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A friend posted a wonderful message on Facebook a bit ago called Why Teach Music . When I asked if she wrote it, she said that she had not.  But that did not make the message any less meaningful to her.  It made it more.  Because like a song the message resonated with her, with me, and  with so many others.  Music is powerful. It celebrates the times of our lives, it teaches us structure and it fuels our creativity.  So I asked my friend, a life long music lover and teacher of music to share with me why music makes a difference and here is what Lynne Kearney had to share.

Lynne is a recently retired public school music teacher who taught elementary music for twelve years in the Danbury, CT public schools and ten years at the Middle School and High School in the Region 14 Woodbury Bethlehem, CT school system While she may have retired from public school teaching, she is still helping students prepare for their regional music festival and All-State auditions and performances. Then she attend the festivals to support these fine young musicians.

JKW: When did YOU discover your love for music?

LK: My love for music began when I was very young. I was blessed that there was always some kind of music in our house. We would always be listening to records or the TV, where we watched and listened to concerts, Lawrence Welk or Ed Sullivan. My mother took my sister and I to many concerts of the Danbury Symphony and whatever else we could see for free. We all took piano lessons. Richard played the accordion. In school, my sister Ysabel learned to play the trumpet and I learned to play the clarinet. We sang in the church choir. In eighth grade I started to accompany the glee club at Main Street School and I became the organist at my church. In high school, my music teacher and mentor was Mr. James Humphreville. He is also the person who encouraged me to study music education. After getting my teaching degree many years later, it was he who hired me as a music teacher in the Danbury School system.

JKW:  There is something magical about sharing what we love.  How do you share the magic? 

LK:  A few weekends ago, I took a friend, who is at the tender age of 2 ½ , to see a New Haven Symphony’s children’s performance of a world premiere, Greta’s Dream. This is a new work about a hippo who wants to learn to fly. The ensemble for this adorable story consisted of a story teller and four double basses. They had my little friend, and all of the other wee ones mesmerized. And this is where it needs to start, if indeed it has not already been started.

My three best friends, Susann, Sandy, and Nancy are all musicians. We met between thirty-seven and forty years ago, doing community theater. Music is major in our lives and we celebrate each other’s birthdays in song. I can’t imagine our lives without song.”

JKW: How has music made a difference in your life?

It is my life. While in college I accompanied many of my fellow students’ recitals. I taught music in a nursery school. I also played the piano for a ballet school and started music directing musicals at the Brookfield Little Theater and other local theaters. I gave private piano lessons for many, many years. While in high school and college I was a fifer in the Connecticut Rebels of ’76 Ancient Fife and Drum Corps. Every guy I dated was a musician. I met my husband, Jack, doing musical theater.

While in the active years of my teaching I was President of the Connecticut Chapter of the American Orff Schulwerk Association. This organization shows the wonderful process of how to teach  children the joy of learning music through singing, dancing and playing of simple instruments. I was also Choral Representative for Connecticut Music Education Association and on many Connecticut State music committees that helped develop music curriculum and evaluation of music teachers. I was festival chair and choral chair of the Berkshire League Music Festival several times. I was active in both middle school and high school music festivals throughout the last ten years of my teaching. I took thirty credits, beyond my sixth year, of music courses that would make me be a vital music teacher to my students. I love music and I wanted to share that joy with them. I wanted to plant seeds to help them grow into life-long participants of music, audience members, appreciators of what music gave them, humanity, sensitivity, and feelings.

JKW: How have you seen music make a difference in the lives of others?

LK:  Well, it certainly was a part of my children’s lives. They both studied piano. In school Josh learned to play the trumpet and Betsy learned to play the clarinet and bass clarinet. They were both active in their schools music programs. Betsy sang with the Litchfield County Children’s Choir for several years. (I ultimately co-conducted that group for about five years.)

Over the years I have sung with the Danbury Concert Chorus, the Connecticut Choral Society, Alamanda, and am now singing with the Waterbury Chorale. I was music director for the Thomaston Opera House for several years as well as Minister of Music in three different Lutheran churches for over forty years.

JKW:  Why is music education important?

LK:  Just read Why Teach Music. I can’t say it any better. That is why I was compelled to share it.

JKW:  What can readers do to help keep the love of music alive in their communities?

LK:  Be proactive. Join local music organizations, be it a choral group, a band, a music or concert association. Attend public school performances. Support our young musicians. Give them a pat on the back for a job well done.

Donate used instruments that you no longer use, to your local schools. If you play the piano or an instrument, ask if you might help accompany a group or play in a musical selection that might call for your instrument. Let the teachers or directors know that you are available. Help with logistics of programs, whether it be to write out the program or help set up risers.

