Feature stories

Monday, October 31, 2005

Show Celebrates, Has Something For Everyone

By Terri Rimmer

The 25th Annual Cycle World International Motorcycle Shows presented by Toyota Trucks will be held Nov. 4th-6th at the Fort Worth Convention Center.

Touted as being for everyone, the event is held in Fort Worth, TX in Exhibit Halls A-E at 1201 Houston Street.

Exhibitors include American Honda Motor Company, American Motorcycle Motorcycle Trading Company, American Suzuki Motor Company, BristishMotorycleGear.com, Central Yamaha, and others.

Show hours are Friday, 4-9 p.m., Saturday 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

There will also be professional racing Friday and Saturday

For more information, call 817-392-6338 or go to fortworthgov.org.

The event is also held at numerous cities around the U.S. such as Denver, CO Nov. 18-20 at the Colorado Convention Center, Qwest Field & Events Center Dec. 2-4 in Seattle, WA, in Long Beach, CA at the Long Beach Convention Center Dec. 9-11, and at the San Jose McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, CA Dec. 16-18 among others.

At the Denver show admission is $12 for adults and $5 for kids six to 11 years old.

Motorcycles can park free at some of the shows and wheelchairs are available at others.

The 13-day nationwide series that kicks off in November is being held along with the BooKoo Arenacross Championship Series.

On the supercross.com website, Jeff D’Entremont, show director writes: “Our 25th anniversary is possible because of the strong support we receive from the major motorcycle manufacturers, aftermarket companies, dealers, and local motorcycle companies.”

For the 12th year Cycle World, the nation’s most popular motorcycle magazine according to Advanstar, is the sponsor for all shows.

The Auto Channel’s broadcast will allow viewers to see all aspects of each show from various cities featured.

At one show there will be bike giveaways and demonstrations as to the intricacies of putting a bike together.

You can see the latest innovations, products, and services at all the shows and watch as the 2006 models are rolled out on the floor.

A total of two million is said to be given away at all shows including bikes and prizes.

Fort Worth Greek Festival Celebrates 38 Years

By Terri Rimmer

The 38th Annual Fort Worth Greek Festival will be held Nov. 11-13 in Texas.

Hours are Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church Community Center at Jacksboro Highway and NW 21st Street.

Admission is free and will feature culture, food, Greek markets, children’s area, and more.

The St. Demetrios Greek Dancers will perform many different folk dances from various islands.

According to greek-fest.com Greek Festivals are held all over the country regularly and you can even find listings of Greek radio stations on their site.

A Greek Festival is a celebration of culture and entertainment also featuring unique exhibits. Some festivals have raffles for items such as jewelry and other crafts.

According to goGreece.about.com, almost every day is a holiday in that country.

The Brauronia Festival was dedicated to the cult of the Goddess Artemis, goddess of the hunt and protector of children. Her symbols are the bow and the deer and she was the daughter of Greek Gods Leto and Zeus. In myth, she is compared to the Goddess of the Moon, according to loggia.com and known as Diana in Roman Mythology.

Panathenia was a festival held in honor of the Goddess Athena’s birthday and was one of the most important in ancient Athens.

Typical items that can be bought at Greek festivals include columns, tunics, marble, pedestal, painting, urn, vase, dress, tie, book and statue among others.

Demeter’s Festival, the Themophoria, was celebrated in Athens and other centers in Greece.

Aphrodite was connected to the festival of Apaturia.

Festivals typically celebrated the many changes in their life in ancient times.

Pomenegrates are fruits that were often featured in festivals and used to worship two of the gods.

The festivals on Delos were usually to the God Apollo.

The festival of Dionysus included back to back dramas from beginning to end.

Festivals represented a day of rest so everyone attended.

The tradition of using a baby to signify the New Year was started in the year 600 B.C. in Greece.

For more information about the Fort Worth Festival, access fortworthgreekfestival.com on the web.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Event Benefits Cancer Research and Prevention

By Terri Rimmer

One of the biggest Halloween celebrations in Texas with more than 1,000 partygoers will benefit the Cancer Relief Fund.

Held Oct. 31st, The Goth Ball presented at Purgatory, 2208 Main Street in Dallas, will feature a Best Costume Contest prize of $1,500 among other treasures.

Admission is $15 in advance or $20 at the door.

Doors open at 8 p.m. and contest is at 10:30.

Presented by The Arts Fighting Cancer and The Dallas Observer, the event will also feature deejays, dancing, incredible costumes and amazing décor.

The Cancer Relief Fund provides monetary help to cancer patients.

According to D Magazine, over 1,000 party-goers attend The Goth Ball.

Founded in 1999, Arts Fighting Cancer (formerly Deep Ellum Film, Music, Arts and Noise, Inc. (DEFMAN(, is a non-profit, 501© 3 organization promoting filmmaking and the entertainment field while raising money to help the quality of life for those with cancer. To achieve this The Deep Ellum Film Festival also takes place in the Deep Ellum district of Dallas with an outdoor screening series with the Santa Monica Drive-In at the Pier among other venues.

In addition to advancing film and filmmakers the agency’s goal is to help cancer victims in getting through rough times associated with the illness with financial help.

The Cancer Relief Fund was established in 2001.

The 2005 Festival is the seventh one for Deep Ellum.

Past film distributors include for “Monster,” the award-winning film starring Charlize Theron and past attendees include Sandra Bullock and Jason Alexander from “Seinfeld.”

Program categories in this fastest-growing film festival in the U.S. include comedy, documentary, Texas cinema, experimental, shorts, High-Def, animation, student, and science fiction.

Hear No Evil Films, a Dallas participating production companies, raised over $4,000 for the cause last year in the Festival. Kim Fishman, producer and founder of the film company, has been successful with feature films and promos among other movies.

You can also donate through private donations to the fund.

For more information call 214-752-6759 or access gothball.com on the web.

To Parents Re A Dangerous Game

Check out The Life of Stephen Connelly by Scott Metheney, a book about a dangerous game called The Choking Game that kids are playing resulting in deaths.

County Establishes Resource Site For Survivors

By Terri Rimmer

Dallas County in Texas has formed a website for Hurricane Rita victims to access agencies and other information.

The North Texas Hurricane Rita Shelter Resources Page at dallascounty.org/rita also enables shelters to register their facility online and supplies public health guidance documents for evacuation places. Prevention of and response to gastrointestinal diseases outbreaks for evacuation shelters, plan for prevention of and response to respiratory disease outbreaks at the same areas, and an environmental health division evacuation shelter assessment form is offered available on the site.

Public health resources of Tarrant, Dallas, Collin, Denton, and Louisiana Health Departments are also listed as well as the Louisiana Disaster Recovery Foundation.

There is also an area to make suggestions for the website and a data collection instruments area for medical services, a Homes/Parkland form, and for ER services provided to victims. They all require authentication.

Health care services include for the DFW Hospital Council, Physician Resources, Credentialing Medical Volunteers, Texas Board of Nurse Examiners, and the Board of Medical Examiners.

Doctors who wish to volunteer to work with Hurricane Rita victims may email Gail Love at gayle.love@texmed.org. Dr. David Brailer, national coordinator for Health Information Technology was working with the American Medical Association and numerous other groups to expand Katrinahealth.org to provide doctors access to prescription records of patients displaced by Hurricane Rita before the storm hit. Doctors are instructed to refer to the Association Council for Graduate Medical Colleges’ web site for information on residency issues that Rita might impact and the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education’s site for information on arrangements for medical students at school that might be affected and on how those schools will handle residency applications. Links to both those sites are available on dallascounty.org/rita.

On Sept. 22nd Gulf Coast Regional Blood Center announced the temporary closing that day through Sept. 24th of all mobile blood drives and Neighborhood Donor Centers in anticipation of Hurricane Rita. Kelsey-Seybold Clinic locations were closed Friday through Sunday as was Baylor College of Medicine. Texas Woman’s University was also closed all weekend.

The Texas Department of Insurance issued eight bulletins regarding insurance coverage and the hurricane and the City of Galveston issued a Declaration of Emergency and Humana allowed early refills on member prescriptions.

The Texas Department of State Health Services established a toll-free hotline for family members to call to locate hospital and nursing home patients evacuated by the facility because of the hurricane. People within Texas may call 1-877-623-6274 24 hours a day. Callers need the name, date of birth, and gender of the patient.

The Dallas County Health and Human Services Department is located at 2377 N. Stemmons Freeway in Dallas. The phone number is 214-819-2115.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Black Beauty Ranch Plans Second Outing

By Terri Rimmer

Kinder Harbors Animal Sanctuary Development Fund will be having a second volunteer outing at Black Beauty Ranch Nov. 19th.

The world famous ranch in Murchison, TX is run by The Fund For Animals (fundforanimals.org), an animal protection organization founded in 1967. The ranch was started in 1979 by author Cleveland Amory, supplying expertise with animals at its facilities and fighting for protection of the creatures in and out of the U.S. involving unwanted and abused domestic and exotic animals. Amory loved burros and one of the resident ones is named after him.

They say most burros are born in a rainstorm.

This summer the facility underwent major construction and renovations which included saving three bobcats living at the Cleveland Amory Black Beauty Ranch. No longer living their lives as exotic pets, they are said to be having fun in their new home.

Primate habitats also got a new look this past summer and work was done on a new chimp area to give the three ranch resident chimpanzees more space to run around.

The staff welcomes donations of equipment, feed, materials, and anything else you’d like to give.

You can adopt a burro on the website listed above. Burros come from Southern California parks and the National Park Service and Bureau of Land Management is responsible for saving their lives according to The Fund.

Burros are rescued occasionally from government agencies, according to The Fund’s website. Rules are that you adopt two burros at a time to prevent loneliness.

The first of numerous groups of burros were welcomed not too long ago coming from Death Valley and Mojave National Parks as a result of a partnership between the government.

In a press release from the site, Michael Markarian, president of The Fund, said: “The federal agencies should be commended for allowing these Mojave and Death Valley burros to be humanely adopted rather than killed.”

