Monday, January 30, 2012

The Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves

The feeling is coming to me that I should be going to Calcutta, India to visit the Indian widows that we have been sending money to the last year.  We have collected about $5,000 US and I believe that it is making a difference.  I also believe that if I can go there, see and spend time with the women, photograph them in their work, that I can come home and do more for them.  As that song says, "The sisters are doing it for themselves."

Last year, my two friends, Cheryl and Kathy, and I paired up with the Calcutta Rotary Club to send money to widows who are completely disinfranchised from Indian/Hindu culture.  If you want to see our blog:

Meet Madu B. from Calcutta, India. She is a Rotarian with the Calcutta Uptown Rotary Club. Her club is the presence "on the ground" as people who work in non-profit work say here in the West. That means that she is there working with the widow women in the empowerment process and helping to assure the monies are going where they need to be going. She and her fellow club members are invaluable to the success of this project.
Isn't she beautiful?

There is some question on how a microloan program works. Here is some history to the concept:

In 1971, Al Whittaker resigned as president of Bristol Myers and established Opportunity International’s first US office in Washington DC. The first loan was made to Carlos Moreno in Colombia to expand his one-man spice and tea business, cited in The Economist as the first "micro-loan". Opportunity International provided opportunities for people in chronic poverty to transform their lives by creating jobs, stimulating small businesses, and strengthening communities. Small loans ranging from $25 to $500 helped poor families lift themselves out of poverty with dignity.

Example: I donate $5.00 (US dollars) to the Charitable Fund of North Kansas City Rotary Club. The NKC Rotary will send me a $5.00 tax receipt for my charitable donation. The Rotary will then send a $5.00 check to the South Kolkata nari Jagriti Rotary Program--the financial arm of the Calcutta Uptown Rotary Club (this is the legal way of donating money to India). Indian Rotarians like Madu and those who work with her (all volunteers), go to the villages and dispurse the monies. They monitor the ladies as they work the program. The money is then repaid over a three year period back to the program. Then that same money will be loaned to another woman living in poverty. Just to be clear, the $5.00 I donated originally will NOT be returned to me. It is the same principle if I donated $5 to my church tithings or to another non-profit organization.

Regarding the widows being served in this project, here is the outline of how the loans work according to Madu:
"Our club's Rotary Community Corps is South Kolkata nari Jagriti. After a survey by SKNJ on which women who require loans for income-generating activity like goatery, duckery, cows, poultry, dairy, and aquaculture. We disburse the loans to a group of 10-12 women. These women are illiterate and poor. Loan amount is $50-$100 depending on the kind of business they wish to. Literacy programmes are held and our club ensures that girl childs goes to school. Health and sanitation awareness programmes are also helping. The women will repay the loans at 8% interest yearly and peer pressure is there to guarantee the loans along with interest amount is repaid."

You can now see the value of having trustworthy folks like Madu on the ground when you are dealing with money and projects in a foreign country that you are not able to have direct contact.
Yet.  :)

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Fever Pitch

Dear Friends,
If you are not on the Facebook, you do not really know how many photographs of the new Kansas City Temple I have taken in the last 18 months.  If you are on the Facebook, you still really don't know.

The new temple will have an open house on April 7-21st for ANYONE....white, black, male, female, young, old, religious, heathen....or religious heathens.  Hey!  I resemble that remark!

There is a fever pitch building here in our church members, and I contribute to it by taking photographs for the Temple Chaser blog and some other LDS church sites.

Here are some:

I thought you would like to see some more of them....

Hope you can join us!  :)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Church Ladies Report of 2011

I was asked to chair the humanitarian efforts of the women's church group that I am a member of in July of 2009.  I think it was because I have time, networked connections, and passion.
Each year, I try to organize at least five or six worthy projects that may only take a little money, a little time, or little energy.  There is a saying that paraphrased says "We are not asking everyone to do everything, we are asking everyone to do something." 

Really, when you think about it, if everyone did a little something, all those "somethings" add up into a bunch of big somethings.

These ladies are so diverse.  They work.  They don't work.  They have big families.  They have small familes.  Some have children.  Some do not.  Some are healthy.  Some are not.  Some have educations.   Some do not. 

The common thing I love about church is that we all are so so different, but seem to be earnestly striving to makes things better.  Including ourselves and things around us.

So, I slapped a fun name on the humanitarian efforts (Church Ladies Projects) which comes from what my Rotarians call us, and we have been going ever since.

