Reasons to be Thankful

It’s that time of year when we reflect upon all the blessings in our lives. While the “thankful” part of Thanksgiving seems to have taken a back seat to football, Black Friday specials starting in the afternoon and a general sense of malaise, it remains an important holiday in our American culture. It makes us stop whatever we are doing and think about all that we have, not what we don’t. Which is kind of an oxymoron with the commercialization of Christmas right around the corner, encouraging people to overspend, over consume and be sure to buy presents for themselves while shopping for others. With that in mind I started thinking about what I am thankful for this year, which by the way for reasons I will keep private, has not been an easy year. Nevertheless there is much for which I am grateful; here are a few of them:

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Family. We don’t always agree nor do we see each other much due to living all over the country. Even so, they are mine and I love them.

I’ve always looked at life through my own pair of rose-colored glasses. From an early age, these special glasses instilled in me the ability to see the proverbial “cup” as half-full, even when it isn’t. This is the source of my optimism.

I believe that people are essentially good and have good intentions, though their behavior indicates otherwise. Call me a Pollyanna. This viewpoint gives me an unwavering capacity to recognize the best in every situation, to be able to find the silver lining. It is that silver living that gives me hope for humanity.  I trust that a good heart will always prevail over one full of deceit or venom. Karma has a way of evening out the playing field.

Call me naïve — I’ve always maintained that given a choice, people will do what is right. Time and again I have witnessed the opposite; even so, that does not dampen my faith in humanity.

Taking the high road is always the best route. There’s something to be said for civility, grace and treating one another with the utmost respect, which these days seems to be a lost art. Even so I think it’s the best way to travel.

Trusting gut instincts and a keen intuition. Everyone has these abilities; we are all born with them. I am incredibly grateful that mine are still intact because they never fail me when I listen to them. If something feels wrong it’s because it usually is.

We all have voices in our heads, they are our conscience. I listen to mine, because my conscience usually perceives danger before I do; it’s sort of a warning signal. Those times that I’ve ignored my conscience, hoo-boy, have I gotten into a boatload of trouble.

I am thankful for the simplicity in my life, a conscious decision I made several years ago. As I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that life really isn’t that complicated unless you make it so. These days I make a daily effort to reel in what is simple and plain to the eye because that is the soul of a life worth living.

In closing I leave you with this — many years ago I read a quote by Maya Angelou. In paraphrasing she said ‘you may not always remember what someone did, you may not always remember what someone said, but you will never forget how someone made you feel.’

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Wishing all of you a safe and grateful Thanksgiving.

Until next time,

Jeffree Wyn

Logging Kindness in Albuquerque

kindness-kidsDuring an election year and especially as an important election approaches it is easy to get cynical about politicians. Despite the rancor and acrimony that has come out of this particular election there really are good politicians out there who genuinely care for their constituents. For example, consider the Kindness Initiative in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

It all started when Mayor Richard Berry of Albuquerque received a text message nine months ago from Mayor Tom Tait of Anaheim, California, challenging him to one million acts of kindness. Mayor Berry accepted the challenge right away and set out to collaborate with his Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council (MYAC) to launch the ABQKindness initiative which resulted in developing a mobile app to promote, track and celebrate acts of kindness across Albuquerque. It is modeled after the City of Kindness initiative, a virtual rising center of the “kind movement” consisting of organizations working to inspire kindness throughout the world. kindness-mayor-berryFast forward: MYAC and local organizations are now rolling out the “ABQKindness” app. It’s pretty cool. A lot of local schools, businesses and non-profits have collaborated in support of ABQKindness.

The kindness initiative momentum kicked into high gear during the 2016 US Conference of Mayors. Entrepreneur and Billionaire Philanthropist Philip Anschutz, the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibetan Buddhism and Lady Gaga, (who outside of her music career cofounded the Born This Way Foundation with her mother) discussed how kindness is critical to tackling today’s societal problems, leading to a discussion about the kindness initiative. They must have made a pretty good case for their idea because at the conference mayors from across the country signed a resolution to collectively reach one hundred billion acts of kindness. The movement is growing. Besides Albuquerque and Anaheim, 15 additional cities and organizations have launched similar campaigns, with the nonprofit City of Kindness supporting their efforts to spread kindness.

kindness-groceriesAlbuquerque’s mayor views this as an opportunity for Albuquerque residents to come together to accomplish the goal and spread the importance of kindness across the city. That’s a pretty big order. How does he plan to do it? Mayor Berry stated on the city’s website that “It is my belief that you are never too old or young to implement kindness in your everyday life. Albuquerque is already a great city with great, kind people, but you can never show too much kindness to your neighbor. We have exceptional youth in our community and I know they will lead the way to show adults just what it means to be kind.”