If you have a child who is learning to play an instrument or is taking voice lessons, (or dancing or painting), encourage them to practice, but remember not to take away the joy of their new adventure. Share their excitement. It will only get better and better.

We are fortunate in our community in that we have founded the Woodbury-Bethlehem Community Music Foundation. We are a public charity that seeks to enhance consciousness and enthusiasm for music activities and experiences for music activities. We want to provide our community with valuable life learning and appreciation of music. This organization has funded the local school region to start a full-fledged string program. We are very excited about that! You can find out more info on Facebook and on our website.

JKW:  What is one of your favorite music memories?

LK:  In March of my last teaching year, I had a concert with all of my choral students, current and previous members, faculty, former college music colleagues and a professional opera singer. Even my mentor, Jim Humphreville was there. This concert raised over $1200 for the music foundation, but even better than that we all had such fun making music together. That excitement and commitment to the passion of the music performed that evening is what music making is all about.

celebrating-the-love-of-mus

JKW:  So what’s next?

LK:  My life’s goal is to share my love and joy, my passion for what music can do for the soul with everyone I come in contact with.

I currently sing with the Waterbury Chorale and the St. Rose of Lima Festival Chorus in Newtown, CT. I am active on the Worship Committee at Our Savior Lutheran Church and have added music in various ways to our services and  have plans in the works to form a Hospice Choir.

“Viva la musica! And remember, always keep a song in your heart!” – Lynne Kearney

Music touches our lives in so many different ways.  Lynne Kearney first touched mine with her music as musical director in shows I performed in, then as a friend, and in a very special moment as organist and musical director for my wedding 25 years ago

Valentines weekend is a time when we share what we love with the ones we love.  Lynne does this every day of the year.  Her story is a great reminder that we can too.

I hope you enjoyed Lynne’s Little Life Story.  Stay tuned and as Lynne likes to say.. always keep a song in your heart.

Joan Koerber-Walker

About the Joan:

Koerber-Walker-056 An entrepreneur, author, speaker and corporate advisor, Joan Koerber-Walker’s journey has spanned from corporate America to entrepreneurship and non-profits as well as to community leadership and into the halls of Washington D.C.  Equally important, she is a wife, a mom, and a friend  to many around the world keeping in touch through her blogs, with over 150,000 social media friends, and of course face to face.  Today, she is the chairman of CorePurpose, Inc. which she founded in 2002 and works to make a difference in her community as the Chairman of the Board of the Opportunity  through  Entrepreneurship Foundation and as an advisor to The FUSION Foundation and The Healing Trees Humanitarian Project.  To learn more about how CorePurpose and the CoreAlliance can help you grow your business in 2011, you can contact her by clicking here.

CorePurpose  is a registered trademark of CorePurpose, Inc.  CoreAlliance is a  service mark of CorePurpose Inc.  All rights reserved

My kid taught me something yesterday. Determination trumps it all.

Chris Nationals 2008 005From the time he was 8 years old, my son Chris had been pursing a dream to be a professional athlete and play in the NHL and he put everything he had into it.  His dream took him places with leadership roles on teams in the WSHL, the BCHL, and the EJHL.  By the age of 20, he had competed in 5 USA Hockey Junior National Championship Tournaments and was talking to colleges about next steps. Then, at the end of 2009, something was not right.  He lost 75 lbs in three months (not a good thing for someone with hardly any body fat to begin with) and landed in the hospital.   The doctors diagnosed him with Crohn’s Disease and told him to take it easy and give himself a chance to recover.

He recovered alright, but he did not take it easy.  He was determined to succeed.  He hit the gym and the ice.  By spring of 2010 he was back.  In prime condition, he had his first a minor league pro try out.  He blew  the scouts and the coaches away.  But not the front office.  To them a player with Crohn’s was too much of a business risk. “Yes, there are NHL players  who have successfully played the game after getting the disease,” he was told, “but they were not going to sign one on as a rookie.”

Not long after that, he made a decision. As a certified personal trainer, he had helped others for several years.  He would focus on that as a business and find a sport that would allow him to use his skills and talents to succeed and reach his goals while completing his college education in Criminal Justice at the University of Phoenix.    Not willing to set his pro sport dreams aside, he shifted his focus to a new competitive sport.  Cross Fit.  He began to train and learn everything he needed to learn about this new sport.  On January 15th he entered his first Cross Fit Competition, The Hammer of AZ in the Achilles event. Take a look.

