Sunday, December 7, 2014


Sephora has been pushing Maybelline's buttons. She has taken an instant dislike to her and Maybelline felt this from the moment they met. But May as her friends fondly call her, showed no sign of the tug of war and continued to pull her weight.  They had this big project facing them and it needed all the manpower and focus they could muster up to get it finished in an excellent form.
Sephora had rapidly built the almighty throne and began her immediate ascent.  Maybelline watched the movements of Sephora and her cohorts.

There were so many who used the same tactics, ploughing their way to 'fame' while shoving someone out of the way. Sephora had begun to build her empire, gathering the people for the court and Maybelline was not one of them.  Neutrogena became the high priestess and she fitted right in with Sephora.  This cunning, calculating, ambitious person was extremely competitive and likes the spotlight. Maybelline watched as her eyes sunk and her body rocked when Lancome had the floor.  Lancome had researched his role and was able to give his reason why bringing water to this village would be beneficial to the residents.  Although he did not expect acceptance of his proposal he wanted to make sure that he had thought this out well. Crafty Nuetrogena was not happy because there was a good sign that Lancome's work would be recognized.

Maybelline knew that Sephora was courting others; but they are unlikely candidates for her court,they were described as damaged goods, stained, not in good standing.  She could however use them for pushing Maybelline aside. "For you I will set them straight.  I am different, they dare not cross me, because when they do, they cross you too."  A strong statement coming from Revlona, she hopes this will have Sephora noticing.  Another recruit for her majesty's court. This is a coy one, her eyes bulge, her shoulders and her body curl up when she does not agree. She is an underground friend of those she thinks are in  in high places and will do anything to let them know she is different.You cannot take your eyes off Revlona.

Maybelline stood erect as she entered the courtyard.  She knew this is the moment she will be scalded, burnt, become cinder, whichever, the feeling is the same.  Sephora had begun to set the table, she wanted a different setting but Maybelline noticed it was the same old sisal mats, there may be shades of red where green once stood, the pattern may be thinner, they call it more refined.  Yet Maybelline knew that they had traded ineptness for more ineptness, arrogance for arrogance on a huge scale and yes the Islands had even grown wider apart.

                               Maybelline had her buttons pushed
                               They are trying to keep her perplexed.
                               She is PUSHED to the side
                               Always playing second fiddle.
                               Let's PUSH her to the curb
                               But she  managed to crawl back in.
                               Now let's try PUSHING her to the edge
                               This spells danger.
                               She certainly couldn't recover from this?
                               And she did!
                               She ignored the neon exit sign
                               Flashing in fury
                               And in defiance she PUSHED back.


  1. The title "Pushed" could either give a positive or negative meaning. Explain what it means here?
  2. "Sephora had begun to set the table" Translate!
  3. Why is Lancome significant?
  4. Describe a time you were PUSHED?
  5. The "neon exit sign" why the fury?
  6. What are your thoughts about Maybelline?


Sunday, November 30, 2014


2014 was a good year for us, we were able to help many more projects that were seeking shoes for the children they serve.

We provide shoes for the youth in need, whether it is for sports, for dancing or just having a decent pair of shoes so they can attend school.

We hope that this simple act of giving a pair of shoes to the child in need will trigger a sense of hope which will lead to greater confidence and their desire to strive to remain in school and make a difference in their lives and those around them by climbing out of poverty.  There are many children here at home and abroad who go without the basic needs, which includes not having a decent pair of shoes and this hinders them from participating in normal activities such as attending school, playing sports, etc.
                                                          OUR     SOLUTION
We are hoping that working through Organizations such as DONORS CHOOSE that fund Teachers" projects, we will make it easier for teachers to concentrate on developing children who will bring new ideas to the table.
We provide shoes for children so that they stay in school continue to remain involved in activities that will help them develop and reach their greatest potential yet.

In 2014 we had our biggest fundraiser event "Macy's Shop For A Cause".  This year we were allowed to bring our fundraising in-store for 2 days, allowing us to earn extra funds.  All of the money gained from selling the store's discount coupons to friends and families and to shoppers in store was used to fund our 2014 Projects.

This year we sponsored five (5) projects fro the Donors Choose organization and there were many letters from students and teachers filled with gratitude. Here is an example: "I am so grateful for your generous  donations that helped to achieve our goals in purchasing shoes for my dancers.  Some of my students have been dancing for years outside of public school,some have never taken a formal
class before and are developing their talents only within this class..." This came from Ms. Martine, the teacher.

This year we began to highlight those who have supported CHOOSE TO CARE and wanted to hear from them why they do?  Each and every contributor is important to us and we value their loving support.

We are seeking to grow and network with other Agencies providing for the youth in need and become more relevant in the lives of the children we wish to assist. We have been exploring ideas and looking for the best fit to sustain CHOOSE TO CARE so we have a greater impact.  Yet to come!
If you have any comments or suggestions, we would love to hear them.

                                                                    WITH GRATITUDE!


Monday, November 17, 2014


                                                    Simone is in a dark place
                                                    Pushed to the side
                                                    On far too many occasions.
                                                    Ignored while plans are made
                                                    Then presented with
                                                     "This is what we are thinking."
                                                      But the deal has already been sealed
                                                      And Simone knows that her opinion
                                                      does not count.

                                                      Yesterday was a bleak and dreary day
                                                       She had HOPES that today
                                                       Would end in a better way.
                                                       There is time yet, as morning
                                                       Lingers into noon
                                                       But as the end draws soon
                                                       Simone knows she has lost this bet
                                                       Today somber mood and dark clouds
                                                        Have met.

                                                         Another tempestuous being has arrived
                                                         Simone quickly derived.
                                                         What a clueless way to live, she thought
                                                          Each and every resident that entered
                                                          That zone
                                                          Has not learned what the sensible
                                                          Has taught
                                                          That kindness, fairness,acceptance
                                                           Always set a better tone.

                                                            So even if you are broken
                                                            And every word you have spoken
                                                            Is shoved aside as if meaningless,
                                                            You must never surrender nor digress
                                                             From the path of steadfastness.
                                                             For down that road awaits you
                                                             All the goodness you are due.

                                     So Simone, Simone, even though you are feeling
                                     Someday, this senseless act will boldly say




  • The poem is called "Squeezed"  What comes to mind with such a title?
  • Simone is in a dark place, the verse begins.  Think about a time you were in a dark place and how did you escape?
  • What word indicates that Simone has not given up?
  • There is mention of the zone, to what is the author referring?
  • What goodness may await  anyone who travels down the  path of "steadfastness"?
  • There is a promise that Someday things will get better, is this too far-fetched, how long should Simone wait?
  • Put yourself in Simone shoes while she is waiting for this selfish act of squeezing to end, what else would you do?

Sunday, November 9, 2014

HIGHLIGHTING Karen, a dedicated and hardworking TEACHER

Q.  Tell a little about yourself and what you do for a living?

A.  I am a Special Education Interrelated Elementary School Teacher.  I co-teach and work with students who have learning disabilities in small groups within the regular education setting.  I prepare lessons through collaboration with third and fifth grade teachers.  I develop plans for accommodations  and  modifications based on individual deficiencies and needs of students.  I prepare and follow Individual Education Plans through parent meetings.  I have been a teacher for over twenty years.  I also have two college aged students of my own.  When I have free time, I enjoy working out in the gym.  One hour in a cycle class is my favorite activity along with the elliptical, the treadmill and a little bit of weight training.

