Jax Woodworkers gives away more toys each year

“I’m the last living founding member of Jax Woodworkers. All the others have passed away. I’ve been the Chaplin for many years,” Bobby Clayton said.

Woodrow Connors with Bobby Clayton, two of the four founders of Jax Woodworkers Club.

Woodrow Connors with Bobby Clayton, two of the four original founders of Jax Woodworkers Club.

“My neighbor, Woodrow Connors, had a two-car detached garage in his back yard. That’s where he had all his woodworking equipment. When we moved into the neighborhood, he had been living there several years before us. This is where Woodrow founded the club. I’ve been there ever since the beginning, since the inception. Jax Woodworkers formed with four men, including me. Carmen Fenanelli was a banker and became the treasurer right away. And Ray Reynolds was the other guy. He made a bunch of grandfather clocks and walking canes, plus many, many, many toys over the years. We’re considered to be the founders. But Woodrow was the man, the head man. It started a long time ago,” Bobby said.

Jax Woodworkers started in December 1989 in Woodrow’s garage.

Woodrow Connors with Ray Reynolds, two of the four founders of Jax Woodworkers Club.

Woodrow Connors with Ray Reynolds, two of the four founders of Jax Woodworkers Club.

“Woodrow was already making the crosses. They were designed to be hung in rear-view mirrors inside cars. He brought the idea from the North Jacksonville Baptist Church. He was a member of that church and that’s where he got the idea. He started making crosses in his garage. Each one is made of hardwood. They all have red yarn and a heart that holds the yarn together. His wife, Miriam, used to string the red yarn through the crosses and add the plastic hearts. The crosses were free and not to be sold. He just gave them away. Woodrow made more than 20,000 crosses and today they’re probably all over the world,” Bobby said.

Miriam and Woodrow Connors . . .

Miriam helped her husband, Woodrow Connors, by stringing red yarn through crosses that he gave away for free.

“I have a wood shop in my garage too. I put all my equipment on wheels. When I want to work, I roll everything out in the back and work on it,” Bobby said.

“Woodrow founded the club in his back yard. That’s where we started making toys. I’d walk over there. I was just one of the guys who was helping to get it started. We started with four guys. It grew to 60 plus members. We made thousands of toys and we’d give them all away. None of them are for sale. They’re for small children,” Bobby said.

“We’ve met at different places. We’ve moved around to anyplace that would have us. Now we’re meeting at St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church. We meet on the third Saturday of each month at noon. We eat in the church dining room before we start the meeting. The workers from the church fix us lunch,” Bobby said.

“After we eat, we start the meeting right on time. The president might mention if anyone is sick. Many of the members are older. We also have younger guys and gals and they’re happy to learn from the older woodworkers. They’re very skilled at what they do. Before they retired, some of them were woodworking artists.”

“The president always starts the meeting with a prayer and the pledge of allegiance. That’s important, the prayer part. Make sure you put that down. The secretary reads the minutes from the past meeting. Then the safety officer gives a safety report. Working with saws can be very dangerous, especially with small projects. He reads and speaks from his own personal experience. You don’t put thin plywood in a planer, for example. If you do it will fire bullets. This is just an example. You should never plane a piece of plywood,” Bobby said.

“On the third Saturday of November each year, all the members bring in the toys for distribution. Some of the toys go to Shriners. There are about fifteen agencies that come to pick up the toys during the pick-up time. We divide them between the groups. Some people take them to the hospitals and give them away,” Bobby said.

Jax Woodworkers club members lay out all the wood toys to prepare for pick up.

Jax Woodworkers club members lay out all the wood toys to prepare for pick up.

“The members of Jax Woodworkers make about 5,000 toys a year. In November, we spread the toys out all over the floor. People come with boxes to get the toys. They go fast,” Bobby said.

“One of the club’s biggest expenses is wheels. The wheels are expensive. The toy chairman orders wheels and axles with money collected from annual membership dues,” Bobby said.

Jax Woodworkers Club purchases the majority of their wheels from Woodworks.

Jax Woodworkers members make thousands of toys each year

Jax Woodworkers members prepare thousands of handmade toy cars, trucks, planes and other wood toys for their annual giveaway.

“Every year we make thousands of toys for the various agencies The American Legion, Sulzbacher Center. Some of them I never heard of before, such as a group for babies of prisoners,” Bobby said.

Jax Woodworkers . . .

Jax Woodworkers lay out all the toys for distribution each November for various nonprofits to come pick them up.

“The people who receive these toys are invited back from last year to this year and they tell about giving them away. When the children go into the room with plastic toys and wooden toys, they always run to the wooden toys. People get up with tears in their eyes to tell what a joy it is to get the toys. The men are humble. When you lay 5,000 toys out on the floor, it’s quite a sight. The woodworkers don’t want any credit. They’re just doing the work of the Lord,” Bobby said.

Jax Woodworkers . . .

Jax Woodworkers Club gives away thousands of handmade wood toys each year.

“The woodworkers have such great camaraderie. They’re not trying to outdo the other ones. They’re just trying to do something for the children,” Bobby said.

“One of the main places we get our wood is Rulon in St. Augustine. They supply us with wood. They’re in the business of making ceilings and wall systems for properties all over the world. We’ve developed a relationship with Rulon to get their wood. So we get choice wood, quite often poplar and black walnut. Rulon makes fancy commercial ceilings,” Bobby said.

“One of our members, Greg Fisher, found out about Rulon from a friend who was getting wood from them. Greg went to see Rulon to tell them what Jax Woodworkers Club does and our need for any wood they could give us. Rulon was happy to give us wood to make toys for needy children. They have been doing this now for over six years. Each meeting there is a pickup truck full of wood for our members donated by Rulon,” said Web Master Bob Corona.

Rulon International Jax Woodworkers Club Jacksonville Florida warehouse St. Augustine Florida Jacksonville community

Rulon International is committed to giving back to the community. They have been donating wood to Jax Woodworkers Club since 2010.

“I like this club because it gives us an opportunity to be of service to the Lord to see the children light up when we give them a toy. Aside from that, I personally enjoy getting a hold of a plan, making the toys, and sharing ideas on how to make different ones,” Bobby said.

“The woodworkers also build a lot of stuff for show-n-tell that’s not given away. We have show-n-tell at every meeting except December when we have our Christmas party. The callers make the calls to remind people about the meetings a few days before,” Bobby said.

“Making toys is our main goal, but at each meeting we do show-n-tell. The show-n-tell officer chooses a topic such as drill press or table saw. They’ll bring stuff in that they made with this equipment. We have a table full of stuff that has nothing to do with giveaway toys. Some guys come in with cabinets they’ve built or airplanes. We take it in and show it. You leave your name by your piece and someone will call you up to explain how you made it. And then people ask questions like, ‘what kind of glue did you use’ and so on,” Bobby said.

Bobby Clayton talking about a ukulele he made at Jax Woodworkers Show-N-Tell

Bobby Clayton at Jax Woodworkers March 2014 meeting during show-n-tell, describing how he made this ukulele.

“I made a ukulele once. I brought it in and showed it and played it. I’ve brought clocks in and showed them. I’ve probably made about twenty different clocks, one big grandfather clock. We have three grandfather clocks in our house. My father had an old clock made in Mississippi. it’s a little over three feet high. That’s what got me interested in clocks,” Bobby said.

“A few years ago a gentleman called the Jax Woodworkers Club to find out if anyone would be interested in purchasing a grandfather clock kit that his father purchased in 1991 from the Wisconsin Clock Company. That same year his father passed away leaving the kit in limbo for nine years. I negotiated a price that included all the basic parts including the movement and, to my surprise, a nine-tube striking system. I didn’t keep a record of how long it took to complete the project, but I would estimate between six to nine months, of course, part time,” Bobby said.

