Feature stories

Friday, December 30, 2005

Annual Thanksgiving Letter to My Daughter

November 22, 2005

Dear McKenna:

It’s time for your annual Thanksgiving letter again.

I can’t believe you’re five!

My heart is comforted by the fact that you have such a great life. Your life is everything I wanted it to be for you.

Every time I get a picture and see your smiling face looking back at me I know how lucky I am and what a great life you have.

At times five years ago seems like a long time ago. Other times it feels just like yesterday.

I happened to be talking with Stephanie, my best friend the other day. She was in the operating room the day you came into this world. She was telling me about a girl your age that is not as lucky as you. Every time I hear a story such as hers I am so glad you have the life you do.

Your spirit keeps me going and I often have dreams about you, good ones in which you are happy, reflecting your true life.

In those dreams I also see myself at your age and I feel like a Higher Power is showing me who I really was in Technicolor – innocent and pure.

None of this may make sense to you when you read this. But maybe one day in person I can better explain it to you.

When I see you I see the child I was and realize that God has a Master Plan.

I think it’s so great that you have so many friends at your age, that you have such a caring big brother, and parents who can take such fantastic care of you. It gets me emotional sometimes with happiness when I think about it.

I am very lucky because Vicki is so open to me and respects my birth mom role. She loves you so much and gives me updates all the time on you. She is so generous and giving and I know by the time you are old enough to read this you will know what I mean. You will have had several years with her by this time and will have the foundation of this wondrous mother’s love.

Larry is your protective father and you are the apple of his eye. He would do anything for you and I know that. By the time you read this you will have known a father’s love that is enduring and right.

Bryant loves you so much and is your protective, unwavering big brother. To see the two of you together in pictures and hearing all about your times together makes me feel good, knowing you are so important in each other’s lives.

My boyfriend loves you and he doesn’t even know you but he knows how important you are to me. He respects me for my decision. I always show him the latest pix of you and he likes hearing about you. He understands how much I love you.

As the calendar rolls around to another holiday I wish for you all the peace, love, and laughter your heart can hold.



Monday, December 26, 2005

New Hearts

By Terri Rimmer

New York supermodel and 2004 Tsunami survivor Petra Nemcova has turned her tragedy of losing her boyfriend to the disaster and battling her own injuries into a foundation, a book, and an inspiration to others.

Happy Hearts Foundation was started by Nemcova to help the child victims of the Dec. 26th natural disaster.

Nemcova’s book Love Always, Petra: A story of the Discovery of Life’s Hidden Gifts is having all the proceeds from sales of the book to go to the Give 2 Asia Happy Hearts Foundation.

The publication of the book coincides with the one-year anniversary of the Tsunami that devastated coastal Thailand and its neighboring nations.

Nemcova was featured Dec. 15th at the Wharton Club speaking to the National Press Club about her recovery and efforts.

She told one British website regarding working with the child victims: “They don’t see you, they look through you and it was very heartbreaking. I want to put the stars back in their eyes.”

Nemcova, 26, held on for eight hours for dear life following the tragedy.

She clung to a palm tree while she endured excruciating pelvic pain besides her other injuries and watched her boyfriend being swept off to sea.

The book’s cover shows Nemcova standing on the beach facing tiny waves lapping up on the shore, her back away from the ocean.

A huge wave pulled her and her boyfriend, fashion photographer Simon Atlee, 33, out of the house. People were screaming and kids were yelling help.

“I heard people screaming and I looked out the window and people were jumping out of the way, jumping into the pool, “said Nemcova, who also has a home in London.

She was on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s 2003 swimsuit issue.

“I was screaming ‘On the roof, on the roof,’” Nemcova told a local paper.

Before she and her boyfriend could react a wall of water shred their wooden bungalow and sent them sprawling into debris that swallowed him without a trace, reported the New York Daily News.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

‘Fame’ Live And In Person

By Terri Rimmer

Founded in 1977, CATS (Creative Arts Theatre & School) is one of the oldest operating youth theatres in the nation and the only one in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex where kids perform for peers and run the lights, sound, and crew.

It has a rich heritage in theatre education and has classes year-round for kids 4-18 and adults in all areas of theatre education like Creative Drama, Acting, Musical Theatre, Private Voice, Technical Theatre, Ballet, Tap, Jazz, and others.

Its mission is to develop potential of young people from diverse backgrounds through performing arts training and performance opportunities.

