Honoring Someone’s Wishes Gives Respect

Honoring Someone’s Wishes Gives Respect

Honoring Someone’s Wishes Gives Respect

Respect“I used to think that the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. … The worst thing in life is ending up with people who make you feel all alone.” – Robin Williams as Lance Clayton in World’s Greatest Dad (2009)

In today’s social and economical environment, there are people (young and old) who are feeling as if they are all alone due to the fear of the unknowns in their future.   Will the outcomes bring devastation and destruction to their world order as they know it!!

Life throws you many obstacles, health and finances can be challenged.  This can lead to a downward spiral if you feel that you don’t have any resources available to you.  That is when you need to take a chance and talk— let yourselves be known.

Moody Cecil, the love of my life, was to a point in our life’s journey that I had to assess our situation and made some difficult choices.

In 2014, Moody and I began to experience financial fragility in part due to my decision to no longer work and be with him 24/7. moody-cecil

It was important to Moody that the legacy he started at the farm would be continued. Therefore, my priority was to keep that vision alive.

I approached the family to see what we might be able to do to keep the property, known to most as Haven of Hope, in the family.

There were two family members that stepped forward to help devise a plan if we should we find it necessary to sell.

What a blessing!! 

When it comes to Moody and his wishes, the following stories regarding his vision brings to life the impact the Haven of Hope has had throughout the years:

I am honored and full of gratitude for the opportunity to have been part of Moody Cecil’s life long vision.  He taught so many that it is important to “Realize the Power of the Dream.”  Thousands of people got the chance to know this loving, caring, gentle man.  To see the twinkle in his blue eyes as he watched over and taught about nature.  Knowing that he was never alone is inherent in everyone who got to know Moody. What was admired most about Moody was that he continued to be a champion for causes in which he believed. This allowed those of us around him to Celebrate Life.

WOW Continues to Evolve after 20 Years

WOW Continues to Evolve after 20 Years

WOW Continues to Evolve after 20 Years

We Survive has provided youth lead leadership experiences through youth mentoring for 22 years.  By engaging the youth in a creative experiential learning process they become active participants in the planning, promoting and presenting of programming empowering youth to take leadership roles.

Sharon2017Beauty

Find the Beauty in Everything painted by Sharon McKean

Creative Expression offers a journey to good health and healing which is an important part of life.  It allows participants to open up to his or her inner most thoughts and feelings.  Once you begin to create, you can begin to connect to your inner self.

We Survive’s Women Offering Wisdom (WOW) Program  has provided Creative Expression opportunities through health and wellness programming since 1996.

Sharon Wells was a young high school student who loved to write and became involved with the WOW Program after one of her submissions was chosen to appear in a WOW Publication in 2000.   Sharon is married now (Sharon Wells McKean).

“We Survive’s WOW programming provided tools that helped us create transformational and inspirational societal changes with our health and wellness educational programs.  Writing, art, publishing, radio interviewing/moderating and creating media pieces (magazines, books, pamphlets, press releases, etc.) was a wonderful learning opportunity. We learned the importance of gathering creditable information from various sources through interviews and research allowing us to develop our own educated opinions on various topics while enabling us to share valuable information with our community. These experiential activities helped me become a more effective communicator and leader.” ~~ Sharon McKean

Sharon is an avid volunteer with We Survive.  Over the past 5 years she has been working with promotions of We Survive programming and has been active with LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited.

Sharon wanted to do something positive to connect with people and utilize her skills as a writer, educator.   A year ago, Sharon came up with the idea to start an online health and wellness education community.

The Multiple Sclerosis Association of America (MSAA) recognizes March as MS Awareness Month.   Having Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Sharon felt that March was a perfect time to begin the health and wellness community.  Sharon helped launch and has runs the online community which began on March 1, 2016.  It is now her “pet” project.

You can visit this community on Facebook here.

Read more about The History of the WOW program.

From Humble Beginnings a Childhood Vision Soars

From Humble Beginnings a Childhood Vision Soars

dovepeaceglobeFrom Humble Beginnings a Childhood Vision Soars

There are so many stories that could be shared about Moody Cecil’s love of nature and how he grew up walking the land that his grandparents owned, later owned by his parents and then passed down to him.