Bobby Clayton built . . .

Bobby Clayton has a number of clocks chiming every quarter hour throughout his home. This grandfather clock that he built from a kit, is the largest of his collection.

Sawdust Trails can be any Saturday of the month except during our monthly meeting. A member will host a gathering at their home. These events usually have about fifteen to twenty people. People volunteer and invite people to come to their house for breakfast on Saturday. This gives the other members a chance to see their workshop and learn something. We call this Sawdust Trails,” Bobby said.

Jax Woodworkers Club members Naylor Sawdust Trail gathering men Jacksonville Florida

Jax Woodworkers Club members at Jim and Wilma Naylor’s Sawdust Trail gathering in March, 2016.

“In December we have a Christmas party. People dress up in costumes. If you want to bring a gift, you can. If you do, then you get a ticket and pick a gift that looks attractive. It’s fun. We sing Christmas carols. All the wives are invited and many of them come. There are mostly men who do the woodworking, but some women do too,” Bobby said.

“Margaret Miller was the president for years. She kept us together. She stepped down to let others have a chance. She’s a woodworker. She makes some pretty good stuff. We have a mission statement, by-laws, and a full slate of elected officers,” Bobby said.

Margaret Miller holding an award she received in recognition for all her years leading Jax Woodworkers Club. The plaque was presented to her at the club's June 2015 meeting.

Margaret Miller holding an award she received in recognition for all her years of leading Jax Woodworkers Club. The plaque was presented to her at the club’s June 2015 meeting.

“We need help to get the word out there about Jax Woodworkers. Our club has many elderly members and young people are more into technology, so getting new members is difficult. I was president for six years. It was an honor and a privilege to be part of this great organization who, for over 25 years, have worked hours and hours to see to it needy children receive toys at Christmas. These members with beautiful hearts are a gift to the community,” said Margaret Miller.

Woodrow Connors went to join his Maker in Heaven on February 6, 2009. He was 95 years old. But this hasn’t stopped Jax Woodworkers from carrying out Woodrow’s vision of making more and more toys each year.

Woodrow Connors has made, and given away, more than 20,000 of these crosses. He gives them away for free. "The Gospel is free. Jesus didn't charge anything. How can i?" Woodrow said.

Woodrow Connors has made, and given away, more than 20,000 of these crosses. He gave them away for free everywhere he went. “The Gospel is free. Jesus didn’t charge anything. How can I?” he said.

“Woodrow wanted to expand the club. There’s another woodworkers club in Jacksonville at Woodcraft. They sell woodworking equipment and wood. There are many woodworking clubs all over the country. If you look up woodworkers, you can find many of them out there,” Bobby said.


“I truly appreciate my daughter, Lorraine Haataia, and the work she did to pull this story together,” Bobby said.

Recipients of toys made by Jax Woodworkers Club include, but are not limited to, the following organizations:











St. Andrew Episcopal Church


Sulzbacher Center Way Home logo





Great ways to engage with art and people at Works/San Jose


Engagement and participation involvement with Works/San Jose and what they do

“We define art is as almost any creative activity. Over the years, we’ve had theatre, music, visual arts and exhibitions on practical design as well as experimental design,” Joe Miller said.


Mission statement: Works/San José believes that thriving communities support artistic experimentation. Therefore, we serve as the South Bay community’s creative laboratory where people can experiment, exhibit and engage with art and with each other. We achieve our mission by providing an accessible, supportive and welcoming art center.

They had a show for the design of transit in the South Bay.


There are a number of ways you can get involved with art and people through Works/San Jose:

Participate in South FIRST FRIDAYS

“We’ve gotten as many as 900 visitors on a South FIRST FRIDAYS. It’s the lion-share of our audience each month. It’s how a lot of people first get to know us,” Joe said. “On First Friday, there are a very diverse group of people who come to see the art. We bring in shows that spark conversation among people who may not otherwise talk.” If you want to visit Works on a Friday, keep in mind there’s no official First Friday in January or July.

Participate in an event held at Works/San Jose

In addition to South FIRST FRIDAY, Works/San Jose typically offers additional events each month:

Words Drawing Music is a comunical creativity night. This  It’s a good synergy. It’s a fun, friendly environment where artists, musicians and writers get together to share their creative works.

Poetry Center San Jose sponsors Well-RED, a monthly poetry reading where selected local poets have the opportunity to read their works. This is an informal gathering where members and guests can meet and greet fellow poets.

Flash Fiction Forum was brought in by its founders, Tania Martin and Lita Kurth. They used to hold their monthly event in member homes, but as their membership grew, they needed more space.  If you plan to attend this event, arrive early to get a seat. Works has about 50 stacking chairs. This event is so popular that they sometimes run out of chairs.

Music night is typically held the closing night of each exhibit. It’s an all-ages, alcohol-free event where they serve sodas, water and snacks. They sometimes have a speaker associated with an event.

If you’re looking for a space for your event, feel free to contact Works with the details to see if it might be a good fit.

Curate an art show at Works/San Jose

“Works was set up to be accessible by artists in the area. Even if it’s someone outside the area, we’re open to it. We wanted to be smaller-scale and able to turn on a dime to help foster shows that other places won’t take on. In some cases, it might not be considered appropriate or even art,” Joe said.

For many people it’s the first time people are exhibiting or Curating. They’re really into giving people that first chance. It’s nice when you have someone with a resume, but it’s not a requirement. It’s the only place in the area where almost all the proposals all of the content from the exhibits come from the public. They’ll consider it. The person needs no experience. It’s unique in this area. You don’t have to be an institute where the programming is much more restrictive.

“We tend to shy away from art-only concepts. We try to go for communal global concepts. It doesn’t have to be an earth-shattering concept like global warming, but we’re looking for things that start conversations, that start dialogues between segments of the community that may not otherwise talk to each other,” Joe said.

Each exhibition usually has 25-50 artists on display, so when those people invite their friends and family, we usually get about 300-400 people. The proposals we take are open to the public. The proposals can be as few as three people, but others are as large at 60 such as the T-shirt show which was curated by _____?

The show was shown at Liquid Agency re-showed the exhibit. They also helped with the funding of the show here. Everything was made just for the show. So it may be displayed at the service center for VTA. It’s a public center so people can get passes or do whatever business they need to do with the VTA. They have space to do an exhibit.

The concept has to be clear and they have to see that the community can get something out of it. The next one coming up is The private is public. There are private moments that people do out in a street setting, sometimes by choice and sometimes not. Some people don’t want to expose themselves in the real world. They have park-like settings and sleeping in public and other personal moments.

But they have partnered with groups like the South bay coalition of sculptors.

With a crack in the earth 51 pieces were submitted and 51 were accepted. This is unheard of in the art industry.

Some shows last for six weeks, but most are about three. We have about 8-10 shows a year.

Get involved in Works/San Jose December auction

“We typically get about 100 items for our annual auction,” Joe said. “We generally don’t restrict people on sizes, but we do ask them to take our space into consideration.”

“It’s a benefit auction, so it’s also open. We’ve never rejected a piece. We try to get people to think that it’s for sale. There’s no such thing as experimenting too much, but we also tell people that we can’t sell a pile of dirt,” Joe said. “It’s a condensed show. It opens on First Friday in December for eight days in a row and then the auction is on the following weekend. You can also see and bid on the pieces online.”


Works doesn’t have a single employee. Everyone is a volunteer. They’re open several days a week and they depend on volunteers to staff the open hours of their exhibit space.

Click here if you . . .  Want to gallery sit for Works? 

Spread the word

Here are several ways you can help spread the word about Works:

Support Works

Works was founded in response to the Museum of Arts. Every show at the Works is a new surprise. People who know the works realize this.