 

Less than one year after being told that his Crohn’s Disease made him too much of a business risk for professional hockey–Chris enters his first Cross Fit Competition and places 12th in the Achilles Competition at The Hammer of AZ. The event involved running 400 meters and then lifting 135 pounds as many times as you can in a total of 4 minutes. Then repeat the process three more times.

Video at YouTube.com – Chris at Cross Fit – The Hammer of AZ

The Next Goal

Now it’s back to business and training.  He’s determined to succeed, compete., and win.

He’ll get there.  He’s determined.

And his Dad, brother and I will be there to cheer him on to victory again.

Thanks for stopping by for a little life story. Stay Tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

 

Note:  The sport of cross fit is catching on with people  of all ages.  Not everyone needs to be an “Achilles”.  You might enjoy learning more in this video.

 

A short video on the sport of Cross Fit

YouTube.com: What Is Cross Fit? Full video by CrossFit by Overload

I am now officially ready for Christmas.  Yesterday I gave away my last dollar. 

Before you start rallying the troops to come to my aid, I am not going hungry this Christmas.  And hopefully someone else won’t either.

You see each year when I start planning for Christmas, I get a bunch of dollars.  In my purse is an envelope with the list of gifts I need to get for family and friends and I stash my dollars there too.  Then as I go along my merry way between Thanksgiving and Christmas, doing the shopping and other holiday chores, I can stop to say “Thank You” to a bell ringer and put a dollar in the kettle.  There is no IRS receipt or silent auction glitter, just a moment of conversation and a smile from someone who was willing to stand outside for hours ringing a bell to remind us that this is the season of giving and that it feels good to do something special for others.

Of course, the holiday season does not have an exclusive on giving.  Helping others is needed the whole year through.  A great example is Carlo Garcia in Chicago who has made it his mission to give 365 days a year.  He’s not a millionaire philanthropist like Buffet or Gates. He’s just a regular guy that gave up his daily Starbucks run and now puts that money to a better use.  You can see his story here:

‘You don’t have to be rich and famous to make a little bit of good,’  ~ Carlo Garcia (MSNBC.com)

Another way we can  make a difference is by giving of our time and talents.  I get to see this every year first hand as a a small committed group of entrepreneurs and friends work for months to put together the Arizona Entrepreneurship Conference (AZEC) the key fund raiser for the Opportunity Through Entrepreneurship Foundation.  Like Christmas, it takes lots of work and planning and then is over in one day, but what a day it is.  I am always inspired by how the OTEF Team plus our wonderful speakers and volunteers share their talents so that our entrepreneurial community can engage and connect and so OTEF can raise the funds needed to help at risk populations (you know the folks that REALLY need help) find a path to economic self sufficiency through entrepreneurship.

So this year let’s make it a year of giving whether it’s our time, our talent, or our dollars and  if you are thinking about starting a new Christmas tradition at your house, you might want to get your own envelope of dollars next year.  It’s a wonderful sign that Christmas is here and a great feeling when the envelope is empty and you have given away your last dollar.

Thanks for stopping by for a little life story.  Stay tuned….  

 

Joan Koerber-Walker

About the Joan:

Koerber-Walker-056 An entrepreneur, author, speaker and corporate advisor, Joan Koerber-Walker’s journey has spanned from corporate America to entrepreneurship and non-profits, as well as into community leadership and into the halls of Washington D.C.   She’s also a wife, a mother, and the Chairman  of the Opportunity Through Entrepreneurship Foundation.  You can contact her by clicking here.

Voting and muscles have something in common.  They both work best with regular and proper exercise.

Today, November 2, 2010, citizens of the United States (who are registered voters) have the opportunity to use their muscles and elect leaders that will shape our lives today and the future of our states and  our country.

In addition to the races for local, state and national office, there are 160 ballot measures going before voters in 37 states today.

Of the items on the ballot, 42 are citizen initiatives (proposed new laws or constitutional amendments placed on the ballot by citizen petition); one is a popular referendum (a proposal to repeal an existing law, also placed on the ballot by citizen petition); three are mandatory votes on whether to hold a state constitutional convention; and 114 were placed on the ballots by state legislatures. Read more and find links in this article on CNN.com.

So today, not only do we have the chance to elect the people who we choose to represent us, we also have the opportunity to vote on actual laws locally if we live in the 37 states with ballot initiatives.  It’s an interesting  statement on our country and are times that close to half of the people who are eligible to vote – won’t make their choices heard today.

