Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Paige McDaniel: Throwing Away the Negative

Paige McDaniel: Throwing Away the Negative: Recently Mark Craig gave a sermon that I keep thinking about. Mark is the Senior Minister at Highland Park United Methodist Church and when ...

Throwing Away the Negative

Recently Mark Craig gave a sermon that I keep thinking about.
Mark is the Senior Minister at Highland Park United Methodist Church and when he first started working for HPUMC in 1995, he came into the job knowing that many of his friends and colleagues had wanted the job that he ended up getting.  He also was told that he was not the first choice.  He also knew that he was coming into a congregation that had enjoyed a long-time well-loved minister.
So, here Mark was – starting a job that is considered one of the “plum” jobs in Methodism – but he certainly wasn’t feeling the love.  You might expect that friends and colleagues would have sent congratulatory notes and cards, but no.  Instead he got a letter signed by several people asking for his removal. 
His only letter of congratulations came from someone he didn’t even know, someone from another faith.  It was from Dr. W.A. Criswell, the leader of First Baptist downtown – and one of the most important leaders of Christianity in the country.  Mark still has that letter.
Mark went on to say that he learned something from that experience.  First, that he keeps a folder of nice and encouraging letters that he can pull out whenever he likes.  Second, that when presented with something negative, he deals with it, and then throws it away.
When I heard Mark give this sermon it really hit me.  It hit me because I tend to do the opposite.  Yes, I’m a positive people person who loves to laugh, but I don’t have a folder of encouraging notes and cards (although I am lucky enough to have been the recipient of some).  I have a folder of doomsday articles from The Dallas Morning News and others about the state of the economy, why charitable giving is down, and stuff like that.  It also includes some emails that were written about me by fired employees – written after they knew that they were going to be fired, so as you might imagine, the emails are not flattering!  This is the crap I have been keeping – not the good.
I am confessing this to you to be held accountable.  I’m throwing away the negative and starting afresh.  Keeping the positive, the encouraging, the kind, the good. 
Will you join me?  And if so, will you send me a note for my folder?  I’ll return the favor.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Paige McDaniel: Tips on Keeping a Great Board Engaged

Paige McDaniel: Tips on Keeping a Great Board Engaged: We had a fantastic board meeting today at CPD. Our full board only meets four times a year, so when we meet as a group, we really try to p...

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Paige McDaniel: Tips on Keeping a Great Board Engaged

Paige McDaniel: Tips on Keeping a Great Board Engaged: We had a fantastic board meeting today at CPD. Our full board only meets four times a year, so when we meet as a group, we really try to p...

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Tips on Keeping a Great Board Engaged

We had a fantastic board meeting today at CPD.  Our full board only meets four times a year, so when we meet as a group, we really try to pack a lot of action into the meeting. 

The board members at Community Partners of Dallas are great.  Some of them have been with us since before I started here (almost 10 years ago), some are serving in the first year of their first term, but the vast majority are somewhere in between.

I think that most of them (If not every single damn one of them!) would tell you that they like serving on our board.  Here are some reasons why:
  1. They were provided with the expectations of service prior to joining the board.  This means the time, talent, and treasure requirements.
  2. We start our board meetings on time and we end on time. 
  3. Every board meeting includes some special reminder of why CPD is here to serve the abused and neglected children of Dallas County.  When a board member hears a story of abuse and neglect directly from a CPS caseworker or sees a great video about reporting child abuse, we are able to remind them why they care.
  4. Our staff members really make sure that our board members have everything they need to be successful.  This means that if we are asking them to ask their friends to give to our next event, join our woman’s auxiliary group, etc., they have an email to forward or a letter to sign, stamps, addressed envelopes, even a pen waiting for pickup at the front desk or delivered to their home. 
  5. We try to make sure that our board members are thanked and recognized for everything they do for us.  We send personal thank you notes, recognize them at board meetings, etc.
  6. Service on our executive committee is considered a true above and beyond gift to the agency.  The board members chosen as officers by their peers know that they are truly needed and feel it is a privilege to serve in this capacity. 
  7. Each board member’s special talents are acknowledged and promoted in the best way to serve the agency – we want their advice and we make sure that they know it!

What makes you want to serve and/or keeps you serving on a non-profit board?