The history is a great story of dedication to performing arts training and live family-oriented theatrical shows for people and their families in the area.

In 1982 CATS’ board and citizens formed the Arlington Arts Associates, Ltd. To buy a building at 1101 West Randol Mill Road to give the school a way to continue and grow.

The yearly CATS’ Spotlight Series of productions often represent with live theatre for many kids in the expanded area.

The success of its programs is eventually judged by the community with its classes and shows and by the successes of its students.

While the residents can come to CATS for live family theatre the organization also offers KITTEN Co., Cattitudes groups, and Top Cats – professional adult touring group.

CATS invites schools and daycare groups for daytime shows on the second Friday of each show at a special discount rate.

Cheryl Ford-Mente serves as Executive Director, Kathey Ward is artistic director, and Kim Howard is education director.

Office hours at M-F 10-6 and summer hours are 10-5 June 6th-Sept. 2nd.

For more information call 817-265-8512.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Upcoming Events for the Gay Fort Worth Community

*GLSEN Tarrant County meets the second Tuesday of every month, 7 p.m. at Bennigans. Call 817-294-5101 or go to glsentarrant.org.
*PFLAG Fort Worth meets the first Thursday of each month, 7 p.m. at First Jefferson Unitarian Universalist Church, 1959 Sandy Lane. For info, go to pflagfortworth.org or call 817-428-2329.
Tarrant County Gay Pride Week Association meets the third Sunday of each month, 3 p.m. Go to tcgpwa.org.
Fusion Support Group meets the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of every month at 6:30 p.m.; dinner provided; 214-521-5124; at the Resource Center of Dallas.

*Through March 26th - "Gauguin" exhibit at the Kimbell Art Museum, 3333 Camp Bowie Blvd., Fort Worth. For info call 817-332-8451 #293.

Feb. 23rd and Feb. 24th - "The Power of Inclusion," Ninth Annual Equity and Diversity Conference, UNT Denton. For info call 940-565-2456.

March 30th - Seventh Annual Women of Color Conference, UNT Denton. For info call 940-565-2456.

Sept. 14th - "An Evening with Maya Angelou," UNT Denton. For info call 940-565-2456.

Monday, December 19, 2005

It Takes Some Villages

By Terri Rimmer

Ten Thousand Villages Shop has received the Co-Op America People’s Choice Award for Green Business of the Year by a vote of the public.

The store’s Holiday Collection is also available in stores and online at tenthousandvillages.com.

“The Fort Worth Star-Telegram will be featuring a photo of our products in a future issue as part of a feature on Co-Op America’s Green Gift Giving Catalog,” said Juanita Fox, media coordinator of Ten Thousand Villages. “The column, ‘Savvy Consumer” will also be syndicated to all Knight Ridder papers, meaning it may show up across the country.”

You can celebrate the spirit of Hanukkah with fairly traded menorahs, tzedakah boxes, and home décor – made by artisans from around the world.

Many Ten Thousand Villages Stores have longer hours during the holidays and will be conducting festive activities including Benefit Shopping Nights to raise funds for groups and Holiday Bag Sales.

Ten Thousand is one of the largest and oldest fair trade companies in the world and a founder among Fair Trade businesses in the country.

According to their website, thousands of people across the country cast their vote for this first-ever award where consumers nominate and vote for green businesses making a difference for people and the planet.

The award is made to recognize the work of socially and environmentally conscious businesses, showcasing how they can commit to items and ethics giving to the health and well-being of people, employees, societies, and the earth, while challenging everyone else to do so.

Votes came in from many buyers across the country, said Ten Thousand Villages.

The company is encouraging others to spread the word.

You can do this one way by giving gift memberships to Co-Op America at coopamerica.org.

Other companies that ranked in the top ten were: Wildlife Works, It’s Only Natural, Mama’s Earth: The Environmental General Store, Twisted Limb Paperworks, Earth Tones –Environmental Telephone & Internet, Honest Tea, Seventh Generation, Better World Club – Bicycle Roadside Assistance, and Equal Exchange.

You can read about these companies in the National Green Pages.

Ten Thousand Villages was also featured in Natural Home and Garden Magazine in the November/December issue.

Nov. 5-6 the 2005 Green Festival, a fair trade event, was held in San Francisco, CA.

