Gary Steedly places the Extra Miler pin on Ted Throckmorton.
By CAROL A. DAWSON – May 10, 2014
My mother regularly demanded peace and quiet from her children and I wondered why anyone would want such things. Recently, I went on a search for the answer by spending a day at the Abbey of Gethsemani with my Associate Pastor, Rev. Amanda Wagoner Meade. Gethsemani, located just beyond Bardstown, Kentucky, is where approximately 20 Roman Catholic Trappist monks live, pray and work — predominately separated from the rest of the world.
Upon arriving to Gethsemani, the sound of nature engulfed us, very likely because of the pure air which comes from being in rural Kentucky and 60 miles from the pollutants of the big city of Louisville. I instinctively set my car alarm and was surprised at how loud and intruding it was in this environment. We walked past a “Silence is spoken here,” sign and I secretly wondered if I really could abide by this rule for an entire day. The property of the Abbey is beautiful, but not ornate; the building and grounds are actually rather plain. Yet, it is in that simplicity that the peacefulness flows.
We acquired information on lunch and prayer schedules and then headed to the library for time to read in silence. Before arriving at the library, there had been more noise than expected inside the Abbey, mostly from visitors who were whispering. Then, stereotypically, we walked into the library and were soon immersed in silence. Flipping through a magazine about the Catholic faith, my attention was drawn to the numerous advertisements from the various Abbeys across the world; enticing men and women to consider their locations for a life of commitment to their faith. I locked into a couple of places that looked appealing, of course, near bodies of water.
Especially enthralled with the monk’s vow of silence, I looked for an article on just how the vow works. There it was and it made sense with all the other reading material. Trappists do not actually take an explicit vow of silence. There are three vows: A vow of Stability, promising to live the rest of their lives with one monastic community; a vow of Obedience to an abbot; and a vow of “Conversion of Manners” — the promise to live the monastic life in all its parts as described by the Rule of St. Benedict and the Constitutions of each Order.
According to the Order of Cistercians of the Strict Observance, “The last vow of conversion takes in the practice of celibacy, fasting, manual labor, separation from the world and silence. It then remains for the monk or nun to apply themselves faithfully to the observance of silence characteristic of their own community. Relative to the way most people live, this is definitely a commitment to pretty radical silence. In a monastery, monks typically have three motivations to speak to one another: to get a particular work project carried out efficiently, to engage in a community discussion, or to discuss one's spiritual progress with a director or confessor.”
Next it was time for us to attend prayer. I discovered “sext” doesn't mean to the monks what it means to the cell-phone using population. Prayers are said by the monks throughout the day and night. Vigils, Lauds, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline are the seven “hours” of the liturgy or opus Dei (work of God). They are common prayer services, the prayer of the Church as well as the prayer of the community.
We entered the church, quietly took a prayer book, sat in the visitor section, prayed, and then waited. One by one, the monks walked in, bowed, and took their seats. We were there for the Sext prayer, or Sixth Hour prayer. It consists mainly of psalms and is said at noon. Its name comes from Latin and refers to the sixth hour of the day after dawn. We followed along with the words and the harmonious and calming voices of the monks.
Hospitality is an essential element of the monastic life and it is no different at Gethsemani. We were invited to have lunch and when asked whether seating would be in the “silent” or “talking” room, we asked for the “talking” room so Amanda could respond to my many questions. We then quietly wandered through the garden until it was time for the next prayer. We took our seats in the church and I now felt somewhat acquainted with the monks as they filed into the pews. There was the monk who again ran late to prayer, another monk seemed to be in pain as he stood, and one of the older monks seemed interested in the visitors. I wondered how they each felt as we observed them in their sacred time of prayer.
After prayer, we headed to the gift shop. The monks have to make a living. At Gethsemani they make cheese, fruitcake, and bourbon fudge and trust me when I say they excel in at least two (never have liked fruitcake).
No matter your religion, this place called Gethsemani is a place to discover love, peace, gentleness, quiet reflection, and deep intimacy with your faith. I found the peace and quiet my mother often cried out for and I now understand why it was so important to her. I heard my heartbeat at Gethsemani…and I liked the sound.
Extra Milers, Rebecca and Wendy Moody
Extra Miler - The Dynamic Mother-Daughter Duo
Column Number 99 -March 2014
By: Carol Dawson
Although just 9 years old, Rebecca Moody’s vocabulary reveals a child who is wise beyond her years.
As the cafeteria full of Georgetown Elementary 3rd graders were quieted by Principal Rhonda Benz, Rebecca learned she would be recognized as an Extra Miler. Upon realizing she was not just being interviewed for work promoting type I diabetes (T1D) research and education, Rebecca’s large dark eyes flashed a mix of wonder and intrigue.
Diagnosed with T1D shortly after her 2nd birthday, Rebecca’s efforts to raise awareness and money to advance research for a cure for this disease have been remarkable. However, behind every successful child, there typically is an encouraging role model. Rebecca’s mother, Wendy Moody, is the wind beneath her wings. Since the diagnosis, the two have become the dynamic duo by promoting awareness of the disease, advocating for research funding, and creating a sense of community among families in Southern Indiana who have children dealing with T1D.
Immediately after Rebecca’s diagnosis, Wendy and her husband realized they knew few others dealing with the disease, especially with a child so young. There were lots of instructions, needles, pain, tears, hospitals and doctors to deal with and very little meaningful support.
It was at a faith conference that Wendy learned how to turn their pain into a purpose. Since then, Wendy and Rebecca have made it their priority to educate and to be supportive of other families who are dealing with T1D.
“Rebecca isn’t just a diabetic child,” Wendy explains, “Diabetes is not who these children are – parents should be careful to not let it define them. Rebecca is simply a child...dealing with a disease. We don’t let it control her.”
The disease has not slowed down Rebecca, who plays multiple sports. Her favorite sport is softball. When asked if her insulin pump ever gets in her way with sports, Rebecca explained, “I try to wear it where it will not get hit by the ball, but sometimes it gets hit anyway. It can hurt quite a bit, but that would never stop me from playing.” While describing the pain, Rebecca never dropped her smile. She does not focus on the negative and self-pity is foreign to her.
Rebecca and Wendy went as delegates to the 2013 JDRF Conference in Washington DC. JDRF is the largest charitable supporter of T1D research. Rebecca met with politicians to tell her story and promote support for continued research for a cure.
She also attends T1D camps. Wendy has been instrumental in bringing regional T1D camps to our area as outreach events for families to learn how their children can participate and stay active.
Rebecca beams when talking about the camps she attends. She said, “It is nice to know you are not alone and to have friends who have the same thing I do – they understand what I deal with while most do not.”
Georgetown Elementary Nurse, Sherry Stanfield explained that children in school with T1D learn the route to her office well. “Individuals with T1D want a cure, but Rebecca goes beyond that in wanting the cure for all who have T1D…it isn’t just personal. As for Wendy, significantly giving back to our community is her nature.”
When asked how T1D has impacted her life, Rebecca stated, “I like to make others feel better. If I see a kid who is down or sad, it is important to me to try to make them feel better by making them laugh. We should all be nice to others; we don’t know what they are dealing with in their lives.”
Wendy describes her daughter as being selfless, while Rebecca describes her mother as being helpful to others. She is right, as Wendy is not only extremely involved with T1D projects; she is also a mentor and advocate in the school system and volunteers as the children’s Director at Faithpoint UMC in Floyds Knobs.
Wendy’s favorite quote came from Rebecca’s doctor who told her, “Your daughter will see a cure for diabetes in her lifetime.” She holds him to that promise.
Wendy and Rebecca, the work you do makes a positive difference for families who are dealing with type 1 diabetes and with your continued efforts, there very well may be a cure in her lifetime. Thank you dedicating your life to help others and for being Southern Indiana Extra Milers.
TIP OF THE MONTH: Our Extra Milers have these tips for our readers: Rebecca: “Type 1 diabetes doesn’t stop you from living a normal life – you can live your life just like any other kid. Don’t worry – be happy!” Wendy: “If you have something in your life that hurts, that keeps you from moving forward – find a way to turn it around – find your greater purpose in the situation and figure out how to make someone else’s life better. We need to live in community – sharing our pain and our knowledge so someone else can find healing. Along the way, we realize those efforts have diminished our own pain.” To learn more about T1D, go to: www.JDRF.org or call: (800) 533-2873
Extra Miler Update: On February 12, 2014 the heart of a lion stopped beating. Coach Scott Bostock, our October 2013 Extra Miler, passed away from cancer after saying goodbye to family and friends who loved and admired him. He made our world better.
Keith Henderson looks on as Julie Schwerer places the Extra Miler pin on Gary Steedly
Extra Miler -A Steedly Influence in Southern Indiana
Column Number 98 -February 2014
By: Carol Dawson
Julie Schwerer, the Center for Lay Ministries Bliss House Director, explained why she recommended Gary Steedly as an Extra Miler. “When it comes to giving back to our community, Gary just can’t help himself…he is invested in seeing people succeed in life and is willing to go that extra mile to ensure he helps when needed.”
Extra Miler Gary Steedly was pulled from one of his community service groups to be interviewed as an Extra Miler. He was participating in the Prosecutor’s Community Resource Team, which was created by Keith Henderson, Floyd County Prosecutor to involve several area specialists to resolve issues and concerns surrounding Floyd County.
Prosecutor Henderson explained Gary’s involvement in the Resource Team. “Gary conducts the Theft Deception Program for the prosecutor’s office in that many of the diverted or convicted shoplifters are required to attend two Saturday’s of instruction with the goal of not reoffending. Gary has done a tremendous job with these individuals.”
When asked to provide all the volunteer activities he is involved in for our community, Gary began to shift in his seat. He asked, “Are you talking about just the past couple of years?” Turns out, his question was valid, as Gary has been actively serving on non-profit boards and voluntarily providing training, guidance and advise to people and organizations in our community for many years.
Gary served more than 20 years on the Community Corrections Board. Prosecutor Henderson has known Gary for over 12 years and admires his dedication to the people of Southern Indiana. He stated, “Gary’s guidance and counsel as a Community Corrections Board member helped to elevate our Floyd County Community Corrections to one of the best in the State. One of Gary’s attributes that stands out is that he is an individual who looks first for the good in others and not the bad.”
Gary considers himself to be officially retired; however, he stays busy with multiple volunteer efforts and still teaches at Webster University (HR Development). One of his favorite volunteer activities is the work he does with his wife (Judy Steedly) for their church, St. Luke’s United Church of Christ in Jeffersonville. He has served on the church council for four years and recently served as the Council President.
Gary also works every Friday with Meals on Wheels. He has 16 stops and serves 42 meals. Gary said, “I really like working with Meals on Wheels, as I get to meet people and see places in Southern Indiana that I normally wouldn’t have experienced otherwise.”
Then there is Rotary Club on Tuesdays and also the work he does as the Chairman for the Relay for Life. After mentioning the Relay for Life, Gary became solemn and stated, “The Relay for Life work I do really has a special place in my heart. I have lost a number of friends to cancer and my brother is a cancer survivor and still battles the disease.” His empathy for those who have suffered and continue to suffer from this disease is obvious.
Julie Schwerer noted how Gary reaches out to individuals and groups across Southern Indiana. “On the occasions that I have called him to ask for guidance or for workshops, he has arrived on our doorstep in record time to see what he could do to help. Often a phone call would of sufficed, but not for Gary. He truly cares about others and eagerly answers the call to service.”
Julie went on to explain how our Extra Miler became invested in the residents of the Bliss House. “When he first started working with the Bliss House residents, he became extremely concerned about the stress levels he discovered during their early recovery period. Gary began providing our residents with sessions on Emotional Intelligence, to help them deal with this stress.”
Gary also believes maintaining a healthy body is important. He has run in the Kentucky Derby Mini Marathon for 34 years and puts about 600 miles on each pair of tennis shoes he owns. He also works out regularly with the YMCA.
When asked how he became involved in community work, Gary quickly pointed out that his parents were very giving people – involved in this community and in their church. While one of his favorite authors is Stephen Covey, Gary quoted Muhammad Ali to describe the service obligation everyone should acknowledge, "Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on Earth."
While others describe our Extra Miler with words like dedicated, thoughtful, contemplative, and compassionate; our Extra Miler believes he could best be described as a busy and caring person.
Gary Steedly, there is no doubt you are a caring (and busy) citizen of our community. Thank you dedicating a significant portion of your life helping others and for being a Southern Indiana Extra Miler.
TIP OF THE MONTH: Our Extra Miler believes we should all start this new year out by giving back to our community. He explained, “Look at volunteerism as an opportunity to pay it forward, especially with all that we have been given – freedom and life’s necessities.” Gary Steedly believes we should all make giving back to our community something that we naturally expect of ourselves.
Trish Gilles and Columnist Dawson
Extra Miler -Tips from Extra Milers
Column Number 97 -January 2014
By: Carol Dawson
I had lunch with Trish Gilles recently, to check up on her health issues and to let her know that we (our community) have not forgotten her and others who continue to deal with recovery from the March 2012 tornado.
Trish looked beautiful and said she was doing just fine as sh flashed a broad smile. However, the continual shifting of her body told otherwise. Trish is scheduled early in 2014 to have a hip replacement to correct the significant damage her body sustained when the tornado selected her home and family to be violently swept up and relocated several feet away. She hopes the surgery will allow her to eventually move more freely and to keep up with her active children, Caleb, Mia, and Collin.
Trish and Darrell feel grateful and blessed to be alive, but the injuries to their bodies are a constant reminder that their lives will never be quite like they were before the tornado. eHowever, they continue to move forward in a positive manner and see 2014 as being a better year.
To help you look forward to a positive 2014, I’m sharing the Extra Miler tips from 2013. These worthy tips can assist us in developing a stronger and healthier community in 2014.
And finally, this quote provided by Extra Miler and Coach Scott Bostock, who is continuing to fight his battle against cancer, “A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove...but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child. (F. Whitcraft)” Scott teaches us to realize our time on earth is best served when given to improve the life of a child; adding that we all benefit when our children are happy and confident.
Thanks to our caring readers who continue to locate and introduce me to our Southern Indiana Extra Milers. This effort to pass it on continues to feed my soul. Keep them coming…Happy New Year.
Extra Miler – Stepping Up to Community Needs
Column Number 96 - December 2013- Ron and Donna Robb
By: Carol Dawson
Before the first Extra Miler interview for December was completed, it was evident that our Extra Miler, Ron Robb, was a human tornado; working long hours to care for the less fortunate and elderly community members within Southern Indiana. As tornados often form one after the other, it quickly became clear that there was a second tornado to be found in the same household, Ron’s wife, Donna.
I met Ron and Donna the day after Thanksgiving and the discussion immediately lapsed into what we were thankful for in our lives. Ron and Donna both said their faith and family are their motivators. Married for 53 years in May, they have 4 children, 12 grandchildren and one great grandchild and have recently downsized into a smaller home in order to unleash themselves from a time consuming large home and yard. The extra time is spent making the lives of others more tolerable. They also give testimony by spreading the word of their Christian faith to others.
Donna retired in 1986 and a year later Ron took the leap, only to soon find out he was drowning in time. He simply couldn’t sit still. Ron picked up some part time jobs and began seriously devoting time to volunteering efforts. He primarily gives his time to Our Lady of Perpetual Help (OLPH) Catholic Church’s program entitled, Society of St. Vincent DePaul/Our Lady of Perpetual Help. The program, started by Charlie and Virginia Bell, along with Bill Canapel, is dedicated to person-to-person assistance that promotes human dignity and integrity.
Ron explained the mission further, “Our mission is to ensure our neighbors receive the support they need to get their lives on track and that can include material assistance such as food or clothing, financial assistance with utilities, or other needs that will help families stay in their homes while having their basic needs met.”
Ron said, “Almost all of our calls come from single mothers in our community and we are especially mindful of the needs of the little ones.” As children, both Ron and Donna survived less than blissful family lives. Ron’s family was homeless until they were taken in by an elderly distant relative. He explains, “Growing up my life was so barren, but now it is so full and this comes from my relationship with Christ,” he added, “Christ taught us to love one another and to help those in need.”
Becoming a bit choked up, he explained that had it not been for the woman who took his family into her home, he may have never found Christ and fears where he would be today had she not cared for them. Ron affirms, “Everyone has a story and mine has certainly had a lot to do with my need to work with this ministry. Christ has guided me to do certain things that I don’t think I could have done on my own.”
At one time, there were only three people doing the work at the Society of St. Vincent de Paul – Ron, Donna and Rita Boehm. While Donna told a story of a young child pulling on her pants leg asking if she was going to get them some milk; Ron talked about the families that don’t have the basic necessities to survive.
Greg Henderzahs, the Interim Director of the Center for Lay Ministries and the person who recommended the Robbs as Extra Milers, told a story of visiting a woman who was living in a home so dilapidated it was leaning drastically to one side. He said, “I feared we were in an extremely dangerous situation, while at the same time knowing that this woman lived in those dangerous conditions every day. Ron and I knew we had to stay and help.”
Dan Becher, a friend and current President of the OLPH Conference, stated, “Ron doesn’t see poverty – he only sees a person standing before him who is in need of help.” He added, “Both Ron and Donna are great examples of people who try to serve their fellow human beings without any thought of reward or acknowledgement.
As our Extra Milers often do, both Donna and Ron were quick to give credit for the work they do to others. For instance, they wanted to be sure the column included the fact that there are approximately 130 families at OLPH who financially contribute monthly to ensure the program continues to thrive.
Donna and Ron also work with other organizations, such as Westminster, Choices for Women, and the St. Elizabeth Home. According to friends, Donna and Ron are non-judgmental, kind, persistently compassionate, spiritual, and dedicated. When asked to describe one another in one word, Donna said Ron is compassionate and Ron described Donna as being strong. Indeed, both Donna and Ron are all of these things to many people in our community and for that, we thank them both for being Southern Indiana Extra Milers.
Extra Miler Tip of the Month: Ron wants to encourage people to love their neighbors and to love, worship and praise the Lord, while Donna said people should not be afraid to step up and help others – no matter what the situation may be. She claims she used to be afraid of not having the tools necessary to help the under-privileged, but soon realized how good the process made her feel. Remember, we are all but an accident away from being the person in need. Step up and volunteer whatever hours you can each week or month. Your efforts will make a difference.
EXTRA MILER AND COACH Scott Bostock AND FAMILY
Extra Miler (October 2013) – Beyond Winning
COLUMN NUMBER 95
By: Carol Dawson
Coach Bostock believes youth sports should go beyond winning. Specifically, participating in sports should be about the life lessons learned on the court, field, gym, or in the swimming pool. Now, more than ever, Scott Bostock, our Extra Miler for October, knows how important lessons learned through sports can benefit our youth.
Scott and his siblings were raised on Southern Indiana ball fields, as their father, the late Marvin Bostock Sr., spent considerable time as a volunteer coach. Scott’s brother, Marvin, explained their formative years were spent, “eating ballpark dust and wearing gym sweat at a very early age.” Marvin Sr.’s volunteering spirit was passed along to his children.
Scott was recommended as an Extra Miler by Sarah Teegarden and her daughter, Sammi, who plays volleyball for Silver Creek High School. Sarah explained Coach Bostock should be recognized predominately because of the positive impact he has with our youth in the volleyball community. Sarah said, “Scott has influenced many girls with his knowledge and love for volleyball. He is a charismatic guy and when he walks into a gym, the young people run to him.”
Marvin also had no difficulty describing his brother as an Extra Miler. He stated, “My brother has always been very driven and his work ethic is second to none. This was evidenced when he became the head volleyball coach at Clarksville High School. He turned a perennial losing program into a force to be reckoned with and I believe that happened because he simply outworked most other coaches and the players respected him.”
Scott’s mother, Jean Bostock, explained that Scott has always been a caring and kind person, even as a child. “At a very young age he was extremely outgoing and friendly. Other children, including his younger siblings, just wanted to be near him…Scott makes others feel they are valued.”
Jean also talks about the many caring things Scott does for her. Scott calls each day to check on his mother and never hangs up without expressing his love. Jean clarified, “Scott is just a soft hearted and caring guy and I’m blessed to have him, and all of my family, in my life.”
Scott’s close friend, Brent Falcone, believes Scott is the epitome of an Extra Miler – someone who does good things in life, without looking for applause or personal reward. Brent stated, “Scott coached my oldest daughter about 7 years ago and I quickly got to know and admire him. He immediately struck me as having a special skill, not only the technical knowledge of volleyball, but his positive influence with our young people.”
Brent explained further, “Scott has a heart for our youth and even when they lose a game, he makes them feel good about their effort and encourages them to pick themselves up and work harder.” People naturally gravitate toward Scott as the kind of person others want to emulate.
Scott wants all of his players to walk away from every game feeling good about themselves. He explained, “This is a game so I want them to compete hard, but it is also important they learn the lessons of life – being respectful of your teammates and competitors, taking pride in yourself and your accomplishments, playing fair, and being grateful to your parents for the sacrifices they make for you.”
Scott does seem to have one possible flaw that appears to have become more of a trademark. Apparently he is somewhat color blind and selects some very strange garments of clothing to wear for practice and volleyball matches. Brent stated, “He just doesn’t seem to notice the difference between stripes, plaids and various colors. He may wear a neon green shirt with orange plaid pants and somehow he pulls it off.” When confronted with this accusation, Scott laughed and replied, “I am color blind, so the bright colors make me happy and they seem to make others happy, because they sure do laugh about it when I walk into a gym.”
Scott and his bride, Sherri, have been married for 35 years. Sherri described her husband as always being happy. She said, “Scott hugs and loves everyone and because of this, he is like a people magnet. He also inspires people around him to be better human beings.” As Sherri was thinking about her response to one word that describes our Extra Miler, another relative was quick to respond. Scott’s 14 year old grand-daughter, Kenzie Summers, exclaimed, “He is a hero to me and to a lot of people. My Papa is my amazing and perfect hero.“ Scott has coached Kenzie’s volleyball teams and the two are extremely close.
Everyone interviewed struggled with providing one word to describe Scott. Brent said Scott was “positive;” however he added, “One word does not do justice to all that he represents.” His mother thought for a moment and said, “He is just the best – really he is the best son, the best brother, the best father, the best grandfather, the best coach, and the best friend to all who know him.”
Lately, Scott has had to work a bit harder for his smile and positive attitude. He has been diagnosed with Glioblastoma, which is an incurable form of brain cancer. Also, other family members have been diagnosed with cancer, including his wife, who is a recent survivor of breast cancer. His friends and family are amazed at Scott’s resilience and attitude about dealing with and fighting the cancer. When asked his prognosis, Scott stated, “This disease is terminal, but there are varying factors that influence my timeline, but I can tell you this, if I live only through the night, I know I am leaving the court as a winner.”
Coach Scott Bostock may have started coaching years ago to encourage his daughter, Megan, in volleyball at Clarksville High School, but his passion for the game quickly flared as he discovered he could also be a mentor to the players. He went on to coach traveling and organizational sporting teams, devoting hundreds and possibly thousands of hours to the game.
Teaching girls in our community technically how to play volleyball isn’t even the best of what this coach has to offer. This gentle and loving man teaches his players life skills they will take with them throughout life…grace, kindness, work ethics, respect, gratitude…and when it all comes together, he also teaches them how to be winners.
Scott, thank you for being an Extra Miler for Southern Indiana.
Extra Miler Tip of the Month: Coach Bostock’s favorite quote is from Forest Witcraft, “A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove...but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.” Scott wants people to realize our time on earth is best served when given to improve the life of a child, as an educator, mentor, or coach. All generations benefit when our children are happy and confident.
Extra Miler Update: On February 12, 2014 the heart of a lion stopped beating. Coach Scott Bostock, our October 2013 Extra Miler, passed away from cancer after saying goodbye to family and friends who loved and admired him. He made our world better.
The First Christian Church Youth Group Mission Trip participants and Extra Milers are: Front: (L to R): Carol Dawson, Stephanie Boseker, Kelly Allen, Shelby Moore, Ally Moore, Kate Sparrow, Haley Bottorff, MacKenzie West, Kaitlyn Fischer, Kate Stinson, Cassidy Padgett, Katie Kayrouz, McKenna Woodard, Carley Calabro
Back (L to R): Janesse Brooner, Dawson Woodard, Kaitlyn Phelps, Nancy O'Brien, Brooke Avery, Michael O'Brien, Mia Robertson, Clayton Robertson, Trey Bottorff, Jim Dooley, Drake DeLap, Dawson Dooley, Jake Teegarden, Gerrin Moore, Colby Kayzouz, Kelly Padgett, Youth Director Chad Boseker, Mallory O'Brien, Alana Waldrip, Chase Kayrouz, Hailey Lacy, Justin Padgett, Sammie Teegarden, Zach Boseker, Brandon Hardin, and Mitch Traylor
Extra Miler (August 2013) – Shining Their Lights
Column Number 94 - August 2013
By: Carol Dawson
I chaperoned 33 youth on a church mission trip and worked with predominately underprivileged children in North Charleston, South Carolina. This is what I learned.