If you do not vote you have no right to complain

I’m not sure who said it first, but it says a lot.  If you do not vote, you should not complain.  You had an opportunity to be heard and you elected not to take it.  It’s like our muscles, we have a choice to exercise them regularly and appropriately.  Some of us do and some of us do not.

Atrophy and Apathy

Muscular atrophy occurs when for a number of possible reasons our muscles degenerate or break down.  The result is weakness, loss of mobility and can have a significant impact on performance and quality of life. Apathy is the state we fall into when we just don’t care any more.  Interestingly the side effects are similar in how it ultimately affects our power, our performance and our lives.

It has been said by some that our current system is affected by both of these “A’s” today and that we are to busy to vote or that it is pointless.  I personally believe that it is not, but of we allow ourselves to fall victim to atrophy and apathy, some day it may be.

There is still time to exercise…

So if you have not voted yet today (and you are a registered voter) then you still have time.  There is still time to exercise your voting muscles – here are some easy tips:

  1. Visit Vote441.org to access voter information for your state.
  2. Visit your state website, you can often find information on propositions (pro and con) online
  3. Visit the League of Women Voters on line for more information on information for your state.
  4. Visit with an informed friend – have a discussion
  5. Visit your polling place and VOTE.

When I was young and had my first opportunity to vote, my parents made sure I had what I needed to resister, had access to information,  and was ready to vote.  When my son’s turned 18, I went through the same exercises with them.  We live in a representative democracy that is by the people and for the people.  Voting is what keeps our country strong and the first steps start with exercising our brains and our muscles and getting out to vote.

So if you have already voted, by mail or in person.  Good for you.  If you haven’t yet, go out and get some exercise….take a walk to your local polling place and as the say at Nike “Just Do It” .

Thanks for stopping by for a little life story.  Stay Tuned..

Joan Koerber-Walker

Since she was a young girl, Jennie Walker has been following two dreams – making music and making a difference.  Today she has found a way to  combine those dreams to do both.

She has worked as a staff fundraiser for organizations like President Jimmy Carter’s Carter Center, and Rockefeller founded Synergos Institute,  At Synergos, she helped create the Global Philanthropists Circle and today works as a a fundraising consultant. But she still makes time to pursue her creative passion as a singer and songwriter. From the first piano/voice lesson to the first songwriting course/talent show, she has never stopped dreaming or combining the tunes and words into  music that touches people’s hearts just as what they do touches hers. Jennie Walker, It's My Time

A great example is Jennie’s new album, It’s My Time,” (Maddie Records, UK) which hits the market place on July 26, 2010 with distribution in the UK through Universal Music. The album title is based on the song “It’s Our Time,” and was  inspired by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s pursuit of the presidency.

“When she (Hillary Clinton)  became emotional during the New Hampshire primary talking about her candidacy, I empathized as a woman still reaching for my dream. I immediately wrote “It’s Our Time” through tears of understanding.”

~ Jennie Walker

JKW:  Jennie, tell us about your favorite project and why it makes a difference.

why.JW: The Connective Series is something I started in 2008 as a way for aspiring singers, songwriters, and musicians to learn about the music business through a panel series. To tie this back to my charity work, I would give profits from the series to music related charities and also raise awareness for those charities at the events. WhyHunger?, of which I am a member of their Artists Against Hunger & Poverty Program (along with Bruce Springsteen), has been a beneficiary as well as the Georgia Music Industry Association in Atlanta, among others charities. I offer a silent auction of music related books and products at the panels, which also supports the charities.

JKW: Tell us about someone you know personally who inspires you.

Ken Ludden (in Red) Photo Credit NY TimesJW: I was introduced to Ken Ludden, the Artistic Director of the Margot Fonteyn Academy of Ballet in Peekskill, New York through a mutual friend. Ken runs an amazing after school program, teaching dance to a small group of students in Peekskill, New York. He does all of this work as a volunteer, having personally known Dame Margot Fonteyn during her lifetime and worked with her to develop a blueprint for a new approach to ballet education during the last 12 years of her life. The principals upon which this program is run are to fulfill Dame Fonteyn’s desired for a new approach to ballet for a modern era. Ken invited me to participate in the My Song portion of the students annual “Grande Défilé ” which showcases their dance skills. My producer, Tommy Faragher, and I worked with the students one-on-one helping them to finalize their song ideas and get their direction on performance. Tommy produced and I performed on each of the recordings and later gave a live showcase of the songs. The students’ reactions were really amazing. They liked that Tommy and I took their work seriously and produced, recorded and performed them as if they were already a professional writers. It was one of the sweetest musical experiences of my life so far. I blogged about the gift and card they gave me with personal notes like “You’re cool!” I smiled for a long time after that. I have been asked back for next year and now I am helping the organization pro bono on some fundraising strategies to get funding for next years event and for ongoing work. It’s a fantastic program with a real funding need….like a lot of these small but important programs sprinkled around the country.