As of October 24th, the organization had logged 350 Acts of Kindness. If you live in Albuquerque and would like to submit an act of kindness visit Apple’s APP store or Google Play’s Android store. Search for “ABQKindness” and download the app. Once you’ve downloaded it, open, tap on the home screen and submit your act of kindness.

kindness-older-womanWhat constitutes an act of kindness? Probably things you do everyday such as holding the door open for the person behind you to enter a building first, assisting a pregnant woman unload her groceries into her car or walking your elderly neighbor’s dog. Maybe you tutor kids at your local school or read to people in nursing homes. It all counts and it all makes a difference.

 

First Lady

Every now and then I read a story that is both perfect for The Goodness Principle and perfect as is. That’s the case with this story about Bobbi Gibb, an extraordinary woman who back in the day broke the Boston Marathon restriction barring women from running. I love that she wouldn’t accept “no”. I came across her story in UCSD’s alumni magazine, Triton. Many thanks to Triton for allowing us to run the story.

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How Bobbi Gibb, Revelle ’69, broke the Boston Marathon’s gender barrier.

By Heather Buschman, Ph.D. ’08

Bobbi Gibb was just days off a plane from her native Boston when she began running long distances throughout San Diego. Though far from the wooded forest trails of her youth in Massachusetts, San Diego County offered ample space for the future philosophy major to think; it was her means of physical meditation,  letting her mind ponder the mysteries of the universe. As she settled into San Diego life, she routinely ran 30 miles in a day, around Balboa Park, Coronado, Imperial Beach—even accidentally wandering into Mexico.

In 1966, this was not exactly typical of a 23-year-old Navy wife, but Gibb was a woman well ahead of her time.

“Back then a woman was put straight into a box—you could be a wife, a mother and a homemaker, but that was it,” says Gibb. “I had no problem with getting married and having kids… but I had no intention of being a homemaker.”

A female runner was a definite anomaly in those days. Lacking true equipment, Gibb ran for miles in nurse’s shoes, a one-piece swimsuit and a pair of old  shorts. One day on a run from her cottage near Balboa Park up through La Jolla, Gibb passed Scripps Institution of Oceanography, running her hardest up the cliffs only to find the summit being carved by huge yellow earth movers. This was the beginning of Revelle College, and this first sight of UC San Diego spoke to her profoundly.

“I need to learn more,” Gibb recalls thinking in her 2011 memoir, Wind in the Fire. “I need to go back to school and to learn everything I can about biology, physics, matter and mind and philosophy… I have been a solitary thinker and now I want to know what other people have thought about these matters. As I look around in amazement at all this activity, I’m filled with the powerful sense that this is where I belong… this is where I’m supposed to go to college.”

Still sweaty from running, she walked into the admissions office—one of the few buildings then constructed—and signed up for classes that fall.

It was not the first time Gibb had witnessed something and felt a calling to become a part of it. Years prior, while on one of her regular runs through the woods outside Boston, Gibb recalls catching sight of a throng of runners treading down the street together, united in the effort she would later learn was the Boston Marathon.

“These are my people!” she thought. “Finally, other running adults. I can do this!” Just as committed as she was to join UC San Diego, she resolved then to run the Boston Marathon someday. It didn’t occur to her, however, that it was only men she’d seen running.

At home in La Jolla, with an academic career on the horizon, Gibb made plans to achieve this personal milestone before embarking on her educational one. She wrote a letter to the Boston Athletic Association requesting an application. Yet when their response arrived back, the message was devastating:

We have received your request for an application for the Boston Marathon and regret that we will not be able to send you an application. Women are not physiologically capable to run 26.2 miles and we would not want to take on the medical liability. Furthermore, the rules of International Sport and the Amateur Athletic Union do not allow women to run more than the sanctioned one and a half miles. Sorry we could not be of more help.

Gibb was outraged. She was infuriated. She was anything but daunted. Though she had always thought of the race as a challenge for herself, it was now something far bigger. She resolved to make a statement. She had to prove them wrong.

So when the week of the marathon arrived, she got on a cross-country bus headed back to Boston.

