Adopt-A-Grandparent

My mom will be 81 next month.  She’s in a season of her life that can be rough.  She has me nearby, my husband and my kids but I know since my dad has passed away she can get quite lonely at times.  We live about 25 minutes away from her and I’m very grateful that she has some awesome neighbors.  They keep her sidewalks shoveled in the winter and visit daily for tea.  She has told me that the loneliest part of her day is in the evening, when it’s dark out and the light of day is gone as well as its promise of a possible visitor or drive outside.

My mom is actually very fortunate; her health is great and she has good friends and a good church that keep her busy.  A lot of seniors aren’t as fortunate as my mom.  I hear her tell stories of some of her friends who don’t have families that live close by that can help them or worse, their families are around but for whatever reason the relationship is over or they don’t bother disrupting their daily life in order to help.

In August of 1978 Linda Langstraat found herself living in the inner city neighborhood of Grant Park in Atlanta, GA.  She was embarking on a new career of ministering to senior citizens with the Mennonite Central Committee. She started with a group of 35 seniors who had little support and lived alone.  In talking with the seniors she found out their greatest need was just having someone to visit with.  Linda immediately knew she could handle that and knew this was where God wanted her.

Shortly after she arrived in Atlanta she attended a workshop by Bob Lupton, Executive Director of FCS Urban Ministries.  After the workshop she knew she wanted to be the hands and feet of Jesus to these seniors.  She and Bob began meeting on a weekly basis to brainstorm ideas for working together to serve them.

As time went on and Linda grew closer to her seniors she noticed repairs that needed done on their homes, hair that needed washed and many other long overdue chores.  She began doing all she could for them and as people started to hear of her work they wanted to help.  Churches quickly became involved and began helping and donating supplies.

Seven years later Linda realized those 35 seniors she befriended has given her much more than she felt she had given them.  Seeing how much this was doing in her own life she decided she’d offer the opportunity to others.  The Adopt-A-Grandparent Program came into being.  Over 1,000 seniors have been “adopted”, loved and cherished since those early days of the program in 1978.

31 days

This post is part of the Nester’s 31 Day Challenge; Writing on the same topic each day of the month of October.  Click on over to the Challenge to find a number of topics and authors ranging from Simplicity & Organizing to Personal Endeavors. You can head back here and scroll to the bottom of this post for a listing of all 31 days of Good News & Good People Doing Good Things.

 

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Out Of The Ashes Poured Love From A Community

In his younger days you could find Vernon Freeman of Dallas anywhere in the community lending a hand.  A carpenter by trade he was known in the area as someone who would pitch in to help at your house if you needed it.   He had built a reputation for fixing whatever problem you had with your house even if you couldn’t afford to pay him for it.

Well in the fall of 2012 it was his turn to need a hand.  The 85 year old great-grandfather had an electrical fire in his family home of 50 years.   Not having insurance he decided to do whatever he could to work on the house himself.  It didn’t take long for his physical energy and finances to wear thin.  That’s when people began talking about his situation, even airing on the local news.

As people heard his story a few decided to step up and take action.  They began working on Mr. Freeman’s house and others started to join in.  He was living with his son temporarily while work was being done.  But he spent most of his days sitting on the front porch of his family home, watching the repairs.

As efforts continued the generosity of the town snowballed.  The local chapter of Habitat for Humanity donated supplies and an online registry was created for people to see what was needed and how they could help buy supplies.  Construction companies donated time and labor while a window company donated all new windows.  A local roofing company donated lumber, siding and insulation.  All the new floors were donated by a local design & carpet center.  Food vendors volunteered to bring their food trucks over to feed the volunteers.  Are you getting the picture here?  The list goes on!

Once as workers were finishing their day Mr. Freeman asked if they could leave the sheet rock tape at the house.  When they arrived the next day they found that he had stayed and by himself had taped the seams in two bedrooms and the kitchen.  He was thrilled to have the work get to a point where he could pitch in himself.

Mr freeman

As the house neared completion the generosity of the community remained steady.  Furniture, paint and appliances were all donated and set in place to welcome Mr. Freeman back home.  Target gift cards were even rolling in to help supply him with other essentials.

On July 6th of this year Mr. Freeman walked back in his front door.  Project complete!  Lovely example of a community giving back to one who gave so freely himself!