As a child, his Aunt Dumpy would take him hiking and his Uncle Lovell took him fishing on a regular basis.  On Sundays, the family would gather at the farm for Sunday dinner.  Moody’s mom (Alma) and dad (Moody Sr.) carried on the Sunday dinner tradition.

Cathy, Kent and their cousins Rita and Anita enjoyed their regular Sunday get together which included  hiking, playing in the creek, floating stick boats, making homemade ice cream with an old time hand crank ice cream maker and many other activities.  Anita says, “I have so many wonderful memories of Sunday dinners with Aunt Alma, Uncle Moody (Sr.), my dad, Junie (Moody Jr.), Cathy, and Kent. I will always cherish those memories as some of the best times in my life.”

Although Moody, Jr. (who we all knew as Moody) recognized that he was not cut out to be a farmer, he realized at a very young age he loved being on the farm.  Moody decided when he acquired the land; he had been given the privilege of being steward of the land.

10310015421

Moody and Cathy

Moody was dedicated to working with youth and the vision of creating “a legacy for future generations.”  He began exploring the possibility of a Certified Stewardship Forest (a designated given by the Kentucky Division of Forestry.

Moody’s children Michelle Wolf (Matt), Cathy Bellamy (Rob), and Kent Cecil (Stephanie); and grandchildren Kyle Wolf, Kate Bellamy, Jordon and Leah Cecil enjoyed being at the farm.

Moody loved to fish.  When each grandchild was born, he bought them fishing poles.  Rob reminded Moody’s wife Sharon that Moody had taken Kate fishing for the first time.

Rob also shared a Memory Moment about when Cathy, Kate and he were having lunch with Moody at Uno’s Pizza on Bardstown Road.  Kate was 3 or 4 at the time.   She looked at her Granddaddy and asked why he lived on the other side of Louisville.  Rob said that Moody calmly explained to Kate about our blended family, and said to Kate, “Cathy is my daughter and you are my granddaughter and I love you so much.”   Kate was completely satisfied with this information and never brought it up again.

One of Sharon’s fondest memories is of grandsons Jordon and Kyle going fishing with Moody and Kent.    They were thrilled that they caught a fish.  Excitedly, the boys came running back from the creek and told Sharon that they had caught a 5 pound bass.  When in actuality, it was a 5 inch bass.  Through the years, Sharon would tease Moody about how he had not only taught the boys to fish but also taught them how to tell fish stories.

Moody was a fierce champion for both the young and old. With his extraordinary love of nature, it was decided that Sharon and Moody Cecil would create an organization that would offer health and wellness programming that provided “nurturance in nature.”  In 1994, We Survive was born.

GazeboIn 2004, Anita said her wedding vows under the gazebo at We Survive—now referred to as Haven of Hope.  What a wonderful memory and tribute to her grandparents Florence and George Hahn.

As time passed, Moody’s memory began to fade. He lost many of the memories he held so near and dear.  Despite this, Moody never lost his desire to be around people of all ages or his love for nature. He even attended LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited on November 5, 2016.

Moody’s passion was working with children from all walks of life. He enjoyed being part of the planning and participating in Day of Hope http://wesurvive.org/day-of-hope/  activities at We Survive’s Haven of Hope.

 

Moody Cecil

March 23, 1932 – December 19, 2016

To read more about Moody’s story, read Amazing Vision Offers Guiding Light.

 

To Donate or Comment (and share a Moody memory) visit the

Moody Cecil Memorial Fund

A fund for the Haven of Hope Arts, Cultural and Nature Center.

beacon-of-hope

I know you would be standing beside me today,
if heaven was not so far away.

Like We Survive’s Beacon of Hope,
your presence has a far reaching scope.

Luminating Letter to Girls Entering High School

Luminating Letter to Girls Entering High School

Luminating Letter to Girls Entering High School

Written by Ingrid N.