Q.  How long have you been involved and how did you become introduced to CHOOSE TO CARE?

A.  I have been involved with CHOOSE TO CARE since 2010.  This is a vision that Paulette Weir has dedicated many hours to from the initial start up idea to where it has progressed now.  She expressed her ideas to me after her trip to Brazil, it broke her heart to see so many children without shoes; something that many of us may never have given any thought to.  She felt compelled to help as many children as she could.  That was when CHOOSE TO CARE began.

Q.  What made you get on board?

A.  Ms. Weir is passionate and dedicated to the mission of helping children with this very basic need of owning a good pair of shoes.  She has always shown traits of optimism, resourcefulness, strong-willed, nurturing and independence, just to name a few.  As a teacher I
have witnessed first hand how students feel when they are lacking just the basic items, whether it is shoes, coats, pencils, notebooks, snacks,etc it makes a difference in their motivation and attitude toward school and life in general. The need is out there so you cannot help but get on board.  It takes a village and we have to make it our duty to step up to do what we can to help the less fortunate.  There is a lot of talent out in the world that just needs the opportunity to shine.

Saturday, November 1, 2014


It was a bright and sunny day, there was excitement in the room where lots of folks had gathered for this special occasion;Lurline Ghetter was able to secure much needed funds for her non-profit organization which provides for the youth in crisis.  It was indeed a day for celebration.  Mendacity was in and about, hugging and greeting as many people as she could reach, as if she was a politician running for office, mingling for their votes. Gwendolyn's body meanwhile, was registering trouble on the horizon, the hair on her hands was raised and goose bumps began to form.  She knew Mendacity was up to no good and out of the corners of her eyes she saw her coming her way, she was on full display for all to see as she offered help.  She was always plotting and putting on a show for onlookers.  In an instant she had become the Jolly Citizen of the world and a few minutes later she could be Miss Doldrum. This has been her game and Gwendolyn had caught on to all her moves.

Gwendolyn reluctantly gave over the placemats and Mendacity had haphazardly placed them on the table.  it was not to Gwendolyn's likening but she left them as they were and under her breath she muttered,"even in this simple matter she cannot follow directions."  All throughout the celebration,Gwendolyn continued to think about what was unfolding.  Mendacity was happy as a lark, laughing uncontrollable, in stitches, even when there was not anything funny happening. Gwendolyn recognized that nervous laugh, the one that was the loudest, the one that lingered on; even when others just smiled, her grin seemed to have been pasted on.  A tell tale sign that that Mendacity was up to something and what could it be this time.

Everyone was enjoying the spread. The couscous mixed with dried tomatoes and spinach, hit the spot; the roasted squash soup was delicious to the last drop and Rosemary had made a beet salad to die for.  The bread pudding, her favorite dessert, was calling Gwendolyn's name but instead she reached for a cup of masala chai tea, the warmth she hoped would help to put her mind at ease. As she sipped she moved her body to a familiar jazz beat, the combination of music and tea kept her relaxed, if only for a moment.

Another chance encounter days later was met with a welcoming greeting, Mendacity and her half smile that seemed to say "I bet you don't know what is in store for you?" The day got creepier and there was black clouds surrounding Mendacity, at least that was what Gwendolyn saw.  She began to feel weighed down and her evil deeds from the past, just kept haunting Gwendolyn.  Then she received the news, Mendacity had once more notified authority that Gwendolyn had stolen her gold locket, given to her by her dear aunt Floss.  The deposition added an accomplice this time, Farrah Howard who along with Gwendolyn stole this locket from  right under her eyes when she was showing it around.  She had accused Gwendolyn some years ago of taking her diamond ring but this could not be proven and she resurrected AGAIN with false nonsensical accusations.  This is the third time and Gwendolyn was fed up.  She knew and always said that Mendacity was not yet done with her but she still could not figure out what she was after.

                                            Who is this person
                                            with her polluting ways?
                                            Tell me world,how much longer will this be?
                                            What gives an individual the right
                                            To keep chipping away at my soul?
                                             Isn't there anyone to stop her?
                                             Why does this evil continue to lurk?
                                             She worms her way into your life
                                             Gets in your skin and settles in.
                                             And no matter how many times
                                             you pull her out
                                             She crawls right back in.
                                             AGAIN, AGAIN & AGAIN
                                             It is as if this leech cannot be tamed.
                                             But this time, your weapon
                                             has become too dull
                                             And the soul you have axed
                                             has gathered lots of strength.
                                             You are on your own cyst
                                             There is nothing to feed on
                                              No sympathy, No caring
                                              You have sapped the supply dry.
                                              And now you must move on
                                              Never to cross this path AGAIN.



  1. Why is Gwendolyn so suspicious of mendacity's friendliness?
  2. Explain "Jolly Citizen of the World" & "Ms. Doldrum"
  3. The evil person is called cyst,explain.
  4. How significant is the title AGAIN & it's usage 3x together in the poem?
  5. The soliloquy seemed to give an ultimatum, what is the writer saying?
  6. What do you think is Mendacity's problem?


Wednesday, October 1, 2014


Q     Tell a little about yourself and what you do for a living?

A     My name is Lille(pronounced "Lily").  I have been an active staff member for the last six years  with the Neighborhood WIC Program which is run by a nonprofit organization known as Public Health Solutions.  I hold a position as a Community Service Aide aka C.S.A. in one of it's center located in Astoria,Queens.  My main duties involve ensuring perspective participants access to the WIC benefit services and providing them with exemplary customer services. I would describe myself as a person who is upbeat. I try not to let little things in life get to me.  I am known for my positive attitude at work.  I am also looked to for information.  People know they can come to me with these problems and that I will listen and try to do what I can to solve them.  Anybody who has worked with me would tell you that I am a fun person to be around.  I also know when to be serious and when it is important to focus on what I am doing. I am hard working, well organized and a balanced person who enjoy
my work and my surroundings.

Q     How long have you been involved with CHOOSE TO CARE?  How did you become introduced to CHOOSE TO CARE?

A     I was inspired by a dedicated Choose To Care supporter since the fall of 2008 until present.  I became an instant active and dedicated member when my co-worker and I were shooting the breeze about what thanksgiving meant.  We connected in our belief that to make a difference in your community through charitable activities require dedication and diligence.  When I was given a brief synopsis of the mission, it sounded like a worthy cause and indeed it is.

Q     What made you get on board?

A     My wholehearted beliefs in the goal and purposes of the mission of this organization awakened my inner spirit and gave me the strength to spread the word.  I was very impressed when I visited the website by the various and diverse individual human experiences.  My dedication and and sincerity to help others less fortunate swayed my decision to be supportive for the worthwhile mission of Choose To Care.
                      "There is no exercise better for the heart
                        than reaching down and lifting people up."
                                                                John Holmes

Monday, September 29, 2014


Merlyn is a dedicated Choose To Care volunteer who continues to give her support year after year.
We are forever grateful!

Q.     Tell a little about yourself and what you do for a living?
A.      My name is Merlyn.  I am a Nutritionist at Ridgewood WIC Center.  I like to help others and provide them with services and support that they need in order to make healthier changes, one step at a time.  My greatest reward is when they return and tell me about the changes they have made.  I know that I have made a difference for many people.
Q.     How long have you been involved and how did you become introduced to CHOOSE TO CARE?
A.     Over the past three years, I have been involved with Choose To Care.  I was introduced to Choose To Care by Mrs. Paulette Sinclair-Weir.
Q.     What made you get on board?
A.     I decided to join Choose To Care because it is a way of giving back and making a difference in some one's life.  I hope it will help them to see that others care about them and their needs.  With my efforts, I hope that this will let them know that when life is rough, sometimes it can get better with support and comfort.  I come from a family that enjoys giving back to others.  My mother used to give her food away and she was satisfied that she prevented someone from going hungry.  I feel that other people should come on board and help a great cause.

