Volunteers – lifeblood of non-profits

Volunteers – lifeblood of non-profits

Written by Sharon Cecil

Volunteers | lifeblood of non-profits

VolunteersVolunteers are important to non-profit organizations in our society.  Volunteerism offers an opportunity to share the talents you have while helping those in need.  We Survive would not have had 20 years of program excellence without our volunteers.

Many people get involved with a cause or they start an organization because of their own personal experience. After being diagnosed with cancer, I found that I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives.  The fear of death can be overwhelming.  I wanted to do something to help others. My husband and I co-founded We Survive.  Knowing that you are living a purposeful life is rewarding.

In the story “Life’s pain gives purpose to hope” July 17, 2015 Courier Journal, three national organizations are mentioned—Susan G. Komen, Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation and Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation.  Each one founded due to a devastating life experience.

“Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.”

Sir James Barrie

When she was little, my daughter started accompanying me when I volunteered with the elder population.  By the time she was three years old, she knew she was a valuable volunteer.  The weekly visits reinforced her importance as the residents told her how glad they were to see her every week.

You can volunteer at any age— in your neighborhood, at church (yours or one in you community) or a worthy organization. It can be on any given day in many ways, giving a few minutes or as much time as you have to give.

With plans to expand our Day of Hope programming, people will ask, “What can I do to help?”   My answer is, volunteer! If you would like to volunteer, please visit our home page for opportunities. Or you can become a Key of Hope partner.   Join by giving a gift today to help us provide life-changing experiences for children and families that are in an impoverished situation.

 

We Survive home of Day of Hope

Website  http://wesurvive.org/

Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/WeSurvive.org?ref=hl

 

fueled by LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited

Website  http://lightfestreignited.info/

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/lightfestcommunity?ref=hl

Is being called Pollyannaish insulting? 

Is being called Pollyannaish insulting? 

Written by Sharon Cecil

Is being called Pollyannaish insulting?

Glad

I have often been referred to as a Pollyanna. The definition of Pollyanna according to Merriam-Webster dot com, “a person characterized by irrepressible optimism and a tendency to find good in everything.”

I have considered being called Pollyanna a compliment. Think about how much gladness Pollyanna brought to the little town of Beldingsville, Vermont.

FYI— Did you know that there were sequels to Pollyanna known as “Glad Books,” published throughout the years? If not, check it out.

Being positive (Pollyannaish) can be catching…Even inspiring. A nurse by the name of Fran was my inspiration and virtual mother. She said that the best medicine was being positive and laughter. She was one of the greatest influences in my life. She was ABSOLUTELY right!!

During childhood, reading was an escape from the world around me. I loved reading happy stories like Pollyanna, mysteries and drama. The same thing goes today. As I’ve gotten older though, my reading time has taken a hit since watching happy movies, mysteries and dramas on TV.

The original LIGHTFEST held at Churchill Downs was, “billed as a `day of light and hope, “Bill Wolfe, The Courier-Journal March 24, 1997. It was an event that gave joy and gladness to all that attended.

Let’s cast a shadow on the cloud of doubt.

Let’s show the World that there is truth in being GLAD

Join the LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited Movement

Shine a Light of HOPE

On November 7, 2015 at 6pm Eastern Time, be apart of the LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited movement and display a Light of Hope. It can be a porch light, candle or flashlight…this can be done as a group or individually

Is hope just a dream or can it fly?

Is hope just a dream or can it fly?

Written by Sharon Cecil

Is hope just a dream or can it fly?

Some people have called Sharon and Moody Cecil dreamers.  They had a dream of changing young people’s lives by offering hope and inspiration.  As we know, the Cecil’s are not the only ones who have had their hopes and dreams become reality.

KiteKeyDuring a Creative Expression  program held on June 22, 2015.  There was a discussion about Benjamin Franklin being a dreamer.  The conversation evolved into a consensus that Benjamin Franklin would take a dream and make it happen.

Growing up we heard that Benjamin Franklin invented electricity by creating a lightning rod using a Kite and a key.

