Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Does God Go to Summer Camp?

About 2 months ago, a friend of mine called me at Community Partners of Dallas and explained that she was doing some work with Sky Ranch and that they had some openings for girl scholarship campers to attend a week-long camp session in late July and that she immediately thought of our girls at CPD for this special opportunity.

Of course, I was thrilled and immediately went to work finding the right girls to participate.  As you may know, CPD works with abused and neglected kids through the CPS caseworkers of Dallas County, so it takes some energy to find out which girls were available for this particular week of camping and it was important that they would feel comfortable and were well-adjusted enough to be away from home for an extended period of time, etc.  As you might imagine, many kids who come into CPS care are wounded too deeply (both emotionally and physically) to be able to mainstream into a cabin of other girls away from home.  So special attention was needed to find these campers – and they needed to be from families who were Christian (or didn’t mind if the girls learned about Christianity) since Sky Ranch is a Christian camp. 
Anyway, everyone here at CPD was so excited about this generous gift and we were super excited to get our girls signed up.  Every staff member here was just giddy with the thought of these girls getting to enjoy such a once-in-a-lifetime experience.  And of course, I had sent the Sky Ranch website link to the CPS caseworkers showing the Blob and listing all of the fun activities for the girls – so the girls could get so excited too…

Then the bottom dropped out.
Unfortunately, by the time we got back to Sky Ranch with the names and ages of our girls, Sky Ranch had filled the spots.  My friend was not the only person searching for scholarship campers and we were just too late. 

Of course, I was devastated.  We all were.  I felt terrible that these girls had gotten their hopes up, then dashed.  I felt terrible that so many CPS staff members had taken part of their precious time to locate these exceptional girls for camp, then had to waste even more time explaining that now the camp was off.  And since part of what we do at CPD every day is to let caseworkers know that we are here to help them do their jobs better and with greater care – every time my word is broken to them, well, it just kills me.  Anyway, it was what it was and I contacted the CPS supervisor who had been helping me to find girls and told her it was off and how sorry I was about it, etc.
NOTE:  If you know me, you will know that there was some cursing and bad-mouthing of Sky Ranch by me with the staff here at CPD.  Hey, I was pissed, people!

Oh well, life goes on.
Next we had a break for July 4th for a few days and I even extended my vacation for a few more days into the next week (It’s good to be the boss!), so I came back to work on a Thursday morning, pretty much having forgotten about Sky Ranch.

So I was at my desk going through paperwork and the phone rang.  It was a caseworker who needed some clothes for a kid on her caseload and I was talking her through our procedures and what forms she needed to send over and she said “Oh, I just found out that the 5 girls I signed up for camp are not getting to go.”  I said, “Oh no, we told y’all last week it was cancelled,” and she then explained that her supervisor had gone on vacation and had forgotten to tell her.  Well, of course, I just felt awful, and told her how sorry I was, etc., and explained that since it was so close to camp time for the girls to find out it was cancelled, that we would try to find another camp for them to attend and that we would find the money to pay for her girls to go.
I hung up the phone and went right back into the ugly about this whole situation and Sky Ranch (see note above).

Joanna and I had a site visit scheduled just then with one of our corporate donors (who is also a friend of mine).  I was actually lamenting to Joanna about these poor girls who didn’t even know they weren’t going to camp (loudly – I was in the copy room and she was in her office – we don’t really use intercoms here – yelling is just fine with Joanna and me) when the donor arrived and probably heard me loudly "lamenting".
So, Joanna and I go into the reception area and greet the donor and I start telling him about how much his gift is going to help our kids, etc.  And since it was fresh on my mind I told him about the 5 little girls and Sky Ranch and how they weren’t told about the cancellation and about how we needed to find camp for these 5 girls and that part of his company’s money might go to send these girls to another camp.

Then he said, “Oh no, don’t you use my money for that – use my money for some other girls.  Call this man and this man and tell them I told you to call.  Those girls are going to Sky Ranch.”  Turns out that his friends are very involved with Sky Ranch and they did find places for our girls.  Hallelujah!
I know that God wanted those girls to go to Sky Ranch.  There is no other explanation:
  • We were too late.
  • They didn't have space.
  • We thought we told everyone it was cancelled.
  • Even when that caseworker was finally told that camp was cancelled, she didn't tell the girls.
  • I took extra vacation days and found out that morning that the girls hadn't been told just before the donor arrived, so it was fresh on my lamenting lips; otherwise I never would have mentioned it to the donor.
  • That donor knew who to call.
Too many times the whole thing was over, but He worked it so that it turned around.  I can’t wait to find out what God has in store for those 5 girls.  It’s going to be something big. 

