living her best life #46: we can help…

For those of us wishing we could help in Pat’s fight against multiple myeloma…

WE CAN.

Researching treatments for the management of MM, an incurable cancer, means adding longevity to the lives of patients with the disease. Buying time for continuing research means… 

A CURE??? 

Who knows? Stranger things have happened. No harm in dreaming…BIG.

There are a multitude of great causes, many of them deserving. Personally, I like to know where my money is going. I prefer non-generic, causes. Ones that aren’t mainstream. Well known charities tend to corner-the-market when it comes to donor dollars. Nothing wrong with that. Just not where I want to direct my few charitable ones. 

Right now, for me, The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation is my charity of choice. 

Like anyone with a family member, friend, co-worker, or acquaintance who might benefit directly from a donation, I know that…giving to MMRH is akin to adding longevity to Pat’s life. 

And even if you don’t know her, you do.

Pat’s…your grandmother…your mother…your sister…your wife….your daughter…your aunt…your niece… your cousin. She’s anyone and everyone who means anything to you.

…giving to MMRH is akin to adding longevity to pat’s life…

…and to all those similarly stricken with multiple myeloma.

………hugmamma

Your contribution extends lives.

The Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit. Your contribution is tax deductible.

  • GIVE ONLINE

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    Send your contributions to:
    Multiple Myeloma
    Research Foundation

    383 Main Avenue, 5th Floor
    Norwalk, CT 06851

    Checks should be made out to the
    Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation.

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    Call 203.229.0464

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charitable gifting…a holiday twist

The Food Bank in our community recently held a holiday event for parents unable to provide gifts for their children.

Rather than having donors make the selections for family members, we were invited to bring our unwrapped donations to a specified venue on December 8th and 9th. The Food Bank’s website provided the age categories and a list of possible suggestions of gifts for both boys and girls. Donors were asked to indicate, if possible, what items we were planning to bring. Most likely it was to have an indication of what and how much to expect.

Parents wanting to participate in the shopping spree which occurred on December 10th and 11th, were asked to register online. Again, it was probably to ensure that there would be a sufficient inventory from which they could make their selections.

A friend and I had fun shopping for items to donate. With no child of his own, he relished purchasing a couple of things to make someone else’s child happy. It brought me joy as well knowing that the toys and clothes I bought would bring great pleasure to the parents who would, in turn, give them to their children.

What a wonderful way to give during the holidays. Letting parents shop from among the donated items, allowing them to have the same experience as we who have the means to buy gifts for our own children.

…anonymity for the donor…dignity for the parent who can give…

………hugmamma.

fundraising…with the rich and famous

Hubby called mid-day yesterday asking if I’d like to accompany him to a fundraiser. His company was one of the corporate donors, and he was asked to attend on the company’s behalf. Normally I prefer to settle in for the evening, especially when I’ve had a busy week running around doing whatever it is I do as a housewife. But since we’d not had a date night within the last month or so, I thought…”What the heck! Just go for it.” And so I did.

Of course it took some primping…and wriggling in and out of outfits…before I passed the visual test. I looked in the mirror…gave myself the once over…and decided that was as good as I was going to get. Hubby, on the other hand, always tells me I look…”beautiful!” I don’t always agree…but hey!…I’ll take it.

I had a chance to visit the Museum of Flight a...

Funny thing is my husband referred to the fundraiser as an “event.” After I hung up the phone, I said to myself “Event? What kind of event?” The only clue I had was that it was being held at the Museum of Flight. I’d been there on a couple of other occasions for cancer fundraisers. So I imagined we’d be attending something similar. Although my husband did say this wasn’t the same “event.”

Initially I thought I’d just dress up a pair of nice jeans with a tank and a knee-length jacket made of glittery threads. I imagined the crowd would be young and hip. After all, it was the Museum of Flight…not Benaroya Hall where the Seattle Symphony plays…or McCaw Hall where the Pacific Northwest Ballet and the opera perform.

As it turned out it’s a good thing I decided on a safer, more traditional floor length, brown, sleeveless jersey dress with matching lace jacket.

When we pulled up in front of the museum, we were greeted by young men hired to park cars. Waiting to greet us were young women in gowns with fur capes. A tent set up over the entrance was lit with chandeliers. The cement floor was covered in a red, outdoor carpet. And before ascending the stairs to the tent where we had to register our credit cards and pick up our bidding packets, we were greeted by a ritzy, black, L-107 2013 Lincoln MKZ Luxury Sedan…one of the items up for bid.

English: 737 body in the Museum of Flight, Sea...

I couldn’t help thinking…”This is going to be a mighty interesting evening.”

As it turned out the event was to raise funds for the museum and the educational opportunities it affords younger generations of pilots, aeronautical engineers, scientists, astronauts and the like. We were treated to a video of just such a young hopeful who today, at 24, is involved in retrieving photographs from outer space and deciphering what exactly it is they are viewing. She was on hand, as were several young pupils who hoped to follow in the doctor’s footsteps. Yes, Laura is now addressed as “Doctor.” 

