Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Give give give

How many ways are there to give?  My dear readers, the list is endless.  You can give back in so many ways!

Volunteer to tutor kids after school. Go on a trash walk and clean up a local park. Plant a tree. Do a yard sale, and give the proceeds to a local charity. Volunteer at one of the more than 3,190 shelters in the country. Volunteer or donate to a local food bank. Collect non perishable food items at your next birthday party instead of gifts.

Give money to your favorite cause.  Adopt a pet. Read to children at your local library.  Put together a birthday bag for a child living in a shelter. Volunteer at the hospital.  Send a letter to a solider. Donate money in honor of a friend or in memory of a loved one.  Be a big brother or a big sister.

Give, give, give!  It really is a wonderful way to live!  Any special ways YOU have of giving back?  Let me hear from you!

Monday, April 29, 2013

When

I remember when I was still in high school hearing someone say "When will a day go by without some talk about racial discrimination?"  Recently I heard someone comment on the abundance of gay news stories saying "When will we stop hearing about gay rights?"  When indeed.

When I first came to San Francisco, a city with a large Asian population, I quickly found that there was prejudice against Asians.  There is even prejudice amongst Asians.  Yes, I actually heard "People from (my country) are better than people from (their country)."

When will it end.  Why do some people feel superior over others?  Why can't we all get along?  While it is true that discrimination has changed - some things are more protected by law, not everything has and often cruel incidents occur which nobody will then want to talk about.

We can put an end to discrimination.  We can end prejudice.  But, when?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

a bit of housekeeping

The purpose of this daily blog is to highlight folks who really make a difference in this world and to explore various ways where we all can give back and do remarkable things.  It has been a number of years since I began this and I generally write this every single day (the lone exception was recently following the death of my mother and my recent Sunday breaks).  Occasionally I invite you to leave comments - they are always welcome, whether or not I invite them.

Today I wanted to take a moment though to do a little housekeeping.  One of the things I wanted to do was remind you of the purpose here, and I have already done that.  I also wanted to say something about the comments section.  It seems I have already done that too.  I do want to thank those of you who have left comments here, and especially all of those who commented following Mom's death last month.  Tomorrow is her funeral and I cannot tell you how comforting the words of many have been.

Another way we can make a difference - being there when people need us.  I have seen such wonderful examples of that in the past several weeks.  I truly am blessed.

One more thing about this blog.  It isn't a secret.  The more who read these words the better.  Perhaps someone will be inspired.  Do feel free to become a follower and feel free too to tell others about this!
Tomorrow as I prepare for the funeral service, I may write something short, but come check it out anyway.  It's NOT about me.  It's about us all!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Honoring the first responders

There are men and women out there on the front lines who protect us from fires and earthquakes and crime and all kinds of major events.  These first responders are heroes who often are over looked, except when the worst happens - when they fall in the line of duty.  The recent explosion in West, TX which you have all heard about is one of those times when first responders lost their lives trying to protect others.

"First responders know better than anyone, there's no such thing as a routine emergency," Governor Rick Perry said at yesterday's memorial service for the first responders who lost their lives. "Firefighters and medical technicians who died last week in West certainly knew that, but it didn't slow them down as they raced toward that burning factory."

All too often who forget about these dedicated brave women and men who make such a tremendous difference.  Take a second and think about the terrible tragedies that have happened lately and then think about the professionals who tried to save lives and property.  Some of them were injured themselves in the process and some died.  Let us honor them and be thankful for their work!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Mom made a difference

Today is Teddy Fritts' one month's mind.  I have mentioned my mom here before and likely will again in the future.  I am who I am because of her.  This past month has been the most difficult of my life, and yet Mom did some pretty incredible thing to prevent that from happening.

For several years Mom has said things like "I won't live forever" to help and prepare us for the day when it came.  She calmly talked about having lived a good live and being comfortable when the time might come.

Mom looked into donating her body to science.  This would not only benefit others, but it would reduce cost to virtually nothing.  A simple telephone call was all that it would take at time of death.  Mom didn't want to leave any burdens.

