Posts Tagged ‘responsibility’

Raising Kids Who Care

Saturday, March 28th, 2009

Article written by Martha Fay in Reader’s Digest

Raising kids who care

It’s easy–if you lead by example. Five families show you how to get started, stay committed, and make a real difference.

ENCOURAGE THEIR PASSION

Phil and Anne Holland-McCowan
John, 16; Harrison, 13
Atherton, California

John Holland-McCowan was sitting on a beach in Hawaii with his parents and his baby brother, Harrison, happily playing with coconuts and driftwood. “I’m so lucky,” the almost-five-year-old suddenly announced. “I have all these toys to play with and all my toys at home.”

His startled parents replied that he was indeed lucky, since a lot of kids didn’t have any toys at all. “That’s when he started to cry,” recalls his mother, Anne.

“How can that be?” John asked. “We have to get toys for those children.”

His parents naturally wondered if it was just some kind of phase, but as soon as they returned home, John began hoarding his small allowance to buy toys for other kids and urging his friends to do the same. His parents responded by organizing pizza suppers for other families interested in helping underprivileged children. “We just want to cheer kids up,” John explained.

“It was so great and so simple,” says Anne, who set out to find a place that would allow children as young as six and seven to volunteer. “It took a lot of phone calls,” admits the longtime volunteer. “We finally got Scribbles and Giggles [scribblesandgiggles.com], a day-care center for medically fragile children, to let John and his friend Jane visit. They went and just played with these kids, zipping around the room as if they belonged there. And these were children with tubes in their throats and all kinds of medical problems.”

John and his friends named their enterprise Kids Cheering Kids (kidscheeringkids.com), and today there are 19 chapters in the greater San Jose/ South Bay area; another in Metairie, Louisiana; and still another in Portland, Oregon. John is 16 now, a six-one sophomore and a water polo star at Menlo High School. He still visits kids at the San Jose Family Center, helping out with a carnival they’re putting on. He’s also working with Angels on Stage (angelsonstage.org) in the South Bay to prepare a performance of The Wizard of Oz starring children with disabilities.

The spirit of helping is as fresh as it was that day in Hawaii. “The whole purpose,” he says, “is to make the kids feel better.”
(more…)

Featured Chinaberry Employee - Karen Knight

Friday, March 27th, 2009


Janet: How long have you been working for Chinaberry?

Karen: I was first hired in April, 2000 to do payroll and some bookkeeping. When I was offered a job elsewhere in 2007, I took it, but it didn’t take long for me to realize that Chinaberry is the place for me. After two months, I returned to open arms. You just can’t leave a place like Chinaberry and be happy.

Janet: How would you describe what you do now?

Karen: I work in three departments: in Human Resources, my primary job is payroll; in the Website Department, I turn the ads on and off as inventory changes, copy ads to different websites, and keep an eye on other websites that have links to our website; and in Accounting, I do sales taxes and anything they need help with.

Janet: What has been your most memorable experience at Chinaberry?

Karen: One of the most memorable experiences was when Chinaberry was threatened by fire. Everyone immediately pulled together to get a rental truck loaded so we could keep the business running if the fire were to reach our building. No one had to ask anyone to help; everyone just pulled together and got busy. The next year the fire was even closer, and in the wee hours of the morning, employees who could get through to the building left their homes to come and make sure things were covered to keep smoke from the merchandise. Together, they stood at the back of the building as the fire approached, hoping it would not hop the roadway below.  No one called and asked anyone to come; they just showed up and got busy doing whatever they could to help. Some employees lost their homes and everything in them. Immediately, the Chinaberry family tried to find out what they could do to help.

I love how employees are quietly watched for their strengths and how management works together to find the perfect fit for employees. Every book and toy is read or tested by employees and their families to make sure it is a fit for Chinaberry kids. We have books you would never find in the mall bookstores.

Janet: What are your top two all-time favorite Chinaberry books?