Benjamin Franklin is best known for this kite and key experiment. As dreamer, He wanted to improve people’s lives with practical ideas that he put to the test.

Inspiring Hopes and Dreams

When you lose Hopes and Dreams, it can change every facet of  life. We Survive implemented Day of Hope programming  to IMPROVE IMPOVERISHED LIVES.

In 2014, LIGHTFEST Re- Ignited was born.  It was a way for We Survive to renew their promise to spread a message of HOPE Worldwide…By re-igniting LIGHTEST, originally held in 1997, We Survive brought back the Light shared over 20 years ago to inspire our youth to aspire and realize “the Power of the Dream.”

 

Are your dreams something that can take flight like a kite?

 

Contact We Survive and explore LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited Activity opportunities. These activities can be done throughout the year.  By holding an activity, you will

IMPROVE IMPOVERISH LIVES

 

Christina Onassis, wealthiest woman in the world (1950–1988) had everything life could offer.  Yet, it is said that she was not very happy.  She said, “Sometimes when you have everything, you can’t really tell what matters.”

 

As a 4-year old homeless girl said during a Day of Hope conversation, “If you have hope, you are happy!”

 

We are asking that everyone around the world be part of the LIGHTFEST movement.  On November 7, 2015 at 6pm Eastern Time, display a Light of Hope.  It can be a porch light, candle or flashlight…this can be done as a group or individually.

Haven of Hope offers Hopeful Future

Haven of Hope offers Hopeful Future

Written by Sharon Cecil

Haven of Hope offers Hopeful Future

Born and raised in Bloomfield, KY, Moody’s relatives (on both sides of the family) owned farms throughout Nelson County.  Although he knew that farming was not his passion, he realized at a very young age that nature was.

As a child, one of his favorite aunts would take him hiking and one of his uncles took him fishing on a regular basis.  He spent a lot of time on his grandparents’ farm.

As an adult, Moody took any opportunity that he had to spend time at his grandparents’ farm—the same one that eventually became his parents and then his.  Once Moody retired he shared his feelings during presentations that “communing with nature is nurturing.”  He coined the phrase Nurturance in Nature.

We Survive, located at the farm, has worked with youth since its beginning.  The first program was Children and Nature—I CAN.  Positive attitudes and healthy lifestyles has been the common thread in all of our programs.

In October 1996, Moody presented a program at Lebanon Junction Elementary School.  “Healthy Outlook shows at Lebanon Junction”—Courier Journal Neighborhoods October 30, 1996.  The children made music, had a relay with hula-hoops and did an activity that provided and understanding about balancing their lives with the use of a peacock feather.

Like the tail feathers of a peacock, our lives are like a beautiful quilt that has been delicately woven by ornate patterns and magnificent thread.

In 2007, almost 10 years later, teens began visiting children at Wayside Christian Mission weekly.  Working with the youth, we had a contest to name the program in order to get the word out and recruit more volunteers.

A young man from Newburg Middle School won. The winner explained that “these teens give hopes and dreams to children that may not have one.  Scraps of cloth can become a beautiful quilt.”

The winning nameDream Weavers

“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

rsz_20140912_195121When families face difficult times, they are not sure where to turn. During these adverse time, there is a Beacon of HOPE at We Survive’s Haven of Hope. A Lighthouse created by Lauren (a high school student) , was inaugurated on June 6, 2015. This Beacon of Hope provides a Light of HOPE to those who cross the ridge to We Survive’s Haven of Hope. It offers guidance and inspiration during Day of Hope activities at a safe haven.  That day a new sign (created by youth volunteers) was also erected.

 

During devastating times, when we are watching the news, we have seen examples of courage and hear stories of people committing themselves to help others in times. There are numerous Hidden Heroes that step forward and share their time with others.  Volunteers are the ones who help to make things a bit more bearable for others and are the lifeblood of non-profit organizations.

Whether you have a few minutes or a block of time, I am a believer that the most precious gift we can give is time and it doesn’t cost a dime.

Thank you to everyone who enriched our lives, lent a hand and given so generously.

Please check out our website for volunteer opportunities on the home page.

