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October 9, 2012

Think Beyond Pink

Filed under: Focusing on Others,Life — my3daughters @ 9:28 am

Can you fill in the following blanks?  October is ___________ Cancer Awareness month and the ribbon color for this month is _______________.  September is ___________ Cancer Awareness month and the ribbon color for this month is _______________.

It is now October 9, 2012.  I guarantee you that anyone living not living under a rock was able to fill in the first two blanks by October 2.  Just over a week into the month and the world, at least my world, has seemed to go pink.  Everyone on Facebook is posting pink this & pink that.  I watched the Steeler game on Sunday (duh).  Pink, pink, pink.  I bought some nail polish & hair care stuff at Walgreens using a debit card—before I could enter my pin I had to answer the question, would you like to donate to breast cancer research?  Poor cashier.  She didn’t make that question pop up but boy did she get to hear about it.  “No I absolutely do not!”

Now, understand that I have nothing against breast cancer.  Well, actually I have everything against breast cancer, against all forms of cancer.  I want them all to be GONE GONE GONE.  But seriously, people, why is it that breast cancer has the most awareness?  People who have other kinds of cancer are just as important.

My life is touched by cancer daily.  Someone dear to me works with cancer patients on a daily basis at a local hospital.  There have been long, hectic days lately because their department has so many new patients.  There have been sad days when a patient’s family takes time out of their grief to say “thank you.”  I have three daughters.  The youngest started high school this year and her graduating class was one less because of a young man who passed away from cancer just weeks before school started.  The middle daughter lost a member of her graduating class in May and now has another friend battling cancer.  My oldest graduated in 2009 and just informed me that a friend she went to school with is out of remission.  A friend I know through my girls’ school activities is battling breast cancer.  A friend I went to high school with lost her daughter to cancer less than a year ago.

Do you see the trend?  Do you see what kind of cancer I personally see the most of?  Of the six cases touching our lives right now, only one is breast cancer.  Yet it’s pink pink pink.  And don’t get me started on the fact that the organization that most “pink” fundraisers supports manages their money very poorly.  I have a friend who can also tell you statistics on the links between abortion and breast cancer yet this organization supports other organizations that support abortion.  This makes no sense to me.

But I’m not here to put something else down.  I’m here to raise your awareness of Childhood Cancer even though September is over.  When I see as much awareness for Childhood Cancer and other cancers as I do for Breast Cancer, I’ll shut up.  Until then, I’m going to speak out.

According to the American Childhood Cancer Organization website, “each year in the U.S. there are approximately 13,400 children between the ages of birth and 19 years of age who are diagnosed with cancer. About one in 300 boys and one in 333 girls will develop cancer before their 20th birthday.” Cancer is “the most common cause of death by disease for children and adolescents in America.”    Would you be more passionate about this if your child was the one in 300 or one in 333?

So I’m asking you to please be aware of the fact that breast cancer isn’t the only cancer there is.  Childhood Cancer is my personal passion and it breaks my heart every day.  Raise awareness, yours and others by following the Childhood Cancer Awareness page on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/childhoodcancerawareness?ref=ts&fref=ts).  Check out the Get Well Gabby Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/getwellgabby?ref=stream).  Today would be a great day to do that since it would have been Gabby’s 7th birthday.  Read her parents’ posts.  They would melt a heart of stone.  You can also check out www.getwellgabby.org.  Order a special Gabby’s Pedi-“cure” set from piggy paint and 25% of the sales will go to the Get Well Gabby Foundation.  (http://www.piggypaint.com/gift-sets/gabby-s-pedi-cure-set.html)

I wear gold—for Julia, for Cassie, for Peter, for Nick, for Gabby, for kids I don’t even know.  Because every child who battles cancer is one child too many battling cancer.

Until There is a Cure

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February 5, 2012

Operation One Dollar

Filed under: Focusing on Others,Life,Uncategorized — my3daughters @ 12:27 am

I recently learned of a military family in need.  I understand that there are many families in need today, not just this one.  But God has laid it on my heart to help this is a family.

I’d love to send them a huge check to cover all they require, but I just don’t have the funds to spare.  While I only have a tiny bit of extra money, I have an abundance of something that is even better than money—I have friends!  Now, most of my friends are like me, with very little unused money, but they know lots of people. So I’m sitting here crocheting and talking to God and here’s what we came up with.

All of us have at least One Dollar in change in the bottom of our purse, in the console of our car or between the cushions of our couch.  If everyone we know gave that One Dollar, we’d collect several hundred in a hurry.

