Monthly Archives: July 2011

When You Have Faith In Your Dreams

Today was a life-changing day; for me and for the 32 people in the C-R Center Stars performance of “Dream” at the Cohoes Music Hall.  When a life-changing event comes your way, I’ve found it best to revel in it, to let the emotions sweep you away, cherish what comes your way.  And that’s what you can see on all the faces of the performers – pure pleasure, happiness and delight.

C-R Center Stars is this incredible joint venture between C-R Productions, the management and production company at the Music Hall and Center for Disability Services made possible through a Pepsi Refresh grant last year.   The performing arts have long been a way to build a sense of community, but in this troupe of performers, all with some type of disability, it becomes something more, something alive, something you can almost touch.

So what is it that happened today, up on that stage?  The best I can do to explain is that I, along with a full house of family and friends, had the rare opportunity to see 32 people experiencing a personal dream come true.  The life force, the energy, the joy radiating from that stage will be with me for a long time to come.

“Dream”, conceived, choreographed and directed by Tony Rivera, Managing Director of the Music Hall, will be performed one more time on Friday, July 29th at 7 PM.  Give yourself the gift of hope and inspiration – go see it!

Please take a moment to view this video interview by Benita Zahn, WNYT, Channel 13.  It will give you more of an insight into the lives and dreams of the performers.  Thanks Benita.

Dreams Come True in Cohoes

Now it’s time for me to figure out what I can do with this life-changing experience.

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Hats For A Purpose Goes International

Thanks to two sisters, Donna in NY and Cathy in Canada, Hats For A Purpose is now international in its purpose to give winter hats to kids at risk.  These two knitting wonders created 29 hats, matching scarves and mittens when Donna visited across the border a few weeks ago.  The hats are of every color, pattern and style that you can imagine.  The children will love them!

I’m meeting so many wonderful people through this project – that’s a benefit I hadn’t imagined.  I’d like you all to meet each other too so in the next few weeks look for a series of articles called YARNS: Stories about the Hats For A Purpose Contributors – how and when they learned to knit, who taught them, what it’s meant to them – it’s amazing how knitting and other similar handwork bridges generations and cultures. Look for these stories soon.

I’m grateful to everyone out there making a hat for a child at risk.  You make a difference in the world.

One of Donna and Cathy’s designs.

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Sally’s Adorable Baby Hats For A Purpose

I wish the picture did justice to the beautiful hand work on these lovely hats for newborns made by Sally , whose husband is a Scotia Rotarian.  When you hold one of the hats you can feel the softness and see the attention to detail and even picture the baby lucky enough to wear it.  Sally’s friends and family are recipients of her skill and talent and now, through Hats For A Purpose, we will share this talent with babies in need.  Thank you Sally.

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A Sweet Little Game With A Big Impact

Although we have been polio-free in this country for many years, it is amazing how far-reaching the arms of this disease really is.  Read on to find the connection between a favorite children’s game and polio.

From the annals of CANDY LAND:

“Once upon a time……in San Diego, California, a woman named Eleanor Abbott created a game.  Ms Abbott, a recovering Polio patient, decided to create an activity that would entertain children affected with the disease.  So she submitted her board game to MILTON BRADLEY, who enthusiastically accepted it for production.  And before she knew it, in 1949, a new game called CANDY LAND was introduced.

The first Candy Land games were sold for only a dollar.  The advertisements assured parents that the game fulfilled “the sweet tooth yearning of the younger set without the tummy ache aftereffects.”

As its packaging proudly stated for 30 years, CANDY LAND is “a sweet little game….for sweet little folks.”  Soon the simple activity would become an enduring part of the collective American childhood.  The theme and simplicity of play made it a perfect fit for the whole family.

At the time, few could have predicted the impact of the game, both on the Massachusetts-based game manufacturer and on generations of young children.  To date, its distinctive red-and-white peppermint name has been printed on over 40 million games.

