Saturday, January 16, 2010

Help comes to Haiti

Even as I weep and gnash my teeth and pray for the people of Haiti, the roster of compassion grows. There are 27 search-and-rescue teams now on the ground in Haiti. The list of countries warms my heart. Name someplace at random and they have sent rescuers -- Iceland, Brazil, the Philippines, Israel, Mexico, France, Spain, Honduras, the UK, the list goes on and on. Rescue teams with their valiant dogs are on their way or on the ground from every corner of the US. As someone who was in New York City on 9/11, I am particularly moved to see New York's Finest and Bravest answering the call. These heroes going willingly into the jaws of Hell to try to save lives once again deeply moves me. They all move me. If only the world could pull together when there isn't a tragedy of epic proportions.

I know you want to do all you can. The best place to find a charity that is reputable and gives the majority of its proceeds to help the people of Haiti is HERE. It's the American Institute for Philanthropy's watchdog Web site.

Please keep in mind that once the initial phase is past, there will be a great need for help. When the call goes out for food, water, clothes and supplies, please keep the specific needs of women and babies in mind. Diapers and personal feminine supplies are often overlooked during donations. They will be much needed. It will be up to us not to let news fatigue make us forget that the rescue has only just begun. There is so much more that needs to be done.

And thank you for all you are doing.

Friday, January 1, 2010

The 12-month challenge

Over at Dispatch from LA the always inspiring Mary Ann Moss celebrated the New Year by sharing just one image from each month of 2009. As a fan, I know how many fabulous photos she takes and admired her restraint and choices. I began to wonder -- could I do that, too? Could I encapsulate 2009 with just one photo a month?

January: We greeted 2009 with Cousin Kyle and Benji's half-sister, Abby. Guess who Abby has a crush on?

February: It was tough to choose between Benji's birthday and this, the fittings for his role in The Music Man, but this won out. Here's Benji with the leading man (far right) and his comic sidekick selecting shades to hide from the paparazzi.

March: Mayor George Shinn (D-River City, IA) and his lovely wife, Eulalie.

April: An unexpected heat wave made us decide to have lunch at the seawall. Big brother gets a hug from a tired Abby who thought the day was just beachy.

May: It was a day of zipping from one state to the next but I managed to see my father lead the Memorial Day parade in the tiny town where I grew up and still catch Benji playing with his middle school band at home.

June: Fathers Day.

July: Another opening, another show. Believe it or not, Benji performed in three shows in 2009, not to mention serving as sound technician in two others.

August: My best friend since the second grade, Rod, came up from Florida for his niece's wedding and we got to visit after a separation of seven years.

September: Benji started high school and got his first band uniform. As his Spanish teacher exclaimed: "Muy guapo!"

October: Another reunion! My friend Karl Stephan, whom I hadn't seen since we graduated high school, was part of the Open Studios in New Haven. It was great to see Karl and his work.

November: My birthday celebration with the family was delayed by a couple of weeks so we marked it in November. This scrumptious pumpkin chocolate chip cake had it's candles put out unexpectedly by the soccer ball in the background. It didn't bother the cake a bit.

: An early Chanukah celebration with my folks before they set off for Florida helped end the year. Looking back, it was a quite a good year, even better than I realized.

So I challenge you: What 12 images speak for your experiences in 2009? Can you edit your year down to just 12 photos? If you take the challenge, let me know. I'd love to see your year!

And here's to a Happy 2010!

The first mitzvah for 2010

Happy New Year, my friends!

It's pretty exciting to think that we're in a new decade and can make a fresh start. The two cuties above are my son, Benji, and his cousin, Sarah. This was taken at Benji's second birthday party; Sarah was about 20 months at the time. This was how I spent the 90s. This past decade was dedicated to raising my son, building community and work. It had its highs and lows, but all in all, it was good. I know I was blessed and I want to give back.

One of the ways I'm going to do that is to contribute to a diaper drive started by Julie at Tangobaby. Her story is pretty extraordinary. She's a single working girl living in San Francisco who stopped for a homeless woman and it changed her life. The woman had three children, including an infant, and Julie felt compelled to do something. She checked things out to make sure the woman was legit and found a dire need that is going unexpressed. Disposable diapers are too expensive for the poorest women, those who have escaped abuse and must spend whatever money they have just to survive.

A young mother read about this on Julie's blog and wanted to help. As she looked into it, she discovered that even social safety-net programs such as WIC and foodstamps do not cover diapers. So she and a friend founded Help a Mother Out (HAMO) to begin a diaper drive to get disposable diapers to shelters and agencies that help this population. It's an opportunity to do your first mitzvah (good deed) of the year. What a great way to start 2010!

And to thank you for reading this far, here's a more recent photo of Benji and Sarah from the decade just past. By the end of this decade they'll be out on their own, conquering the world.