Category Archives: Daring To Dream
This is an inspiring video – where someone’s passion became a way of life and changed the lives of many others. I would love to meet Veronika Scott, CEO of the Empowerment Plan, a young woman with great compassion and the understanding that empowerment and sustainability are the foundation to solving humankind needs.
The Empowerment Plan’s mission is to educate, employee and empower homeless people so they can provide for their families while producing a product for those in need. From GED and post HS education, to employee training, daycare scholarships, tools like computers, sewing toolboxes and sewing machines, employees can gain back independence, secure housing and, once again, take care of their families.
By now you must be wondering what do The Empowerment Plan employees produce. It’s called the EMPWR Coat, a coat that transforms into a sleeping bag. Click here to read more about this amazing coat, how it is made and the Empowerment Plan’s mission to produce 6.500 of these coats this year for the United States and Canada. To date twenty-nine states and three provinces have benefitted.
As another year wraps up I thought I’d update my annual mention of a few of the people and organizations making the world a better place. Yes, even after the indescribable acts we’ve experienced this year, we need now more than ever, to focus on the good that surrounds us.
Some of the organizations are local and some faraway but all deserve high praise for their vision, commitment, dedication and generous spirit. This year the list includes some smaller and perhaps not yet well-known organizations but their vision and passion give me personal inspiration and hope for the future. Take an opportunity to fill yourself with the warmth and love generated by these stories.
- Rotary International’s End Polio Now
- Operation Warm
- Pure Water for the World
- The Dictionary Project
- NABA – Northeast Association for the Blind at Albany
- The Century House Enjoy One, Share One program
- Vascular Birthmark Foundation
- The Animal Support Project
- Tiny Superheroes
- The Empowerment Plan
- Best Friends
- The Catherine Violet Hubbard Animal Sanctuary
Greetings of the season to all my friends and family.
Back in December of 2013 I posted a story about then thirteen year old TJ Tracy and his mission to provide Thanksgiving dinners for the needy in Saratoga County in upstate New York. I promised I would continue to follow TJ and report on his progress.
His belief that kids can help kids has grown by leaps and bounds with, not only Thanksgiving dinners, but Christmas dinner, holiday gifts, Easter bags and more. Along the way, he’s garnered many supporters, including businesses and organizations that help him raise money to buy the items that go into the dinners – turkeys, potatoes, cranberry sauce and more. On December 17th a Shopping Fundraiser is planned by the Collamer Building businesses with proceeds going to TJ’s Turkeys.
Over the past six years, TJ’s Turkeys has raised over $30,000.00 to help feed hungry kids. His goal this year is $15,000.00 because the need has doubled.
Childhood hunger is at a all-time high – depending on what or where you get your information, there really is no doubt this is a major problem. People like TJ are doing something about this, not just talking about it. They are making a difference in the lives of children and families because they believe no one should go hungry.
Thank you TJ Tracy.
Today is Valentine’s Day and many people are celebrating love and romance with gifts of candy, flowers, cards and special events. We see the heart motif everywhere and for some reason this morning I wondered where we get the term ‘you got heart?’ According to many traditions, the heart chakra has important meaning – it’s the center of love, caring and compassion, selflessness. According to Llewellyn attributes of the heart chakra are love, balance, relationship and compassion. Well this gave me some information but I decided to leave the study of chakras to the experts and moved on to an area I knew a bit more about – sports.
You’ve seen the Rocky movies where Rocky just won’t give up; he digs deep down inside himself to find the strength. Boxing is well-known for the use of the term ‘he has heart.’ In this context it seems to have meanings of motivation, spirit, energy, and perhaps, passion. And of course the musical Damn Yankees belts it for us.
The Olympics are another place that continues to define ‘you got heart.’ Just think about Oscar Pitorius. Speak of motivation, energy, effort and passion. There are hundreds and thousands of stories that help define ‘you got heart.’
I think about Rotarians around the globe working so hard to make a difference and to change and save lives. Here in our district Rotarians traveled to Haiti to install water filters in villages with no source of clean water. A Volunteer Training Team traveled to the Dominican Republic to teach doctors and nurses there lifesaving techniques of heart operations for children in need. Another Team just returned from Kumudini Hospital in Bangladesh where they trained nurses in midwifery skills. All around the world, Rotary Clubs are seeking grants from The Rotary Foundation to provide clean water, sanitation, education, economic recovery and disease prevention in some of the most difficult and remote places on earth. They do it with love, compassion, high spirit, great energy and they don’t give up.
To me, that’s a true definition of ‘You Got Heart.’ Happy Valentine’s Day Rotarians everywhere.
As the new year approaches I offer this lovely slide show to you thanks to Charles and Alexandra and to Dennis Garner for his permission to use. Happy and peaceful 2015 to all. Remember just one act of kindness or compassion can travel many miles.
I grew up living on a country road in a small town in upstate New York. There were no other children nearby so my friends all lived in books. I helped Mary find the key to the garden, rode Black Beauty, sailed on the Hispaniola and solved mysteries with Nancy and so many more. I was never lonely, never bored.
When I was about 8 I thought I would share my friends with the other people who lived on our road. So I found a small table and piled some of my books on it and sat down at the end of the driveway hoping someone would stop. Well they never did and eventually I discovered the public library and made many more friends. But I’ve never forgotten wanting to share my books with others.
When I first saw these little library boxes on the news it reminded me of the importance of sharing our favorite stories and books with our friends and neighbors. And then I opened the March edition of The Rotarian Magazine and discovered that Little Free Libraries had its start when a Rotarian in Wisconsin built the first one back in 2009 to honor the memory of his mother who was a teacher.
It’s exhilarating to see a great idea takes off and even more so when it’s made so easy that any one of us can do it. Todd Bol, the founder and builder of the first boxes was quick to call me and agree to let me tell the story of Take One, Leave One.
Todd built the first one, a duplicate of a one-room schoolhouse, filled it with books, put it outside his home with a sign that said “Free Books” and with that the idea of building a grassroots network of these tiny libraries was born. Soon joined by Richard Brooks whose several decade-long background in social marketing and international perspective meshed well with Bol’s background, the two had a “shared commitment to service and to the quality of community life around the world.”
As I peruse the LFL website, it doesn’t seem that they have missed a thing to help people and groups alike build these libraries. Advice and ideas on how to get started, costs, creative ideas for the libraries, where and what books to select, placement, regulatory issues, marketing and pr guidance; it’s all there. But I am most impressed with the stewardship.
Building and maintaining these little free libraries is an awesome task, one filled with love but also filled with responsibility. Everything you need to know and do to support and sustain one of these little treasures is all right on the website. Registering your library, getting it on the global map, protecting it and sharing it with friends and neighbors will make sure it succeeds. Check it out here.
I’m not 8 anymore and it’s taken all these years but my own Little Free Library will be up and running at my house by July 1. My focus: the friends I made as a child. My little table at the end of the driveway will be a little red wagon. Follow me as I make this a dream come true and watch for some of my Rotary friends start their own Little Free Libraries.