It was evident from the high bidding that took place as the evening unfolded, that Mr. and Mrs. William Boeing of the Boeing Company, had brought along their monied friends.

Cropped screenshot of Marilyn Monroe from the ...

One of them was wearing a dress once belonging to Marilyn Monroe. Try as I might to get a glimpse of the woman who’d obviously succeeded in bidding for the famed celebrity’s clothing, I left without knowing for certain. If it had been the white one Monroe wore in The Seven Year Itch, it would have been easy. My guess is it was the satin, white dress with large, black flowers that the star wore in her last film. The one in which she would’ve starred opposite Dean Martin. And the one Monroe more famously left in the middle of filming to fly to New York City’s Madison Square Garden to sing “Happy birthday…dear Mr. President. Happy birthday to you.” That was none other than…President Kennedy. Due to Monroe’s erratic behavior, the movie was finally completed with Doris Day and James Garner in the starring roles.

Last night’s “star,” the Lincoln sedan, donated by Ford’s CEO, Alan Mulally, as a personal favor to Mr. Boeing, ultimately sold for $45,000. It was valued at $49,500. Other big ticket items up for auction were…dinner for 8 hosted by Boeing Commercial Airlines President and CEO Ray Conner, and Alaska Airline‘s Chairman Bill Ayer…first class airfare on Alaska Airlines with hotel and reserved tickets to the 2014 Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in NYC…lunch with the Boeings at their home followed by a “once-in-a-lifetime ride” on Miss Wahoo, their hydroplane…first-class air for 4 on Alaska Airlines to and from the Four Seasons Hotel on the Big Island of Hawaii…Delta business class tickets and 3-night vacation at a Tuscan villa for two couples…and “Kentucky Derby experience for four with private jet air travel to Louisville” as guests of Bernt Bodal, Museum trustee and President and CEO of American Seafoods.

English: The Hubble Space Telescope (HST) begi...

One of the more interesting items which sold in excess of its $13,000 value was “to take the reins of the Hubble telescope and explore the universe…As Space Ambassador, you will receive the following:

  • An invitation for two to the exclusive finished spacecraft unveiling event, where YOU will be a guest of honor.
  • Your name etched into the actual historic spacecraft before it blasts into orbit!
  • At the event, you will mingle with the rockstar team at Planetary Resources that previously landed NASA’s Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity on Mars.

Finally, once the spacecraft is in orbit, you will:

  • Receive a special pass to use the ARKYD’s Space Photobooth for THREE special personal occasions on demand. (get your selfie in space!)
  • Have the opportunity to propose a name for an asteroid discovered by the ARKYD.
  • Help educate the community by donating a school and classroom of your choice the chance to be among the first to control this starship through their very own educational program customized just for them. You will be their Space Ambassador as you help them encounter their INNER ASTRONAUT and explore the wonders of the universe with the ARKYD starship.

Launch estimated for 2015. Donated by Planetary Resources, Inc.

The evening’s piece de resistance, however, was funding the Museum of Flight’s educational programs. The goal was $300,000. Two couples donated $100,000 each, one of them included…the woman walking around in Marilyn Monroe’s dress. Others raised their paddles at $75,000…$50,000…on down to $500. Obviously there were more raised paddles at the bottom rung.

That’s where we normally jump in…at the $500 level. However early on in the bidding, hubby and I decided this fundraiser was not something we were moved to join. While we agreed with its mission, we’re more inclined to donate towards cancer research or some other social issue. It was obvious that The Museum of Flight had a plethora of wealthy donors who could probably give to various charities. We, on the other hand, are middle-class donors who must be selective since we’re not able to…burn through money like the big rollers.

These patrons of flight gave a whopping $450,000 toward the museum’s educational mission alone, surpassing their goal by $150,000. I would imagine the evening’s grand total probably approached $1,000,000. Not bad for one night’s work.

As I anticipated, the evening was fascinating for so many reasons…the money donated, the people, the food, our dinner companions and, of course, the flight memorabilia that surrounded us on all sides…some even floating overhead.

I heartily suggest that when you visit Seattle…you can skip the fundraiser, but…

…the museum of flight…is a must-see!!!…

………hugmamma. 

Seattle Museum Flight Mar05 48

 

…everyone needs…a friend…

My life has been enriched by friends I’ve met through hugmamma’s mind, body, and soul.

We share our stories, stories told by others…our lives…and those of others. All are compelling.

Marcia Clark posted the following youtube  to her blog, Marcia Clark-La Chica Writes at http://mecwrites25.wordpress.com.

…i‘ll let the video speak for itself…

………hugmamma.   

an easter gift to ourselves, feeding the hungry

Spent a couple of hours Saturday evening volunteering once again at the community hall serving dinner to those who wandered in from the street. My husband and I decided to fill in wherever needed, rather than commit to a regular schedule. As with most who offer their time, it’ll probably work out to be once-a-month that I prepare a dish that we bring along for the meal.