JKW:  WHY do you do what you do.

Jennie's-Mom-Louise-WalkerJW: My mother raised me to be of service to others, and in my home that meant mostly to  give of yourself and of your time, rather than money. I was a volunteer at church, at school, at college, where ever I could find an opportunity. There has always been a lot of satisfaction I felt in giving and helping others. There is no feeling quite like it and believe me, I’ve tried to duplicate it other ways, but it’s impossible.

“You can only pick from what you have to choose from” – Jennie Walker

I am compelled and I am driven to make my mark with my music. On some basic level it’s a challenge. Trying to determine if I am smart enough to figure it out – the steps I mean – the process to becoming recognized as a singer and songwriter. There is no straight forward path. And, no book I can buy. The path is filled with twists and turns but at the end of the day, I have a passion and love for what I do. Hopefully my music will be adopted by the buying public. The process has already been rewarding on so many different levels and as I keep inching forward, it gets really exciting. The hardest thing in the world to do is allow this to happen organically without trying to force it. And, that means letting go of the how and focusing on the end result. As someone who works constantly as this process, it’s not easy to let go and accept that I have done enough. But in the end, the music will speak for itself.

JKW:  If you had 3 wishes – what would they be?

JW: My greatest wish is that my mother was still living to see me become successful with my music, which she inspired in me and encouraged me to do and with whom I wrote songs as a teenager and adult. We went through this musical journey together, not just for my own musical pursuits, but for hers also. She wrote a musical based on the life of Martin Luther King as well as many songs that were in the country and pop vein. We were close a few times to getting songs cut. It was enough to keep us going. My goal is to get some of the work we did together published. She deserves to be remembered for her music and not just for being the most amazing mother ever created.

Jennie-Walker-Three-Wishes2) I would like to see my music reach an international audience and market place and be  respected as a viable musical expression and product. Today, with digital distribution, it makes it easy to get my music out there. But, it takes more than just a distribution channel to be successful – the stars and moon have to align just right for something to catch on, and my wish is for that alignment to take place!

3) I would like to experience enough success with the music to form a personal foundation and be able to give back financially instead of just through volunteer work, and be able to utilize all I have learned from the inside of non-profit organizations to be able to give in the right way.

Getting Connected

Joan and JennieWorking in the music and philanthropic communities, Jennie understands how important it is to be connected.  While Jennie and I are both “Walkers” we would never have met if my videographer had not introduced us on Twitter. (Thanks Clay!)  The tweet is long gone but since then we have emailed, chatted, and gotten together in NYC for the launch of Amilya Antonetti’s new book The Recipe: A fable for leaders and teams.

Jennie loves to hear from fans and collaborate on projects that make a difference. You can reach out to her on Twitter @MsJennieWalker , find her on Facebook, drop in for a tune on MySpace, see videos on her YouTube Channel, or connect through her website.

 

 

The 4th of July is a time of celebration.  We celebrate shared values, a belief in freedom, the bravery of people who stood up for what they believed in, and a people who came together to form one of the greatest nations in the history of the  world.

Today with the challenges we face and the division that seems to fill the airwaves, perhaps this 4th of July it makes sense to take a minute to remember what the land of the free and the home of the brave is all about. 

When I was a young girl, the 4th of July often meant a family picnic on the peaceful rolling hills of the Valley Forge Encampment.   The Mom’s would lay out a picnic feast while we kids would climb up the hills to roll down again in the sweet summer grass, climb on revolutionary war cannon, and wander through cabins and stone houses that were once, for a time, the headquarters of Washington and Lafayette. 

It was not until I was a bit older and had studied my history that I understood the real meaning of Valley Forge, a Revolutionary War site that never saw battle but still cost the lives of 2,000 brave soldiers.  They did not fall to cannon fire or the bayonets of the Red Coats.  Instead they lost their lives to cold and  other hardships that many of us could not imagine today.  Yet they stayed there by choice, coming together as a fighting force and a country. They were fathers and sons, wives and mothers, children and old men, farmers and shop keepers, free men and slaves, descendents of the Mayflower and immigrants who barely spoke our language.  They shared a  dream of freedom and left their warm homes to await the next battle though a cold Pennsylvania winter. 