Sunday, September 21, 2014


After the disastrous  fishing boat accident the idyllic Farmland was left idle for months.  The proprietor, Ms. Josephine, decided that the sadness had lingered long enough and she began to take the helm to bring back this farm to its productive state.  The Reverend McMillan had recruited the men who used to stand idle at the corner. He knew it would take a lot to show them the ropes and  build their confidence but  this was going to be a big part of his ministry in Ridge Hill, he could not afford to have them slip back to their old pattern of holding up the corner in the square.

"Leila, Leila" Grannie Madelyn's shrieking voice could be heard throughout the valley.  Although she did not work outside the home, she said it was important for her grandchild to learn to cook; so two times per week , Leila started her lessons under her grannie's watchful eyes.  She made sure she used the right pinch of seasonings, sliced the potato the right way and used the correct measure of oil, because greasy food was not tolerated in Ms. Madelyn's kitchen.  Leila was caught by surprise, her grannie must have returned home early because she had told her she was going to visit a few of her friends and Leila had watched her wrapped her coconut tart and pound cake, tying the goods in two bags as she said, this would guarantee freshness.  Ms. Madelyn had crowned herself the baker of the village and no one would be able to wrangle that from her.  It did not matter that there were women who knew their way around the kitchen far better than her, no one was brave enough to break this news to her.

Leila was still wearing her school uniform and she had not started her homework as yet.  She had decided to while the time away with her best friend Ramila, the granddaughter of Ms. Josephine and the late Mr. Bancroft James, who with the the other men, died in that awful and mysterious fishing trip accident. Leila shouted back " I am coming grannie" as she quickly said goodbye to her friend.  They had gone down by the river which runs in the back of Farmland. Leila knows that her grandmother did not want her to fall in the same trap as her mother Darlene who had her at a young age.  Grannie had began watching her like a hawk because she thought Leila was blossoming too fast and should not be playing too much with Ms. Nita's good for nothing boys.

Leila and Ramila were inseparable and when they were not in school they would go by the riverside.  Legend has it that someone from the village had been carried away by the swift current, way up the river.  The people of Ridge Hill have sworn that they hear his cries for help ever so often. Most of the villagers stay away out of fear and so this became a private getaway for the best friends.  They usually choose the shallow area and sit on the big stones that  jutted  out of the river.  One of their favorite pastime was to throw pebbles that made circles in the water.  Two innocent schoolgirls who talked and talked forever and when they were tired of running their mouths, they would pick the plums from the trees around the riverbanks, that were laden with the sweetest plums this side of the valley. They would eat a bellyful and then drink from the refreshing water that sprung from between the rocks. Today these two adventurous young girls ventured too far up the river, the mangrove trees and shrub grew so thick, that it would cast a dark shadow that send a shiver, raising bumps on their arms.

 They turned back to their favorite stone, where the sunshine shone so brilliantly, through the tall and slender bamboo trees.  They had fun looking at their reflections in the river.  Nature had built this little hideout to perfection.  They jumped from stone to stone on the step-like formation in the shallow part of the river. Leila noticed that Ramila was a bit somber and badgered her friend until she told her what was making her so gloomy.  Apparently, Linette the school yard bully had pulled Ramila's hair and blurted out"I know why that fishing boat accident happen, there is a curse in your family and other things will happen, you watch and see."  They both cried in remembrance of the men and they cried because what if  mean-spirited Linette was telling the truth? They lost track of time and that is when Leila heard Grannie Madelyn's call, the voice that told her she would not escape her wrath. She should have been home starting supper.

The neighbors could hear Ms. Madelyn's bellowing voice.  They would be peeping over fences, through the zinc hole and makeshift bamboo walls that separated some of the houses.  It was as if it was a call for theater time.  As Leila ran down the hill, she saw her grannie, hands akimbo waiting for her in the middle of the yard.  Leila blurted out loudly, "what is the curse?"  "Where did you hear that from?" as she shoved her inside out of the ears of all the busybodies.  Her plan had worked, for whatever Ms. Madelyn had in store for her, it would be done in privacy. Ms. Madelyn did not answer Leila's question instead she wanted to set her plans in motion, baking up a storm for the upcoming revival. She had nominated herself the head cook and planner for this upcoming well needed week long thanksgiving to awaken the good spirits in Ridge Hill.  Leila will have to wait for the answer to her burning question. After all this is Ridge Hill, the village of beauty and secrets galore. A revival will do the village good.

Monday, September 1, 2014


The residents had not witnessed such bustling in this sleepy village.  Every now and then a funeral procession passed through the dirt road to the cemetery where the very old inhabitants were called to their saviour.  This population lived a long healthy life, they ate right and walked for miles to their destinations.  This they thought was the key to their longevity. The burying of so many of their young dwellers caused lots of wailing and wringing of hands. The young and old, women and men,the feeble all gathered at Morgan Valley Farm, day in, day out to talk about this fishing boat accident that took them by surprise leaving the town void of so many hard working men.  They were trying to make sense of this disaster that had befell them.

The Reverend McMillan delivered his sermon with fiery zeal.  The church was bursting at the seams; everyone made it up the hill, some hobbled but they got there, they were determine not miss this gathering, even the men from the corner square were present.  The Reverend wiped away his sweat and blinked his eyes,yes it was the men whom he had tried to bring into the congregation. This was his chance to minister to them from his pulpit.  He began "Church, you know the doors are open to everyone?" in that talking and tune added voice.  The parishioners replied with an "Amen"  The three dozen men shuffled in their seats, they could feel lots of eyes on them.  The gut-wrenching squeals of the master's name penetrated their souls.  Although the community had scorned them for their worldly ways, they had feelings too, they came to mourn their family members and to show respect to a village in mourning.  Everything happens for a reason and the Reverend knew this was the beginning of a ministry for which he needed all the vigor, strength and will power that he could muster up.  He looked at the faces in the jam-packed church all stricken with pain.  He was ready to do some healing.  "We are one" he shouted  in his loud bellowing voice. "You gotta believe, we are one" in that sing-talk tone.

The mourning had gone on for quite some time.  It was months before the usual pleasantries were heard in and around Ridge Hill.  Josephine Carter James needed workers for Morgan Valley Farm and the men at the corner square were her prime choices.  The Reverend McMillan found another opportunity  to convince these men to start a new life, to become productive citizens, to help rebuild the Ridge Hill Community.  But remember, this was an extraordinary place and the gossip wheels began turning again.  Many of the villagers thought this was the work of an evil woman who had long passed but every now and then they claimed, she would wake up the town with one of her 'pranks' that would have tongues wagging about her toxic spirit. She had an old grudge that she vowed to settle, she promised on her dying bed. This is the story as the elders remembered. This was the way things were in Ridge Hill, a place full of secrets, that will eventually be released and put citizens against citizens.  The Reverend's plate was full and flowing over but he did not buckle under these pressurized situations, this he knew was a powerful beginning and all eyes were on him.  Let's see what you can do or will you run like the others, their stare seemed to say.

Thursday, August 28, 2014


Today, I am traveling the world without leaving town.  It is letter writing time to my six sponsored children who reside on different continents in this wonderful world of ours.  Each letter received has a request to come see them.  I have been fortunate to visit a few of the children in the places they call home and what delightful journeys.  And as a child outgrows the sponsorship program and I gain a new child, the invitations begin again.