Dear Rising Senior High Girls,

scientistGoing into high school was one of the biggest milestones I and any other 8th grader could ever face. With puberty came a sense of maturity and intellectual curiosity that stemmed from my passion for the physical sciences. Already well past my peers in terms of academia, my next sight was set on gaining admission at a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) magnet high school not twenty miles from where I lived, in Greenbelt, MD. The opportunity meant a chance at a better education and academic environment. But it also sowed seeds of doubt in my mind. What if I failed the entrance exam? Or worse, what if I wasn’t shaped to be in the STEM program? Panic mixed with fear flooded my stream of consciousness, as I scribbled away at my answer sheet for a spot that hundreds of 8th grade girls and boys from across the county were competing for. Nearly four hours later, I left the silent halls sullen, sore-eyed, and seething with regret and anger. Regretful of the fact that I had left nearly three pages of problems unanswered. And angry for flustering myself at the least opportune moment. I was sure I had blown it.

Or, at least I thought I had.

It was that nagging voice in my head that day that had let my doubts and insecurities avalanche into what they really were: fear. Like many of you reading this, I was intimidated by going into high school altogether, but moreso, I was intimidated by chasing after my career choice at so young an age. Compounded with the social stigma surrounding female STEM workers in a traditionally male-dominated field, and it was just a matter of time before my worries for my future reached their tipping point. As young girls, we are molded to strive for what society lets us strive for. We are told that we can have ambition and the motivation to succeed, but only in fields that are already overwhelmingly occupied by women, specifically those many perceive as the “soft” sciences. But here I–and possibly you—was, ready to tap into the field of the “hard” sciences. Enamored by algebraic concepts, Newton’s laws, and computer programming, branches of science that many girls in my school had brushed off with a insouciant shrug by the 6th grade. The sense of achievement I felt while excelling in these subjects at school was quickly left by the realization that each step toward my dream distanced me from the others. Each step towards being a competitive candidate for the STEM program gravitated me away from my peers, and further into the hands of my unknown Destiny.

But later that May, and the months that followed, I gradually learned to flush those toxic fears away. I gripped my big, bold-capped acceptance letter in my hand with a radiance and confidence I never knew I could possess, and like any other middle school graduate, I reminisced the past and embraced what would come to be my future: pre-majoring in Computer Science at the school’s prestigious magnet program. I acknowledged that through it all, I couldn’t give in to fear or let anything come between what I wanted to do. And being one of the few teen girls in my trade, I learned that I had to be my biggest supporter, in order to overcome the adversity that would linger my way. And that now more than ever, a strong work ethic was the defining factor in one’s aptitude to succeed.

For those in my shoes, who are still determined to pursue their academic focus in the sciences, or whatever daunting field that may be, never let society, your peers, or your conscience let you believe that your dreams aren’t worth chasing after. There’s no doubt that the future is scary to think about in your young teenage lives, but the sooner you navigate your interests and build your skillsets, the easier the road to your future career will be . Sometimes, you might veer off that road to self-discovery, and other times, you might have moments where you question the validity of your dream, but no journey comes without its bumps and potholes. It’s okay to be uncertain of life’s uncertainties. But just know that anything that you set your mind to, especially the sciences, can be achieved, and only you can define the standards you set for yourself. A strong work ethic and eagerness to learn can catapult you into fields you would never dream of crossing. All you have to do is open your mind—and your heart–to start your journey.
open-your-mindopen-heartjourney

Amazing Vision offers Guiding Light

Amazing Vision offers Guiding Light

Amazing Vision offers Guiding Light

Moody Cecil 3-23-1932 to 12-19-2016

Moody believed that when you give, you are given an opportunity to change lives.

The family farm, which was passed down to Moody, was where he took his children and grandchildren fishing and hiking on the same ground he walked on as a small child. By the time the house had been passed on to him, it had been vandalized and burglarized. It was all grown over and you literally “could not see the forest for the trees.” But, Moody had a vision for the land.

HPIM1257All possibilities were explored to see how the land could be best utilized. Moody wanted to take the gift he had been given and share it with as many people as he could. Working with the Kentucky Division of Forestry, Moody realized that he didn’t have to plant walnut trees or any other trees. He already had beautiful gently rolling woodland that has since been designated as a Stewardship Forest by the Kentucky Division of Forestry- creating a “legacy for future generations.”