While 2 or 3 of the women are there more often because they coordinate the effort, others like us are there now and then. As for the needy, most seem to be regulars who are familiar with the routine. They’re very respectful as they enter the hall. Early by about 15-20 minutes, the men and women mill about, settling into chairs while they wait. If dessert is set out some might help themselves to a little, probably too hungry to wait, while others wander about aimlessly, perhaps too antsy, and hungry, to sit still.

Meatloaf

Image by su-lin via Flickr

The woman-in-charge was delayed, so we waited until she arrived to serve up dinner. We didn’t know where the second pan of meat loaf and a side dish of cauliflower were, or if they’d even been delivered. The coordinator arrived, the food was found warming in the oven, and the meal was ready. Meanwhile, the diners had lined up along one side of the hall, patiently waiting to be invited to step up and be served.

Salad with vinaigrette dressing

Image via Wikipedia

I served the meatloaf, another woman served the risotto dish she’d made, a middle-school boy helped with the tomato/mozzarella salad with balsamic vinaigrette I’d assembled, while his mom served up an ambrosia fruit salad. The diners helped themselves to garlic bread and the dessert of homemade strawberry shortcake.

There were a couple of newcomers that made me reflect. One was a young boy about 15 years old, I think. He looked as though he’d not bathed in a while, his hair disheveled, his face streaked with dirt, his ti-shirt and pants wrinkled and perhaps a little smelly. He arrived late, quietly approached the table, and mumbled that he was starving. My mother’s heart quickly sprang into action, offering him a couple of helpings of meatloaf, huge servings of mashed potatoes and risotto, and several slices of the tomato/mozzarella salad. He also got a spoonful of the cauliflower dish from another volunteer.The boy accepted everything gratefully, as they all do. Of course they may not like everything, but they’re not forced to eat it all. Later I did see the young man very discreetly throw out what remained on his plate, including the tomatoes and cheese. I felt for him as he stood at the  trash bin, seeming unsure as to whether or not he should discard the food given him. I think he did, finally. I’m glad. Just because he’s destitute, doesn’t mean he’s not free to still choose. My husband said he’d encountered the boy as he neared the hall. Standing outside until he could be useful, my husband informed the boy who asked what time it was, that, in fact, a meal was being served for any who desired to partake. My husband was also touched to see such a young person obviously in need of something to eat.

strawberry shortcake

Image by QuintanaRoo via Flickr

Late into the meal, a mother pushing a stroller arrived, accompanied by a younger relative carrying the baby. We had to scrape together what remained of the food, except for the salad of which there was lots left since I’d brought 3 platters. The latecomers seemed happy to be getting whatever they could. They, and the others, are a reminder that there are those who will eat anything, rather than have nothing whatsoever to eat.

As he did the last time we volunteered, my husband got to work scrubbing what serving dishes were emptied of food. Most had been cooked in disposable aluminum foil pans which were tossed, so there was less to clean up than before. As a result we left earlier than others who remained behind chatting. In taking our leave, we agreed that it was another evening well spent at the community hall. It felt especially good since we were celebrating Easter the following day. Feeding the hungry meant we were doing what Christ had done.

What Good Are These For So Many?

Image by andycoan via Flickr

giving to others…what we take for granted…hugmamma.  

“fudging” the truth to sell a book?

Cover of

Cover via Amazon

It’s heady stuff to be published, but downright phenomenal when a writer’s book lays the proverbial “golden egg.” Greg Mortenson seems to be the goose whose Three Cups of Tea was the egg that got laid. And as it turns out, it might have been really worth a “goose egg,” pun intended.

On Sunday evening, I watched CBS60 Minutes where journalist Jon Krakauer was featured as the man who brought down Mortenson’s “house of cards.” An early believer in the author’s tale, Krakauer eventually learned from a former boardmember of Mortenson’s charity, that all was not right with how it was being run. Furthermore the book itself is suspect because not all the details are based upon fact, or if they are, they did not occur as he described.

Greg Mortenson in Afghanistan 3500ppx

Image via Wikipedia

Three Cups of Tea tells how Mortenson lost his way in a mountain-climbing trip in Pakistan in 1993. He was with a companion who disputes the events as told in the book. According to the author, he was revived by the village people of Korphe. As a result of their compassionate efforts on his behalf, Mortenson decided to undertake the construction of schools for children in the area. He also tells of being kidnapped by the Taliban on a return trip. Photographs in the book show him in garb like the men who surround him. One picture even shows the author holding up a rifle. “Sixty Minutes” spoke with some of these supposed kidnappers, one being an Islamic intellectual who has himself penned many books. These men insist they are not Taliban, nor did they kidnap Mortenson. Rather they were enlisted to show him the surrounding countryside. It was his desire to build other schools for the children of Afghanistan and Pakistan.

