Posts Tagged ‘service’

Teaching Children Through Our Actions

Thursday, September 10th, 2009

As I was on my morning walk, I strolled right by a bank’s drive-up instant teller. A woman was using it, standing outside her SUV because it was too far to reach from inside her car. The sun was bright, and she was struggling to shade the screen with her hand because of the glare. Behind her SUV, a city maintenance truck and a third car were waiting, their engines idling.

What bothered me about this scene is that right around the corner of the building there are two instant tellers in the lobby. Using them would only have required parking (free!) and walking about 30 steps. Instead, the woman chose to get out of her car and fight the sun’s glare, and the other two people decided to sit in their cars, wasting time and gas. All this on a 70-degree day!

As I continued my walk, the sight of another woman made my day. When I saw that she had a plastic bag on each hand, I jokingly said, “I see the bags, but I don’t see the dog!” She laughed and told me the bags were for picking up trash. (She was using them as gloves.) While there are many popular “awareness” movements right now, from breast cancer to autism, is there any greater way to provide awareness than through real action and purposeful living like this? As great as pins and bumper stickers can be for getting the word out, this woman’s generous act speaks more than 100 anti-litter stickers.

If we want the next generation to be loving and reverent caretakers of the earth and each other, we parents have to step up to the plate with our actions. It’s not enough to use peace signs, bumper stickers, and tattoos to proclaim our love and values. We’ve got to demonstrate the very core beliefs we value. Do we buy our children a giant inflatable bouncer house for Christmas while proudly wearing a “Save the Earth!” t-shirt? Do we drive our Hummer 30 miles to pick up our organic, free-range Thanksgiving turkey?

Just as the two women I watched this morning told two very different stories, we tell our children stories every day through our actions. This holiday season, we’ll be singing songs with our children about peace and goodwill and sending cards about spreading joy, but my hope is that each one of us in our own unique ways will be living peace, goodwill, and joy through our actions-be it in volunteering in soup kitchens or in buying gifts that support artisans and sustainable living. Our children truly are watching.

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…)

Real Super Heroes

Thursday, March 12th, 2009
Sakura (Ali's daughter) as firefighter

Sakura (Ali's daughter) as a firefighter

Children need heroes. If we fail to give them real heroes, they will gladly seek out their own in the form of rock stars and superathletes with questionable morals. One of the most powerful things we, as parents, can do (besides be living examples of what we hope to teach) is offer them stories of real heroes. Offer them stories that will give them a model of courage so that when it comes time for them to be heroes in their own lives, they will have the inner fire and fortitude to do so. Stories of saints, freedom seekers and ordinary people doing extraordinary things all feed the soul fire burning in our hearts. This is what makes us strong in times of adversity and keeps hope alive.

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.

Words of Wisdom - Yes We Can! (Obama Victory Speech)

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009
President-Elect Obama with his Family on Election Night - Photo by Time

President-Elect Obama with his Family on Election Night - Photo by Time

Remarks of President-Elect Barack Obama-as prepared for delivery
Election Night
Tuesday, November 4th, 2008
Chicago, Illinois

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

It’s the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen; by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the very first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different; that their voice could be that difference.

It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled - Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America.

It’s the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.

It’s been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America. (more…)