In 1994, Moody and Sharon co-founded WE SURVIVE, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to provide education to the community, break stereotypes, inspire strong youth leaders, and bring hope to others. We Survive’s headquarters is located on the land Moody so dearly loved, Haven of Hope. Over the years, the Haven of Hope has welcomed thousands of people to explore nature and bond with others when they have attended a Day of Hope, seminars, workshops, and weddings. There are plans pending to establish the Haven of Hope Arts and Cultural Center.  There will be a formal announcement at Moody’s Celebration of Life the Spring of 2017—date to be announced.

 

moody-and-michelleMoody cherished the time he spent with his daughter Michelle and grandson Kyle when they were young.  As Michelle says, “My Dad was the most patient and kind person. There wasn’t a child or animal that didn’t like him. He had a special calmness that made everyone that met him feel comfortable. He loved nature, and I am honored that he passed that quality on to me. I loved skipping rocks, taking walks together, or just sitting together watching nature around us. My Dad taught me what the truly important things in life are. I will cherish all the memories we had together, and the love you showed me. I love you Dad!”

Moody’s passion was working with children from all walks of life. He enjoyed planning and participating in Day of Hope.

Help us keep Moody’s vision alive with a contribution to the We Survive – Moody Cecil Haven of Hope Memorial Fund.

To share a message with Moody’s family, go to the Fern Creek Funeral Home site.

“We cannot live for ourselves alone. Our lives are connected by a
thousand invisible threads, and along these sympathetic fibers, our
actions run as causes and return to us as results.”  –Herman Melville

HOPE is the Thread that Pulls us TOGETHER!!!

Homelessness Can Happen to Anyone

Homelessness Can Happen to Anyone

Homelessness Can Happen to Anyone

A letter from Sherry P.

Dear Friends and Family

Unexpected happenings can take you from stability to fragility in a matter of moments.

Have you or anyone you know:

  • ended up in the hospital for an extended period of time,
  • lost his or her job and can’t find a job at his or her same pay grade,
  • graduated from college and has enormous tuition expenses and can’t find a job,
  • an elder person who is on a fixed income or health is declining?

Many years ago as a college student, it wasn’t unusual to see a woman who pushed around a grocery cart with sacks of stuff in it.  She was referred to as a “bag ladies.’  What was in the cart was everything she owned.

Men would hang around the area fast food places near the college begging for money, saying that they wanted food.  These men were referred to as “pan handlers.”

One day in Sociology class, there was a discussion on how did these people wind up on the street.  There were many perspectives to that question.  Primary, the perception was that they were either lazy, mentally ill or on drugs.  A discussion ensured that didn’t bring about much change in the negative view towards their situation except to say that they were living on the street.  Could not say with certainty that the words poverty or homelessness were even used.

The issues surrounding poverty, hunger and homelessness need to be address.  The are a leading issue of today and is not going away.

No one is immune.  The potential to the vulnerability to poverty, hunger and homelessness impacts each and every single one of us in some way be it environmentally, economically or overall health.

There is an estimated 15% of the homeless who have jobs, but do not make a living wage.  Then you have retirees who are on fixed incomes who watch their benefits get cut while the cost of living continues to rise.

Infants to the elderly are struggling to maintain their basic needs – food, clothing and shelter.  Children and the elderly have the most difficulty surviving the devastation of poverty.

In 2017, the access to healthcare is a big issue.  With the potential policy changes to Medicard and Medicare, healthcare becomes an even bigger uncertainty for those who are medically fragile—which lead to financial fragility.

We need to become advocates for our fellow man.  It is the simple things that make a BIG difference.

As an avid volunteer, I want to tell you there are so many organizations that would love your help.  Find something you enjoy and then see what you can do.

soupkitchenBeing able to interact is rewarding.  Working in a soup kitchen has been rewarding over the years for my husband and myself.

You will be amazed at the gratitude that you receive when you are serving others.  In our case it is serving times two.  We are able to serve a population in need while serving up a hot meal.

