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.
Category Archives: Daring To Dream
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.
Winters are pretty cold here in the Great Northeast and making a conscious decision to jump into a freezing cold lake on January 1st takes more than courage. It takes a reason so strong and so compelling that people who normally act quite sane are happy to take part in this annual event.
So on any given New Year’s Day you will find many Rotarians from District 7190 getting ready to jump into Lake George in upstate New York. It’s a hardy band of high-spirited people called Polio Bears who annually take the plunge to raise money for polio eradication.
Initiated by the Wilton Rotary Club many years ago, Rotarians from the District’s 42 clubs joined the fun in 2007. Usually led by the current District Governor the group gets together early in the day for a hearty breakfast and then begins the routine of prepping for the plunge. Much laughter erupts when someone shows up wearing a funny hat or other crazy gear.
The bright red End Polio Now tee shirts are easy to spot from shore when the bell rings and everyone rushes into the lake. You can hear how cold the water feels by the screams and shouts. The water is usually about 43 degrees but it’s the wind chill that really determines how frosty you get. Then it’s back to the shore for foot warmers, fleece wraps, hot cocoa, coffee or drink of choice, cheers and lots and lots of pictures.
District Governors who opt to stay on dry land find countless ways to raise money to stay out of the water. And Rotarians who want the Governor to ‘go jump in the lake’ find countless ways to convince them to take the plunge. This year, Rotarians raised over $10,000 to see the Governor get wet.
A great new event was added this year to give other Rotarians and their families a way to contribute to polio eradication and have a great time on New Year’s Day without getting wet. Planned and put together by the End Polio Now committee, eleven bowling alleys around the nine county district held the Pinning Down Polio Tournament with spectacular results. More than 250 people took part in this fun day with almost $25,000 in total raised with donations still rolling in.
With the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation matching every dollar raised for polio eradication with $2 this annual event raised over $75,000!!
Thanks to Dennis Austin and Ed Brown for the great photos
What do you do when you find out there are children and families in your hometown without Thanksgiving Dinner? Well, if you are TJ Tracy you say, “Mom we have to do something about this.” And then go out and do it. Again and again and yet again for the past four years.
Now 13, TJ has raised enough money during these past years to provide hundreds of Thanksgiving Dinners to the Franklin Community Center in Saratoga Springs, New York. This year he is closing in on $10,000 which will also be used to give holiday gifts for children in the community.
After hearing his story, local residents stepped forward to support his mission. Several local restaurants held Eat and Feed dinners with a percentage of the proceeds going to feed hungry children and families. TJ has had many interviews with local media and the Saratoga Springs Rotary Club named him one of their 2013 outstanding citizens, the first time a young person has received this honor.
TJ has turned this grassroots fundraising effort into a mission to do something about the hungry children in our communities. TJ knows this is about more than turkeys. He knows this is one of the most important issues facing millions of children and their families in this country today. And he has a plan. A pretty big plan too.
There are so many kids today who want to help others and many find ways to do that. Alex’s Lemonade Stand comes to mind as does Craig Kielburger’s Free the Children and the thousands of children from 40 countries who came together to save the El Bosque Eternode los Ninos Rainforest. Every day I hear about children requesting cans of food for the local food bank instead of a birthday present; collecting bottles and cans to buy food for animal shelters; saving their pennies to buy polio vaccine for children in other countries – the stories are endless and heartwarming. We ARE raising good children; they care about others and aren’t afraid to step forward and help.
And now I’d like to tell you about 9 year old Nikolas Toocheck who set his own goal to run a marathon on each of the seven continents taking one million steps to rsaise money for underpriviledged children through one of my favorite organizations, Operation Warm.
Nik wants to raise $1 a step to buy new warm winter coats for children at risk to make sure they can go to school in the cold weather. Nik’s been volunteering with Operation Warm since he was five, ran his first marathon in Delaware in 2012 and completed the Antarctic White Continent Marathon in February 2013. Now 10, he’s on his way to Australia for the Brisbane Marathon.
Nik gets his love of running from his Dad who runs with him but his passion to help others is found deep in his heart. No doubt it has something to do with the fact that his grandfather founded Operation Warm with his own money.
Running the World for Children is Nik’s charitable foundation – so far he’s raised over $16,000. Nik is right on target when he says, “you don’t have to be big to make a difference.” Read his story here.
You can check out his Facebook page at Nik Runs the World.