as called a guy. There was no guidance. And I had a brother nearly 10 years older than me who was long gone by the time I started dating. I guess I learned it from Judy Blume books and my friends. But I don't really know.

I worked with a male interpreter the other day, a few years older than me and someone I trust. "How did you learn to date?", I asked. The answer was the same! "Um.....I don't know. I just did it." My first thought was is this normal? Then I started thinking about it and realized this explains a lot.

I guess most kids grow up with parents as models. I didn't. My mom was single and never dated while I was around. I think lots of parents are bad role models. Yes, many are good. But what do kids do when they don't have those positive role models?

I've long held on to the belief that the one of the main reasons men are not nice to women is because they were jerked around/abused by women or they never learned how to be nice to them. And one of the main reasons women take it is because they were taught to. So who teaches children to love? To have strong, healthy relationships? Maybe it's innate in us all - until someone screws it up.

I think I'm doing a good job raising girls who think for themselves, who feel for others and who will understand what a relationship is supposed to be like. Or at least I hope I am. I dated a lot when I was younger - good role models would've helped me there. I'm old enough now to make good decisions. I hope my kids watch what I'm doing and both learn from my mistakes and my successes. The successes are much more fun.