On Oct. 2nd over 700 people took part in the Fair Trade Future Conference in Chicago.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Gays More Worried Than Straights About Retirement

By Terri Rimmer

As the first wave of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) Baby Boomers reaches age 59 ½, the first year they are eligible to make tax-free withdrawals from their retirement plans, many are taking their first real look at retirement and a good portion are not happy.

A new study shows that gays, lesbians, and the transgendered are more likely than straights to worry about how they will survive when they retire.

The study also shows that staying healthy later in life was the most frequently cited consideration in retirement among LGBT Boomers; financial concerns are second; and being old and alone was third.

“Despite their comparatively moderate concern over finances, only half (54 percent) or those in the GLBT group are saving at a rate needed to maintain their lifestyle in retirement,” said Sandra Timmerman, director of the MetLife Mature Market Institute. “Of significant interest is that 16 percent of GLBT Boomers say they spend no time at all on retirement planning.”

GLBT Boomers are just as likely as heterosexuals to expect to continue working beyond retirement age but they are more likely than the heterosexual population to say that their reasoning is financial.

The study also showed that as Baby Boomers in general mature their concerns grow.

“While it is troubling that Boomers are concerned about finances, perhaps more worrisome is that fewer are taking the steps necessary to ensure financial security in retirement,” said Timmerman.

Take Lewis, for example. He worked for a company for 20 plus years before being laid off when he got sick with AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). His live-in partner, Frank, an alcoholic hairdresser, couldn’t support the two of them eventually when Lewis’ retirement fund ran out and they both lost their house.

Or Larry, a teacher who had a home but had to give it up when his bills piled up. He and his on-again, off-again boyfriend are now living in an apartment and Larry works a second job to make ends meet since his boyfriend is not always employed.

Olivia Companies, long known for its lesbian cruise lines, has set its sights on entering the business of operating resort retirement communities for the gay and lesbian community.

The San Francisco-based travel company has looked at three parcels in Palm Springs for its first retirement community and is now looking for a real estate developer to build it.

The company anticipates strong demand for its Palm Springs resort retirement community.

The National Gay & Lesbian Task Force put the number of gay seniors at 1 million when it launched its “aging initiative” six years ago to address retirement, health care, and other issues facing older gay Americans.

The affluent segment of the gay and lesbian community is a market niche that’s generating a lot of buzz among those planning retirement communities.


Cops Probe Link In Seven Unsolved Texas Gay Murders

By Terri Rimmer

Police in three Texas cities are trying to determine if there are any links in the unsolved murders of seven gay men over the past five years.

While a joint task force has not been created, the investigators in Dallas and Garland are sharing information the Dallas Morning News reported on Thursday.

The possibility of al ink was first suggested by Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered (LGBT) newspaper The Dallas Voice and Dallas City Council Member Ed Oakley.

“We’re not ruling out anything,” Sgt. Kenneth LeCesne told The Morning News.

The most recent victim was Samuel Jarnigan Lea, 28, a University of Texas student.

His body was discovered Oct. 31st inside his apartment near the campus.

Police believe they may have a suspect in Lea’s killing but no hard evidence.

The suspect is described as a hustler with a drug habit and a violent past.

The victims in the other unsolved murders are: Craig Ceson, 46; James Stephen Watts, 64; Agustin Fernandez Jr., 44; Bobby Dalton Berry, 63; and Keith Alexander Calloway, 33.

The Dallas Police Department’s homicide unit planned a new investigation Dec. 2nd regarding the string of murders to see if any patterns emerged, according to a gay city council member.

Oakley said a police detective contacted him in November after two published reports in Dallas Voice detailed the unsolved murders of the men.

City Manager Marry Suhm ordered police to undertake the investigation after reading a Voice report in which Oakley and Dallas Gay and Lesbian Alliance President Erin Moore expressed concern.

Oakley said he was grateful for Suhm’s action.

“She is an incredible individual and she cares a great deal about our community,” he said.

Oakley said the police detective told him the homicide unit plans to compare all of the cases and to try to determine if any evidence exists that the victims were meeting people through the Internet.

Oakley said calling attention to all of the cases and investigating them together may help solve one or more of them.

“It makes people look at things in a different light,” he said.

Oakley said the police detective promised to re-examine all aspects of the cases to determine if anything was missed in prior investigations.

Cancer Organization Gets Lively Participation With Fundraiser

By Terri Rimmer

The Fourth Annual Ol’ Country’s Boot Scootin’ for Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PanCAN) of Fort Worth, TX raised around $4,500 after expenses Oct. 22nd held at Dance Makers of Texas for pancreatic cancer research.