I am determined to make as many trips as I can and to keep encouraging these wonderful children to stay in school.  This I know for sure is their hope out of poverty.  And as the world turns, there is a good chance that today's learners could become tomorrow's leaders.  For now I will continue to write and help them strive toward a productive future and certainly when the chance appears, I will RSVP to their invitation to visit, knowing all things are possible.


This year my prayers were answered when I received the invitation to sell discounted coupons in Macy's flagship store on 34th Street.  Choose To Care  has participated for the past three years by selling these coupons to friends and families. This year the kind folks at Macy's must have read my mind and I did not hesitate when the invitation arrived, I sent my RSVP with lightning speed.

The offer consisted of  working for a few hours for two days in-store.  On Friday before the event I worked for two hours, and I discovered this was not an easy task;there were rejections after rejections. Some shoppers had already purchased a coupon because there were other organizations with the same pitch. "Buy a discounted coupon for a good cause," we all said.  I managed to convince thirteen giving souls and I was a happy camper.

On Saturday,the day of the event, I worked far more hours, six hours and received more rejections, sometimes with a smile as the shoppers politely showed me their coupons.  They had done their kindness some where else.  Some shoppers promised to return and a few did others pretended they did not hear my appeal and kept walking with quickened gait. I had fun studying their reactions to my requests and kept feeling so lucky for the opportunity this exposure gave me, to talk about CHOOSE TO CARE to total strangers.  Today I fared much better and ended the day with heartfelt gratitude for all I had received.


I was invited to mix and mingle with the teachers from the Bronx.  This  came from the organization:
Teachers Ask, Donors Choose.  This online charity allows you to fund projects for the teachers classroom,making a difference in the lives of their students. It was an enchanting evening, rooms occupied with passionate staff who wanted  to give me a tour of their interesting workplace.  These friendly and enthusiastic staff had only great things to say about their place of employment and the work they and the CEO and founder of this outstanding non-profit,are engaged in.

The teachers were excited, there was chatter everywhere and then the founder began to speak.  He announced that there were four teachers and he named them, whose classroom projects would be fully funded.  There was clapping and widened smiles.  Then he retracted the offer, saying he had made a mistake and he apologize profusely.  There was a look of diappointment on the faces of everyone.  "How could he have made such an error?"  My thoughts were quickly put to rest as he announced with a boyish grin that all the projects in the Bronx Schools were funded.  The generous donor came to the front and described how much in awe she was of the work the teachers do each and every day.  So this fascinating organization had scored big again, only a few days ago Bill and Melinda Gates had offered to help teachers and students get the things they needed.  They would pay for half the cost of each project. Choose To Care did their part to help Ms Wehrman's  Tip Tap Toe project in New York City, New York.  The students now have 23 pairs of tap shoes to enhance their dance moves.

I am glad that I have accepted each precious invitation.  They have provided me with a sense of peace and purpose and a profound sense of responsibility.  They have allowed me an expanded worldview, whether the invitation was to travel to my sponsored children distant land or to mingle and mix with the teachers from the Bronx or Macy's generous offer to outreach to shoppers in their store, I have benefited tremendously.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Last Supper

This Morgan valley Farm was a progressive place where everyone gave a helping hand.  In this idyllic village lived Josephine Carter James, the pillar of the community.  She knew well the history of the village and welcomed all newcomers to town.  She was also the "Botanist", knew what plant cured whatever ailed the residents and even the animals loved her, she cured them too. Josephine Carter James wore many hats.  She was a woman on the go during the day so at night time when the chores were completed, Josephine and her husband, Bancroft James would sit on the veranda with the rest of the family and her only grandchild, Ramila.  Josephine always seemed at peace, she protected the brood in her household and showered them with lots of love.

Tonight, she was extremely joyful.  She had fought nail and tooth for Reverend McMillan and although the men who sat on the Church's Advisory Board battled her, she would not let up.  She was that kind of woman, brave enough to put up a good fight and she was the only woman in the village who could argue against the laws of the men.  She could not take her eyes off her granddaughter,Ramila stood tall and thin like a bamboo shoot, the spitting image of her great grandmother, Ma Mabel, who had long passed on.  Ms Josephine had told Ramila stories of her descendants, the maroons, as it was told to her.  She wanted this part of their history to be kept alive, she was proud of her family.  Tonight, Papa Bancroft James did not join his wife and granddaughter because he was busy preparing for a fishing trip.  The men from the village would be gone for a few days, leaving the women behind.

The Reverend McMillan came to see them off and pray for their safety.  They joined hands, forming a tight knit circle.  The men were overjoyed that this man of God cared enough about them to visit and offer a prayer for their safety.  He had scored big,a brotherhood was formed.  There are different ways to recruit for that church upon the hill, he just knew that when the men returned they will be filling those empty pews.    At the supper table, The Reverend had a good share of the delicious meal and he could not stop praising the hands that prepared it, hands that belonged to none other than Josephine Carter James.  She was delighted that her meal pleased the holy man and she invited him
to stop in any time, since it took little effort to whip up a meal.  The Reverend had scored again.

It was time for the men to depart and the women and Reverend McMillan walked the men to the coast.  They would be gone for three days.  there was excitement when they departed and there will be excitement on their return.  Their catch would be plentiful, enough to go around for the families;some  will be stowed away in their freezers, others will be sold in the market in the square.  Two days into the trip, Josephine woke up sweating and shaking with fear.  She knew something was wrong but could not pinpoint what had caused this nightmare.  At daybreak she began her chores with a heavy heart. Later that day the news spread like wildfire, Bancroft James and all the other men had lost their lives in a boat accident.  They had all perished at sea when the boat capsized.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Reverend McMillan Settles In

The Reverend McMillan was in his late forties, with looks that soon had the young women weak at their knees.  It did not take long for the mothers of these single women to start saving the best fruits, vegetables and eggs from their small but bountiful gardens for the dashing Reverend.  They became regular suppliers, trekking up the hill, and as they put it, they were getting to know the holy man.  They did not miss a chance to slip in a few good words about their daughters.

The Reverend made daily walks in the community, he too wanted to get familiar with the Parishioners and to pull in those who had not stepped into the church for years.  He had noticed the men congregating at the corner shop in the square,  some sipping from a brown bag while others openly drank from the familiar rum bottles.He knew that this would be a prime project for him, to get the men from the corner into the church.  All the ministers before him had tried to convert the men gathered at the Ridge Hill Corner shop and no one had been able to move them. The men aged, sometimes death took a few away and there were new recruits.

Reverend McMillan came from Johns Town, a very big and modern city, so everyone was puzzled why he would settle for unassuming Ridge Hill.  But he is a man of the cloth and he had taken an oath to lead and it should not matter who his flock was or where they lived, he must follow his calling. Of course the busy bodies of the community were ready to dig up some dirt, just give them some time and they will be on this case.

Grannie Madelyn and her friends always have first hand gossip and whenever Leila heard the women calling out for Madelyn and her grannie invited them in; she always placed herself in the room next door, keeping busy with her ears cocked.  Leila's grannie had warned her over and over to not allow a peep out of her mouth about her lady friends visit and their conversation because she was  an upright woman in the community and could not afford any scandal.  The women, the men hanging out at the corner shop and even the Reverend seemed to be on daily fishing trips of some sort.  That's just the way things were in Ridge Hill.

And yes, there was Morgan Valley Farm where most of the men from the community worked.  The farm was actually located in Ridge Hill, just on the outskirt but it could easily be described as a village unto itself.  It was breathtaking, the air was clean.  The fruit trees, vegetable plots, the animals were something to behold.  The persimmon trees were laden and yam vines were climbing the stakes. The pineapples gave off a sweet odor and the oranges were juicy and sweet.  The cacti have grown so huge they stood like giants in the field.  There were five overgrown tamarind trees with branches spread wide, that stood majestically side by side, almost reaching the sky.  These were god sent, they provided shade for the men during their breaks from working on this vast farm.  The huge tree trunks formed a plank, providing comfortable seating for six muscular men.