A six year old boy, Isaiah, repeatedly asked the teenager to put him on his shoulders. The teen, Justin, always complied by hoisting him up. Each time, Isaiah would reach down and gently touch Justin’s beard that had been growing for several days. He wondered why the young boy was so enamored by his facial hair. Later, Justin found out that many of the children were from single parent households and he suspected Isaiah was likely without a male role model active in his life. Through Isaiah’s gesture, Justin realized just how fortunate he is to have his own father, along with other male role models, willingly involved in his life.
Five year old Antonio, who wanted to be referred to as T-Pain (the rapper), would throw his arm up fully extended with his hand formed into a fist and threaten to punch the other children when they made fun of him or made him angry. The youth working with the little boy wondered why he threw up his fist as if to be ready to hit downward on others who were the same height. They later realized Antonio very well could be imitating the way adult authority figures in his life are treating him.
An elderly man looked earnestly into the youthful face of a teenage girl and asked if they could pray together as he deals with lonesomeness and illness during the final phase of his life. She situated herself directly in front of him, took his weathered hands into hers, and they prayed. She stayed with him longer than any of the other residents and they talked about his life.
A group of young children stood at the window of their day camp facility with their faces pressed against the windows, crying and holding out their arms to a group of middle and high school age teenagers from Southern Indiana who were leaving to return home after playing and praying with them for a week. Several of the teenagers were also crying as they looked back to see the impact they made on the youngsters.
These are but a few of the incidents experienced by the 33 Southern Indiana First Christian Church (FCC) youth (including a few of their friends), their youth leader, and 6 other adult chaperones, as they put sports and busy summer schedules on hold for 8 days to share their faith and their spirit of love with the people and children of North Charleston.
For several years I wanted to join our church youth group on mission trips; however, there was always something work or family related that got in the way of my good intentions. This year, I was determined to make it happen. I joined the two day journey to South Carolina and learned what pure joy sounds like in a van of 9 middle school age boys and girls. Hint: It is incredibly loud.
In all there were 108 youth (and their chaperones) from various cities across the US who were attending the North Charleston mission trip. The living conditions were less than comfortable, with wall to wall air mattresses crammed into small Sunday School size rooms, outdoor (cold) showers for the youth that were only available at designated times, often less than appetizing meals, work details even after working all day with their crews on designated projects, and long lines for the far too few toilets.
Still, there were no complaints from the teenagers as they convened each evening with the group at large and later their individual church groups. Instead, the youth spoke of “God Sightings or Moments;” those moments when they indisputably knew that God was reaching out to them or someone else with a gesture, lesson, support, or simple reassurance.
There were many God sightings and moments that week in North Charleston. This group of young people left a mark on those they cared for – whether it was the person with a disability who had their lawn mowed and trimmed, the elderly person who was comforted as they moved through their final days, or the young children who found out there are a group of teenagers from Southern Indiana who truly care about them and their well-being.
FCC Youth (and chaperones), thank you for being Southern Indiana Extra Milers and for teaching the people of North Charleston that there are individuals who live many miles away who love and care for them and who are not afraid to shine a light on their faith.
Extra Miler Tip of the Month: Think seriously about stepping up to be a youth mission trip chaperone (or participate in an adult mission trip). You will never be so tired at the end of the day, so hungry when mealtime arrives, or so undeniably blessed and at peace. It will be time well spent with those you serve, the youth you will grow to respect, your caring and encouraging co-chaperones, and also time well spent facing your own fears – even those that seem trivial, such as the fear of driving a behemoth 15 person van full of young people in unfamiliar territory. Bring it on! It just might change your life.
Mary Sandifer and Volunteers of America staff, Kevin Hostetler (right) watch as Adam Sandifer receives the Extra Miler pin from Mark Lawson, Perrin Park Staff.
Extra Miler (May 2013) – Making People Better
Column Number 93 - May 2013
By: Carol Dawson
There are likely no words better to describe how Extra Milers make others feel than the following quote from an interview with Dana Thomas, YMCA of Southern Indiana Housekeeping Coordinator and the supervisor of our Extra Miler, Adam Sandifer. “I’m so happy Adam is part of my life. There is no doubt I am a better person because of him.”
More than 8 years ago, Adam started working at the YMCA as a volunteer. Impressed by his work ethics and positive attitude, Dana hired Adam as a part time employee.
Adam cleans the men’s locker room, steam room, takes out trash and performs other housekeeping and maintenance work as needed. Dana explained, “Adam takes a lot of pride in his job and he is committed to consistently do it well. Everyone loves Adam…he talks to everyone and asks how they are doing. He is very much embraced by his YMCA family.”
David Block, Community Service Coordinator/Asst. Director for the Volunteers of America (VOA) recommended Adam as our Extra Miler. David explained, “It’s great that others get to see Adam making a contribution and giving to others. Our folks have lots of labels and there are many stereotypes surrounding people with disabilities. However, Adam breaks down those stereotypes by giving of his gifts and talents and by having positive relationships.”
With the help of the VOA, Adam volunteers many hours each week for multiple organizations, such as Perrin Park, Jeffersonville Aquatic Center, Falls of the Ohio Interpretive Center, and the J.B. Ogle Animal Shelter. He is also a greeter and volunteer at the Henryville United Methodist church.
The VOA staff member who primarily works with and guides Adam is Kevin Hostettler. They have worked together for 2 years. Kevin described Adam as an amazing individual and stated, “Adam enjoys life and likes challenges…new things; he has this positive influence on the people he works with and meets.”
Nikki Dillon, Director of Aquatics and Programs for the Jeffersonville Parks Department has worked with Adam for several summers. She described him as, “one of the happiest people I’ve ever met; always helpful and courteous.” She continued, “Actually, we would miss him terribly if he didn’t show up. He does his job well and people who swim at the Center are able to see that our City and facilities are welcoming of everyone when they see Adam working.”
All who have benefit from Adam’s volunteer time had similar positive comments regarding our Extra Miler. Travis Jackson, Animal Control Officer for the J. B. Ogle Animal Shelter, described Adam as being, “very gentle and caring for the animals and those who come into the shelter.” Travis indicated Adam is kind hearted and funny; making him a pleasure to have as a volunteer.
Connie Farmer, Naturalist and Volunteer Coordinator for the Falls of the Ohio State Park, said Adam helps the Falls with several chores such as vacuuming, washing windows, and collecting drift wood. She said, “He has a lot of enthusiasm and enjoys interacting with visitors and staff. He makes people smile and laugh and we wish we could have even more of his time.”
Adam loves to work with anything that has a motor and that was clear when interviewing him. His favorite quote is, “Nothing runs like a Deere.” Adam looks forward to any opportunity to use motorized equipment, including the steam cleaner at the YMCA.
Extremely fit and strong, our Extra Miler has been participating in the Special Olympics since he was 8 years old; competing in basketball, bowling, horseshoes, volleyball, track and the sport he loves best, swimming. He is also a participant in the Polar Bear Plunge, which is a Special Olympics fund raising event. The YMCA staff members have a team, affectionately called, “Team Adam.”
When asked which of the organizations he enjoyed volunteering for the most, Adam responded, “All of them!” His mother, Mary Sandifer, said Adam’s favorite job is the job he is working on at that time. She explains his strong work ethic, “Adam’s father and I taught him that he has to work, even if the majority of his time is spent as a volunteer.” She laughed as she recited how they emphasized work to Adam as he was growing up, “No work – no food.”
Mary indicated that Adam loves contributing to our community and he particularly enjoys the social aspects of being active and involved.”
As I interviewed Adam on a sunny day at Perrin Park, he stopped talking to call out to each person on the trail, “Hi, what are you doing…have a good day!” Adam was asked to describe the type of worker he is, and he replied, “Nice…I try to be nice and I’m a hard worker – I never miss work unless I am sick.”
Mary describes her son as a, “beautiful person,” and recalls a time when he helped a woman select and adopt a puppy at the animal shelter. “The woman later wrote a letter to the Director, complimenting Adam on his caring attitude and personal touch.” Mary concluded, “You know, this is just who Adam is – he cannot be defined by his disability.”
In our frazzled, fast paced world that is often full of fear and anxiety, Adam is a bright light. He teaches us to slow down, appreciate what we have in front of us, be conscientious and respectful, and to greet each day and each person with a smile.
Adam, thank you for being an Extra Miler. Keep making us smile and teaching us that we all have something we can offer of ourselves to make a positive difference… and continue to make us better people.
Extra Miler Tip of the Month: Mary Sandifer indicated she hoped this column would open doors in our community for others who have disabilities. She said, “Individuals with disabilities are just like everyone else – they want to be needed and they want to be part of the community.”
When Adam was asked what he would like to tell our readers about making the world a better place, he provided a quick answer, “Yes, you just better do it.”
THE EXTRA MILER: Fatima Omar - A Global Extra Miler
Column Number 92 - April 2013
Janet Page, Principal of New Albany High School places the Extra Miler pin on Fatima Omar, a senior at New Albany High School and our Southern Indiana Extra Miler for April.
By: Carol Dawson, News and Tribune Columnist
There is a lot of finger pointing these days accusing our youth of being unmotivated, disengaged and not able to relate to those in need outside of their personal circle of friends/family. Our Extra Miler this month, Fatima Omar, redirects the finger pointing and takes some of the heat off her generation.
Fatima is a senior at New Albany High School (NAHS) and she was submitted as an Extra Miler for Southern Indiana by numerous NAHS teachers and officials, along with Principal, Janet Page. Principal Page explained, “Fatima is truly unique – she recognizes the opportunities of her high school education, faces challenges, and plans for the future.” Page added, “She is a fantastic student that makes the most of every minute of every day.”
Fatima views the world from a global perspective and doesn’t perceive walls around our community. She recently initiated the New Albany HS Environmental Outreach Club (see Tip of the Month). The project is supported by the NAHS AP Environmental Science class of 2012-13 and the group's first project is focused on raising $5,500 for a bore hole to be built for an orphanage in Zimbabwe. The project, in part, supports the effort of NAHS to qualify as an International Baccalaureate school. They are currently in the final stages of approval.
The Baccalaureate program provides internationally acceptable university admissions qualification suitable for the growing mobile population of young people through internationally standardized courses and assessments for students. Fatima is passionate about assisting in bringing the Baccalaureate program to our community. She explained, “This program will give our school an international perspective in addition to creating a larger sense of community to our students.”
Fatima is involved in multiple volunteer groups and activities, including the NAHS Latin Club, student mentor, Student Council, National Honor Society, Floyd County Teen Court, various academic teams, and volunteering at the Floyd Memorial Cancer Center. She has volunteered at the Cancer Center for nearly two years and because of her experience with patients, her career choice shifted. Fatima said, “I have learned how much I like the patient aspect of medicine. By observing the high cost of medical treatment and the number of people who cannot afford it, my field of study has shifted toward public health policy.”
Fatima’s NAHS teachers are some of her most avid supporters. Her Chemistry teacher, Clark Mumaw, describes her as being a “determined” person. He explained, “Others look to Fatima because she is a go-getter. She doesn’t sit back and wait to see what happens.” Her Latin teacher, Steven Prince, describes Fatima as an “awesome” young lady. Prince continued, “NAHS is a better school because of Fatima.”
When asked what motivates her to help others, Fatima responded, “I’ve been given so many opportunities in life and although I know it is a bit cliché, it is only right for me to use my time to give back. I see it as taking time for myself.”
Laura Mcguirk, Senior Counselor for NAHS described Fatima as being, “...a high achieving and personable young lady. She is one of the most exceptional students I have ever advised as a high school or college counselor.” It seemed all of Fatima’s teachers wanted to contribute to her recognition, including Matt Jacobi, her French teacher, who stated, “Fatima is respected and considered a person who will do great things with her life – she is an amazing young woman.”
Jason Cox is Fatima’s AP Biology/AP Environmental Science teacher and a person she describes as her “life coach.” Cox described Fatima as a “game-changer.” When asked what he views as Fatima’s motivation to volunteer her time, Cox responded, “Seeing lives changed fuels her fire. Fatima is a humanitarian – a kind person - with a heart to give back, whether academically or through time in service.”
Fatima believes everyone should find what they enjoy in life, thus enabling them to focus on improving the lives of others. She stated, “Our society tends to focus on who we consider the smartest or most capable, when in reality everyone has the capability to make significant contributions. All you have to do is step out, find out how you can contribute, and then do it.”
Fatima is personable, insightful and forward thinking, focusing her heart on making life better for her community – both locally and globally. She is a remarkable representative for her generation.
This month we recognize Fatima Omar as our Extra Miler for Southern Indiana and acknowledge her many efforts to make our community and world a better place. Thank you, Fatima.
Extra Miler Tip of the Month: Fatima wishes to encourage readers, along with every student at NAHS to be a part of the Environmental Outreach group's current project. The group is raising money ($5,500) for a bore hole (for water) to be built at an orphanage in Harare, Zimbabwe where fruits and vegetables are very expensive and the ground is extremely dry. The students want the children to be able to have the nutrients they need and also have an enriching activity - growing their own fruits and vegetables with the water from the bore hole. However, the Environmental Outreach club cannot do this alone - everyone in the NAFCS system is encouraged to take part by becoming a member and donating to the cause. Also, she implores our community to help the NAHS students make life better for a group of young children thousands of miles away. Readers, check out the website and make a donation or just become a member and show your support: nahsenvironmentaloutreach.webs.com/
THE EXTRA MILER: Tracy Taylor
Column Number 91 - March 2013
Barbara Anderson, Executive Director for the Haven House, places the Extra Miler pin on Tracy Taylor. Watching are residents and participants in the ministry service, Tina Stacy and Eric Cullen.
By: Carol Dawson
A young mother and her 2-year old child were leaving the newly remodeled women’s restroom at the Haven House as Barbara Anderson was providing a tour of the facilities. The beautiful little girl beamed as she saw the Executive Director and called out, “Hi Barb-ra!” Barbara reached out and gave her a hug as the mother bragged on her daughter’s new potty skills.
As we left the area in search of our Extra Miler, the mother slowly walked next to me and explained how the Haven House sved her family from living on the street. She said, “We once had a nice home and my husband and I both worked hard. Then he lost his job and I now have a serious disability and cannot work.” She told of how they lost everything and Haven House stepped in to save them from being homeless.
She continued, “I truly do not know what we would have done without this place. It is a blessing to all who are here. Let people know that those of us here are just like them and most are just a tragedy or disability away from being in the same situation.” The woman began to smile and added, “But I know things are going to get better for us, since my husband finally found a job this week, in construction!”
We strolled past dormitory rooms on both sides of the hall, watched as two young girls played games and laughed together, and received greetings and smiles from residents winding down for the night in the common area. We then walked down the stairs, through the men’s television area toward the kitchen. We could hear a group singing, The Old Rugged Cross, and as we came into the dining area, we found our Extra Miler, Tracy Taylor.
Tracy, a petite woman with eyes that tell her story of faith and love, was holding a hymnal and invited us to join in. After the song ended, Barbara told the group that we had a surprise for Tracy. Someone immediately asked if it was her birthday and Tracy said no. After hearing that she was our Extra Miler for March, Tracy took a step back and began shaking her head. Before she could verbalize her objection to the personal recognition, she was told the purpose and goal of the column, which is to promote the volunteer work Extra Milers are doing and to encourage others to follow their lead.
I sat with Tracy for an interview and found Barbara had depicted her very well, as a genuinely kind and good human being. Barbara referred to Tracy as her friend and explained, “Tracy is such a positive influence in the house and she is my sounding board, always there to listen.” She continued, “Tracy and her husband, Bill Taylor, along with others who come from Wall Street United Methodist Church, firmly believe in giving back and following in the footsteps of Jesus…that is just who they are, and they exemplify what it means to be a caring Christian.”
Tracy’s Sunday School class came to Haven House on Thanksgiving 2010 and immediately felt a connection with the residents and Barbara. They have been helping Haven House regularly ever since that day. While the ministry group from Wall Street United Methodist spends at approximately 2 hours a week with the residents, Barbara believes Tracy spends at least 3-4 hours a week on-site and another 4-5 hours soliciting donations and arranging pickups for the house. Barbara estimates Tracy and Bill together have donated more than 250 hours directly to the Haven House in the past year and another 100 or so hours indirectly.
Tracy and Bill recently worked with volunteers to renovate and remodel the Haven House kitchen and women’s bathroom. Barbara beams when she speaks specifically of the remodeled bathroom. “Our bathroom had deteriorated through the years and we were down to one shower and no bathtub.” Tracy saw this need and she acted upon it, along with Bill, who owns a local construction company, Bill Taylor Construction, Inc.
Tracy stated, “There are children here and I couldn’t imagine not having a bathtub available to give baths to the younger children, so I began to pray about how we could help and a complete remodel is what came from those prayers.” The renovated bathroom even includes a private children’s section with a bathtub and a potty training seat.
Recently, the Haven House experienced flooding in the lower level where the male residents reside. The men were moved upstairs temporarily in a sectioned off area and Barbara laughs as she explains the biggest concern for the female residents. “They were fit to be tied because they didn’t want the men using their beautifully renovated bathroom.”
Tracy, like all good Extra Milers, wanted to be sure other volunteers were included in this column, specifically those who regularly help with the Monday night ministry. Dennis Elble plays the organ for the music, and Donna Upton, Lem Travillian, and Lauren Dickey volunteer each week with the service. Actually, much of Tracy’s volunteer efforts have become a family affair, with her brother, David Palazzo, helping with the design work for the kitchen remodel, and her sister, Michelle Palazzo, making 75-80 cupcakes the first Monday of each month to celebrate the resident’s birthdays.
Tracy recalls the first time her group brought the professionally decorated cupcakes to Haven House. “We gave the residents with birthdays a cupcake with a candle and we were all singing to them when a young girl, about 4 years old. came up to me with tears in her eyes and thanked us for giving her mother such a nice birthday party.”
Tracy Taylor, her family, and Sunday School friends have made the difficult and often challenging lives led by those who are residents of the Haven House a little easier by showing them respect, faith, and love.
Upon leaving the Haven House, a resident grabbed my hand and without knowing why I was there, said, “This is a good and honorable place – you let people know how important it is.” I promised to do just that.
This month we recognize Tracy Taylor as our Extra Miler for Southern Indiana and acknowledge the efforts of the Haven House in our community. Thank you, Tracy (and friends).
Extra Miler Tip of the Month: Tracy believes we all should take time to talk to one another and get to know the people in our midst. She explained, “Wherever you go, at the grocery store, waiting for a bus, or anywhere you are, get to know the person next to you. Everyone is on a journey and have amazing lives and stories to tell. Some are filled with pain and taking a moment with them can make a huge difference in their lives. Let people know you care.”
Tracy also encourages our community to consider supporting the Old Time Southern Gospel Hymn Sing event to benefit the Haven House on Sunday, March 24 at 5 PM at Wall Street United Methodist Church (240 Wall St., Jeffersonville), where a love offering will be accepted. Last year the event raised over $2,500 for the house.
Haven House Facts: At any given time, there are approximately 75 residents in the Haven House. Currently, 11 of the residents are young children. There are many ways in which you can help the Haven House. Volunteer to bring a group and cook a meal, collect and bring items that any home would need (paper towels, napkins, toilet paper, food items, towels, soap, laundry detergent, etc.). They also appreciate any donations made directly to the Haven House grocery account at Olde Towne Grocery Store in Jeffersonville (128 E Maple Street). Every dollar helps.
For more information on how you can help, call the Haven House administrative offices at 812-284-3373.
THE EXTRA MILER: The Clark Band Members
Column Number 90 - February 2013
Photo of Clark Memorial Band: Tom Hilburn, harmonica, Don Allen, trombone, Andrew Chastain, trumpet, Martin Padgett, saxophone, Todd Fonda, vocals, Angela Ryan, vocals, Pete Latino, keyboards, Dave Hunt, guitar & vocals, Gene Oliver, saxophone, Teresa Barnett, vocals, Drew Fisher, bass guitar, Ken Cardin, guitar, David Waiz, drums, Mark McConnell, guitar
HOSPITAL MUSICIANS GIVING IT ALL
By: Carol Dawson
One of Chicago’s top hits from the 70s was spilling out to the sidewalk in front of Stevie Ray’s Blues Bar on a hot Friday night in Louisville. I had heard the Clark Memorial Hospital band (Clark Band) was very good; however, I was sure the music drifting into my head was a recording by the original artist, with the Clark Band on break. Upon entering the establishment, I viewed fourteen musicians on a large stage and they were definitely not on break.
The rest of the evening was equally impressive with one hit after the other coming from a group of twelve men and two women who were clearly having a good time. Everyone in the band has a direct affiliation to Clark Memorial Hospital and they are our Extra Milers for February because they donate every penny of their proceeds to charitable organizations. It actually costs each of the members to participate in the band (gas, instrument, set-up, etc.), but that doesn’t seem to be a problem because of their passion for music and friendships.
Dave Hunt, the band’s lead guitar player and a hospital employee in the Information Services Department, explains, “A lot of bands tend to keep cool, serious expressions on their faces and we couldn’t if we tried because we are having so much fun on that stage.”
While interviewing the band members, it was evident they enjoy their time together, as they laughed and joked with one another. When asked if they ever get into disagreements or arguments, the answer was a quick no. Martin Padgett, sax player and CEO of Clark Memorial Hospital said, “We all get along very well and have had no real disagreements or arguments.” Todd Fonda, a lead singer for the band and also a Clark employee in Food and Nutrition, added, “Maybe we get along so well because we don’t ever need to discuss money – we give it all away and just have a good time playing our music.”
The band plays predominately 70s hits, practices two or three times before each show, and they perform 5-6 times a year, including charitable functions for the Clark Memorial Hospital Foundation. They have donated their proceeds to the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, Crusade for Children, Clark Employee Assistance Fund, and the March of Dimes, totaling more than $15,000.
The band was formed in 2008; with just eight band members and now the fourteen include a strong horns section. Because of scheduling conflicts, the entire band rarely finds the opportunity to practice at the same time, yet somehow it all comes together when they step on the stage to perform. They have been known to get into the music to the point of playing for 3 hours without stopping for a break.
The Clark band has also performed at the Riverstage in Jeffersonville and they always enjoy the spacious platform. Tom Hilburn, the bands harmonica player and a Clark Environment Services employee, enjoys the Riverstage venue because he can simultaneously throw out a line and fish off the side of the stage. Tom indicated he caught a catfish the last time they performed and when asked if he took it home for dinner he responded, “Nah, I’m not into heavy metal.”
Most of the band’s members play in other groups, but it is obvious that this band is where they find their passion for music. Gene Oliver, the group’s sax player and also the hospital’s Chef, said, “Sometimes it is all surreal to be up on that stage and we really get going when people dance to our music.” Don Allen, a trumpet player and Hospital Foundation board member added, “Many of our fans follow us to all of the shows. It is like living a teenage dream to be in a band like this.”
When asked about their fans, Pete Latino, the band’s keyboard player and a physician for the hospital Emergency Department, responded, “We love our fans – they might be a bit more mature, but they truly enjoy the music.” Pete added, “Some of our fans really get into the music and have even thrown their shoes onstage when we play Joe Cocker’s “You can Leave Your Hat On.” This brought about some good natured ribbing from the other band members and Dave Hunt said, “If one of our fans becomes overwhelmed with us or our music, it’s nice to know we have a doctor in the house.”
The band figures their average age is 50, with the oldest member being David Waiz, the band’s drummer and a hospital employee in the Physical Therapy department, and the youngest being Andrew Chastain, a trumpet player and volunteer for the hospital. Andrew, who is 25 years old, hears a lot of teasing because of his age. Gene Oliver said, “He didn’t even know what an 8-track was and when we talk about the songs we want to play, Andrew has to look them up on U-tube because he has often never heard of them.”
The only two women in the band are both singers, Angela Ryan and Teresa Barnett. They were not able to make the interview and planning meeting; however, their band mates were quick to complement their abilities. Gene Oliver said, “They can sing anything asked of them…and they are really good.”