The first transaction recorded of the ranch was 85 acres to house burros from the Grand Canyon National Park. For the animals it is their last home and final peace. Guided tours are available at the ranch.

One camel that was featured on cable t.v. before her rescue is Omar who used to be in the exotic animal trade as a baby but has been making the ranch her home the past few years. Two more camels joined him this summer, also rescued but from a family.

An alligator snapping turtle is also a resident at the ranch and is seen as archaic today. Baby Huey, who is roughly 80 years old, moved to its new home in 2001 after living in another area in Texas for several years and being taken to the ranch by a long line of fans.

Enshrined on the entrance gate are these words: “I have nothing to fear; and here my story ends. My troubles are all over, and I am at home.”

For more information, email David Howard at KinderHarborsAnimalSanctuary@gmail.com or call 214-547-9507.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Airport Gyms Guide

By Terri Rimmer

Traveling is entirely unpredictable.

Stuck in layover limbo?

Many travelers spend hours sitting in airports due to missed or bumped flights, mechanical problems, weather conditions prohibiting the plan from taking off, or other problems beyond the traveler’s control like the time my plane ticket blew out of my hand in a blustery wind and wound up in a grate.

I just learned that some airports have gyms which I never had any idea of.

Many airports across America are starting to open gyms right in the terminals for the use of airport staff and travelers stuck in the airport.

“It’s an ideal location,” says Bob Schaffner, 24-Hour Fitness Sales Manager.

Kevin Gillotti hates wasting time between flights when he travels.

A few years ago he started airportgyms.com which now lists more than 50 health clubs in the U.S. and Canada.

Some of these airport gyms aren’t just for buff gay flight attendants:

The Hilton O’Hare Athletic Club between Terminals 2 and 3 is $11 at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport includes a steam room. The phone number is 773-601-1723.

The Absolute Spa at the Fairmount (Terminal M, 604-207-5200, $15) in Canada’s Vancouver International Airport features a resistance pool where you can swim against the current.

At the Phoenix Sun Athletic Club, for $10 you can work out during any 24-hour period.

There are numerous airport gyms in California, of course, such as the Met-Rx one or in the airport terminal at Los Angeles Airport (LAX), you can work out for free.

More airport gym listings are out OutTraveler.com and on airportgyms.com. Some listings will be near the airport rather than in the building.

At the Miami International Airport you pay $8 for an all-day pass which features an outdoor running track, rooftop pool, treadmills, Steppers, and Nautilus weight machine.

Airportgyms.com is the most comprehensive free listing of airport gyms, fitness clubs, and exercise centers.

The site was started in 2002, written by health conscious travelers for the same kinds of people.

Jim Gulliford, a fleet service employee of McCarren Airport and long-time member of 24-Hour Fitness says, “I tell people all the time that if you’ve ever thought of putting a gym in your home, there’s no need.”

Gyms in airports are a great substitute, according to some, for what people would otherwise be doing to fill their free time.

“I would probably spend my time eating,” said Gulliford, laughing.

He has attended fitness centers near or in airports in Los Angeles as well as Chicago.

For pilots who only have short layovers, the airport gym is a perfect way to pass time, says one pilot.

Most pilots have very short layovers and don’t have time to leave the airport.

As fitness becomes more of a trend in America and it is a main concern for people to stay healthy and in shape, airport fitness center become more necessary, according to travel writer Jessica Taryn.

“It’s hard to adhere to a workout schedule while traveling but with the convenience of a health club within the airport terminal people are likely to spend their down time working out,” she said.

“People travel to cater to their other priorities in life, such as business or to visit family,” said Patty Guinto, 24-Hour Fitness Spokesperson.

“We have shorts and t-shirts to buy for people who don’t have clothes with them to work out in,” said Sachko Tzintzev of the Hilton Hotel Gym at O’Hare.

Most airport gyms have showers, steams rooms, saunas, and supply towels to their guests and members.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Help Fight Global AIDS

By Terri Rimmer

Numerous volunteer vacation programs let you lend a hand to people with HIV in the developing world.

The lengthy problems relating to HIV in the world’s poor countries – the lack of affordable drugs, the crippling of nations’ workforces, the creation of orphan generations – have been on the tips of tongues from Blair to Bono but what can us as travelers do about them?

“International solidarity,” says gay South African activist Zackie Achmat, “should not be limited to demonstrations against Bush and (drug) profiteering.”

For adventurers seeking heightened intimacy and meaning in the global fight against HIV, short – and long-term volunteer vacations are the answer, combining the idealism of the Peace Corps and the human drama of a reality show.

Combating the pandemic ravaging the world is not for the fainthearted, though, as emotional challenges are par for the course – in hospice and health care work, the suffering and death of some patients are to be expected.

The autonomy, openness, and respect are key to stemming this global epidemic (and to volunteering period,) but gays and lesbians are not always welcome in the given country of an AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) trip, so ask the organization directly about it.

According to one volunteer,”A lot of gay people are drawn to this kind of work.”

One organization is Cross-Cultural Solutions which may take you to a clinic in Peru, for example, to help out. They may be reached at 800-380-4777. There you can travel abroad and experience culture like never before while working side-by-side with locals. You choose from nearly 200 start dates with a length of stay form 1-12 weeks and ten countries. Cross-Cultural was founded in 1995 and has no religious or political ties. It is one of the largest international volunteer-sending organizations in the U.S. and a recognized leader in its field.

Global Services Corps’ number is 415-788-3666 #128. You can volunteer, work, or intern abroad with a generous host family. Global is a non-profit international organization working with developing countries and personalizing each participant’s experience. You get in-depth training and in-country coordinators at your disposal as well as rewarding hands-on challenges. There are also hosted weekend excursions. In Tanzania, for example, you work on a service project raise awareness of HIV and AIDS or teach people methods of sustainable agriculture. Global is a project of Earth Island Institute.

The Treatment Action Coalition may be called at 011-27-21-788-3507.

You can contact the International Volunteer Program at 510-433-0414 or i-to-iVentures at 800-985-4864.

The U.N. Volunteers Programme number is 011-49-228-815-2000. In Georgetown, Guyana, nine volunteer doctors recently made history when they joined the fight against HIV and AIDS. This is the first time anywhere in the world that U.S. volunteer doctors have been recruited en masse specifically to work in an HIV/AIDS care and treatment program. The doctors are expected to extend the national capability to provide care, treatment, and support for HIV-infected adults and children with their Guyanese counterparts.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Anxiety Is Most Common Psychological Complaint

By Terri Rimmer

My friend has panic attacks at work sometimes from the stress of her job.

Another one has them from working with her boss.

I consider myself lucky to have not had one in a few years, from what I can recall.

But I still remember what they feel like.

Now there is a self-help site dedicated to anxiety and phobias – anxietycoach.com.

According to the site everybody experiences anxiety periodically also called “anxiety disorders.”

According to Dr. Carbonell these are the most treatable of the psychological problems.

“These problems do have solutions,” he said. “On the site you can get basic information about anxiety disorders and identify the particular problems you face, develop a plan and begin working at it.”

Once you’ve completed the work suggested in” First Steps” on the website you can read various self-help articles about different disorders there. They consist of practical understandings, suggestions, and techniques that Carbonell and his colleagues, use with clients of the Anxiety Treatment Center in Illinois.

Carbonell said the tips and ideas in the online newsletter are all designed to be supplements to ongoing work with a therapist, coach, or structured self-help program.

In the “First Steps” section you can compare your experiences with anxiety to those described then consult with your primary doctor.

“My experience in working with people and their fears about the doctor’s office is that to try to hide these fears and ‘tough it out’ almost always makes the anxiety worse,” said Carbonell. “If you just don’t know how to explain your problem so others will understand you might want to explain by likening it to claustrophobia.”

Carbonell recommends if you are having panic attacks and have never been tested for thyroid malfunction, you should get a test because thyroid problems can sometimes cause a person to have panic-like symptoms.

“My view is that most people with anxiety disorders are best served by cognitive behavioral treatment; that some will need medication in addition to this, and some will not, depending on the severity of their condition and their particular diagnosis; and that most people will be better off starting with the cognitive behavioral treatment first, and seeing how that works out for them before trying a medication treatment,” said Carbonell.

More information can be found at The Anxiety Disorders Association of America and the National Institute of Mental Health.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Magazine Bake Sale Launches

By Terri Rimmer

Share Our Strength and Parade Magazine have launched the Third Annual Great American Bake Sale, the national campaign encouraging help to end childhood hunger in America by hosting bakes sales in communities.

This year’s event, sponsored by ABC and PAM for Baking No Stick Cooking Spray, will send funds to Share Our Strength and give to organizations across the U.S. to ensure that children at risk of hunger receive nutrition.

The organizations have raised nearly $3 million since 2003. Funds are distributed to innovative non profits whose mission is to end childhood hunger. Grants are distributed this year to non profits that promote after and before school meal programs, administer hunger programs in the areas hit hardest by Hurricanes Rita and Katrina, and those who administer Operation Frontline, Share Our Strength’s nutritional program.

The event was launched Oct. 16th and ends Jan. 29th.

This year’s drive will give a share of the proceeds to Hurricane Katrina victims.

You can register online or by phone to host a sale. After registering you will receive a poster, tips, and information. You can submit collected funds online or via mail.

Author Michael Rosen, who wrote Baking From The Heart, offers this tip: Shiny, aluminum sheets produce lighter, softer cookies than darker, heavier sheets which absorb more heat and bake cookies quicker, often making them crisper.

Participants in the sale produce timelines, themes, and goals, recruit volunteers, set location, promote the event, and enlist help.

Greatamericanbakesale.org encourages sale organizers to recruit helpers who can get bakers and buyers, organize and plan, can speak about childhood hunger, are bake sale experts, are creative, and are enthusiastic and energetic who care about fighting for the cause.

A list should be drawn up of what you’re selling beforehand and everyone should have a sense of their duties. It is important, say Share Our Strength’s site to designate people to areas where they can show off their skills and expertise and have everyone agree on deadlines. Team meetings, emails, and phone conversations are also necessary.