Today, the Reverend ventured past the men at the corner, he was invited to Morgan Valley Farm to meet Josephine Carter James and her workers.  He had heard about her influence in Ridge Hill and just maybe she would be able to steer him in the right direction on how to deal with these men who it seemed had taken up a permanent position at this corner. They too were plotting to show him that they would not bow to his demands and unless he had something different to tell them, they would remain in their spot, unconvinced that the church on the hill was their saving grace as the other ministers before him wanted them to believe. Reverend McMillan was determined to change things in Ridge Hill but knew it would take time.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014


The staff at the Neighborhood WIC Program has made the Kid's Eat Right  Campaign a mainstay of the various activities we bring to the WIC participants and their families.  At our 9 WIC Centers, the Ambassador for the Kid's Eat Right Project are charged with ensuring that the Monday Morning messages are shared with participants and colleagues alike.

When you enter any of our WIC Centers you will see health and nutrition messages proudly displayed as "Brought to you by Kid's Eat Right"  The Ambassadors enlighten their colleagues with an article chosen from the Kid's Eat Right collection on a monthly basis and the discussion that usually ensues has become fuel for our goal to make all of our WIC Centers kid-friendly and healthy.

We are all revved up for the first Kid's Eat Right celebration.  At one of the Center, the staff plans to give a history of Kid's Eat Right and will focus on the importance of breakfast, using the "Make time for Breakfast" article.  A smoothie will be served using one of the delicious recipe garnered from the website.  The event will continue with an exercise activity in the form of a game called: Red light,Green Light"

Not to be outdone, another WIC Center will focus on three key principles:

  • Shopping for healthy foods
  • Cooking nutritious meals and snacks
  • Eating together as a family
They will also have a variety of exercise activities to get the participants moving.

The staff is encouraged to submit their Kid's Eat Right activities for the month of August along with testimonials as requested.  This is our chance to showcase our commitment to get our young WIC participants excited into eating meals that are tasty and healthful.

The winning recipes, the many imaginative ideas, that just keep coming from this wonderful initiative have kept us hungry and challenge us to get the kids and their families on the right track.

Getting with the Program - A winning situation for the kids!

Friday, August 15, 2014


There was not much more to do in this sleepy town.  There was school and an occasional dance,highly chaperoned by the women of the Church.  There were prayer meetings, six nights a week and Friday nights were reserved for the young folks but grannie and her clique were forever present.  The whole town looked out for each other, if Leila and her friends stepped out of line, the parents would hear about it.  Still the women gossiped about each other and the older Leila got she discovered that there were a lot of secrets in this town.

Ridge Hill was almost off the map.  There was a post office near the square, a grocery store, a clinic that was suppose to be opened once per month but was really only opened periodically when the Public Health Nurse could get away from one of the big towns to give shots to the children and tend to anyone needing help.  As you may guess a lot of home remedies were used.  Then there was Ms. Nora's shop where you get the tarts and the meat pies that all the women pride themselves on making
but the children swore they tasted better from Ms. Nora's stand.  There was a bar attached to the only grocery store in the village, where the men gathered to shoot the breeze and have a few drinks.  There you can find the village drunkard from sun up to sun down.  Sometimes he needed to be controlled, giving the only Constable hired to keep peace something to do and to justify the salary he received for doing so little, since you had to search hard to even find a petty crime.

Then there was Ms. Gwyneth's daughter, Prudence who could be found many an evening taking a swig from a beer bottle and sharing dirty jokes with the men.  The Church women looked the other way when they passed and saw her acting the fool as they like to call it.  Her mother prayed longer and louder than anyone else at the prayer meetings so that her daughter's soul could be saved.  But Prudence who worked for two teachers in the village doing housework, liked the men and they liked her and besides she felt she would get to the pearly gate before many of those who had lashed out against her.  Leila thought she was a daredevil and smirked when the women passed her by and she never failed to greet grannie with the same line, "what a way your granddaughter is growing."  Ms. Madelyn would grudgingly acknowledge her but would pull her granddaughter closer to her with the command to look straight ahead as if greeting Prudence meant that Leila would follow in her footsteps.

The Church,the only one recognized in the village sat upon a hill and a few people had broken away to form their own. Ms. Nora held prayer meetings in the week and Sunday church in her house with four others.  It seemed that Ms. Nora's husband had taken up with another women,living openly with her and the men of the Church had decided that she could no longer break bread in the Church on the hill.  Ms. Nora was a stalwart  and proud woman and she immediately became a self-proclaimed minister, preaching fire and brimstone with her four recruits.  So this is where the men ruled, although no fault of hers, Ms. Nora had become an outcast.  When Leila mentioned how unfair this was to grannie Madelyn, she told her, "this is the way things are, and there is nothing that we women can do about this."

This Minister had a lot on his plate and it won't be the Sunday collection.


"Onward christian soldiers, marching as to war...."  leila sang out loudly.  She hit a note that she did not mean to and Carlton turned around with one hand cupped over his mouth to laugh at her but his grandmother pulled on his ears and he turned his head to the front, sulking.  Leila took up the tempo,looked at her grannie who smiled approvingly.  The church was jumping tonight; you would think it is a revival night but it was a big occasion,it was the installation of the new minister.  Leila had lost track of how many came and left and knew for a fact that everyone badly wanted to impress this new preacher.

Ms. Gwyneth had moved out of her seat and into the middle of the aisle, egging the congregation on. You could always depend on her to put on a show.  They clapped, they swayed, they sang out of tune, sometimes two octaves higher; young and old enjoying the merriment of the night.  Although leila was having a great time dancing up a storm to the Lord's songs, she was secretly hoping this hoopla would end now.  leila's mouth watered from the smell coming from the kitchen, the women had prepared an elaborate feast.  There was not a cook book in the village but whatever these women cooked, left the villagers begging for more.

Tonight was no different, grannie and her friends had perched themselves behind the serving counter, ready to take charge.  This was the only time the women openly showed their strength and the men minded their business.  This was territory that the men dare not trespassed on.  leila was trying to be first on the line but Ms. Gwyneth whose gyration left her bunions hurting, was sitting down with her plump feet spread out on top of her shoes, picked her out of the group of young people to help feed the elderly first.  leila pouted her lips, cut her eyes, mumbled under her breath but got started right away with the order so she could feed her own stomach that was growling.

Her plate was running over, fungi, codfish cake, akkra, conch, rice and field peas, hoe cake and an assortment of meat and poultry dishes with names long forgotten, were among the choices.  Leila greeted Ms. Mavis, one of the servers with a wide grin, told her how beautiful she looked and it worked like a charm.  Leila received a big portion of her favorite dessert.

Leila overheard grannie singing her praises to Ms. Mavis, telling her how proud she was that her granddaughter could quote so many scriptures, because this was the only way to go, keeping close to the Church.
Ms. Mavis nodded in agreement, "we have to keep these young people in the Church." She kept repeating over and over as if in a trance or maybe because she knew that this was no easy task.

HELLO CONTENTMENT {From the jump for joy series}

We sat on the deck in a high rise apartment and stared into a man made lake.  From where we
were we could see pedestrians going about their daily chores.  The scenery provided a tranquil setting for our conversation.  We chatted about anything and everything that came to mind.  We laughed, we screamed with excitement when one of us found the right words to give life to our story.