When asked how long they plan to keep the band alive, the room became quiet. Finally Martin spoke up and said, “We really never expected the band to take off so well and to grow so quickly, so we haven’t even thought about when we would quit.” It seems each of the band members are content to live their dreams of playing music for the masses while at the same time contributing to charities they love and support and making our community a better place to live.
The Clark Band will perform next on March 15 at Stevie Ray’s Blues Bar, Louisville.
Clark Memorial Hospital Band members, Southern Indiana is grateful for your time, dedication, and generosity. You are all truly Extra Milers for Southern Indiana.
Extra Miler Tip of the Month: Following the lead of a national advocate of kindness, just before Christmas, thousands of people performed 22 acts of kindness in honor of the 22 who were killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy. Our family participated and every act was received with a grateful and appreciative attitude. You do not have to wait for a tragedy or for the holidays to perform acts of kindness – every day is a good day. Try it – it doesn’t have to involve money. Let someone in front of you at the grocery store line when you have more items, hold the door open when someone is struggling, take dinner to a friend (who isn’t sick), and also to one who is sick, etc.
THE EXTRA MILER:Cody Brock and Dale Doty
Column Number 89- October 2012
The Heroes of March 2, 2012 - By Carol Dawson
The Gilles Family recently recognized Cody Brock and Dale Doty as Extra Milers and heroes. The two men rescued the family after the March 2 Henryville tornado destroyed their home. L to R: Caleb Gilles, Cody Brody, Mia Gilles, Dale Doty, with Trish, Collin and Darrell Gilles.
By: Carol Dawson
To the hundreds of heroes who stepped forward on March 2 to assist our Southern Indiana neighbors from the devastation caused by the tornado – this column is dedicated to you. Specifically, we recognize two men who were first on the scene to help Trish and Darrell Gilles, along with their three young children (Caleb, Collin, and Mia), escape further injury and possibly death after the tornado demolished their home.
Trish and Darrell invited me into their new home last week to recognize two of their heroes, Extra Milers, Dale Doty and his step-grandson, Cody Brock. They spoke about March 2…a day they will never forget.
The Gilles Family have befriended 18 year old Cody and consider him family. Trish refers to the Henryville High School senior as her fourth child. Cody, clearly at ease with the Gilles family, occasionally joins them for dinner and teases his adopted siblings as many big brothers do.
While the family has become well acquainted with Cody, they have not had the opportunity to talk extensively with Dale and to hear his story of the day the tornado ripped through their home and their lives.
Trish sat directly across the table from Dale as he responded to interview questions. She was transfixed by his words and clearly in awe of the heroic efforts he took to save her life. Dale told of the day he and his family watched as the tornado took a path away from his Henryville home.
Once Dale knew his neighborhood had escaped the tornado, he and Cody moved quickly to offer help to those in need. “As soon as the tornado disappeared into the clouds, Cody and I instinctively jumped in the truck to see if anybody needed help,” Dale stated.
Dale thought about driving toward the center of Henryville; however, he felt prompted to turn down another road – the country road leading to the Gilles family home. Dale and Cody didn’t know the Gilles family before that day. Dale explained, “While I wasn’t even sure the tornado had hit this part of town, it was as if I had no other choice but to turn down that road. I strongly believe God was steering us to help this family.”
They made it to a gravel road when Cody saw a man, covered in blood, stumbling up a hill. Behind him was a home torn apart by the tornado. They ran toward Darrell Gilles. With serious multiple injuries, Darrell was willing himself up the hill toward the closest neighbor to find help for his family. Upon seeing Cody and Dale, Darrell immediately turned their attention from himself toward his wife and children.
Upon reaching the bottom of the hill they found three young children standing barefoot, looking down at their mother, who was partially covered by the wreckage of their home. Seriously injured, Trish Gilles couldn’t move – the pain was too intense – just breathing was a challenge. Dale recalls, “The three kids did not appear to be seriously injured but I expected them to be crying and was surprised at how calm they seemed.”
Dale’s first thought was for the safety of the Gilles children because it appeared another tornado may be headed their way. Cody expressed his concern that the children were standing among the glass and shards of wood without shoes as Dale pointed out the hissing wires scattered about the disaster site.
Darrell was making his way back to his family when Cody began carrying the children, one by one, to the safety of their father. Dale told Darrell to take care of the children and promised, “I will stay with your wife.”
As Darrell and the children begin walking toward safety, huge softball sized hail plummeted toward them along with severe wind and rain. They took cover under small pieces of drywall as Cody went to help others. He didn’t get far before sustaining serious injuries himself from the hail. Cody was later treated for a concussion, a gash on his head, and a broken elbow.
In the meantime, Dale was holding true to his promise and focusing his attention on Trish. She had serious injuries that included a crushed pelvis, broken ribs, and punctured lung. In extreme pain and having difficulty breathing, she recalls, “I kept crying out in pain and asking Dale to get me out of there, all the while I heard him promising repeatedly that he would not leave me. He was my only hope of survival.”
Dale begins to choke up as he tries to explain how difficult the situation had become. “Every time I tried to move Trish, she would scream in agony. She was positioned on pieces of broken wood and jagged pieces of debris from the house so I grabbed pieces of clothing and carefully placed them under her.” Being very aware of the crackling of live wires, Dale took a piece of wood and pushed several wires away from Trish’s body.
At this point in the interview, Dale became overwhelmed with emotion, dropped his head, and placed his hands over his face. Trish did not take her eyes off Dale, as tears streamed down her face. Clearly the details of that disastrous day evoke strong emotions for both the rescued and the rescuers. Through the tears, Trish softly reveals, “Dale, you were a stranger, but you never left my side…and I knew throughout it all that you would not leave me.” Nine year old Mia breaks down in tears.
Dale continued, “While trying to comfort Trish, I noticed black clouds moving into the area and feared another storm. I found a small piece of plywood, knelt down beside Trish and held it over her body and my head. As the winds tried to tear the wood from my hands, huge chunks of hail began to fall. Frightened, I prayed to God to keep us safe.”
Many who survived the tornado talk about the stress that accompanies their memories and Dale is no different. “When remembering those moments, when all we had was that small piece of plywood to protect both of us, I recall the terror and then I realize I’m crying.”
Despite the darkness Dale feels when remembering the disaster, there was a somewhat humorous moment. Feeling vulnerable, Trish began painfully tugging at her wet clothing to ensure she was fully covered. Upon realizing her discomfort, Dale tactfully explained he is a grandfather and much too old for her to become worried about modesty. They both laughed at the memory.
Two men soon joined in the rescue effort. With their assistance, Dale once again attempted to move Trish to safety; however, the pain was too intense and he feared further injury. Two EMTs arrived and using a door from the debris as a gurney, they were able to carry Trish to the truck. Despite his injuries, Cody had pulled the truck as close as possible and helped in the effort to get Trish to an ambulance.
After being driven to a main intersection in Henryville, Trish was finally transferred to an ambulance. It is only at that time that Dale and Cody saw the full impact of the tornado. Dale recalls, “We saw the devastation of Henryville – we saw people standing in shock, with their hands held out in wonder and confusion. There were rows of ambulances waiting for those injured…and those who had not survived.”
Cody remembers that day as a nightmare. He vehemently denies the title of hero, stating, “Dale and I really never took time to think about what could happen; we simply reacted as many others did.”
Dale believes firmly that their efforts were, “God’s will.” Throughout the day, he was reminded of a favorite Bible verse, Revelation 21:4, “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” The words continue to provide comfort when Dale struggles with memories of the day the tornado ripped through Henryville and into his life.
Cody and Dale, thank you for being heroes to the Gilles family and for putting their lives above your own. Southern Indiana is proud to call you Extra Milers.
Extra Miler Tip of the Month: Ironically both Dale and Cody offered a similar tip when asked how they would encourage others to step forward in times of crisis. Cody said, “Think about others more than yourself.” Dale simply said, “Remember that life is not all about you.”
The Extra Miler Column took a brief break after the Henryville, Indiana March 2, 2012 deadly F4 tornado - and wrote a series of article (not columns), tracking the Gilles Family - "We Survived" Links will be provided here:
THE EXTRA MILER: Donna VanHook
Column Number 88 - April 2012
Someone Who Cares A Lot
Bob Meyer, Producing Artistic Director for the JHS Theatre Department, prepared to place the Extra Miler pin on Donna Van Hook, as John Templeton (Cat in the Hat) and Columnist Carol Dawson look on.
By: Carol Dawson
Standing in the dark space, my eyes adjust to the darkness as I look up to see a teary eyed yellow bird with one little feather being consoled by a cat in a hat. That cat in the hat knows a lot about that.
Waiting back stage to surprise our Extra Miler, John Templeton (Cat in the Hat) and Ellie Delap (Gertrude) were feeling a bit nostalgic. Both are seniors at Jeffersonville High School (JHS) and this was to be their final high school performance. Standing just behind them, Donna VanHook, our Extra Miler, was doing what she has done best for at least 9 years. She is tugging on a costume and pinning it in just the right place so that it fits properly.
After a performance of the JHS play, “Suessical,” Robin Vissing recommended
Ms. VanHook as an Extra Miler. “She is one of those rare individuals who rises to the occasion time after time, while shunning the spotlight.” Robin said. “My husband and I have had the privilege to work with Donna and have seen her work early into the morning only to be at JHS a few hours later to begin another day; she is a wonderful example of a tireless educator.”
Bob Meyer, JHS Producing and Artistic Director, endorsed the recommendation. He believes Ms. VanHook gets satisfaction from working with the students and also from seeing a project through to completion. Mr. Meyer was extremely pleased her work is being recognized and stated, “Students refer to her as “Ms. V” and they appreciate all the time and energy she contributes to the show process.”
One of those appreciative students is Ellie Delap, who said, “Ms. V is so hardworking and determined. On top of all her efforts, she involves her special needs classes with the making of the set and costumes which is such a special, fun time for them. She's always there when you need her, and I couldn't have hoped for a better person to handle the technical aspects of the shows I've been in at JHS.”
It was Ms. VanHook’s desire to involve some of her students with disabilities into activities with other JHS students that brought her into the theatre department. She felt the drama kids, typically a very accepting and inclusive group of teens, would be good for her students and she was right. “The theatre kids were including the special needs children at every turn,” Ms. VanHook explained.
Soon after Ms. VanHook began helping with costumes, Mr. Meyer discovered her ability to use power tools along with her technical proficiency and before long she gained the title of Technical Director.
Mr. James Sexton, Principal of JHS described our Extra Miler, “Ms. VanHook seems to always be available to help and make things come together. Our Drama Department and program is appreciated by all and the most recent addition of the sound and light booth at the back of our auditorium was planned and designed by Ms. VanHook. She is a wonderful mentor for our students and a “Go To” person for our staff.”
Ms. VanHook doesn’t stop with her theatre work. She is extremely active in her church (Eastside Christian Church) and has spent many summers in Romania working at an orthotic and prosthetic center. During an average week, she may spend as much as 15-20 hours doing church and school related volunteer work and when JHS shows are being produced, the time spent at the school is limitless.
Now, you might think Ms. VanHook could not have a spare minute with her job as a JHS teacher and the double-digit hours of volunteerism; however, you would be wrong. Ms. VanHook and her husband, Bill, were recently approached by an Indiana Department for Child Services caseworker about becoming foster parents.
Because they do not have children of their own, the couple thought foster parenting would be an ideal way to give something to children who may not be getting the support they need. They both come from large families and enjoy being around children so the fit was natural. Ms. VanHook described how she feels about her role as a foster parent, “We just want to give them the best possible start and teach them that they have many possibilities for the future, if they are willing to work hard.”
Our Extra Miler learned the value of volunteering from her parents, as they were extremely giving and caring people of their time, talents, and resources. She reflects upon their guidance when she is caring for children without families, helping students in the JHS theatre department, encouraging students to be inclusive, teaching children with disabilities, or volunteering in other countries.
Dr. Seuss would be proud of our Extra Miler and given the chance he may have told her, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot; nothing is going to get better. It's not.” Thank you, Donna VanHook, for being an Extra Miler for Southern Indiana.
Extra Miler Tip of the Month: Ms. VanHook believes you don’t have to take hours and
hours to volunteer. Even 30 minutes given to help someone else makes an impact that you may never realize. It is so very reciprocal. We never know when we will need help. Think of the community of Henryville. They probably never thought they would need volunteers to help them rebuild their city. Still, when the volunteers were needed, they came. When you are open to volunteering, you will be surprised how many opportunities come forward.
THE EXTRA MILER: Twyman and Sandra Patterson
Column Number 87 -February 2012 - Teaching by Example
Twyman Patterson receives the Extra Miler pin from Brandi Haus, Youth Worker, as Sandra Patterson receives her pin from Laura Fleming-Balmer, Executive Director for the Clark County Youth Shelter.
By Carol Dawson
Does your offer of service or meals to a friend who is sick or suffering typically end with the words, “…just call if you need me, okay?” Generic offers are typically made with sincere intentions and if the friend calls, the promise is fulfilled; however, there is an inherent glitch to a generic offer of support. By nature, most people will not imposition a friend or acquaintance and the SOS call is rarely sent out.
Our Extra Milers this month, Twyman and Sandra Patterson, didn’t make a generic offer of assistance to the Clark County Youth Shelter and Family Services facility in Jeffersonville. Instead, Twyman made a call to the shelter and told them how he and his wife wanted to help and then he asked if his suggestion would be helpful.
Twyman and Sandra offered to provide groceries each month, and they wanted to do the shopping themselves. The Youth Worker who first spoke to Twyman was Brandi Haus. “Mr. Patterson called and asked if he and his wife could purchase $100 worth of groceries the first Wednesday of each month, and obviously we were thrilled to accept,” Brandi explained. “He indicated that he would be able to get a 10 percent senior citizen discount on Wednesdays, allowing for more groceries for the shelter.”
The shelter receives a considerable number of donations from the community in the way of food items and those donations help offset a rather large grocery bill. The average food bill for a week can be as high as $800 (providing 3 meals/ 2 snacks per day for 12 people). Many of the area churches assist by donating leftover food from special events and at least one church also prepares meals for the children and serves them at their church.
Laura Fleming-Balmer, Youth Shelter Executive Director was pleased to offer Twyman and Sandra as Extra Milers because she and the staff believe they fit the description of being quiet-givers. Laura stated, “They have been bringing groceries for our youth for a year and because they are so quick and elusive, I have yet to meet them. She added, “The groceries are dropped off and they do not wait for any type of acknowledgement.”
Laura met the couple through a surprise meeting this past Wednesday when the groceries were dropped off. Twyman was initially by himself, as Sandra wasn’t feeling well that morning. Just like Santa Claus, he spoke not a word, but went straight to his work, dropped off the grocery bags, then turned with a jerk. And before he could lay his finger aside of his nose, Laura and Brandi cornered the man with the gentle smile.
Introductions were made and Twyman received a crash course on how he and his wife fit the definition of an Extra Miler. Laura explained why they wanted him and his wife recognized and Twyman did what all Extra Milers do; he clarified the intent behind the grocery trips was not for recognition. After further discussion, Twyman agreed to pick up Sandra and bring her back for the interview.
Thirty minutes later, Sandra and Twyman walked in to the shelter with their arms intertwined. Sandra said he holds her up when she feels weak, but after being married for 54 years, it was obvious Twyman would be standing close to her as a matter of preference. Brandi asked Sandra if she knew why she was brought to the shelter and she said Twyman told her about the acknowledgment. She then let out a sigh and emphatically said, “But I thought this effort was supposed to be incognito!”
When asked why they were helping the shelter, Sandra said, “It just makes both of us feel good…like we are making a difference for the children.” Sandra and Twyman are both retired school counselors; Twyman from Jeffersonville High School and Sandra from River Valley Middle School.
Sandra is quick to pass the credit for their good deeds to Twyman, “He is the main guy in our project…I am just the support.” Twyman quickly made it clear that the shelter project was a combined effort, adding, “In dealing with young people, we realized there is a second layer in their lives and this is the layer that includes things that are beyond their control…for instance poverty and single parents who may have little time for anything other than working multiple jobs to feed and house their children.”
As there was a consensus across the room, Twyman thoughtfully said, “We hope these young people will one day pass it on.”
When asked to describe one another, Twyman said, “Sandra is kind and gentle…someone who is much better and accomplished than she thinks she is.” Sandra smiled and responded, “Twyman has so many talents and he is witty, romantic, and caring.” Twyman teasingly agreed with her statement and she added, “He is also sarcastic and witty, but those are things I love about him.”
Each week Twyman tries to purchase special grocery items that may not be on the healthy food menu. He rationalized, “Kids need to have food items every so often that they just enjoy, such as pizza, ice cream, or Oreo cookies, so I add these items to the cart.”
The good acts of Twyman and Sandra Patterson have not gone unnoticed by the young people living at the shelter. Brandi recalls one young man sitting at the dinner table doing homework when Twyman dropped off multiple bags of groceries. The boy was puzzled and asked about the man. Brandi explained Twyman and Sandra’s good deed of regular grocery trips. The young resident gave an understanding nod and said, “Oh, I understand, he must have had a kid or grandkid that spent time in this shelter some time.”
Brandi, who refers to our Extra Milers as “adorable,” smiled as she recalled the rest of the conversation with the youth. She explained, “When this kid realized Mr. and Mrs. Patterson had no family member connection to the shelter, he was confused.” He asked why someone would bring food for people they don’t even know…to a person like him. That day, Brandi took the opportunity to teach a young boy about the good hearts of Extra Milers.
That young man learned a lesson of selfless giving that day. He may never forget the example of selfless giving…the Extra Milers who cared enough to help out a group of young people who are going through difficult times and trying to find their way in life. If one day that young man chooses to pass it on, the long range impact of your good deeds are endless. Thank you for being Southern Indiana Extra Milers.
Extra Miler Tip of the Month:
The Youth Shelter cares for as many as 12 residents at a time. Most stay no longer than two weeks. They are in need of many items to care for their young residents, including laundry detergent, paper towels (they indicated there are never enough paper towels), all types of toiletry items, cleaning products, etc.
When asked what the shelter needs in the way of volunteers, they said they are always in need of house sitters. When staff are out with the youth residents and the house is empty, they need someone to simply be there. Because the house is a “safe place,” they are obliged to have someone present at all times. Surprised to hear this would be a difficult volunteer position to fill, Laura explained, “We have many guidelines to adhere to because we are dealing with children, and some volunteers do not like the lengthy application process.” Be an Extra Miler and assist the Clark County Youth Shelter either as a volunteer or with needed items. Their need is ongoing. The contact for Clark County can be made by calling 812-284-5229.
The Floyd County Youth Shelter is also in need of supplies, food and volunteers. To learn about making a donation or volunteer opportunities, please call 812-948-5481.
THE EXTRA MILER: Chad Boseker
Column Number 86 - JANUARY 2012
THE COURAGE TO SAY YES!
Chad Boseker in the middle of several of the First Christian Church Youth Group members:
L to R: Michelle Morgan, Haley Bottorff, Ally Moore, Haylie O'Brien, Extra Miler Chad Boseker, Mallory O'Brien, Patrick Allen, Brandon Hardin
2nd Row: Zachary Boseker, Annie Davis, McKenna Woodard, Kaitlyn Fischer, Dawson Dooley, Kelsey Brown
By Carol Dawson
Life’s journey includes adversity. Misfortune, fear, and sadness are undeniably part of the process of living. As much as we work to avoid adversity, it can serve to ultimately bring a higher level of appreciation for the joy that flows into our lives. Often we realize the greatest bliss when we are able to compare good times against the bad.
Our Extra Miler this month understands these comparisons. Extra Miler Chad Boseker used to sit quietly with his family in the second row pew at First Christian Church in Jeffersonville. He wasn’t one to get too deeply involved in volunteer efforts. He was busy with work, continuing education, and his beloved family. Chad seemed content with his life until adversity hit, changing his path forever.
Chad was twice diagnosed with thyroid cancer; first in July 2008 and again in August 2009. After surviving two surgeries and radiation, something clicked in Chad’s left cerebral hemisphere and he found himself responding more often with, “yes,” rather than “not now.” Chad explains, “What pulled me from the pew to the youth room was the realization that we are all on a timetable and we never know when it will be too late to step forward and do our part.”
Chad’s parents have passed away and he vividly recalls the positive comments about their lives from people who visited during their memorial services. He wonders what his children will one day hear about his impact on others.
Chad’s wife, Stephanie, believes a lot of what Chad does for the youth program stems from his own childhood and also his desire to set a good example and provide valuable direction to his two sons, Zachary and Hayden. She said, “Chad didn’t grow up around a lot of extended family and he quickly adopted the youth into his life as family…they bring out the kid in him.”
After his illness, Chad wanted to get more involved and the church provided the ideal outlet by asking him to expand upon his involvement with the youth from being a supportive parent to volunteering his time to be the program leader. Stephanie explained, “Chad has always been a caring man, but his direction changed after the cancer.”
Chad’s son, Zachary is in the youth program. When asked how he feels about his father’s participation with the program, Zachary responded, “I feel really good about my Dad’s involvement because he relates well to what young people are dealing with – he understands our frustrations and finds effective ways to teach us the right path.”
Others in the youth program agree. Cassidy Padgett is inspired by Chad’s teachings and guidance. She stated, “Chad relates to us very well and he treats us as part of his family.” She adds, “He is like an adult who hasn’t forgotten what it was like to be a teenager.” Cassidy further explained her connection to Chad, “He teaches us to be better people…nicer, and more responsible people and we do this by being closer to God.”
Haylie O’Brien, a senior in the youth group, has been very pleased with her connection to Chad in the past year. “Chad has changed the youth group by pulling us together and teaching the importance of staying connected to one another and also to others outside of our program,” Haylie explained. She believes the youth have benefitted significantly from Chad’s innate ability to connect the experiences young people have during the Jr. and High School years to the teachings in the Bible. She said, “Chad doesn’t just preach to us; he allows us to be ourselves while learning that our faith in God will always pull us through the difficult times.”
Chad, not afraid to discuss his own imperfections, uses his childhood mistakes to bring out discussion from the youth about their own choices. Chad explained, “The kids know I am honest with them and I don’t pretend to know everything or do everything right.” He thought for a moment, then added, “They truly appreciate and respect honesty.”
When asked to provide his favorite quote or verse, Chad didn’t hesitate with a response. “Psalm 23 has always provided me comfort during difficult times,” he said. When life gets complicated, Chad often repeats a portion of the verse, “…even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.”
When asked what he ultimately hoped to instill in the young minds of the group, Chad quickly referred to his mission, “These kids will make choices throughout their lives and will find themselves making some tough decisions…they need to know they can stand confidently on their Christian faith and know how to independently respond.” He added, “If I can teach them the lessons of faith based leadership, my time has been well spent.”
Chad explained that he initially became involved in the program to spend more time with Zachary and that remains much of his motivation; however, he adds that he has come to truly care about each person in the youth program and his care and concern has extended to many of their friends. He has become part of their family and they have become part of his. Chad Boseker is the cool uncle who the young people look up to and who can dispense advice and guidance in a manner that is non-threatening.
Our Extra Miler no longer has to wonder what his children will hear one day at his memorial service. Chad Boseker is one of the lucky ones. He is able to see and hear the impact he is making every day in the lives of a group of kids who consider him a role model who is…and as Haylie puts it, “fantabulous!”
Thank you, Chad Boseker, for being a Southern Indiana Extra Miler. You compared the good against the bad in your life and discovered a key to happiness. By having the courage to say, “YES,” you have honored your family, faith, and a group of young people who needed a leader they could admire and trust.
Extra Miler Tip of the Month: Chad encourages you to make a new year’s resolution to say “yes” and try something new that will give back to your community and to our youth. While some may find teenagers to be difficult to read and a challenge to steer in the right direction, Chad believes honesty and being consistent are the keys to unlocking positive behavior. He also believes we all have the ability to be honest and consistent…so step out of your comfort zone in 2012 and have the courage to say “YES!”
THE EXTRA MILER:Sophia Maxwell and Amber Dumstorf
Column Number 85 - December 2011 - Sisters of the Heart
By Carol Dawson
Max Maxwell places the Extra Miler pin on his daughter, Sophia Maxwell, while Deanna Dumstorf places the pin on her daughter, Amber Dumstorf. Kim Linkins, Wayside Christian Mission Volunteer Coordinator accepts over 35 hand-made pillows for children and residents of Wayside.
In one week, Sophia Maxwell’s father, Max, and Amber Dumstorf’s mother, Deanna, will be married and combining two families. The new household will include Sophia’s older brother and Amber’s younger brother to make a sizable family of six.