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So I am asking each of my friends to become an Operation One Dollar Chairperson.  What this means is that you ask all your friends, co-workers, and neighbors to donate One Dollar to the cause.  Then you as Chairperson would take the collected funds, get a gift card for a national store–Target, Kmart, WalMart, Babies R Us (they are expecting a baby girl in May), etc—and send it to me.  I’ll get the gift cards to the family.

Now, if someone wants to donate more than One Dollar, fantastic!  But all I am asking for is One Dollar.  This is so simple that even the kids I count as friends can do it.  And if someone can only give 50 cents, take it.  It all adds up.

The Good Angel on my shoulder is jumping up and down, excited because she believes that each and every one of my friends will accept the challenge to collect for Operation One Dollar.  The Bad Angel on my other shoulder is sitting there, arms and legs crossed, rolling her eyes and saying, “Are you serious? No one is going to do it.  No one ever does anything unless they benefit from it.”  Who are you going to prove right—the Good Angel or the Bad Angel?

Let’s see how much my friends can raise in the next three weeks.  My band kids stood in the cold for two hours at a time for three days last weekend and collected $4950.43, most of it in change (in other words, One Dollar at a time).  Surely in three weeks we can come up with even a fraction of what they made in three days.  If you can get one person a day to donate One Dollar, you will have $20 by the time Operation One Dollar ends.

Operation One Dollar starts now, Sunday, February 5.  Please have all gift cards in the mail to me by Saturday, February 25.  My address is PO Box 380662, Clinton Township, MI  48038.  (if you are local, you don’t have to mail the gift cards).

I’ve been on the receiving end of the generosity of others and I’ll bet you have been too.  This is our chance to “pay it forward.”  Plus, this isn’t just any family in need; this is a military family in need.  They give of themselves so that we can enjoy the freedoms that we do, so that we can sleep at night without fear.  One Dollar of your money and a little bit of your time—is that too much to ask when they give 365 days of their year and years of their life, and sometimes their life, for you?

Thank you in advance for your generosity and your compassion.

January 22, 2012

Not a Rant but a Plea

Filed under: Focusing on Others,Life — my3daughters @ 10:09 pm

Apparently some people are very uncomfortable with the fact that I do not even attempt to hide my financial struggles.  You can’t “catch” poverty just by being around me.  And I’m not trying to whine or get handouts for myself or my children.  If you are truly my friend, you would understand this because you would understand me.  Your comfort, or lack of, is not my concern.  My concern is the shortage of compassion for people in situations similar to mine.

I am very involved in our Band Booster program.  I don’t do it for myself; I do it for the kids.  I love my band kids, past and present.  I want them to be able to have the best band experience they can.  Some of my fondest memories from high school are from band (yes I can really remember back that far).  I want to give these kids the same type of positive memories.

Band isn’t free, and with budget cuts from the state and the school district, we can’t even say it’s cheaper than say football or cheerleading.  Our Band Booster program works hard to make the program as affordable and accessible to as many students as possible.  We provide a number of fundraisers (only one of which is required) to help parents raise money to offset the costs of participating in band.  It’s possible to pay for everything—from lessons to reeds to uniforms—without any of it coming out of pocket.  Don’t believe me?  I have a friend you can talk to who will prove me right.  She has paid for everything for her child, including Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp, by fundraising.

The economy is bad everywhere but really bad here in the state of Michigan.  According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Website, the unemployment rate in Michigan in November 2011 was 9.8%.  Nevada (13%), California (11.3%), Mississippi (10.5%), Rhode Island (10.5%), Florida (10%), Illinois (10%), North Carolina (10%), Georgia (9.9%), and South Carolina (9.9%) were higher but Michigan is still in the top 10 states with the highest unemployment. (November 2011 was the newest information to be had)

Unfortunately this means that families are cutting back on their spending.  And essentials such has housing, heat and food take precedence over activities such as band, sports, dance, etc.  If we don’t actively work to both keep costs down and give parents ways to raise the money, not everyone is going to be able to participate in these programs.  We have to be conscience of adding expenses, especially when these costs are for things not essential to the program.  Yes, these “extras” are nice but they aren’t crucial.  These “extras” need to be optional, not mandatory.  And when they are optional, parents need to feel free to opt no.  Mention it once and be done with it.  Don’t keep asking, sending “reminders” to pay if you can.  If we could, if we wanted to, we would have done so in the first place.

So here I am, a very vocal parent, putting my pride aside and going “hey, look, I’m broke.  I can’t afford that.  Do we seriously need that?  I’m already paying to play.  What’s with all the additional costs?”  This has resulted in gentle rebukes from friends telling me I talk about my situation too much.  Ouch, that hurts.  You say you are my friend yet you think I’m doing this for some selfish reason.