Each calendar year end, I write a report of what projects we did and what the total donations amounted to. 
Here is the report for this year:
Dear Church Ladies:
It humbles me to write this.  We have been doing Church Ladies projects for two and half years, and I thought you would like to know what we did this year and what we have done in total.

When I was a PTA president, we were taught that numbers measured much of the work we did.  We, of course, don’t serve our fellow men for numbers, but it is one way to see where we have been.
Total estimated items for 2011:
107,000 (conservative estimation)


Ronald McDonald House
Collected Pop Tabs and keys
#99,654 (give or take a few) 
$9,965.40 monetary donation value
(a special shout out to Laura Lee’s school who has donated over 80,000 of them!)

Free Will Victory Baptist Church
Monetary, time and goods donations

February 2011: (Stake Project)
KC Rescue Mission Men’s Homeless Shelter
Collected Men’s clothing

March 2011:
KC Rescue Mission
Collected Easter candy
#4, 697 pieces

April 2011:
Japanese school children
Sent encouraging emails after the earthquake

July 2011:
KC Rescue Mission
Took ice cream sandwiches for July 4th
Cookies for an event

November 2011:
KC Rescue Mission
Made homemade Christmas Cards

December 2011:
Northland Christmas Store
#2 families served

Crossroads Hospice
Cookies for the dying
#224 bags/877 cookies

KC Rescue Mission
Christmas cards and photographs
#130 bags/ 720 pieces of candy
#60 donated photographs
#60 stamps
Total donated measurable items for the last two and half years:
(remember that everything cannot be counted)
142,000 items donated
132,000 stayed locally here in Kansas City

What is on the horizon for 2012?
This is our tentative outline:

*Collecting pop tabs

 *Making lunches monthly for the homeless with the Baptist Church

 *Helping to ready the new clothing room for the new KC Rescue Mission for WOMEN.  This is a project in the works that we have been approached by the Mission specifically and asked to be involved.  More information is forthcoming.

March:  Pack boxes for Easter with the Lutheran Church
May:  Make cookies for the job fair at the Northland Cathedral or collect items for the Buddist Bodhi Project
August:  Collect school supplies for the Midwest Foster Care Program
November:  Pack boxes for the Thanksgiving with the Lutherans

Mother Theresa said that she felt her call was to “serve those who felt most unloved, unwanted, uncared for... those who often found it difficult to believe in His love because of their circumstances.”  As the project chair, I have strived to find these very people here in our community so that we could serve them in a kind, loving way.  We are working to network with other religions and groups so that we can connect with them and to show them who we really are.

Ladies, I sincerely say thank you.  With everyone contributing a little something, we have all worked together to make this happen.  These items have served THOUSANDS of our heavenly brothers and sisters, the very children of Heavenly Father who may need it most.

Sister Valerie Anderson
I love how a whole bunch of little "somethings" can go a long way.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

My favorite verses from the Bible

This is more for me than you.
Last year I made a goal to read the entire Bible in less than 365 days.  I did it in about 325.  And I read it in date chronological order of when it was written, not in order it is found in the Bible.

It was very interesting and now I can say to myself that I have read all the works of the Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price.  I am glad I did it.

While I was reading, I took notes of verses that stuck out to me.  Maybe not the whole verse, but something within it.  I have been dragging the scratch paper around with me that I took notes on for the last few months.  I decided that as one of my new year goals, I would write them on the blog, since it serves as my journal of sorts.

Here goes:  in no particular order
Job 4: 3-4
Job 10:1
Job 26:2
Exodus 25:2
Exodus 34
Deut. 15:8, 10-11
Joshua 11:18
Joshua 9:27
Joshua 22;5
Joshua 24:22
Judges 4;1
1 Samuel 20:4
1 Samuel 10:9
1 Samuel 15:14
1 Samuel 18:1
Psalm 56:8
Psalm 140:12
2 Samuel 2:16-17
2 Samuel 1:26
Psalm 44
Psalm 103:4
Psalm 102:2
Psalm 133
Psalm 96:3
2 Samuel 7
Psalm 139
Psalm 169:1-3
Psalm 122:1-2
2 Samuel 22
Psalm 144:1
1 Chron 28:9
Psalm 37
Psalm 119:10
Psalm 72:12
Psalm 167
Psalm 129
Proverbs 14:21
Proverbs 18:19
1 Kings 9:4
Proverbs 31:20
2 Chron 5;17
Psalms 8:2-3
Psalm 48:9
Psalm 37:1
Isaiah 38
Ezekiel 34:23
Psalm 82:13
Psalm 48:9
Isaiah 37;1
Isaiah 38
Jeremiah 24:1
Jeremiah 29:12-14
Ezra 2:68-69
Thess 1:2
Luke 17;32
Matt 20:34
Acts 11:23-24
James 5:14
1 Corin 15:9
2 Corin 1:24
2 Corin 9:7
Romans 12:10
Romans 12:16
Romans 16:2
Philemon 4;28
Ephesians 3;17
Philippians 4;5
Titus 1:22
Hebrew 13:1-2
Hebrew 12:12
Hebrew 11:6
2 Tim 1:15
2 Peter 5-7
1 John 4:7-8, 11-12, 18
Revelations 1:7
Revelations 21:4