What a blessing that is for everyone.

 

Hope in a Passport

Hope in a Passport

Hope in a Passport

Written by Christopher V.

passportThis is my passport. Although worn, it is what proves that I am an American. Although torn, it shows that not only was I born in this country but this country is also my home. Many American children whose parents are undocumented are left with just a birth certificate. They are left with the uncertainty of “will my family be able to stay in this country, or will we be forced to leave.” If their family gets deported, they’d be seen as an alien in their parent’s country.

I started raising money on Friday, December 9, and given the generosity of friends, family, and people I don’t even know, I’ve been able to raise enough money for 15 Passports ($1250 to be exact). And that’s awesome! But there’s still a need, go to Christopher’s Facebook page and see how you can help.

 

Why is this more important today than ever before?

In 2015,Texas wanted to deny Birth Certificates to U.S.-born children of immigrants. Although Texas ended their attempt in July of this year, given the new administration coming in 2017, new policies remain uncertain.

 

Why is a US passport better than a birth certificate?

A passport is the most legal document to prove one’s citizenship. It also makes dual citizenship easier should an individuals family get deported. Without it, a child risks becoming an alien within their parent’s home country.

 

How will the money I give result in a passport for a child in need?

I am working with churches who hold Spanish masses. To me, this is the easiest way to get the message out that help is available. The first round of passports will be ordered this week.

 

How much does a passport cost?

For a child, it cost $80. All donations help though, and I’ll round up the final amount so know your money will result in a passport.

Luminating Letter to a Young Newlywed

Luminating Letter to a Young Newlywed

Luminating Letter to a Young Newlywed – Inspired by a difficult marital journey

Written by Ginny C.

Dear Newlywed,

As a teenage bride over 50 years ago, knowledge of the real world was lacking.  Financial difficulties, a miscarriage, isolation and depression were sitting on the doorstep. Due to a problem with the premises, we had to move from the apartment we had only been in for a few months.    Tension was mounting in the marriage.  This all happened within the 1st year.

Life’s challenges continued and seemed to become more complicated. The biggest problem facing the marriage was the lack of communication. Coping mechanisms that had been learned kept us entangled in a quagmire of gloom and doom due to multiple family issues.  Neither one of us knew how to begin to untangle the mess we were compounding due to lack of experience and resources.

I kept hearing the term coping mechanisms.  It seemed that no matter with whom I spoke, I was told that it was normal to have problems when you are young.  In the late 1960’s early ‘70’s there were not many places to turn.

Being a sporadic writer, I would keep a diary of sorts.  It would help a little since I really didn’t have anyone to talk with that I felt I could trust outside of someone that was clergy or medical.  The resources that I felt I had just made me feel that it was my problem, get over it.

needleworkI had an aunt that taught me to knit as a child. I learned to sew in Home Economics in high school.   Neither one was of much interest to me.  But, I needed something to occupy my time and utilize some form of talent I was hoping to find within myself.

Knitting seemed a better alternative to sewing.  Yarn was cheap and you could make something that could be given as a gift.  Knitting ended up not being so helpful, because, I would drop stitches and I would get pretty far along and there would be a hole in my work.

I switched to crocheting.  It was faster than knitting and if you made a mistake, you knew it pretty quickly after you made it and correct it without feeling like you had to start over.

The crocheting would go into full swing for Christmas presents and I would start right after Christmas for the next year.  Then I found
myself mixing in some knitting again.

After putting items in a small store on consignment people started placing orders.  The money that I received helped me buy materials for the gifts I was making.

When you are young there are a lot of baby showers and wedding gifts to be made.  I became pretty proficient at knitting baby sets (sweater, hat and booties) and crocheting afghans as wedding gifts.

The beautiful thing about needlework, I could keep my hands and my mind busy, which became very therapeutic and I was able to give a lasting gift made out of love.

I have come to the belief that giving of yourself and using the talents you have is both healthful and hopeful.