“To see the men without clothes to cover their nakedness, without blankets to lie upon, without shoes…without a house or hut to cover them until those could be built, and submitting without a murmur, is a proof of patience and obedience which, in my opinion, can scarcely be paralleled.”

George Washington at Valley Forge, April 21, 1778

Many of their hardships that winter were due to inexperience, a lack of provisions, poor sanitation, and the new government’s inability to properly provision the troops.  Yet, the troops persevered.  They did not do so quietly.  Many grumbled as they trained in the cold and wet winter.  At times the conditions were so bad that a mutiny was feared, but in they end they came together as a unit and many who weathered that harsh winter would ultimately stand on the field at Yorktown on the day the British surrendered and the the last battle had been fought.   

We did not win the war on the strength of our government but perhaps in spite of it.  Congress long ago was often as in effective as it is today.  As they squabbled and debated, the men shivered in the cold and held on.  They looked to their leaders for inspiration, to their comrades for support, and inside themselves for strength.  

The challenges we face today are different than those that were faced at Valley Forge, but the lessons they left us can still serve us well.  We live in a nation that was born of their thirst for freedom, their commitment to a goal, and their willingness to sacrifice and persevere to reach it. 

Last week, I traveled back to the Valley Forge area for some meetings and decided to detour through the park on my way back to the Philadelphia airport.  As I sat in my rental car looking out across the park, it was quiet in the early morning.  Turning off the engine and the radio, I took the time to remember and to listen.  It was almost as if the voices of the children we once were echoed in the breeze along with a faint whisper of voices from days long past.  This was a place of freedom, of friendships forged, and of challenges faced and overcome.   A place where leaders walked and brave men  and women perished so that we could have the opportunities we have today.  The 4th of July is not just about picnics and fireworks.  It’s about freedom and the people who believed in it.  It’s about innovators who envisioned a new nation and everyday people who believed in something and saw it through. 

They bravely committed to make our county a better place – perhaps this 4th of July, we might want to do the same. 

Thanks for stopping by for a little life story.  Stay tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

I was born in 1960.  Over the last 50 years there have been many memorable moments.  Some were personal while others were watched around the world.

Some of these memories are of great happenings:

  • Man’s first steps on the moon.
  • The first heart transplant in 1967 by Christiaan Barnard.
  • The “Miracle” of Team USA taking Men’s Hockey Gold at the 1980 Olympics.

Other memories are of great tragedies:

  • The Senator Robert F. Kennedy lost his life to an assassin’s bullet ( I was only three and too young to remember the day that President Kennedy died.)
  • The loss of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the riots that followed.
  • The Challenger Disaster of 1986
  • The 1989 San Francisco Earthquake and watching the city in flames and the highway collapse.
  • The fall of Towers One and Two on September 11th.

To this day, I can remember exactly where I was and what I was doing as I watched history unfold.

Today, on a March Sunday evening, I sit at my laptop preparing for the week.  As I write this I continue to listen to Members of the House of Representatives in the final debate on the Healthcare Bill.  And as I am watching, so is the world.  That we live in a country that can have this debate is a blessing.  There are many countries where this could not and would not happen.

The Bill AND the problem are both incredibly complex.  There are good things and bad in it.  The process has been long and at times not the best example of our legislative process.   But no matter what side of the issue you stand on this too is a historic moment.  Some portray The Bill’s passage as a great and historic happening while other’s foretell a great tragedy.

The speeches are almost over and the vote is about to begin. 

What the true outcome will be…only time will tell.  But today is a historic day – will you remember where you were?

Thanks for stopping by for a little life story.  Stay tuned.

Joan Koerber-Walker

I’ve been thinking a lot about about  the things I learned at Grandma’s knee these days.

Some of these thoughts apply to business, as you will  find  in my recent post on the CorePurpose  Business blog titled Free… Isn’t.  Some are about life.

Grandma was a big proponent of the maxim…

“If you can’t say anything nice – DON’T say anything at all.”

This came to mind today when Ruthie Appleby (@YoRuth) sent me a note asking for help on #StopTheHate Day on Twitter. 

I researched her request on her blog, the original post by @FilmLadd and @JayLink and read the companion post by @ChrisVoss.

Then I wrote this post to share it with you.

The message is pretty simple – nasty, derogatory, hateful messages fall into the category of things that need not be seen, stated, repeated or re-tweeted.  And for many of us – we’d be happy to leave them unheard.

For whatever reason, some people seem to see social media as a perfect platform to say things that few would have the guts to say when speaking face to face.  It is as if cloaking themselves behind the safety of their laptop gives them the right to be rude, nasty, insulting, or worse.    

