Working Hard to Change Your Area

I received an email that had this story and I thought it was inspiring and wanted to share it.  You can make a difference, start today.   The Daffodil Principle The story began with a woman whose daughter wanted her to come down to see daffodils. She did not wish to go and did not see the point in it, until she arrived.  "It looked as though someone had taken a great vat of gold and poured it over the mountain peak and its surrounding slopes. The flowers were planted in majestic, swirling patterns, great ribbons and swathes of deep orange, creamy white, lemon yellow, salmon pink, and saffron and butter yellow. Each different-colored variety was planted in large groups so that it swirled and flowed like its own river with its own unique hue. There were five acres of flowers." When she asked who made this beautiful landscape the answer surprises her. 'Just one woman,' Carolyn answered. 'She lives on the property. That's her home.' Carolyn pointed to a well-kept A-frame house, small and modestly sitting in the midst of all that glory. We walked up to the house. On the patio, we saw a poster. 'Answers to the Questions I Know You Are Asking', was the headline. The first answer was a simple one. ' 50,000 bulbs,' it read. The second answer was, 'One at a time, by one woman. Two hands, two feet, and one brain.' The third answer was, 'Began in 1958.' For me, that moment was a life-changing experience. I thought of this woman whom I had never met, who, more than forty years before, had begun, one bulb at a time, to bring her vision of beauty and joy to an obscure mountaintop. Planting one bulb at a time, year after year, this unknown woman had forever changed the world in which she lived. One day at a time, she had created something of extraordinary magnificence, beauty, and inspiration The principle her daffodil garden taught is one of the greatest principles of celebration. That is, learning to move toward our goals and desires one step at a time--often just one baby-step at a time--and learning to love the doing, learning to use the accumulation of time. When we multiply tiny pieces of time with small increments of daily effort, we too will find we can accomplish magnificent things. We can change the world 'It makes me sad in a way,' I admitted to Carolyn. 'What might I have accomplished if I had thought of a wonderful goal thirty-five or forty years ago and had worked away at it 'one bulb at a time' through all those years? Just think what I might have been able to achieve!' My daughter summed up the message of the day in her usual direct way. 'Start tomorrow,' she said May we all start making a difference today.

Here’s One Way to Support a Cause

While in Charleston, South Carolina on Saturday I followed the sounds of live music into a downtown park.  The Farmers Market was in full swing, as were musicians and artists. People were buying produce, dog treats, arts and crafts, and enjoying the huge play area with the little ones. I came upon a tent run by young girls and a couple of moms who were selling colorful keys for $5.  Not only were they lively and courteous sales people, they had the glow of giving about them. During our conversation I learned Keys for Hope was started by a group of kids in Mt. Pleasant who wanted to raise money and awareness for their local homeless shelter. They also want to empower kids around the world to raise money and awareness for causes they're most passionate about.  So far they've donated $40,000.00.  Yes, you read correctly.  $40,000.00 for the homeless shelter.  It takes dedication, determination and kind hearts to paint many keys and to put up a tent every Saturday, staff it, and tell the story again and again. One girl, all of 12, will be speaking to the congregation of a large local church about this project.  The group is becoming so well known that they're invited to participate in arts and crafts festivals outside the city free of fees. That's commitment.  That's passion.  That's success.  You Go Girls!

Sell Fine Crafts to Help Refugee Families

Do you need funds to support your organization’s refugee projects?  Let us help. When you sell our items at your next fundraiser, we’ll contribute a percentage of sales to your  vital work. By now you may have clicked on the Fine Crafts tab.  As you know all of our work is handcrafted with low fire clay, sanded, fired in a kiln and painted in striking acrylic colors.  They are then wired and beaded using commercial quality findings.   Each piece is then signed.  We offer affordable pieces appealing to every age. If you support an organization that needs funding to help those who have fled armed conflict, political oppression or displacement from their homeland, we'll supply our ornaments, magnets and/or pins for your fundraisers. To find out more please Contact Me.    