A few years ago she gave me an envelope with a small attached package.  "Don't open this until after I am gone" it said on the envelope.  I followed her instructions and kept it hidden away until last month.  The day after Mom died, I remembered the present and opened it up.  Wrapped in white tissue paper was a book titled "This Too Shall Pass" about dealing with death and other difficult moments in life.  The attached note said I had been the best son a mother could have.  It said she hoped the book would help and then wished me a good life.  "We'll be together again someday" was how she closed.

Tears are streaming down my face right now just telling you about this.  Mom was the best.  I miss her so much.  Mom showed me the way not only throughout her life, but even after her death she keeps on showing me.  Mom made a difference.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Attitude is everything

A reader of this blog left a comment yesterday that said in part "You have an incredibly positive attitude, which is much appreciated in this crazy world."  Thanks for the kind words!  Attitude though is everything.  It really is!  Sometimes it is difficult to have a positive attitude, especially when there is so much "crazy" around us.  Never lose hope though.  Never give up!

I think it was Ralph Waldo Emerson who said “The person who sends out positive thoughts activates the world around him positively and draws back to himself positive results.”  Indeed.  Keep a positive attitude and watch for the positive results!  Yes, sometimes it might seem like there is a roadblock up ahead, but never give up!

As the great English Prime Minister Winston Churchill said “Every wall is a door.”

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

feel the love and see the light

This past week has been a long hard one for the city of Boston and also for the nation. It has been a time of personal difficulty too as I experienced my mother's funeral.  I see so much sadness in the news every day now, and it is easy to become angry and to hold bad feelings.  I decided this morning, before doing anything else, I would take a deep breath and think of all the goodness; all the light that shines into my life. 

As I turn to healing and forgiving, I hold the words of Martin Luther King, Jr in my mind and in my heart:

"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that."

Feel the love!  See the light!

Monday, April 22, 2013

inspire someone

Did you ever see such a powerful act of love that you were moved to tears? (Lately I have witnessed several such acts, but this of course is NOT about me). Has something you read about or even something that you were actually involved in led you to want to do more?

We can find inspiration in so many places. Sometimes one person’s inspiration can be just as moving to others. With that in mind, I invite you to share with us here any inspirational moments you have encountered. Leave a comment below. Write as much or as little about the experience as you like. Write something though - we would really love to hear from more of you!

Perhaps YOU will inspire someone!

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Comfort in times of sorrow

As I prepare for my mother's funeral service today, I am thinking about the core purpose of this blog too and as I reminded all of our readers yesterday, it is to encourage us all to make a difference in this world.  Bringing comfort in a time of sorrow can really make a difference - I know this firsthand!

The hugs from friends and the cards and the telephone calls have all been wonderful and today, just the presence of folks who knew Mom or who want to support me and my sister is wonderful indeed.  There still is sadness of course and during the funeral service this is likely to become even more keen.

In the midst of all of this a number of words from the Bible can bring comfort.  The words of the Twenty Third Psalm are very comforting, for example.  In all of Scripture though I know of nothing that soothes me more or gives me more hope than the assurance of Blessed Paul the Apostle in his letter to the Romans "that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Thanks be to God!

Friday, April 19, 2013

the shepherds of our lives


Many of you who read this will be going to church this weekend and will hear passages from Scripture that show God or Jesus as a shepherd.  Indeed, for many this Sunday is a day often referred to as Good Shepherd Sunday.  The image of Jesus with the sheep and the comfortable words of Psalm 23 which begins "The Lord is my shepherd," are familiar to us all, but can we also be shepherds?

The quick answer is yes.  God does shepherding to be sure, but a priest or minister is often seen as the shepherd of their church. In a marriage, a spouse is sometimes thought of as a shepherd.  Parents certainly are shepherds to their children. An older child is a shepherd to younger siblings.  Teachers are shepherds to their students.  An employer is a shepherd his employees.  Actually anyone who in anyway leads anyone is shepherd of sorts.  That leading can be quite comforting!