ICA was founded in response to Works. They thought Works wasn’t selective enough. They have about a half-dozen employees. You have to pass the muster with the one lead curator. This is the norm in the art world.  You have to cater to their sense of aesthetics  minimalistic art or

SoFA is considered the arts district. There’s supposed to be a big public art center around Diridon Station.

Works is sponsored by the City of San Jose Cultural Affairs and _____ ? Some of the shows have sponsors as well.

AIGA & San Francisco Design week for Liquid Agency was a financial sponsor. for just the one show that was the transportation show.

Works does pay rent $750 for 1200 SF. It’s a great deal for them. it’s nonprofit pricing. They’re in their 3rd year of their 3-year lease so they’ll have to negotiate soon.

The city wants to keep the whole SoFA space going. They’re like 2nd to the Museum of Art as a long-standing nonprofit arts organization in town, there’s also the quilt museum and a few others. MACLA.org

Works is part of SoFA, also Hire/Fire, San Jose glass.

The annual grants are always submitted and come from the city of San Jose and SV Creates. They’re competitive grants. The city publishes its scoring, but SV Creates doesn’t.

Become a member of Works/San Jose

One of the main perks of joining is that you become part of a community that fosters communication between artists, curators and the public. In addition to attending events, you can also request to participate in the members-only Facebook group for 24/7 access to the community.

“A lot of people see us as a first-chance kind of place to expose yourself artistically. We’re willing to take a chance on people,” Joe said. “Works has been the starting point for a number of artists who have made a name for themselves.”

“A lot of people got their start on the Works Board of Directors. Most people had no other board or organizational experience. Angie Helstrup-Alvarez her first experience was with Works and now she’s executive director for MACLA/Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana, a center for Latino arts.  Angelica Muro was gallery coordinator at Works, then later founded a gallery. Now she’s a professor at CSUMB. Others on the San Jose Museum of Art and and other arts organizations around the Bay area got their start at The Works.

Gain leadership skills as a board member

“Works board meetings are open to the public, so you’re welcome to come by and ask questions. We also have an annual member meeting. As a 5013C, we encourage members to attend our board meetings. Although we have a full slate of officers, we’re always looking for people who are interested in being active on the board,” Joe said.

President Joe Miller (mostly updates the shows on the site)

Secretary – Chris Knight NASA computer scientist

Treasurer Amy Street

VP Kimmy Martinez

Advisory board – Steve Kooley (does backend stuff)

3 of them help with Facebook updates

Stephanie does Twitter

Volunteer coordinator – Maggie So

Binh Danh was the facilities director at Works and he’s now a professor at San Jose State University. Today he’s considered one of the top in contemporary experimental photography. He came up with a process of at SJSU to print into the chlorophyl of leaves and save it for a long time. His work has been shown nationally and internationally.

Joe has been instrumental in leading Works. We use Akzidenz-Grotesk typeface, but we purposely don’t have a logo.  <ask Joe for best link to this font?>

Joe Miller, SJSU Graphic Design Lecturer

Joe Miller, SJSU Graphic Design Lecturer

Joe Miller is a designer, design educator, artist, and spoken word performer. He is principal of joe miller’s company in Santa Clara, and has taught design at San José State University since 1988. Joe’s work has received national to international recognition in more than 60 books and publications, and he has received more than 120 regional to international awards for design.

His work has been included in exhibitions nationwide and is in the permanent collections of the AIGA National Design Archives and the Denver Art Museum. His work in poetry and art has been published and exhibited regionally. Joe is President of the Board of Directors of Works/San José, is a member of the Boards of AIGA SF, and Poetry Center San José.

insert Joe’s sample art

Mercury News did a big story on Joe Miller and

People only had to be a member to be in it. A Crack in the 

Take a Big Sip of Water and Speak Up a Little Louder

Obama‘s secretary entered the oval office and said, “We got another letter from Kenya. They’re having a very serious water shortage.”

“There’s always a shortage there,” he said. “It can’t be that bad.”

“I think it’s urgent this time,” she said. “The stamp is paper clipped to the envelope.” Sickipedia

“It’s not just an issue of quality,” my friend Elley told me. “There’s a lack of it in Kenya. People want water but it’s not always accessible.”

Elley Ho is a voluntourist who loves to travel to help people in rural communities in countries like Peru, China, Nepal and Africa. Not long ago, I interviewed Elley about her work as a photographer and educator. Here’s a story we pulled together about her recent trip to Africa:

How to Make Your Vacation Last a Lifetime

When we were working on this story, she kept mentioning the water issue she saw in Africa. Each time she talked about it, she paused. I could tell it had an affect on her. Elley didn’t go to Africa because of the water issue, but she came back from Africa with the water issue on her conscience. Here’s what she told me about her experience in Kenya:

Every morning, 60 children walk through several miles of maize fields to attend a rural school in Kenya. From 8 am to 1 pm, they’re in school with no snack or water. Paying attention in class can be difficult.

Elley Ho - water - sleepy and thirsty kids in class

This rural school outside Narok, Kenya was one of the sites we visited during the filming of the 2013 Getty Images Creative Grant Project. The school received support from NGOs to build the infrastructure, but they still struggle with not having adequate supplies for the kids.

When we were there, we learned that these kids don’t have access to food or water during school hours. Our gracious driver overheard their stories of struggle and took the initiative to offer each and every child a squirt of water as a treat.

I saw their expressions and their joy. They’d get a squirt of water and they’d be so excited. They were like baby birds holding their mouths open waiting to be fed.

Elley Ho - water - more happy kids getting water

The kids enjoy school. They have to walk 4-6 miles to school every day by themselves. They’re living in all directions. There are no books on the desks. I didn’t see any visual presentations or computers. The kids all look at the teacher as she talks. Some kids have the energy and an intense desire to learn. 

Elley Ho - water - more kids asking for water

It’s flat everywhere. I didn’t see much around, except for bushes and a few trees. It’s a very dry area with no signs of water sources. The river was completely dry. During the dry season it’s just a ravine. But during the wet season, the river floods and some of the kids can even drown. They risk their lives to get to school.

So how do toilets work when there’s no water to flush, you might be wondering?

They dig a gigantic hole. You can’t even see the bottom of the pit. I can’t imagine what would happen if a child fell in.

I often saw flies on people’s faces, on their eyes, nose and lips. The flies are trying to get water too. The kids don’t even notice that the flies are there because they’re so used to it.

Elley Ho - water - maasai girl with flies on her dry face

I was surprised to see that water was such a big need. When people saw me, they saw my water bottle first. I imagined all the water bottles I’ve thrown away in my life and I wished I could have given them to these kids. 

They want bottles because they never buy water. To me it was just garbage, but they don’t have the money to buy them. I gave a boy a water bottle. He was so proud and began showing off with it even though it was empty. He wanted it just because it was cool to him.

When Elley said this, it reminded me of film The Gods Must Be Crazy.

Elley Ho - water - school boy who happily received my plastic bottle

At one point we saw a crowd of people fetching water from a pipe. People were trying to fill containers with the water. I suppose I expected them to be fighting over the water, but they weren’t. Instead, they were orderly and respecting each other. They yielded to each other to let the next person have a turn. They acted like a community instead of competitors. That part seemed foreign to me.


Some Americans worry about becoming sick from the BPA in plastic while Kenyans are just trying to get enough water to get through another day.

A lot of people grow their own crops, such as bananas. Then they barter among each other. The food helps to keep them hydrated.

Elley Ho - water - happy kids getting water

The water isn’t even a necessity for them. It’s a luxury. They have mugs that look like they come from home because they’re all different. I imagine that they get some water during mealtime at home, but they might not have it every day.