April 16, 1966
A firsthand account of Bobbi Gibb’s historic run.

Abridged from Wind in the Fire by Bobbi Gibb, Revelle ’69

Barren trees, still wrapped in winter gray, brush the April sky with pastel shades of mauve and lavender. Runners in brightly colored clothes mill among the trees, clustering and talking in groups. The reality hits me—this is a real race and real people; they really do not allow women. There are policemen here who can arrest me. I have no idea what I am getting into. My greatest fear is that I will be stopped, prevented from proving that a woman can run twenty-six miles.

I trot slowly around the town getting the lay of the land. Next to the common I find a little hollow, which smells dank and dusty with last year’s leaves. I crouch down, hidden in the bushes. The dead litter rustles under my shoes. My heart is beating fast inside my warm sweatshirt. I feel the restless energy in my legs and thighs. I wait, poised, ready to leap.

The bang of a gun drifts across the light spring air and a cheer goes up from the spectators. The mass of runners springs forward with a roar. I wait until about half the pack has gone and then leap out of the bushes. My legs unfold and my feet hit the pavement running hard. The physicality of other runners surrounds me—the flailing arms and legs, the intense concentration, the heat, the sound of soft, strong foot falls on the road.

I hear the men talking to each other in hushed tones.

gibb-2“Is that a girl?”

“It sure looks like one.”

I turn and smile.

“It is a girl!”

“A woman’s running!”

“Are you going the whole way?” asks the lanky man beside me.

“I hope so,” I respond, laughing.

The weight of responsibility presses on me. Failing to finish will end up setting women back. People will say, “This is why we don’t let women run. Women really are not capable of these things,” And the door will be slammed even more tightly.

The men are friendly and supportive. “We won’t let them throw you out,” they agree.

I reach my arms up and pull the sweatshirt over my head. For a second, the crowd is silent.

“It’s a girl!” a woman screams from the crowd.

“Hey, at a-go girly!” says a man. “Go get ’em!”

We speed on through Wellesley, where the women at the college have been listening to my progress on the radio. When they see me, the intensity of their screaming increases.

“There she is!”

“A woman is running!”

Some of them are crying. One woman has several children clinging to her ample overcoat. “Ave Maria!” she shouts, tears streaming down her face.

We run over the bridge across Route 128 like a herd of wild animals. People cheer and clap. “Heartbreak Hill,” I hear from another runner. “It’s a killer.” We’re on Route 30—seventeen miles. I feel great, though I’m not used to running on pavement and my shoes are chafing. We start to climb.

The incredible strength and endurance it takes to run a marathon, to live a life with integrity. You are surrounded by other people running, but no one else can do it for you. You have to do it yourself. I watch the patterns and sparkles in the pavement, and I am filled with a sense of their beauty.

The road goes up, as do we. Pace slows as runners strain. I feel the edge of fatigue for the first time, no longer reining in, but pushing to keep going. Finally the hill crests and a view of Boston opens up.

gibb-3The Prudential Tower is closer than I thought. Boston College slides by. Only five miles more to go.

I can run five miles in my sleep, I think. Such a feeling of elation and success! Yet the marathon is no place for smugness. The steep downhill slope rips apart my legs. The blisters on my feet have burst, the raw flesh is rubbing on my stiff boys’ running shoes, and running in the heat has left me seriously dehydrated.

Our ragged bunch of survivors pass into Boston, while busloads of men who have dropped out wave and cheer at us. Kenmore Square looms above everything else.

“One more mile!” the crowds chant. Yet my pace has dropped off. I am barely moving, tiptoeing along, each step sending a searing jolt to my brain. My blistered feet feel as if they are cut through to bone. The bottoms of my feet are on fire.

This is where I discover the real meaning of fortitude: to go on, to keep going in the face of disappointment, to see your hopes dashed but to keep on anyway, to finish what you set out to do even if it isn’t what you had hoped. This last mile takes me longer than the preceding five.

I turn back onto the brick canyon of Hereford Street, where so many people crowd into the street only a small passage is left.  I turn onto Boylston and suddenly the road opens up. Thousands of people line the streets. The press truck rolls along beside me, flash bulbs, the announcer and police. I pick up my pace and trot across the finish line in a time of three hours and twenty minutes, I’m told, ahead of two-thirds of the pack. Not bad, I think.