How wonderful it can be when someone takes the time to lead.  This is one of those "making a difference" kinds of situations.  It is very comforting to know where you belong and to know that someone is looking out for you.  It's also quite rewarding to be the one doing that looking out.  Let us be thankful for all the shepherds in our lives!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Who can be a scout?

The Boy Scouts of America, which was founded more than 100 years ago, is one of the largest youth organizations in the United States, with 2.7 million youth members and over 1 million adult volunteers.  I was once a scout and also a leader of a cub scout den.  The organization has a number of rules who which it is usually praised, but a couple which have caused controversy.  The official policy does not allow gay boy scouts nor does it allow atheists.

Now I really don't want to lump those two together because one is who you are and the other is what you chose to believe (or not believe).  I'd love to hear your thoughts though.  Should the scouts bans gays?  Should they ban atheists?

Before you answer, take a moment to really think about it.  You might also want to check out this website:  http://www.scoutingforall.org/ which is not an alternative group but rather an educational organization that deals with this very issue.

What is we said only Asians can be Boy Scouts?  How about if we said only boys who are six feet tall or more are eligible?  Obviously these would be unfair.  So wouldn't the same be true if a boy just happened to be gay?  What do you think?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

New Zealand says yes to equality

The happy news today is that  New Zealand's parliament voted in favor of allowing same-sex marriage!  Seventy-seven of 121 members of parliament voted in favor of amending the current 1955 Marriage Act to allow same-sex couples to marry, making New Zealand the first country in the Asia-Pacific region to do so.

It is amazing to see countries all around the world slowly realize that gay people are humans too and deserve equal rights.  Discrimination should never be tolerated.

Countries where same-sex marriages are legal include Canada, Spain and Sweden, in addition to a few states in the United States. France is getting close to legalizing same-sex marriages amid increasingly vocal opposition. 

How about everywhere though?  Let the rest of the world follow the good act of New Zealand!  Equality for everyone everywhere!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Turn off the tv

"Turn off the TV, or at least limit your child’s exposure." This is advice from The Mister Rogers Parenting Book, which we quoted here back last December after the horror of a schoolyard shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. Yesterday there was another New England horror; this time at the Boston Marathon.

The late children's host Fred Rogers got it so right when he said "turn off the tv." This advice is good not only for the children he meant it for, but for adults as well. Last night I saw more and more of a growing trend where reporters tried to attach blame long before the facts were in. Yes, it was terrible - the deaths and massive amounts of injury were bad enough but the fear that came with it all even worse. Instead of calming our fears and urging restraint, too many broadcasters were racing to judgement, and what does that accomplish?

Fred Rogers got it so terribly right when he said “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, 'Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.' To this day especially in times of disaster, I remember my mothers’ words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”

As I write this, news from Boston is still coming in and we don't have all the details.  We know this was tragic.  We know this was terrible and that those responsibile should indeed be brought to justice.  The speculation and ignorant words from so called journalists is not help though in the least.  Last night I really had to remember Mister Rogers and simply turn off the tv.  One thing we did see from the media - the firefighters and police and other first responders coming to aid the victims. That was comforting indeed.  Comforting too was it to hear the calm and reassuring voice of our President. Not calming though are the broadcasters who try to incite additional problems.

Monday, April 15, 2013

from a cabbie


I have no idea who wrote this - I found I a while back on the internet and have seen it posted several times.  It's the kind of "feel good" story that I really like and because of my mother's recent death, it seems to move me even more today.  Again, these are not my words, but I wanted to share this great story with all of you-

A NYC Taxi driver wrote:

I arrived at the address and honked the horn. After waiting a few minutes I honked again. Since this was going to be my last ride of my shift I thought about just driving away, but instead I put the car in park and walked up to the door and knocked..

'Just a minute', answered a frail, elderly voice. I could hear something being dragged across the floor.