When they saw me, they didn’t look at my face. They looked at my water first. Kids came up to me with their cups and mugs because they wanted my water. 

Elley Ho - water - all kids want is my water

If you grow up in a place where water is out of reach, I guess you don’t feel the thirst. Maybe their system just shuts down a bit. They talk softer. The body seems to adjust.

Once when I was interviewing a little girl and I could hardly hear her. I kept asking her to speak up. 

“Let me give her some water,” a boy said, “so she can talk a little louder.” He gave her a sip of water from a rum bottle. The boy probably didn’t understand the label and had no idea that the bottle was made for alcohol.

Once she had some water, she was able to speak up just a little louder.

If you live in a home with running water, it’s hard to imagine the fact that 3.4 million people die each year from a water related disease. If your kids or grandkids play at water parks and in swimming pools in the summer, it’s hard to believe that 1 out of every 5 deaths of children under 5 is due to a water-related disease.

Drink Distilled Water Daily to Detox and Defend Your Body

Before leaving her hotel room in Kenya, Elley looked back to double-check that she had everything. All she could see were the empty water bottles she was leaving behind. I probably should have taken them to the children. But just like America, they’re going to end up in a garbage dump, she thought.

water bottle cartoon

Although you may not have personal experience with the world water crisis yet, we’re all at risk with this mounting issue. According to the World Water Council, “the crisis is not about having too little water to satisfy our needs. It is a crisis of managing water so badly that billions of people – and the environment – suffer badly.”

So now what?

Take a big sip of water and speak up a little louder for the conservation, protection and management of our water sources.

Asante Africa logo

A Toastmasters World Champion Who Will LIFT YOU UP

Have you ever witnessed someone do something really stupid? Have you watched from the sidelines thinking I could give this person some good advice but . . .  I’m kind of curious to see how this is going to turn out?

ballet arms 5th positionFellow Toastmasters, honored guests and future world champions, the people who become the Toastmasters International World Champion of Public Speaking are stupid people just like you and me, but the difference is that they practice and practice and practice day after day after day just like Olympic (O) athletes. Seemingly average people transform themselves into Super Humans (O). They gracefully demonstrate their strength. They have smooth transitions as they dance their way through your imagination.

What does it take to be the Toastmasters International World Champion of Public Speaking? It takes five things:

Timeout letter TYou need to be a Toastmaster (T).

As you write and rewrite and edit your speech, you need to apply all the basic techniques you learn in the basic Competent Communication manual. You need to have a great introduction that ties into the conclusion. You need to make people laugh and maybe even cry in less than seven minutes. In order to do this, you need to practice daily just like an Olympic (O) athlete.

One night a man a man was driving down a road when he realized he was losing control of his car. He slowed down and pulled into the nearest gas station and saw that he had a flat tire. Presiyan Vasilev was a Bulgarian living in Chicago. He never changed a tire and he didn’t know it was a stupid idea to park on a slope to change a tire. He didn’t know what he was doing, but he decided to change the tire on his own because he believed it was a weakness to reach out and ask for help.

What does it take to be a world champion?

hand talking symbolYou need to be a story-teller (S).

People love to hear stories. Get in the habit of telling stories everywhere you go. Tell a story. Ask someone to tell you a story. Listen and repeat.

In his speech entitled “Changed By A Tire,” Presiyan tells a simple story about a lesson he learned when he decided to do something stupid and change a tire without reaching out for help. He sets up the story by telling his audience he’s parked on a slope in a gas station. The guy at the register inside the gas station is watching him. His car is facing down on a slope toward a road. Cars are driving by. People across the street waiting at a bus stop are watching him try to change a tire while he’s parked on a slope. We’re already anticipating the worst that’s about to happen. But he holds us in suspense.

This CAR game will drive you crazy.

What does it take to be a world champion?

Letter P with handsYou need to be a participant (P).

Participate in weekly meetings. Presiyan, who became the 2013 world champion didn’t just participate in the club contest, he also participated in the area, the division and the district levels. He reached out for help to make his speech better than everyone else’s.

What does it take to be a world champion?

Elderly Man Standing with a Hand on His Heart in Front of the American FlagYou need to be a judge (J).

Notice the J we all carry around on our heart? We make judgments based on our culture and. As you practice and tweak and your speech, ask your fellow Toastmasters to use the judge’s ballot as an outline for their feedback. In order to win, you need to score high on the criteria spelled out on the judge’s ballot. But even more important, you need to get you message into the hearts of the audience. Ultimately, the audience will judge you based on how they feel about you and how much they feel you’re connecting with them.

What does it take to be a world champion?

letter W with fingersYou need to be a winner (W).

Presiyan used to believe that reaching out for help was a weakness. But he discovered that his weakness was refusing to reach out for help. When you reach out, you attract solutions that lift you up. This simple lesson he gave in his winning speech was, “When you reach out, you attract people who lift you up.”

Study winning techniques of the people who compete in the International Speech Contest. You can watch these winners for free on YouTube. Check out Presiyan’s speech:

Presiyan ends his winning speech by asking, “Is there something in your life that has gone flat?” Your knowledge may be limited. But when you when you reach out for help, you’ll find that others will be there to lift you up.

In the midst of a downpour, a driver noticed a woman on the side of a road with her knees in the mud trying to change a flat tire. He pulled over to help her. After he changed the tire, they were both soaking wet. The man held his arms up in the air an yelled, “we did it.”

quiet index finger over lips“Sshhh,” the woman said as she held her index finger over her lips. “Please be quiet. My husband is in the back seat taking a nap.” JokeOfTheDay

On the Toastmasters website, there’s a page of World Champions of Public Speaking, listing just one person for each year since the contest first began in 1938, only one name for each year. You may not have a goal right now to be the world champion, but imagine how much you can benefit in every area of your life by participating in weekly meetings and contests, while becoming a better communicator and leader.

If you’re already a Toastmasters member, participate in the contests. If you aren’t a member yet, visit one of the thousands of clubs throughout the world. Click here to FIND A MEETING LOCATION NEAR YOU.

You’ll find many people who are willing to help lift you up to be a Super Human (O).

Who knows, you may even become someone’s Super Hero.

Toastmasters where leaders are made logo

How to make your vacation last a lifetime

Have you ever splurged on a vacation only to return home feeling remorse over how much money you spent? You try to convince yourself that it was worth it, but the hotel, restaurants or sites didn’t quite live up to your expectations. Or perhaps the weather wasn’t what you had hoped for. The time flew by and now all you have to show for it is a few tourist photos and a big credit card bill.

vacation beach picture cartoon PC Vey

“I just returned from a once-in-a-lifetime vacation,” my friend told me. “I’ll never go there again. It was a tourist trap!” RD

What if I told you there was a way you could avoid tourist traps and make your hard-earned vacation dollars last a lifetime?

Elley Ho showing Asante Africa students their pictures on the camera screen

Elley Ho showing Asante Africa students their pictures on the camera screen

Have you ever thought about donating your vacation to a cause? I recently met an amazing woman who not only thinks about it, but she actually does it. She’s the ultimate voluntourist who loves to travel to developing countries. Offering her photography and education skills, she volunteers her summers to reach out to help people in rural communities in countries like Peru, China, Nepal and Africa.

Here’s what Elley Ho said when I asked her about her recent trip to Africa:

Why do you choose to spend your vacation time volunteering?

I’ve always been fascinated about the worlds beyond where comfort is out of reach but I’m surrounded with plenty of simple beauty. Volunteering is the best way to enjoy this path less traveled. Whenever I give, I end up earning more and that fulfills my inner self.

Elley Ho preparing to shoot an interview with an Asante Africa teacher

Elley Ho spending time with Tanzanian students during filming at a local school

How did you apply your talents to help Asante Africa? 