Karen: Eat, Drink and Be Chinaberry is a cookbook I’ve given to all my children and friends. The recipes are simply wonderful, but more than that, you can find helpful hints like making your own diaper wipes. With five grandkids in and out of our home, we have used that one more than once. In this time of financial struggle for so many people, there are ways to save money and this is a great one. This cookbook is the favorite one in all our homes.  Also, James Herriot’s Treasury for Children is one that my grandchildren and I love to sit and read together.

Janet: What are your top two all-time favorite Chinaberry products?

Karen: The Marble Whacker is a game we really enjoy playing. It gets really noisy with the sound of the marbles clicking as you hit them, but the laughter is the greatest. Also, the Butter Bell Crock is sitting on my counter all the time and part of setting the table.

Janet: Want to share a little bit about your family and/or hobbies?

Karen: My husband and I have five children and five grandchildren with another on the way. We enjoy our Sunday family dinners, especially since all we have to provide is the house because they all do the cooking!

Watching the kids grow and mature and having the opportunity to play ball and go on family bike rides is the best, but never more fun than camping together. Of course our son-in-law claims he will never camp with us again because every time we’ve gone, we’ve run into a bear or two. The last time we went camping, it took us three hours to get to our campsite, but only 1-1/2 hours to load up and run back to the car after bears were headed toward our tents! We’re going camping locally in two weeks and hope to prove we don’t always have bears around. This time, we’ll be in mountain lion country! (We’ve never seen one there, but keep your fingers crossed!)

Prevent a Litter: Fix Your Critter

Friday, March 20th, 2009


This morning my 3 cats watched with anticipation as I filled their food bowls. Today is the 1-year anniversary of the day Stanley, my 2-year-old dog, found the litter of kittens with their mother in the bushes in my backyard.

That morning I was in the house when I heard Stanley barking in the yard.  It was his “there is an animal that doesn’t belong in the yard” bark.  A momma cat had evidently moved her litter of 3 kittens into a box in the bushes. The stray momma cat has since been spayed, the 3 kittens, Dominic, Harvey, and Fluffy, have been neutered, micro-chipped, and now live with me.

My intention was to foster them and find them good homes. I tried for months, with ads in the paper, signs around town, etc., but there were no takers. The shelters were overflowing, and I could not bring myself to turn them into animal control. Of course they are now “my boys,” and you could not take them from me if you tried. This is, however, a reminder of the importance of spaying and neutering.

Each spring animal shelters all over the country fill up quickly due to the number of cats and kittens that are turned in.  The Humane Society of the United States estimates that each year approximately 2 million cats and kittens are brought into shelters. Approximately 70% of these relinquished kitties are euthanized each year. Since most do not have ID collars or microchips, their owners cannot be located. The cats that do not make it into a shelter become strays. An un-spayed female cat, her mate, and all of their offspring can produce 11,000 kittens in just 5 years!

The solution to the cat over-population problem is simple. It begins with every cat owner being responsible enough to get their cats fixed. This is just as important for indoor-only cats.  No one can guarantee that the cat will never make a break for it and make it outside where they will encounter un-fixed cats.There are also many behavioral and health benefits to spaying and neutering.

There aren’t enough homes for them all. Please spay and neuter your pets and encourage your friends and family to do the same.

Introducing Stanley

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

Stanley was born under a pile of construction rubble in Mexico on Dec 6, 2006.

Sadly, one week later he became an orphan.  Through an honest gringa mistake at the border crossing, the wrong word for “puppy” in Spanish was used when describing what was in the box. “CUCHARA,” the Spanish word for spoon, is awfully similar to the Spanish word for puppy, “CACHORRO.” The litter of 9 “spoons” made it through customs and back to San Diego.  Ann, Chinaberry’s founder, brought the little ones to work with her the next day as they needed to be bottle fed every few hours. That is when I met Stanley for the first time. The litter was about 2 weeks old at this point.  Unfortunately, they were not thriving.   A sad Christmas Eve was spent in the emergency veterinary clinic. Only one puppy was diagnosed to have any chance of surviving, and that he did.

Stanley’s first few months of life here in San Diego were spent being schlepped back and forth to work with me every day along with a dog pen, pee pads, puppy formula, bottles, clean blankets, washcloths, and towels.  As the months progressed, toys were added to the trunk full of supplies.

