Sunday, April 23, 2006
VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES IN KANSAS CITY
Just thought I'd post some links to local and national charities that need volunteers. Some I have personal experience with and some I've only heard about - but all have a good reputation.
This first one is a home in KC for abused children. They have opportunities for volunteers working directly with abused children and monetary donations:
Here is one teaching literacy to adults in the Kansas City area. Their website has volunteer information:
The Kansas City Free Health Clinic provides medical services to indigent folks in the community. They do a lot of work with AIDS patients specifically, but it is certainly not limited to that. They have volunteer opportunities for Dr.'s and Dentists but also for lay people handling various administrative tasks. Here is the link for volunteer info:
Big Brothers and Sisters of Greater Kansas City - Mentoring for kids in one parent households:
This next one is a link to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's Team in Training. You raise money for the leukemia and lymphoma Society while training for a running/walking/cycling/triathlon event. They have informational meetings all the time where you could go and see if it would be something you'd be interested in. The coaching you receive throughout the training is particularly invaluable:
If you are interested in homeless issues - this is a really good one. It does have a religious bent - but has a great mission and does so much to help the homeless community in KC.
Here is the link to the local United Way agency that could help you get involved in numerous volunteer projects in KC:
I found a cool website to help match volunteers with organizations in Kansas City. Here is the link:
I also have some links on this blog to a few other national organizations like:
ONE - which is an organization to help end world poverty:
Million Voices for Darfur - this has an action plan for local groups which would be great if you are wanting to start your own type of group:
Happy Volunteering !!!
Wednesday, April 19, 2006
FORGIVENESS AND RECONCILIATION
Murder Victims' Families for Reconciliation, Inc.
"Reconciliation means accepting you can't undo the murder but you can decide how you want to live afterwards."
This is an organization that is near and dear to my heart. I love the idea behind reconciliation. It is a wonderful combination of forgiveness and letting go of the anger and moving on. I respect the activism and the mission behind this organization. Plain and simple it is to abolish the death penalty.
Each of their members has lost a loved one to murder, through homicide or execution, and every one in it opposes the death penalty. You may also join the organization as a "friend" (one who has not experienced the loss of a loved one through murder) but who supports MVFR's work to abolish the death penalty. Their members are people who have come to believe that their own grief will not be lessened by causing pain to others.
For more info on this wonderful organization please check out the link to their website.
I've heard a few people from this organization speak and it has always been a very moving experience. One was a woman whose father was a minister. When she was a teenager she and her father were in the parrish house when a person came in to rob them. The perpetrator ultimately killed her father and left her for dead. She eventually recovered from her injuries and her anger and pain over what had happened. She later testified in the trial of her attacker - for his defense. She was threatened by the prosecuting attorney and by the Judge about what she might testify to. But, she had a mission, and that was to let the jury know she had forgiven her father's attacker and did not want him to receive the death penalty. Another member had a daughter killed in the Oklahoma City bombing. He spoke on behalf of Timothy McVeigh all over the country and did not want him to receive the death penalty. What amazing people with tremendous capacities to forgive and to change their lives forever.
On that note, I was moved today by hearing the various victim's family members from 9/11 - The World Trade Center - testifying on behalf of Zacarious Moussaoui. "Testifying in Moussaoui's defense at his sentencing trial, the 9/11 witnesses spoke of coping and of honoring the memory of loved ones through scholarships and good deeds."
Phil Hirschkorn from CNN wrote:
"The witnesses, like others that came before them, were not permitted to offer opinions about whether or not Moussaoui should be executed. Not one even uttered the defendant's name in court.
Their sense of loss was just as great as that of prosecution witnesses, but their testimony struck a muted contrast to the heart-wrenching stories of those other 9/11 families. Anthony Aversano grew up estranged from his father, Lou, a Manhattan executive, after his parents' divorce. He reconciled with his father in a phone call on September 11, 1999.