With my previous volunteering experiences, photography skills and passion for education, I was invited by Art Director Heward Jue to pull together a project proposal for Asante Africa Foundation, a well established nonprofit based out of Oakland, CA. Subsequently, we were awarded the Getty Images Creative Grant of $20,000 which supports photographers who use imagery to promote positive change in the world. This grant helped us to actualize a film and print campaign for Asante Africa Foundation, showcasing how the work of the organization has profoundly transformed the lives of thousands of African children and their communities.

In July 2013, Heward and I went to Africa to film scenarios that highlight the transformations made possible through education. Thanks to the local Asante Africa staff in Kenya and Tanzania, we were able to locate the resources we needed to make the filming happen. They went out of their way to help us with our production. 

For example, one staff member from Asante Africa knew people who worked in the hospital, so we were able to do a shoot in the facility. The children featured in the film were also carefully selected by the staff who knew the potential of the students, all recipients of Asante Africa scholarships. 

Elley Ho and Heward Jue with Asante Africa students in Kenya

Elley Ho and Heward Jue with Asante Africa students in Kenya

What challenges did you encounter during the filming?

In one of the scenes we were looking for a rough neighborhood so we could portray the issue of child soldiers as a haunting reality in Africa. We felt uneasy about exposing ourselves and our equipment in the slum area while being barracaded by locals wondering what we were trying to accomplish there. Luckily, one of the staff members lived close by so he knew which people from the slum could help safeguard our visit.

When we were filming at a local village, one of the male villagers gave us a hard time because the school principal affiliated with Asante Africa reported him for marrying off his daughter at a young age. After hours of negotiation our local staff was able to come up with a solution with them and we got to accomplish what we needed to do. 

Behind the scene with Elley Ho filming at a slum in Narok Kenya

Behind the scene with Elley Ho filming at a slum in Narok Kenya

What did you learn about Asante Africa?

The thing that struck me the most about Asante Africa is that they have the best staff. The organization only hires local Africans. Their lives are empowered because of the job opportunities and training they’re given through Asante Africa. Not only are they super friendly, but these people are very dedicated to what they do. They aren’t afraid of trouble.

Asante Africa addresses needs at multiple levels to ensure the communities at large will grow as they open more doors for students to have the education and skills to become future leaders. Not only do they build infrastructure to improve the physical environment of the schools, they also look at other needs of the community at large. They provide training programs for students to become future leaders, and  programs to empower women to learn about women’s health, thus elevating their attendance in school. 

Elley Ho in Narok Kenya with a teacher and his family who volunteered to be actors

Elley Ho in Narok Kenya with a local teacher and his family who offered to be actors

What did you learn from your experience?

I learned that Africans are good problem solvers. They don’t get caught up in their emotions when dealing with hardships. They’re born into circumstances which teach them that life is difficult. They deal with what comes to them. They don’t give up easily.

We saw barefoot children walking miles back to home after school. As our car passed by them, they waved at us with big smiles. They didn’t ask if we could give them a lift. They know what they deal with is part of life and they accept the challenge.

Elley Ho shooting the local Maasai in Arusha Tanzania

Elley Ho shooting the local Maasai in Arusha Tanzania

What was one of the best things that happened during your stay in Africa?

We met a boy on the street in a rundown neighborhood in Arusha as we were scouting for a location for the filming. He kept waving at us with a million dollar smile on his face. We couldn’t resist but to walk over. It turned out that he spoke good English and was able to answer all the questions we asked. He told us that he lived with his aunt and sister. “My father died. He kept throwing up every time we saw him,” he told us. We asked him where he lived. He couldn’t give us an address, but he told us to turn this way and that way and walk straight and so on.

He said his favorite subjects were math and English and he wanted to be a pilot when he grew up. He said it all with full confidence on his face. When I looked into his bright beautiful eyes I couldn’t resist to believe that with a little help he could become a pilot. We talked to Albert, our scholarship coordinator, who proceeded to ask the boy more questions. After all was said and done, I asked Albert if this eight-year-old would qualify for Asante’s help. He said the boy met all the criteria and he would return do a home visit to get more information.

This boy’s life may be forever changed, all because of his eagerness to give us a big smile.

African way of praying in school

African way of praying in school

What advice do you have for people thinking about donating their vacation time to a cause?

Go abroad and interact with the locals in their reality. Contribute what you can to the local communities. You’ll come back feeling you have done something way beyond what a typical beach resort vacation can offer.

Who knows, you may even change a life for the better?

Learn more about Elley’s experience from her perspective on her blog post: Getty Images Creative Grant 2013.

Ossob Mohamud warns that you shouldn’t do something like this unless you’re truly invested in helping beyond your vacation days. You need to be willing to “help address the root institutional and structural causes of the problem,” he says. Guardian Africa Network

Mike Carter is a board member of Asante Africa who helped out with Elley and Heward’s award-winning film project. If you’re like Mike, Elley and Heward and there’s a voice inside you telling you to go and make a difference, then do something about it.

Go Away! And Other Good Advice Parents Should Give Kids

Elley Ho teaching in Nepal through the Nepal Education Initiative Organization

Elley Ho teaching in Nepal through the Nepal Education Initiative Organization

The next time you’re planning a vacation, check out your options with Global Vision International, The International Ecotourism Society or another similar voluntourism organization which offers trips starting at 7-10 days. Elley is a board member of the Nepal Education Initiative Organization and she welcomes you to go to the rural villages in Nepal to help out. Wherever you decide to go, do your homework to make sure you sign up with a reputable organization that’s a good match with your talents or interests. Your next vacation can be one that you and the locals will never forget.

Who knows, it might even change your life for the better.

Take a Big Sip of Water and Speak Up a Little Louder

Asante Africa logo

Meditation: The answer to all your problems

Most of our daily lives are dominated by a busy outer world, much of which we can’t control. This causes us to miss what’s going on inside of us. We become disconnected with who we are and what makes us truly happy and fulfilled. Many people try to find prosperity in the outer world by striving for more and more things or experiences which only drains them even more.

Change begins from within. If you’re unhappy with some aspect of your life, you’ve probably been searching for the solution in the wrong places. Chances are, the answer has been within you all along, but you’ve never been taught how to get to it. When was the last time you thought about your thinking?

meditation meeting

Meditation is a simple mental technique from Hindu tradition. Here’s what you do. Get into a comfortable seated position. Then close your eyes and repeatedly think of a word, sound or phrase, your mantra. Many practitioners recommend that you do this twice a day for 15-30 minutes or more.

During this time you allow all thoughts and distractions to pass through your mind like clouds passing by in the sky. Let them flow without passing judgment or allowing them to destabilize your emotions or sense of balance. As you do this, you’re fully aware of your body and surroundings in the present moment, yet you let everything pass through you.

Meditation promotes deep relaxation resulting in greater inner awareness. Some people say it helps them to feel centered. David Lynch is film director, musician and actor who has been practicing meditation since 1973. He says that it’s like being in an elevator that takes him up.

“It has given me tremendous effortless access to unlimited reserves energy, creativity and happiness deep within.” says Lynch.

Not only does he get tremendous personal benefit from meditation, he saw how much it could help anyone regardless of their age or life circumstances. In 2005 he started the David Lynch Foundation for consciousness-based education and world peace. Today the foundation teaches meditation to children and adults in countries all over the world with sometimes astounding results.

You can meditate almost anywhere. The more you do it, the more creative you can become in finding new ways to incorporate it into your everyday life. Sogyal Rinpoche

Deep breathing can help to enhance your experience. When you become consciously aware of your breathing, it has an immediate calming affect.