Amber is a 12 year old 6th grader at Silver Creek and Sophia is a 13 year old 7th grader at community Montessori. One might presume there would be at least a small amount of rivalry between these two charming and intelligent young girls as they conform to the modified family unit. However, in this case you couldn’t be more wrong.
When introduced by their parents a couple of years ago, Sophia and Amber became instant friends – preferring the same colors, styles, etc. They were even wearing the same style of swimsuit when they met.
Both girls have been involved in volunteer activities for several years. Amber serves on the Student Council of her school and has volunteered several times in soup kitchens. Sophia loves to dance and has entertained in nursing homes on several occasions.
A family member (Aunt Kelly) taught them how to make pillows as a fun project for the girls to do together. Then one day the activity of making pillows turned into more than just fun..
The girls were riding into Louisville and passed by a homeless man on the side of the road. Amber said, “We just began talking about what life would be like if we didn’t have a home and decided we may be able to help by making pillows for homeless families.”
Sophia added, “We decided on the Wayside Christian Mission because they had families with children and once we got the idea of helping a homeless shelter, we just stuck with it.”
Sophia and Amber performed various chores around their respective households in order to make money to purchase much of the material used for the pillows and they set aside at least part of one day each week to sew and stuff the pillows. Friends and family members helped by providing material pieces; thus providing a wide range of colors and designs for the pillows.
The young Extra Milers chose to incorporate their Christian faith into the project and within each pillow is a bible verse or prayer with the hope their gifts will encourage the recipients to one day pass on the goodwill.
Although busy schedules made it difficult to get together for the pillow project, the Sophia and Amber made it a priority to complete the project before Christmas. Still, it wasn’t all serious work, as the girls enjoyed one another’s company and became even closer as they found many opportunities to laugh. Amber explained, “We made so many pillows that we began to do things like sew the pillows closed without the stuffing or sew the opening too small.”
Deanna Dumstorf, clearly proud of the girl’s mission, explained there may be a longevity factor to the project. “Sophia and Amber are hoping to get their church involved and maybe turn this into a ministry for the kids,” Deanna added, “They could all learn to sew and make pillows for homeless families and this could turn into something great for the long term.”
Over 35 pillows were delivered to the Wayside Christian Mission, where up to 65 or more children could be living during the holidays. When the gifts were delivered the weekend after Thanksgiving, Kim Linkins was at the door to greet Sophia and Amber with a big smile. She stated, “These pillows are going to make a lot of children happy…in addition to giving many of them to children, we will also deliver them to homeless veterans, seniors, and people with disabilities who are staying at the shelter.”
I asked each girl individually to describe the other. Amber said, “Sophia is always helpful and super nice.” Not a fan of personal questions, Sophia grappled a bit to find the right words. I asked if she views her relationship with Amber to be as sisters-of-the heart and an instinctive smile swept across her face as she agreed the term fits their relationship perfectly.
Some of us search our entire lives to find a best friend to trust and love unconditionally; someone to connect with automatically and relate closely to while sharing joys, sorrows, hopes, and dreams. Deanna and Max found this in one another and became best friends. They then wrapped their children in that love and their daughters quickly became best friends also.
In turn, Sophia and Amber have chosen to share their happiness and good fortune with others who may not have been as blessed in their lives. You see…when you feel considerable joy, it is a natural instinct to pass it on.
These sisters-of-the- heart are indeed Southern Indiana Extra Milers. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter."
Amber and Sophia, thank you for sharing your kindness with those less fortunate and for not being silent.
Extra Miler Tip of the Month:
Both Extra Milers want other young people to know there is a lot they can do to make a difference. Sophia explains, “People of all ages need to know they can do it – playing video games or just sitting around doing nothing should not be your choice.” Amber shared a similar sentiment, “No matter how busy you are, there is always time to help others.” Amber’s favorite quote is from Soul Surfer’s Bethany Hamilton, “I don’t need easy, I just need possible.” Amber and Sophia want you to discover your own possibilities.
THANK YOU Southern Indiana! Southern Indiana donated over 3,500 cards and letters to our troops overseas. Your kind words will have a positive impact on the men and women serving our country so far away from friends and family this holiday season. Thank you. I wish you each of you love and a Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays.
THE EXTRA MILER: Military Tribute - Bleeding Red, White, and Blue
Column Numbern 84 - November 2011 - Featuring Barbara Reed, Extra Miler
Barbara Reed and her son, Micah Reed, attended the Military Prayer Vigil in 2008, coordinated by the Blue Star Mothers.
By Carol Dawson
Where were you just over 10 years ago on September 11, 2001? I was working for the federal government, with a busy day ahead. Someone ran into my office and said, “Did you hear about the horrible plane crash…a plane hit the twin towers?” By the time a television could be found, a second plane was being forced into the towers. Americans changed that day. We became more vulnerable, exposed, susceptible, and even fearful. Even 10 years later, we momentarily allow the memories to slip into our thoughts as we board planes. Personally, I silently say a prayer before each flight. When in large crowds, I pray for a peaceful assembly.
Many of you know from previous columns that I grew up with the military. We are three generations military strong. My father was a Sgt. Major in the Army and is now buried in Arlington Cemetery. Both brothers recently retired from the Army as Colonels. My niece, Capt. Sidney Baker Roberts, is currently an Army Black Hawk Pilot who recently returned from a year in Iraq. Her husband, Capt. Zac Roberts, is also in the Army and recently returned from the Middle East.
I randomly and automatically thank men and women in uniform for their service and hope you do the same. How else can we honor those who offer up their lives to serve our country? How do we express our gratitude for their dedication to mission?
Every holiday season at least one Extra Miler column is dedicated to our military. In one column you were shown how to thank our military using sign language (when words might not reach their ears), and in another column, information was provided about volunteer opportunities to help our active duty military, veterans, and their families.
In October 2007, this column explained how Southern Indiana could climb aboard the thankful train by submitting cards and letters to our troops overseas during the holidays. Your response was overwhelming. The boxes full of love and admiration from Southern Indiana school children and adults left me with no doubt where your hearts stand when it comes to supporting our troops.
That first year, our community collected over 3,000 cards and letters; more than two-thirds of the cards collected from the entire state. As I counted the correspondence, I recall being drawn to the cards submitted by our school children. One home-made card caught my attention as it was decorated with a large tree full of ornaments and signed with love. The card was found in a batch of cards from a Southern Indiana elementary class and in it was written:
“My teacher told us what you are doing and I cannot believe you did all of that for us. You are so brave. Are you a girl or boy soldier? I sure hope Santa can find you. Can you visit my class when you get home? Merry Christmas. I really love you. Abbie”
There have been thousands of cards like Abbie’s sent from our local schools. Lt. Governor Becky Skillman’s office hosts the “Hoosier Cheer for our Heroes” campaign each year in order to show our military that Indiana cares. Southern Indiana has generously contributed thousands of cards and letters for the past six years, last year sending out more than 40,000 pieces of mail.
There are still thousands of troops in the Middle East fulfilling the mission of our country. Won’t you be part of this effort to show these dedicated men and women that Southern Indiana still cares about them and appreciates their service?
Those who wish to send cards or letters to our troops should drop off their cards and letters no later than COB on November 9 to one of these locations:
News and Tribune offices — 303 Scribner Drive, New Albany, or 221 Spring St., Jeffersonville; One Southern Indiana, 4100 Charlestown Road, New Albany; or First Christian Church, 3209 Middle Road, Jeffersonville.
Some ideas to get you started: Keep your message light-hearted and encouraging. Talk about your family, pets and hobbies, family traditions for the holidays, well-wishes for safety and success. Be creative! Artwork, especially from kids, is always a plus!
Do NOT use envelopes for large numbers of cards or letters; however, envelopes are, of course, acceptable for one or two cards or letters. Do NOT use glitter, confetti or other messy art supplies on your cards or letters that are prone to fall off in shipment. Do NOT include candy, money or other items.
Thanks to all of the sponsors of this campaign and a special thanks to News and Tribune employee, Barbara Reed, for reminding me each year when it is time to begin this campaign by supporting the collection and working with the community. Several years ago, Barbara’s son, Micah Reed, served in the Middle East while in the military. Even with those years behind her, she has never forgotten the stories Micah told of the men and women soldiers who sat through mail call day after day with no correspondence from home. Because of her love and support, Barbara has been an integral part of the holiday card/letter collection for our troops each year and she has done so behind the scenes. Barbara, thank you for being a Southern Indiana Extra Miler!
Extra Miler Tip of the Month:
Encourage your school to participate in the Hoosier Cheer for our Heroes. The cards from our children are often the most popular, but all are appreciated. Make home-made cards with your group or organization – have some fun while being creative. Remember, we have troops with many religious backgrounds…so being inclusive and diverse is encouraged.
THE EXTRA MILER: Josh McCorkle
Column Number 83 - October 2011 - Overcoming Fear by Facing It Head-on
Josh McCorkle receives the Extra Miler pin from his previous Parkview Middle School teacher, Mr. Matthew Brown.
By Carol Dawson
As a young girl, I was reluctant to learn how to ride a bicycle. I was torn between wanting the wind in my hair as I hit the open road with friends and the fear of falling with a splat to the pavement. My father quickly tired of the excuses and one day sat me on the bicycle and pushed the bike forward. I fell hard and as my windblown vision seemed to be shattered, my father said, “Get right back up on that horse and ride again…it will be easier this time.” He was right.
My father believed fear should not dictate life’s journey. Our Extra Miler, 12 year old Josh McCorkle was given similar guidance after he was bitten by a dog a little over a year ago. Before the dog bite, Josh loved animals, particularly dogs. However, anxiety quickly set in and his mother, Stacy McCorkle, decided to take action.
Stacy had been volunteering with the Southern Indiana Animal Rescue and she decided it was time to get Josh right back on the horse. It didn’t take much coaxing before Josh was involved with every aspect of the rescue group. He started volunteering much of his free time to the non-profit group tasked with caring for animals in need of loving families.
Josh volunteers to do whatever is needed to help the rescue group animals. He explained, “The work of Southern Indiana Animal Rescue has been a good experience for me.” Josh adds, “We pick up strays, retrieve pets that can no longer be cared for by their owners, and sometimes we pull animals from shelters to find them good homes.”
Southern Indiana Animal Rescue does not have a building. Instead the volunteers find foster families for the animals until good homes can be found. Josh has learned that the animals needing the most help are often the ones that are the most afraid. He clarified, “The animals learn to fear people when they have been abused and sometimes we cannot even get them to come into a house because they are so afraid of being hurt.”
As Josh talks, his insight shows a maturity and sensitivity well beyond his years. He has learned to turn fear into power and to focus that power to make a difference in the lives of animals.
Josh, a 7th grade student at Parkview Middle School in Jeffersonville, was submitted as an Extra Miler by his 6th grade Language Arts teacher, Mr. Matthew Brown. Mr. Brown remembered the talks he had with Josh last year about the work he was doing for the rescue group. He referred to Josh as a young man with a wonderfully vivid imagination and strong work ethic. Mr. Brown said, “It isn’t typical to see someone so young who is willing to dedicate time and energy into volunteering.” He adds, “Josh is an exceptional young man.”
Josh explained that much of his inspiration comes from the feeling of satisfaction he gets when he is volunteering with the animals. The rescue stories he likes the most are those with happy endings. Josh said, “Sometimes rescued dogs are returned because they don’t fit in with the family, but then we end up finding an even better fit with another family and you just know these were the people that were meant to have this dog in their family.”
When asked for one word that describes himself, Josh responded, “Motivated.” Josh was motivated initially by a need to overcome a fear and in the process; he found the contentment one feels when selflessly dedicating time to provide love and support where needed.
Josh is also an active Boy Scout and gives credit to his mother for keeping him involved in various activities. “My mom encouraged me to not let fear take over my life and although she was already somewhat involved as a volunteer for the rescue group, she became very involved knowing it would help me.”
Like Josh and Stacy, a famous man named Mohandas Gandhi also knew the importance of how we treat animals, and he once said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
Our Extra Miler this month, Josh McCorkle agrees and backs it up by doing his part in ensuring as many animals as possible are being cared for in a loving family environment. Josh concluded our interview with this emphatic statement, “Nothing, and I mean nothing, compares to the feeling you get when you have done something well for someone else.”
Josh McCorkle quickly got back on the horse and in the process, he became an Extra Miler.
Thank you, Josh, for easing the suffering of innocent animals and for being an Extra Miler for Southern Indiana. Your work truly makes a positive difference in our community.
Extra Miler Tip of the Month:
Josh wants readers to know there are a lot of animals that are in need of good homes. He encourages families to consider adopting from rescue groups or shelters. Josh also encourages other young people to step up and volunteer for our community doing something that you enjoy. He guarantees you will receive more than you can give.
Petfinder has an internet listing of organizations in Southern Indiana where animals in need of a loving family can be found. Go to: www.petfinder.com
THE EXRA MILER: Gale Dunlap and Michael Kidwell
Column Number 82 - September 2011
Conrad Moorer, Pulpit Minister for Northside Church of Christ (L) and Mark Eddy (R) celebrate as the Extra Milers receive their pins. Angela Kidwell places the Extra Miler pin on her husband, Michael, while Addie Dunlap places the pin on her husband, Gale.
By Carol Dawson
A local business leader was recently voted to serve on a community board that has been in turmoil for a couple of years. He was approached after the selection and asked, “Why do you want the headache of putting yourself in the middle of the storm?” His response was, “It isn’t that I WANT to be in the position, but rather I NEED to be in this position.” He added, “You see, I have been called to this duty and despite the weight of the task, I must become involved.”
Our two Extra Milers this month also firmly believe they have been called to duty with a goal to make our community a better place to live.
I was talking recently with Mark Eddy, Executive Director for Leadership Southern Indiana, when the conversation turned to this column. Mark said he knew of a church full of Extra Milers. The church is the Northside Church of Christ in Jeffersonville and specifically, he mentioned two individuals he felt met and exceeded the standards set for Extra Milers. He named Michael Kidwell and Gale Dunlap.
Mark explained, “Michael saw a need in our community and asked our church congregation to become involved.” Michael Kidwell knew there were hungry people in Clark County and asked others to journey with him to provide meals to these individuals on a weekly basis. For over a year, the Northside Church of Christ ministry team, referred to simply as Exit 0, has been steadfastly preparing and serving food to Clark County individuals who are without food and typically homeless.
Michael’s determination has been unwavering and the ministry grew to include a monthly project to feed hungry families at the church. While the Exit 0 ministry feeds approximately 50 individuals each Thursday, the Saturday night church effort feeds 125 or more individuals. Michael was very quick to advise that he is just a small cog in the wheel. He emphatically stated, “This is a total team effort,” adding, “It is not about me, it really isn’t.”
Michael advised that his efforts are based upon what God has called him to do to make the world a better place for people who may not be able to help themselves. Michael said it all started with a book he read, “Crazy Love,” by Francis Chan. The words he read prompted his heart to do more for those who are less fortunate. He said, “What may seem to be crazy to others is what I am called to do because I am a Christian.”
One who swiftly responded to Michael’s call for help with feeding the hungry was Gale Dunlap. Convincing an Extra Miler like Gale to allow a column to be written about him was no easy task. It was only when it was explained that the information could help the ministry did Gale agree to be recognized.
Gale minimized his involvement in the two ministries. He claimed, “I am nothing more than the cook…it is all the others who are helping who should be recognized as Extra Milers.” Gale states he has been cooking nearly all of his 75 years and honed his skill while in the Army National Guard. He concedes the work can be tiring, but admits, “…it is always a good kind of tired.” Gale adds, “Keeping active by helping others wards off pain and keeps me alive.”
Gale’s loving wife, Addie, pulled me to the side after she placed the Extra Miler pin on Gale’s shirt and advised, “Gale is a hard-working and dedicated man who seems to always either be cooking or planning what he will be cooking for the next meal.” She adds, “Still, he refuses to take any credit for his efforts.”
I had already discovered what Addie said was true. The evening before the presentation, I had received a voice message from Gale. In the message he wanted to follow up our interview to be absolutely sure I understood that he was not a pivotal player in the two food ministries. Gale emphasized the concept came entirely from Michael and the credit goes to all who volunteer to help.
Conrad Moorer, the Pulpit Minister for Northside Church of Christ, was pleased to have Michael and Gale recognized for their volunteer ministry work and was not at all surprised to hear they were promoting the rest of the congregation for their efforts to support the food ministries. Moorer described Michael and Gale as being exceptionally dedicated and caring toward the community, adding, “Come rain, shine or even snow, these men, along with others, ensure the Thursday night Exit 0 meal is served.”
There are other groups and organizations that provide food to our hungry community on the remaining days of the week. Conrad stated, “These men and others who are serving less fortunate individuals are motivated by the fact that they want to be like Christ – they know they are using their talents to touch lives in a positive manner.”
Our Extra Milers are hard working men who are quietly and willingly serving others and they are doing so despite any hardships that may fall in their paths. They do this because they know it isn’t about WANTING to be there, it is about NEEDING to be there, and at some point needing and wanting simply have become one in the same.
Michael, Gale, and all who are out there feeding our hungry community and taking care of their needs, thank you for being Southern Indiana Extra Milers.
Extra Miler Tip of the Month:
Michael and Gale want to emphasize that there are hundreds of people in our community who are not doing well in this stressed economy. Many are hungry and without food. Think about what it would be like to not know how you will be able to feed your family. The time is now to step forward and help others less fortunate. It feels good when you are walking the talk.
THE EXTRA MILER: Barbara Long Harkins
Column Number 81 - August 2011
By Carol Dawson
Barbara Long Harkins and Anita Burner, original Girl Scout Leaders and organizers for the "Dream Come True Playground, providing acknowledgments during the Grand Opening.
"My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me." Henry Ford
I am blessed with many best friends who have influenced my life; however, there has been one person who has influenced me the most and is the inspiration behind this column. Everything I know about loving my neighbor, I learned from Barbara Long Harkins (Barbie)…and she continues to provide inspiration to all who know her.
We first met during our junior year at Ft. Knox High School. She was the General’s daughter who didn’t see class difference. She was the beautiful and popular girl who opened her heart to everyone as a friend. She was the intelligent girl who chose to spend her summers working with children with serious learning disabilities instead of earning spending money.
Barbie and I were Army Brats and close friends during our junior year of high school, before my father was stationed in Ankara, Turkey and we were moved out of country. Despite the miles, we remained friends. People are drawn to Barbie and she easily makes “best” friends.
Several years ago I discovered Barbie was on a mission – to acquire funding to build a playground in her hometown of Harrisonburg, Virginia, for children with disabilities. This dream was for a playground where all children, including those with disabilities, could share laugher as they experience the adrenaline rush and joy of playtime.
In February 2001, a group high school Girl Scouts met in a Harrisonburg, Virginia classroom with two of their group leaders, Barbara Harkins Long and Anita Burner. During this meeting, the girls discussed possible community service projects for their Gold Award.
The girls determined they wanted to design and build a playground where children with and without disabilities would be able to play together. The idea and dream began that day. Barbie’s daughter, Katie Harkins, was in the Girl Scout troop. The girls researched locations of existing accessible and inclusive playgrounds in Virginia and found none nearby. They researched playground equipment companies, began pricing equipment, and raised the initial $22,000 toward the project before the end of the Girl Scout phase.
Katie is proud of her mother’s determination to see the playground vision become a reality, “My mom believed in this project from the very beginning and it was largely her dedication that made this dream come true."
A meeting was set up with the Assistant Director for the Harrisonburg Department of Parks and Recreation, David Wigginton, and the playground’s wings began to form. However, getting those wings to fly turned out to be a longer process. There were grants to write, volumes of research to review, donations to raise, and stacks of approvals/certifications to acquire. Well before completion, the girls grew up and moved on to college and work.
While they never lost sight of their playground goal; one person’s dedication remained constant throughout the years. Barbie had no intention of allowing the dream to fall short and was relentless in raising funds and pushing the vision forward.
David Wigginton understands Barbie’s zeal for the project. He said, “The community need for this playground was never more evident than when we learned there were at least 700 children in special needs classes enrolled in the Harrisonburg city school system. Harrisonburg had nothing in the way of playground equipment that even came close to accommodating this number of children and the nearest playground that could do so was over 100 miles away.”
Nine years after the Girl Scouts started the project, the city of Harrisonburg officially opened “A Dream Come True Playground;” fully accessible to all children. Harrisonburg Mayor Richard Baugh described his enthusiasm for the project.
"A Dream Come True Playground is one of Harrisonburg's most successful enterprises by virtually any measurement,” he said. “Part of the city's function is to provide various forms of space that can be used for the public's enjoyment; however, no one anticipated the magnitude of the positive response to this park. It is accessible for all children to interact and play together, including those with disabilities. It has been and continues to be one of the most heavily utilized facilities in our public parks system. The primary credit goes to those who had the original vision for this place, such as Barbara Long Harkins."
Melissa Macklin Vigen, a best friend to Barbie for nearly 40 years, knows very well how much time and energy her friend put into making the playground dream become reality. “Barb's impact on the people she knows, the friends that she's made, and the community as a whole, will always resonate in our hearts and like water, ripple and spread reaching further than we can imagine," Melissa adds, “Barb is an angel in disguise. She is the bravest person I know as she quietly helps others while dealing with and never complains about her own illness.”
Barbie has been dealing with a serious illness of her own for many years and has never allowed her pains to stop putting others before herself. Her accomplishments are significant and there is no doubt in my mind that she is not stopping now.
Barbie’s college roommate and “best” friend, Robin Hevener, expressed her feelings about Barbie’s accomplishments. Robin stated, “I've always admired the way Barb puts the needs of others before her own. Her empathy for special needs children helped provide the inspiration for the playground. Barb recognized the need for a facility where all children could play together and her steadfast commitment over the years helped make it a reality.”
Melissa included this quote by Flavia Weedn to describe her friend, "Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for a while, leave footprints on our hearts, and we are never, ever the same."
Barbara Long Harkins should never doubt the footprints she has left on thousands of hearts. Thanks for making this beautifully equipped and accessible playground a focus in your life, enabling children with disabilities to play side by side with their friends. Laughter rings out across this playground in Virginia because of her passion for equality. Thank you, Barbie, for being an Extra Miler and for bringing out the best in others.
Extra Miler Tip of the Month:
Barbie’s friends knew she would not want personal recognition; therefore, this column will be a surprise. Conversely, she is always happy to know when others are interested in the playground and want to help expand it or start one in their area. Currently, donations are being requested to purchase a “Liberty Swing.” This is a wheelchair friendly swing (www.libertyswing.com.au/). If you can help, go to the playground website at: www.adreamcometrueplayground.org. There is a contact email if you have a dream of your own to create an accessible playground for children in our area.
Barbie Long Harkins and friend, Melissa Macklin Vigen
Columns are dated and numbered -
most recent archived column found at the top~
Karen Decker places the Extra Miler pin on Giscard Ciney
EXTRA MILER -George Ellis - Coloring Our World
Column Number 80 - July 2011
Amanda Wagoner Meade, First Christian Church Associate Minister, places the Extra Miler pin on George Ellis' shirt, in recognition of his status as an Extra Miler for Southern Indiana.
By Carol Dawson
“Imagination is the beginning of creation.” George Bernard Shaw
Creative people tend to bring full color to an otherwise monochrome world. Our July Extra Miler, George Ellis, turns life’s dull and numbing neutrals into vibrant and joyful colors.
George inspires others around him to dig a little deeper to discover the often suppressed bright segments of their mind and life. He knows personally how darkness can grind into the mind. In the past several months, both his son and his wife have passed away.
Through the grief, George found a light much brighter than his sorrow that would guide him…his faith. He explains his motivation to power up each day, “Despite extremely significant losses in my life, I have learned to concentrate on the blessings instead of focusing on the negative.”
Gary Straub, FCC Interim Minister, described George’s can-do attitude, “If you do NOT want something done, don’t call George; however, if you want a project dragged across the finish line, he’s your guy!” Gary adds, “He has a beautiful heart for God.”
George works in the communication and graphic design field and unquestionably loves the work. His creativity is boundless and all the credit is given to his faith.
Several years ago, George and First Christian Church - Jeffersonville, entertained a mutually beneficial merger. It was agreed that George would move his small graphic arts consulting business into one of the church administrative offices. From the Jeffersonville office, George shares his creativity, inspiring attitude, and limitless talent with the congregation and community.
George specifically feels a strong bond with youth. He is currently the volunteer President for the Jeffersonville Evening Optimist Club and is involved in creating programs to help youth in our community learn respect and to realize there are people who truly care about their well-being.