You Can Make A Difference No Matter Your Age

Last evening I spoke with a dear friend in California.  She’s 91, has severe emphysema and is on oxygen.  Her outings are limited to attending church and playing bridge.  Some time ago she lost a son.  Recently she lost her only daughter. She described a young woman she’d met at church who seemed adrift.  She’d lost her job, was short of funds, and had lost the will to continue looking for employment.   My friend, whose no nonsense approach to life may be disconcerting  to some, explained to the young woman that without education she was destined to continue the cycle of defeat.   She must get a job, go to night school and change her life. Thanks to my friend’s generosity with gas money and heartfelt advice, the young woman has finished her internship in the health field.  She was hired by that employer,  who was impressed with her motivation and determination, and is looking forward to a rewarding career. What is my friend’s reward for making a difference?   The young woman calls her  Mom.

Interview with Sioux Falls Refugee Mentor

Today I interviewed Sarah, a refugee mentor from Sioux Falls SD. What made you decide to be a mentor? The simple answer is God. The complex answer is after doing short term service and one time volunteer work I felt prompted to be more involved in something that was lasting and long term. While researching my options I came across the need for mentors for refugee families in Sioux Falls. It resonated with me because of my missions background. I went on mission trips every year from the age of 12 through college and I wanted to do something like that again. I told my husband my idea and he said he had felt led there too. That was confirmation to us that God was leading us to mentor. What did the process look like to become a refugee mentor? First we met with a case worker at Lutheran Social Services and filled out an application. It was very simple. They then did a background check. We had a young daughter and a 6-month-old son at the time. We knew mentoring a family would take a lot of time, and young children are also time consuming, so we decided to partner with another mentor who was in a different stage of life. Lutheran Social Services gave us two families to choose from. One was a family of four and the other was a family of 9—we choose the family of 9. We felt a family that size would have a lot of needs and probably have a harder time finding a match. The family was also from Africa, and our partner mentor‘s parents were missionaries in Africa for a long time, so we felt it was the perfect match. What was included in the commitment to mentor? Everyone sets it up differently. Our commitment was for six months 2 hours a week. We were to meet with the family, get to know them and be a friend to them, helping them as needs arose. We ended up mentoring them longer by choice. For their first year here we mentored them regularly, then about once a month after that. Now they have been here for 3½ years and we still get together from time to time or they call if they need help with something. Tell me more about the family you mentored and the types of things you did for them. There were two parents and 7 children ranging in ages 2 to 17. The mother was pregnant when they arrived. They were citizens of Burundi Africa, but came from a Tanzania refugee camp. They knew no English when they arrived. They came in September, and we went with them to all the doctor visits to get the children ready for school. They needed school supplies and backpacks. We took them on their first trip to the grocery store and were there to help the kids on the bus for their first day of school. We taught them how to ride the city bus. They did not know how to run a thermostat for their home so we taught them that. There was a time that they plugged in too many things and the breaker was flipped. They thought the electricity had been turned out, so we had to show them where the breaker box was and how to flip it back on. With the help of our church we got them a washer and dryer and taught them how to use it. Being from Africa they were not prepared for the seasons and the cold weather we have. After our first snow storm the girls got off the bus and walked home in flip flops. We had to get them winter boots and explain how to dress for the weather here. In the beginning, it was meeting immediate needs: getting the supplies they needed, making doctor appointments, helping them with parent teacher conferences and taking them on weekly grocery shopping trips. They knew what needed to be done, but lacked the language to do it. How did you see their lives change through your mentorship? They gained confidence and independence. Having our children play together helped their children pick up the language and feel comfortable making friends.  We helped them get driver’s licenses and find a car after being here for a year and a half. We helped them navigate the city. Now they are doing very well. They speak English, work, drive and live very independently. We have seen one of their daughters graduate from high school. Two more will be graduating this year. Last year we helped them fill out paperwork to apply for a Habitat for Humanity House. They have been approved and now have to put in sweat equity to help build their home. We have a good open relationship now. It’s no longer scheduled but we like to get together for dinner and they know they can call us if something happens—they have a friend. Do you recommend mentoring to others? Yes. Everywhere I go I tell people they should become a mentor. Go for it. Jump in. My cousin knew my experience and recently got their small group from church to join with them in mentoring a family of 5. As far as volunteering and impacting lives, I think this is one of the top things you can do. It effects change in people’s lives. For the mentors who do it, it is a very enriching experience. God meets you on that path and provides opportunities to grow yourself.

From Sarah’s story we can see the huge difference a mentor can make in the life of a refugee. Getting involved makes a lasting change. Whose life will you impact? You don’t have to do it alone—partner with friends or a church group to mentor together. If you have a story to share, please contact me.