You can also experiment with candles, incense, sunlight or other natural relaxants. Go out into nature whenever possible for even greater benefit. If you want to get some exercise at the same time, try meditating while breathwalking. Huffington Post

Some people incorporate yoga with meditation. When you begin by doing yoga to stretch out your body, it may help you to reach a more intense state of relaxation. Some people like to sit in a lotus position after stretching, while others prefer to lie down. It’s completely up to you. It’s best to do yoga on an empty stomach, so the combination of yoga and meditation can be a great way to begin and end your day.

Meditation has a way of removing filters, blocks, fears, doubts, torments and pains from within. Some say it helps to ward off their depression, anxiety, stress and more.

Meditation cartoon catsMeditation isn’t a religion, but it may help you to tap into your spirituality. Meditation isn’t a formal treatment, but it may improve your sense of well-being. Meditation isn’t a science, but you may get measurable results. BBC

Observe animals and toddlers. They live in the moment without passing judgment. Their bodies and minds are free. Meditation helps you free your body and mind as you move into a higher sensitivity to your surroundings. It recharges your mind and body in a powerful way that you can only discover over time.

Many people tout the benefits of meditation, saying that once they started, they wanted to continue every day. A surprising number of successful people practice meditation: Mahatma Ghandi (Indian nationalist leader), Rupert Murdoch (one of the richest people in the world, Dr Andrew Weil (holistic doctor, naturopath, author and professor), Dalai Lama (spiritual leader) and many other successful celebrities and executives. Business Insider

Russell Simmons - Transcendental Meditation

Russell Simmons

Russell Simmons says that meditation promotes happiness. “It teaches you to appreciate now. It brings you close to your power. Meditation is for any one of us who want the cycle of good to happen, want to be optimistic, want to be an inspiration, want to make everybody else’s lives better so they can be better. Meditation promotes stillness. When you’re still is the only time you can think.” YouTube 4-minute clip.

Meditation “transformed me and many of my friends,” said Apple CEO, Steve Jobs. “It was profound.” In his younger years, he created a meditation space in his attic complete with Indian prints, candles and meditation cushions. He read books like Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind by Shunryu Suzuki, Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism by Chogyam Trungpa and Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda (a book he read once a year ever since he was a teenager).

Challenges and difficulties can come at you at anytime day or night in the form of thoughts, physical symptoms, or other human or technological interventions. This sludge can cause you to lose clarity and focus. Meditation gives you a release valve to understand what’s most important now. That’s why companies like Google,  Twitter, Facebook and many others in Silicon Valley are also embracing Eastern traditions such as meditation. Wired

Meditation helps you to become more attached to the present moment, while become detached from worldly things and thoughts. Some find meditation so effective, even more powerful than the effect of drugs. It’s easy to get hooked on meditation because of its profound benefits. In the beginning, you might want to keep a journal to note your experience.

You can begin practicing meditation on your own now. If you’re looking for a layman’s guide to getting started, check out Meditation for Beginners 22-Day Course by Vern Lovic. He provides simple steps to calm the circus in your mind. I like this book because it’s a casual description of one man’s journey. Yours may be very different. 

As is true with any good habit, you get the most benefit with regular practice over time. You can’t expect meditation in itself to solve your problems right away. But it may become one of your most valuable habits in maintaining a more satisfying and balanced life.

Once you experience the benefits of meditation, you may want to get some training. Look for practitioners or a Meetup in your area. Some centers charge for their services, while others are nonprofit faith-based organizations. 

There are many different meditation techniques, so if you decide to get some instruction, don’t hesitate to experiment with different methods until you find one that’s right for you. David Wants to Fly

Are you ready to become an Urban Monk?

One day a student at the went to meditate with two monks as part of his education. They went to the opposite side of the lake from a monastery and were about to start their morning meditation when the first monk said, “oh no, I forgot my mat.” So he walked calmly across the surface of the water to the monastery and returned with his mat. Then the second monk said, “I forgot my sun hat,” so he ran across the surface of the water to the monastery and returned with his hat.

The student was astounded by this and at the end of the meditation he tried to walk across the water. He fell straight in and emerged soaking wet. The two monks watched his failed attempts for a while. The first monk said to the second, “do you think we should tell him where the stones are?” Metta

How to Live Forever: Laugh More, Eat Less

Please get back to me later to let me know what meditation is doing for you.
Telling someone about meditation is one of the greatest gifts you can give.
Pass it on.


Art of LIving logo

What if You Come Down (to Earth) With Symptoms of Sustainability?

If you or someone you know has some of the following symptoms, you may be coming down (to earth) with sustainability. It can be contagious, but some people have strong resistance. Scientists believe that it may have something to do with a jean mutation. The jeans can be modified or removed, but some people don’t like to change because they’re comfortable just the way they are.

Sustainable World PeopleJust as a person who has obesity may begin to rely on a wheelchair to get around, a person who has sustainability may begin to rely on a bicycle to get around. Physical and mental conditions shape the surrounding environment.

Although some people feel uneasy about sustainability at first, they quickly begin to adapt to the condition. Some people do really crazy things like take up gardening or sell their cars. Once you catch sustainability, don’t be surprised if people with the mutated jeans call you crazy.

Once you’ve been diagnosed with sustainability, it’s helpful to join a support group with like-minded people who prefer trees over traffic and borrowing over buying. As the symptoms of sustainability increase, you may fall deeper into a wishful state of Utopia-euphoria wanting more people to contract your enthusiasm. Webweaver Earth

Here are some of the symptoms of sustainability:

Air. You go to parks and into the forest where the air is fresh and trees are plentiful. AIRNow

Banking. You closed your bank account and opened an account at a local credit union. Credit Union National Association

Whenever you go near a bank, you get withdrawal symptoms. PunOfTheDay

Bathroom. Your bathroom has a window which provides natural light and ventilation. American Restroom Association

Why are environmentalists bad at playing poker? They avoid the flush. Jokes4Us

Biking. Your bicycle is one of your main modes of transportation. People For Bikes

This CAR Game Will Drive You Crazy

Charities. You give generously to a local nonprofit or faith-based organization and they give back to the community. Charity Navigator

Cooperation. You quit your corporate job to work for a co-op. National Cooperative Business Association

Energy. Your home is drawing power from renewable energy sources. Renewable Energy World

Food. You have access to organic fruits and vegetables within walking distance of your home. GMO Inside

Gardening. You have fun working together with your neighbors in the community garden. American Community Gardening Association

Healthcare. You have access to affordable healthcare. Michael Moore’s Health Care Proposal

Housing. Your home is affordable and you help others who need housing. Habitat for Humanity

Laundry. You hang your laundry out to dry. Project Laundry List

Laundry Study Shows Americans Have Few Hangups 

Leaders. You’re a good communicator and leader. Toastmasters

Library. You enjoy going to your local library on a regular basis.