Hosts also invite potential community partners to work with their team to create a sense of unity. These groups might include youth groups, local businesses, restaurants, and bakeries, grocery or convenience stores, retiree groups, police or fire stations, vocational or professional clubs, culinary schools, neighborhood or community groups, residents’ councils, and others.

For more information, email bake@strength.org.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Chase Presents The Family Place Partners

By Terri Rimmer

Chase Bank is presenting The Family Place Partners Cards Oct. 29th-Nov. 6th which saves customers 20 percent on all shopping at various venues throughout the DFW metroplex.

The Family Place, founded 27 years ago, is a facility that offers a haven for domestic violence victims in Dallas, TX.

With the purchase of a $60 Partners Card cardholders participate in a shopping extravaganza and at more than 650 retail stores. All proceeds from card sales benefit The Family Place, the city’s largest family violence agency.

The Family Place’s mission is to eliminate family violence through intervention, prevention, and resources.

You can also learn to cook like a pro with the Texas Ranger Cookbook which is donating proceeds from each $25 sale of each book to The Family Place and Second Harvest. Donations can also be made online.

On The Family Place’s website there are numerous stories from thankful former clients such as Donna who wrote, “Tonight when I go to bed I’ll be thankful” and Yolanda who said, “I entered the Supportive Living Program during the holidays of 2002 and your donations helped make my first Christmas with my child a very special one that I will never forget.”

The Family Place also has auxiliaries such as The Family Place Partners, a women’s auxiliary and Helping Hands for The Family Place. Volunteers donate their time and you can donate items from the Place’s wish, organize a donation drive, “adopt” a family, or provide gifts for various holidays.

Monetary donations help provide diapers, milk, bus passes, telephone lines, medical supplies, emergency shelter care, and other items. A Child Development Center is located on the campus of the Place and the Place also provides counseling for children living there. In 2004 the Emergency Shelter Program provided food, housing, counseling, and other services to 1,000 women and children.

Those not need shelter but wanting counseling can take advantage of The Family Place’s Outreach Counseling Program. All services are available in Spanish and English.

The Family Place is always looking for former clients and volunteers to share their stories and they have an extensive Speaker’s Bureau and quarterly newsletter.

The Family Place also has a thrift store. To donate call 214-358-0381.

For more information and a complete list of retailers, visit familyplace.org or call 214-443-7754. To join the P.R.A.D.A. (People Recovering After Domestic Abuse) Group at The Family Place, call 214-559-2170.

The Place’s 24-Hour Crisis Line is 214-941-1991.

Donations may also be mailed to The Family Place, Box 7999, Dallas, TX 75209.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Money To The Wind

By Terri Rimmer

Ronnie used to pay for everything with plastic, get a high off of his weekends in Shreveport, and stroll through life without a care in the world – or so it seemed.

Today he has been unemployed for months, is trying to get on disability, and has to sell junk he finds just to put gas in his car.

“Most of my money I lost gambling,” he told his friend Elaine recently to which she gasped.

Not most of his money – all of it.

When one woman dated him briefly she thought he was rich the way he flashed his credit cards around all the time, paying for everything at expensive restaurants, movies; etc.

Until she saw his house and how it was falling apart at the seams.

“I should be ashamed of myself living like this,” he said and she silently agreed though she knew he was in the throes of a gambling addiction that he was in denial about.

Gone are the days when Ronnie would travel to the casinos out of town to gamble and come back a lot of times with a lot of money, excited to the core, on a natural high but not a constructive one.

Now he’s spun into a depression about money, just lost a friend recently, and told a girl an impressive lie about himself to impress her.

“He told her he owned a chain of McDonald restaurants as they drove around, spotting them,” said a mutual friend.

He’s sicker than some thought.

According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, the addiction is any behavior which causes disruptions in any major area of life: psychological, physical, social, or vocational. The Council says “you can’t smell it on their breath or see it in their eyes but one in ten primary care patients may have a gambling problem.”

At some gambling treatment centers there are certified gambling counselors who are specifically trained to treat the disease. According to the Council, anyone who gambles can develop problems if they are not aware of the risks or do not gamble responsibly. Some recovering alcoholics switch addictions once they give up alcohol and start gambling like Jerry who got addicted to scratch-off games and would go broke buying them then not have food.

The Council does not blame casinos or Lotto but says that the cause lies with the person who does not have the ability to control the gambling. But the organization does state that casinos and other organizations like them have a responsibility to address underage gambling and problem gambling issues. The frequency of a person’s gambling does not determine whether or not they have a problem nor does the amount of money lost. Although no substance is ingested the problem gambler gets the same effect from gambling as someone would who shoots up a drug or takes a drink.

It is generally accepted that people with one addiction are more at risk to develop another, according to the Council’s website, ncpgambling.org. An estimated two million adults are said to meet the criteria for problem gambling annually. Approximately 85 percent of adults have gambled once in their lives; 60 percent in the past year.

A number of states allow children under 18 to gamble and youth also participate in illegal forms of gambling such as online gambling and betting on sports.

For more information, call the confidential, 24-hour national hotline at 800-522-4700.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

A Tradition of Giving

By Terri Rimmer

When I worked for Child Advocates of Tarrant County (CATC) as an advocate I got the privilege of participating in the Annual Chi Omega Carousel, now known as the Christmas Market.

We raffled off three child-sized playhouses for our non-profit, selling tickets then watching parents and kids observe the intricately-built displays in awe as they fantasized about maybe having one of the winning tickets.

On the day the winner to be announced, press and crowds would gather around a central area where the winning ticket would be proclaimed and a different set of little girls and parents would smile and hug each other with excitement they realized they would be taking home a house built by own of our builders.

It’s that time of year again.

With the theme “A Tradition of Giving,” Chi Omega is celebrating 28 years of charity, a philanthropic project sponsored by area Chi O alumnae that have brought in over $4 million for local organizations.

This year’s dates are Nov. 2nd from 7-10:30 p.m., Nov. 3rd, 9:30 a.m.-8 p.m., Nov. 4th 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m., and Nov. 5th, 9:30 a.m.-6 p.m.

This year’s market will be at the Dallas Convention Center, Exhibit Hall “A,” having been featured at Will Rogers Coliseum for several years.

Beneficiary funds are derived solely from tickets sales, merchants, and donations.

There is food, fun, festivities, samples, unusual vendors, new and old favorite products, and demonstrations among other activities.

The event is for adults and children alike. There’s even something for the men.

Some of the beneficiaries from the event include The Ark House, which provides low cost temporary housing for out of town children and their families while undergoing medical treatment in the DFW area. The 2005 Christmas Market has pledged $20,000 for this organization for their Ark Apartments.

Another recipient is the Children’s Medical Center of Dallas, a private, non-for-profit hospital affiliated with UT Southwestern Medical Center and the only academic healthcare program in Texas dedicated only to the comprehensive care of kids up to age 18. They will receive $40,000 for the Krissi Holman Family Resource Library and Children’s Collection at the center.

Family Getaway will also benefit from the Christmas Market. They provide food, shelter, and services to homeless families who have children. By pledging $30,000 Chi Omega will furnish them a new playground named Chi-O KidZone.

For more information and a complete list of beneficiaries, access chiomega

Monday, October 17, 2005

Once First Now Last

By Terri Rimmer

One club has taken a title of a movie and put their own spin on it.

First and Last Wives Club in Texas is full of women who were once married and vow never to be again, not because of bitterness or male bashing but for reasons ranging from “switching teams” (lesbianism) or for their own personal quests.

“The First Wives Club” was a 1996 movie about Hollywood trophy wives who take husbands away from the original wives.

But this organization doesn’t lament what went bad in their marriage, but instead celebrate their life now.

“We designed the name because in forming our group we all realized that we had at one time all been married to one loser or another,” said Owner “Miss Lace.” “We are predominantly lesbian, although some of my founding lifers, heterosexual persuasion.”

The club participates in activities all over the city like the recent Pride Parade and Dykes On Bikes.

Even the straight ones march in the gay pride parades.

The club’s motto is “If you’ve ever been a first wife, you know you’ll be the last” and they have a reunion every year to update each other on what everyone is doing in their lives.

The rest of the year there are parties and entertainment which are listed on firstandlastwivesclub.com. On the site you can also buy opinionated t-shirts.

The first show the club ever participated in was in 2001, an extravagant affair in Sydney, Australia.

Like a girl’s tree house, they even have their own terminology, like “lifer,” a member who intends to attend every event until she dies and “fence girl” – a straight girl who all the women in the club think will fall off the proverbial fence at any minute and cross over.

In the photos on the group’s website you can see a lot of “lipstick lesbians,” traditionally feminine gay women. In American films lesbians are often portrayed according to the lipstick lesbian stereotype like “The L Word” on Showtime.

As with gay men, lesbian culture includes elements both from the larger gay culture and ones that are more closely specific to the lesbian community.

“When you get a divorce you go through a crazy period,” says Jackie Joseph, one straight wives’ club president in Hollywood specifically for celebrity wives.

Following her divorce, Joseph became chair of the Screen Actors’ Guild, TV Actors Union, and was made director or a homeless shelter in Redondo Beach.

For more information on the First and Last Wives Club, call 972-939-9106.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Family Leave In The U.S.

By Terri Rimmer

When a report recently released from the Harvard-based Project on Global Working Families found the U.S. to be just four places from dead last on a scale rating governments’ commitment to family-friendly workplace policies, people at Planned Parenthood took notice.

The report, The Work, Family, and Equity Index: Where Does the United States Stand Globally? Crunches data from 168 countries to arrive at a scathing conclusion: When it comes to ensuring that employees have the resources they need to both hold a job and care for children, the U.S. is “far behind” the global standard.

The U.S. Law family-leave policy is rooted in the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

The law also ensures that upon returning to the workplace the employee is entitled to the same position that she or he held before the leave began, or one equivalent to it.

Family-rights advocates see FMLA as a double-edged sword.

Debra Ness, president of the National Partnership for Women & Families, said she backs the recently proposed Paid Family and Medical Leave Act of 2005, a bill that would guarantee paid leave to the same population covered under the FMLA.

