Picture by David Beatson

Monday, August 30, 2010

Monday Motivational

Who comes to mind when you think of a humanitarian – Mother Teresa – Oprah Winfrey? There are many – not all with worldwide acclaim. Some are every day people performing extraordinary acts of love and kindness. Like Carol Donald, foster parent to 100 children with medical needs in Northern California since 1965. Simply stated, Carol Donald was born with a passion for babies and raising children. It’s her life long calling.

One of five daughters born in Northern California, Carol received her 2-year Home Economics certificate in 1942. That same year she married her husband Richard. They had a son, Edward, and six years later a daughter Kathy. The doors to Carol’s dream opened in 1965 when she attended her daughter’s confirmation class and saw two pregnant 14 year old girls. She wondered, “What happens to those babies?” That night she prayed and the next morning saw a newspaper ad for Foster Parent Training. With her husband retired from the Air Force and her children in high school, the timing was perfect. Carol – ready to accept her mission – answered the ad and forever changed the face of foster parenting.

The challenges of foster parenting in the 1960s were daunting and being unwed and pregnant was socially unacceptable. The transition from foster to adoptive parents was as Carol describes, “A death.” They would take the child from the foster home and send them to the adoptive parents without notice. Seeing the child’s trauma, she became an integral part in developing a “partnership” – arranging meetings between foster and adoptive parents. She made sure the children never called her Mommy, but always Grandma and eased their transition by telling the child, “You’re going to your new Mommy and Daddy.”

Carol affectionately recalls one child in particular, she would say, “Your Mommy and Daddy are coming to take you to your new home.” The day the adoptive parents were to arrive, the young child, perched at the window saw their car approach and squealed, “Look Grandma here’s my new Mommy and Daddy!”

Many of the infants suffered from fetal alcoholism or were methadone-addicted. She feels it’s important that the community know the damages of fetal alcoholism. And Carol, through loving arms comforted her babies. It’s been written that God’s love comes through a Grandmother’s heart. When the babies’ seizures were so bad, Carol would rock them on her chest – sometimes for 24 hours – until the seizures subsided. She says babies sense your love and, “You cannot take good care of a child unless you love the child, you must be part of their life.” Carol opened her home to 100 children and her heart broke every time they went to adoptive parents.

The passing of her husband in 1985 five days before his 65th birthday didn’t alter Carol’s love for raising children or her determination to give them a fighting chance. She continued to volunteer as a foster parent without her husband at her side for the next 23 years.

Carol at age 85 recently retired due to a fall where she broke her femur – her concern – the children. If she fell and hurt the baby, she could never live with herself. Living in a Northern California community in the home where she was raised Carol reflects upon her life as a foster parent for the past 43 years. The Jefferson, The Juvenile Justice and the Concord Human Relations Commission – Life Time Achievement Awards are merely a few of the plaques that decorate her wall. “It’s a wonderful life I live and if I had to live my life over I wouldn’t do it one bit differently.” Her foster children stay in touch and she feels blessed.

Who knows what ripple effect Carol’s unconditional love for children has had? As she has shown there is no sense of time when you love what you do – you’re inexhaustible. Even in retirement, Carol remains visible in the community and occasionally mentors foster parents.

To capture the magnitude of Carol’s 43 years of service and outstanding contributions in a few short words is no easy task. Yet Carol’s devotion to so many children and her love that lights their lives will be felt for generations. She shows us it’s possible – from where we stand – to make a difference in the world. Carol Donald – an everyday hero – is an inspiration to all.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Monday, August 23, 2010

Monday Motivational

Liz Murray grew up in the Bronx, New York City. Addicted to drugs, her parents sometimes sold household items in order to get their fix. As a child, Liz hated school because when she did go, she was teased: there was no one to make sure that she showered or got up on time. As Liz grew older, her parents lost their apartment, and her father ended up in shelters. For a time Liz was placed in a group home. Her mother, who suffered from AIDS, became increasingly ill and was hospitalized. Rather than submit to the dehumanization and sadness that had characterized her experience in foster care, Liz chose to fend for herself. Liz slept on friends’ couches or floors at odd hours, camped outside or rode the subway all night.

After her mother’s death, Liz, then 16, felt that event as “a slap in the face” that caused her to question where her life was going. With an eighth-grade education, Liz decided that, as she said, “Life rewards action. I was going to go out there and… have action in my life every day instead of this stagnant behavior that I had been partaking in for so long.”

Liz was admitted an alternative high school, the Humanities Preparatory Academy, where she doubled her course-load and completed high school in only two years. One of the top ten students in the school, Liz went on a school-sponsored trip to Boston and walked through Harvard Yard. “It’s not as though I had some sort of epiphany at the moment … It was just more that I got jealous of how these students had so much opportunities, and I’d felt that I’d had very little. And so then I thought, `Well, what’s the difference between me and anyone here?’ And I filled in all the gaps.”