Lighting. The sun is your main source of light all day. VELUX

Music. You hear nature sounds or appropriate tunes that enhance your home, workplace and other public spaces. American Music Therapy Association

Names. You’re on a first-name basis with your neighbors and workers in local businesses. NeighborWorks

Organics. You buy organic foods in the local farmer’s market and grocery stores. CCOF

Outdoors. Your home and workplace outdoor spaces are green and welcoming. Alliance for Community Trees

What did the activist get when he sat on the iceberg too long? Polaroids. Jokes4Us

People. You treat everyone with respect, regardless of their age, race or social status. Grassroots International

Pets. You often take your dog along wherever you go. Go Pet Friendly

Plantscaping. You have plenty of indoor plants. Plantscape Industry Alliance

Prevention. Your healthcare provider incentivizes doctors for prevention. American Journal of Preventive Medicine

Why We Need to Do Doctor Reviews on Our Last Doctors’ Visits

Recycling. You have a donate box, a recycle bin and a compost pile, but you don’t have a garbage can. SCARCE

Sustainable Communities IndexSalary. Your boss doesn’t make too much more than you or your colleagues. Salary

Schools. Your kids attend schools which teach them how to create a sustainable future for themselves and the community. Edible Schoolyard

Seeds. You trade seeds and plants with your neighbors. Seed Savers

Sharing. You borrow stuff and lend a hand. mesh

Steps. The staircase in your workplace is more attractive than the elevator. StairPorn

Your Best Excuse for Not Going to the Gym

Students. Your kids are participating in solving real issues in the community. Youth Service America

Transportation. Your community is investing heavily in public transportation, bikeways, sidewalks and pathways. American Public Transportation Association

Volunteers. Your neighbors are engaged in making the community a better place to live. Volunteer Match

Water. Your drinking water is pure and safe. Local waterways are full of healthy marine life.  American Water Works Association

Weight. You’re healthy, not malnourished or obese. Weight of the Nation

Sick of Diets? Film Diet Plan Will Help You Escape the Fat Trap

Work. It’s easy for you to find work opportunities near home. Smart Growth America

If you’re experiencing several of these symptoms, stay calm. If you generate too much excitement, the zombie police with mutated jeans may try to attack. They are known to be mindlessly unreasonable, doing raids on people who sell fruits and vegetables, for example. Check out this raid on an organic food store in California.

Zombie Police - resident evil

What’s the difference between zombies and patched jeans?

Zombies are dead men. Jeans are mended. JokeIndex

If you or your loved ones are coming down (to earth) with sustainability, the best thing you can do is band together with other level-headed people and come up with a smart plan to protect yourselves in the event of a random zombie invasion.

Yes! logo

It doesn’t take a PhD to see that DOE deserves a D in education

USDOE logoDear Mr. President,

I know you’re very busy trying to fix the deficit, the economy, the NSA and the ObamaCare website, but every good dad should have a few minutes to take a look at his kid’s report card. There’s something else you need to fix. Your child, Doe, isn’t doing very well in school. Here’s DOE’s report card.

Math & Science Scores – C

Among other countries, the US ranks 31st in math and 23rd in science. Students FirstThis puts US students in the “middle of the pack,” about the equivalent of a C. Huffington Post. This average score, however, has nothing to do with the number of qualified math teachers. They always multiply. PunOfTheDay 

School Lunches – F

Childhood obesity has tripled in the past 30 years. CDC. When kids walk through hallways to go to another class or to go eat their Monsanto lunch, they pass by vending machines filled with junk food. Huffington Post. Most people believe that school lunches play a big part in contributing to childhood obesity and that schools have a big influence on what kids eat. FreshBites. Overweight kids are more likely to face health issues that will shorten their lives and they add economic burden to all citizens. Some students are so fat, they can’t even jump to conclusions. JustOneLinersFood Matters!

Physical Education – D

Only six states require physical education classes. As school budgets have been tightening their belts, students have been letting theirs out. Physical education and other elective classes such as nutrition and health have been cut. This is further exacerbating the obesity issue. SPARK. Some young moms are so out of shape that they have trouble pulling shopping carts apart. AgelessFx

Graduation Rate – F

According to the OECD, the United States has a 76% graduation rate. The No Child Left Behind plan failed. The White House. Of the OECD countries, 20 of the 34 are doing better in providing a basic education to their citizens. I wasn’t a math major, but I think this means that the US ranks around 38%, equivalent to an F. We need more teachers like Erin Gruwell, who rallied up students to be Freedom Writers. Recently, a group of dropouts gathered at the front of a movie theatre for a noon matinee on a school day. They were all texting and one by one more kept showing up. As the crowd grew to more than a dozen teens, the manager stepped outside to ask what they were doing. One young man with oversize droopy pants spoke up said they were still waiting on a few more friends since the sign said that 17 and under were not admitted. Jeff Foxworthy

SAT & ACT Scores – D

Maybe students aren’t interested in studying at school and they’re picking up their reading and writing skills on social networking sites? Maybe not. SAT and ACT scores are generally on a downward trend. The Unsilenced Science. The DOE needs to invest more in high-tech teaching tools and less on high-tech security equipment, then these scores would be rising, not falling. “Our bombs are smarter than the average high school student. At least they can find Kuwait,” says A. Whitney Brown.

Teachers – D

Teacher job satisfaction is the lowest it has been in 25 years. If the teachers aren’t happy teaching, then students won’t be happy learners. Dennis Van Roekel, president of the National Education Association, the nation’s largest teacher’s union, says, “Teacher job satisfaction will continue to free fall as long as school budgets are slashed.” Huffington Post. Do we need more money or do we need more teachers like Jaime Escalante who are willing to Stand and Deliver?

Spending – D

If you’re thinking that we need to spend more money to solve the problem, consider this. The US already spends more on education than any other participating OECD country. NEA TodayIf I were a business consultant and found out that a company was spending more than any of their competitors to deliver their service, and customers and employees were unsatisfied, I’d give them a D with a warning that they better start doing their homework before they go out of business.

Schools – D

The education system is needs fixin’. It’s going to take a superhero to take care of all these issues! Fortunately, there are some superheros among us. Some kids have the good fortune of getting into KIPP schools. But we need more superheroes like SuperMike and SuperDave KIPPsters to figure out how to get all kids into successful schools. Watch Waiting for Superman free on Vimeo to see how KIPP schools have overcome these issues and found a way to successfully prepare their students for college. Check out the trailer. . .

By bringing Monsanto executives into your administration, you’ve been quite successful at destroying America’s food system and the health of American people. Occupy Monsanto. This leadership thing really seems to do the trick. By the way, was the tree in the DOE logo genetically modified too?

Stand Up For Kids“My school was so tough, the school newspaper had an obituary section,” says Norm CrosbyTake a look inside one of the country’s most dangerous schools on this ABC News report. “If you know any teenagers in prison, send them some candy to help them break out.” Jill Perlow

Today’s kids are generally worse off than their parents, mentally, physically and financially. I’m writing on behalf of all the kids who are suffering, getting left behind, sleeping in the streetsgetting locked up and dying for help. The kids are Waiting for Superman! Can you please hire some KIPP-like leaders to head up the DOE so that they can help all our young does and John Does succeed? Please call immediately to schedule a parent-teacher conference.

Go Away! And other good advice parents should give kids

KIPP Work hard. Be nice.

Don’t count on pink to save your hOOters from cancer

Would you like some milk? Or how about a soft drink, a mixed drink or some dessert? It’s ironic that the Hooters menu features some of the very foods that may be detrimental to bosoms. Many of these foods, along with hamburger buns. sauces and other items on the menu are laced with high fructose corn syrup made from GMO corn.

Not long ago I heard that Hooters was considering starting a home delivery service called Knockers. JB. Surveys consistently show that most men like knockers. And many of them are willing to do just about anything to fit them into their daily routine. Hooters put the idea on hold for now, however, because some of the young women were having trouble getting through the training.

HootersKnock knock.
Who’s there?
Madam who?
Madam foot is caught in the door.

Knock knock.
Who’s there?
Doris who?
Doris locked, so I had to knock. AT

Men gather together to keep their eyes on Hooters. The NFL Shop sells more than 1000 pink products in a category they call “breast cancer awareness gear,” to make sure that all Americans know how bad the problem is. Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in American women, who have about a 1 in 8 chance of being diagnosed at some point in their lifetimes.

But I can’t help but wonder why adults need to pay for gear to prove they’ve been informed of this? Kids get gold stars on their foreheads in kindergarten and that’s cute. But men wearing pink ribbons is like women putting blue balls stickers on their faces. The most common forms of cancer in men occurs in their prostates or on the skin of their heads or faces.