Amanda Wagoner Meade, Associate Minister for First Christian Church, is impressed with how George lives his life inspiring others. She described one of her favorite stories of George’s good deeds.
The story begins earlier this year, soon after his wife Barbara passed away. Barbara was extremely devoted to sewing, quilting, and craft projects. She had amassed thousands of items relating to her passion and these items were warehoused in a large storage unit. George chose to donate the material and crafting supplies to First Christian to be sold to the community. He asked that all the proceeds go to the youth program. Through that sale we not only raised a large sum to support the future of our church, the youth, but that material went on to make prayer blankets for cancer patients, skirts and dresses for girls in Africa, prayer shawls for nursing homes, caps for newborns and dozens of other ministries all over our community. Out of the darkness of his grief, George reflected the light and power of Christ through this act of generosity and compassion.
Sue Padgett, FCC Congregation Board Chair, describes George as, “He always has an ulterior or interior motive, to be connected to Christ and lives out of a compassionate place.”
George connects with those who are struggling with loss and is quick to recommend that those individuals look to their faith community for love and guidance on how to pull up and out of despair. George explained, “I had to learn to depend on God and trust He will get me through the bad times.” He added, “I also learned to consider others who are suffering above myself and to not let the small pestering concerns occupy my mind.”
George is a living example of how to overpower extreme sorrow with grace, dignity, and respect for life. Gary Straub provided a Helen Keller quote that fits George, “Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.”
George views his creativity as a gift from God. He plans to continue using his talents, along with the ability to persevere, to lift our community to a higher level of worth and dignity – starting first with our youngest citizens.
Thank you, George Ellis, for being our Southern Indiana Extra Miler.
Extra Miler Tip of the Month: George understands many people are experiencing overwhelming and crushing grief in their lives; however, do not despair. These feelings can be obliterated by turning to and trusting your friends, family, and faith. He shares a favorite faith story written many years ago by Mary Stevenson:
Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky. In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand. Sometimes there were two sets of footprints, other times there were one set of footprints. This bothered me because I noticed that during the low periods of my life, when I was suffering from anguish, sorrow or defeat, I could see only one set of footprints. So I said to the Lord, "You promised me Lord, that if I followed you, you would walk with me always. But I have noticed that during the most trying periods of my life there have only been one set of footprints in the sand. Why, when I needed you most, you have not been there for me?" The Lord replied, "The times when you have seen only one set of footprints, is when I carried you."
George claims there were many footprints surrounding him in the sand when he was feeling low. He credits those footprints with the energy needed to move beyond the heartache and pain and encourages you to search for those people in your life. For those providing the footprints, focus on listening and offering encouragement, and yes…when the need is the greatest, pick them up and carry them across the sand.
THE EXTRA MILER: STOP BULLYING -SAVE A LIFE
Column Number 79 -June 2011 By Carol A. Dawson
Extra Miler Kevin Jacobsen, with his son, Kameron "Kam" at the last game played at Shea Stadium in NYC.
“Together we will change the world. One child at a time.” Kevin Jacobsen, Sr.
An enforcement officer recently spoke with me after sitting through a workplace harassment workshop. He spoke of his part time job duties as a security officer at a local middle school and expressed a great concern for children who do not seem to fit in with the majority students. The officer said, “Every day I see cruel and hateful harassment from many of the students and my job is to step in if they become violent.”
He hesitated and then questioned, “Do you think I should be stepping in to stop the bullying, even when there is no physical violence?” It was easy to see by the emotion on this young man’s face that revealed he already knew the answer.
We all know the answer; however, it isn’t always an easy task to step into the middle of a bully attack. Hesitation to respond often comes from fear the alpha-dog will redirect the battle on to our turf. There are also many who live by the school-of-hard-knocks mentality; accepting harassing behavior as a natural part of childhood.
Kevin Jacobsen, Sr. can give you his answer without a second thought. He knows the decision whether or not to become involved could result in devastating consequences. Kevin and Wanda Jacobsen know firsthand what bullying can do to a child’s spirit.
Recently, Kevin’ mission to eradicate bullying in our schools was the focus of an article written by Marlo Thomas. The article caught my attention while researching the subject of bullying.
Marlo Thomas referenced a website created by Kevin, in memory of his son, Kameron: KindnessAboveMalics.org. The website’s home page opens up to a photo of Kameron smiling and giving the thumbs-up sign. It is nearly unbearable to see this joyful face and know how the story of his life ends.
Kameron Jacobsen was just 14 years old when school bullying became too much for him to endure. Kameron was so overwhelmed by the torment that he committed suicide. There is no way to soften the blow of that reality. To endure bullying and harassment can be overwhelming at any age. However, it seems to take the harshest toll during those vulnerable teen years when children want so much to be optimistically embraced by their peers.
When I was a child, bullies predominantly attacked their targets face to face. It was still painful, but a bit simpler to remedy and for others to step forward and become involved.
The bullying problem today is exasperated by the fact that most of the tormentors are invisible to their target and also to those who would like to provide protection. The bullies perform their cruel and cowardly acts behind internet and cell phone shields, acting out their anger and frustrations without ever being identified. We have a new bully in town and these individuals are referred to as cyber-bullies.
According to current statistics, at least one out of every four teenagers across America is bullied in their schools and/or neighborhoods. The number of children who refrain from going to school every day because of fear of being bullied is 160,000; and each month, nearly 400,000 students are physically attacked inside their secondary schools.
If you think those numbers are staggering, online bullying statistics are even worse for our children. Forty-three percent of our young people are cyber-bullied, while fifty-three percent admit to having said something mean and hurtful to another child online.
While diversity continues to be a hot topic in the U.S., many children are not getting the message from their authority figures. Our children continue to ostracize and criticize those different from themselves. The child who bullies without significant repercussions may continue the aggressive behavior into adulthood, often leading to more violent physical behavior. Likewise, the child who is bullied and ridiculed may seek revenge in later years.
Web sites like the one dedicated to Kameron are on-line to help parents, students, teachers, administrator, and employers learn how to deal with the complex subject of bullying. The government has even stepped into the mix (www.stopbullying.gov/), to provide guidance and support.
Going beyond Southern Indiana, this month we thank Kevin Jacobsen, Sr. for being an Extra Miler and advocate for our children who suffer the anguish of oppressive bullying behavior.
Kevin explained, “We are encouraged to continue our mission of changing the social landscape that Kameron is a victim of. As we travel this road it becomes clearer to us that the need for our schools and communities to recognize this new phenomenon of 14/7 bullying is a national health issue and must be treated as such.”
Kevin provides a voice for his beloved son and that voice is teaching our children how to get help before bullying becomes unbearable. It is as if Kameron is giving the thumbs-up to his father and all who are taking a stand against bullying and creating more respectful environment for our children.
Extra Miler Tip of the Month
There are a multitude of materials on the internet with free programs you can use to present lessons in your child’s school to educate children at every age how to be respectful of one another in person and through the internet– despite our differences.
Some tips provided on those web sites include:
If you or someone you know is being cyberbullied, know that it does not have to be this way. There things you can do to help you and your friends:
For parents, the sites provide this guidance to help prevent cyberbullying:
Communicate with your children. Set up a daily time to check in with your son or daughter, and listen to any concerns about online activities that they are involved in. Talk specifically about cyberbullying and encourage your children to tell you immediately if they see or experience it.
Be aware of where your children go online. Familiarize yourself with the technology they are using.
Develop and enforce rules. Work together and come to a clear understanding about when, where, and for what purpose phones and computers can be used. Develop clear rules about what is and what is not appropriate online. Decide on fair consequences and follow through consistently.
Talk with your children. Do not just ignore the bullying problem or hope it will go away. Tell your child that you are concerned and that you'd like to help.
Empathize with your child. Tell him or her that cyberbullying is wrong, that it is not their fault, and that you are glad he or she had the courage to tell you about it. Do not assume that your child did something to provoke the bullying. For instance, do not ask things like, “What did you do to aggravate the other child?”
Work together to find solutions. Ask your children what he or she thinks can be done to help, and reassure him or her that the situation can be handled and still keep them safe.
Document ongoing cyberbullying. Work with your children to record bullying incidents. Write down what happened, where, who was involved, and when it occurred. Find out how your child reacted and how the students bullying, bystanders, and adults responded.
Contact law enforcement. Police can respond if the aggressive behavior is criminal. The following may constitute a crime:
Threats of violence
Child pornography and sexting
Taking a photo image of someone in a place where he or she would expect privacy
Harassment, stalking, or hate crimes
Obscene or harassing phone calls or text messages
Be Persistent. Talk regularly with your child to see whether the cyberbullying has stopped. If the bullying persists or escalates, you may need to contact the appropriate people again or talk with an attorney. Don’t give up.
Be sure that your school’s rules and policies address cyberbullying.
THE EXTRA MILER: Pay It Forward Week
Column Number 78: April 20, 2011
The Extra Milers: BE PART OF SOUTHERN INDIANA’S WEEK OF KINDNESS
By Carol A. Dawson
“Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person." - Mother Theresa
Julie Schwerer, Executive Director of the Bliss House (Jeffersonville) is a bundle of energy with a contagious spirit. She can speak at warp speed when truly excited and last week she may have broken through the sound barrier as she spoke of an anonymous donation to the Bliss House.
Julie explained her excitement, “I just received a call from a man who said he wished to donate a gold coin worth at least $1,500 to the Bliss House!” There was only one stipulation. He must remain anonymous. Julie knew immediately that she had just spoken to an Extra Miler.
The Bliss House received $1,719.12 in exchange for the gold coin. The money will assist the Bliss House in their mission of long term recovery for women who are addicted to alcohol and other drugs.
There are many charitable organizations today that are in dire need of funding and supplies to continue helping those in need. It is time for our Extra Milers to spring into action.
International Pay It Forward Week is April 28 - May 7. Governor Daniels signed a proclamation this year to encourage and recognize kindness throughout our state. The web site is: www.payitforwardindiana.com.
The idea was inspired by the movie "Pay It Forward." The movie inspired random acts of kindness all over the world. Individuals and groups who reach out to help others in need are abundant in Southern Indiana and we are asking you to escalate efforts during Pay It Forward Week.
Will you pick up the bill for someone in a restaurant or behind you in the drive through line? Will your organization help clean up from the flooding in our community? Possibly you could take flowers to residents in a nursing home or pick up trash along the road.
You could bake cookies for a neighbor or help an elderly or disabled person with yard work. Maybe your class can make get well cards for patients in the local hospital or encourage students to smile as they greet others during Pay It Forward Week and record the response this action generates.
Consider making a trip to the local animal shelter and grooming or walking the animals. The possibilities are endless and can be low or no cost.
You might consider taking your children to the grocery store and allow them to help select various non-perishable food items to donate to your local food pantry? Local food pantries have been strained by the bad economy.
The Jeffersonville Center for Lay Ministries’ Executive Director, Matthew Hudson, was shopping for groceries to replenish their food supply this week. The donated food items have not been keeping up with the demand.
There are several local organizations helping families with food donations and they all need help. For information on the organizations providing food pantries and other related assistance in your area, contact Human Services, Inc. at 812-376-9431 or (800) 296-8026. Human Services, Inc. serves Harrison, Floyd, Clark Scott, Jefferson and several other counties.
Additional suggestions for acts of kindness can be found on the Indiana Pay It Forward website. Please do not wait for someone else to step up and begin a Pay It Forward project…start it yourself and start it today.
Get creative and please let us know about your act(s) of kindness, your group’s project, or kind act(s) in which you were the recipient. Send an email with the details to: Cdawson@eeoguidance.com
The News-Tribune will also publish several submissions from Indiana’s altruistic week of joyful giving. Whether you donate diapers to the local woman’s shelter or spend an entire day smiling and wishing others a great day, all of Southern Indiana wins and trust me…you are going to love winning.
To our anonymous gold coin donor, thank you for being a Southern Indiana Extra Miler. Many will Pay It Forward because of your gift. “…and I think to myself - what a wonderful world.”
Tip of the Month: Go to the web site www.payitforwardindiana.com and print business cards you can give to anyone who is a recipient of your acts of kindness. If you do not have access to a computer or printer, I would be happy to print some cards for you…contact the Evening News or send me an email.
We lost an Extra Miler. Gene Thomas was recognized in 2007 for the joy he passed on to others through caring words and kindness cards he handed out to anyone he thought needed some good cheer. He will be missed.
THE EXTRA MILER: Women of Love and Faith
Column Number 77: April 10, 2011
At the young age of three, Lucille (Lucy) was diagnosed with cancer. Her parents were devastated when told their precious only child had leukemia. From the day of the diagnosis, it seemed Lucy kept the revolving door moving in and out of Riley Hospital for Children (Indianapolis). This day, Lucy was in the hospital for a bone marrow transplant. Although she had come to know and love the friendly staff at the hospital, today she was particularly agitated, as if she knew this procedure would be more difficult than the others.
s Lucy cried, her mother, Manda, was fighting an emotional breakdown. She ran into the hall in an effort to hide her tears. When Manda returned to the room, Lucy was no longer crying, but instead, dozing off to sleep cuddling a small puppy pillow. The puppy pillow had bright colored ears and a smiling face and Manda smiled as the gently touched her daughter’s tiny hands wrapped around the pillow. Manda had not seen this pillow before and didn’t know who gave it to Lucy, but none of that mattered. Her daughter was comforted and that meant the world to her.
This scene is played out often at Riley Hospital for Children and the puppy pillow very well may have come from our two Extra Milers and the New Albany Tri Kappa Associate Chapter. Since the 1920s, the women of Tri-Kappa have donated cuddly stuffed dolls and animals to sick children. In the early 1920s, Tri Kappa formed a bond with Riley Hospital for Children. When our Extra Milers were called upon by their chapter to help with the puppy pillow project, they didn’t hesitate to answer the call.
Mary Latimer and Eileen Mullineaux didn’t take their task lightly – they went the extra mile. Mary and Eileen purchased the materials and devoted themselves to sew 108 puppy pillows to be painted and stuffed by Floyd Central High School students.
I met Mary and Eileen at the April meeting of the New Albany Tri Kappa Associate Chapter and was not surprised when they both were very clear about the fact that they do not deserve accolades for their volunteer efforts. “Goodness,” Eileen said, “I didn’t do anything special.” Mary was also quick to let it be known that she does not deserve the Extra Miler status, “I didn’t do anything that anyone else wouldn’t do.”
However, you will not get the same response from their fellow philanthropists of the Tri Kappa. The admiration for these two women was evident as they were each given an Extra Miler pin.
Eileen Mullineaux grew up in an environment of volunteerism. Her parents were often found spending extra time at their church to help those less fortunate and Eileen was by their side. She attends Central Christian in New Albany and continues her volunteer efforts in the church. When asked what motivates her to do so much for our Southern Indiana community, Eileen is straight forward with her response. “I never want to be idle,” Eileen said, “I can help others, along with myself, by staying active in my community.”
Eileen also works with the Interfaith Community Council preparing food for families in need and utilizing her sewing abilities whenever the need arises.
Mary Latimer is equally active within her church, Wesley Chapel United Methodist. Like Eileen, she uses her sewing skills as needed in her church and within the community. Mary’s projects include sewing prayer blankets and quilts, volunteering at the welcome center, assisting with Bible study and much more.
Volunteering simply comes naturally to Mary. She not only uses her sewing skills for the puppy pillows and church blankets, she has also sewn many fleece blankets for the children of Riley Hospital. When asked what compels her to volunteer her time, Mary said, “I just love people and the more I can be involved, the better it is for me.” She added, “It is so wonderful when you can touch the life of another person in a positive way.”
Both women are dynamic members of their Tri Kappa Associate Chapter and both are actively providing positive influences in the lives of their children and grandchildren. These women show our community that aging has absolutely nothing to do with retiring from life. Eileen and Mary respond to people in need and they do so through sincere, kind and caring hearts.
The work of our Extra Milers reminds me of a favorite Dr. Seuss phrase, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” Mary Latimer and Eileen Mullineaux, Southern Indiana is better because of the years you have spent caring a whole awful lot. Thank you continuing to be Extra Milers for Southern Indiana.
Extra Milers Tip of the Month: Eileen and Mary believe we all have gifts to give and we should continue to stay active and give generously when needed. Everyone has a talent that can benefit those in need. Find and use that talent to stay busy helping your community.
THE EXTRA MILER: Caring in the Court
Column Number 76: February 2011
Judge Jerry Jacobi and Susan Knoebel place the Extra Miler pins on Dr. Heather Henderson (Left) and Dr. Mary Ellen Peacock, volunteers for the Clark County Drug Treatment Court
The young man walked to the microphone to address the large crowd. He gazed upward momentarily and drew in a deep breath before he faced the audience in the courthouse. He then began describing his journey in a confident and articulate manner – a journey that took him from an orange jumpsuit and shackles to this day of celebration.
The date was January 13, 2011 and the speaker, Nick Mattingly, was one of seven graduates from the Clark County Drug Treatment Court. Nick’s story began much like many others who become involved and addicted to drugs and alcohol; however, his story would progress to a much happier conclusion than many others. Nick and his fellow graduates were celebrating their new lives of sobriety. Lives changed, in part, because of the two women we are recognizing this month as Southern Indiana Extra Milers.
Dr. Heather Henderson-Galligan and Dr. Mary Ellen Peacock are not only recognized by the court system and Judge Jerry Jacobi for their outstanding volunteer efforts in the Drug Treatment Court, but also by those who make it through as graduates. The admiration was obvious as the two women, affectionately known as “Dr. HH-G” and “Dr. P.,” were acknowledged as Extra Milers after the graduation ceremony.
Both women were genuinely surprised by the recognition and felt it was undeserved…a true mark of Extra Milers. Judge Jacobi beamed when responding to questions relating to the volunteer efforts of the two women and explained, “Clark County has two outstanding professional psychologists who volunteer to participate in our weekly review of treatment progress and to attend our status hearings in court and they are excellent additions to our program.”
Both women have been volunteering for Drug Treatment Court for many years. Dr. HH-G has been involved since Judge Cile Blau began the program in 2002, and Dr. P began volunteering in 2009 when the two professionals began sharing office space. Both women spend several hours a week with the program.
Dr. Heather Henderson-Galligan began caring about others at a very young age when her mother would send notes in her school lunchbox. She explained, “The notes would say, “try your best,” or “smile at a lonely child,” or “I love you – have a good day.” She was taught to be aware of not only herself but also those who might benefit from her kindness.
Dr. HH-G passes on these words of wisdom from her mother, “When you encounter a rough patch in life, and eventually gain stability, your job is to reach back, extend your hand, and pull the next person through safely.”
Dr. HH-G’s caring personality is also revealed through multiple volunteer activities, such as involvement with her children’s school activities, church, and teaching the community about the problems of addiction and mental health issues. She explained her motivation to volunteer with the Drug Treatment Court, “When people demonstrate positive change – it makes me work harder to help the next person,” adding, “…sometimes in this business, positive change is slow-going and arduous and that is when I remind myself most of the participants are used to rejection, abandonment, and participate in self-sabotage, then I work harder to stick to it and encourage change.”
Dr. Mary Ellen Peacock grew up volunteering. She explained, “Most often our family participated in structured voluntary activities such as church or Girl Scouts, but there were times when my parents stepped in quietly and privately to fill a particular need or just opened our home in hospitality and I simply assumed this is what I should do.”
Dr. P has been involved in refugee programs and found the work to be incredibly rewarding. She indicated being most impressed with the typical refugee’s incredible courage, resilience, and adaptability after being forced to flee their homes and reinvent life elsewhere. She stated, “I view volunteer work as mainly facilitating the growth and development of someone else, to provide hospitality or guidance or even just companionship as the other finds his own way.”
Dr. P places focus on Dr. HH-G for her years of experience in working with substance abuse and stated early on with the Drug Treatment Court she was simply in, “listen-and-learn mode.” Dr. P remembered the first time being addressed directly by Judge Jacobi in the courtroom. She didn’t expect to be directly involved and recalled, “The Judge asked if I had anything to add and instead of the more appropriate, “No, Your Honor,” I turned bright red and squeaked, “No, Thank You!!” She quickly became more eloquent with her courtroom replies.
Judge Jacobi spoke of the compatibility of our two Extra Milers, “The two women are great pals and they keep everyone on track with good humor and mature insight. I have great admiration and affection for this perfectly matched pair.”
He added, “These doctors have their heart and soul in the program and give us the confidence to deal with difficult people in difficult situations through the agony of their substance abuse rehabilitation that is often clouded by psychological problems such as low self-esteem, anti-social personality traits, PTSD and bi-polarism just to name a few.”
Dr. HH-G and Dr. P both volunteer each week because they understand the importance of having a drug treatment court in our community. They emphasize that the program depends on non-tax funding through the Clark Co. Alcohol and Drug Services Fund administered by Judge Joe Weber in Clark Superior No. 3, probation user fees, Metro United Way, Community Foundation of Southern Indiana, Clark County Youth Coalition, the Bales Foundation, and community support.
Judge Jacobi concluded his interview, “Without the knowledge of Dr. HH-G and Dr. P, the ability of the Drug Court program to successfully intervene in a relapse and to effectively encourage sobriety would be greatly diminished.”
During her interview, Dr. HH-G recalled a Corn Hole fund raiser for the program. She entered the tournament and stood for a very long time trying to get the corn bag into the target. She stated, “I think I missed the target about a thousand times and after awhile I noticed the Drug Court participants had become my cheerleaders, encouraging me as I had so often encouraged them.” She never hit the target, but there is no doubt both of these women have hit the target when it comes to their impact on our Southern Indiana community.
Extra Miler Tip of the Month: Dr. Peacock’s favorite quote is taken from a speech given by President Obama after the recent Tucson tragedy (January 12, 2011), “Rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame, let us use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy, and remind ourselves of all the ways our hopes and dreams are bound together.” Find something you support with your whole heart and become part of that process.
The public is encouraged to become involved with the Drug Treatment Program by attending the Advisory Board meetings for the Drug Treatment Court, held quarterly (February 28 at 5PM) to learn about local fundraising and public awareness campaigns. Contact: www.clarkcountydrugcourt.com / contact Susan Knoebel at 812-280-5619.
THE EXTRA MILER: Faith and Love Will Get You Through Adversity
Column Number 75: January 2011
I leaned over Ken’s bed in the emergency room and realized I had completely and utterly become a hostage to fear. Intermingled with countless prayers were various panic alarms clattering in my head along with the awful realization that I had little or no control.
Just days before, my husband, Ken, was dealing with escalating head pain. With all we had going on in our lives, he thought the pain was caused by the mother of all migraines. Ken had been pushing through the pain, hoping for relief with each completed task. However, the pain became intense to the point he asked to be taken to the hospital for relief. It was five days before Christmas.
While I am fairly proficient at releasing stress and allowing frustrations to escape through words and tears, Ken is not so lucky. He is a peaceful and loving man who typically internalizes the bulk of his frustrations. Those who know him would tell you Ken is easy going and appears to be stress free. Unfortunately, few humans (if any) are truly stress-free.
Back in the emergency room, our son (Jeff) and Ken’s sister (Linda) joined us. They brought the kind of peace only loved ones can provide. However, the relief was short lived as we discovered the series of tests (including the dreaded spinal tap) were providing no insight into the origin of the pain or why it continued. The suffering warranted an overnight stay at the hospital.
The next morning it was decided Ken had in fact experienced the mother of all migraines and after discovering respite from the pain through the drug, Dilaudid, he was released. We believed Ken would be home to celebrate our faith through the joy of Christmas, which was just four days away.
Our relief was short lived. Ken began experiencing stroke-like symptoms and pain the next day and we were once again visiting the ER and back in square one.
Despite efforts to think of positive outcomes to this ordeal, less attractive scenarios dominated my thoughts. A litany of “what if” questions began filling the hours as days passed without improvement and tests continued.
While waiting for test results, I began writing this column, typing out emails and facebook updates to friends and family, and asking for prayers. The response came quickly and we no longer felt alone.
Ken was released from the hospital a few days after Christmas with a diagnosis of venous sinus thrombosis (a blood clot in the base of the brain). After just a few hours of blood thinner, Ken’s pain was gone. We have celebrated the fact that all tests processed thus far have come back with negative findings.
I learned many lessons during Ken’s illness that may provide guidance to others who may one day be sitting beside a loved one in pain. I pass along the top ten to you.
Hey Boomers, we are now the grown-ups! Not sure when this came about, but whether we like it or not, the years ahead will be filled with less self-preservation and more safeguarding of those we love. No matter how bad it seems, hold on for just one more day.