“The group that made it were a very enthusiastic bunch, who really stepped up to the plate,” said Virginia Griffin, Team Hope Fort Worth volunteer coordinator. “They really came through with buying raffle tickets and bidding on the silent auction items. The quilt my sister Cindy for made ended up bringing in over $700 and we got over $2,000 in the silent auction, with some on the phone participating in the bidding. It was a very lively participation.”

Griffin said the entertainment, Class Act, a group of women who volunteer dances as a community service, were a hit with the crowd. They did three sets with the last set getting the crowd to participate. Griffin said that was the first year of the event that the organization had that many people on the dance floor actually dancing.

“I was really proud of everyone,” she said. “And within a few weeks the pictures will be on the Fort Worth Team Hope website (pancan.org) so you can see for yourselves. It was so much fun to see everyone involved.”

Chris Hollis from the national PanCAN office attended the event which was named in memory of Griffin’s brother, Cecil E. Davis, who passed away from pancreatic cancer.

“I also very much appreciate Dr. Rolf Brekken for being out speaker as well as the research he does on pancreatic cancer,” said Griffin. “I appreciate the international exchange students and two host moms who really did a great job of decorating as well as serving the buffet. They also stayed around helped with the clean-up, along with the regular committee ‘family.’ And so, a huge thanks to all who made this event run as smoothly as it did.”

This year’s goal was to raise $5,000 at the October event.

You can still send in your donation by downloading the registration form and using it by clicking on the link: pancan.org/Volunteer/tx/fortw/BootScootin.

Or send a check or money order made payable to “PanCAN” or credit card donation by Visa, MasterCard, or American Express.

“I feel privileged to be able to do whatever I can as my brother Cecil asked, to make a difference for someone in the future,” said Griffin.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

To Be Part of The Gang

By Terri Rimmer

I remember when my sister was in high school she told me about weird initiations cheerleaders and pep squad members had to go through to be part of the squad.

The rule was after the initiation if they called you it meant you made it and if they didn’t, but just showed up at your house you were part of the team.

Such initiations were often held at the local mall and included such bizarre dares as singing a love song to an old man while standing on a bench in the mall.

Another initiation involved getting zipped up in a sleeping bag and being rolled down the mall.

And another is just too disgusting to print.

Hazing or initiations date back as far as 1905. In 1909 in Denver, CO, some members of fraternities and sororities at high schools there (about 100 members) refused to relinquish their membership in these groups.

When brought into some new group like a school or club people are naturally anxious to begin by making a good impression on the others.

The desire to initiate and be initiated is a very ancient, deep-laid impulse according to Birch organizations. At a place called Woodcraft they carefully select for these try-outs to demonstrate character and ability of the newcomer and the initiation becomes a real proof of fortitude. The trial is given to the candidate when his name is proposed for membership – posted on a Totem pole where it stays for “several suns.”

One of the requirements involves being absolutely silent for six hours the day in a camp others and the newcomers attend while freely mixing with the life of the camp.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Moms Invited To Contribute To Collection of Works

By Terri Rimmer

A publishing company is searching for mothers to write for a new anthology of hopes and advice for their children.

Topics include: A Wish for My Daughter/Son, Before You Leave for Kindergarten/College, Friendship, First Love, Marriage, Eat Life, Lesson From Your Grandparents, and other topics.

Submissions should be in Microsoft Word (or compatible program) and sent as attachments to pammer@houston.rr.com.

At the top of the page include your name, address, phone number, email address, children’s names and ages, and your birthday,

The contest is sponsored by Outside Voice.

Different methods of celebrating Mother’s Day have evolved in the last several decades. The tradition of giving gifts, flowers, and celebrating mothers with festive meals has early traditional beginnings.

The story begins in 1858 when community activist Anna Reeves Jarvis organized Mothers’ Works Day in West Virginia.

In 1913 Congress declared the second Sunday in May to be Mother’s Day. Since then Mother’s Day has ballooned into a billion-dollar industry.

Nineteenth century women dared to dream of a day that honored women in activism.

Mother’s Day is unique in the adoption community. Mary Jean Wolch-Marsh first conceived the idea of Birthmother’s Day as a result of her own experience. Many children in open adoptions and adoptees celebrate the day separate from Mother’s Day. Many celebrate just the one day, Mother’s Day, without making a distinction. Birth moms sometimes plan their own ceremonies on Birth Mother’s Day according to adopting.org. To honor your birth mother you can write a poem or letter, send a card, give a piece of adoption jewelry, send flowers, or plan to get together with your birth mom.