Luminating Letter from Kyle Mitchell

Luminating Letter from Kyle Mitchell

Kyle Mitchell

Luminating Letter—Inspiring Hopes and Dreams

Kyle knows the frustration being felt by youth today.  Kyle’s Luminating Letter is written to inspire middle and high school students to focus on what is important as they make their decisions regarding life after high school and going to college.

My name is Kyle Mitchell and I am a recent grad from Indiana University Southeast.  In high school and through college, my goal in life was to make a lot of money.  There is nothing wrong with wanting to make a lot of money and I am still striving to make money but my number one goal in life is to inspire others.  I realized that the feeling I get from inspiring is far greater than the feeling of receiving money.  With all this being said, I hope I can inspire kids in high school who are about to go to college with this letter.

do-your-bestThe most important thing you need in college to be successful is effort.  I have friends and colleagues that tell me all the time, “I want to go to college but I am not smart enough.”  There could not be a more false statement about college.  If you put in the effort, you will see the results.  Let me tell you what college is really like.

A lot of high school students experience fear, anxiety, and apprehension when starting college.  This is normal and happens to most (including me) but really there is nothing to worry about.  As long as you can commit yourself to putting in the effort, you will be fine.  A great speaker that I highly recommend to any student to listen to is Eric Thomas.  Even out of school, I still listen to him every day.  One of Eric’s biggest things he “encourages” having phenomenal will is greater than having phenomenal skill.

If you can work on your will power and get that to a phenomenal level then you will undoubtedly succeed not just in school but in life.  You will realize in college that you have a lot less time in the classroom and that most of your learning comes outside of the classroom.  This is where that will power has to kick in for you.

Most high school students are not used to all the freedom and a majority do not know how to handle it.  It takes practice and a mindset to control your will power.  You have to know why you are doing what you are doing.

what-motivates-youWhat is your motivator?  You need to have a reason for why you are going to school.  Going to school because your parents want you to is going to make it hard to control your will power.  You need to have a deep reason that can drive you every day to get up and put everything you have into that day because only then will you feel truly successful.  There is one more element that is important to have in college/life.

The last thing I would like to touch on is having a sense of pride and passion for what you are doing.  Whether it is school, work, sports, etc., make sure you are passionate and have pride in what you are doing.  You should be able look at yourself at the end of the day and feel proud of what you did because you know that really gave it your all that day.

live-lifeTo leave off, make sure you have that effort and phenomenal will power because you only live this life once.  Don’t go to college and waste your time.  Second, develop a sense of pride in what you are doing.  If you don’t feel that pride or you don’t have a passion for what you are doing then switch to something else.  You are at the beginning of your life and it is time to take advantage of it.

Hope during the Holidays

Hope during the Holidays

treeHope during the Holidays

Written by Todd S. 

“I was just doing some shopping last night looking for this Christmas tree that I really liked and I found it. It was left on the shelf. As I placed the tree in my cart, I found the ornaments that I wanted and was ready to check out. While I was moseying along through the aisle, I heard this little girl and her mother talking:

Little Girl: Mommy, I love this tree, can we get this one, we never had a big tree before.

Mommy: I’m sorry baby, we can’t afford that tree, how about this tree right here; it’s really pretty.

Little Girl: That is too small mommy; Santa Claus will not come see me.

Mommy: Sweetie, Santa will come see you; you’ve been a really good girl.

Little Girl: Dang mommy, we’ve never had a big tree before and I really wanted one but I understand.

As I looked on at the two standing there, the little girl was on the verge of tears and I could see the Mother standing there in sadness that she couldn’t fulfill her daughters wish. I walked away feeling overwhelmed with emotions…I don’t have kids so I couldn’t imagine what she felt like inside. But I knew in my heart what I needed to do…I went to the checkout, paid for the tree and the ornaments; I explained to the checkout lady, can you check this lady out behind me, as the lady approached, she was about to put her tree on the counter and I told her, excuse me ma’am, you won’t need that tree, this tree is for you and your daughter. NO CHARGE; MERRY CHRISTMAS. Watching the little girl smiling and feeling her hug, there wasn’t a doubt in my mind that I gave her and her daughter the best Christmas ever!”