Those who kept my pace congratulate me. Some kind soul throws a wool blanket around my shoulders. I’m overcome by a  supreme happiness, having reached the end of a long journey which I hope will change the world for the better, and begin a new journey for our times toward a better world for all.

 

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Texas Wonder Woman

TWW Ricki 2You’ve probably heard the phrase, “she be small, but she be mighty”. That pretty much describes Ricky Polcer of Tyler, Texas. Though a woman of small stature, that has not deterred her from finding needs and filling them. Like others profiled on this blog, she radiates goodness.

Her story begins with quilts, simple quilts that comfort people across the United States. She learned the craft from her aunt who taught her how to piece together fabrics at the age of eight. She didn’t get serious about quilt making until her retirement from the civil service in 2001 and then she began making quilts and more quilts and yes, more quilts. To date Ricky has made over 1,120 quilts since she hung up her day job and began using her talents for helping others. Of course you must be wondering what one woman needs or does with 1,120 quilts. Charity. She makes quilts for charity. And are they grateful!

Of that mind boggling number she has made and donated 146 quilts to the National Alzheimer’s Disease Cooperative Study Quilt Project that provides lap sized quilts to TWW quiltspatients who participate in Alzheimer’s research. Her father suffered from Alzheimer’s for over 10 years, the last eight months in a coma, and knew well what patients and their families endure. She says she makes quilts for the project because “it’s one way I can give back in his memory.”

Ricky also sews for the Quilts for Kids chapter in Austin, Texas, an organization that provides quilts to children with life – threatening illnesses and children of abuse. Ricky’s says “I love knowing I’ve provided someone with warmth and love, giving throughout the year, it’s a good feeling.” She had made and donated 982 quilts to QFK to date.

Those child and teen quilts go to a variety of local kids’ causes such as CASA, (Court Appointed Special Advocates), for newborns to teens aged 18, who are removed from their homes due to neglect, abuse, parent incarceration or death. Another group that receives her quilts is Hospice Austin for newborns to kids up to 18 who are either a Hospice patient or have an immediate family member in Hospice. A third organization who receives her quilts is the Dell Children’s/Ronald McDonald House for children undergoing long term treatment for a life altering disease or condition.

And then there are the girls at New Life. These children aged 11-18 have suffered the unfathomable: severe physical, sexual and mental abuse.  The girls who live in and go to school at New Life undergo psychiatric intervention to turn their tumultuous lives around. Many are suicidal when they enter New Life.  My gosh, what do you do for a kid like that? Ricky knows; she has made a bunch of quilts for the girls as well as 288 pillow cases that the girls received at the holidays. To give the girls something fun to purchase in the New Life facility store, she whipped up 104 cosmetic bags that they girls can “buy” using good behavior points that work like money.  To make sure there was makeup the girls could buy to put in the cosmetic cases Ricky purchased 200 e.l.f. cosmetics to line the store shelves. She also made 36 fleece throws and 153 totes the girls can purchase in the little store.

TWW two pupsDoes this woman have a heart as big as Texas, or what? She makes the Energizer Bunny look like a slacker especially because that’s not all this spunky woman does. Ricky is as passionate about her other “hobby” as what she sews for those in need.

Since 2007 when she took in her first greyhound and got involved with Greyhounds TWW Ricki & pupsUnlimited of Dallas, Texas she has been fostering and adopting the elegant former racing dogs. To date Ricky has fostered 10 “greyts” with medical issues, and adopted eight. At this time she cares for two greyts, an eight year-old named Jinx and seven year-old Manuel. To be expected she sews for the dogs too, items like fleece belly bands to keep male dogs from marking the inside of a house. The woman’s energy knows no limits.

I’m not sure that this dynamo eats or sleeps, how else does she do it? I imagine that joy and the elation of giving back plays a big part. When asked her favorite part of quilting she answered, “I treasure the quiet time with my greyhounds at my feet helping.” For Ricky, quilts and greyhounds go hand in hand. Quilts and greyts, what a sweet combo.

Do you know of a selfless hero or heroine like Ricky Polcer in your town? If so, I’d like to hear about it. Please leave a comment below.

 

Cool Kids Chillin’ in Buffalo

Chill Kneeling with kidsIt’s summer, it’s hot and muggy, and it’s impossibly hard to cool down, especially in the inner city neighborhoods. Then a guy comes by on a bike, an ice cream bike, and relief is within reach, except for one little problem. You’re a kid whose family hasn’t much, even enough for an ice cream. So you stand to the side and watch and salivate and wish you could have an ice cream.