Nancy Ashe, adoption author, calls a real parent any parent that is not imaginary.

Some famous moms who are birth parents include Roseanne Barr, Joni Mitchell, Kate Mulgrew, and Loretta Young, among others.

According to ivillage.com, becoming a mother is a life-changing and powerful experience.

And, according to the Just For Moms Foundation, as women and moms we share common bonds.

For more information on the Mother’s Voice contest, go to mothersvoice.net on the web.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Nature Organization Helps With Katrina Effort

By Terri Rimmer

Recently 14 Nature Conservancy staff and two volunteers helped out in Mississippi with Hurricane Katrina relief.

The country’s wildland fire management resources were mobilized to help with the government’s response.

Although their hurricane-related duties didn’t have anything to do with flames their training lent itself well.

During the stay in Hattiesburg, MS the team from the Nature Conservancy was able to have housing, transportation, meals, and other needs met.

Within the organization the help was orchestrated by Paula Seamon and Sam Lindblom of the agency’s Global Fire Initiative.

The team was involved in a variety of activities from clearing timber to helping evacuees.

The Initiative helps teach people how fire can be useful and how it can be destructive.

According to a press release from nature.org, the Conservancy’s website, the agency and partners have proposed renewed coastal conservation in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

A September release also stated that since the Conservancy’s last update to the Mississippi website, they have reopened their South Mississippi Conservation Program office in Ocean Springs. The agency is reaching out to other organizations to offer their expertise. The organization has been around since 1989.

According to Keith Ouchley, state director of the Conservancy, all staff and trustees with the agency were safe during and after the hurricane.

For more information, call 601-713-3355.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

A Newborn’s Journal:

*Written by Mackenzie’s transitional moms
The first nine days
8-15-00: Today is my birthday!!! My birth mom named me Justine Hope. They say I’m just beautiful. I weighed 7 pounds and 2 ounces and measured 19 ½ inches long. I have beautiful soft golden brown hair.
8-17-00: I got to go home from the hospital today with my transitional family. The nurses were sad to see me go because I was such a good baby but my transitional family was glad to see me. They think I’m so sweet and just wonderful. They are a little worried because my appetite is very light.
8-18-00: I got to go to Gladney today to see my birth mom. She was so glad to see me. We had a good snuggle but she isn’t feeling too good just yet. Some of her friends came to see me and they thought I was so beautiful. I’m still only eating ½ to one ounce at a time.
8-19-00: We had a good day today. I started eating a little better this morning. I like to lay in my bed and look at my bear mobile. I’m very strong. I like to raise my head and look around. This afternoon we
went to a movie and I ate an ounce and a half at one feeding. Movies must agree with me.
8-20-00: We went to Gladney to visit with my birth mom this morning. She was so glad to see me. She was really glad that I am eating better. I’m really starting to get this nursing thing down. I’m going to see the doctor tomorrow. She may want to put me on a higher calorie food until I am eating a little more.
8-21-00: Today was a busy day! I went to see the doctor today and she said I was just a perfect baby girl. She said not to worry about my appetite that I had only lost two ounces which was normal for the first week. I like to sleep with my arm up by my face. My birth mom says she sleeps that way too. They think I am so beautiful.
8-22-00: I went to Gladney and had a nice visit with my birth mom today. Her friends got to see how pretty I am. I’m eating so much better. I eat about two ounces at a time now. I’m starting to act like a real baby. Crying and everything.
8-23-00: Last night I wasn’t feeling well. They gave me some tummy medicine and it helped a lot. I think I ate too much. Today I had a chance to go visit with my birth mom again. I had my first time in the swing today. I think I like it but it made me sleepy. Tomorrow is a BIG day for me. I get to go to my new home. I’m going to have a mommy and daddy and big brother. My transitional family sure is going to miss me.

Trains Hit The Tracks at NorthPark

By Terri Rimmer

Chase Bank is presenting the 2005 Trains at NorthPark Mall, an annual holiday fundraiser which benefits the Ronald McDonald House of Dallas, TX.

You can only imagine taking a creative trip through a small Golden Gate Bridge, Mt. Rushmore, and to the Dallas skyline in addition to experiencing Times Square and Washington, D.C.