31 days

This post is part of the Nester’s 31 Day Challenge; Writing on the same topic each day of the month of October.  Click on over to the Challenge to find a number of topics and authors ranging from Simplicity & Organizing to Personal Endeavors. You can head back here and scroll to the bottom of this post for a listing of all 31 days of Good News & Good People Doing Good Things.

A Single Mom Reaches Out And Ends Up Touching Thousands

In 1994 a recently divorced, 41 year old mother of two boys found herself struggling to pay bills and handle car repairs, and other problems with no one she could talk to.  This mom, Debbie Quick, put an ad in a local paper for any other single mothers who would like to get together and share their stories and struggles and be a support for one another.  In 1995 in her Santa Clarita, CA living room the first meeting of Single Mothers Outreach was held.  The group organized a closet of gently used clothes donated by the community as well as groceries allowing moms in need the ability to get free clothes for themselves and their kids as well as a few days worth of groceries.  Seven years later it opened its first storefront in Canyon Country.

The business functioned as a drop-in type service for years for people who were in crises providing the free clothes and food to those in need.  In 2007 they restructured and partnered with various organizations in the region in order to expand their services.  In 2013 SMO moved to Savia Community Partnership along with the Domestic Violence Center of Santa Clarita and A Light of Hope so the organizations could all work together to help families in crises.  Their building was underwritten by members of Real Life Church in order to save SMO’s funding for their programs.   In February of 2013 they opened Closet on Main which is a boutique clothing store whose proceeds help fund the organization and also provides retail management training for some of the women they are helping.

Their primary focus is single moms due to the fact that they tend to fall into a lower economic status but they also serve single dads as well.  Over 60% of those they help have income levels under $15,000 per year and you may be surprised to know most are not those who left their marriages due to domestic violence but rather horrible divorce scenarios where one parent has completely walked away from the family.

They offer financial literacy programs from Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University as well as technical training, job search skills, group sessions and other resources.

DaAnne Smith is the current director of Single Mothers Outreach and had previously spent years on the board of directors.  Motivating her is a desire to see people’s lives transform from near hopeless situations to confidence that they can make it in their new life with the knowledge that there are others that care and who they can lean on for support.

They would love someday to see chapters open in other communities.  Seeing people rise above their circumstances and not stay defeated as a victim helps the person, the family, the community and ultimately the nation.

To date SMO has helped more than 2,200 single parent homes get back on their feet, gain independence and support.

For more information you can find them at http://singlemothersoutreach.org/.

31 days

This post is part of the Nester’s 31 Day Challenge; Writing on the same topic each day of the month of October.  Click on over to the Challenge to find a number of topics and authors ranging from Simplicity & Organizing to Personal Endeavors. You can head back here and scroll to the bottom of this post for a listing of all 31 days of Good News & Good People Doing Good Things.

Don’t Judge A Book By Its Homeless Cover

Some of you may already have seen this story but it’s worth watching again.  I think too often we judge people by their position in life, the clothes they wear, the car they drive, etc.; that we often fail to notice the incredible person before us!

 

31 days

This post is part of the Nester’s 31 Day Challenge; Writing on the same topic each day of the month of October.  Click on over to the Challenge to find a number of topics and authors ranging from Simplicity & Organizing to Personal Endeavors. You can head back here and scroll to the bottom of this post for a listing of all 31 days of Good News & Good People Doing Good Things.

Stealing From The Rich?? – Modern Day Robin Hood

Have you ever said something stupid?  Maybe you meant it, yeah, probably did.  But in hindsight you knew it was something that maybe should’ve floated around in your head a while and never made its way out of your mouth.  I sure have.  A lot.

Anyway, I would like to tell you about a man I have been reading about today, Paul Tudor Jones.  One of the things I read was about a statement he should have kept in his head but as I read more and more articles about him I was pretty amazed.  This man has a good heart and is actually doing good, a lot of good!  Oh, and did I mention he’s a billionaire?  Just so happens to be.  He is a hedge fund manager.  (I don’t personally measure a man by what’s in his bank account; I tend to measure people by what’s in their hearts.  But we won’t follow that rabbit trail right now.)