Jenniffer Truitt, MSOT

Jenniffer Truitt, MSOT

Jenniffer Truitt, MSOT

Jenniffer Truitt attended the first WOW program in 1996, at age 11. Jenniffer has been very active with WOW. As the Community Outreach Coordinator she has made presentations throughout the community. Jenniffer has also created and produced educational materials. She is a member of We Survive’s Board of Directors.

Jenniffer completed her Masters Degree of Science in Occupation Therapy. Jenniffer connects easily with children and has spent years working with children and adult programming, structuring activities to be fun and engaging allowing for Creative Expression.

As a Certified Personal Trainer, Jenniffer combines her expertise to motivate, set goals and provide feedback and accountability to participants while providing fitness assessments.

Jenniffers’s Interest in WOW from its Beginning

“My interest in this program was peaked easily and I am now enthusiastically looking forward to its advancement. Let me explain why I think this is a vital program in the tweens, teen and twenties arena.

My childhood was somewhat unsettled due to frequent moves; as a result we ended up in Wayside Christian Mission. I was probably about six when first introduced to the Mission. We, my siblings and I, were later taken in by other families, but my Mother continued to frequent Wayside. On one of my return visits when I was about 10 or 11, I remember being entertained by young clowns. This has become one of my most secure and happy memories of the Mission. I believe this group of clowns was the first group of WOW Girlz when WOW was first presented to Wayside. The clown’s mission: make the young girls feel more secure, adapt to Wayside, and provide healthful information – mission accomplished.

After attending nursing school I realized again how important it is to me that young girls know there are people that truly care about them and their concerns. The clowns were a small thing that made a huge impact on the way I felt and reacted that day. That is why I have become part of the WOW team.”

JennifferPhotoTrain

Marlene Will, Ed.D.

Marlene Will, Ed.D.

Marlene Will, Ed.D.

Wellness the Write Way Coordinator

Dr. Marlene Will is an educator and author who has taught at Spalding University since 1978 in the Department of Mathematics and Science.

Besides presenting workshops on problem solving skills and using humor in the workplace, Marlene has published numerous professional articles.

Marlene (on left) with Sharon Cecil

Marlene (on left) with Sharon Cecil

Marlene was part of the organizing of We Survive from the very beginning.  There was a lot of research that needed to be done and plans to be made.  In order to get We Survive recognized within the community, Marlene fulfilled speaking engagements at community businesses and organizations, appeared on TV and did radio interviews.

When WOW was created in 1996, Marlene began working on coordinating intergenerational programs and projects.  Many of these projects included writing and working with media.

In 2002, Marlene became the Wellness the Write Way Coordinator.  This program introduced journaling as a wellness and productivity tool.  Participants were encouraged to do purposeful personal writing to help improve their mental, emotional, physical and spiritual well being through reflection.  This was a cost-effective tool that can be added to a person healthful toolbox.

In 2003, Marlene created WOW Daughterz.  Having had breast cancer and the mother of two daughters, Marlene wanted there to be a forum for young women to share their thoughts and feelings.  The objective was that no young women ever feel alone after their mother, grandmother, aunt or friend is diagnosed with breast cancer.  These meetings were held monthly at the WOW Resource Center housed within the Jefferson Community College Women’s Center for Growth and Leadership.

Together, Marlene and Sharon Cecil have published numerous workbooks that help people to get in touch with thoughts and feelings while tapping into their inner most energy releasing their own creative expression. Marlene combines her expertise to motivate, set goals and provide feedback and accountability to participants while providing creative ways to express grief.

Marlene has conducted research on learning styles, and has published numerous professional articles.  She has been a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist since 2002.

Sharon Cecil

Sharon Cecil

Sharon Cecil

Co-founder We Survive
Current Executive Director

Sharon Cecil is a registered nurse with a degree in art. Since 1994, she’s put her combined education to work co-founding and creating intergenerational wellness presentations and events as the Executive Director of We Survive, Inc., a non-profit organization.

With over 40 years in healthcare, Sharon is dedicated to creating motivational and inspirational programming focusing on health and wellness.

