February 7, 2009

We received our first two PayPal donations in support of my swim-a-thon last Saturday.

Lynn Walker, a new friend, a filmmaker, and a force for good, made the first donation. She read about Isis Initiative, Inc. in our local paper, the Corvallis Gazette-Times, on December 26, 2008, and called immediately to meet with me and offer her energy and support. Alice Anderson, a board member and a first-year student at College of the Atlantic in Maine, and I sat in Sunnyside Up Cafe and shared our mission while Lynn shared her ideas and her vast network of helpful, inspiring people.

Carrie Kahn, an NPR correspondent and all-round righteous woman, made our second PayPal donation. Carrie and I met as fellows at the International Reporting Project (formerly the Pew Fellowships in International Journalism) at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International in 1999. She is a marvel, navigating between the twin pillars of motherhood and career and creating magic on her journey. She is a magnificent storyteller and a soaring spirit.

And when I needed help navigating the choppy tech waters, Lori Buettgenbach, a customer service representative at PayPal, was there to guide me. Samanda Dorger, my friend, a board member and a get-things-done gal, pasted the html code for the PayPal “donate” button into our Web site. And le volià, a cyber portal opens and money and good vibes flow in.

And donations are not just about $$$. Donations of encouragement, wisdom, time and talent have genuine value and I cherish them.

My friend, Deb Pang Davis, responded to my swim-a-thon solicitation with a wish-come-true offer: I’ll design your Web site. Deb, Samanda and I met as graduate students in the Ohio University School of Visual Communication.

Our board had talked of our desire for a Web site that evokes our mission. As journalists, visual storytellers and designers, we know the value of powerful, thoughtful, evocative design. And, again, valuing that expertise, we wanted to pay for it. 

Being new to our nonprofit mission, we decided to we allocate our early funds to our mission, providing our next candidate in the Philippines with a college education. Samanda built a “placeholder” (a term we learned in grad school) site because we wanted an immediate online presence. And now Deb, the design goddess, has graced us with her generosity and talent. 

I am moved and grateful for my friends who encourage and support our mission to promote healing, communication and connection through education and the arts. By all the women who believe in our Leah’s Dream Project and our commitment to provide support for women overseas who long for a college education.

“Make a career of humanity…commit yourself to the noble struggle…you will make a greater person of yourself, a greater nation of your country, and a finer world to live in.”

Martin Luther King, Jr. , 18 April 1959, Washington, DC 


Service and Celebration

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.