I’ve also had angry rants posted on Facebook and received nasty emails and text messages.  I’ve been told I’m immature, crazy and bipolar.  I’ve been told to shut up or I’ll regret it.  I’ve been cursed up one side and down the other and called a witch on a broom (well, actually the other word but I won’t use that here).  I’ve had it thrown in my face that I expect handouts, that I don’t pay my children’s dues and that everyone else has to carry me.  These actions don’t hurt but they do make me angry.  I do pay my children’s dues and if I’m going to be late, I let the appropriate people know.  I have NEVER asked for a handout for my children and have ALWAYS paid their way—for the mandatory costs and any of the optional items I am able to afford.  Not only do I not expect everyone else to carry me, I do a heck of a lot more than most people realize.  I do what I do for the program behind the scenes.  You may not realize I am doing it but you’d notice if I wasn’t doing it.  And trust me, I’m not the only one.  There’s a lot of hard work going on that you are not aware of when you come to see your child perform.  For every person up front gathering kudos and thanks, you have many more who never get recognition.  We don’t do it for the recognition.

I’m not going to stop being vocal about my situation.  I was raised to be considerate and caring about other people.  I was taught to look at things from another person’s point of view and not just my own.  And I was told that God puts us is tough situations, not only to test us and help us to grow, but so that we can honestly say “I understand.”  I’m not going to hide the situation God has put me in as if I’m embarrassed about it.  I’m going to use it to glorify Him and to help others.  I know what it’s like to feel as if you are completely alone.  I don’t want others to feel that way.

Let me explain one more thing—this is not a rant about our Band Boosters, a group I respect greatly.  I just use them as an example because, even though everyone intends the best, you get a few people who can’t see the big picture.  I have seen this happen in sports teams, dance teams, even youth groups.  The people responsible for making the decisions make them based on their income, not even considering what others might be able to afford.  And since most families with low incomes have both parents working (sometimes more than one job) or are single parent families (still sometimes with more than one job), those with larger incomes end up being the ones in charge.  They’re the ones who have the time and the energy to volunteer.  This is not a rant against those people either.  This is a plea to them to have compassion, to look beyond themselves and see as others see.  I know this is possible because I observe it daily in the lives of many outstanding parent volunteers.  Unfortunately, it’s the self-centered minority who stand out.

So if you ever find yourself in the position of making a decision on the cost of something for a group, take time to consider those you are representing.  It may be a little more work, take a little more effort, but it can be done.

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November 15, 2010

Each & Every One–Pepsi Refresh Projects

Filed under: Focusing on Others — my3daughters @ 2:07 pm

If you are friends with me on Facebook, I’m sure you’ve seen the Pepsi Refresh links I’ve posted on my wall.  Pepsi allows us to vote on different ideas every month and they support the ones in each category that get the most votes.

You can sign up through Facebook.  Just go to http://www.refresheverything.com/.  They allow you to vote for 10 ideas a day. If you don’t have a Facebook account, you can sign up directly through Pepsi Refresh.

What I do is make a bookmark folder called Pepsi Refresh.  On the first of the month I choose my ten ideas for the month & bookmark them.  Then each day I got to that bookmark folder and vote.  Mozilla Firefox allows me to choose to open all the links in any given folder at one time.  It takes just minutes out of my day.  I can so give a few minutes each day to something I believe in.

In December, my friends Gene & Sharon Nifong will have an idea up for vote.  They need each and every one of us to vote for them each & every day in December.  They run a group foster home called David’s House Ministries.  On December 1, I will post the link to their idea.  I am asking each and every one of you to commit to voting for their idea each day in December.

As for the other 9 votes you get each day–what is your passion?  Books for needy children? Military needs? Domestic Abuse? Anti-Bully?  Music?  Trust me, if you have a passion, it’s on there.  I think it’s fabulous that Pepsi not only gives back to the community but allows us to have a voice in where they help.

So please, register with Pepsi Refresh now so that you can vote for David’s House in December.  I am asking you to commit to voting for David’s House each day in December.  Gene has assigned me to get Michigan voting.  I’m going beyond that & asking everyone I know to vote, even if you don’t live in Michigan.

In addition, I’d love it if you would pass this idea on to all your friends & ask them to get involved.  1 vote in December for David’s House Ministries, 9 votes for something YOU are passionate about.  Feel free to share your favorites with me in return.  I’ve got 9 votes up for grabs in December so far.

Finally, please pray for the Nifongs and David’s House Ministries.  You can do a search on Facebook for David’s House Ministries & like them to get the latest updates & prayer requests.

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