We stopped a moment for hot and spicy chai and between bites of sweets and sips of that delicious beverage our souls warmed up even more. We tapped our feet, shook our heads, beat on our legs and doubled up in excitement because our story telling brought out the happiness in us.

We lingered, refilled our cups with piping hot chai, eager to continue down HAPPY ROAD, as if we did not have a care in the world.  It was late evening before we became conscious that dusk had fallen.  We jumped, in a hurry to get going, in disbelief that we had allowed time to slip by without us noticing.  But our thoughts meshed and we immediately sat back down fully contented.  We knew it was important to let the joy and high spirit take root before we returned to a hurried life.

Aware of the simple and splendid time we experienced, just talking and living in the moment, we smiled broadly as we calmly rose to bid farewell and promised to do this again.
Life is beautiful!


Chai Tea delights me and when I start my day with the perfect cup of tea,
the possibilities seem endless.  Keep adjusting until you get the flavor that
suits you best. I love the taste of ginger so I add more.

2 pieces of ginger root, peeled & thinly sliced
1 cinnamon stick
4-6 cardamom pods, crushed
6 peppercorns
6 cloves
5 cups water


In a medium saucepan, combine ginger, cinnamon stick,cardamom, peppercorns, cloves and water.
Boil for about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover saucepan and let steep for 15 minutes.

To enjoy a cup:
Strain  mixture in a cup, add a tea bag and steep for 3-5 minutes.
Add milk and sweeten with honey or brown sugar to your taste.

 Refrigerate the mixture for later use.
 Use within 2 days.



Sunday, August 3, 2014


Try as she may, Suzie Mae could not get the terrible incident out of her mind.  It was a long time since she last saw Mendacity and it was coming up to the anniversary of that fateful day, five years
ago when she was stripped of her dignity, accused of stealing a 'diamond' ring that she had only seen on the accuser's finger.  Suzie Mae knew that she had been wronged!  That public humiliation was etched in her mind.  She began to feel an awful pain moving through her body.  The memory seemed to grab hold of her mind, no letting go.  Suzie Mae sought relief, a big cup of herbal tea would be able to cure this she thought or at least soothe the constant drumming she was experiencing in her head.  After a few gulps, the pain seemed to lessen, that African Rooibos tea worked wonders all the time.  She sat in her favorite chair with the cushion fluffed up, about to get lost in her thoughts and as she sipped the red bush tea,she felt calmer.  Her mind took her to that fateful day when she was questioned for hours in a small room.  She was left for moments at a time while the 'authority' stepped outside to compare notes and decide her fate.  The room reminded her of the cell she was sure to occupy if she could not defend herself.  She had read stories of people who were wrongfully accused and had a difficult time proving their innocence.  Would this happen to her too?

There were no angry thoughts, a strange reaction she recalled; she had allowed herself to quickly remove anger.  She felt hurt, no denying that but anger would have taken up too much space in her life.  she was a fighting spirit and needed to pack her mind with fighting tools as she called them;faith,hope,belief and gratitude.  there was no time to feel downtrodden.  Only for a short moment did she stop to think why this was happening but she needed all the strength to fight this malady, she could not afford to slip into bitterness.

As she sat there waiting, her mind wandered to the day in question.  It started out great, a bright sunny day.  She was in a good mood, later that night the group as she called her like minded friends and a few others who like to hang with them, would meet for their charity date.  They were ready to do some good for the women in crisis and make a difference in this great wide world.  This was the beginning of their meet-ups that Suzie Mae was putting together to benefit their newly planned organization.  The spices from today's dishes filled the room and as they unwrapped the foils, and uncovered the dishes, each surprise was met with cheers.  Their appetites seemed to open but Suzie Mae was anxious to  get the meeting off the ground before digging into the meal.  She eyed the onion pie and the lentil stew filled with chunks of pumpkin and scallion, that basmati rice with its nutty smell permeated the air.  The very humble bread pudding made in a mold was all dressed up with a creamy sauce running down its sides.  As she secured the dishes,keeping them warm or refrigerated as needed, she marvelled at her small group of friends, coming together was part of their makeup, they were always ready and willing to go the extra mile.

Mendacity was part of this group but it was evident that her interest was elsewhere.  She was constantly promoting herself without a care for anyone else.  Suzie Mae allowed her to join the group knowing that we come in all sizes and shapes and may be she would have a change of heart and gain a sense of community at these gatherings.  Today she came late, decked out in 'mink' and 'diamond'while everyone else was casually dressed, she was one for attention seeking.  As the others gawked, Suzie Mae wanted to get on with the business at hand and so she paid little attention to the distraction.

The group enjoyed putting their ambitious plans together and as they shared their pot luck meals and belly laughs, this soiree was happy to get their project off the ground.  "We will call it Bringing Salvation" Tandem proclaimed and a new project was brought to life.  Suzie Mae laughed as she recalled the antics of the night, the spirits were high, they even allowed Mendacity to strut her stuff and everyone clapped and cheered her on as she worked the crowd.  That Mendacity sure loved the limelight.  And when they said goodbye as the sun began to rise, Suzie Mae sat contented, listening to the soothing voice of Seal pealed out "A Change Is Gonna Come" until she fell asleep.

Her spirit was soaring as she worked on their "Bringing Salvation" project.  it was in the midst of this uplifting project that she was summoned to face false accusations made by Mendacity.  Suzie Mae remembered that Mendacity had her ring finger pointed out, forcing everyone in the room to stop and adore it and she told them that it was a gift from her beau and it cost a whopping six figure.  She also remembered the chuckling from the group and someone muttering under her breath that it was a fake.  That is the last memory Suzie Mae had of this "diamond ring."  Mendacity kept a straight face and ignored the chuckling and snide remarks from the group.  She did not bat an eyelid and did not pay any attention to the silly remarks; she had gotten their attention.  They had noticed her masterpiece and that was her intention.

Mendacity told the authority that the crowd of women wanted to try her ring and the last person wearing it was Suzie Mae.  Suzie Mae gave her side of the story remembering the distraction.  She recalled Mendacity prodding everyone to look at her ring and to try it on and a few may have but not Suzie Mae.  She is serious minded and knew that tonight at the firm(the place of gathering) was not merely for gallivanting but to get down to business.  Suzie Mae was accused of robbery, she was shaken, broken in spirit, feeling downtrodden.  Although the evidence was not strong, Suzie Mae's reputation was tainted.  This left her despondent, empty, every last drop of energy poured out of her.
After the initial shock had worn off she forgave Mendacity,only then could she forge ahead.  She made a promise to herself that one day when the time was right she would seek and find Mendacity and ask "why?"  She wanted to restore her honor, worth and reputation.  She wanted redemption.

Staring with a new fervor, she opened the window of her soul and let the bad air out.  And with passion she continued to fulfill the promises she made to bring the project to fruition.  she had lost hope but restored it.  Sometimes we are the victims of pure bad luck, she thought, trying to console herself.  But as she milked the red bush tea and listened to Bob Marley's "No woman No cry" she knew for sure there was no time to wallow in her sorrows as she fervently worked at their Bringing
Salvation project.

It has been five years but something was different about this anniversary.  She had glimpsed Mendacity only a few times since this groundless incident; yet they carried out their lives in close proximity.  Today Suzie Mae was fidgety, the memory of that call began to position itself in her mind.  This was not good, she thought. "I have to remove this poisonous thought."  Right about now a good cup of tea would soothe her soul and she stepped into the cafe to mull over this thing that has never left her mind.  She had just settled into a cozy corner when she heard someone called out her name and soon they were facing each other.  Mendacity pointed to the ring on her finger and Suzie Mae let out a loud gasp.  She was lost for words, but Mendacity explained that she wanted to teach Suzie Mae a lesson and so she pinned the story of the stolen ring on her.  Mendacity was seeking forgiveness.  This was the opportune moment Suzie Mae was hoping for, this was the "why"? time.  Yes indeed, it was the chance to close the book on their unfinished business.