It is not that we all have to agree or be chirpy little tweeps – but some messages are just going too far over the line on the hateful scale. 

If enough of us make the statement that we are not interested in being exposed to these hateful messages – perhaps we would see a little  less of them.  

So the choice is yours, send the message or don’t.  But if we all speak up and say ENOUGH – maybe we can start a conversation towards change.

Thanks for stopping by. Stay Tuned…

Joan Koerber-Walker

Sometimes we make a difference alone, sometimes by reaching out to the people we know for a helping hand.  In the case of Pam Gaber, some of the key players on her team are always ready to lend their paws! 

“Instead of being overwhelmed by problems, overwhelm yourself with solutions.”  Pam Gaber

Pam Gaber and Gabriel

Pam lives life passionately and sees her work as founder and CEO of Gabriel’s Angels as more of a  privilege than a job.  I first met Pam and her dog Gabriel a decade ago when they came to visit my sons’ Cub Scout Troop.  For the past ten years she has devoted her life to healing abused, neglected and at-risk children through pet therapy intervention. 

She loves her desert home and you can find her  hiking on Phoenix’s South Mountain at 5:30am most weekday mornings before she starts her day.  After hikes, Pam spends the rest of her day with her team helping to grow Gabriel’s Angels as an agency, nurturing her “anipals”, spending time with her husband and as she will tell you “living my BEST life!” 

 

 

“The journey is the reward.” Pam Gaber

Gabriel's AngelsJKW: Tell me about your favorite project and why it makes a difference. 

PG:  My passion is a charitable organization I started called Gabriel’s Angels.  We know that children who are victims of violence lack empathy, compassion and the ability to trust.   We teach these children critical life skills through the interaction with a loving therapy dog. 

But why a therapy dog you may say? Why not just a trained therapist?

Abused and neglected children internalize their pain primarily because they haven’t been on the planet long enough to understand what happened to them; why it happened and they don’t have the words or sophistication or anyone in their life to express how they feel.  Therapy dogs offer unconditional love…therapy dogs eyes are a limited pool of understanding.  I am so very committed to reaching every child in crisis in our state and provide them with pet therapy intervention.

Photo of: Deborah BatemanJKW:  Pam, you and Gabe have been an inspiration to thousands of kids – not to mention adults.  Who inspires you?

PG: My friend Deborah Bateman inspires me because she is a powerful leader who encourages dialog that results in solutions.  I love her upbeat attitude  She genuinely cares about helping others, especially those in need. 

If she sees a situation that needs to be addressed, she does not sit back.  She gets involved and gives it everything she’s got. 

Passionately Proactive is how I describe Deborah.

JKW:  WHY do you do what you do?

Therapy Dog Gabriel - Founding Dog of Gabriel's AngelsPG:  To be able to spend my time making this world a better place is the “WHY” in my life.  I wake up each and every day with a high level of expectation that this day is going to be a great day!  From the look on a child’s face when they see the therapy dog to sitting with a donor who supports our organization I have been blessed to be able to spend my days growing Gabriel’s Angels.

JKW:  If you had 3 wishes what would they be?

Making a difference - Pam - Gabe and whole lot of LOVEFirst wish is my vision of a more compassionate planet.   My second wish would be that there is no need for Gabriel’s Angels because child abuse does not exist. Children feel safe and are living in a non violent world. 

Since that is not a very realistic or possible outcome my third wish would be that Gabriel’s Angels receives a six figure donation that would serve as the foundation for our endowment program.  This would put our agency in a sound financial position for many years to come…the legacy lives on! 

JKW:  Pam I hope all your wishes come true.  You an Gabe have made such a difference in the lives of children and are helping to break the circle of violence.  If someone wanted to reach out to you – how can they get in touch?

PG: We are  always happy to share are story and to work with others who share our passion for making a difference in the lives of children. 

www.gabrielsangels.org

Our Story Video on YouTube | A Day in The Life of a Therapy Dog Video on YouTube

Follow Gabriel’s Angels on Twitter | Follow Gabriel on Twitter

Gabriel’s Angels YouTube Site | Gabriel’s Angels Facebook | Gabriel’s Angels Dogster 

JKW:  I hope you enjoyed Pam and Gabe’s Story.  They are both pretty special as are all of the volunteers, staff, and of course their ‘anipals’.

Stay tuned this December. I’ll be bringing you more interviews with People Making a Difference.  If YOU know someone who is making a difference, send me a note about them. They might just pop up here.