May 2011 bring happiness and peace to you and to our world. A deep thank you is sent through this column to all those who brought my family peace during the closing days of 2010. Also, thank you to the Extra Milers of Southern Indiana. Your selfless giving impacts thousands of people in Southern Indiana and beyond. For the rest of us…keep working to emulate the traits we find in our Extra Milers. Happy New Year 2011.
From left to right: Janet Taylor, Amelia Goffinet, Patricia Hathaway, Marilyn Greenwell, Theresa Shaw, Mary Lou Densford (SAF Program Director), and Stanley (Donnie) Bishop Not Pictured: Larry Stidam, Mel Canter, Art Decker, Karen Langdon, Julie Schamel, Debbie Verdeman, and Phyllis Wilkins.
THE EXTRA MILER: Military SAF Committee Serving with Passion and Respect
Column Number 74: December 2010
Barbara, a friend (and military brat) stationed in Germany with the IRS, talked to me recently about the December Extra Miler column, dedicated each year to the military. Barbara stated she was extremely pleased to see Americans reaching out to show support for our military troops and their families. She added a desire to see more appreciation being shown to the military support system.
“I have friends who are in Iraq and Afghanistan…some are civil service and some are from private industry, but all have a vital role in support of our mission in those countries,” she added, “We should take time to express our appreciation also for those who support our military.”
Although their responsibility may be different, the sacrifices are often very similar…and they are, for the most part, forgotten. The list of those who support our military is extensive, as America has learned a few things from our past. This list includes volunteers who give their time and talent to make lives easier for our military past and present and the families who love them.
This month we honor our own group of dedicated military support volunteers in Southern Indiana – the American Red Cross (ARC) Clark County Chapter Service to the Armed Forces volunteers (SAF). The mission of the SAF is to ensure that current and eligible former members of the US Armed Forces and their families have worldwide, 24-hour access to timely and reliable emergency communications, case management services, and emergency financial assistance on behalf of the military aid societies. By honoring these Extra Milers we are also honoring our military and they wouldn’t have it any other way.
I discovered the SAF committee as they were making plans to prepare a hospitality tent for military and their families at the Thunder over Louisville festivities in 2009. It was quickly evident each volunteer was on a personal mission.
Larry Stidam, a dedicated volunteer and retired Army veteran (MSG), is faithful to the mission of SAF. A quiet spoken and gentle man, Larry was straight to the point regarding why he participates. “I give my time because of the benefits and security we all receive as a result of the sacrifices of our military and their families,” Larry explained, “I honor, respect, appreciate, and remember all they do for our country.”
Each committee member shows their dedication in a different manner. Amelia Goffinett explains why she assists with SAF, “I come from a family with many who proudly put on a uniform to serve this country and volunteering allows me to serve them and hopefully make a difference in their lives.”
There are even times when serving comes with a physical price to the volunteers. Amelia’s plight comes to mind. In 2009, space was provided to the ARC to set up a military appreciation hospitality tent during Thunder festivities; however, Amelia saw that the area needed clearing and she started to work. Before the day was out, Amelia was covered in a painful poison ivy rash. Still, she was working (and scratching) at the SAF tent during Thunder activities.
Karen Langdon was unable to attend our photo shoot because she was volunteering with the United Service Organizations (USO) at Camp Atterbury over the holiday weekend. She explained why she gives her time to SAF, “I have always had heart and passion for our military – I am truly thankful for the freedom our military, past and present, have given us.”
Volunteer Janet Taylor spoke of the daily stress our military and their families endure, particularly during war time. She explained, “Our military is all-volunteer; however, their families didn’t volunteer…they are accepting and supportive because their loved ones have committed themselves to serve our country.” Janet wants the military community to know there is help for them and their families when needed.
The ARC SAF Coordinator, Mary Lou Densford, described the SAF responsibilities, “…to assist loved ones with the challenges associated with being a military family by ensuring those families needing help are connected to their communities through an information and referral network of social service options.” SAF is funded through military grant money awarded to the Clark County ARC.
Volunteer Marilyn Greenwell expressed that it is difficult for her to put the feelings she has in her heart into words. She said, “Volunteering is my very small way of expressing a great appreciation to our soldiers and military families for the tremendous sacrifice they make to ensure our freedom.”
Theresa Shaw was one of the first members to join the SAF; joining the same year her son enlisted in the Navy (2008). Theresa explained her motivation, “After my son enlisted I became aware of groups that support our troops overseas, as well as active, inactive and retired military personnel and felt a strong urge to become part of that support.” She added, “I feel grateful to be able to help someone else’s child in a way that I hope someone would do for mine if the need arose.”
Theresa has volunteered for every major SAF event, including the Thunder over Louisville hospitality tent, WWII Landing Ship Tank (LST) program, the Vietnam Moving Memorial Wall, and currently the Hometown Patriots program.
Patricia Hathaway also joined the SAF committee because she had family members who were deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. She stated, “I want to give back what the military family has to give up.”
Stanley Bishop wraps it all up with a straight-to-the-point response, “I am a veteran myself and my involvement comes because the ARC makes life easier for veterans.”
Today, we thank all who are serving both stateside and overseas in jobs and volunteer activities supporting our military troops and their mission. Thank you for your own quiet sacrifices and the various roles you execute in preserving the freedom this country deeply treasures. SAF committee members – thank you for being Southern Indiana Extra Milers.
Extra Miler Tip of the Month: The SAF Committee wants our community to step up in support of our military and their families. Their current focus is on the Hometown Patriots Program (Neighbors Helping Neighbors).
Clark County citizens are being asked to lend a helping hand to Southern Indiana families of deployed military personnel and also military veterans. You could help with a baby shower, bake a birthday cake, put up Christmas decorations, babysit, make small home repairs/minor car repairs, etc. If you wish to lend a helping hand, or if you know of a veteran or military family in need, please contact the local ARC at 812-283-8416. “They are there when we need them…will you be there for them?”
Sharyn Dietrich is given the Extra Miler pin by the Bliss House Executive Director Julie Schwerer.
THE EXTRA MILER: Sharyn Dietrich You Reap What You Sow
Column Number 73: November 2010
“I am just an ordinary woman - nothing special – just trying to make it in this world through service to others.” Those humble words were clearly stated by our Extra Miler Sharyn Dietrich, when asked to describe herself for this column.
At Sharyn’s surprise dinner to announce her Extra Miler recognition, Sharyn was clearly stunned by the praise. Uncomfortable with publicity for her philanthropy work, Sharyn is quick to acknowledge others. After receiving the Extra Miler pin, Sharyn reflected for a brief moment and said, “There is an Army of people who are devoting themselves to serving others – providing relief and assistance to those in need…I am but one of many.”
Julie Schwerer, Director of the Bliss House in Jeffersonville, nominated Sharyn as our Extra Miler. In April 2010, the women of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Jeffersonville Ward, put together 800 hygiene kits to be given to various non-profit groups. Julie was asked to pick up 50 kits for the Bliss House residents and this is when Julie and Sharyn met.
Julie explained the mission of Bliss House and Sharyn immediately felt a call to serve the women in the program. Listening to Julie describe the Bliss House program spoke directly to Sharyn’s heart. She explained, “I was immediately hooked on this wonderful opportunity for the women of Southern Indiana.” Sharyn volunteers regularly at the house, giving workshops on self esteem and positive affirmation.
Sharyn’s positive influence on the residents of Bliss House was evident immediately. In Julie’s nomination, she wrote “Sharyn is here for the women because she wants to see them succeed in their quest for sobriety and independence – her positive attitude, unconditional love and confidence flows into anyone who stands near her.”
A few of Sharyn’s many volunteer efforts include serving her church through multiple roles, serving as a foster parent, volunteering with the Boy Scouts of America, and involvement in mission work. Judge Joe Weber is very aware of Sharyn’s giving heart. A friend for many years, Judge Weber described Sharyn as, “…the person who seems to always be there to help those in need, without concern about her own needs.” He explained that Sharyn, a “quiet advocate,” spends her time and resources to help anyone suffering.
Without a doubt, our Extra Miler is driven to be part of the process to help others learn to help themselves. Sharyn quotes the old story, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink…but you can make him thirsty.” Sharyn believes the women of Bliss House have become thirsty and therefore are ready to change their lives to beat their addictions. She clarified, “Different things have happened to get the women to this place in their lives and with the right influence and determination they will rise up and be the women they are called to be.”
Sharyn will be working with the residents of the Bliss House in the coming weeks to form their own service project. She wants them to make their own decisions on how they can help others to improve their lives – passing on what is being given to them. This is an easy lesson to teach for Sharyn, as it was passed on to her by her mother who worked for the Salvation Army for 50 years.
Sharyn’s husband of 41 years, Dave Dietrich, describes his wife as an extremely loving and kind person who never refuses a plea for help or support. Dave stated, “Sharyn simply moves forward – often willing to help when nobody else does.” He adds, “She is a great motivator because she is a positive and peaceful person who knows how to give hope.”
Extra Milers like Sharyn teach us how to break through life’s seemingly impenetrable obstacles. She knows great things happen in life through perseverance and courage…and by having the right people faithfully by your side. Sharyn’s leadership skills come directly from her caring heart and deep faith.
Sharyn sends out this advice, “If you are sad, forlorn, and in despair, step out of your problems and serve others and you will find the joy you are looking for in life – you truly will reap what you sow”
It is doubtful that anyone reading this column will agree with Sharyn’s initial statement that she is just an ordinary woman – nothing special.
Sharyn Dietrich, you are quite the opposite. You live your life each day to the fullest; never seeing your own glass as being half empty, but instead you see it overflowing with gifts that are being utilized to inspire others who are searching for their own gifts. You are truly an Extra Miler for Southern Indiana and we thank you for your service to our community.
The Extra Miler’s Tip of the Month: True joy and happiness comes from serving God and serving others. Get up and get out today to find out for yourself the benefits of volunteering to make a positive difference. By serving others, you become a person of integrity.
The Bliss House is a program of the Center for Lay Ministries. The mission of the Bliss House is to foster long term recovery in women who are addicted to alcohol and other drugs. The program is funded through grants and private donations. If you would like to volunteer or make a donation, contact the Bliss House at 812-280-7533 and ask for Julie or Janice.
THE EXTRA MILER: Bill Stites Never Forgot His Roots
Column Number 72: October 2010
Rita Stites placed the Extra Miler pin on her husband, Bill
Gary Straub, Interim Minister at First Christian Church in Jeffersonville, recently provided this advice to his congregation, “Remember the people who have opened doors for you…remember their sacrifices and possibly even their risks.” Our Extra Miler this month, Bill Stites, lives his life remembering those people who held open doors for him in the past.
Bill and his five siblings were predominately raised by their mother, who worked long hours to care for her family. During a particularly difficult time, the family moved to the small town of Barlow, Kentucky. While talking with Bill, he began to recall his childhood and momentarily became quiet and reflective. He softly said, “During some of our darkest hours, it was the good people within the community, like those in Barlow, who stepped up for us.”
Bill clarified, “We wouldn’t have had what we needed to live if it had not been for caring people who opened their hearts to help,” With obvious deep appreciation, Bill explained how the people of Barlow gave his family food, clothes, shelter, and whatever they needed to make it through each day.
Bill remembers the many helpful deeds and kind acts afforded him and his family during those formative years and he vividly recalls always being very grateful. It is no surprise to all who know Bill that he has spent all of his adult life looking for ways to ‘pay it forward.’
Bill’s wife, Rita offered this insight, “Bill just loves to help people in need…he has a heart for those who are down and out.” Rita explained that Bill was reluctant to accept the status of an Extra Miler because he felt undeserving. She knows better. Obviously humbled by the man her husband became after an extremely difficult childhood, Rita added, “Bill steps in automatically when he discovers anyone who needs assistance, and then becomes the catalyst for change.”
Before Bill would agree to be interviewed, he made it perfectly clear that he doesn’t consider himself worthy of the Extra Miler status. He went on to say he knows many people who should be recognized other than himself. Of course, that posture will come as no surprise to our Extra Miler readers.
Bill spoke of several charitable acts that started simply as a prayer request to his Sunday school class at Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church. “There are so many good people who want to help others that all I have to do is express the need and people automatically volunteer to help,” Bill explained.
One of Bill’s many friends; Harvey Hamilton was pleased to hear Bill was being acknowledged for his good will in our community. He noted, “Bill is a do-er…he sees things that need to be done and doesn’t hesitate to move forward.” Harvey noted that Bill was one of their church permanent greeters – always at the door with a smile. Then he quickly switched gears and asked if anyone had mentioned the recent wheelchair ramp project spearheaded by Bill.
After retirement, Bill became restless and decided to work part time for the NAFC school system by being a substitute bus driver. He often drives the bus for special needs children and has really connected with the children, their families and caregivers. One day Bill noticed something that bothered him on one of the routes and he decided to do something about it.
To get her son to school each day, the mother of an 11 year old boy who uses a wheelchair had to walk out of her home and place the wheelchair at the bottom of the stairs (there was no ramp). She would then walk back into the house, pick up her son, carry him down the stairs and place him into the wheelchair. The lessons Bill learned from childhood automatically pressed him into action.
Bill told several church friends of the need for a wheelchair ramp and volunteers quickly stepped forward. Bill explained his role in this manner, “The others did the work; I just pushed some dirt around with a shovel.” Hearing this, Harvey knowingly laughed and explained, “Bill never likes to take credit – he doesn’t just coordinate, he is engaged in all aspects of the work – from planning to completion.”
Involved in the wheelchair ramp project himself, Harvey told of the mother’s gratitude. “She was clearly humbled by the fact that somebody cared enough to help out her family.” Harvey added, “We explained to her that we were simply serving as Jesus served.”
Bill modestly views his efforts to help others as gifts to himself, believing he receives much more than he gives. His favorite quote is from the Bible: Isaiah 41:13, “For I the LORD your God will hold your right hand, saying to you, Fear not; I will help you.” He is also partial to the quote, “I like life, and life likes me.”
Bill, clearly you remember those people who long ago opened doors for you and your family. Those good people of Barlow would be very proud to know their acts of goodwill have never been forgotten and have been paid forward many times over in the community of Southern Indiana. Thank you for being a Southern Indiana Extra Miler.
The Extra Miler’s Tip of the Month:
No matter your circumstances or troubles in life, you always have a choice in how you will live your life. Believe in yourself and do not succumb to pier pressures. The harder you work the further you will go in life. You just have to take that first step in the right direction and then remember to keep putting one foot in front of the other.
Deidre Minton and Colin Hatfield (both 4) look on as Candice Barksdale places the Extra Miler pin on Lester Allen. Minton and Hatfield are enrolled in the goodwill BridgePointe Day Care Center Lester Allen volunteers his time reading to the children.
The Extra Miler: Taking Care of the Children
Lester Allen- Column Number 71
By Carol Dawson
Some people truly recognize the value of life and pass on their appreciation to all who cross their paths. This month I was fortunate enough to meet one such individual, Lester Allen.
Candice Barksdale, Chief Executive Officer for Goodwill BridgePointe Services, Inc., Clarksville, notified me of Lester’s Extra Miler status, indicating, “Lester is an all-around good guy who is very low key and unassuming.”
Because Candice was concerned Lester may be ill at ease with the recognition, we decided to surprise him. Our Extra Miler was lured to BridgePointe Goodwill with a fabricated (a much nicer word than lie) story that he was needed for a business meeting. Several Goodwill BridgePointe staff and a couple of children gathered to thank Lester for giving so much of his talent and time to help their agency.
Lester was clearly surprised as he walked around the corner and heard the applause and cheers. He nervously shifted his feet as Candice and others described the good work he has accomplished for their agency. Lester blushed and exclaimed, “I had no idea…I certainly do not deserve all of these kind words.” There they are – those confirming words that authenticate another true Southern Indiana Extra Miler has been discovered.
Lester Allen is the Security and Guest services Manager at a Clarksville Mall. His commitment to Goodwill BridgePointe began in 2002, after listening to a representative who spoke at the Clarksville Rotary. The speaker told of a program called, “Leaders for Readers,” and something about the program clicked with Lester’s desire to help others. He took the information to his co-workers and staff and several agreed to begin reading to the children at Goodwill BridgePointe.
Since then, Lester has spent countless hours with the children and when asked how much time he spends a week at the Agency, he responded, “I don’t keep count of the hours or even put my time into that perspective.” Lester added, “I come here when needed and then look for additional ways to help out.”
Apparently there are many ways volunteers like Lester are needed at the Agency. Candice explains, “After reading to the children one year, Lester decided they needed more reading material, so he researched, applied for and was granted funding to acquire additional books.”
Several of the children in the child-care center have special medical needs and there are several who are from economically challenged families. Lester said, “One Christmas I realized many of these children may never be given the opportunity to sit on Santa’s lap, so I brought Santa to them.”
Santa was so popular that Lester soon added the Easter Bunny to his costume closet. Candice recalled the most recent visit from Lester’s Easter Bunny, “He was in full costume and a special needs child, typically withdrawn and timid, ran up and gently touched the fur on his costume.” Lester immediately recalled the little girl, “I remember her…she clung to me throughout the entire visit and didn’t want me to leave.” Candice smiled and concluded, “It was really amazing to see her light up and connect with something like she did that day.”
Lester’s devotion to the children quickly grew to a commitment to the entire Agency. Every year he spearheads the Agency Holiday Raffle. Lester also volunteers his time to the annual Mardi Gras Bash, a very successful major fundraising event.
Lester steps up to other needs in the community. Recently his office staff read about a Southern Indiana family who had quintuplet babies and they decided to help the family. Lester explained, “We knew they would need help because they were going to be spending a lot of time at the hospital and they would also need assistance when all of the babies were home.” He helps by mowing their lawn; however, he is quick to stress that other employees in the mall office have also stepped up to help the busy family by preparing meals and helping with yard duties. Lester also reads to the children who attend the St. Anthony School in Clarksville and works with the 21st Century Scholarship program in the Clarksville school system.
Even with all he does for our community, Lester made it very clear that he did not deserve recognition as an Extra Miler. In fact, earlier in the year, Candice had talked to Lester about joining their Board of Directors and his immediate response was that he didn’t deserve to be on the board because there were others better qualified and more important. Candice persisted and Lester will soon become a member of their Board.
When asked for his favorite phrase or quote, Lester cited his high school graduation motto, “Not at the top, but climbing.” He explained, “If you are already at the top or think you are, you are not improving…life is all about growth, change, and moving forward.”
Concluding our interview, I asked Lester what motivates him to give so much of his time to the children. He thoughtfully responded, “Many children don’t have a lot to smile about in their lives, so when I visit and they begin smiling and laughing, it means the world to me.” Lester tilted his head toward the ground in a humble gesture and added, “They remind me that my problems are very small in comparison.”
Lester, for the care, love, and pure joy you give to the children of Goodwill BridgePointe and Southern Indiana, we thank you. You are truly a Southern Indiana Extra Miler.
Tip of the Month: Look around at the many needs within our community. Try different volunteer efforts until you find the one or two that really fit you and your talents. Then give back generously – you will be the one to benefit the most. Life is about that climb toward the top – make yours a steep one.
Charlie Schladand places the Extra Miler pin on his mother, Mary Schladand
The Extra Miler: Earth Angel
Mary Schladand - Column Number 70
By Carol Dawson
There are many of us who have wonderfully inspiring mothers and we do not forget to tell them how exceptional they are on special occasions and holidays. Charlie Schladand is not one to restrict his appreciation to a few days a year. His mother, Mary Schladand, is a Southern Indiana Extra Miler and Charlie lights up when talking about her. He explains, “My mother is a superb role model who is the type of person to quickly step up to help anytime she is needed.”
There are several friends in my life I consider Earth Angels and I’m always glad to meet new people who fall into that category. Mary Schladand has been an angel to many people through the years, including her family and the congregation of St. Anthony of Padua, located in Clarksville.
Mary comes from a humble beginning, with her mother making the trip from Germany to the United States via Ellis Island. Mary tells of her mother’s strength and courage making the long journey as a 12 year old girl, without family by her side. Her mother passed on to her the legacy of her strength and passions, including her faith and love for the Catholic Church.
It is obvious that Mary Schladand is an Extra Miler for many reasons, but she further proved her status when she told her son that she didn’t deserve to be recognized for her volunteer work. She insisted that it was simply her calling and no recognition should be given. This thought is typical of an Extra Miler.
Charlie had to enlist the help of Pat Bullerdick, Business Manager at St. Anthony. Pat explained to Mary that featuring her would also be highlighting the good of the church. For that reason only did Mary agree to this column.
Pat explained what Mary’s work means to the church and the community, “Mary inspires many people to do good things for our church and for Southern Indiana and we rely upon the fact that she is dependable and generous with her gifts of time and talent.” She added, “Mary truly loves her church and has great passion for her faith.”
“My mother is an incredibly caring woman,” Charlie explained, “She gives generously of her time and does so because she believes she is called by God to step forward.”
Mary doesn’t let a day go by that she doesn’t honor her faith through volunteer efforts.
Mary’s charitable work with her church includes a laundry list of activities such as assisting with funeral liturgies, preparing church sacristan, acting as an Extraordinary Minister (taking communion to the homebound), singing in the Resurrection Choir (funerals), assisting the Parish Pastoral Associate, cleaning, serving as an officer for the senior citizen’s group, serving on the Art and Environment Committee, hosting special parish receptions/events, providing food items for functions, fundraisers, and funerals, and more.
Eighty-four year old Mary has no intention of slowing down. She explains, “Anytime you can contribute or help a good cause, it will make you feel good…it gives you a reason to get up every morning.” She encourages others to step into a church in their community and give it a try. She believes, “With your faith, you learn to not sweat the small stuff and to bring everything else to God.”
Mary, for the angelic duties you so lovingly carry out on earth, we thank you. You are truly a Southern Indiana Extra Miler.
Tip of the Month: Mary encourages everyone to follow the biblical guidance, “Do Unto Others As You Would Have Them Do Unto You.” She believes we should always ask ourselves how we would want someone to treat us or our family members, adding that the world would be a better place if everyone lived by that philosophy.
OTHER Acts of Kindness in our community:
I was sitting in my doctor’s office waiting for the second round of allergy cluster shots last week when I heard three year old Randy Meredith crying as he received his shots. He was clearly terrified as his father tried to console him. After the shots, Randy stood by his father’s side waiting the mandatory 30 minutes before leaving. Without prompting, five year old Kaden King walked across the room toward Randy, who moved even closer to his father. Kaden smiled and said, “You don’t need to be afraid of these shots…they really do not hurt.” Randy listened intently as Kaden continued, “But don’t worry…I understand why you would cry because I sort of freaked out a little myself when I had to have all those allergy tests.” Kaden concluded, “It gets a lot easier with the shots…okay?” Randy gave a shy smile. I spoke with Kaden’s mother, Kelly, to ask about the little Extra Miler who so lovingly consoled another child. Kelly explained, “Kaden has always been a very caring child.” She added, “It really isn’t anything we have done; he is just a blessing.” Thank you, Kaden King, for being an Extra Miler.
Extra Miler Follow Up: Extra Miler Rex Lander’s wife, Ann Lander, passed away last month. Rex was featured in our May column. Condolences to Rex and his family and may Ann rest in peace.
Clay Wrege's Family: Nieces Stella, age - 2 1/2, Molly, age - 6 months, brother Michael Wrege, and parents, Reed and Robbie Wrege. Michael's wife, Emily, was unable to be in the photo. Photo to Right: Clay Wrege plays with his niece, Stella
The Extra Miler: No Greater Love...
Clay Wrege - posthumously awarded- Column Number 69
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
We have all heard the phrase, and it brings a strong association to our Extra Miler, Clay Wrege. Clay is being recognized posthumously. On May 28, he gave the ultimate sacrifice of his life to protect a friend.
A considerable amount of misleading information was hurled upon the public about Clay and the circumstances surrounding his death. Clay’s involvement prior to his death was only to be a caring friend to a co-worker in need. He offered his friend a place to stay after she left a bad relationship and he protected her from danger when confronted at his home.
After I learned the truth about Clay from a friend of his family, I invited his parents, Reed and Robbie Wrege and older brother, Michael, to meet with me so I could tell Southern Indiana the real story of Clay Wrege.
To portray Clay Wrege as an Extra Miler somehow falls short in adequately describing who he was to his friends and family. Clay was an athlete, actor, and leader at Floyd Central High School. Early on he displayed Extra Miler attributes by stepping up to help anyone in need. Clay was called upon to act as an ambassador to new students at school, and he ensured everyone felt comfortable and secure in their new environment.
