March 15, 2009
I called Leah last night: Sunday morning in the Philippines. I could hear the roosters squawking. It was difficult to hear Leah, though.
I felt as if I were talking on one of those tin-can-and-string phones that I’d made as a child. There were long pauses between when I spoke and when she heard what I’d said, so we kept overlapping our questions and answers. We spent a lot of time saying “Leah?” “Cheryl?” “Yes, Cheryl, I’m here.” “Yes, Leah, I’m here. Go ahead.”
I called to congratulate her on completing her first year as a teacher. Her school year ends on March 20 then she has administrative work until the end of March. She’d like to teach in a public school when classes resume in June. She said there were 28 applicants for her local public school and no positions available: no one had retired.
Once she’s on vacation, she will help with “our project,” as she calls it. Leah will be a member of our local committee that will find candidates for the first Isis Initiative scholarship, as part of “Leah’s Dream,” our project inspired by Leah. At the age of 31, she returned to college and achieved her dream of becoming a teacher .
I told her I planned to visit her soon to see her family and work on “our project.”
I’m working on that airplane ticket. Anyone with ideas or…. Donations? A reward ticket?
Thank you. And Congratulations, Leah!
March 3, 2009
So many people contributed to the success of our Mardi Gras fundraiser. I’m old-fashioned; I’ve sent hand-written thank-you notes. I wanted to use the modern tech tools and give a shout out and link to the people who helped us raise $600 and have a good time doing it.
The J Hatch Trio: There would be no fundraiser without the generosity and talent of my brother, J. I asked him to play our benefit on his vacation and he leaped in with both Converse, low-top happy feet. J volunteered his time, talent and money during his short six-day vacation in Oregon. He wrote charts for the performance and rehearsed with Corvallis local musicians Ray Brassfield, the bassist, and Fred Berman, sax and clarinet, on Sunday and Tuesday afternoons. They offered a lively, 2 1/2 hour set with only one break; Fred had serious back pain and played on. They improvised a selection of jazz standards and a few tunes with a New Orleans groove for an appreciative crowd up front and a packed house of noisy diners. The trio also played many original songs and arrangements by J Hatch, including a lovely ballad, “Wonderful and Rare.” J’s most recent CD, “The Birmingham Sessions,” is available at Grass Roots Bookstore in Corvallis.
Block 15: Nick and Kristen Arzner did a great job of offering a venue with good food and fine local beer for a good cause. Nick and Kristen pay the musicians who provide their live entertainment and their business has deep roots in all things local, including admirable sustainability practices. It was a win-win-win evening. With a smile and lots of energy, Jeri kept the beer and the Cajun cuisine on our tables all night long.
Mamadou, from Senegal, loaned J his djembe for the evening. Neal, a music instructor at Oregon State University, loaned J a keyboard. And J, Ray and Fred joined his students for a jazz improv class on Tuesday.
Natalie Lutnesky, with Faculty, Staff & Fitness at OSU, designed the public relations campaign and poster for our event. She volunteered her time and talents and sent press releases to local media.
Big-hearted Ika Fifita, from OSU, tacked up posters all over campus and town.
Isis Initiative board members, Samanda Dorger, Melanthia Peterman and Alice Anderson joined me on this journey to raise money and awareness to help offer college educations to women overseas. They offer regular inspiration and have my six.
And friends and neighbors who came to support the cause with their applause, appreciation and donations:
Martha and Dave Anderson, Don Ferguson, Sharon Johnson, Earl Newman, Barbara Gast, Phil McClain, Amoris Walker, Charlotte Campbell, Carol Soleau, Ruby Moon, Jeanene Louden, Ellen Fuller, Bev Brassfield, Corinne Fletcher and Brandon, Beth Rietveld and Sam Stern, Ika Fifita, Nick and Kristen Arzner.
January 22, 2009
On Monday, the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, I walked the beach in the early still-night morning, when the stars shine brightly until the sky gently lightens and they vanish. As the sun rises behind the cliffs, the light first hits the outer breakers and catches the crests of the waves, just as they curl and crash.
With the sun higher in the sky, I descended the zig-zag wooden steps to Agate Beach once more. I found a man and a woman at the foot of the stairs, plastic white garbage bags in hand, picking up trash.
It’s a national day of service, the woman said.
Every day should be a national day of service, I responded.
They were residents of Newport. There were no local events scheduled in accordance with President Obama’s call to service, so they created their own.
I ran back up the stairs, grabbed some trash bags and descended to join them. I picked up plastic bottle caps, bits of plastic twine and rope, pieces of styrofoam, plastic pop bottles, a single shoe, foil candy bar wrappers. I was one person on the wide sands facing a wider ocean. And I knew I was making a difference. I thought, what if everyone picked up one bag of trash?
It’s just like the work of Isis Initiative and the people who support our efforts. If each person does a little, we can turn the tide.
Hold onto a vision, speak it out loud and with passion, then go to work and make it happen.
Martin Luther King, Jr. boomed his voice and his vision into the air, into the hearts of multitudes of people, and into history on the Washington Mall in 1963. In 2009, Barack Obama looked over an ocean of people, flooding the Mall, and took a sacred oath to become our 44th president.
I Have a Dream became Yes we can! We have crossed over, from the cold night with the only the bright stars to guide us to the boisterous, hopeful dawn and the anointing of a new day.