Back to Mr. Jones; one evening he was watching a show featuring a man who had guaranteed college tuition for an entire Harlem class.  As soon as the show was over he picked up the phone and called the man and said he wanted to do the same thing.  He did.  He failed.  The program was intended to give kids encouragement to get better grade and ultimately better their future.  He put a lot of money, love and time into the kids; providing after school programs and taking them on trips.  At the end of a 5 year period the average grade point averages were no better than the remainder of the school.  He felt like he had failed all of those kids and instead of that failure stopping him, it actually fueled his passion to help even more.  He figured that if self-made billionaires are supposed to be among the smartest people in the world why haven’t they figured out a way to stop poverty in the U.S.?

In 1988 he founded the Robin Hood Foundation.  Its key purpose is to fight the war on poverty in the streets of New York.  It was a first of its kind in what is now called venture philanthropy.  100% of the donations received go directly to funding the programs they support.  Any expenses of the Foundation are paid by Mr. Jones and other board members (also millionaires and billionaires).  Adding a new twist to charitable donors; Robin Hood Foundation requires data, reports, 5 year plans and multiple presentations before they will decide to fund a charity.  Each year they defund 5 to 10% of their grantees; not because they aren’t awesome programs, but because they are working in a way that doesn’t see results.

They currently work with over 240 non-profit organizations.  What they consider their core fund recipients are those working with education, creating jobs, providing economic security and daily survival.  Then they have their relief fund recipients that focus on assisting low income victims from the 9/11 attacks find employment, other low income victim services and relief services such as their funds that went to benefit victims of Hurricane Sandy.

So about the whole name “Robin Hood”; well, this years’ fund raiser was held in Manhattan’s convention center that holds 4,000 people.  It could be seen as a private party for the rich and famous; from actors, to professional sports players to the Wall Street Elite.  So just how much did this modern day Robin Hood steal from the rich?  Almost 81 million.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Mr. Jones during his May 5, 2013 interview with CBS News’ Scott Pelley.  “You cannot have significance in this life if it’s all about you. You get your significance; you find your joy in life through service and sacrifice. It’s pure and simple.”

The entire script of the CBS interview may be read here…  http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-18560_162-57598586/modern-day-robin-hood/

31 days

This post is part of the Nester’s 31 Day Challenge; Writing on the same topic each day of the month of October.  Click on over to the Challenge to find a number of topics and authors ranging from Simplicity & Organizing to Personal Endeavors. You can head back here and scroll to the bottom of this post for a listing of all 31 days of Good News & Good People Doing Good Things.

Hitting Close to Home

I think today I’ll take a moment to stop and tell a few stories of kindness from good people where we were the recipients.  I truly believe these stories need to be repeated often; so we don’t forget where we’ve been and who has helped us along the way.  Our children need to hear these stories so it’s engraved in their hearts how helping those in need has been a blessing in our lives and in turn we need to pay it forward.  I have a few to recall so let’s get started.

We had moved from Michigan to Virginia when our kids were 6 and 3 so my husband could attend Liberty University.  Curt (my husband) had taken necessary steps to be sure he had secured a job for himself before we even packed a box.  But what’s that saying, “the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.”  Well awry they went.  When we arrived at the mobile home we would be renting, we were so excited for a new chapter of our life to begin.  We unpacked the U-haul and set up the necessities for our first night.

The next day my husband went to report in at his new employer.  They said they were sorry to have to tell him the full-time position wasn’t going to be available but they could definitely use him part time.  Great, huh?  Needless to say money was excessively tight for a while.  I distinctly remember a certain day when I looked in the cupboard and literally felt like Old Mother Hubbard.  My cupboards were bare; there was one can of stewed tomatoes and a box of instant rice.  It was a Wednesday and my husband got paid on Fridays.  I knew what we were having for dinner anyway.  You just tell the kids it’s Mexican night, mix the rice and tomatoes together and whalla – Spanish rice.  But what about Thursday and Friday?

A young man from our church gave my husband a call that very day – he was attending Liberty as well and was living in the dorms.  He asked if my husband could stop by his place because he had gone home for a visit and had brought back something for us from our church back home.  Can you see where this is headed yet??  Sure enough, my husband came home that evening with bags of groceries that filled our empty cupboards.  Our church had a food drive for us and sent us cans and boxes galore!  I’ll tell you what, Chef Boyardee never tasted so good!  They didn’t know how badly we were in need but God knew and placed it in their hearts to send this incredible gift of food to us.  Good people doing good things!!