During and after the funeral, Clay’s family members have been comforted by many heartfelt stories of Clay’s friendship and kindness. They heard about Clay’s inclusive nature – ensuring no person around him felt inferior or left out. He honored each person by offering friendship unconditionally.
One young woman told of being nominated for queen of one of the high school events. She explained that she wasn’t popular and knew the nomination had been made as a joke. She felt humiliated. When Clay found out, he rallied his friends and soccer teammates to make sure she was elected. Clay wanted his friend to know she was special.
Reed said, “Clay was a conduit for friendships…he was the nucleus that brought people together.” His mother added, “Clay was an organizer. He enjoyed gathering people together just for fun or to benefit a good cause and once shaved his head to raise funds for his favorite charity, Locks of Love.
Locks of Love is a public, non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children under age 21 in the United States and Canada suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any medical diagnosis.
Although Clay Wrege was taken from this world far too early – just days before his 28th birthday – he leaves behind wonderful memories of a smiling, gregarious, kind-hearted, and loving young man.
Clay’s brother, Michael Wrege, is having great difficulty dealing with his younger brother’s death. He explained, “Clay was just so outgoing…I can’t even tell you how I feel right now except to say I am extremely sad.”
When asked what kind of uncle Clay was to his two nieces, Stella and Molly, Michael smiled and said, “Well, he wasn’t one to jump in and change diapers, but he showed his love to his nieces in the way he played with them.” He recalled, “Clay taught Stella karate sounds and moves and she was always overjoyed to be near him.” The family smiled as Stella showed some of her Uncle Clay’s karate moves and Michael recalled, “Clay always claimed that Stella was the ‘raddest’ niece ever.”
Michael’s sadness was apparent as he stepped outside for a break. As he walked out, his father looked at his eldest son and was overcome with emotion as he said, “Michael has stepped up to help us through this tragedy and has done things for us that nobody should have to do.” He added, “Despite Michael’s own grief, he has provided a strong shoulder and the strength needed for the family to press forward.”
Pressing forward is just what this family plans to do. They are honoring Clay’s life by attending numerous charitable benefits and tree-planting ceremonies in his memory. The initial donations have been directed to Locks of Love. They also have established the Clay Wrege Charitable Foundation, a non-profit organization that will provide scholarships to Floyd Central graduating seniors involved in the theatre program.
It is likely that Clay never thought about how he would choose to die, but he obviously knew how he wanted to live. He made every day of his 27 years count and didn’t hesitate when called upon to stand tall to protect a friend in need. He was just that kind of guy.
Extra Miler Tip of the Month: Reed’s and Robbie’s eyes filled with tears when asked what Clay might have given as a tip to the Extra Miler readers. Robbie thought for a moment and said, “Live life to the fullest, have fun, and make the most of each day.” Reed quickly added, “Clay would probably also say that everyone is of equal importance. Look for the value in everyone, and meet people with a smile on your face.”
If you are interested in contributing to the Clay Wrege Charitable Foundation, a check can be written to the Charity Account Number: 1032999 – Clay Wrege Charitable Foundation and mailed to: P.O. Box 770001, Cincinnati, OH 45277-0053. The website is found at: www.claysfoundation.com/
Dawn Bennett, VP of Business Services for One Southern Indiana, places the Extra Miler pin on Chris Kanemitsu. They are joined by Dani Cummins, executive director for the Falls of the Ohio Foundaiton.
The Extra Miler: Service with a Smile
Chris Kanemitsu - Column Number 68
By Carol Dawson
It was as if I walked into the meeting, met Chris Kanemitsu and said, “I do.” For more than a year we ran in the same non-profit circles and easily became friends. I could depend that Chris would welcome me with a big smile at every meeting or gathering. Nominated by several individuals, Chris Kanemitsu is undoubtedly an Extra Miler for Southern Indiana.
Because he often sees his volunteer friends more than his wife, Vickie, Chris good-naturedly refers to many of his female colleagues as his “work-wives,” joking that his female friends often tell him what to do, how to do it, and when. Vickie seems resolved to the fact that her Extra Miler husband is a friend to all and gladly shares his positive personality and natural sense of humor.
Chris is involved with multiple non-profits within the community and regularly receives calls to add more. So much so that when I alluded to his Extra Miler nomination by asking for volunteer information, his humorous response was, “Why, do you want to add another rock to my pocket?” I still laugh each time I think of his reaction.
Chris always seems flexible to do whatever he is called upon to do and much of his charm is derived from his easy going nature. There is no doubt in my mind that Chris would have stepped up to the plate, if my call had been for him to participate in yet another community service activity.
Chris has a passion for keeping our environment clean. He currently co-owns a small business tasked with saving local businesses money through energy saving products and he often partners with other "green" employers. Chris also works a part time job as a Maintenance Programmer with a regional airline. As busy as he is with multiple work projects, Chris’ philanthropy work doesn’t take a back seat.
Chris volunteers with the Southern Indiana Community Foundation (CF), specifically on their scholarship committee. Melissa Weissinger, Program Officer for the CF, explained that Chris is a dependable and essential volunteer for their organization. She explained, “Chris truly cares about Southern Indiana and the people who live and work here.” She adds, “…he is a joyous spirit who always has a smile on his face and a kind word.”
Dani Cummins, Executive Director for The Falls of the Ohio Foundation, Inc., was not at a loss for words when she heard about Chris’ Extra Miler nomination. She said, “Chris is on our board and serves as an ambassador.”
When asked what Chris’ involvement in the Falls means to the organization, Dani quickly responded, “Chris is a true partner of the Falls, giving of his time, talent, and treasure. He is key to getting our message of environmental stewardship and education out to the corporate world, general public, and schools.” She adds, “Chris is a person who cares about the environment, education, conservation, and preservation.”
Dawn Bennett, VP, Business Services of One Southern Indiana (1SI) nominated Chris because of his volunteer efforts to ensure sustained economic growth within our community. Dawn stated, "Chris has been such a long term dedicated volunteer for our organization that we have joked about giving him his own office.” She added, “He exhibits the type of personality that makes others want to join in on the work just to be in his company and 1SI benefits significantly from his involvement."
Chris is a person true to his word. If he offers to help, the organization, conference or activity coordinators know they are going to have full participation. Every one of the non-profit organizations contacted commented on Chris’ positive and outgoing personality. People simply want to be by his side to catch his spirit.
Melissa Weissinger also wanted readers to know how important it is for non-profit organizations to be able to depend on their volunteers. Non-profit agencies count on volunteers to assist in accomplishing their goals within the community. Chris is one of those dependable volunteers.
Melissa recalled, “When Chris offers his time, we know he will dedicate the necessary time and energy to ensure the task is completed in a professional manner.” The Community Foundation had a last minute need for a volunteer recently and called Chris to serve. He stepped in without hesitation. Later, Melissa discovered it was Chris’ birthday and he had delayed a planned celebration with his family in order to help.
At the rate Chris is going, he will need to buy pants with extra large pockets to hold all the rocks he keeps accumulating. However, his spirit is far too strong to ever let them weigh him down.
Thank you Chris Kanemitsu, not only for answering the call to help our community become a better place to live and work, but also because of the manner in which you respond so positively, allowing anyone near you to automatically catch your giving and caring spirit. You are a true Extra Miler.
Extra Miler Tip of the Month: Chris has the philosophy that life is best played with a continually full schedule. He provides this tip: Start out volunteering just an hour a week, then build on that commitment and your own momentum. Once you start, you will not want to stop. You cannot stop for too long before you stop indefinitely. Lay around, play around, get left around.
The Extra Miler: Vows for a Lifetime - Column Number 67
By Carol Dawson
Some couples say their wedding vows and quickly renounce their promises when the going gets tough; however, that has not been the case for Extra Miler Rex Lander. When he said “I do” to his bride, on October 21, 1983, Rex took the commitment seriously, especially the vows, “in sickness and in health.”
Rex’s wife, Ann, has been extremely ill since 2004 when she survived a brain aneurysm and numerous subsequent strokes. She has required around the clock care for six years. Rex has been told numerous times to gather his family and “prepare for the worst.” Each time, Ann’s faith and will to live pulled her through. She was never alone.
Despite the odds against them, Ann and Rex are determined not to give up. Rex steadfastly insists that he is doing nothing extraordinary and emphasizes that Ann would do the same for him if the tables were turned. He agreed to be interviewed as a means to thank those who have been Extra Milers to him and Ann.
A friend of the family, Diane McMillen, nominated Rex, as she has seen his extraordinary care and perseverance. She explained, “Rex never gives up on Ann…we all should be so lucky to have someone like Rex in our lives.”
After Ann’s aneurysm, Rex was told the brain injury would require his wife to be in a nursing home for the rest of her life. Ann was placed into a nursing home after leaving the hospital; however, Rex quickly realized that she would not get the level of care he expected. He began making the first of many inquiries on Ann’s behalf and soon transferred her to the Southern Indiana Rehabilitation Hospital.
Rex is quite impressed with the quality of care, friendliness and professionalism provided through Southern Indiana Rehabilitation. He and Ann consider the staff to be close friends, and in many cases, like family. Dr. John Shaw, Medical Director of the Southern Indiana Rehabilitation Hospital, is someone they consider family. Rex explained, “Dr. Shaw has gone far beyond his role as a physician…he has been our advocate, counselor, faith partner, and friend.”
Dr. Shaw is equally enamored with our Extra Miler. He described Rex as nothing short of amazing. “Rex is a model for any caregiver working with a loved one with a major disability,” Dr. Shaw stated. “There is a Godly love between Rex and Ann…this illness is a true test of a rare love.”
There were others Rex wanted to recognize. To be sure he didn’t omit anyone; Rex thanks all who have helped, including friends who have come by to visit with Ann, like family friend, Diane McMillen. Diane teases and talks easily with Ann and Rex during her visits. Her presence is clearly appreciated.
Rex also recognizes another friend, Michelle Rowe, who Rex states, “…has really been there for both of us.” There is also Gail Crone, Ann’s daily caregiver, who goes far beyond normal expectations of someone in her position. Dr. Kevin Burke and Dr. Christopher Howerton (and staff members) have also stepped up when called upon to meet Ann’s needs.
Rex is a head-strong advocate for Ann’s care. He explained, “When the insurance company tells me no…I talk, explain, and even plead until I know I have obtained the best care for my wife.”
There are other things Rex does to show his devotion to Ann’s care. He promised her she would never have pressure sores, despite being primarily confined to her bed. Rex researched the best ointment to ensure his wife remains comfortable and found the cost was excessive. He then went to a pharmacist and together they researched the ingredients in the ointment, discovered a way to mix them together effectively, and created an affordable cream that works like the expensive version.
I visited with Ann for this column and was amazed at how well she was doing after just being released from the hospital because of a high fever. As I walked into the front door, Ann called from her hospital bed in the living room, “Hey Carol, come on in.” She remembered me, although it has been a many years since our son’s were in the same elementary school class. Ann was clear, concise, and even animated when she spoke.
She talked of her job as a 6th grade Math teacher at Parkview and of the day she had the aneurysm. She talked about how hard Rex works at his full time job with the Census Bureau and at home caring for her.
Rex arrived home from work and immediately began putting laundry in to wash and picking up around the house. He then began pulling together a variety of medical items to care for his wife. He laid out syringes, creams, bandages, and medical equipment on Ann’s bed. It appeared as if surgery was to begin and I was amazed at the ease in which Rex handled these items.
I turned my attention back to Ann and asked her to describe her husband’s dedication. She looked away as she collected her thoughts. “His devotion was evident the minute I woke up in the hospital,” she said softly. “The doctor was trying to tell me what happened when Rex stopped him and said that it was his job.”
Ann’s eyes began to swell with tears and Rex briefly stopped working. Ann struggled with her words as she explained that Rex was the most composed she had ever seen him on that frightening day in the hospital. She recalled that Rex told her, “Don’t worry, Honey, we will fight this and we will fight it together.”
Ann then turned to Rex and said, “I completely trust this man…he has kept me alive all these years, while working full time to pay the bills and keep up our home.” By this time, we were all choking back tears as Ann added, “I know he is lonely; he has been completely focused on caring for me for a long time.” Ann had not completed her sentence before Rex adamantly stated, “Oh no I am not...I have you.”
Thank you, Rex Landers, for showing the kind of love and devotion that makes you a Southern Indiana Extra Miler.
Extra Miler Tip of the Month: Advice from Rex: When caring for someone you love, remember perseverance can change a no to a maybe and a maybe into a yes. When the person you love needs help, never give up.
UPDATE: Sadly, Rex Landers could not find peace in this world without his beloved wife, after she passed away. Rex passed away soon after his wife.
Pictured: Ralph and Marilyn Lee - Patrick, Chris, Don, Joan, and Kelly Allen
The Extra Miler: Secrets for a Strong Family Bond: Column Number 66
By: Carol Dawson
Faith, water, and music are just a few things that have a distinctive means of rehabilitating my soul and reenergizing my life. Today, all three came together.
Because of my hectic life running a small business (and the fact that I am a conflicted Type A procrastinator), once again the deadline for this column loomed. Irritated with the many projects needing attention, frustration had become a creative roadblock.
There are many people to acknowledge as Extra Milers; that is never an issue. However, this month I struggled for just the right and deserving individual.
I decided walking one of our dogs to the river might release the brain-jam. I power-walked a couple of miles then we were there – standing on the hill overlooking the Ohio River. Our river may not have the natural beauty of an ocean, but when the sun plays off the ripples in the water, it makes a grand effort of imitation. Taking a deep breath I marveled at the solace provided by our ocean wannabe’.
The view can be a faith-filled experience if I stop long enough to let it materialize. Today the beauty soaked into my brain and the day went from frustration to joy. The column began to form.
It wasn’t an individual needed for this column…it was an entire family. The Allen Family - Don, Joan, Kelly (sophomore at IU), Chris (senior at JHS), and Patrick (sophomore at JHS) - are our Southern Indiana Extra Milers for April.
Kelly Allen was featured several years ago while still in high school. I knew then that I could feature any person in the Allen family and that thought never diminished.
One of the amazing facts regarding the Allen family is that the children are polite, friendly, and extremely responsible citizens. I do not know of a time when Kelly, Chris or Patrick seriously challenged their parents in a negative manner. Instead, they have been an invariable joy to their family, teachers, friends, and neighbors, putting their parents in an enviable position.
I asked Don and Joan why their children turned out to be good citizens. They decided to tackle this question as they do most family questions – together.
The family makes a concerted effort to have dinner together every night, even if they have to delay the meal until late in the evening. Their time is not only used to break bread, but to reflect upon issues and concerns of each family member, their community and the world. They often include Kelly, via the speaker phone.
During dinner, Chris was quick to confirm what his parents hoped was the answer. He said, “You both have always had high, but realistic, expectations of us."
Joan summed up the dinner discussion, “We have always encouraged our children to become involved in a variety of activities and we are also involved… and not just as spectators.” Don agreed and added that they try to set the example that at least some activities of interest should be service activities.
"We have been incredibly blessed and need to share those blessings,” Joan said, “Our meals aren't quickly eaten - we care about what our children have to say and often spend an hour or longer at the table.”
Bev Brock, First Christian Church Associate Minister, said “The entire family is fantastic. They have a great combination of compassion, talent and work ethic. They not only have their faith but they live it out as well.”
Community involvement for our Extra Milers includes numerous volunteer activities. I knew they were busy, but I couldn’t be prepared for the multiple church and community groups who receive their time and talent.
The list includes Boy Scouts, Red Cross Blood Drive, church activities (including teaching Sunday School, volunteering at Bible School, serving on mission trips, working on multiple committees, assisting as volunteer camp counselors, etc.), United Way, Relay for Life, Sports Booster Clubs, Optimist Club, serving on multiple boards and committees, JHS Honor Society, Leader of college ministry at FCC Bloomington, IU Student Alumni Association, and many other volunteer activities.
Don and Joan credit much of their family’s congruity to Joan’s parents, Ralph and Marilyn Lee. Ralph and Marilyn are equally deserving of the recognition as Extra Milers and are also acknowledged as Extra Milers this month.
Joan stated, “The first thing that comes to mind when I think of my parents is the time they have always devoted to their church.” Ralph and Marilyn contribute considerable time to support their church and also the community. Joan learned the importance of community service from her parents and her involvement in the church.
When thinking of the Allen/Lee family and their devotion to their church, community and family unit, a line written by Al Scalpone comes to mind, “The family that prays together stays together.” Their secret really isn’t really a secret at all…the family always finds time to be together – in the church – in the home – in the community. Thank you to Ralph, Marilyn, Don, Joan, Kelly, Chris and Patrick for being Southern Indiana Extra Milers.
Extra Miler Tip of the Month: Find your inspiration and go to it often. The next time you are in a quandary regarding how to complete a task or how to make your life more complete, take a walk to our Ohio waterfront and enjoy the non-government stimulus that may come from the little body of water aspiring to be so much more. Take that walk with your family.
The Extra Miler - A Loving Heart For Animals - Column #65
By Carol Dawson
A Loving Heart for Animals
Kathy Melvin was introduced to me at a party, and within minutes it was obvious I was sitting next to an Extra Miler for not only Southern Indiana, but also for Kentuckiana (or Indyucky). As we were talking, Kathy began pulling jewelry pieces from her purse. She indicated it was a hobby.
Soon after the jewelry was displayed on the table, a woman walked up and Kathy handed her a stunning black and silver starfish necklace that had been pre-ordered. The woman was extremely pleased and asked what she owed for the necklace. Kathy responded without hesitation, “Please pay whatever you can.”
Initially I thought this to be an odd way to make money; however, I quickly learned that Kathy didn’t make the jewelry for personal profit, but instead to fund her passion for saving sick and homeless animals. In fact, she has buyers make checks payable direct to animal organization. She gives all the jewelry profit to two animal protection organizations. In Southern Indiana, Kathy gives donations from her sales to the Animal Protection Association (APA), 702 East 11th Street, Jeffersonville, and her Louisville benefactor is the Shamrock Pet Foundation (http://www.shamrockpets.com).
Linda Hughes, one of the founders and current vice president of the APA, was quick to sing Kathy’s praises. “Kathy is a multi-tasking volunteer and a can-do person when you have a problem,” Linda added, “and we depend on passionate volunteers like her to ensure our mission is fulfilled.”
Our Extra Miler does not stop here. She also donates her time, talent, and experience in the communications field by writing stories, press releases, etc. for the local animal rescue groups. Kathy recently assisted in bringing national attention to an abused black Lab. Aiden was found with a severe arrow wound that traveled through his body. Aiden is now healing and has been adopted by a wonderful local family. The national attention from such publicity helps animal groups solicit funds to continue their efforts.
When Kathy isn’t leading her communications business, she is serving on multiple boards. She is on the board for the Center for Teaching and Learning in Louisville. Its mission is to train teachers in ways to better engage students in learning. She just completed a term on the Indiana University Alumni Association Executive Council and remains active on the Bluegrass Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America’s board.
Now if you think Kathy still may have some free time, think again. On weekends, she is often called upon to participate in the Animal Rescue Transport (she affectionately refers to it as the Doggie Underground Railroad). Kathy explains, “When animals are scheduled to be put to death at shelters across the U.S., volunteers create a driving chain to move the animals from the overcrowded facility to a place where the animals have an opportunity to be adopted.”
Finally, when Kathy is not transporting animals to safety, finding families for homeless animals, creating publicity to call attention to animal rights, serving on various boards, running a communications business, or caring for her own adopted dogs (2) and cats (6), she is making incredibly beautiful jewelry to benefit the animals she loves.
When asked what motives her to do so much for our furry creatures, Kathy responded, “My grandmother taught me how to love and care for animals and in some small way I am honoring her memory.” Kathy, you learned your lesson well, and every time you save a life, a tail wags in your grandmother’s memory. Thank you for being a Southern Indiana Extra Miler.
To find out how you can purchase jewelry to benefit the animals in our area or to find out how you can help, call the APA at (812) 283-6555 or visit their web site: www.apa-pets.org
Extra Miler Tip of the Month: Kathy wants to remind everyone that April is Prevention of Animal Cruelty Month. Contact your local shelter and offer a hand, bring by a donation of food or money, or just spend some time with the animals who would love the attention. Learn about animal abuse/cruelty laws through: http://www.animallaw.com, and when you see an abused animal, report it.
Random Acts of Kindness: Melony Lewis sent an email to thank an anonymous man who sat next to her in the New Albany Waffle and Steak House several months ago (May 2009). She sat through her meal, worrying to herself how she would pay for it, along with leaving a tip for the waitress. Melony had lost her job and was prepared to pay with several quarters she had in her pocket. The man quietly paid for his and Melony’s meal then left the restaurant. Melony didn’t get the chance to thank the man and wanted him to publicly know how much it meant to her. The waitress didn’t know the man’s name, but said he was a retired police officer. We also know he is a Southern Indiana Extra Miler.
Extra Miler Follow Up: Everett “Shotgun” Long, one of our recently recognized veteran Honor/Color Guard Extra Milers passed away shortly after being recognized. Because of his illness, he had not received the Extra Miler pin. The Captain of the Honor/Color Guard, Tom Cook, respectfully placed the pin on Shotgun’s military cap before he was buried. His Veteran buddies made sure his burial was with the full military honors he so deserved. May he rest in peace.
Mark Eddy, the Northside Church of Christ (Jeffersonville) Deacon of Youth Education placed the Extra Miler pin on Cory Lamb. Cory and his wife Laura Beth Lamb, were recognized as Southern Indiana Extra Milers. Photographer: Garrick Fields
The Extra Miler - You Can Make a Difference - Column #64
By Carol Dawson
The earth heaved and tall buildings throughout Haiti crumbled in layers of steel and stone. I watched the devastation in horror, as the suffering splashed across every media source.
Large brown eyes looked up toward the camera; her desperation evident in her expression and cries of anguish. The child lay trapped in the debris of a Port au Prince building. Her response to the rescuers would quickly swing from chatting animatedly to screams of pain. At one point the camera seemed to catch a moment of serenity in her eyes…and just as quickly, she looked away and her forlorn cries returned. She was just 11 years old and a steel beam had blocked rescuers from freeing her from the televised nightmare.
I thought of my son at 11 years old – so happy and carefree – full of life. My mind dared not imagine him in this condition nor could I imagine the crushing ache of helplessness the little girl’s parents must have felt. After many hours, the rescuers were able to free the child from the steel beam and she was rushed to a nearby first aid station. The world sighed with relief and reflected optimistically about her fate.
At that time, few thought about anything other than how they could help. There are many valid organizations ready to help through our contributions and assistance will be needed for many years. The American Red Cross (ARC) was my first choice for humanitarian relief, since this avenue required no investigation into legitimacy. Southern Indiana citizens have proven repeatedly that we are giving people. If you have not already contributed to the Haiti relief effort, please consider doing so today.
Phyllis Wilkins, Executive Director for the Clark County ARC Chapter stated, “American Red Cross donors around the world, including our supporters in Southern Indiana, have given millions of dollars in support, and because of their generosity, people in Haiti will receive shelter, tools, tarps, hygiene kits, blankets, water containers, pre-packaged meals, first aid and emotional support from the American Red Cross and other partner agencies.”
Cory Lamb, the youth minister at Northside Church of Christ who was featured in the Sunday edition of the EN (1/31), answered the call to help the people of Haiti, just as he has answered similar calls in the past. Before settling in Southern Indiana, Cory, along with his wife Laura Beth, led missionary trips to the Dominican Republic for several years. They also lived two additional years as missionaries providing outreach to children in the Dominican Republic. Laura Beth continues working to help the people of Haiti and the Dominican Republic through an organization called Manna Global Ministries (MGM).
When the call for help was sent out for reliable drivers to take life-saving supplies from the Dominican Republic into Haiti, our Southern Indiana Extra Milers were raring to respond. Although Laura Beth could not make this trip, Cory was on a plane to the Dominican Republic soon after the appeal came in. He returned home after working nearly non-stop for a week and plans to return as soon as possible.
Cory and Laura Beth are our Southern Indiana Extra Milers for February. I met them at the airport as Cory arrived from Haiti and in true Extra Miler form, both were quick to indicate they have done nothing special; they simply answered a call. Thank you, Cory and Laura Beth, for representing the heart of Southern Indiana.
Individuals returning from Haiti speak of a desperate need for medical supplies and experts in the medical field. Because of the extensive damage to Haiti’s infrastructure, establishing hospitals and distributing supplies the first several days after the earthquake was slow and often impossible.