This year my goals include
eating less sugar

exercising at least two times a week

writing down all the names of everyone who is recorded as having personally interacted with Jesus Christ (so far, up to Matthew 10, I have 31 different people or groups)

and recording in a notebook every single day 5 things I am thankful for (ironically, buddy Lori called me the day after I made this goal to tell me that she had made me a journal of gratitude for Christmas...see, meant to be).

Gotta go....have a dark chocolate truffle waiting for me.  :) 

For the gratitude journal today, truffles.  :)  This isn't a eat less sugar day, I guess. :)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Bob the Builder Award: The simple son of Holocaust survivor, Chaim

I love the start out the new year on a high note.  Bear with me.

For most of my life that I can remember, I have had a certain draw to the Holocaust.

I once read a interesting book called "The Americanization of the Holocaust."  It talked about how even though the Holocaust did not happen in America, and most Americans at the time did not know someone who died in it, we still as a nation still have some strange feelings of ownership or interest in it.  The book wasn't really able to pinpoint the exact socialogical proof or reasons why, only theories.  The point I am making here is that if someone from America wrote a book about the very thing that has been on my mind for the last 25-30, some white girl from Alaska.... there must be many others who feel the same way too.

It was only after I was married and an adult that I did my genealogy of my step-father's line.  Only then did I learn that my maiden adopted name was Yiddish Hebrew from the Czech region.  Only then did I learn that my step-grandfather, Richard, had a grandmother named Anna living in the region at the time that Hitler marched through in 1939.  His father, Joseph, would send money to Anna.  It was in 1939 that the letters from her stopped coming and they never heard from her again.

It was only after I was married and went to Washington DC to the Holocaust Museuem (worth the trip alone to see in DC) (and evidence that the book was right...why do we have a museum in OUR nation's captital about an event that happened on another continent?  It would seem to me that it would be like building a museum in DC off the Mall about the the slaughtering of Sudanese in Sudan...)

When I went to the museum I was so moved that it took me hours to go through.  Without going into much detail of the actual exhibit, there is two things I took away from there....burned indefinately in my soul.

The first was when I walked through a train box car (a real box car of Jews for transport to concentration camps), I felt like I felt their spirits in there.  The train car was so small.  So many people were shoved in there.  On their way to their deaths.  When I exited through the other side, there were no soldiers with guns waiting for me.  No one making me strip or walk to a gas chamber.  Waiting for me on the other side was a giant mural photograph of people who were doing just that.  I remember being so overcome with emotion that I stood facing the mural, leaned my head forward on the photograph and cried. 

I will never forget it.

The second thing that I took away that day from the museum was a very simple image of part of an exhibit.  It was this:

It was a big pile of shoes that had belonged to the people who had been gassed.  So many shoes.  Mr. Fun said that when he went to the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem (the Yad Yashim), he also remembers a big pile of shoes.

Those shoes survived because they were NOT made of blood and flesh.  Weird eh?  That canvas and leather, which is man made, endured.

In some strange sort of way, shoes have become an icon of the Holocaust.

Which leads me to my first 2012 Bob the Builder Award.  A guy nicknamed "Woody."

Alan, "Woody", Morawiec is the son of Chaim Morawiec, a survivor of the Holocaust. 


Chaim never could find his voice, figuratively, to share his story, so his son, Woody the middle school technology teacher, did.

After learning about Holocaust Awareness Week in 2000, Woody asked his dad for a pair of his shoes that he could share with his middle school students to connect them to Chaim.

Chaim sent them and the rest they say is "history."  To help drive home the point, Woody asked the kids to bring a pair of shoes to donate to needy people in Colorado, their home state.  That year alone, Woody collected 300 pairs.

Woody then went on to begin the Holocaust Shoe Project.  To date, they have collected over 33,000 pairs of shoes for the needy around the world.  Chaim died in 2009, but his story lives on, representing the millions of stories that will never be told.

If you are interested in feeling inspired and encouraged to do a little more good in this new year...this is a great place to start: