Monday, October 29, 2012

Simple Things Do Matter

            I was busy cleaning the house when my doorbell rang.  When I opened the door, I was surprised to see a friend who I haven’t seen in months. 

“I’ve had these pictures sitting on my front seat for a month and when I saw your car in the driveway, I thought I would drop them off,” she explained.

I thanked her and she apologized that she couldn’t stay long because she was taking a casserole to her friend who had surgery.  We hugged and said our goodbyes and after flipping through the pictures of my daughter at a skate park, I went back to work, the encounter a distant memory.

A few days later, I told a mutual friend about the brief visit and let her know that our friend was doing well, but insanely busy.  During that conversation, the importance of what my friend was doing amidst her chaos hit me.  With everything else she was doing, she took the time to take care of a friend.      

It’s a simple act that is easily overlooked, but when my youngest daughter was born and I was still in the hospital, the neighbors brought food to my husband.  It was nothing fancy, but it was something that helped him through a time when there was so many other things going on.  My brother has similar stories about food deliveries when his children were born. 

Too many times we think that we have to do something big to make a difference, but really the small things can make a change too.  The worst thing that we can do is pass up an opportunity to do something good because we think it’s too small. If you make someone smile or breathe a sigh of relief, you have made a change.  You’ve turned their day around in a good way. 

So, hold the door open for someone, tell the cashier to have a wonderful day, make a phone call to a friend you haven’t spoken to in a while, and smile because someone just might need it. 

Monday, October 22, 2012


            In the second presidential debate, Mitt Romney said that a lot of people had just plain given up hope and stopped looking for jobs.  Whether that is the fault of the current administration or not is for the politicians to argue.  I don’t care about the politics.  I do care that Mr. Romney was correct. 

I liken it to when I finish cleaning the living room and move on to the dining room.  Within five minutes, my five year old daughter has undone everything that I did in the living room.  It’s a continual battle.  I clean and she gives me more to clean.  Eventually I throw my hands in the air and give up.  Does that make me lazy?  Not really.  I’ve just hit my breaking point. 

Many people out there in this economy have gone to job interview after job interview and put hours into sending out resumes.  But, there are only so many jobs out there and there are so many people looking.  Eventually, some people hit their breaking point.    

Now is a good time for those of us who are blessed with a job to give them hope.  All you need to do is check out your community website or your church to find a program that fits you.  Maybe you have clothes to donate.  Maybe you have canned goods.  Maybe you have time to volunteer.  Whatever the case, a little hope can make a big difference.   

Friday, October 5, 2012

Feed My Starving Children

(Thank you to FMSC for permission to use their logo)
            It was a brisk Saturday evening when a group of parishioners from Prince of Peace Lutheran Church of Palatine Illinois met to make the trek to Schaumburg.  It’s not a long drive by any stretch of the imagination, but their trip would not end there.  Schaumburg would be the starting point for their hearts to make a longer journey; one that would take their love to countries outside of the United States.  Their destination was Feed My Starving Children’s (FMSC) Schaumburg packing site. 

            FMSC is a Christian organization whose goal is to feed the starving children around the world.  Their success depends on donations and volunteers.  Ninety-two percent of the donations go directly to the food program.  Through the utilization of volunteers, labor costs are negligible bringing the cost to produce a meal down to a mere twenty-two cents.  These meals are specifically designed to meet the needs of severely malnourished children.  More information about FMSC, the contents of the meals and how to volunteer can be found at

            FMSC packing sites are located in Minnesota where the organization started, and in Illinois and Arizona.  In Schaumburg, the parishioners of Prince of Peace volunteered for a two hour shift.  Some weighed the food, others packed it and still others sealed the plastic bags.  At the end of the shift, a prayer was said over the food and then the volunteers were told how many children would eat due to their efforts.  They were delighted to learn that by giving up two hours of their time, 65 children would be able to eat for a year.  It takes longer than that to make a Thanksgiving dinner to feed nine for one day (a week when you consider leftovers).    This is a great volunteer opportunity where the whole family can be involved including children ages five and up. 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

A PATH to Hope

(Thank you to PATH for permission to use their logo)

            I was at the park with my daughter the other day when her friend fell and got a bloody lip.  I quickly whipped out the napkins that were in my pocket and handed them to his mother.  Another parent ran to his car and retrieved a bottle of water to wash the wound.  In a few minutes, the crisis was taken care of. 

Wouldn’t it be great if all crises could be solved this smoothly?  The Palatine Assisting through Hope (PATH) organization has created a network to do just that.  Spearheaded by Rich Tyack, PATH has an email network of volunteers who spring into action when the organization is informed of a crisis situation.  For example, a fire displaces a family.  PATH is called and they immediately email the volunteers with a list of needs.  Joe responds to the email that he has a bag of clothes that will fit the youngest boy.  Marie responds to the email that she just won a one hundred dollar gift card in the sweepstakes at her grocery store and she would love to donate it to the family.  Jimmy has just updated his son’s bedroom and emails PATH his intent to donate a bed.  Soon, people who had just lost everything have a fresh start thanks to the email volunteers.  A community rises up to help their fellow man in need. 

This is the dream that Rich Tyack and his friends shared while volunteering at the Palatine Opportunity Center.  Crisis after crisis came into the center and after a while, Rich and his friends decided that there had to be a better way.  While they were on a fishing trip they hatched the plan to create PATH. 

            Most births come with some pain and the birth of PATH was no different.  There were some growing pains and lessons that had to be learned.  Just as we can’t do everything for our children, they had to learn that they couldn’t help everyone.  They decided to focus on crisis situations. 

            Beyond dealing with crisis situations, PATH has created an annual outreach program named, “Day of Giving.”    The event is the Friday evening and the Saturday morning after Thanksgiving.  Volunteers prepare for this day the Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving by helping to sort and move the donated items.  It’s a wonderful way for the whole family to be involved helping out others.  On the “Day of Giving,” families that are in need are given bags to fill with the donated items.  Typically 1500 people are served on this day.

            PATH’s board is made up of three members who are volunteers with a day job on the side.  The success of this organization is dependent on volunteers who have a strong desire to help others get a leg up when they are down.  If you are interested in volunteering to be a part of the email network or to help out in the “Day of Giving” event please visit their website at