 P.S.  This is not a photo of our girls.  We cannot show you their faces due to confidentiality.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Headache Today -- Ugh

I have a headache today.  I don’t get them very often and when I do get one it usually goes away pretty quickly.  A little Tylenol, Aspirin or Motrin and I’m back to normal.

Unfortunately, today the Tylenol isn’t working.
How do you get rid of a headache that just won’t leave? 

Of course, the kids we serve at Community Partners of Dallas live with far worse than headaches.  They live with bruises, broken legs, burns, cuts, and worse.  They live in fear, in turmoil, in squalor.  They sleep on the floor with roaches and rats.  Those who are supposed to love them tell them that they are stupid and ugly.  That they never should have been born. 

My headache will go away – soon, I hope – but how will these pitiful children ever get rid of their shame, their hurt?  A room full of Tylenol wouldn’t stop their pain. 
What I know for sure is that these kids’ lives will get better.   A great caseworker, a loving foster mom, an uncle – they can all make life better.  At CPD we see it every day.

My head is still hurting, but my heart is feeling fine.

P.S.  My #FundraisingFriday gift is going to Sky Ranch.  I'll tell you why next week.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Four Favorite Things I Love Right Now! Part 2

Well, I’m still on holiday break from July 4 (took a few extra days to sit around and read, play bridge, go to the movies, cook – all of the things I love to do, but cannot seem to make enough time for when I’m working).  I'm back in the office tomorrow, so cancel the dancing boys, co-workers...

Installment 2 of my four favs (in case you missed it, click here for Installment 1: 

  • White Bean Dip – I make this dip from Giada De Laurentiis all the time.  One of my go-to items and everyone loves it.  It has a hummus-like quality, but tastes better and no tahini, so less mess.
    • 1 Can of Cannellini Beans (15 oz), drained and rinsed
    • 1/4 C Italian Parsley Leaves (loosely packed)
    • 2 T Fresh Lemon Juice
    • 1 Garlic Clove
    • 1/3 C EVOO
    • Put all (except olive oil) into food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped.  With machine running, gradually mix in EVOO until mixture is creamy.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with Stacy’s Simply Naked Pita Chips.  Enjoy!
  • Quivers:  A Life – this is Robin Quivers auto-biography.  Robin is Howard Stern’s long-time side-kick and before they moved to satellite, I listened to them every morning.  Her biography was written in 1995 and tells the fascinating story of her journey to radio stardom.
  • The Perfect Polish Combo – I have finally found that the perfect color combo for “pretty” nails is one coat of OPI Bubble Bath and one coat of OPI Privacy Please, in this order.  Completely natural and touch-ups not required.
  • The Dallas Theater Center – Joe was surprised the other night when I told him that I see a live theater or music performance at least 3 times a month!  Frankly, I was too, but when you have series subscriptions with several friends and family members, plus generous friends who include you as their guest periodically, you just do.  The Dallas Theater Center is consistently at the top of my list.  Their productions are exciting, imaginative, and thought-provoking.  Well worth the money.

Hope this list gives you some ideas!  What are your current four favs?

P.S.  My #FundraisingFriday gift is going to the Dallas Theater Center this week.  Use that $10, wisely, Kevin Moriarty and team! 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Tips for Serving on a Non-Profit Board

Happy Independence Day!  In the spirit of all things American, I'm on break today and decided to repost one of my most popular blogs ever -- tips for sitting on a non-profit board of directors.  Volunteering and philanthropy  are such an American phenomenon and we are lucky to live in a country where most of our citizens believe in service.  So, eat a hot dog and stop for a moment to think about what you can do to give back to your community!  Now, the tips:

As you may know, I serve as the President and CEO of Community Partners of Dallas, a medium-sized non-profit agency helping abused and neglected children.  I work with our board members every day to make sure our agency is working to "stop the abuse and start the healing" for kids in Dallas County.  I have also served on many non-profit boards in Dallas County, so here are my quick tips if you are considering board service:

1.  Believe in the mission of the agency.
2.  Make sure that you have the time to serve -- you must attend the board meetings, committee meetings, all the events, etc.
3.  Be ready to support them financially with a personally meaningful gift.
4.  Commit to soliciting funding for the agency from your friends, family members, and colleagues.  If you are not willing to do this, just say no.  
5.  Be willing to participate in leadership if asked.

Prior to joining a board be sure to:

1.  Educate yourself about what is required of board members -- time, talent, treasure requirements.
2.  Take a tour of the agency and meet with the CEO/Executive Director.
3.  Check out the other board members.  
4.  Find out if you like the executive staff.
5.  Make sure that the agency has board insurance.
6.  Look at their most recent tax return and financial documents.

If you are interested in board service, call the agency!  There are many, many agencies that need you.