"We had a lifetime of relationship in a couple of years," Aversano testified.
After the September 11 attacks, Aversano said he learned to overcome his negative feelings.
"How I fight the terror in me is to live my life well," he told the jury. "If I let myself succumb to the fear, that will lead to fear and anger and hatred," he said. "Not only were planes hijacked that day, but my life was gonna be added to the list of casualties."
Celebrating a life
Donald Bane, an Episcopal priest, lost his son, Michael, 33, who was working for insurer Marsh and McLennan, on the north tower's 100th floor, when the first plane struck on 9/11. Bane said it took him a while to sort out his feelings of rage and revenge. He has initiated dialogues between Christian and Muslim groups and plans to name a colt after his son. The family has also endowed a scholarship, Keep The Music Going, at Michael's alma mater, SUNY-Stoneybrook.
"Every day we miss him," he said. "To do things that promote a celebration of life, whether a colt, or Keep The Music Going, or people talking to each other and trying to solve their problems without killing each other, that's what I think our lives ought to be about," Bane said.
Marilynn Rosenthal lost her son, Josh, 44, a financial analyst for Fiduciary Trust, in the Trade Center's south tower. She said her family also refuses to succumb to the pain.
"We're not going to get caught up in a whirlpool of frustration and sadness and anger," she said.
Rosenthal, an adjunct professor at the University of Michigan's medical school, told jurors her family has endowed a public policy lecture series named after her son at the school. She also is writing a book about coming to terms with the attacks. "We feel something good has to come out of it," Rosenthal said.
Officer's last day
Patricia Perry's son, John, 38, was a police officer who was quitting the force on the morning of September 11, 2001. A cop who was a proud member of the American Civil Liberties Union, he wanted to put his law degree to work.
Perry had had the acting bug and was often an extra in uniform on the soap opera "One Live To Live." He was literally handing in his badge at NYPD headquarters in Lower Manhattan when the twin towers were hit.
"He said, give me back my badge, I'll return, and we'll finish this," his mother testified.
Perry was among the 23 NYPD officers killed trying to rescue others. NYU Law School now gives an award in his name to the student who shows the most dedication to civil liberties.
Robin Theurkauf, whose husband, Thomas, 44, was a financial analyst for Keefe, Bruette and Woods in the Trade Center, said she and her three sons were heartbroken at his death.
"It's a hard thing to come to accept and to come to manage," she said. "We did as many fun things that we could to keep ourselves together." His boys were 9, 11 and 12 when he died. "I am glad they were old enough to remember their father," she said.
More families to testify
Orlando Rodriguez's son, Greg, 31, was among the 658 employees killed working for Cantor Fitzgerald brokerage firm on five floors atop the Trade Center's north tower.
"He was a person who could talk to anybody under any circumstances," Rogriguez said. "He had a talent for looking at people as human beings regardless of their faults."
More September 11 families are expected to appear on Thursday.
Earlier in the day, jurors heard from mental health and cult experts.
Moussaoui is the only person tried in this country in connection with the September 11 attacks. The 37-year-old French citizen pleaded guilty to terrorism conspiracy a year ago.
Jurors, who already have held Moussaoui responsible for at least some of the nearly 3,000 deaths on 9/11, will decide whether he should be executed or spend the rest of his life in prison.
Some 9/11 families have said publicly that they don't want Moussaoui to receive the death penalty because it would make him a martyr."
We should take the concept of forgiveness and reconciliation and apply it to our state justice system here in Missouri. A program where "offenders" (that is what they call people in the Department of Corrections) meet the victims of their crimes. Everyone has to be ready and willing to participate. All parties must submit to some counseling first and everyone has to be stable and have the right mind set before the first meeting. But, what a wonderful concept and I strongly believe the result would be a much lower recidivism rate for these "offenders". Now that would really be something......
But of Course He Does.......
Today in a speech, President Bush stated "I decide what is best" when it comes to Donald Rumsfeld.