While Krakauer does not detract from Mortenson’s initial humanitarian motives, the journalist takes issue with the author’s inability to justify the inaccuracies that have since surfaced. It seems Mortenson has used in excess of a million dollars of funds donated for his charity, the Central Asia Institute, to promote his book. Less than that amount has gone towards the Institute’s work. His accounting of the monies used is found lacking in specifics. Traveling from city to city for book-signings has sometimes occured via private jet. Meanwhile, the schools that were suppose to be built, have either not been constructed, or stand empty of any occupants. Others that are operating, have not received a penny from the charity in years.

Since the late-70s, 60 Minutes' opening featur...

Image via Wikipedia

Sixty Minutes’ Steve Croft was unsuccessful in getting Mortenson to speak on camera. He refused. He continued to maintain his silence when Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg of the Wall Street Journal sent an email asking for a comment for his article “Publisher Plans to Vet Memoir With Author.” On his charity’s website, Mortenson states that he is due to have “heart surgery later this week and when he recovers he will ‘come out fighting for what is right and just, and be able to talk to the media.’ ”

Meanwhile Mortenson’s publisher, Viking, maintains their praise of the author’s philantrophic efforts, but have registered their concerns saying that ” ’60 Minutes’ is a serious news organization.” So there could be a recall of the work, or the addition of an author’s note to later editions of the book. Krakauer who had donated $75,000 to the Central Asia Institute in its initial heyday, has now written his own lengthy account of Mortenson’s book, entitled Three Cups of Deceipt: How Greg Mortenson, Humanitarian Hero, Lost His Way.

On Forbes.com, writer Michael Humphrey covers the ongoing debate as to the facts of Mortenson’s book. After reviewing Mortenson’s mumbo-jumbo about the discrepancies put forth in the “60 Minutes” documentary, Humphrey sides with Krakauer’s rational dilineation of what really took place.

Mortenson abandoned his attempt on K2. He trekked down from the mountain in the company of three companions: his American friend and climbing partner Scott Darsney; his Balti porter, Mouzafer; and Darsney’s porter, Yakub. According to each of  these companions, the four men walked together into Askole, whereupon they immediately hired a jeep to take them to the city of Skardu, the district capital. When they drove out of the mountains, Darsney assured me, Mortenson “didn’t know Korphe existed.”

Krakauer’s book then deftly explains how Mortenson came to learn of Korphe a year later, rescinded a promise to build a school in Askole, invented the story of his Taliban abduction, and went on to found an organization that one former board treasurer says Mortenson considers “a personal ATM.”

And so Humphrey states:

In yesterday’s post, I was generous with Mortenson, a well-intentioned man who I thought might have lost his way as a storyteller and organizer. I thought with a good rebuttal, there was a ray of hope for his organization. Krakauer’s book dispels that notion.

power of the written word…opium for some…hugmamma.

Greg Mortenson signing books at the American L...

Image via Wikipedia

“give a damn,” architectural design

 

Architecture for Humanity - Design like you gi...

Image by inuse pictures via Flickr

Was puttering around when I overheard a conversation on MSNBC with a member of Architecture for Humanity.” Intrigued by the organization’s participation in helping rebuild devastated communities, I googled it. Perusing its website, I was impressed by its mission to improve the lot of those whose lives have been upended by natural disasters, including Katrina, Haiti, and now Japan. As a not-for-profit group, “Architecture for Humanity” is striving to refocus the stereotypical image of architects as being employed by only the rich and famous, to a more philanthropic one of helping those in dire need. This is a cause worthy of the donations being requested.

By showing an active interest in Architecture for Humanity, you are part of a growing grassroots humanitarian design movement helping to change the perception of the role of the designer. In most circles, architecture and design is seen as a service for the privileged. Our profession is guilty of embracing this ideal. Design should be a profession of inclusion whose talents help those who need them most. It is time for you to change the perception and design like you give a damn.

 

Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf of Mexico near i...

Image via Wikipedia

I think they’re putting a call out to those in their profession, as well as to those of us who give a damn about the world in which we live, and the less fortunate who are trying to carve out a place in which to live. Forget mortgages and foreclosures, these people probably have no ground upon which to stand, let alone a temporary roof and walls within which to find shelter.

makes you think…about the bare essentials…and those who don’t have them…hugmamma.

 

 

“approachable,” ellen de generes

Saw Zorianna today, my hair stylist. As is commonplace among stylists and their customers, we chatted about this, that, and the other thing. I told her what happened when I clicked onto Ellen de Generes‘ website. How I was excited, though flummoxed, at winning a grand prize of $1,000 gift cards for Wal Mart or Best Buy, or an IPad. And then how I thought I might be scammed if I followed through on the contest, by having to pay $9.99 a month for some cell phone product.

Our conversation led to our commiserating that Ellen seemed a genuinely nice person, approachable, unlike other celebrities. There’s no knowing for sure. But she hugs as many normal people as she does famous ones. Audience members, contestant winners, guests who are not widely known, all get the same treatment from Ellen. Her smiles are huge, her words are reassuring, her laughter infectious, and her hugs, real. No “air kisses” from this down-to-earth Hollywood personality.