Her grades qualified Liz for the New York Times College Scholarship, and she applied for and was admitted to Harvard. But far from resting on those considerable laurels, Liz continued to break new ground. A member of the Washington Speakers’ Bureau, Liz has found she has “a knack for” sharing her story and insights with audiences across the country. Her story was adapted for film by Lifetime Television in the 2003 film “Homeless to Harvard: the Liz Murray Story.” Liz is also an avid writer whose memoirs, “Breaking Night,” were published in 2005. Liz returned to New York City to care for her ill father, and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in psychology and sociology at Columbia University.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Happy Foto Friday!


Monday, August 16, 2010

Monday Motivational

ou would be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t heard of Mister Rogers Neighborhood. Fred McFeely Rogers is the man behind that show and the dream of bringing education to children and families through mass media.

Rogers began this dream at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in music composition in 1951. After graduating Rogers launched his career in broadcast television with NBC as assistant producer for The Voice of Firestone and later as floor director for The Lucky Strike Hit Parade, The Kate Smith Hour, and the NBC Opera Theatre.

In 1953 Rogers moved back to Pennsylvania at the request of WQED, the nation’s first community-sponsored educational television station. One of the first programs he produced there was called The Children’s Corner where several of the Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood characters made their first appearances.

While in Pittsburgh, Rogers attended both the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and the University of Pittsburgh’s Graduate School of Child Development. He graduated from the Seminary and was ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1963.

Rogers first appeared as an on-air host on Canada’s CBC show MisteRogers. In 1966 he incorporated segments of the CBC into a new series, called Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, which was distributed by the Eastern Educational Network. Almost 900 episodes later, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood is the longest-running program on public television.

Fred was chairman of Family Communications, Inc. the nonprofit company that he formed in 1971 to produce Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and that has since diversified into non-broadcast materials that reflect the same philosophy and purpose: to encourage the healthy emotional growth of children and their families. Fred Rogers died on February 27, 2003 at his home in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is survived by his wife Joanne, their two sons and three grandsons.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Happy Foto Friday!

Where do your dreams lie?

Monday, August 9, 2010

Monday Motivational

One person can make a difference.

Just ask Greg Mortenson—former mountaineer, medic, nurse, co-founder of Central Asia Institute and of Pennies for Peace, humanitarian, and author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace.

Mortenson was born in Minnesota in 1957. He grew up on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania where his father co-founded a local teaching hospital and his mother founded International School Moshi. Mortenson carried on both of their professions with his work both as a nurse and then as co-founder and executive director of the Central Asia Institute.

Mortenson’s transition from nursing to building schools began in 1993 with a journey to Pakistan to climb K2, the world’s second highest mountain in the Karakoram Range. Mortenson was climbing in honor of his sister, Christa, who died in1992 of a massive seizure.

On the way back from the climb Mortenson took a wrong turn and ended up in the remote village of Korphe. The villagers had nothing but compassion for Mortenson and cared for him until he recovered from the climb. Prior to leaving, he promised the village that he would build a school for their children.

When Mortenson returned to the states, he co-founded the Central Asia Institute with Dr. Jean Hoerni. In his role as executive director of the CAI Mortenson has now built over 130 schools and brought education to over 58,000 children in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

In 2009 Mortenson received Pakistan’s highest civil award, Sitara-e-Pakistan (“Star of Pakistan”), for his dedicated and humanitarian effort to promote education and literacy in rural areas for fifteen years.

Greg Mortenson. Living a life of Purpose…Pass It On.

From values.com

Friday, August 6, 2010

Happy Foto Friday

from smashingtip.com

Monday, August 2, 2010

Monday Motivational

(This is one of my very favorite stories!)

Though Western Oregon senior Sara Tucholsky often dreamt of what it would be like to hit her first home run, she never imagined it would end with the opposing team carrying her around the bases. In fact, her home run almost didn’t become a reality, except for the sportsmanship of Central Washington players Mallory Holtman and Liz Wallace.

Sara’s home run came in the second inning of the second game of a double header between the two teams. At stake that weekend was a bid to the NCAA’s Division II playoffs. Central Washington needed to win the second game to keep its postseason dreams alive.

When Sara hit the home run, there was a girl on second and third, both of whom ran to home in a celebratory fashion. Sara, in her excitement, over-ran first base. When she turned quickly to go back, her right knee gave out. Sara went down in agony just a few feet from first base.

Sara was clearly injured and unable to walk on her own. Her coaches and teammates were trying to decide what to do—if the Western Oregon trainers, coaches, or teammates touched Sara or helped her up, she would be out. If they substituted in a pinch-runner for Sara, her home run would be counted as a two-run single.

Central Washington player Mallory Holtman was also a senior. After four years, she knew the rules of the game and quickly realized that for Sara’s home run to count Central was going to have to help.

Mallory ran over to the umpires and to Western’s coach. “Excuse me,” Mallory interrupted, “would it be OK if we carried her around and she touched each bag?”

Though surprised, they said yes. Mallory and teammate Liz Wallace promptly picked Sara up, gingerly letting her left foot down to touch each of the bases to get her home run.

This act of sportsmanship contributed to Central’s loss. Still, there were no regrets or angry words from Mallory’s teammates. They all agreed—helping the opponent was simply the right thing to do.

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