According to the Harvard report, the U.S. family-leave policy lags well behind that of most other nations.

One hundred sixty-three countries guarantee paid maternity leave in connection with children; the U.S does not.

Twenty-seven countries guarantee paid paternity leave, while 45 countries guarantee paid paternity leave or parental leave (leave that can be used following maternity or paternity leave).

At least 37 countries guarantee parents some paid leave when their children become ill; the U.S. does not.

According to the report, studies have shown that whether or not an employee receives paid leave after the birth of a child can have an impact on the physical health of the child, parent-child bonding; and the psychosocial development of the child.

The improved economic security that goes hand in hand with paid leave also enables parents to care for their children without the worries that inevitably arises when paychecks are cut off.

Amid all the criticisms of U.S. policies on family leave, the country has shown progress at the state level.

California got an A-minus in the report.

Dani is lucky. At 32 and working at a hospital as a supervisor, she is enjoying taking time off to care for her first child born Oct. 14th.

And now adoptive parents can take off under the FMLA to take for their newly adopted child.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Association Establishes Relief Fund For Katrina Victims

By Terri Rimmer

The National Foster Parent Association has established a relief fund for hurricane victims.

The Association is collecting supplies to give to the families in need who were struck by Hurricane Katrina.

Items such as new or used baby clothes, clothing for adults and children, shoes, sleeping bags, and duffle/travel bags among other items are requested as well as shampoo, shaving cream, disposable razors, toothbrushes, and toothpaste.

The Association, based in Gig Harbor, Washington is the only national organization supporting foster parents and calls themselves a strong voice for children.

Items for Mississippi may be sent to Becky Watkins, 115 Glynn Avenue, Quitman, MS 39355.

The Association has a priority list for Louisiana of generators and gas, baby supplies, disinfectants, can openers, food supplies that don’t require preparation, paper plates, and other items.

They have also gotten requests from Mississippi for displaced foster families which include diapers, gift cards, monetary donations, school supplies, and gym bags among other things.

The Association, a non-profit organization, has also started a clothing drive for foster family hurricane victims.

Monetary donations are also being collected for cash grants and gifts cards.

In a press release from the Association, Karen Jorgenson, executive director, said that people have been calling them from all over the country asking how they can help. She advises foster families to call their state association first. This also applies to anyone interested in fostering children from those affected families.

Jorgenson and Project Manager Dianne Kocer were scheduled to be in Mississippi and Louisiana to help with relief efforts Oct. 8-13.

Donations may be made by check or credit card.

You may mail all donations to: The National Foster Parent Association, 7512 Stanich Lane, #6, Gig Harbor, VA 98335. The phone number is 800-557-5238.

Displaced foster families in Louisiana can call 800-259-3428, in Mississippi 800-821-9157, and for those affected by Hurricane Rita in Texas, 800-233-3405.

For online donations, go to NFPAInc.org.

The National Center for Homeless Education at Serve, Inc/Serve Center (NCHE) and the National Center for Homelessness and Poverty are also involved in relief efforts with state coordinators, local homeless education liaisons, educators, agencies by enrolling children in families displaced by Katrina in school and providing services.

The McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act is the federal act that ensures the rights of the children experiencing instability or loss of homes to make sure they get their education.

For more information, access serve.org/nche.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Rita Forces Cancellation Of 2005 Lone Star Ride

By Terri Rimmer

Hurricane Rita took a heavy toll on the local community before it ever hit the state’s shoreline much less Dallas-Fort Worth.

Concerns about heavy rains, flooding, high winds, overburdened facilities and traffic problems caused coordinators of the Lone Star Ride Fighting AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) to cancel the fifth annual event that was planned recently.

Janie Bush, staff coordinator of the 175-mile ride, said city officials essentially made the decision for her when they revoked all special event permits for the weekend because of the hurricane and the evacuees entering the city.

Bush said the facilities the 100-plus riders planned to use for pit stops and camping out that Saturday night will be used to take care of the thousands of people fleeing the hurricane.

Bush said even though the cancellation was unavoidable, the coordinators and riders are devastated by the turn of events.

“It’s a heavy, heavy blow for us,” said Bush who spends all year planning the ride.

She said coordinators are exploring their options.

“There are so many things that have to be considered,” Bush said.

David Taffet, one of the 100-plus riders planning to participate in the event said he started training for the event in May.

“This is devastating,” said Taffet, who is host of the Lambda Radio Show and calendar editor for The Dallas Voice.

The cancellation also applied to the planned display of the AIDS Memorial Quilt on Sunday afternoon.

Bush said this year’s event had promised to provide a whole new experience for everyone involved.

Dinosaur Valley officials agreed to refund the money ride officials paid for camping privileges, she said.

Bush said the ride would be on again next year.

The Lone Star Ride has raised about $956,000 during the past four years.

More than 30 businesses and other organizations were sponsoring this year’s ride.

Hair Grown With Love

By Terri Rimmer

It was eight years ago that Madonna Coffman decided to take her loss and give others hope.

When she was in her 20s she developed a condition called Alopecia, a hair loss disease after receiving a hepatitis vaccination. A retired cardiac nurse, Coffman decided to start Locks of Love (locksoflove.com) where people could donate ten inches or more of their own hair for financially disadvantaged kids who had lost their hair due to the same condition. For a long time Coffman’s garage was full of mail and donated locks of hair.

The number of hairpieces has grown significantly since the organization’s inception in Dec. 1997.

Locks of Love is a non-profit organization helping children ten years old and younger who suffer from hair loss conditions who cannot afford wigs or hairpieces. Unlike some pieces, the locks do not require tape or glue but are custom-fitted for each head.

Many sponsors have come forward through the years to help, like Fantastic Sam’s Hair Salon and Glamour and Cosmopolitan Magazines have mentioned the organization in stories where celebrities and non-celebrities have donated their hair to the cause. You can sign up to donate or volunteer online for the Lake Worth, FL organization. There is also merchandise on the site such as a stuffed teddy bear and bracelet with proceeds going to the cause.

To date Matrix has awarded Locks of Love $60,000 to help their clients and The Hair Cuttery helps promote the cause year-round with sales and promotions. Child Magazine donated $5,000

Those in need of hairpieces can apply online or print out an application and mail it in. Along with the application goes two letters of recommendation, photos, and an essay about the child applicant. Applicants also submit tax information, tax letters, doctor information, and copy of medical diagnosis.

The organization accepts Visa and MasterCard.

You can also hold a fundraiser of your own for the organization or donate a ten-inch ponytail or braid.

Natural hair mailed in is cleaned, dried, and placed in a plastic bag then a padded envelope before mailing. All races, genders, and ages are accepted. Hair may be colored or permed, just not bleached. Hair cut years ago is usable if it has been stored in a ponytail or braid. You may pull curly hair straight to measure the minimum ten inches.

The majority of all hair donated comes from children wishing to help other children. Layered hair may be divided into multiple ponytails for donation.

Locks of Love is looking for volunteers in Palm Beach County, FL to open mail and write donor thank you cards.

For information call 561-963-1677.

Locks of Love fundraising events are going on all over the country and you can download your own kit on the website.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Chapter 20 of my e book - "MacKenzie's Hope"

Chapter 20
1st Birthday
August 1, 2001
That night Tara was on top of the world and she didn’t know why. But she felt this tremendous surge of energy and happiness unlike she’d known in her life, she was pretty sure.
Maybe it was just the full moon, which always affected her. But she felt actually thrilled about the adoption. She put up new pix of Mackenzie and her apartment looked great. She could actually watch a show about adoption and be unemotional.
She wrote a poem for Mackenzie and sent it to her for her 1st birthday with a card:
Number One
Your laughter
they just ache to hear
your skin like silk
a baby’s breath.
Your smile a whisper
to our hearts
awakening us
to your sweet spirit.

Your soul
a flower
opening up
Each day a grand
Your birthday wishes
wrapped in pink
blowing kisses
waving goodbye
I visited the playground today
and smiling, remembered
our time together.
The way your tiny arms
flailed about
my arms against yours,
the sun’s bright hue.
Not long ago you were
so tiny,
growing inside me
waiting to sprout.
And now you crawl,
you stand, you play,
each day’s your own
amusement park.

For the first time in a long time, Tara didn’t want to go to bed because of happiness and an excitement she couldn’t name. This time it wasn’t because of insomnia or fear of nightmares. She just wanted to play all night.
It was as if Mackenzie’s spirit was right there. And it was, really.
It didn’t matter at that moment that Tara and Chelsea couldn’t agree on Tara not continuing to send Chelsea emails from her APs.
For this moment Tara was at peace no matter how long it lasted.