Ellen DeGeneres in 2009.

Image via Wikipedia

Ellen’s shows are fun, upbeat. Even an elder stateswoman like me “gets” her humor. Don’t know if I’d play her games. They can be high energy, scream fests. I mightn’t have the energy, but my screams would be heard all around LA. Falling through a hole carved out of a prop that stands 6 feet above the stage is not how I’d want to end my life. And believe me, I’d have a heart attack going down.

One of my favorite segments of Ellen’s show is the giveaway. Fans write in with stories of their misfortunes, and Ellen gifts them with what it is they might need. The segments I’ve seen involved people whose cars were ready for the junk yard. Of course, they were thrilled to be the recipients of brand, new cars donated by local dealerships. It is usually accompanied by a $10,000 check to take care of other problems. Today’s giveaway was to a single mom of 17 years, who raised 2 teenage daughters wonderfully. The girls seemed a tribute to their mom’s upbringing. These moments always bring tears to my eyes.

helping one person at a time…hugs for…hugmamma.

“real change,” the homeless

While in Seattle yesterday I was lucky to find one of my favorite reads, a street newspaper. Since learning about this network of national, even global, homeless newspapers, I make it a point to seek out its vendors wherever I travel. Helping these people help themselves gives me great satisfaction. Giving money to individuals seems a more organic thing for me to do than putting a check in an envelope, addressed to an organization. I do some of that, but I so prefer pressing my money into the hand of someone whose smile blesses me in return.

In this week’s copy of Seattle’s “Real Change,” was the following article which warmed my heart, as I’m sure it will warm yours.

Vendor of the Week
Paulette Bade

Paulette Bade has an infectiously positive attitude. When I arrive to meet her, just past 8 a.m. on a chilly Monday morning, she’s already been selling the paper for over an hour. We can see our breath and the sidewalk where she’s selling is mostly quiet, but Paulette is all smiles. When she sees me, she exclaims that it’s so cold this morning she probably wouldn’t have shown up if she were me. I find it hard to believe; Paulette always shows up, 7 a.m., six days a week, without fail. She is happy to be selling a paper she believes in, talking with customers she knows and cares about, and saving money for her future.

Paulette has been selling Real Change outside the Whole Foods store at 64th and Roosevelt since the start of the new year, moving recently from her previous location at the QFC down the road. Luckily, staying in the same neighborhood, she’s been able to maintain a lot of her same customers–people who still stop by to visit with their favorite vendor and buy a paper once a week.

Image via Wikipedia

When she started selling the paper–in 1999, incredibly–it was only to make some extra cash. Her ambition soon swelled, though, and she now sells more than 300 papers each month. Starting out, Paulette had been homeless for close to eight months, staying in a local DESC shelter. She eventually moved into Nickelsville, the only place that would let her keep her two cats and where she met her current boyfriend. The four of them have since moved into an apartment near the store.

“Now I want to put money in the bank. I want to do better for myself,” she tells me. Paulette has been saving up her earnings from selling the paper in hopes of moving into a better home, somewhere where they can have more space and the two kitties can roam around.

As we talk, customers leaving the store or walking by greet Paulette like an old friend. They know her well, and she knows them. She points out customers to me, telling me who writes poetry and who buys the paper for the crossword puzzles. She loves this part of the job, even with the uncertainty that sometimes comes along with it.

“You never know from one day to the next how many you’re going to sell or how much you’re going to make,” she says. But even on slow days she powers through, reading the new issue each week, trying both to know her product and her community.

When I ask what her customers outside of Whole Foods mean to her, she is flushed with joy.

“I’m thankful to all my customers. I appreciate them just stopping by and saying ‘Hi.’ Their smiles make my day, everyday.”

written by Adrienne Brown

paulette’s teaching me about simplicity…and love… for all…hugmamma.

postaday2011 topic: what would you do with a million dollars, tax free?

Pay off bills, so my hubby wouldn’t have to stress. Enhance our retirement fund since hubby’s retiring in a few, short years, and we’ve used some of our funds to help our daughter with her profession. Set up a trust for her so she could dance without worry about her future. Set up college funds for nieces and nephews who might need help. Give monetary gifts to family members in need. Make donations to individuals struggling to improve their lives, or nonprofits working to help the impoverished, the abused, the downtrodden.

a million bucks may not do all that…but a little bit here and a little bit there can also help…hugmamma.

a homeless face

The Issaquah Reporter ran an article recently on sheltering the homeless. “When help means life–or death” addresses the fact that Seattle’s Eastside suburbs are working diligently to secure permanent housing for the homeless. Prominently featured in the accompanying photo is Vincent Flint.In business for himself as a finish carpenter for 36 years, a bad shoulder and the economic downturn changed his life forever.

Four years ago his body was too torn up to work and the housing market began to halt, he lost his job and he was on the streets.

For the first few years he slept in his car in front of the Crossroads Top Foods. Then he began camping.