This scenario is not so unusual and it’s why I particularly love what James Karagiannis of Buffalo is doing for kids in his community. He’s the perfect example of how one person can generate a smile in a second and make a difference.

In his upstate New York hometown locals know James as the Ice Cream Dude, and what a dude he is. In 2007 he started a bicycle ice cream business, sort of like the ole musical ice cream truck, only it’s a cart of frozen treats connected to his bike. He doesn’t charge a lot for his ice cream novelties, just a buck a piece, but for some kids who have nothing, even that is too much. From the start he encountered a dilemma—how to help out these kids without giving them a handout.

He says that “one of the hardest parts about being an ice cream dude is seeing the disappointment on a kid’s face when all of their friends buy ice cream but they’re left out because they don’t have a dollar.”

While he says that he has the latitude to give away freebies he can’t afford to give to every single person. “Trust me, we get asked a lot!”

Chill James and more kidsHe adds that he doesn’t like just giving something away to a kid “without at least trying to teach a lesson. We’re in these neighborhoods every day and are a part of these kids’ lives; we have the responsibility to be positive role models.”

He came up with a way to teach them a lesson while being a positive role model and giving them the ice cream they want. He makes them earn the ice cream by answering questions, a quiz.

“They love questions,” he says “and I love that I’m teaching them things. I would have been a teacher if I wasn’t an entrepreneur.”

James makes it fun while making the kids feel that they earned their ice cream, which he ensures they do.

“I let them choose their subject, but often times it’s easiest to pull a dollar out of my pocket, tell them I’ll give them the dollar if they can tell me the city it was printed in. I give them clues, for example, San Francisco would be ‘there was a gold rush here in 1849.’ They can’t figure that out until I have them draw the connection between the football team and the meaning of 49ers.”

Answering questions doesn’t always work out for every kid, so he came up with another idea. “If they want a free ice cream, they’re going to have to write a thank you note.”

And boy, oh boy, have those kids been writing thank you notes! James thought that the thank you cards would be a nice because he personally appreciates personal thank you cards, something you don’t see much these days. A lost art.

“For years people have been giving me a few bucks to buy ice cream for the next group of kids I see. I thought the thank you cards would be a nice gift for them while teaching the kids in the process.”

Another reason he decided to have the kids fill out the cards is because the people who donate money never get to see the joy on the children’s faces when he gives out the treats. The cards work both ways.

Chill TY postcards“Now there’s an opportunity to put a smile on someone’s face and receive one in return,” he says.

The process is pretty simple. For anyone who donates he has the kids write thank you notes, which James mails to the donors. The thank you notes do just as much for the donors as the kids.

“Maybe it arrives in your mailbox long after you’ve forgotten about it, maybe it arrives on a day you could use an extra smile.” James just loves the idea of helping the kids and showing them how they can express appreciation.

Oh, and I almost forgot, he’s so humble all he sees is the goodness in others. When asked what’s his favorite part of the job he said “when a kid who only has $1 offers their ice cream to a friend, sibling, or parent. Totally selfless. I always buy those kids an ice cream.”

James says that there are eight of them on the ice cream bikes and each of them does something extra for the kids. All of them have the kids fill out the thank you cards, but each has an extra thing they like to do with the kids. James asks questions and sometimes races his bike with them.

“Rex likes to shoot hoops with the kids. He gives them a freebie if they make a three point shot. Jerrod likes to do science experiments.”

Chill girls with ice cream mess

Ice cream on a hot, sticky day, giving back, and having fun in the process, ah, life is sweet, it doesn’t get much better than that.

Be sure to check out the Ice Cream Dude’s website and Facebook page to see more photos and videos. And if you’re feeling inspired and want to support the ice cream fund, it’s easy.

What do you think—is James’ idea cool or what? Leave me a comment.

 

 

Unleashing Hidden Talent Restores Dignity

Though Alzheimer’s devastates individuals and their families, occasionally a bright light shines from its dark tunnel. Sometimes innate gifts obscured through the toils of daily life emerge. Like what happened to Lester Potts, the late father of Dr. Daniel Potts, a well-known Alabama neurologist.

UHT HummingbirdLester was a rural Alabama saw miller who became an acclaimed watercolor artist after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s (AD). Prior to developing AD he had never before shown any artistic talent. Art and music therapy at Caring Days, a dementia daycare center in Tuscaloosa, Alabama fed his creative expression, improving his cognition, mood, and behavior.