The day after the 11 year old girl’s rescue, I searched the internet for an update on her health. There is was…the headline, “Young girl dies…” My heart sank into immediate despair and for a while I sat still with thoughts of the many families dealing with death of their children.
The young girl had been transported to a hospital; however it was too late. She was dead within 24 hours of her rescue. Her last words to her mother were, “Maman, don’t let me die.”
Throughout writing this column, I have visualized this beautiful child with the large brown eyes who so desperately wanted to live. It took several days of searching before I would learn her name. Anaika St Louis – may you rest in peace.
Valid donation sources to utilize to help Haiti (there are many more):
To help the efforts of MGM and the Haiti people, visit their web site at www.mgm.mannadr.org or mail a donation to: MGM, PO Box 2993, Clarksville, IN 47131
American Red Cross: People can donate in support of the relief effort in Haiti at www.redcross.org, by calling 1-800-REDCROSS, or by texting “Haiti” to 90999 to make a $10 donation.” Financial donations may be sent to the local chapter at Clark County Red Cross, 1805 E. 8th St., Jeffersonville, IN 47130, with “Haiti” clearly designated on the check memo line or enclosed note.
Here are some additional texting sources (since this appears very popular) for donations:
Text "Haiti" to 20222 to donate $10 on behalf of The Clinton Foundation (former President Clinton is a Special Envoy to Haiti)
Text "Haiti" to 25383 to donate $5 on behalf of the Internal Rescue Committee
Extra Miler Tip of the Month: Never underestimate the power of one Extra Miler. Charlie Simpson, a seven-year old boy from London, England, started plea for donations for the Haiti victims, through a UNICEF web site. Charlie wrote on his UNICEF JustGiving web page, “My name is Charlie Simpson. I want to do a sponsored bike ride for Haiti because there was a big earthquake and loads of people have lost their lives." He continued, "I want to make some money to buy food, water and tents for everyone in Haiti.” Charlie’s goal was to ride 5 miles on his bicycle and that effort has raised over $300,000 thus far. Be creative – is there something you can do to help this or other relief efforts?
The Extra Miler - Before Your Feet Hit the Floor - Column #63
By Carol Dawson
There are 13 family members who have joined us in our home for the New Year 2009-2010 celebrations. We have laughed until our sides have ached, teased and aggravated one another relentlessly, and cried about those who are no longer with us to celebrate. We have shown that our love of family goes far beyond the everyday frustrations and stumbling blocks that life inevitably provides as a platform for existing in peace and harmony.
I squirreled away a few minutes to get caught up on my Evening News reading and while I did, I listened to my family in the two other rooms. The newspaper tells of the top stories in Southern Indiana. Although there are some bright spots, the majority are not a source of pride. Reading the top stories for the rest of our country reveals even worse. However, these are the stories in which we tend to focus our attention. I begin to contemplate the sadness of this fact.
Suddenly, I am jerked back into today when several of my nieces scream and laugh over an exploding tube of biscuits in the kitchen. These young women and my only nephew have grown up so quickly and the young women have brought home boyfriends and fiancées. There is goodness in our family. I see patriotism, compassion, kindness, benevolence, goodwill, and love. They tend to the sick and elderly, they defend and protect our country, they care for sick and homeless animals…they are Extra Milers and they are the future.
Recently I was asked why I write this column when I am busy with a full time business. I thought the question a bit odd and figured the answer should be obvious to anyone who reads the column. I write The Extra Miler to spread the good word. We clearly need more focus on the good people of Southern Indiana. I also write for selfish purposes. I have made lifelong friends with many of the Extra Milers. They are all people I respect and admire. Telling you of their decency and kindness is an honor. The good work of the Extra Milers has proliferated quickly and easily throughout Southern Indiana. Everyone has an Extra Miler inside. Have you found that part of yourself?
When I was a little girl, each day my mother flipped on the bedroom light to wake me up for school. I would immediately begin pondering everything I dreaded about the upcoming day…a test…a visit to the doctor’s office…dealing with a friendship gone bad. I would innocently set into motion a bad day. By middle school, something had to change and it occurred to me that I merely needed to change my early morning routine and focus for each day. From that day forward I began to find at least one thing to look forward to during the upcoming day (even on test days)…then swinging my feet to the floor automatically became easier. More often than not, the glass was half full.
The positive thought didn’t have to be something grand. It could be as simple as my favorite lunch being served in the cafeteria or that I knew my best friend would be waiting by my locker when I arrived at school. I still do this today. If your glass is empty each morning, make a change in 2010 to find something that will make you feel good about pulling your feet to the floor each day. Maybe it is adopting a pet from the Humane Association, volunteering for the American Red Cross, helping the military families of deployed soldiers, or signing up to mentor a child who is struggling in school. There is much for you to do in Southern Indiana to fill your glass to the brim.
Extra Miler Tip of the Month: We all have both good and bad in our lives. Every morning, before your feet hit the floor, think of one thing you have to look forward to doing that day. If you do not have one thing to look forward to in your upcoming days in 2010, create it for yourself. What can you do to become a Southern Indiana Extra Miler in 2010?
The Group photograph: The VFW/American Legion Color/Honor Guard of Charlestown are: L to R: Carroll Adams, Bill Cheesman, Jim Barett, Garnett Lowe, George Roberts, Chuck Grose, Ted Holder (front: Capt. Tom Cook) - not pictured: Ward Tackett, Everitt Long, Charles Ryker, Tom Bays, and Ed Giltner.
Extra Miler Pinning: Bill Cheesman pins the Extra Miler pin on Capt. Tom Cook's lapel, as Ward Tackett watches in the background.
The Extra Miler - A Bond Between Veterans- Column #62
November 28 and December 5, 2009
By Carol Dawson
They answer the call…when needed by a grieving widow or parent. They answer the call…even when snow, ice, or rain makes it difficult to walk, much less to march while carrying flags and rifles. They answer the call…even when their own bodies ache from pains they choose to ignore. They answer the call…to honor the veterans of the United States of America.
Our Extra Milers this month are the members of the Veterans of Foreign War (VFW)/American Legion Color Guard/Honor Guard of Charlestown. They are a group of men who continue to answer the call to duty today, just as they did years ago when they answered our nation’s call to service.
I met these Extra Milers during a Color/Honor Guard service held prior to a windy 5K race in Jeffersonville. They arrived on a blue military looking bus. They arrived early; being late is not an option for what they do. They marched in their military uniforms, holding with pride the American flag, along with the VFW and American Legion flags.
As they began the ceremony, the National Anthem played in the background. The flags whipped to and fro in the wind – demanding attention. After the Anthem, the bugler, Carroll Adams, beautifully performed "Taps." As the music began, the wind momentarily stopped as if receding in respect to our veterans. Many of the runners were moved to tears and I realized how privileged I was to be standing in this spot – in this state – in this country – and near these men.
After the ceremony, Capt. Tom Cook and his men came by my office to be interviewed. There was a natural camaraderie within the group, as they easily laughed and joked with one another. As a military brat, I felt respect and an immediate kinship.
These men serve as Color/Honor Guard over veteran funerals and special veteran ceremonies. This means being called out approximately 50 or more times a year, which includes presenting the flag at more than 30 veteran funerals.
Two of the Color Guard members are 89 years old, Bill Cheesman and Garnett Lowe. Lowe has been a Color Guard member for 61 years. It has become difficult for some of the men to walk or stand for long periods, but they will continue on until they are unable to walk. I asked the men about their motivation. Capt. Cook clearly spoke for the entire group when he responded, “We do it out of honor and respect for our great country and for the veterans who serve and have honorably served in our military.”
They do it for their heroes...especially for the soldiers who served and didn’t come home. They also do it for the families who stand humbly by the graveside of their fallen veteran sons, daughters, husbands, and wives.
The constant theme throughout our conversation was honor, dignity, and respect. They are all proud of this country and despite the troubles we are having, these men believe the United Sates is the greatest country in the world. So great, several said they would serve in the military again today if they were called to duty.
Fiercely patriotic, they also know the importance of friendship and enjoying one another’s company to ensure they stay together – especially when performing such daunting and emotional tasks as military funerals. When asked about the funniest thing that occurred during a ceremony, the men laughed in tandem. Turns out, there are many…but one stood out. It was during a military funeral. Ward Tacket had not served previously as the Firer; however, he was the only person available and volunteered to shoot one of the rifles.
After the gun salute, Capt. Cook was reaching across the grave for the flag when Ward accidentally hit the trigger instead of the safety and the rifle went off. Capt. Cook was so startled by the unexpected loud noise that he nearly fell into the grave. The widow went from sobbing to hardly able to contain her laughter. They also laughed at the time Chuck Grose’s cell phone started ringing during a ceremony and instead of turning it off, he just grabbed it out of his pocket and threw it as far as he could, breaking it to pieces.
After the laughter subsided, I asked what they do when they are not working. Ted Holder spoke up, “We occasionally talk about women.” I smiled and said, “Respectfully, I presume.” “Of course,” and with a sly grin he added, “You know, we may be old, but we are not dead.” These men are irrefutably youthful, with more passion for life than many people half their age.
Typical of Extra Milers, the men wanted to thank others for allowing them to do what they can for our veterans. They thanked the American Legion, the VFW, the auxiliary women who make sure they have a warm meal waiting when they come back from Color Guard duty, the sons of the American Legion and the men’s auxiliary.
The Charlestown Color/Honor Guard members are undeniably Extra Milers for Southern Indiana. They are friends, bound together by common bonds. They believe wholeheartedly in this country and in the military men and women who currently are serving. During our interview, it occurred to me that they serve as our country’s backbone - our strongest link to freedom…and all they have ever asked in return is to know what they do is appreciated.
These men have undeniably answered the call…because their job is critical. As long as their bodies will allow them to get on that blue bus, they will stand proud with the flag and honor the veterans of this country. Thank you…thank you...thank you!
Extra Miler Tip of the Month: Veterans, the Color/Honor Guards everywhere need your support. They need younger veterans to help continue the work of honoring our country and our veterans. Please consider stepping up if you can. For the rest of us…never pass a veteran or military personnel without thanking him/her. A universal sign of thank you is touching the tips of your fingers to your chin and then holding your palms open toward the veteran you wish to thank. You can do this from across a room, the airport, or a parking lot. Two simple words that mean so much, “Thank you.”
The Extra Miler - A SOLDIER'S CHRISTMAS- Column #61 -November 7, 2009
By: Carol Baker Dawson
We all tend get caught up in our day-to-day troubles and concerns. For many of us, our daily worries and fears are miniscule compared to what our military troops are dealing with every single day.
I have spoken to several men and women who have returned from the war (and some still deployed) and across the board they all agree that support from home has been vital to their morale and confidence.
Matthew returned home to Dallas last month. He said he stopped reading the newspapers his wife sent from home because he didn’t like reading the negative stories and editorials. He said it was difficult to be interested in political bickering and economic woes back home, while he was dealing with life and death every day in Iraq. Matthew’s eyes began to well up with tears and he became silent. I waited for him to speak for what seemed like an eternity. Matthew appeared to be carefully selecting his words, “Carol, there were many days when I just felt as if nobody really cared.”
I asked him what we can do to make things better for the troops and he was very clear with his response, “Men and women are risking their lives for our country; let them know they have your support.” Matthew added, “…and I know this is selfish, but my family suffered while I was away and it would have been helpful to know that people were stepping up to help when it was needed.”
Good people of Southern Indiana, this is your opportunity to let our deployed men and women know they have your support. We are once again collecting cards and letters to send overseas to the troops (Hoosier Cheer for our Heroes). Lt. Governor Becky Skillman is hosting this effort and for the past three years Southern Indiana has been the state’s strongest contributor. I know you will not let us down this year.
I am sharing a special poem with you, written by Michael Marks, who said he is happy to share this poem with the Extra Milers of Southern Indiana.
THE SANDS OF CHRISTMAS
I had no Christmas spirit when I breathed a weary sigh,
and looked across the table where the bills were piled too high.
The laundry wasn’t finished and the car I had to fix,
My stocks were down another point, the Dolphins lost by six.
And so with only minutes till my son got home from school
I gave up on the drudgery and grabbed a wooden stool.
The burdens that I carried were about all I could take,
and so I flipped the TV on to catch a little break.
I came upon a desert scene in shades of tan and rust,
No snowflakes hung upon the wind, just clouds of swirling dust.
And where the reindeer should have stood before a laden sleigh,
eight hummers ran a column right behind an M1A.
A group of boys walked past the tank, not one was past his teens,
Their eyes were hard as polished flint, their faces drawn and lean.
They walked the street in armor with their rifles shouldered tight,
their dearest wish for Christmas, just to have a silent night.
Other soldiers gathered, hunkered down against the wind,
To share a scrap of mail and dreams of going home again.
There wasn’t much at all to put their lonely hearts at ease;
They had no Christmas turkey, just a pack of MREs.
They didn’t have a garland or a stocking I could see,
They didn’t need an ornament – they lacked a Christmas Tree.
They didn’t have a present even though it was tradition;
the only boxes I could see were labeled “ammunition.”
I felt a little tug and found my son now by my side;
He asked me what it was I feared, and why it was I cried.
I swept him up into my arms and held him oh so near
and kissed him on the forehead as I whispered in his ear.
There’s nothing wrong my little son, for safe we sleep tonight,
our heroes stand on foreign land to give us all the right,
to worry on the things in life that mean nothing at all,
instead of wondering if we will be the next to fall.
He looked at me as children do and said it’s always right,
to thank the ones who help us and perhaps that we should write.
And so we pushed aside the bills and sat to draft a note,
to thank the many far from home, and this is what we wrote,
God bless you all and keep you safe, and speed your way back home.
Remember that we love you so, and that you’re not alone.
The gift you give you share with all, a present every day,
You give the gift of liberty and that we can’t repay.
©Copyright December 2003 by Michael Marks
Extra Miler Tip of the Month: The boxes for your cards/letters are found at the offices of The Evening News, New Albany Tribune and One Southern Indiana. Deadline is November 18 (no envelopes). Please show our troops that Southern Indiana appreciates their service. If you are interested in helping with projects dedicated to our veterans, contact the Clark County American Red Cross. They have many opportunities to help and many more coming soon.
The Extra Miler - Dear United States of America... - Column #60 - October 3, 2009
By Carol Dawson
Dear United States of America,
I took a journey this summer - a nine-week outing through your backyard – looking for extra milers and taking great pleasure in the diversity of your land, your history, and your people. Despite the fact this is my home, I had no idea the depth of your natural resources, the beauty and rareness of your landscape, or the adventure that would lie before me.
I stood in front of your Grand Canyon and felt a power swirl around my body like a great wind gradually settling into my bones. I climbed New Mexico’s Sandia Mountain and gasped for breath as I reached 11,000 ft. above sea level and cautiously crawled to the edge to witness the spectacular display of colors from the deep canyon below. In a quiet corner of Arkansas, a 67 ft. bright white sculpture of Jesus “Christ of the Ozarks,” reassured my heart.
I climbed through your Craters of the Moon caves and spent an entire day marveling that black rock made from volcanic ash could be so radiant. I felt one with nature as Yellowstone’s great wild elk and bison stood majestically before me. I heard the steadfast protective cries of your tiny prairie dogs in South Dakota. I stood between water falls in Oregon and danced with puppies on the beach.
Your magnificent island off the coast of Lake Michigan revealed life can still exist in harmony with nature; without powerful engines ruling the streets. In Northern Indiana, clean white sand from the dunes filtered through my toes, as rolling turquoise waves performed an incredible imitation of the ocean. My mind halted the chatter and worry of everyday life as I sat among your colossal Redwood trees. I cried for no reason.
The Pacific Ocean provided a flowing lullaby as I drifted to sleep. I dreamed in vibrant colors; tracing and retracing the exotic and striking outline and colors of your land. I caressed earth’s foundation as if it were some exotic and unfamiliar fabric. I read and heard about the history of this land and learned to respect the lives led by your remarkable native people.
Every single day your land and people provided something incredible to bring memories of the friends and family I love. I was inspired to sing with abandon, love intently, breathe deeply, communicate clearly, release anger quickly, and to give praise for the power and depth of my faith.
Across the land, the acceptance of diversity was heartwarming… people who truly care for one another and embrace a multitude of differences. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." The majority of your people are good within – they are kind, caring, generous, and wise.
America is not lacking in Extra Milers. They pick up trash when nobody is looking, stop to give directions even when rushed for appointments, give cheer when despair seems inescapable, and offer a hand when you fall. They span the country in large numbers; quietly stepping up when needed.
Unsettled that it took so long to taste your fruit and walk your paths; I am now mindful of the possibilities of this land. America, I will not wait so long to visit again.
The Extra Miler - In Search of Extra Milers (and Adventure)- Column #59 - July 4, 2009
Carol A. Dawson
Have you ever made plans to be gone from your home and/or work, only to find everything seems to require your attention just before you walk out the door? This is happening to me and my husband, Ken.
Ken and I began plans two years ago to save for a two month trip across the United States to play competitive badminton in the Senior Olympics. My friend, Paula Brightbill, played volleyball in the Senior Olympic Games in Louisville two years ago and I became so inspired and enthralled with the event that plans began that week to play in the 2009 Games in San Francisco.
First we had to select a co-ed doubles game we could learn quickly in order to qualify at the state level by the following summer. Since I played badminton one semester in college and enjoyed the speed and excitement of the game, I talked Ken into learning the sport. I plumb forgot the fact that I was 30 year younger when last excited about participating in this extremely fast paced sport.
We found a club in Louisville and starting weekly practices. We discovered badminton is the number one played sport in the world, yet hardly known beyond the garden variety typically played in the United States. We also discovered that the people who typically play the sport in the United States grew up playing as young children in their native country. Finally, we discovered that beginner badminton players who are over 50 years old will experience aches and pains in muscles they didn’t know existed.
Despite those discoveries, we qualified in Indiana and also Kentucky last summer and began to finalize our trip plans to the San Francisco Bay area by purchasing a 2001 RV. We have a partial route set up and plan to leave in the next few days. Plans are to take the southern route to California and return through the northern states.
A blog has been created for our readers to follow this adventure and it is named for this column: In Search of Extra Milers. The address is: http://www.ExtraMilers.blogspot.com
You might enjoy reading about Extra Milers beyond the borders of Southern Indiana for a couple of months. Upon return, several stories of inspiring Southern Indiana Extra Milers are waiting for completion…can’t wait for you to meet them!
Ken and I don’t expect to come home with shiny medals - that was never our goal. We are in this for the adventure and the opportunity to be challenged, while simultaneously meeting everyday people who perform remarkable acts of goodness – Extra Milers across the USA. Despite the many roadblocks this past week, we are ready to hit the road. Join us on this journey.
FOR EARLIER COLUMNS, CLICK HERE
Carol's newspaper column THE EXTRA MILERS ~ News and Tribune ~ Columns 59-102
Featuring People Who Make a Difference in the Lives of Others
For Columns 1-58, CLICK HERE
EEO GUIDANCE, Inc.
CALL 812-284-2993 or email us: Cdawson@eeoguidance.com
The Extra Miler — A Dream for Haiti Amputees - Column #102
BY CAROL DAWSON |
On a hot day in June 2010, a missionary walked through a Haiti village assessing the devastation after the catastrophic earthquake. The heat was especially difficult to endure for the Haitians dealing with serious injuries, family death, and homelessness. There were many needs and it was difficult for the missionary to know where to begin. Suddenly he felt a tap on his shoulder and Dr. Fred Sorrells turned around to see something he had not seen since arriving in Haiti…a smile.
Giscard Ciney had seen Fred and knew he was on a mission to help his country heal from the devastating impact of the earthquake. Giscard, who had become quite proficient in English, could see the concern and empathy on Fred’s face and he wanted to help. He offered his services as an interpreter. Fred agreed and a long term bond, based upon a common desire to help others, was born.
Giscard explained, “We were both aware of the desperate situation of the Haitian people with disabilities and decided to work toward creating a better life for them, specifically the thousands of amputees. Since football, your version is soccer, was such a popular sport, we worked to connect the amputees to the game they loved. I stay involved with the program, but Fred is their team manager.”
Funds were raised to outfit the team with uniforms and equipment, including the appropriate crutches in order to compete. It wasn’t long before the team began playing internationally and the positive impact on the young men was phenomenal.
Fast forward to the summer of 2014…Giscard was asked by his church to interpret for several missionaries from Graceland Baptist church in Southern Indiana. One of the missionaries was John Hallows and they became quick friends. During a car trip to church one day, John asked Giscard about his work with individuals who are amputees and Giscard told of his dream to become a Physical Therapist (PT).
Giscard explained to John that the Haitian people with disabilities are often shunned by society, excluded from the educational system and left to beg for money and food. Educational degrees in Haiti for physical therapy were not available at that time because therapy could not be afforded by most people in need.
Giscard spoke of his vision to open a Medical Center in Haiti that would serve individuals with disabilities, specifically the thousands of amputees, and to offer affordable or no cost care.
Giscard’s biggest hurdle was and continues to be the finances to make his education possible. He has a wife and young daughter back in Haiti and there is no financial sustenance for education and living expenses. John had an idea. He spoke to his sister, Karen Decker, about taking Giscard into her home while he obtained his degree and after some coaxing, she agreed.
In addition to finding a way to pay for his education, Giscard must also be able help his family, which includes siblings and an ailing mother. He sold everything he could in order to pay for the plane ticket and figured he would work hard combining his studies with a job to afford this opportunity. He arrived in Indiana with nothing more than a backpack of belongings.
Karen worried she would not be able to do enough to make Giscard’s goal a reality. A retired school teacher, Karen simply knew she had to do whatever she could. She started with the basics of clothing and necessities, and then began driving Giscard to be tested prior to starting college at Ivy Technical College. After taking writing and English as a second Language (ESL) classes, he started his first semester of classes in January.
Another serious obstacle for Giscard was his educational visa mandatory restrictions on working while attending college. At this time he relies on sponsors for tuition assistance. Giscard explained how he felt about not working, “It was devastating to learn that I would not be able to work full time to make the money for my education, but I am in this to make lives better for others and I just know God will guide me through this problem.” While friends at Giscard’s adopted church, First Christian Church (FCC), have assisted with tuition, he still worries about funding the balance for this and future semesters.
When FCC Pastor Dave Brown was asked how Giscard fell in the realm of being an Extra Miler, he stated, “Giscard has become passionate about the plight of amputees in Haiti as that population has really grown following the 2010 earthquake. Part of his efforts to use amputee soccer as a vehicle for social change includes the need for understanding physical therapy. He has taken time away from his wife, Kattly, and daughter Elisha-Sainy, in order to study here in the United States. It is a completely mission-driven and selfless pursuit with the benefit of others in mind.”
Sitting in a warm kitchen, I spoke with Karen and Giscard about their intertwined lives and how they were getting along. Giscard refers to Karen as “Mom,” and he explained, “What she is doing for me is only what a mom would do. To call her mom is the best way to show the respect I have for her. She treats me like a son and I am so grateful to have her in my life.” Karen described Giscard as an intelligent, versatile, caring, and spiritual young man. She added, “He is kind and thoughtful to everyone he meets and doesn’t hesitate to step up when anyone is in need.”
When asked about his wife and daughter in Haiti, Giscard began to respond but stopped, lowered his head, and began to cry. He slowly looked up and said, “I am sorry. My wife and daughter are both treasures and to have left them in Haiti is more painful than I can ever express. I facetime them every day and my mom here always encourages me when I get sad and miss them too much. It is the most difficult when my daughter asks if I am coming home soon.” Across the table, Karen is empathetically looking at Giscard with tears streaming down her face, a response any caring and loving mom would have for her son.
Tip of the Month: Giscard Ciney has given up his life in order to make a difference for others who are less fortunate. If you wish to support Giscard’s education, a fund raising site has been set up at Crowdrise.com – just type in Giscard Ciney and his site should pop up. Please give if you can, or share his funding page with others who can. Also, if you wish to directly support the Haitian Amputee Football (Soccer) team, we are selling t-shirts (as worn by Giscard in the photo) and we can mail them to you (or pick them up at News and Tribune offices). Email Carol Dawson at the email address below and details can be provided.
— Carol Dawson is a resident of Jeffersonville and owner of EEO GUIDANCE, Inc. To submit an Extra Miler, a story, or act of kindness, contact Carol via email: Cdawson@eeoguidance.com or mail: Carol Dawson, THE EXTRA MILER, The News-Tribune, 221 Spring St., Jeffersonville, IN 47130-3340.