In a world filled with advanced technology and fading fads, the sweet simplicity of this classic game keeps it continually popular, generation after generation.”

Thanks CANDY LAND for permission to use this story.


			

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Operation Warm Keeping Kids Warm

There I was at a Rotary Institute in Minneapolis and the exhibition hall was big and chilly.  So when I saw a display of warm winter coats I hurried right over.  That was my first introduction to Operation Warm, a company formed about 10 years ago to provide new winter coats for children in need.

The story is a familiar one – the one where someone recognizes a need and does something about it.  Dick Sanford, the founder, realized there were kids in his town with no winter coats although he lived in a pretty upscale area.  Astounded by this so he went out and purchased as many winter coats as he could find.  Then he took them to his local Rotary Club for distribution around the area.  And Operation Warm was born.  Now Operation Warm, a 501(c)3, provides new winter coats to a wide range of non-profit organizations in over 33 states.  This year they expect to reach the 1 Million Coat mark.

There are several things that make Operation Warm unique: they believe in sustainability so all coats are made from recycled water and soda containers; they believe in education so, working with Villanova University, created a curriculum  available to schools to help children learn about water sustainability; they established community service projects at colleges and universities called Warm Coats…Open Minds to teach philanthropy and collect water and soda bottles on college campuses; they believe in helping kids learn about service by a “Pay It Forward” project where coat recipients are asked to do a good deed for someone else.  Operation Warm is well-rounded in social endeavor.

Take a look at this short video and then ask yourself, “How Can I Help?”  I’ll bet you can find a way.

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Making A Difference, Twenty-Four Hats At A Time

More excitement last week when my husband came back from his weekly golf game with a big smile on his face and a big shopping bag in his arms.  Alice, wife of one of his golfing buddies, heard about my Hats For A Purpose project and made twenty-four hats for kids at risk.  What an undertaking!

The hats are of every color, some with pompoms, some with cute little braids – each is another work of art created by someone with a loving and happy heart.  Every time I look at all the hats I see, not just the hat itself, but the person who puts the time and energy into helping others.  It pleases me that I know so many people who want to make a difference.

Thank you Alice.

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It’s A Blue Hat Kind of Day

Today is my Mom’s 90th birthday and I’ve spent the day thinking and laughing about some of my memories.  Mom was a Katie Gibbs graduate, a hat and gloves kind of lady.  She could also swing a hammer, run like the wind with her long braids flying out behind her and had more stamina than anyone I knew.  When she was 8 months pregnant with me she took a bus from New York City to Mississippi to see my father before he shipped out.  It was a trip of several days, standing room only and with her long coat no one knew she was pregnant until 40 miles from the fort.  Then everyone jumped up to give her a seat, but she gave it to an elderly woman instead.

We never knew what prompted the Blue Hat days but we’d pull up on the school bus and all the venetian blinds would be up, the windows open and Mom would be at the front door to welcome us home…wearing the Blue Hat.  Metaphorically and literally the Blue Hat meant we were cleaning house; from top-to-bottom, from clothes closets to bookshelves, from refrigerator to moving the piano and more.  Which job would we get?  Cross your fingers and get to clean the refrigerator or dust the books and shelves.  Those were the neat and nifty jobs for me.  Not so hot was cleaning the drip pans from under the stove with those funny Brillo pads.  Through the next few days Mom was never without that Blue Hat.  Once we got the idea to hide it on her.  That didn’t work out very well. for us.

When the house was bright and shiny the Blue Hat would disappear until next time.  Then we were free to run and play, read, do whatever kept us busy and happy.  I never knew what happened to the Blue Hat although I suspect somehow that she still wears it.

I think my siblings and I have our own Blue Hat days – those days that you take a look around and see what needs to be cleaned or tidied up whether it’s  the house or a sprucing up of your soul.  I think Mom would like that.

Harriet Bell MacDonald Lenski
July 4, 1921-April 4, 1988

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