Don’t buy this pink stuff! It won’t do anything to save your boobs or your wife’s, whatever the case may be. Monsanto, cancer centers, pharmaceutical companies and even the NFL are all profiting from this pinkwashing.

cancer posterFootball was an obvious choice for pinkwashers who knew it would be a bad idea to promote pink at the olympics. Why advertise that we have one of highest rates of breast cancer in the world? BBC News Magazine. The pinkwashers don’t want this kind of news to make headlines. If foreigners leak information to Americans about what they can do to help prevent it, it would be bad business for insurance companies, cancer centers and big pharma.

It’s hard enough on women who are told by their doctors and insurance companies that they need annual mammograms. For the men out there who’ve never experienced a mammogram, imagine this. Another man places your wiener between the refrigerator and its door. Then he pushes on the door as hard as he can until you’re sure your wiener has become a sausage patty. Or picture another man maneuvering your joystick on an ice block and then putting another heavy ice block on top, crushing it down on you until you doubt whether you’ll ever experience joy again. CC

What Pink Ribbons founder, Jane Weiner, did to help save her sister is certainly admirable. It’s always nice to hear a success story about someone saving the life of a loved one. But this pink thing has gotten completely out of control. Now you can buy pink just-about-anything or participate in a pink walk, run or bike ride to raise more funds for cancer centers and pharmaceutical drugs that “cure” women through inhumane tortuous treatments.

During football season, millions of Americans tailgate and then sit back to drink and eat junk food while they cheer on the few dozen guys in the stadium who are actually getting some exercise. The next time you see a team sporting pink gloves, socks or shoelaces, here’s what you need to realize. The corn chips, popcorn, candy, soft drinks, and mixed drinks full of high fructose corn syrup sold at these “sports” stadiums are increasing your risk of cancer. And you’re forking out the dollars to put these addictive and GMO poisons into your body! Non GMO Project

Watch this clip to see the effects of eating Monsanto GMO corn . . .

Take a look at the Pink Ribbons website. You won’t find any information about prevention. It’s all about supporting cancer centers and the drugs and treatments they sell.  They’re helping to fund the “cure” side of the issue which is exactly why pink has become so popular. The “cure” industry is big business and it’s fully entrenched in every aspect of American culture.

cure cancer billboard

City of HOPE – City of Hospitals, Oncologists, Pharmacies & Expenses

Angelina Jolie was busted. But thanks to American medicine and places like City of HOPE, she isn’t anymore. Read the signs. Americans build cities around Hospitals, Oncologists, Pharmacies, and Expenses.

Women who face breast cancer certainly need help and much more support than their bras can offer. They need more solutions. And we also need more organizations focusing on prevention for other women who want to keep their breasts along with the rest of their body parts.

If you’re looking for less traumatic cures, contact the Burzynski Clinic, Gerson Institute, Hoxsey Clinic, Cure Naturoli Cancro, or other similar centers in the US or abroad. If you’re aware of others, please let me know and I’ll add them to this list. Chances are, you’ll have to come up with the money on your own. Even if you have insurance, they’re not likely to cover “alternative treatments” since most insurance companies are in bed with the rest of the pinkwashers. Your doctor, cancer center and insurance company wants you to fear anything outside their fortress walls.

Why We Need to Do Doctor Reviews on Our Last Doctors’ Visits

What can women do to reduce their risk of breast cancer? Check out Dr. Mercola’s articles Why Medicine Won’t Allow Cancer to be Cured and Breast Cancer Breakthrough for some great tips. Learn why Evita Ramparte rejected surgery, chemo and radiation, and instead choose to cleanse her body and mind to cure her cancer. And watch these movies:

A flat-chested young lady went to a doctor for advice on enlarging her breasts.

“Every morning during your shower, massage your breasts and say ‘scooby dooby doobies, I want bigger boobies.'” the doctor told her.

She did this faithfully for several weeks and it seemed to be working. But one morning she was running late and forgot her morning ritual. She didn’t want to lose momentum so she began her ritual on the bus. “Scooby dooby doobies, I want bigger boobies.”

A guy sitting nearby said, “Do you go to Dr. Hugh G. Rection by chance?” MBS

“Yes, how did you know?” she asked.

“Hickory dickory dock, I want a bigger . . . ”  TTF

ThinkBeforeYouPink.org BCAction.org


YouCaring: A Toadly Awesome Fundraising Tool

Harry the Hungry Frog

You know why are frogs so happy? Because they eat whatever bugs them.  AllAboutFrogs

Does it bug you that you don’t know what to do when a friend is facing a serious life challenge?

One thing that makes social media sites so engaging is that you never know what you’re going to see next: a joke, a dog or a frog. Anything’s possible.

While one friend is posting a profile of his wife’s very pregnant belly, someone else is checking his kid into an emergency room. How did the frog get hurt? He jumped to the wrong conclusion. It’s a real-time reality sitcom, soap opera and tragedy all at the same time.

One day, more than a decade ago, my husband and I were doing what we often did . . . driving around in our SUV loaded with kids looking for an affordable place to feed the family. As we were passing through fast food strip-mall lined suburbia, my youngest stepdaughter pointed out the window and said she wanted to eat at Chewys.

Chevys Fresh Mex

Everyone started cracking up. She had no idea why, so she continued on about how much she liked Chewy chicken, which made every laugh even louder.

“What,” she kept asking. “What’s so funny?”

We didn’t have Facebook back then, but if we did, our friends would have heard about this one.

“Daddy,” a teen girl asked her father, “how much does it cost to get married?”

“I don’t know,” he responded. “I’m still paying for it.” Jokes4All

If you have kids, you know how costly they can be, upwards of $200,000 each by the time they graduate from high school. Housing accounts for about a third of that expense, while child care and food combined accounts for another third. USA Today

One day a little girl brought home a story that she wrote. It was about a hungry frog. A proud father was inspired. Author Larry Levy elaborated on his daughter’s story and developed it into a book about Harry the Hungry Frog.

That’s how I first met Larry. He said “yes” when I invited him to talk to a group of writers. He shared a fun story about a frog who ventured out to find delicious food. That was several years ago.

Recently, Larry shared a different story . . .

Even when kids are relatively healthy, medical bills can put families in a pinch. So you can imagine how hard it is for a parent who suddenly has a mailbox full of doctor bills and hospital expenses he can’t afford.

Larry is a father who knows what this is like. And to make matters worse, doctors still haven’t found a cure. How would you feel if your child couldn’t even eat without being in pain?

To this day I still smile every time I drive by Chewys. I wonder what Larry will be thinking about his daughter Mya when he looks back ten years from now?

Next time a friend or family member is facing a serious illness, you don’t have to feel toadly helpless. Think about what you can do to offer just a little hope or hoppiness.

Here are numerous ways you may be able to help Mya or others like her who are ill:

  • Contact Larry if you know a medical professional who may be able to help with her unusual illness.
  • Ask if there’s anything specific you can do to help. Buy a Hungry Frog book to help support her family, for example.
  • Share her story with your friends and family who may be able to help.
  • Offer a donation through YouCaring to help with fundraising for her medical expenses.
  • Give her a reason to smile, or even better, a reason to laugh. Jokes for Your Friends Who Are Sick and Tired
  • Bring a smiling stuffed animal for her to snuggle with and to remind her to search for ways to smile every day. Frogs can turn into princes and wishes can come true.
  • Learn about her illness so you can better understand what she’s going through. “A new study showed that licking a frog can cure depression, for example. The downside, however, is that as soon as you stop licking, the frog gets depressed again.” Jay Leno quote on MichaelsWorld
  • Visit her in the hospital. Remember to fill the parking meter so your car doesn’t get toad.

You Caring