After a long pause, the door opened. A small woman in her 90's stood before me. She was wearing a print dress and a pillbox hat with a veil pinned on it, like somebody out of a 1940's movie.

By her side was a small nylon suitcase. The apartment looked as if no one had lived in it for years. All the furniture was covered with sheets.

There were no clocks on the walls, no knickknacks or utensils on the counters. In the corner was a cardboard box filled with photos and glassware.

'Would you carry my bag out to the car?' she said. I took the suitcase to the cab, then returned to assist the woman.

She took my arm and we walked slowly toward the curb.

She kept thanking me for my kindness. 'It's nothing', I told her. 'I just try to treat my passengers the way I would want my mother to be treated.'

'Oh, you're such a good boy, she said. When we got in the cab, she gave me an address and then asked, 'Could you drive through downtown?'

'It's not the shortest way,' I answered quickly.

'Oh, I don't mind,' she said. 'I'm in no hurry. I'm on my way to a hospice.

I looked in the rear-view mirror. Her eyes were glistening. 'I don't have any family left,' she continued in a soft voice. 'The doctor says I don't have very long.' I quietly reached over and shut off the meter.

'What route would you like me to take?' I asked.

For the next two hours, we drove through the city. She showed me the building where she had once worked as an elevator operator.

We drove through the neighborhood where she and her husband had lived when they were newlyweds She had me pull up in front of a furniture warehouse that had once been a ballroom where she had gone dancing as a girl.

Sometimes she'd ask me to slow in front of a particular building or corner and would sit staring into the darkness, saying nothing.

As the first hint of sun was creasing the horizon, she suddenly said, 'I'm tired. Let's go now'.

We drove in silence to the address she had given me. It was a low building, like a small convalescent home, with a driveway that passed under a portico.

Two orderlies came out to the cab as soon as we pulled up. They were solicitous and intent, watching her every move.

They must have been expecting her.

I opened the trunk and took the small suitcase to the door. The woman was already seated in a wheelchair.

'How much do I owe you?' She asked, reaching into her purse.

'Nothing,' I said.

'You have to make a living,' she answered.

'There are other passengers,' I responded.

Almost without thinking, I bent and gave her a hug. She held onto me tightly.

'You gave an old woman a little moment of joy,' she said. 'Thank you.'

I squeezed her hand, and then walked into the dim morning light. Behind me, a door shut. It was the sound of the closing of a life.

I didn't pick up any more passengers that shift. I drove aimlessly lost in thought. For the rest of that day,I could hardly talk. What if that woman had gotten an angry driver,or one who was impatient to end his shift? What if I had refused to take the run, or had honked once, then driven away?

On a quick review, I don't think that I have done anything more important in my life.

We're conditioned to think that our lives revolve around great moments. But great moments often catch us unaware-beautifully wrapped in what others may consider a small one.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Thankful for Faith

Writing here yesterday about Ysabel Duron, my mind wandered to memories of one of the first people I ever wrote about here in this blog - Faith Fancher. We never became close friends, but wow! What an impact she had. I saw her mostly out covering stories around the Bay Area and when I heard talk that she and her colleagues were reporting about her, I took notice. Yesterday I mentioned that Ms Duran was a cancer survivor (Hodgkins lymphoma). Ms Fancher didn't win her battle, but in fighting, she really made a difference.

Imagine being diagnosed with breast cancer (or any life-threatening disease for that matter). What a huge thing this is in your life! Now, imagine sharing this news, and very intimate details or your fight, with the entire world. Faith Fancher, an award-winning journalist, whom I first became aware of years ago when she and I both worked in Nashville, was a familiar face for San Francisco area television viewers, but she became more familiar when she shared her personal story of fighting breast cancer. Faith wanted to help other women. She wanted to make a difference. She was successful indeed with that. It has been nearly ten years since Faith passed away, but she lives on through "Friends of Faith," a charity to help low income breast cancer patients, that she founded. The reports she filed, or which were filed on her behalf by other reporters at her station, impacted many and will always be part of my memory. What a brave women, who thought of other people during her own very personal struggle.

I will always be thankful for Faith. She made a difference. That is what this blog is all about. Her legacy will continue to benefit others far into the future. You can be a part of it too. Go to http://www.faithfancher.org/ to learn more about their programs and to hear more about Faith Fancher. There is also information there about volunteering and about donating.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Ysabel makes a difference

When Ysabel Duran got in to television journalism some 42 years ago, I'm guessing she had no idea of the impact she would have on so many people, but I can tell you for certain that she has made a difference in this world because I'm one of many who has been inspired by her.

Some people on tv seem to be there just to make a name for themselves and then there are those like Ysabel Duran who seem to have been "called" to report the news accurately and fairly and to highlight the issues that need to be seen.  Ms Duran has always been a class act and someone you know is going to give it to you straight. 

I remember watching her on a San Jose tv station anchoring the evening news and was surprised to see her out in the field later on at a San Francisco station.  For many, leaving the prestigious evening anchor desk would seem like a step down.  Later she moved to the weekend morning anchor spot at a time when hardly anybody even did news on weekends.  She was on the air when the Oakland Hills fire broke out and gave everybody the information they urgently needed.

Ysabel Duran was not just the woman reporting the news though, she was also making news.  Her community involvement over the years has brought her a lot of recognition, but not nearly enough for all she has done and continues to do.  As a cancer survivor she has been a truly bright light!
 
For many years I have been aware of various cancers because my grandmother had died from stomach cancer and my mother lived her last several years with leukemia, and ultimately died with lung cancer.  Seeing Ysabel Duran on tv and hearing that she had cancer, got my attention.  When the doctor first told Ms Duran the news, she wondered what she was supposed to get out of the experience.  She also decided to report on herself and make her cancer struggle a news story.  Out of this came a lot of information.  Out of this also came the formation of a great organization.

Ysabel Duran is retiring tomorrow from her tv news job, but she will not lack for something to do.  Ten years ago she created  Latinas Contra Cancer, which provides counseling services for cancer patients who are typically neglected by the health care system. She continues to serve as Executive Director and plans to devote more time there after leaving her "day job."

Tomorrow is also her birthday and celebrating that, in just about 24 hours, Ysabel Duran will begin her very last television newscast.  Some people never really retire though.  Thank you Ysabel Duran for being one of those people and for truly making a difference!


Friday, April 12, 2013

Prevent animal cruelty

April is Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month.  I wish we didn't even have such a thing on our calendar.  I wish cruelty to animals didn't even happen.  Sadly though there is animal cruelty and so there is a need for this annual observance in hopes that it will make a difference.  I have written here about this in the past and there is still a lot to be said - a lot to be done.  We can end animal cruelty though - we really can!

I have a friend who is a very busy animal activist and she is always busy raising awareness for animal rights. This is something we all can do.  Some good pointers are on the ASPCA website at http://www.aspca.org/fight-animal-cruelty/advocacy-center/ - feel free to share this information widely!

We hear all too often of innocent animals that are harmed, tortured, or neglected at the hands of human beings.  We can do something though.  We can speak up.  We can call animal control or the local police.  We can provide the local media with information.  We can demand better resources for our animal friends.  They cannot defend themselves, expecially not in a private home where they are beaten or neglected, but we can jump in and come to their aid when we know of this abuse.

This month, be especially kind to an animal.  Get involved, even if you have no pets of your own at home.  Together, we can prevent animal cruelty.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

the gift of music

I have a friend who plays the harp for patients in a hospital.  He is in fact a certified harp therapist. For centuries, the beneficial relationship between music and healing has been well established, but until I met this guy, I never really thought about music soothing the hospital patients.  It is actually quite common.

I know of a choir in the Bay Area that will go and visit sick members of their church to bring them some cheer.  (It's a huge choir and not every member goes to each visit).  Another wonderful use of music!

Performers who give of themselves for the enjoyment of others are givers in every sense of the word, evn if you are paying for the service.

The soothing sounds of music not only can enhance the quality of life, but create the possibility of interactive work, especially when the tune is familiar.  Sining around a bedside can bring great joy, but music can bring joy whenever it is listened to.  Wasn't it the late Dick Clark that referred to music as the soundtrack of our lives?  Indeed.  What a wonderful gift to enjoy!

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Bearing a lot of good

Who doesn't enjoy a soft cuddly teddy bear?  They warm the hearts of small children and can easily bring a smile to folks of any age.  My mom was a teddy bear collector and at her death last month there were thousands of bears all over her house - not just the furry plush ones, but also music boxes, glass or pewter figurines, bear sheets on the bed and a bear rug on the floor!  Mom was indeed a bear lover.  She was also a member of a wonderful organization called Good Bears of the World.

When my sister and I were talking about Mom's obituary, we decided to suggest donations to that organization for folks who wanted to make a memorial to Mom.  It's a pretty easy thing to do.  You can just head to their website by clicking HERE.  While a donation in memory of "Teddy" Fritts would be lovely, let me tell you first a little more about Good Bears of the World and why I think donating to them is such a good idea.

This is a feel good kind of organization. There mission is simply to put teddies into the arms of those who so desperately need love, reassurance and hope and they do it through the goodness of folks all across the country. It is also very reassuring to me to know that 100% of our tax deductible donations is used to purchase teddy bears for these people. Good Bears of the World was founded back in 1969 in England by journalist and radio pioneer, James Theodore Ownby who ran the group out of his Honolulu, Hawaii radio station, KNDI. Good Bears of the World moved to a new home in Toledo, Ohio in 1991 where they continue to operate from.

Mr. Ownby has long since died. Last month the bear lover in my family, my mother, also doed. The dream they both shared though is quite alive and the joy of teddy bears goes on and on!  So I invite you to give.  Make a difference.  Your gift need not be in my mom's memory.  Give in whatever way you feel comfortable, but know that a gift to Good Bears of the World, is a gift of joy!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

our health matters

Whether we think about it all the time or not, our health matters.  We might do annual checkups or take daily vitamins, but how much do we think about our health beyond that?

During the winter months so many of us wake up coughing or sneezing and then head out the door to work.  Once there we are greeted with others feeling equally bad, or worse, and we share each others germs and the illness of the day.  Before you know it we are so sick we cannot even get out of bed.  The solution?  Staying home from work occasionally when we are ill might be a good starting place.  Also, avoid contact with others who are ill.

What else can we do to stay well?  Exercise and a good diet go a long way.  Plenty of rest is also important.  We need to avoid unhealthy activities too such as smoking, recreational drugs, and excessive alcohol consumption. 

How can we change the world - how can we do good things and really make a difference if we are too sick to even walk across the street?  Our health matters in so many ways.  Regular checkups and following medical advice is so important.  Sometimes we might receive scary news, but knowing is so much better than not knowing. 

Monday, April 8, 2013

Make a difference

"One man can make a difference and every man should try."  What a powerful message - one that I truly believe. 

These words are generally credited to John F Kennedy, but may have actually come after his death, from his widow Jaqueline Kennedy.  (The words were written on a card for an exhibit which traveled around the country when the Kennedy Library in Boston was first opening and have been quoted in Respectfully Quoted: A Dictionary of Quotations edited by Suzy Platt).  Regardless of which Kennedy said them though, they are still true!

As I reminded you here Saturday, our daily purpose is to suggest various ways of making a difference, because after all, every single one of us can do that.  How about some suggestions?  I know that I have covered a lot of ground over the years, but I'll bet you have some good suggestions too!  Please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.

"One man can make a difference and every man should try." 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Gimmee some NICE

How cool is being nice? Think about it. When was the last time you got mad because someone was nice to you? Seriously. Give me nice anytime!  It's so good we urge people to have a nice day!

Mean and nasty? Nope. You can keep it. Nice though is welcome anytime. It goes well with all kinds of weather. It doesn't care about where you are going or what you are doing. It doesn't matter what you ate for breakfast. It doesn't care how you are dressed. Being nice is never out of style.
 
In life there is good and there is bad.  I suppose there is also a grey area in between.  Nice is certainly on the good side.  I never tire of nice. 
 
If you are currently being nice, try it.  I think you will really like the results!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

paying it forward

After years of writing this daily blog, I sometimes forget that folks have not necessarily been reading this regularly and so might not quite know what my purpose here is.  The name really only says part of it.  Yes, this isn't one of those "what I had for breakfast" or "how I spent my vacation" types of blogs, but just exactly why do I write this then?  It's about making a difference - about giving back.  You might want to call it paying it forward.

Every day I write about ways that I might help my neighbors and friends and indeed the whole of our world by doing positive things like donating money or volunteering time or writing letters to demand positive change or any number of things.  Activism 101?  Perhaps.  I like to think of it as more than that.  I give ideas that help me, and hopefully help you, be a more productive member of society.  When I am not writing about these various ways, I am writing about people or organizations that already are making a difference.

Yesterday I wrote about an incredible Bay Area man who is involved in a number of fights for equality and who inspires me every day.  I have written too about some organizations which do fantastic things to spark change and do good.  The links here on this page will take you to some of those organizations.

I cannot possible think of every way we can do good and I certainly am not aware of every single organization that does these remarkable things, so along the way do feel free to send me suggestions.  You are welcome to comment on the daily posts too of course. 

Together we truly can make a difference in this world.  Remember, it's NOT about me - it's about ALL of us!

Friday, April 5, 2013

More than just a youth leader

Jason Galisatus led the gay-straight alliance at his Bay Area high school and began also organizing a youth conference.  Following its success, Jason joined with other teens to create Bay Area Youth Summit (BAYS), originally to combat bullying on campus.  Jason continues to serve as Executive Director of BAYS along with being a member of an several other organizations promoting equality.

Jason is so much more than an activist though.  He is a huge music lover performing in a variety of musicals and plays, coaching classical percussion, and appearing with Stanford Fleet Street Singers and the San Francisco Symphony Youth Orchestra.

Jason is an excellent public speaker.  (That's where he first came to my attention).  He speaks with passion and is strongly dedicated to equality for all. 

This would all be pretty outstanding for anyone, but Jason is just 20 years old!  Imagine what he might accomplish by the time he is my age!  Jason is indeed changing the world.  How wonderful!  Others have noticed too because he is one of the Grand Marshall nominees for the San Francisco LGBT Pride Celebration.  (You can vote for him too at  http://sfpride.org/vote/ ). 

Jason is more than just a youth leader.  He is someone who is making a positive difference in our world.  Vote to honor him at Pride, but let's do a little more - let's all follow his example and get involved too!

Thursday, April 4, 2013

tiny ripples make a difference

Some words today to think about from Robert Francis Kennedy, the late former Attorney General and Senator from New York.  I've quoted him here before, but Kennedy was quite an inspiration and had a lot of good things to say.

"It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring those ripples build a current which can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and injustice."

Senator Kennedy's words are still true. Stand up for your ideals - strike out against injustice, and build those tiny ripples into the greatest current our world has ever seen. Together we can make a difference!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

revisiting autism

Back in December I wrote about autism and told you of a great video by The Jubilee Project.  April is National Autism Month, and so I want to revisit the subject.  (As part of that, I'll invite you once again to check out that video.  Just click HERE.  It tells a powerful story of how we each can give in different ways.

When I posted three and a half months ago, I asked "Do you know people who are autistic?   How has autism touched your life?"  I'll ask you to think about that once again.  Let's not just talk about a disease, but let's put a human face on it.