"Recently, six retired generals, including former commanders of two Army divisions that saw combat in Iraq, have called for Rumsfeld to resign. They accuse him of ignoring advice from senior officers about how to fight the war and sending too few troops into Iraq to manage the occupation after the March 2003 invasion.
Those calling for Rumsfeld's resignation are retired Maj. Gen. Charles Swannack, who led the 82nd Airborne Division during its mission in Iraq; former U.S. Central Command chief Gen. Anthony Zinni; retired Maj. Gen. John Batiste, who led the 1st Infantry Division in northern Iraq in 2004-2005; retired Army Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton; retired Army Maj. Gen. John Riggs; and retired Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold."
This is more of the same Bush Administration....Vintage Bush one might even say. He refuses to ever admit a mistake. The recent changes in the White House, for example the announcement of the resignation of Press Secretary Scott McClellan, also speak to Bush's lack of humility. There is no mistake ever admitted - no admission of even a shake-up. Just a resignation with some sort of statement pretending like it has been planned for a long time. Then, there are his choices of people to "sacrifice" in this supposed big shake up. Okay, the Trade Ambassador, the Press Secretary, the Treasury Secretary. What is next - the Secretary of Agriculture? These are the changes the American people are really calling for !!!????
What President Bush really needs is a large slice of humble pie served with a generous scoop of "smart" so when HE DECIDES it will at least be a decision we can all live with including our soldiers in Iraq.
Tuesday, April 11, 2006
WHO GETS IN ?
"Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, With conquering limbs astride from land to land; Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name, Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame. "Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
SHOULD THE IMAGE OF AMERICA
As Americans - what is our image to the world? Immigration is one way we present our image. The recent debate on this issue is heating up and Congress is trying to put a new system in place. This is one of the most divisive issues we have today involving so many other issues like race, class, power, wealth, security. I fear the conservatives will win this debate and our image worldwide will suffer more than it has already under the current administration.
At least President Moron's plan allows for Guest Workers. Some of the hard line Republicans are calling for felony charges to be filed against every person caught over here illegally. Our jails and courthouses are overflowing now - can you imagine the clusterf**k it would be if we had millions of new felony offenses added to the docket and our prison systems? Unrealistic and impossible. Time magazine recently did a poll and a large number of Americans support tougher penalties on illegal aliens. It saddens me to hear the rhetoric of the far right on this issue. And frankly, it saddens me to hear some of my fellow American's opinions on this issue. Barely concealed racism and nationalistic behavior. This is how Hitler began turning the tide of public opinion prior to WWII in Germany. It started slowly with a nationalistic viewpoint and spread unchallenged until it was too late to change it.
This brings me to the so called Minutemen project in some of the border states. To read about these border guard groups - check out my the link to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The Southern Poverty Law Center was started by a couple of really dedicated folks including famed civil rights attorney, Morris Dees. They are a nationally recognized clearinghouse for information on hate groups. They report that individuals and groups with white supremicist ties are using the border guard projects to promote their racist messages.
I live in the Kansas City Metro area. These issues don't have a day to day effect on me or others in the midwest. Not really..........the worst thing people here can say is that they have to listen to a Spanish speaking option on the phone when they are trying to pay their Sprint bill, or they have to select the "English" option on the ATM machine. Believe it or not, I hear people bitching about that. Well, I have something to say to these people and if you don't want to hear it - leave my blog now !!
GROW UP AND GET OVER IT !!! If the biggest bitch you have in your life is how you have to waste a precious millisecond of your Plaza Shopping time having to hit the button to pick English before you get $200 out of your account to have lunch at The Cheesecake Factory before you go buy your Ann Taylor Loft outfit - then you need a real job. And most of all you need some human compassion and empathy for those less fortunate than you that are just trying to provide a little food and hope for their own families. And not in the form of a slice of Turtle Cheesecake and a size four pink cardigan twin set.