The event, which started Nov. 19th, continues through New Year’s Day and is a beautiful model train display with over 35 ‘O’ trains traveling on a tiny trek across the U.S.

It started in 1987 and since then the vehicles have been viewed by more than one million, providing the monies to operate the Ronald McDonald House of Dallas, a home-away-from-home for families who have traveled there with their kids for treatment in area hospitals.

“Thanks to our generous sponsors and those who visit The Trains each year we have been able to make our House into a home for the families we serve,” states Ronald McDonald staff.

New to the trains this year is a unique miniature train display that will be raffled off with $1,000 of the mall’s Gold.

The trains are from the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Ban K. Bywaters. The trains begin in San Francisco and the magic comes to pass.

You can get a look at the trains, sponsor the event, buy railcars, and volunteer at the event by going to rmhdallas.com/event/trains.

Personalized railcars give an unusual chance for private and corporations’ involvement. They’re painted by artists and will be featured at the event. A standard railcar is $150 and a caboose costs $200.00. Engines will be on display next year. When the exhibit ends your car will be sent to you or your named recipient.

Volunteers will work in Ticket Sales, Exhibit Greeting, hostingt/hostessing, and line monitoring.

The NorthPark Center is located at 1030 NorthPark Center. Hours are M-Sat. 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday, noon to 6 p.m. On Christmas Eve, hours are 10-4 and on New Years Eve, 10-6. The exhibit will be closed Christmas Day.

Price is $4 for adults, $3 for children 2-12, and seniors 65 and older. Admission is free for kids under two. Discount tickets are available at Tom Thumb stores for $1 off.

For more information, call 972-480-5312.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Organization Launches Campaign to Mobilize Volunteers

By Terri Rimmer

Hands On Network has started a drive to get 6.4 million volunteers involved nationwide in two years.

Affiliates have also stepped into major leadership roles in local communities across states.

“We just couldn’t sit around and watch this stuff go on around us,” said Network Volunteer Danielle Cuviller.

The national civic movement is to bring people together to improve communities and there are numerous chapters all over the U.S. The agency is made up of 52 volunteer organizations that serve as entrepreneurial civic action centers nationally and internationally. Over the past few years a number of volunteer focused campaigns have been launched with high hopes. According to staff combining the urgency of needs in communities with a belief in action to help people and stir the nation the Hands On Campaign will focus on problem solving and will adopt a project-management approach to effective community work.

According to literature from Hands On while increasing volunteerism is a tangible and meaningful goal the campaign ultimately seeks to improve critical areas and increase interest and demand to volunteer.

Hands On, formerly CityCares, is rooted in the belief that every person has the ability to make a difference.

Hands On organizations develop volunteer projects in partnership with community-based agencies, then recruit and manage teams of volunteers to staff the projects. Affiliates offer strong project management, including recruiting, training, on-site project supervision, evaluation, and recognition of volunteers acting in effect as the “volunteer-management department” for community-based agencies. Projects are conducted in a wide variety of service areas to address the varied needs of each community, and offer a variety of outlets for service opportunities.

Hands On says they are different from other volunteer organizations because they meet the needs of modern citizens by extending programs beyond simple agency referral.

Some of their national programs include AmeriCorps, Citizen Academy, Emerging Leaders Program, National Technology Initiative, and others.

The AmeriCorps Promise Fellows Program, for example, Hands On awards fellowship positions throughout the network through an alliance with the Network, America’s Promise, and the Corporation for National and Community Service. The AmeriCorps Ed Award provides incentives to volunteers who make a sustained commitment to service. The Emerging Leaders Program awards grants to Network affiliates for the development and implementation of new or existing programs.

In addition, the Network is also involved in a Mr. Clean Campaign which involves volunteers working side by side in various cities.

For more information, access handsonnetwork.org.

Monday, December 05, 2005

U.S. Lags Behind Other Nations In Health Care

By Terri Rimmer

Americans For Health Care is supporting a Fair Share Health Care that will prevent large, profitable corporations from shifting the cost of their employees’ health care costs onto workers, taxpayers, and other businesses.

According to the organization the act will require these companies to spend a certain percentage of their payroll taxes toward health care for their employees or pay the difference of what they do pay into the state’s Medicaid fund, help alleviate the financial pressures facing states as they struggle to contain Medicaid costs, reduce the bill taxpayers pay to cover these corporations’ business costs, and level the playing field between companies providing good jobs and benefits to their workers and those that don’t.