Joan Koerber-Walker

Like too many Americans, for Kevin DeSoto, 2009 was the year he got laid off.  Using social media was a tool for his job search but soon it began to evolve in to something else – a way to reach out and make a difference  for others who were facing much more challenging circumstances.  By doing so, and with a little help from some friends, he reached millions.

Kevin likes to say that …

“Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% our attitude”

JKW: So Kevin – if life is mostly about attitude – tell me a little bit about yours.  Who are you?

KJ Beach PortraitPN 2008 Good question- who am I.  (laughing) Just a regular guy who is married to an amazing person who puts up with me and all my dreams.  Helping others is something I truly believe in.  Originally from California, I now live in Rhode Island.  I’m 40 years old and come from the school of hard knocks and street smarts.  Having been laid off for the first time in my life almost 7 months ago, nothing has really ever come easy for me and I have worked hard my entire life- as many have.  My parents and grandparents tried to instill qualities in me while growing up.  They believed if you work hard & are kind to others & give more than expected it will pay off.  Work ethic, morals & deep rooted values are what I strive to display to others be it face to face or on the social web. 

JKW:  Your biggest outreach projects have been on behalf of others – tell me about them and WHY you did it.

Helping drive attention to the situation that happened to Laura Ling & Euna Lee hit my heart.  Using the social web to help  keep the story in the forefront just seemed natural and the right thing to do.  I would want someone to do that for me if I was in a similar situation.  Since their release from North Korea, I was interviewed by our local ABC6 News team.  During that time and since then, I have found myself reaching out to others to help entrepreneurs who just need that extra marketing push, branding help or marketing suggestion.

The complex situation with the 3 hikers being detained in Iran with Sarah, Shane & Josh has also pulled at my heart strings.  I have been volunteering my time helping keep the message out and about on the social web via Twitter, Facebook & YouTube. 

 

Working closely with Alex Fattal & the Free The Hikers Team has been very touching and am thankful I can assist and was asked.  This is not about me- but trying to help others. Twitter and Facebook can reach millions.  I wrote an article in the examiner entitled, “Reaching Millions”   You can sign petitions and read updates at www.freethehikers.org

“Someday all of this will be a long time ago”

One can only hope that what you do everyday helps make a difference in someone’s life.  You never know who you can help during the day by even just one act of kindness.

Kevin’s newest project is focused on children. Love Without Boundaries began in 2003, after a group of adoptive parents came together to help save the life of one tiny boy in China.  Today the Love Without Boundaries Foundation (based on Oklahoma) is a worldwide group of volunteers dedicated to improving the lives of orphaned and impoverished children in China by providing humanitarian aid in five key areas – Education, Foster Care, Healing Homes, Medical, and Orphanage Assistance – enabling children to receive families through adoption or to become self-sustaining members of their communities.

 

JKW:  Who Inspires you? 

I do not have just “one” person who inspires me.  I get inspiration from many things.  People in my life, the hard working entrepreneur, a person who has dealt with overwhelming circumstances and has endured it, a beautiful sunrise, bright stars at night and of course my wife who has stuck by me during good times and bad.  When you stop and think about it – sometimes the simplest things during the day can inspire you.  A kind act from someone, an encouraging word all goes a long way during these difficult times we face.

 

JKW:  WHY do you do what you do.

Kevin DeSotoMy belief system.  Believing that if you do good to others, maintain your honesty, morals, dignity and self-respect that it pays off.  Maybe not financially, but at the end of the day you have a clean heart knowing you tried your best in being a good, upright person.  I think that loving kindness is lacking in today’s world.  Wanting to be treated similarly also motivates me to do what I do.

“Dream it into reality”

JKW:   If you had 3 wishes – what would they be?

A righteous government, no more sickness, no more greed, no more suffering.

JKW:  If someone wanted to contact you – how can they reach you?

They can email me at kevindesoto@verizon.net or chat with me on Twitter @Kevin_DeSoto.

JKW:  Thanks Kevin for being a great example of how doing something to help others makes a difference.

Readers, I hope you enjoyed Kevin’s story. 

Stay tuned this December. I’ll be bringing you more interviews with People Making a Difference.  If YOU know someone who is making a difference, send me a note about them. They might just pop up here.

Joan Koerber-Walker

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Welcome to Little Life Stories


What happens to us.
What is said to us.
What we experience.
These are thing things that shape our lives.

Here at Little Life Stories, I will share some of mine with you.

Just the stories. You get to draw your own take aways.

Want a little more?
Visit the links section to find my other much longer blogs and posts.

Thank you for stopping by for a little story.

Joan Koerber-Walker

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