Flint uses his YMCA membership to keep clean, does laundry at a friend’s home and doesn’t do drugs or drink.

Jobless, he decided to teach himself a new trade, 3D design. He stays warm at the Crossroads Bellevue Shopping Center during the day and, with laptop in hand, doesn’t stand out as anything other than someone taking advantage of free Wi-Fi.

Battling Hepatitis C since April, Flint says the mile walk from his camp to the shelter at the Crossroads Community Center is almost impossible; a $5 bus ride to Redmond and back too costly.

“I’m not walking a tight rope,” he said. “I’m walking a razor blade.”

“Even if the cities pull together and get a permanent shelter open all winter long, there is still a transportation problem. Buses aren’t cheap to those who have nothing, and a recent gubernatorial budget promises deep cuts into government handouts and food stamps.”

Support the shelter The Eastside shelter’s greatest needs are one-time donations of washable blankets and money for operational support.

Contact Colleen Kelly at the City of Redmond to make donations, 425-556-2423 or ckelly@redmond.gov.

join me in helping vincent flint…and others like him…hugmamma.

good samaritan #8

“Evening Magazine,” Western Washington’s entertainment show highlighting events, people and places, featured artist Michael Reagan. The lumps in our throats, my daughter’s and mine, did not dissipate until the piece on him was done. For 35 years Reagan made his living as an artist, but when he was asked to do his first fallen vet portrait, life changed. Explaining what he was about to do, he told his wife he now knew his purpose. And so Reagan committed his talent as an artist, to keeping the memory alive for the loved ones of those stricken in battle.

This evening’s edition of “Evening Magazine” showed the artist sketching a portrait of Darryl Kole, from a photograph sent by his mom, Kim. An only child, Darryl enlisted after graduating from high school. He immediately re-enlisted for a second tour in Iraq, when his first tour of service was over. He subsequently lost his life to an IED, “improvised explosive device” or roadside bomb. A handsome, young man, full of laughter and life, as depicted in a photo showing him held high on the shoulders of his army buddies. My heart ached for Darryl’s mom.

It took 5 hours to complete the portrait. When the Kole family arrived at Michael Reagan’s home to take possession of their son’s likeness, mom and artist hugged, but not like strangers. Tears flowed. My daughter and I even choked up. Reagan’s gift, for he charges nothing for his work, is an immeasurable act of love. “Returning” these deceased servicemen to their loved ones, is all the recompense he wants. In the process, Reagan has been served as well, for he has been able to work his way back from his years of wartime service in Vietnam. In fact, he feels a twinge of guilt in finding therapeutic relief from what he does. I’m sure the families of the fallen, would allow Reagan his well-deserved “kickback.”

The website, www.fallenheroesproject.org, puts those wishing to “bring a loved one home,” in touch with the artist. It also allows those touched by Michael Reagan’s humanitarian service, to make donations toward his singular effort. Besides donating his labor, Reagan also makes a gift of the materials. I’m certain he’s  also included the silent tears he’s shed, as a bonus.

for an artist who gives away his talent… and his heart, huge hugs…hugmamma.

giving thanks to our vets

It’s a good thing we’re annually reminded to pay homage to those who serve our country. It’s like Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day. If we were left to our own preoccupied lives, we would probably procrastinate, or forget completely. Of course we don’t mean to disrespect soldiers, moms or dads, it’s just that life happens, or so we say.

I’m a mom; I like all the accolades that come my way on one pre-designated day. I’m sure I’m not the only one. And hey, I can take the day off if I like. But that never happens, unless I’m sick in bed. Otherwise, I’m FIXING the bed, feeding and walking pets, preparing a meal or two, with the accompanying prep work and cleanup. Then there’s the never-ending-picking-up-after.

Nonetheless, I get to be remembered for all that I do, on ONE particular day. I think that makes the remaining 364 days bearable, almost. After 40 years of marriage, I have to give it some thought. The secret is, I’ve learned to “cut corners,” lots of them. But I digress.

So while the 22 million veterans in our country would love to be thought of more often than once a year, I’m certain they’re happy to take a “collective bow” on Veteran’s Day. Several stories came to my attention, which told of individuals, or communities, who found ways to thank vets. They reminded me of the time I flew to visit my daughter.

On the flight were several soldiers. One in particular caught my attention. He was without a leg, and he was traveling with his wife. They looked to be my daughter’s age, early 20’s. Not knowing their story, I could only imagine what lay ahead of them. I don’t think they were ever far from my thoughts, throughout the entire flight. 

How do you thank these stoic men and women? They never look directly into your eyes, keeping to themselves as they are surely in the habit of doing, unless with their comrades in arms. More than humble, soldiers seem to be “invisible,” unless performing their duty. If they speak, their words are barely audible. They rarely seem to smile. Their minds appear to be elsewhere. But where? Are they imagining themselves at home with loved ones, or in a remote area of Afghanistan, bullets flying all around them? How do you pierce that impenetrable veneer to offer thanks? I tried.