  1. Suzie Mae described packing her mind with what she called fighting tools.  How is faith,hope, belief, gratitude, fighting tools?
  2. Name other fighting tools of your own.
  3. "Bringing Salvation" seemed a peculiar choice of name.  Name some ways this group could bring salvation to women in crisis?
  4. Did Suzie Mae find redemption when she came face to face with Mendacity.  How would you handle the confession of the accuser?
  5. Unfinished Business is the title, why is it appropriate?
  6. Continue Suzie Mae's story after her path crossed with Mendacity.

Sunday, July 27, 2014


This world of ours with lush offerings abound
where astounding ways to soothe the soul can be found.
What a wonder to behold!
On its beauty I am sold,
caught up in this lure, I let my spirit soar.

As my heart beats for more
thoughts of love and sweet music fill my mind.
With eyes wide open, I jump for joy.
Grateful that we live in a world
where blessings flow.

Paulette Sinclair-Weir
(Part of the Jump for Joy series)


  1. Name ways to soothe the soul
  2. Many of us live with muddled minds, how do we  clear it to receive love and sweet music?
  3. What is so exhilarating about this world that has the Author wanting more?
  4. What is the significance of "eyes wide open"?
  5. What is described here, a make believe or real world?

Sunday, July 20, 2014


Many moons ago when my kids began kindergarten, we were obliged to sell chocolate bars and other gift items during the school year.  I dreaded asking the neighbors and even bought the same items from some of the fearless parents and kids who came knocking on our door.  I did not have the nerve to ask my co-workers although the brave souls made many a sales pitch my way and into my purse I went.  Instead, coward me asked Grandma to sell on her job; after all who could turn down a granny
 who is trying to help her 'adorable' grand children. All that we purchased ended up in our freezer, stayed there for months,some eaten, others used as give aways.

So when I started CHOOSE TO CARE, the novice that I am thought family and a few friends would be my sole supporters and it would be easy to put my hands out and have it filled. Wrong!  It became evident quite early that I needed to find other sources to gain much needed funds.  I began with meet-ups at restaurants, advertising the delicious cuisine as a must try, to lure attendees.  They only needed to purchase a $5 ticket that would entitle them to alluring door prizes.  This was my opportunity to tout the organization, show photos of those who had benefited and tell of the many more who are in need.  This was effective, a group of people out for the evening, having a good time.

When this withered down to a smaller group, it was time to introduce something else.  The handmade fabric tote bags were a success, some were sold and others raffled off.  I am really on a roll now,I told myself, then Macy's advertisement caught my eyes.  They were calling all non-profit organizations to participate in their yearly Shop for a Cause event.  This was the big time but all the experience I had gained began to leave me.  How was I going to get the nerve to ask people to purchase coupons to shop, since Macy's is always giving away coupons and having drastically reduced sales.

Never one to back down from a challenge, I took out my address book, yes, the old fashioned one and began to make a  list of  potentials. So I had ardent supporters, others who were on the fence,doubting Thomas and the newbies who had to be coaxed; they had never ever given a cent to any charity and would like to keep it that way, scoffing at the fundraising idea. I continue to blog about this small charity and how even a small donation really goes a far way and is greatly appreciated.

My marketing strategies have gotten better.  Now my best buddies who truly believe in this mission have began to be a mouthpiece for CHOOSE TO CARE.  Their tell a friend concept has assisted greatly.  Many have given far beyond the $5 cost for the coupon.  Although I still feel queasy about these fundraising events, I must say I have gotten better and more creative.
This year a group of believers have taken a batch to share with friends and family. You are so rich in kindness!
Peace and Love

Saturday, July 19, 2014

MEET THE FOUNDER - Paulette Sinclair-Weir

As the game of soccer brought excitement to Brazil{FIFA2014}, I began to think about my trip to this amazing country, filled with excitement and wonders.  Even with all that beauty, I could not forget the many barefooted children that I saw throughout the streets.

It was not the first time that I had seen kids without shoes, bearing callous heels, others in thread bare flip flops, or shoes held together with pieces of strings.
This time I was ready to do something more and CHOOSE TO CARE was born.

CHOOSE TO CARE is so much more than shoes, it is also about making life more meaningful for the child who is in need.  So we seek out organizations providing for the youth, such as DONORS CHOOSE whose motto is "Teachers ask.You Choose" This organization helps public school teachers fund classroom projects.{}

Whether we are providing athletic shoes for Ms. Townsend's class in Spokane, Washington or ballet shoes for Ms. Morganstern's class at PS310 in the Bronx, who are having the experience of their lives in the performing arts, or Ms. Todra's Tip Top Tappers at PS172 in Brooklyn, who needed tap shoes;
we hope that this simple act for kids at home, kids in Zambia or some other distant land, will help them stay in school and make a difference in their lives, because they now own a proper fitting pair of shoes.

It is our pleasure to provide shoes that fit right and bring joy and hope.  Thanks to all who believe in our mission and continue to bring goodwill and lend support.  We are deeply grateful for your generosity.

"From a little spark may burst a mighty flame"

Saturday, July 12, 2014


With photo in hand,I am on my way to meet three young ladies for the first time on a crowded subway platform.  On this particular morning, I am feeling extra cheerful,shoulders are relaxed and I have a bounce in my walk.  I could contribute this upbeat mood to the warm sun rays that always give me a jolt, but today I feel extra joyful.  As I made my way throughout the crowd,  I spotted the trio, our eyes locked and as someone asked, "are you Paulette?"  I quietly dropped their photo in my bag  and we greeted and hugged like long lost friends.  Thandeka, Thandiswa and their teacher Samantha and I made our way through the crowd on our way to begin the day's adventure.

The conversation was easy, no shyness but chatter and giggles like schoolgirls at the end of the school year.  We each told a little about ourselves,talked about life in South Africa and the many places they had experienced since landing on the American soil.  The had traveled to Washington D.C; back to New York City and were preparing for their ride to Boston.

Sure you are curious about the trio and want to know our connection.  They are from the School of Hope, Cape Town, South Africa. The American based organization, Active Compassion Transforms,
founded by Erika Lee, dedicates a cross-cultural mentoring program for kids in need at the school. The mentors and mentees, using a secure online platform, delve into the daily challenges the students experience. They set goals  and work hard to achieve them.  This trip  allows the mentees to meet their mentors and to shadow someone in a profession they are considering, in his or her workplace.

An introduction and tour of the workplace gave them an insight into our connection with the community.  "We are all about healthy outcomes"  I proudly stated.  Thandiswa wants to start a similar program in her township{community} in CapeTown.  She left with a handful of materials, many hopes and lots of courage.  They shadowed the staff to learn more and we joined the families from the community in an exercise session, led by the very innovative Nutritionist, Monica, who always create excitement from simple moves.  And sweat we did!

We walked the neighborhood so we could 'taste' the flavor and see first hand  this seemingly happy-go-lucky place.  The woman below the subway steps had set up shop.  Her pot of corn mush was boiling with might as pedestrians formed a line to buy her tasty treat.  Street food is part of the fabric that makes this place unique.  The music was blasting from the open windows of the apartments sharing space with businesses and from cars with windows rolled way down.  We moved to the beat because that's the magic of such melodious sounds.  In no hurry we sashayed through the streets and made our way to the Langston Hughes Library.  The library was not yet opened and I used the opportunity to introduce the trio to the prolific writer for whom this library was dedicated.  I briefly told of his life in Harlem and the colorful characters he wrote  about who came from his community.