August 2, 2001
Tara was up at 6:00 a.m., an hour and a half early. She went and emailed the scanned new pix of Mackenzie to friends and family. She always got great responses.
Tara’s old boss and the birth mom, who had lived at Gladney with her, posted her story on the online birth mom support group:
“I picked my APs as her parents and because I had private health insurance was able to call most of the shots in regard to how I wanted the adoption to go,” she wrote. “Ellen (my daughter) was never placed in Transitional Care and left the hospital with her parents two days
after I gave birth to her. I signed my final paperwork exactly 48 hours after she was born. Her birthday is June 10, 2000. Like Tara, I had a face-to-face (visit) in December. It was the most incredible experience. Honestly, I was terrified before I did it. My daughter was so beautiful and it was a wonderful chance to see how my APs are growing as parents.
I would definitely recommend having the six months face-to-face to every birth mother that’s given the opportunity. For Ellen’s first birthday I planted a tree for her instead of sending her a “present.” I wanted it to be in a special place where when and if we’re reunited we can visit it together. I plan on returning to visit each year as I celebrate my daughter’s birthday and thank God for the life that He has blessed both of us with!”
Tara got an email from her online support buddy for her addiction:
“That’s a really good point about when you were true to your feelings that you didn’t act out!” she wrote. “I’ve found the same thing. Sometimes I even find the opposite to be true - when I don’t act out I find a lot more feelings come up that I am pushing away when I do act out. Does that make sense? About your grandmother, I think it’s only natural to feel some guilt when someone we love dies. I don’t know why that is but it seems to be human response. For months after my boyfriend was killed I felt horribly guilty over something that had happened before he died and I was convinced if I had done things
differently that he would still be alive. I’m sure that even though you didn’t get to visit your grandmother often or go to her funeral that she knew how much you cared for her.”
Tara was in a good mood at work, though tired, until lunch when a co-worker brought her newborn baby girl in to work for the first time. She was still on maternity leave until October.
Walking down the hallway at work, Tara spotted the baby car seat sitting in the hall and a couple of her co-workers gathered around it, ooohhing and ahhhing. Tara looked at the baby out of the corner of her eye and said, “Excuse me” more than once before anyone noticed her as she tried to wedge her way past the women in the doorway back to her desk.
As sudden as a dark cloud, she got emotional and though she didn’t display it, she was overcome with sudden sadness and loss.
Then she got angry with herself. She thought she was doing so well.
Luckily it was time for her to go to lunch and it helped to get away. As she drove to pick up her paycheck she cursed at the situation and herself for her response. It wasn’t the first or last time she’d see a baby since Mackenzie’s birth.
But this emotion came out of nowhere after the great night she’d had the night before.
Busying herself with errands, the emotion left her and by the time she got back to work, she was back to “normal.” She noticed it didn’t last as long as it would’ve a month ago or even longer than that.
This was a good thing.
This was progress.
She and Chelsea made up more or less over email and Tara still planned to visit. She knew she would always have to take care of Chelsea’s feelings but she loved her too much to do anything less.

August 6, 2001
Tara dreamed about her grandma the night before who had just died but didn’t remember much about it, only that she was sick. In the same dream Tara was having an asthma attack and no one would listen to her or help her.
Tara’s old boss heard from a resident who had been with them at Gladney and who was now there again but didn’t know what to say to her. It was clear she didn’t want help or see the need for it.
Another co-worker brought in her newborn baby only this time Tara didn’t get upset about it.
Go figure. And it was a girl.
Tara had been feeling the need to hang out at the playground where she placed Mackenzie. She knew it was because her birthday was
coming up on the 15th. Her friend had gone into a coma on that same day and her uncle died that day, too.
Tara had a session with her counselor and vented some feelings about her anger and general feeling of being fed up with everyone seeing her as pathetic. She fought self-destructing all weekend.
She slept her bad mood away after dinner and didn’t want to get up but forced herself to.
The “Creating Futures” Gladney birth mom newsletter came out. The cover story called “To Tell or Not to Tell” regarding adoption was pretty good. It stressed the importance of a confident attitude when discussing adoption with others.
Not feeling safe in telling one’s story makes for a hard road. Roadblocks like Chelsea not wanting any more emails from the APs can occur. Negative responses shouldn’t be taken personally but that was hard, too. Birth moms are in control of the situation, according to the article. But it’s important to make a decision one way or the other as to if a birth mom is going to disclose her adoption story or not.
“My response to the negative is always ‘Yes, I carried her for nine months and yes, I loved her enough to give her the life she deserves,” Stacy always said. “We’re heroes to many families.”
That day Tara left a message regarding an ad for egg donors because she was desperate for money. It also called for surrogate moms but not only was that illegal in Tara’s state, but she couldn’t go through placing another child again.
The only thing about egg donation was that if she ever got back with Mark, her ex-husband, he wanted kids and that would rule that out. Still, she desperately needed money and $1,000 to $2,000 would really help.
One of the requirements to be a donor included passing a psych test, which Tara knew she wouldn’t pass. She’d faked her way through a few but she doubted she’d get by. Still, she left the message anyway.

August 7, 2001
Tara got an email from Veronica:
“I asked Ben what he wants to get Mackenzie and his dad for their birthdays,” she wrote. “He thought and thought and just knows his dad would like a really big kite to ‘fly with me.’ And Mackenzie gets a ‘really soft teddy bear.’ Not bad ideas! Thus far we got her a baby doll and some dishes to go with the kitchen she got a few weeks ago. We also got her a playhouse which Ben says is his.”

August 8, 2001
James was supposed to call but she forgot to wait by the phone after she went to the ER with chest pains. She didn’t rush home like she usually did when remembering his call.
That was progress that she no longer put her health in jeopardy for a guy.
Tara’s sex buddy called later than night and tried to get her to come over but when she told him it was that time of the month (which it was), he backed off quickly.

August 8, 2001
Tara got an email from Stacy, who had placed her daughter seven years ago, that the Post Adoption Department at Gladney was requesting some testimonials from Gladney birth moms:
“I’m writing to you to share with you a very exciting opportunity,” the email from the Department began. “As you are probably aware, one of the most exciting features of the new campus will be the Visitor’s Center - this building will constitute the centerpiece of the facility and the one first entered as guests arrive on campus. Designed to tell the stories of Gladney and adoption, the Visitor Center will provide continuous opportunities to expose prospective adoptive parents, birth parents, and others to the miracle of adoption and to the work done by The Gladney Center.
Featured in this very center of the exhibit area will be a display that is expected to be the most inspirational of all - a collection of brief testimonials by adoptees, birth parents, and adoptive parents describing what adoption and/or Gladney have meant to their lives. In
order to give added meaning and credibility to the testimonials, each will be accompanied by the author’s first name.
We are in the process of collecting these testimonials so that they can be professionally recreated for the exhibit, and hoping you might be willing to provide one for us. It need only be a brief statement, two to five sentences long, describing the difference adoption and/or Gladney has made to you, or perhaps simply expressing your feelings about adoption and/or Gladney.
Your quote could be selected for inclusion in the initial display or possibly archived for use at a later date. If so, please reply. Visitors Center Committee members will be most grateful for your help and you will have the satisfaction of knowing that it might just be your words that, at the very least educate, possibly inspire, or maybe even change opinions about adoption.”
Tara submitted hers:
“Adoption enabled me to break the chain of abuse in my family by giving my daughter a new family tree with fresh roots,” she wrote. “It had made a difference in my life by allowing me to see her happy and thriving, something she wouldn’t be if I had raised her. I thank God every day that she has non-abusive parents, a two-parent home, a big brother who thinks she’s ‘his baby,’ and a loving, safe, stable household. In her I see my own childhood spirit and I have hope for the future. She gives me reason to live and to keep moving.”
She sent the entry to Veronica who responded:
“Wow, what a powerful message in just a few short sentences,” she wrote. “You are such a fabulous writer. I hope they pick your entry. We love you.”

August 9, 2001
Tara had stayed out of work that day after her trip to the ER the night before.
She thought of a name for her journal - “Mackenzie’s Hope” - a play on Mackenzie’s first and middle name.
After running around doing errands, Tara laid back down, realizing she had overdone it. On the news they told everyone with respiratory problems like Tara to stay inside, but someone had to pay the bills. Tara had thought about her ex-husband, Mark all that day.
She forced herself to exercise even though she didn’t feel like it and probably shouldn’t have. She hadn’t been pushing herself enough but she hadn’t been taking care of herself either.
That night she dreamed about Mark, that they were getting remarried; only someone ruined the wedding. She was back at their apartment in Florida and as she walked around the place, she cried, realizing what she had lost. She knew he was out there somewhere but couldn’t reach him, kind of like reality. In the dream another wedding took place of someone else’s instead of her own.
In the dream she told someone “He told me I’d keep pushing him away until he was gone.”
Then in another scene she saw herself walking down the aisle and he had a big smile on his face.
When she woke up, she was sad.
She still didn’t know what all these dreams meant. Was she supposed to mail those letters she’d been hanging on to or was all this just coincidence because she’d been thinking about him?
She didn’t know what the answer was. She kept praying for the answer but the ‘yes’ she was feeling felt like it might be her own wishful thinking and not what should really be.
She remembered in the dream asking herself, “Can I be faithful now? Do I want to be?”

August 10, 2001
Tara got a long email from Veronica after asking if Mackenzie had any new feats:
“Working aggressively with Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) on eating,” she wrote. “She is still liking peaches. She’s trying to get another tooth and is chewing on everything - including some dog food she got her hands into. She loves the dogs’ food. Kinda gross, huh? I guess as its little pellets that she can grasp in her hands. She sees it and makes a beeline for it and crawling she’s very very fast. Anyway,
she doesn’t actually get it into her mouth, just likes the way it feels in her hands. And the look on her face if she ‘beats’ us to it is gleeful! She’s still trying to walk - will hold on to the couch, coffee table; etc. to get around or ‘cruise.’ She also will walk holding onto our hands and is very proud of herself.
We want to send you something on the 15th (her birthday). I’m looking for the time and energy to go get Mackenzie’s pic taken for you. My sister and brother-in-law are reconfirming their wedding vows on Saturday on their anniversary. I think that’s so sweet. She’s doing really well with her pregnancy - 22 weeks now and it’s another boy. He’ll be called Chase.”

August 13, 2001
Tara’s old boss invited her over for dinner for the 15th, Mackenzie’s first birthday. Tara planned on working during the day then maybe taking off early.
Tara met with her counselor that night and they talked about her recent dreams about Mark, her ex-husband and what they could mean. Her counselor thought she should pursue him but Tara just thought she was just being obsessive.
Tara and Chelsea were trying to plan her trip to see her and her mom. Though Tara couldn’t even pay her rent or bills, she knew her mom needed her.
She didn’t know what to do.

August 14, 2001
Tara finally figured out a way to celebrate Mackenzie’s birthday. She planned on going to the park where Placement had been held and releasing a balloon. Every year she would increase the amount of balloons depending on Mackenzie’s age.
She was in a deep depression that day, just thinking about Mackenzie’s birthday, which she knew was normal. She just wanted to escape her grief.
The resident who had been at Gladney emailed that she was going crazy there for the third time.