We’ve had things happen throughout our lives that show the most sincere kindness from others but I will just share one more.

My husband had lost his job back in 2002.  Again money was tight.  I was working part time then and talked to my employer; they allowed me to take a full time position.  My husband started delivering pizza and we were scrimping by, barely some days but we were.  One day a friend called us to say we needed to stop by his house.  He had a very large box for us.  Someone else, who wished to remain anonymous, had bought us a huge box of meat.  I can’t tell you how many pounds it was but it was quite a large box and completely filled our freezer.  There was ground beef, hot dogs, roasts; anything you could want.  We got through that whole winter with that box of meat; and since meat is one of the largest expenses in a grocery budget I could stretch our money a lot further filling in the rest of the pantry.

Two occasions of awesome, generous people taking care of the everyday needs of those they loved.  Both of these times revolved around food , but isn’t that one of our basic necessities.  God never promised that we’d be eating filet mignon, roasted red potatoes and asparagus every day; but he did promise He’d provide our basic need for food if we trust Him and present our needs to Him.  Sometimes that can be a very hard and humbling thing to do but I think it’s those times God is trying to remind us who is taking care of us – it’s not an employer; although He certainly uses employment to help supply for us – but it’s ultimately in His control and His power.  And you know what?  Sometimes He’s going to use us, so let’s keep our hearts open to ways He wants to use us to supply for others!

31 days

This post is part of the Nester’s 31 Day Challenge; Writing on the same topic each day of the month of October.  Click on over to the Challenge to find a number of topics and authors ranging from Simplicity & Organizing to Personal Endeavors. You can head back here and scroll to the bottom of this post for a listing of all 31 days of Good News & Good People Doing Good Things.

Senior Year Soccer Game

I’ve loved seeing so many stories of kindness happening in our public school system.  We hear so much of the negative that I believe we are desensitizing our youth; making them feel like these things are the “norm” among their peers.  After a while they decide the corrupt acts of others are normal occurrences possibly seeping slowly in and changing their world view of morality and decency.  News stories are overflowing with topics such as bullying and teens trying to make the lives of teachers and others miserable.  I think it’s time we start relaying more of the good that is happening and just see what it might do to our society and our kids.

Anyway, I’ll jump off my soap box here and tell you a story of a young man from Dexter, Michigan.

Greg Zenas was a high school senior in 2012; with Down syndrome.  Greg was also the team manager for his high school soccer team for the past six years.  He did everything from getting water bottles and equipment to standing at the side lines and cheering for his team.

The team’s coach Scott Forrester had encouraged Greg to become the team manager when he was in seventh grade.  A couple years ago he even went as far as getting Greg a uniform and having him dress for each game.

The team had won many trophies over the years.  The players themselves voted and decided that Greg would be the keeper of the trophies so when they were awarded a trophy it went right into Greg’s hand for safe keeping.

via annarbor.com

via annarbor.com

Over the years the players even extended their helping hands to Greg.  Each season Greg’s mom got a call from one of the players informing her that he would be Greg’s driver for the season.  If Greg’s parents weren’t able to drive him this player made sure that he made it to all the games and any banquet or other event the team had to attend.

At the game on October 4, 2012; Greg’s senior year, Coach Forrester made a decision.  After the team was introduced the coach went over to Greg and handed him a paper bag with soccer cleats and shin guards; Greg was in the game.  As he first hit the field he needed a bit of instruction from his teammates as to where he was to stand and what way they were to run.  After a few plays Greg began to catch on.  He even had his chance with the ball a few times.

Coach Scott Forrester had decided to make this game in October of last year, one that the seniors would remember for the rest of their lives.  Not just for Greg, but knowing the impact it would have on the team as a whole and how much this could affect each member of his team personally.

A night Greg and his parents aren’t soon to forget.  But also a night for Scott Forrester and the rest of the players to put into action what being part of a team family is all about; overlooking disability, flaws or differences in personalities for the good of the whole.

Oh, and by the way, they won the game that night!

31 days

This post is part of the Nester’s 31 Day Challenge; Writing on the same topic each day of the month of October.  Click on over to the Challenge to find a number of topics and authors ranging from Simplicity & Organizing to Personal Endeavors. You can head back here and scroll to the bottom of this post for a listing of all 31 days of Good News & Good People Doing Good Things.