We had worked up an appetite and on recommendation we stopped in the restaurant to see what's cooking.  There were several like-minded people like us who were seated on the metal chairs under the umbrellas, in the square.  Today I am finally getting the chance to try out this open air spot.  The servers had not paid any attention to portion sizes and when we had eaten enough, we packed the rest for supper that night.

As the day lingered, we changed our venue and traveled to Manhattan for shoe shopping, provided by Choose To Care{}, an organization that aims to donate a brand new pair of shoes for the child or young adult in need.  They chose to their delight, trying to pick the pair that suited their needs.

It was time to bid farewell, group hugs and salutations of well-wishes, safe journey, were in order.  They were on their last leg of the journey that would take them to Boston, where the Founder of ACT was awaiting their arrival and had plans for more festivities.{as witnessed on Facebook}  I was happy for our experience together and their trip of a lifetime.  The joy I felt at the beginning of our tour never left me.  Now I know for sure that it stems from the happiness one gets when immense gratitude is felt.  I am indeed grateful to meet the trio as I have dubbed them and all the other students before them.  I am grateful for Erika Lee, the founder of this superb organization, who does not make a lot of noise but has certainly made a big difference in the lives of these young men and women.

This beautiful quote says it all:
"Give freely  to the world, these gifts
of love and compassion.  Do not concern
yourself with how much you receive in return,
just know in your heart it will be returned."
Steve Maraboli

Monday, May 26, 2014

CLEAN SWEEP{from the JUMP FOR JOY series}

Warrior Zamora  was happy as a lark.  She was building her dream house and watched as each room took  its rightful place.  She had kept the photo she had cut out from a magazine, in a small box that that kept her important papers.  It was crumpled some but still visible enough for the Architect to make a blue print.  And now she looked with pride at the big beautiful house and although she knew she did not need as many rooms, she wanted them anyhow.

Today she is celebrating six months in the immaculately kept abode.  This is the day she plans to bring friends and family together to give thanks for this house.  She had an extensive menu and still had a lot of preparation to make.  Zamora looked up at the huge framed picture in the splendid living room.  The portrait was that of Grandma Fannie and Ma Shirley, Zamora's grandmother and mother.
They looked like women of power even behind a wooden frame.  Zamora looked up and asked them to take care of her, to protect her and lead her down the right path.

The music flowed through each room, the voice of her favorite jazz singer could be heard belting out her favorite tune.  This music to her ears brought music to her soul.  Zamora sang along, closed her eyes and moved to the beat.  She was caught up in her satisfaction with the way she was living.  She looked up at the women one more time and silently thanked the matriarchs for the ethics they had instilled in her.  "Stay true to thyself" was their mantra.

These God-fearing women as they liked to call themselves took their role in the church and community very seriously.  They made their presence known when they felt justice was not served.  These women never backed down until things were made right.  Even the detractors had words of praise for these warrior women who made things happen.  Family, they preached was the crux of everything, whether it was the one you were born in or those in the communities far or near.  Zamora
threw a quick glance at her guardian angels and knew they were watching over her.  She could feel their presence and at times she thought she heard their belly laughs.

She had paused long enough, lost in her thoughts and must get cracking if she wanted to complete her tasks before the crowd arrived.  She took the broom and gave the kitchen floor a CLEAN SWEEP.  This huge kitchen was the center of her home.  This is where she prepared those tasty dishes that she is known for around town.  She came from a long line of caterers and from the stories she had heard, this was the family that you visited for mouth-watering dishes.

So it was not by chance that Zamora found herself on the same journey, carrying on the family tradition; it was in the genes.  Today's gathering was two-fold, to show gratitude to those who had supported her over the years and to also introduce her new line of food products which she wanted to see on the shelves in the local markets around town.  She had a few restaurants that were steady customers, but Zamora was bent on making a CLEAN SWEEP of this culinary corner,so this event was also a marketing venue.

Zamora had big dreams, instilled in her by the matriarchs and she had the fortitude to carry her dreams through.  The smell of spices was like perfume in the air.  She loved her spices. Zamora would visit the markets out of town and picked out her favorites but at the same time hoping to discover something new.  A good mixture of spices she knew would bring out the taste in the delectable dishes she wanted to create and be known for.  The amber colors on the kitchen walls gave a special warmth to the room and the sunshine coming through the big window gave a cozier feel.  Her spice cupboard was stacked with different seasonings from all over the globe and she was always cooking up a storm and experimenting.  Not only did she want to cook tasty food but healthy dishes was on her mind too. She began to move fast, cleared her mind and she glanced one more time at the ladies on the wall before stepping up her game.

It was an event that was second to none.  Zamora had paid attention to the smallest details, the presentation was a delight, the sweet and savory dishes were superb and the mouth-watering desserts completed the spread.  And what she had hoped for came true.  Someone in the crowd loved her cuisine and decided to show her the rope.  This kind soul had made a clean sweep of this same culinary corner in another town but knew there is room for others and could guide her.  She would remove some of the rough pebbles, filled the potholes and although she may not be able to fully pave the road, the path will be made clear for Zamora to begin to showcase her handiwork.

Zamora was on cloud nine and as she bade her last guest a safe journey home, she JUMPED FOR JOY.  Tomorrow she would follow-up with Jamieson Ford who promise to 'hold her by the hand'  Jamieson was a successful business woman, who understood the importance of giving back and knew Zamora would benefit immensely.

Although she had worked all day sleep would not come.  She placed Jamieson's calling card in a safe spot, right on the table under the matriarchs' portrait.  She trimmed her budding plants, watered them and add some nourishment, mindful that they too must be cared for in order to thrive.  She has vowed to take care of herself and the things that mattered to her even when her life became too hectic.  Good music, green healthy plants, spices that lit up the air with sweet smelling scents, made her JUMP FOR JOY one more time, then she dimmed the light and crawled into bed.

A mere week had passed since this merriment and things were rolling along when the unthinkable happened; where her beautiful 'palace' once stood were ashes and broken objects strewn around, fire had engulfed the place she called home.  When the firemen left, she continued staring at the ruins in disbelief and she began reasoning with herself.
             "I am doing great with my career.
               No lives were lost.  Something made
               a clean sweep of my castle,
               but I can build again"

She began to leave and turned around one more time and in the rubbles was the framed photo of the matriarchs that graced her living room.  She pulled it out, not even a scratch was visible and she JUMPED FOR JOY.  This was a sign and she knew for sure that she would build again.  As she walked away, she recalled a poem by RUNI.

                 "This being human is a guest house.
                   Every morning a new arrival.
                   A joy, a depression, meanness
                   Some momentary awareness comes
                   As a unexpected visitor.
                   Welcome and entertain them all!
                    Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
                    Who violently swept your house
                     Empty of its furniture.
                     Still, treat each guest honorably.
                     He may be cleaning you out
                     For some delight"

Questions for CLEAN SWEEP

  1. She was called Warrior Zamora in the beginning but never throughout the story. Why was she introduced this way?
  2. Zamora kept glancing at the portrait of the matriarchs.  Do you think she truly believed they were watching over her? Explain.
  3. She seemed not to be able to make a move without looking up to the matriarchs, was that because she was afraid of missteps?  What do you think?
  4. Was Jamieson another guardian angel sent to help Zamora?  Talk about a time that someone 'held you by the hand'
  5. Zamora jumped for joy even in the midst of tragedy, what is the message here?
  6. When there was a time that you jumped for joy?