August 15, 2001
Tara got a slew of emails on Mackenzie’s birthday:
“Hope your balloon releasing holds special comfort for you,” Chelsea wrote. “I’m sending Mackenzie birthday energy and love and prayers for a happy, healthy life.”
“Please don’t self-destruct - you did the best you could by giving your daughter parents that could provide the things you are unable to at this point in your life,” one of the birth moms emailed Tara. “I know that the first birthday is hard but at least you know where she is and that she’s being given a better life than you could provide at this time. Write in a
journal how you feel and give Post Adoption a call at Gladney - that’s why they’re there. I know how very hard it hurts. I agonized every year until my child was 28 and then we were reunited! Can you imagine how it was back then - we didn’t even know if they were dead or alive! I just had to keep the faith that my child was in God’s hands and that gave me some solace. Please know that I’m supporting you - as the rest of this list does.”
Another birth mom wrote:
“I too am thinking of you today. Can you just see Mackenzie digging into a birthday cake? What a precious image! Have and good day and remember you did the right thing. And just remember only 17 to go!”
“Happy Birthday to your daughter!” another birth mom posted. “Remember to take time for yourself today to grieve your loss and enjoy your memories with her! You will be in my thoughts and prayers.”

August 16, 2001
When Tara got home there was a box with a blue teddy bear, letter and poem from Veronica waiting for her. Veronica didn’t know that the specific bear was one she’d been eyeing for months but couldn’t afford to buy. And it was her favorite color - blue.
“I remembered this (poem) being in one of the books you prepared for Mackenzie,” Veronica wrote. “Eventually I’ll type it on nice paper with a border and frame for her room but I just scanned this in. I’m shedding a few tears today (the 15th) - tears of thankfulness for an unselfish mother who placed her precious infant daughter in our arms. We are always so thankful to you but especially on this first birthday.
Wanted to send you flowers but afraid the delivery person would miss you so we went shopping and Mackenzie literally reached out and grabbed this Teddy. So it’s straight from her arms to yours. I know you can squeeze and squeeze him and still feel empty arms but please know what loving thoughts are with you today and every day. We love you.”
With the package was a copy of the “A Birthday Poem,” something Tara had put in Mackenzie’s scrapbook when she was making it. Veronica had highlighted these words at the end:
“I have a prayer: Oh God, that I may never forget that “someone” who suffered so much to give life to my child. That she loved my child so very much that she gave him the right to Live. May I never forget for a moment and especially now, today, to offer a prayer of thanks for that “someone” and that you, dear God, will always be there beside her, to help her through the pain she will have when she stops to think that “Today is my child’s birthday.”
Tara wrote Veronica and Frank:
“You have the biggest hearts,” she said. “When I got home yesterday and opened my package, finding that bear I always wanted along with the amazing letter and poem, it made my day. I am the luckiest birth mom in the world and I know it. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I’m so glad Mackenzie is so well taken care of and happy. I’m very glad I made the decision I did and will never regret it.
My other teddy bear I’d had for ten years and my dog wanted to play with it! Thank you as always for your prayers. They mean a lot to me.
There’s another birth mom who was with me at Gladney and had her baby August 18th last year. This is her third trip and none of us know what to say to her. She was drunk and got raped this time.
Anyway, I also met a birth mom who’s due in two weeks and living at Gladney from Colorado. She’ll return there a few days after the birth.
I feel like I can help other birth moms now and that is a blessing. I gave her lots of encouragement and we exchanged emails, etc.
P.S. A birth mom who went with me to release the balloon the other day (who was with me at Gladney/my old boss) told me that after her little girl turned one in June she felt like a big burden had been lifted and she could have closure; that the pain was gone. Not the burden of the child, but the burden of the grief.”
Veronica wrote back:
“I’m so glad you liked the Teddy Bear,” she said. “That poem was in your scrapbook for Mackenzie and has always meant a lot to me. Frank had a great birthday. I surprised him with a massage, which
was his favorite present. We have another party tomorrow for him, Mackenzie and my nice Ariel at my mom’s. I took pics of all “our kids” – youth as well as toddlers and infants in the pool. It gave me a really warm feeling to see all the kids Mackenzie and Ben will grow up with. I know your trip is just around the corner. I hope you get to visit with your sister and your mother also.”
The birth mom’s online support group was growing and more posts were added all day:
“What got me through my pregnancy was knowing that my mistake would be a blessing for a family,” Candice, the birth mom Tara had met with after her placement, posted on the birth mom support group. “For me knowing that Gladney looked into the backgrounds of their couples made me feel better about my decision to place my daughter through them.”
A birth mom had posted a suggestion that all birth moms at Gladney be matched with a birth mom who had placed long ago. Tara had suggested this also while living there.
“I think that’s a great idea!” a birth mom wrote. “Having Post Adoption talk with birth moms right before they transfer over to Post Adoption and tell them what will happen next. I just wish that it were an easier transition. With the situation I had things were hard anyway.”

August 19, 2001
Tara slept the rest of the day away till about 5 when she forced herself to get up. She was at the end of her rope financially again. She had no money, no gas, no money to do laundry, and no food in the house. Luckily her neighbor let her use her washer and dryer which was a lifesaver.
It took Tara all day to do laundry.
She walked to see some friends later and ran into Jamie, her ex-girlfriend. Unfortunately, Tara was caught off-guard and made eye contact with her. But they didn’t speak as usual although she could feel Jamie’s eyes following her every move.
A male friend was going to take her home later but he seemed pre-occupied with a hot chick in the corner so Tara asked someone else, a female friend.
She used to be the hot young thing in the corner but those days were gone.
Tara forced herself to go to bed later and had nightmares about her Dad abusing her. In the dream he was marrying his second wife, who in reality, he was divorced from.
Tara lay in bed motionless and grew sad that when all was said and done she was just a 35-year-old former foster child who didn’t have a clue as to how to live.
The only thing she had done right was giving her daughter a new chance.

August 20, 2001
Tara’s co-worker gave her more food and some toiletries, two bags full. This woman had to be an angel sent by God, Tara thought to herself.
She had such a good heart. She told her how to make food stretch and some other things and offered to visit with her more at her home.
She and her husband could be like the parents Tara never had. But she was embarrassed and ashamed that she was the finished product of the foster care system and had nothing to show for it.
She used to think she was this happy ending but this day she saw herself for who she really was - someone who never learned about money, budgeting, living - only surviving in illegal and immoral ways.
And she felt totally worthless.
She worked through lunch since she had a job interview that afternoon and the co-worker loaned her gas money as well.
She had been helping her out the past two months in little ways, without Tara having to say much of anything.
Tara guessed that when a person lost all hope it showed on their face on a daily basis.
She was grateful for the gifts and thanked God for them.
She had been too ashamed that morning to tell her boss that she might run out of gas on the way to work so she just told her it was car trouble and if she broke down, she’d call.
She had spent her whole life trying to be someone she wasn’t, namely someone that knew how to live.
Everything inside her didn’t want to face what was the truth. Her ego told her to go back and not look at it and to maintain some pride, for God’s sake.
She didn’t know what she would finally do.
She went to the interview and decided she wasn’t qualified for the job then picked up some more food and things another friend had for her who had already called earlier.
She hugged her and they went their separate ways - her friend home to a verbally abusive husband and Tara back to her job.
Tara told her boss when she got back that she wasn’t qualified for the job and it wasn’t what she thought it was. Then she told one of the temps that she should call because she was really cut out for it.
On the way back to her desk it struck her that she was always doing that - giving someone else a chance instead of herself.
Tonight she had counseling. Maybe she could get this sorted out.
She was too tired to go to counseling that night and wound up rescheduling. She knew better than to sit down on the couch even for
a minute after work.
She felt guilty for not going but ironically not guilty for spending money on therapy she didn’t have.
That night she dreamed she was part of an acting troupe exposed to radiation and she couldn’t get it out of her eyes.
Whenever she told anyone of her active dream life, they always thought she was dropping acid or something.

August 21, 2001
Tara was in a bad mood most of the day and was completely unmotivated. She was right where she was two years ago – bouncing checks, unable to pay her rent and bills, and living in fear. She didn’t know how she got here, just that she had.
It was becoming clear to her that she had to stop pretending to be someone she wasn’t – someone who didn’t have to use oatmeal to stretch a pound of hamburger further, someone who didn’t have to get tips on spending money wisely from her 65-year-old co-worker who had raised two kids, one with a disability, someone who didn’t have to write down simple things like – “Don’t leave at lunch so you can save money on gas.”
Lying in bed she was angry that she had never been taught these simple things from her parents. And she was glad that Mackenzie wouldn’t have this fate.
How ironic that Tara’s one-year-old daughter had more money than she did?
But she was happy for her. She deserved the most happiness.
Tara’s co-worker said she would pray for her and gave her tips on budgeting her money like bringing her lunch (something she already did), ignoring expiration dates on meat as long as you cooked it really good like boiling it, only selling items she wouldn’t later need (something she hadn’t heeded in the past), and taking care of herself so she could take care of her pets.
These are things Tara was never told or thought of. Many people would say it was common sense but if you’re never taught it, how are you supposed to know?
Tara never thought anything of leaving on her lunch hour to run errands, like donating things to shelters. But her co-worker taught her that by doing that, she was using gas money she didn’t have.
It was a new way of looking at things and she felt a tremendous sense of relief.
Tara’s dad was a spendthrift, but only spent money, like herself, on other people. Tara’s mom was a tightwad and never wanted to spend a penny.
No wonder she grew up confused.
She looked around at her friends and most of them had the same problem. Her neighbor was addicted to lawn equipment and had to
buy the newest toys from weed eaters to lawn mowers. Her other neighbor was familiar with the pawnshops. And her old friend, David, lived with his mom. Another friend of Tara’s was always late on her bills and her husband was often out of work.
It was amazing how many people didn’t know how to manage their money either.
It was like a secret everyone had but no one talked about.
A birth mom, who placed her son a year ago, posted a distraught message on the board of the birth mom support group. Her APs recently told her they decided to cease contact now that her son was a year old:
“I talked to my adoptive family yesterday and I’m not doing so well today,” she wrote. “I know that I should be happy for them, for my son but I am so torn. I have to smile while talking to them or I will feel like screaming. They want to disconnect the 800 number. Why do I feel so betrayed by that? I don’t want to feel like that? Help!”
The birth mom Tara had met with after Placement, for support, posted a message to the birth moms’ online group:
“If the APs have never received a letter from you, they might not know that you have received their letters,” she wrote in response the distraught birth mom. “I placed almost seven years ago and Gladney had just started having correspondence between APs and birth parents. I feel lucky that my APs wanted to exchange letters before it
was considered normal. When I placed, there were several birth moms that didn’t want to stay in contact with the APs. I don’t know if any of them changed their minds by now. It is up to both sides if information is exchanged.”
That night Tara met another woman from Gladney, a 21-year-old who had a two-year-old daughter living with her at the dorm. She worked as a paralegal for a prominent attorney and was going to stay in Fort Worth after delivery. She planned to move into her new apartment soon.
Ironically she had Tara’s old room.
They talked about how some of the teenagers at the center thought they were mean because they had the room where you could hear all the noise coming from the living room and they complained when trying to sleep.
“Oh, I thought it was just me they were mad at,” Tara told the birth mom.
They talked about the resident who was at Gladney for the third time and what a hard time she was having.
“I think over the weekend she said it finally sunk in and hit her that she was at Gladney the third time,” the 21-year-old birth mom said. “You should come by and see her.”
“I’ve left her messages. Today I woke her up,” Tara said.
“I wake her up all the time,” the other birth mom said.
“Yeah, I forgot she sleeps till noon,” Tara said.
Driving home, Tara was glad she’d met another birth mom who was also due in two weeks like the 21-year-old. The birth mom and the 21-year-old birth mom hung out together and supported one another.
That was so important.
They all agreed that living in the dorm was very stressful especially when you worked full-time.
The birth mom had the age advantage over Tara, though. At 21 she had way more energy.
Tara tossed and turned that night and had a nightmare about her dad. She wondered why she was having so many lately and when they would end.
She wound up talking to her neighbor outside at midnight when taking her dog out to the bathroom since she couldn’t sleep. Her neighbor was upset that her daughter, who just turned 18, had been drinking a lot and taking anti-depressants on top of it. Over the weekend her daughter had gotten in a wreck and had bruises all over her.
“I’m exhausted,” the neighbor said.