Stanley is now over 2 years old and quite a character. I keep waiting for him to grow out of his puppy stage and wonder if he ever will. One of his favorite places to visit is Chinaberry.  He can hardly contain himself when we pull into the parking lot. His excitement runneth over as he systematically visits all of his friends in various parts of the building.

His constant canine companion is a 4-year-old shepherd mix named Stella, along with 4 cats (three of the cats are brothers from a litter that I fostered last year). If you have an idea what Stanley’s breed is let me know!

Who knew that a life begun under a pile of rubble in Mexico would end up bringing such joy to so many people.

Henry the Three-Legged Cat Helps Sick Children and Wounded Veterans

Tuesday, January 27th, 2009
Henry, the Three Legged Cat

Henry, the Three-Legged Cat

I ran across this inspiring article about our favorite three-legged cat, Henry. I hope you enjoy it as well.

Henry the three-legged cat’s ‘Just Me Project’ extends his healing paw to children and wounded veterans

San Diego Pets: A Lifestyle Magazine for Pet Lovers
DECEMBER 2008–JANUARY 2009
By Nicole Sours Larson

A homeless mountain kitten, Henry was taken in by a family staying with Cathy Conheim and Donna Brooks at their Julian home after the family was burnt out by the Cedar Fire. When he showed up with a dangerously dangling left front leg and needed an emergency amputation, no one would have imagined the transformative effect he would have on so many lives.

Conheim and Brooks, confirmed dog lovers, had not planned to adopt Henry, but he came into their lives at a time of great loss and grief. Henry, like many pets, filled an unrealized void. Kind-hearted animal lovers, rather than euthanize the trusting kitten they chose to pay for Henry’s life-saving surgery and promised to find him an indoor home. Henry rapidly wormed his way into their respect and affections and inspired them to publish his story to benefit other injured and disadvantaged animals. Now, having raised more than $50,000 in four years through sales of his books and other publications to support animals and animal welfare organizations, Henry has become spokescat for a new crusade, partnering with his poodle sister, Dollydog.

Henry’s Just Me Project taps into the powerful human animal bond to extend the three-legged cat’s healing message of overcoming obstacles to help both ailing children and their siblings as well as wounded war veterans and their families.

Conheim, a psychotherapist and Henry’s “cat scribe,” and Brooks, a retired physician, thought they disliked, even hated, cats until Henry took over their lives. The La Jolla residents began to comprehend the power of Henry’s story once they received an overwhelming response to Conheim’s initial email sent to 20 of their friends detailing the indomitable kitten’s tale of survival and triumph. That email boomeranged around the world. (more…)

Words of Wisdom from Gandhi

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009
Wall art of Gandhi created by Will Kasso

Wall art of Gandhi created by Will Kasso

“Be the change you wish to see in the world”
- Gandhi

I just love this quote from Gandhi. I now have the bumper sticker on my car–mostly to remind myself of the responsibility we all share to “be the change we wish to see” in our families, communities, counties, states, countries, and the world.

A new arrival, ‘Be the Change’ Pendant, is now available at our sister site, IsabellaCatalog.com.

The following is an excerpt from an interview with graffiti artist Will Kasso:
Question: One of your latest portraits is Gandhi. Why?

Kasso: Well, Gandhi was a great human being. His contribution to society, the world for that matter, is undeniable. He directly influenced Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and a host of others for positive change. So when I decided to do the wall, I wanted to paint someone that ignited change, since aerosol artists are the most misunderstood and stereotyped artists on this planet.

President Obama’s Inaugural Address - History in the Making

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

President Obama's Inaugural Address - Part 1

President Obama's Inaugural Address - Part 2

My fellow citizens:

I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors.  I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.

Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath.  The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace.  Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms.  At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.

So it has been.  So it must be with this generation of Americans.

That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood.  Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred.  Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age.  Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered.  Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.

These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics.  Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land - a nagging fear that America’s decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.

Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real.  They are serious and they are many.  They will not be met easily or in a short span of time.  But know this, America -  they will be met.

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics. (more…)