Daniel and his wife Ellen witnessed a transformation in Lester quite unlike anything they had ever seen. Moreover, what impressed them was how these therapies helped to restore Lester’s dignity and improved his quality of life. It was nothing short of extraordinary. Ellen remembers the time clearly.

“The only thing Lester had drawn before was of something to build. He was practical, the most utilitarian soul ever. For him to become an artist, it was so out of character. The more his disease progressed the more he painted his memories. This part of his psyche was released as his frontal lobe deteriorated. Where (Alzheimer’s took) the sense of self went away,” she explains, “his right parietal lobe was pretty much untouched until late in the disease process. All that creativity was probably there all along.”

Ellen explains that the frontal lobe inhibits creativity that may be buried deep within. “You’re inhibited from doing things you may have the talent to do because you don’t think you have the ability or you’re too inhibited to try. All that creativity was untouched until late in the disease process. It was probably there the whole time. The fact that he of all people would become an artist was the most miraculous thing of all.”

Lester’s new abilities influenced his son. “Before we knew it the art got a hold of me and I was staying up all night writing poetry, which is something I’d never done in my entire life,” Daniel says. “I went to Ellen and said we ought to put a book together of Dad’s art and my poetry.” In 2006 they put out The Broken Jar featuring his poetry and Lester’s art.

You’d think that a story like this would be enough, right? Not this couple. They took it and ran in order to give other dementia patients the same good fortune. They developed a program in collaboration with the University of Alabama Honors College, called Bringing Art to Life.

UHT GroupEach semester the program pairs five participants with mild to moderate Alzheimer’s with three Honors students.  Before the start of the art therapy sessions the students receive instruction on Alzheimer’s, person-centered care techniques, art and other expressive arts therapies, and are taught the importance of honoring and preserving the life story.  For the next eight weeks the students and patients work side-by-side in group art therapy.  During the sessions, the students capture life story elements for later use in crafting a memoir.

According to Daniel and Ellen, one of the most heartwarming aspects is watching how the students develop empathy for the dementia patients and for their caregivers.  The Potts’ based the course on A Pocket Guide for the Alzheimer Caregiver, a book they co-wrote in 2011. Lester was not their only family member with Alzheimer’s. Between the two of them they have lost eight family members to Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia. They demonstrated every situation in the book with a family story.

Daniel explains their motivation for establishing the program. “We were trying to use our experience with Dad and others to show that the person is still in there and build on that. Our focus is honoring the human being, the dignity people still have, despite this disease. We can still have a relationship with them that can be transformative for everybody. The art and the music help you tap into that.”

Ellen says “Through the pairing of the students and participants, it’s been nearly miraculous how some of the participants were able to come out of their shell.” She describes how the students and dementia patients found a connection, adding that previously many of the patients had been withdrawn and had stopped interacting with their families. “In the art therapy and reminiscing sessions they came to life.”

They tell the story of a well-known Southern artist, Sara Turner, who lost her sight to macular degeneration and developed Alzheimer’s. She joined Art to Life in 2014. Daniel remembers the day the 95 year-old joined the program.

UHT Hands

“Sara came into the room the first time and said she used to be an artist but didn’t think she could do the art project. Her students helped her, guided her hands, talked her through it, and asked her favorite colors.” She was elated and told the students “I can feel colors again”.

“Sara was completely authentic; the Alzheimer’s couldn’t mask that. The students were completely inspired by this blind woman with Alzheimer’s,” he says. “She was so full of gratitude, just to be alive and present. It made the students have introspection and look at their own lives and their own fears and the things they’re dealing with. Interacting with Sara brought all that out. It was therapy for those kids to be in the presence of this woman.”

UHT Sara CelebrationHe remembers sitting back and watching and being in tears. “Sara named the finished piece, Celebration – it’s a new beginning. It was a celebration and a new beginning and it was one of those Art to Life moments that has changed so many lives over the course of the last five years.”

Indeed. And to think it all started with a rural saw miller who had never painted a day in his life. I imagine that Lester is still painting, and smiling down on Daniel and Ellen, proud of how they’re changing lives through art, proud of all the goodness they’ve instilled. And maybe he’s just a little bit proud to have been the inspiration. How could he not be?

To see The Broken Jar, click here.

To learn more about Bringing Art to Life please visit them here.