As the couple ambled along in front of me, enroute to baggage claim, I rummaged through my wallet. Pulling out $60, I ran ahead to catch up with the young soldier and his wife. Stopping, they turned toward me, their faces, question marks. Smiling, I expressed my gratitude for his service, while my hand reached out offering the money, inviting them to have a meal at my expense. Without hesitation, he, and his wife, in their soft-spoken, Southern drawls, refused my gift. I think he mumbled something like, “It’s my job, ma’am.” The memory of that moment, even now, fills my eyes with tears. Although the young soldier looked vulnerable in his wheelchair,  his resolute manner spoke volumes about his pride in his uniform, and in his duty to his country, my country, our country. They thanked me, and quietly moved along, to pick up the pieces of their lives.

I received an email telling of a similar circumstance, where a passenger was on a flight with a group of soldiers. As the flight attendant walked through coach class taking meal orders, the man overheard one soldier ask another if he was buying the sandwich offered. Both decided, while they were hungry, they couldn’t afford the expense. Looking around at the others in the group, the passenger noticed none of the other soldiers were buying meals. The man went in search of the flight attendant, offering her $50 for the soldiers’ meals. She thanked him profusely. Other travelers who noticed what the man had done, offered him cash as their contribution. When the flight landed he gave the $75 he’d received, to the soldiers, to buy more sandwiches as they awaited their connection.

On the evening news was a story of vets helping vets in Milwaukee. “Guitars for Vets” teaches guitar lessons for free. Upon completion of 6 lessons, a student receives a donated guitar, or can purchase one at a discounted price. Eight hundred guitars have been distributed thus far. Begun by a vet, turned teacher, the program has literally been the “sound of healing,” for its participants. “A new band of brothers,” these former soldiers are finding therapeutic help in their interactions with one another.

On the local news, the incredulous story was told of a soldier who returned from service in Afghanistan, to find that his home had burned to the ground, his relatives having died in the fire. Amazing support from his community brought forth volunteers who rebuilt the home, with $40,000 donated in materials and labor.

Also on the news, two young boys were shown speaking to their military father via “Skype.” They were totally surprised when he appeared behind them, in the classroom. Crawling all over their dad, as he crouched down to embrace them in a bear hug, it was apparent that the youngsters had made as enormous a sacrifice as their soldier dad.

Vets, and their families, teach us to sacrifice, gracefully, in service to others. And so I’d like to take this opportunity to honor my own relatives, a brother who served in the Korean War, and another who fought in Vietnam, a nephew who served several tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan, and who now teaches at West Point, and another nephew who serves in the navy on the aircraft carrier, The USS Abraham Lincoln.

for all who serve unselfishly, and their loved ones, huge hugs…hugmamma.

breast cancer, “reaching out”

A disease that has touched so many people, both victims and loved ones alike, breast cancer is like a magnet for human kindness. Family, friends, colleagues, women from all walks of life, have come face to face with an “enemy” that alters the world they knew, both those who survive and those who eventually succumb. And all who share their world are debilitated as well. So it is no wonder that these loved ones should lend their support in whatever way possible.

The Susan G. Komen Foundation is possibly the largest, most visible vehicle  affording everyone an opportunity to donate to the fight against breast cancer. On our Mediterranean cruise this summer, I had occasion to witness Holland America Line’s efforts on behalf of the Foundation. Begun in 2007, every one of the Line’s cruises, 500 in all, conducts a 5K deck walk for all interested passengers. The entrance fee of $15 includes a t-shirt and a wrist band, both sporting the Susan G. Komen logo,  as well as an invitation to a Pink Lemonade Party after the event. The proceeds are donated to the cause. Although recurring tendonitis in my ankle kept me from the walk, I made the donation and along with other bystanders, cheered on the walkers. It was a festive, and worthwhile, occasion. Congrats to Holland America Lines, a corporation that cares. Many others have also joined the fight. Kudos to all of them!

My English friend recently learned that a beloved friend of hers since their younger years in the UK, discovered she had breast cancer. In her late 60’s or early 70’s, it was a shock. Three weeks after learning of it, surgery was done, and she is now preparing for chemotherapy. My friend, an avid knitter, quickly made a “prayer shawl,” and mailed it to Catherine, who is now never without it.

Not as large as an afghan, the shawl falls below the waist, wrapping about the shoulders. I can imagine the comfort it’s giving both friends, who feel connected by a tangible form of their mutual love for one another. I’ve asked my friend to teach my daughter and I how to replicate the shawl so that we might donate them to women in need of our comfort, and prayers. I was unable to pick up the intricacies of the craft when I attempted to learn before, but maybe this time my daughter will “get it” and help me. If all else fails, I might have to purchase the yarn and have my friend’s nimble fingers work their magic. Wish me luck!