Ruben has liver cancer and though he has health insurance and works full-time, his policy isn’t very good. He was recently told by a medical rep that he would have to fork out $300 every time he was to go through radiation, something he could not afford to do. Turns out his cancer wasn’t going to respond to radiation but even if it would, he wouldn’t have been able to go through the process financially.

The number of uninsured in America in 2003 was 45,000,000 according to the Census Bureau and 8.5 million children in the U.S. have no health care. The amount of time it takes for nearly three people to lose their health insurance in the U.S.A. is one minute. According to the Center for American Progress, 45 million uninsured Americans is more than all Americans age 65 and older (35.9 million) and all African-Americans (37.1 million). It is also more than all Hispanic or Latino Americans (39.9 million).

In August 2000 Charmie Long lost a kidney after having to go through the county hospital because she didn’t have insurance and was in a coma for a month. She had some mysterious illness and the doctors were stymied but when they did find out what it was it was too late. Her girlfriend, Sharon felt like they wasted time.

“She was swelled up like a balloon. She was unrecognizable. The doctors didn’t seem that concerned,” said Sharon.

When Jason Brauss hurt his hand a couple of years ago he wasn’t willing to sit all night at the local county hospital to get treated.

“I’ll just suffer with it,” he said.

Kathi Marchiano lives in Sacramento, CA.

“My daughter and I have to take prescription medication every day,” she said.

Debbie Ball has Diabetes and is going blind because she can’t afford the co-pays through her husband’s health insurance which covers him through his job.

S. Connors of North Lauderdale, FL says the healthcare and insurance systems in America are broken and completely detached from the people they purport to want to help.

“In June of 2003 I lost my executive position due to a hostile takeover of the company,” she said. “I spent six months paying without insurance for health care costs. What I’ve discovered is that the insurance company has no heart and applies no critical judgment regarding who is or is not at high risk, and due to their rejection of so many people, the state insurance program is continuously full. I am insured today only because my significant other got a job as a teacher and the school system in which he works covers domestic partners – thank you gay-rights activists for helping this heterosexual woman to have insurance!”

For more information go to americansforhealthcare.org online.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Annual Ball Kicks off in February

By Terri Rimmer

The 11th Annual Diamond of Hope Ball featuring a gourmet dinner, auction, and live entertainment benefiting the local American Lung Association will be held Feb. 11th at the Fort Worth Club.

From 6:30 p.m. until midnight at 307 West 7th Street on the 12t Floor in Fort Worth, TX Paige Farr and Paige Morton will co-host the event.

Entertainment will be provided by Random Axis.

Individual reservations are $150.00.

Research friend couple sponsorships are available for $500 which includes two dinner reservations, featured in PowerPoint presentation, listing in event program, and certificate of appreciation.

Bronze sponsors pay $1,500 which includes a table for ten, a listing in the program, featured in PowerPoint, sign, and listing in American Lung Association’s website.

Silver sponsorships are available for $2,500 which includes select seating for ten, a half page ad in the program, feature in PowerPoint, acknowledgement during the ball, table sign, and listing in website.

You can be a Gold Sponsor for $5,000 which includes the most prominent seating for ten, a full page ad in the program, feature in PowerPoint, acknowledgement during the event, sign, and listing in all event materials and site.

You can be a Diamond Sponsor for $10,000 which includes exclusive seating for 20, feature in PowerPoint, your logo or company name associated with all event materials, prominent recognition in the site, full page ad in the program, acknowledgement, signs, and company representative to do diamond presentation to a lucky winner the night of the ball.

The deadline for sponsor camera-ready ads is Jan. 15th.

Checks and Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express credit cards are accepted.

You may mail your reservations through filling out a Reply Form on the texaslung.org website and send the printed out form with payment to: American Lung Association of Texas, Box 470773, Fort Worth, TX 76147 or fax to 817-737-4154.

Last year’s event raised $89,885.00.

If you wish to donate to the auction you may print out an Auction Commitment Form on the texaslung.org website and fax it to the same fax number listed above or mail to the same address as above.

There will be some interesting entertainment including a pianist and Kube Jewelers will ward a diamond to a winner.

A hundred percent of the proceeds will fund lung health education and disease prevention programs in Tarrant County.

The Lung Association is a non-profit 501© (3) organization so your contribution is tax-deductible.

For more information, contact Tessie Holloway at 1-800-LUNG-USA or at tessieh@texaslung.org.