Wednesday, January 26, 2011

She is 24

Do you remember what it was like to be 24 years old?
All I remember is trying to have lots of fun, while working very little.  My mom called it “carousing”.  My friends and I called it “party, party, party, tanning”.  I certainly didn’t want any responsibilities and no consequences either.  Life was a ball of fun.
That is not the life of 24-year-old Isabel.
Isabel made a life for herself.  While she didn’t go to college, she went to trade school and is working as a hair stylist.  She overcame a negative childhood.  Her mom tended to run around with lots of men, many of whom brought domestic violence into their lives.  Isabel knows about CPS.  She knows that CPS caseworkers helped her several times.  She was thrilled when she graduated from high school and got out – she got an apartment, finished her training, and made a life for herself.  But her mom’s life didn’t change.
Isabel has 4 younger half-brothers, ages 3, 6, 7, and 11.  The boys were living with Isabel’s mom and her then boyfriend until about a month ago.  Isabel’s mom finally made a choice.  She chose her violent boyfriend over the welfare of her sons.  When CPS talked to Isabel about taking in the boys, the 24-year-old girl said yes.  Even with her 24-year-old life just beginning, even with not having enough beds, even with not knowing exactly how she would care for her 4 little brothers, she said yes.
Community Partners of Dallas helped her buy bunk beds for the boys.  We helped her with a deposit on a larger apartment.  We helped her with all of the initial needs of the boys.
Isabel will be giving up any carousing.  Giving up her “party, party, party, tanning”.  She is 24.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

I Died 5 Years Ago

About 5 years ago, I was reported as dead.
I wasn’t.
Really, it was just a typo in my church newsletter.  My mom made donations of lilies in honor of my brother, his family, and me during the Easter season.  The newsletter accidentally listed my name under the “in memory” section instead of the “in honor” section. 
Of course, I wasn’t mad or anything.  Things like this do happen occasionally (luckily, not for CPD – Joanna is VERY careful about it).  You laugh and move on.  My family and I all just thought that it was hilarious and of course I spent a lot of time telling the story at work and getting to use Mark Twain’s famous line “reports of my death are greatly exaggerated”, etc.
Now, I go to a big church, Highland Park United Methodist (the largest United Methodist Church in the country, I think), and at that time they only sent a snail mail newsletter to members, so thousands and thousands of people received the notice that I was dead.  And aside from two old friends from high school calling my mom to ask her when I passed, no one much noticed.
What’s up with that, people?  I grew up here.  People know me.  Two people called?
Life truly does go on, doesn’t it?
Make the most of your days here on earth.  Of course, I suggest that you do that by giving back to your community (We are here for you at Community Partners of Dallas!).  Because someday, no matter how famous or popular you are now, you will probably be forgotten.  I just got hit in the face with it a little early.
And remembering this quote by the great Martin Luther King helps to keep me on track:
Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’
Make your days here count, because even one small gift can change a life for the better.  Someone you will never meet will benefit from your volunteer service teaching ESL, your donation of funds to provide a winter coat or food, your instruction to your own child about bullying others – the list goes on and on and on.
That’s your legacy.  It will not be forgotten.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

What would your life look like without a landline phone?

As a 40-something (really almost 50, but who’s counting) gal in the big city, do I really need a landline phone? 
This is a new measure of the generation gap for me. 
Do you have a landline phone? 
If you are over 45, you are probably going to say yes.  If you are 40 to 45, you might have one, especially if you have kids.  But my totally unofficial poll (here at Community Partners of Dallas with our staff) says that if you are under 40, you don’t have a landline phone.
So for those young at heart gals/guys who may be considering a switch, here are my questions/thoughts:
  1. I find it difficult to hold my cell phone between my ear and shoulder, so how do I cook, work from home on computer, etc.?  Keep in mind that I hate it when people use a speakerphone, so I don’t want to use the one on the cell unless absolutely necessary.
  2. Joanna says that she doesn’t really like having a long conversation on her cell phone because the cell is harder to hold for an extended period.  Is this true? 
  3. Do you just give out your cell number to the world?  So when you buy a single bottle of nail polish on the internet (Yes, I did this last week.  It is Rachel Zoe’s favorite color – can’t wait for it to arrive!) and they make you give a phone number, is the cell number okay with you?  I always put my home number in this box.
  4. What about an emergency in the night?  I always turn off my cell ringer when I go to bed (actually those of you who know me well know that I almost never turn on the cell ringer – a constant battle of words with my family who expect me to be at their beck and call at all times).  Do you bring the phone into the bedroom at night to plug it in?
  5. Solicitation calls – do you get them on your cell?  I would really hate that.  By the way, who is really answering sales calls any more?  On my landline I have Caller ID, so I never answer them.  On the cell it doesn’t tell me who is calling, just the phone number.  I would really hate that, people.
Please let me know what you think.  And don’t call – I won’t answer.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Blunders: Mistakes We've Made, But Tomorrow is a New Day

Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

This is my favorite quote ever.  I always remember it because I make blunders and absurdities part of my every day life.  Part of working for a non-profit is trying new things and some of them end up being blunders. 

At Community Partners of Dallas (CPD) we spend a lot of time talking about what we can do better.  We consider ideas from board members, CPS caseworkers, volunteers, and staff members.  Sometimes we cannot try new things because of lack of funding.  Sometimes it is because history has shown us that although people say that they want blue widgets, they actually choose red ones. 

But sometimes, we take a chance and try that new thing.  Sometimes it works, sometimes not.

When I first came to CPD (Almost 9 years ago – by FAR the longest time I’ve ever stayed in a job, ever!), the agency did not produce a fundraising event.  As many of you know, I was a theater major and at the time I was younger and loved costume parties.  So the board and I decided to put on a 1960’s costume party called Community A-Go-Go.  We hired a comedian and had a fun dinner and everyone dressed up.  We were thrilled when we netted about $25,000 the first year and we just knew that the event would take off the next year.  We did it again and raised more money in the second and third years, but still the event just didn’t take off.  The attendees continued to be mostly our board members, the event chairs, and their friends.  We tried a fourth year and really decided that we would blow it out because surely others would come and sponsor the event if we really put some money in it and hired a famous comedian.  We even hired a consultant to come and help us produce the event and do PR.  Surely this year would be the turning point.

Since you know the topic of the post I bet you have realized that we no longer produce this event.  Even with fabulous chairs, a fun event premise, and a lot of hard work, we still couldn’t make it into what we wanted it to be.  And except for many of our staff members having a spare set of go-go boots in the closet, we don’t really think about it any more. 

But we learned from the experience.  Our Chick Lit Luncheon is great and keeps raising more money every year.  Change is Good, our family-friendly event, is also wonderful and is one-of-a-kind fun. 

And that great new idea (or future blunder) is right around the corner.  I say let’s try it!