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Paige McDaniel: My thoughts on 9-11

Paige McDaniel: My thoughts on 9-11: I was in church on Sunday, 9-11. The ten year anniversary of the tragedy. Some people said they weren’t going to church that morning bec...

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

My thoughts on 9-11

I was in church on Sunday, 9-11.  The ten year anniversary of the tragedy.  Some people said they weren’t going to church that morning because they were afraid that our church might be a target.  
NOTE:  If you have to get bombed (not the drinking kind, but the terrorist kind), where better to be than in church, I ask you?

But my mom and I went right on over to HPUMC to the main sanctuary for the 9:30 service.  I ushered – even got to do the collection in the main aisle (for those of you who don’t know, this is prime real estate in the ushering game), took off my carnation and nametag, then found my seat next to mom in our regular seats.

NOTE:  Why do regulars always want to sit in the same spot at church?  Does it have something to with assigned seats in elementary school?  Some people really get their bibles in a wad when someone new is in “their” seat.  Remember, I’m an usher, so I am an expert in all things ush. 

While I was sitting there I started to think about what I would do if the church did get bombed right then.  In the pew in front of us was a small family – mom, dad, and 2 little kids, one boy about 5 and one girl about 3.  Mom and I had already punched each other and remarked about how cute they were, etc.  Anyway, I just knew that if the church was bombed right then, even though my mom was sitting next to me, I would have tried to protect those children.  Covered them and their parents with my body.  Tried to help them out first. 

You know.  You would have done it too, unless you needed to protect your own kids.

Contrast this with the 22 year old mom whose two year old daughter Joselyn was on life support this past week.  On Friday, The Dallas Morning News reported that the little girl’s mother had kicked her in the stomach, hit her with a milk jug, and glued her hands to the wall.  The police record stated that “Glue and paint were stuck to the palms of the hand with skin torn away where the glue is absent.”

How does this happen?  Why would most people I know protect an unknown child over their own life, but Joselyn’s own mother did what she did to her own precious child? 

I don’t have the answers.

When we got in the car to drive home, I told mom what I had been thinking and she said that she had gone through the same exercise that I had in her mind – if the bomb had hit, she was going to stay put in the pew, pray, and let everyone else out first.

And I think I have my answer.

P.S.  Mark Craig, if you are reading this, please know that our minds wandering had nothing to do with your sermon.  You rocked.

P.P.S.  Joselyn was released from the hospital this afternoon!  Read about it here:

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

George's Story

I met with a Dallas County Child Protective Services caseworker yesterday.  I want to tell you the story that she told me. 

Tricia came to our offices to get clothing, shoes, and hygiene products for George, a 17 year old boy on her caseload who was released from a 2 month stint in jail on Labor Day.  Tricia placed him at a new foster home on Monday and of course, he had nothing to wear.

George went to jail because he and another boy from his umpteenth foster home decided to throw a rock into a school window and break into the school.  They did not get away with it.  The alarm sounded, the police arrived and George was arrested.  He spent the summer before his senior year in high school in jail.

George moved around to a lot of different foster homes.  Sometimes he was moved because he lashed out at a foster parent, sometimes he was moved because the foster home was closed, sometimes he didn’t get along with the other kids in the home – oh, just a myriad of reasons. 

George entered the CPS system when he was 11 years old.  I don’t know the reason for his removal from his family.  When your agency helps 16,000 kids a year, you don’t always ask.  Plus, what happened to George 6 years ago no longer much matters to Tricia, or even to CPS.  George is part of the system.  The state of Texas is his parent now.

I told this story backwards. This is unusual for me, as I like to tell a story (in all of its detail) from the beginning.  I even read magazines that way – always start on page one and go through to the end.

I wish I knew George’s ending.  I asked Tricia yesterday what George was going to do when he turns 18.  Tricia said that she keeps talking to him about it.  She said that she hopes that jail scared him.

I wish I knew George’s beginning.  I wish that we had a time machine and we could go back to the day George was born and talk to his mother.  Tell her what was going to happen to George if she didn’t straighten up, get off drugs, leave her abusive husband, quit partying all night, stop leaving George to fend for himself.

But for now, we’re waiting.  I hope George is scared.  I am.