August 22, 2001
In a week Tara would be in Florida, basking in the sun, meditating on the beach, relaxing, and really unwinding for the first time in probably a
The pet sitter was going to cost a small fortune but her friend offered to let her throw some things into a garage sale she was having that weekend to turn a small profit.
She could use all the help she could get.
She could hear her co-worker’s advice echoing in her head – “Don’t sell anything you’ll need later.”
She talked to the young birth mom from the other night briefly that morning and she sounded positive as always. She wasn’t feeling well but that was to be expected the last two weeks of pregnancy.
Tara was very grateful that she didn’t have to deal with dorm life now.
That night Tara ran into a friend of hers who was talking to some friends of Tara’s about how she forgave her mom after years of hating her.
Tara asked her about Tara’s dad and how she could get past her pain with him.
“Just because you forgive him doesn’t mean you let him back in your life,” she told Tara.
That night Tara had more dreams about her dad and woke up fatigued, like she’d been in a coma.
A friend of hers had called earlier and told her she’d had another stroke. She’d had one the day Mackenzie was born, too. It was so eerie that she’d have another one a year and a week later.
August 23, 2001
That morning Tara got her first mammogram since there was breast cancer in her family. She was going to wait till she was 40 but she read that if there was breast cancer in the family that she shouldn’t wait. It didn’t hurt at all like so many women told her it would. She wasn’t really worried about it, or at least that’s what she told herself.
A co-worker asked Tara where her little girl lived that day.
“She’s an hour and a half away,” Tara said, nonchalantly. “That’s all I’m allowed to know because of confidentiality.”
“I don’t think that’s fair,” the co-worker said. “The mom should know. You’re the mom.”
“Yeah, but they have to do it because of some birth moms who try to kidnap the kid and get them back, so I understand. It’s cool,” Tara said and meant it.
“Still, I don’t think it’s fair,” the co-worker said and Tara went back to her desk, unaffected.
One of the birth moms from the online support group sent everyone a link to read a birth parent grief poem and an article on birth parent grief:
The article stated that losing a child to adoption is one of the most significant losses that birthparents will ever have to face and that today open adoption is often presented to birthparents as a way to lessen the grief of losing a child to adoption. The article said that one
of the first steps in dealing with any loss is knowing how grief may manifest itself.
The phases of grief include shock and denial, the former of which is often confounded by the miracle of birth, which Tara could recognize, especially since she was heavily medicated before and after. Tara knew from past experiences with loss that shock was the first reaction to the impact of loss. As the shock wears off and more intense feelings of sadness and pain begin, many will enter a period of denial, according to the article. Other birthparents may deny the loss by directly avoiding it, as evidenced by some birth moms Tara had known.
Although painful, shock and denial are two very normal coping mechanisms, the article explained.
But denial that goes on too long can be a form of repressing emotions; something Tara had done all her life.
Sorrow and depression was another phase of grief. This happens usually when the shock wears off and the birthparent begins to understand the extent of their loss. For some birthparents, sorrow over the actual physical separation may be expressed in tangible sensations of loss like when Tara kept hearing a baby cry after going back to the dorm following Mackenzie’s birth.
Depression is often accompanied by physical symptoms as well, as Tara recognized. Some of the emotional aspects of depression can
be as debilitating as the physical symptoms (Tara’s manic-depression, depression, suicidal thoughts, isolation, and rebellion).
Anger is another phase and is a natural part of the grieving experience, according to the author of the article. Unexpressed or expressed anger often festers, as Tara’s did.
Guilt is another aspect of grief often accompanied by the “if onlys,” something Tara had heard her post adoption counselor speak of. There are two types of guilt - legitimate and illegitimate. Both affect how Tara saw herself and her situation (a screw-up, damaged goods, a “bad’ mom). The article stated that it was important to remember that we, as humans try to do the best we can with what we have, something Tara had her in her support group over and over.
Acceptance is supposed to be the final stage of grief. While things may never be the same again, Tara could come out the other side. Acceptance was said to bring renewed energy and strength. Tara hadn’t felt the energy yet but did feel the strength.
Tara knew, as the article stated, that one of the most important factors affecting the way a birthparent grieved the loss of their child through adoption would depend on the support and assistance they get from those around them. Fully experiencing grief is hard work, as Tara could attest.
Sometimes people get stuck in one phase of grieving, which for Tara had always seems to be the “if onlys.” The article’s author went on to
say that occasionally it’s a matter of finding the support in a professional that the birthparent’s family and friends are unable or unwilling to give.
Birthfathers often grieve the loss differently than birth moms, although Tara just thought Alex didn’t care.
The article concluded by saying that grieving is often a process of two steps forward, one step back, which was bad news to Tara, who wanted this “hell” year to be over with.
That night Tara bought Chelsea’s birthday presents to be given to her the next week when she visited. She got her Mad Libs, a game that used to play when they were kids and a Winnie the Pooh cookie cutter set since she loved Pooh.
She wanted to buy something for Mackenzie to commemorate tomorrow’s one-year anniversary of Placement Day.
Then she decided to write her and her family a letter instead.
She was reflecting back on a year ago when she and another birth mom had cried together the eve before Placement and how gut wrenching it was.
She was so grateful she wasn’t back there now. She remembered she dreamed she was at Gladney six months before she was ever pregnant and how weird that was that she would wind up there. It wasn’t the first time she’d had dreams that later came true.
She often wondered if she had psychic abilities or had lived in another time although she didn’t really believe this.
That night she dreamed about Mackenzie but couldn’t remember what it was about. She woke up again feeling fatigued and stumbled out of bed to get ready early.

August 24, 2001
Placement Day 1st Anniversary
Tara told herself she didn’t feel sad this day. It wasn’t as hard as Mackenzie’s birthday and she didn’t want to use it as an excuse to leave work early again like she had that day.
She had gotten things ready for a garage sale with her friend in hopes she could make enough to pay the rent or at least some bills. She still didn’t have rent money but her old boss who she’d done some freelance writing for before, emailed her and told her he had some part-time temporary work for her so that made her day.
Good, she thought, maybe things were turning around.
She told her co-workers who had always known about Mackenzie about how special today was and why. She also told them about the new occupational therapy Mackenzie was going through and how the APs got it for free and that it was a $93,000 program.
“I don’t know how they got it for free. Maybe because they’re nurses or because she’s adopted,” Tara said.
“They probably got it under the Crippled Children’s’ Act,” one of her co-workers who had a grown son with Spina Bifida said.
Her husband was also suffering from Prostate Cancer, some of which now may have spread to his lymph nodes.
Tara talked to the young birth mom from the other night that was still sick and had two more weeks to go before her baby was due.
Tara told her that today was her Placement Day anniversary of one year.
“How are you feeling today?” the young birth mom asked her.
“I’m okay, just tired,” Tara said, although she did feel sad, it wasn’t unbearable.
“Was that day (of Placement) hard for you?” the birth mom asked.
“Not really because I was so doped up on painkillers from my C-section. So I was pretty out of it,” she said. “But my APs videotaped it and I have a copy of the tape.”
They didn’t talk long and Tara gave her some hope, she prayed.
Tara figured this young birth mom would be a lot better off than she would, namely because she was going home to her family not long after delivery and they would support her emotionally. Tara knew that made all the difference.
Tara feared today that she wouldn’t hear from Veronica and Frank for a long time. Their agreement only required them to send information every six months now until Mackenzie was 18 but Tara hoped and
thought that Veronica would continue sending her info sooner. And Veronica had told her that she’d send her a birthday tape.
When Tara got back to her desk at work that day she heard that a co-worker had had her baby at 11:50 the night before, a girl. And a co-worker’s daughter was undergoing surgery she might not live through with her second pregnancy because the baby was growing outside the womb on the abdomen and on to some other organs.
The baby would be taken and wouldn’t live through the surgery but the mother’s life was at risk, too. She had a little boy already and they didn’t know the sex of this one.
The women in Tara’s office got on the phone to their church congregation and asked for prayers for mother and child.
One of Tara’s co-workers was crying about it - the one who had been so good to Tara.
She was now like a mother figure to Tara, who thought she didn’t need a mom at the age of 35 and that it was too late. She figured her spirit had been killed and she wouldn’t let anyone else in.
But in Mackenzie she now had hope; saw the light in her own daughter’s eyes reflecting her light back to her.
And Tara was finally at peace.