In his proclamation yesterday on World Autism Day, President Barack Obama said "Today, public health officials estimate that 1 in every 88 children in America is growing up on the autism spectrum. It is a reality that affects millions of families every day, from the classroom to the job market. And while our country has made progress in supporting Americans with autism spectrum disorders, we are only beginning to understand the factors behind the challenges they face."  Imagine that.  "We are only beginning."  Pretty incredible, huh?  Our great nation should be able to do more that just begin.  We should be leading the way.  We can beat this.  We can make it happen.

Autism Awareness Month aims to increase people's awareness about people, with autism.  That's why I keep going back to the "how has it touched you" question.  It is so much easier to relate when we are talking about someone that we  know.  Check out the facts too.  You can begin by going to http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/autism/detail_autism.htm - a very information website. 

Go back to that video I mentioned in the beginning.  A little boy befriends a little autistic girl.  Let that be an inspiration.  That certainly is something we are all capable of!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Mary Jane Foster Died Last Year

Since this blog is NOT about me, I not only don't write about myself, but I also don't write about my family. Aunt Dee (that's want we called her) is one of the reasons I write this though.  Aunt Dee is one of the reasons I like giving back.  She had always been a giver, but when I first wrote about her here last March, she was laying in a hospital bed and doctors were trying to determine exactly what happened.  Aunt Dee had been found on the floor of her apartment, unresponsive and and was rushed to the hospital. 

This blog is about making a difference in the world – about giving back and doing something that benefits others. My aunt might well have been the poster person for such giving. For as long as I can remember she was doing things that benefit other people. As a schoolteacher she helped shape young minds and in her retirement, she gave by volunteering at her church, at a local hospital, and at a blood center. She told wonderful stories of things that happened at that hospital and about the blood donations. In fact she always had a wonderful story to tell. I don't really know how many hours she spent volunteering, but I could tell she got so much enjoyment from helping out.

It broke my heart knowing she was unable to give in those last days when I first wrote about her here. It broke my heart too of course when she died - one year ago today.  The most difficult blog entry I ever wrote up until recently, was the next day when I began "Mary Jane Foster, of Zephyr Hills, Florida, passed away after a short illness. She was predeceased by her parents, her husband, and by her three brothers.  She is survived by her sister, my mom, and by twelve nieces and nephews (including me); five great nieces and nephews; three great-great nieces and nephews; and in-laws. Mary Jane was an elementary teacher for many years. She and my uncle bought a farm when she retired.  She enjoyed participating in harness racing.  She volunteered at Shriners Hospital for Children, at her church, and for the local blood bank (where she also regularly donated blood).  She was a special lady and I miss her already!" 

I know that I will never forget my Aunt Dee.  One year later I want to say that I still miss her so very much but I am so glad to have had her in my life.  She touched countless lives and I KNOW she made a difference in this world! As you know, I had a more difficult blog entry to write last month when my mother died.  In fact, for the first time since I began writing this blog, I took time off and wrote nothing here for several days.  Mom and Aunt Dee will always be a part of who I am.  I want to make a difference in this world like they did.  I strive to follow in their footsteps.

Monday, April 1, 2013

National Donate Life Month

Donate life.  Wow!  That sounds pretty big.  It is of course, but it is something every one of us can do (or at least attempt to do).  I'm going to jump way ahead of myself here and direct you to http://donatelife.net/ where you can find a lot of information, but with the death of my mother just a week ago, the who idea of donating your body or your organs is very fresh in my mind, and today begins National Donate Life Month.

The need certainly is there with more than 115,000 men, women and children currently awaiting organ transplants here in the United States. You can see specific numbers by visiting http://unos.org

The website I referenced above can give you lots of details about how to do this and it can even help you through the process.  In most states it is as easy as registering as an organ donor with the DMV when you get your driver's license.  Some things can be donated while you are still living of course (blood for example), and that's something else to look at.  The gift of life is so very precious and I really want to shout out information today. 

The idea here is to encourage people across the country to consider donating blood, registering their bone marrow, and making sure that they have signed up for organ donations after their death.  Please feel free to share this too during the weeks ahead.  Think of all the lives you might be saving!