A Wall Street Journal article, “How Hope Travels With a Wig,” mentions the saga of a “traveling” wig. Its most recent trip was to the home of 40-year-old Alicia Gaudio. A couple of weeks ago, the Mt. Kisco, N.Y attorney learned she had breast cancer. She had a mastectomy this past week, and will soon be undergoing chemotherapy. Considered a talisman for cancer survivors who have worn the wig over the course of the last 4 years, Ms. Gaudio, her husband and 2 young children, are hoping she will be returned to good health, like the women who have worn it before her.

“The gift–a stylish brown wig…will be delivered by Nicole Rowe, who wore it after she lost her own hair during breast-cancer treatment last year. ‘We call this the healing wig,’ Ms. Rowe, an optician, plans to tell Ms. Gaudio.” The owner of the wig, Vanessa Pacella, a psychotherapist in Wellington, Florida, paid $5,000 for it after she was diagnosed with the disease.  ” ‘When you wear this wig and look in the mirror, you see yourself as a healthy person…There’s a lot to be said for positive energy.’ ” Others who have worn the wig were all friends of Ms. Pacella’s, themselves cancer survivors.

Researchers have found that human beings through thousands of years of civilization, have assigned “mystical possibilities in amulets and talismans,” especially in times of crises.  ” ‘It’s not voodoo,’ says Barbara Stoberock, a researcher at the University of Cologne in Germany. ‘It can be explained. If you have a lucky charm, and believe it helps you, there’s a psychological mechanism. It lifts your beliefs in your own capabilities, and gives you a boost.'”

Jeffrey Zaslow, who wrote the article, explains that the wig can serve as a compass for the women who wear it, giving them a sense of direction when they feel lost. Knowing that others who have worn it and survived, can give those still in the trenches, their bearings once again. For those who have gone before, the wig has offered “a shared strength, and a path back to health.”

Before the wig is delivered to Ms. Gaudio by Ms. Rowe, she will have it washed and blow-dried at a local salon. She will also relay the message that the 3 previous wearers are well. Ms. Rowe will also share the following anecdote.

Last winter, after Ms. Rowe went through chemotherapy, she promised her 3-year-old son, Alex, that her hair would return when the leaves were back on the trees. The first time Alex saw her in the wig, he got excited. He ran to the window, and even though it was still winter, he shouted, ‘Mommy, I can see the leaves coming back on the trees!’

Ms. Rowe explains that the “wig’s magic reaches beyond those who’ve worn it…It helped her little boy imagine the possibilities of spring.” Through the magic of “reaching out,” Holland America Lines through its 5K deck walks, my girlfriend through her “prayer shawl,” and wearers of the “healing wig” through their shared strength, and so many others like them, continue to ensure that, “hope springs eternal.” 

for my sister, as she recovers, huge hugs…hugmamma.

good samaritan #7

Newman’s Own has celebrated a landmark contribution of $300 million to charity. It was reported by Brian Williams on NBC’s Evening News. I wasn’t aware that every penny is donated. While I may not have been a huge fan of Paul Newman’s films, liking some, but not others; I commend his generous nature of seemingly, unconditional compassion for the less fortunate.

In a clip from an interview with Newman, he said “What could be better than holding your hand out to someone in need?”  Newman identified a need, and signed on for life, even in death. I’ll bet he’d be even prouder of his philanthropic legacy, than the one he left behind on celluloid.

My husband, daughter and I had the distinct pleasure of meeting Newman’s eldest daughter Nell, and her husband once. I believe she’s inherited her dad’s position as head of Newman’s Own. They’d bought an antique pine cupboard from me, which was selling at a charming, antique shop in Wilton, Connecticut, where I rented a space, called Simply Country. They asked if I could deliver the piece, which, of course, I consented to do. Who wouldn’t? Even if I had to rent  a truck to haul the cupboard! Luckily, it fit in the Ford Windstar van we owned at the time.

The couple lived in a smallish, white cottage, on a huge, level, parcel of land. Most of it lay behind the house, which sat at the front of the property. Nell and her husband were warm and friendly, smiling and laughing easily. While our husbands carted the cupboard into the house, bringing it to rest in its designated spot, Nell and I made “small talk.” Wish I remembered about what. But I’m sure I admired her home, her furnishings, and asked after her parents. She told me they lived nearby. In fact, I knew where their house was located. In my regular treks in and around Westport, I’d seen the stone lions that guarded the iron gates to the actors’ acreage. I may have glimpsed the home when we drove slowly by once, but viewing was difficult, since it’s set back from the road aways.

I think we commented on the lovely, old trees gracing their yard, so we were taken around towards the back to see more of them. Hanging from a very  large  branch of one tree, was an old-fashioned, rope swing, with a wooden seat. While we adults continued to talk, our daughter made herself comfortable, swinging contentedly, back and forth.

When we took our leave, it wasn’t like old friends, but rather like folks who were very delighted to meet one another. Perhaps, it was that they, and we, rarely, if ever, get to know people from two such different “worlds.” In truth, they weren’t really so different from us. Nell’s parents would’ve been proud of how cordial and welcoming she was to strangers, just making a delivery.  

for the “star” and his offspring, hugs…hugmamma.