Monday, October 10, 2005

New Orleans ACORN Organizer Wins Award

By Terri Rimmer

Stephen Bradberry, the head organizer of ACORN’s New Orleans chapter will be recognized with an honor on Nov. 16th named after the late Robert F. Kennedy.

On Oct. 4th the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial announced that it would give its 2005 Human Rights Award to Bradberry for his hurricane relief efforts following Hurricane Katrina.

As head of the New Orleans ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) chapter Bradberry has been instrumental in educating, advocating, and lobbying for citizens in the areas of predatory lending and lead poisoning in children among others.

Since the disaster Bradberry and his members have been organizing volunteers in their Baton Rouge office. During relief efforts Bradberry went above and beyond to protect the rights of hurricane victims.

The Robert F. Kennedy award was established in 1984 to honor those who fight for justice.

On what would have been RFK’s 80th birthday Bradberry will receive the honor in Washington.

ACORN works together all over the country to fight social injustice and economic problems.

In a press release issued by Robert F. Kennedy Memorial, they stated that: “At a time when our nation is faced with hard questions about the role of government and the realities of poverty, Stephen Bradberry has become a voice for the low income communities of New Orleans.”

Finding a place for the low-income person was a central theme for RFK, according to the Memorial.

The award marks the beginning of a partnership between Bradberry and the RFK Center to help things improve for low-income families.

In a Dec. 10, 1966 statement RFK said, “If men are to be free for that “pursuit of happiness” which was the earliest promise of the American nation – we will need more than poverty programs, housing programs, and employment programs, although we need all of these.”

According to the Memorial, RFK believed that each individual holds the power to invoke change and that “each time a man stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope.”

Book Festival Kicks Off In October

By Terri Rimmer

The Writers’ League of Texas will participate in the Tenth Annual Texas Book Festival Oct. 28-30 in Austin at the state capitol.

The organization supports the professional endeavors of writers by providing online support, workshops, classes, retreats, monthly meetings, conferences, contests, scholarships, free electronic newsletter, discounts, lending library privileges, and seminars. You can join the league’s free online message board if you are a member by going to writersleague.org and signing up. They also have a Writers Helping Writers program, a critique service, awards, and a membership directory.

You can also volunteer with the league which is a non-profit organization. The league has over 1,500 members nationwide who are published and non-published writers as well as book lovers. Fifty percent of members live outside the Central Texas area.

The league is partially funded by the City of Austin and the Texas Commission on the Arts.

Due to cuts at the state and national level the Writers’ League is no longer able to offer the Texas Literary Initiative which promoted Texas writers and literature. The program provided a venue for writers to take their art on the road.

A recent book pitching workshop at the 12th Annual Agents and Authors Conference presented by the League was sold out due to high demand.


Well, didn't win the essay contest of Glamour's for the fifth year in a row. Here's to next year.

To My Friend Who Died 10/8/05

Rest in peace, T.C.

Imagine A Time For Women Only

By Terri Rimmer

The Fort Worth Business Center in conjunction with the Business Assistance Center Education Foundation and the City of Fort Worth is presenting “Imagine A Time For Women Only” Oct. 29th.

Media sponsors include NBC5, the Fort Worth-Star Telegram, KLUV 98.7, KVIL 103.7, and Diario la estrella among others.

The event will be held at the Fort Worth Convention Center from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Registration starts at 8 at the Reata on the Road Coffee Bar, vendor area/silent auction opens at 9 then dialogue sessions kick off at 10:00 a.m. with a break for a luncheon. At 4 p.m. the lounge opens and an ultimate make-over takes place along with a drawing and door prizes.

You can join in on the discussions as the sessions are intimate and interactive.

Baylor All Saints Hospital will present a session called “A Back That Doesn’t Ache; “A Natural Alternative to Better Health” will feature speaker Dr. Karen Birdy of Trinity Holistic Family Medicine, and Sleep Connection will conduct a session called “A Restful Night’s Sleep.” Dr. Jeff Corbett will present “A Perfect Smile” session, Super Suppers will present “Healthy Meals in 30 Minutes or Less,” and Allied ASID will feature “Home Decorating Made Easy.”

Dr. Mitch Conditt will have a “No More Headaches or Mouth Pain” session, the Fort Worth Business Center will present “Starting the Small Business You’ve Dreamed of,” and Pick A Place Travel Agency will conduct “Stress-Free Travel.”

Dr. Audrey Ross will feature “Therapeutic Massages.”

The $10,000 ultimate makeover raffle sponsored by Panache Magazine includes a cosmetic makeover from Neiman Marcus with makeup included, hair consultation, cut, and style by Garrison’s Hair Salon, a $500 spa package donated by Dr. Emily McLaughlin, a complete $950 image makeover from Elaine Stoltz, image consultant, a $250 certificate from Stanley Eisenman Shoes, photo shoot, limo ride to dinner, and other prizes.

Registration is $50 per person through Oct. 24th or $75 at the door. Registration includes access to the vendor and silent auction area, makeover area, luncheon, and dialogue sessions. Tickets to the makeover raffle are 1 for $25, 3 for $50, or ten for $100.00.

You can fax your registration to 817-871-6031 or register online. To mail registration, send to: BAC Education Foundation, 1150 S. Freeway, Fort Worth, TX 76104.

Vendor registration for areas 10 x 10 including an 8’ table, two chairs, and trashcan are $300 for small businesses with up to ten employees and $500 for a larger business with ten plus employees.

For more information call 817-871-6021 or go to ImagineATime.org on the web.

Start Your Ovens

By Terri Rimmer

The Dallas News has filtered through a lot of cookie recipes since they started the annual Holiday Cookie Contest in 1996 – close to 4,000 they would say.

Their rotating cast of judges has sampled close to 500 recipes over the years to winnow the field down to 15 winners per year.

They’ve surveyed mountains of chocolate chips and rivers of caramel.

They even made it through the great cinnamon chip shortage of 2002.

All that just to get a few more cookie recipes in their files and in yours.

On that front the contest has been what they call a splendid success.

The cookie contest serves a greater good, helping the homeless and hungry.

The paper will accept entries throughout October.

The winning recipes will appear in the Taste section Dec. 7th.

The contest is open to all amateur cooks.

The prizes are gift certificates provided by Central Market: $150 for first place, $100 for second, and $50 for third.

Look for the entry form at dallasnews.com/adv/cookiecontest.

Here’s how the contest works:

Submit up to three recipes.

They don’t require all recipes to be original but if you know where the recipe came from, let them know.

Entry forms will be available online at the above mentioned link.

Categories are family recipe, decadent cookie, decorated, incredibly easy, cookie man, and bar cookie.

Deadline for entry is Nov. 1st.

Entry fees are $5 for one recipe, $10 for two, and $12 for three.
Make check or money order for the entry fee payable to The Dallas Morning News Charities.

You can drop off completed entry forms at your local Central Market.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Camp Still In Dire Need of Help

By Terri Rimmer

Camp Sister Spirit, the campground ravaged by Hurricane Katrina, has put out another urgent plea for help.

“We knew when we began to help the victims of Katrina it would be a long recovery,” said Pat Cobb of the Southern Womyns Festival who has been assisting with relief efforts. “We are asking people to continue to send funds and help to Camp Sister Spirit. We can tell by an email we got from Andie at the camp that the Bush Administration and FEMA are not doing the job. We donate and give money in so many ways, at Publix, Walgreens; etc. But if you send the money directly to Camp Sister Spirit you know you are helping women and their local community.”

Cobb said there will be no middle man or CEO getting a cut of the money sent and that donations will go directly to the survival of a women’s campground in Mississippi. Cobb is appealing to all, that if they have an extra $5 or $10 this week to send it to Camp Sister Spirit because it will add up.

“They appreciate every donation,” said Cobb.

Andie, of Camp Sister Spirit, said the camp is up to having distributed about a million and a half pounds of food now and still working.

“We just had friends come from Pennsylvania, Leda and Stacey who brought a horse trailer full of things,” said Andie. “Most of the food came from an Amish community in Pennsylvania. Our pantry was getting low and it is restocked once more. Thank God.”

Andie said FEMA came to visit the camp but would not do anything to help them.

“I ran the camp last year on $15,000 which is way below the poverty level for a single person much less an organization, though small, manages to do big things,” she said. “I barely paid the electric bill last year much less an insurance note. FEMA says we have to take out an SBA loan. I can’t make payments on this.”

Andie said FEMA looked at her losses in her small home that entailed stress cracks in all the walls, half of her roof laying in the backyard, and water damage all over.

“They decided that my damages were worth $697,” she said. “It made me cry. I can’t even get the rest of the roof off and hauled out of here for that much less replace the roof that is laying in my backyard. I didn’t vote for these a—holes so that is my only saving grace. Without the help of private donors we would be screwed three ways till Tuesday. I really don’t know what we’re going to do.”

Andie said all of the camp’s income is “shot” for the rest of the year because she had to cancel camp events due to damage.

“Our office is in two pieces thanks to a 40-foot tree, the night stage is trashed, three cabins got hit by trees, our security gate is trashed, and just removing the downed trees and debris is going to cost an ungodly amount of money,” said Andie. “We are under a burn ban for another month as it has rained one time since Katrina hit us. We are a great big cinder box. It is scary. And FEMA sends us a check for $700. This is enough to make you ashamed to be an American citizen. It breaks my heart and my story is only one of hundreds of thousands of people this is happening to.”

The camp was scheduled to have a work weekend Oct. 8th. The Gay-Straight Alliance at USM and the Amnesty group at USM were planning on coming.

“Without the love and support of people I would have surely lost my faith,” said Andie.

Donations to the cause may be mailed to Camp Sister Spirit, Box 12, Ovett, MS 39464. The phone number is 601-344-1411.