As a breast cancer survivor and registered nurse (with a specialty in Mental Health and Psychiatric Nursing), Sharon knows we all face adversity. In 1996, Sharon started the WOW Program, dedicated to providing educational programming through intergenerational mentoring and creative expression.

Rising from the ashes of a “dysfunctional family,” Sharon focuses on providing information that heightens awareness, educates, and advocates. Her motivational and inspirational talks, seminars and workshops encourage people to laugh and “lighten up.” They share a common theme: maintain a positive attitude when faced with adversity.

As a 1996 Olympic Torchbearer, Sharon carries the “Power of the Dream…deep within her heart” each and every day.SharonWithTorch

Since carrying the Olympic Torch, in 1996, Sharon has had a passionate goal of helping youth realize “The Power of the Dream,”.—the theme song from the 1996 Olympics.

Through life experiences, Sharon and Marlene Will realized the importance of nutrition, physical health, and a positive mental outlook—the Mind, Body, Spirit connection.  These are areas addressed by the WOW and Creative Expression programs. Both programs advocate the position that the more a person knows about him or her self, the better prepared he/she will be to face any problems that may develop in his/her life.  Combining art and writing, Sharon believes that expressing yourself creatively offers good health and healing.

Beside being an educator, writer and consultant, Sharon has been a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist since 2002.

Melissa Black

Melissa Black

Melissa Black

Haven of Hope Coordinator-Envisioner

IMG_1362

Early in 2004, Melissa submitted a story to We Survive for the WOW Magazine—“To Live Your Life.” This story reflected on how Melissa’s dad…”inspires me to live my life to the fullest…he fought for his life and won.”

On August 10, 2004, Melissa volunteered at Media Mania held at the Kentucky Center for the Arts. Media Mania was a dual Press Conference and Media Promotional event.

The WOW Team held a Press Conference introducing new initiatives to the press and then did a promotional radio talk show on “Big Talk on Small Business.” As a volunteer with the WOW Team, Melissa greeted people as they entered the conference and was a guest on Big Talk on Small Business.

From that moment on Melissa became a permanent part of the WOW Team. One aspect of WOW is training youth to facilitate writing programs and mentor on the talk show—Get in the NOW with WOW. Melissa wanted to do both.

Melissa became part of the production process for the WOW magazine and talk show. As Melissa says, “these are skills that provide tremendous advantages.”

In 2008, Melissa changed directions and wanted to see more activities at We Survive’s Corporate Headquarters. She started a campaign to garner help and gave the headquarters the name—Haven of Hope.

Melissa, a big believer in creative expression, took Moody Cecil’s vision and was able to envision what Moody wanted…”a real hands on learning lab outside of the classroom—nurturance in nature.”

The first Haven of Hope—Day of Hope—Health and Wellness Day Camp was held in the summer of 2009.

From 2009 until the present, Melissa was busy recruiting volunteers in order to expand on that first Day of Hope experience, created a logo, sought donations of materials to revitalize the old farmhouse, headed to college, got married, has a family and is the Haven of Hope Coordinator.

Melissa recently graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from the University of Louisville.

Moody Cecil

Moody Cecil

Moody Cecil
Visionary
Co-Founder, We Survive

Moody Cecil has been dedicated to working with youth and the vision of creating “a legacy for future generations.”

HPIM1257Sharon and Moody Cecil co-founded We Survive in 1994. Moody dedicated his homestead to be a Stewardship Forest. The homestead is now known as Haven of Hope (We Survive’s corporate headquarters) and is a Certified Stewardship Forest—a designation given by the Kentucky Division of Forestry.

Moody has been a fierce champion for both the young and old. He has an extraordinary love of nature.

One example of his gift of giving began in the fall of 1999, Moody completed a Master Gardening Course through the Jefferson County Extension Office in order to learn more about plants and garden design. Moody needed volunteer hours as part of the Mast Gardening curriculum. Someone mentioned the National Arbor Day Poster Contest. It seemed only natural for him to explore the Arbor Day information. He became the first Kentucky State Coordinator and began planning the 2000 Arbor Day National Poster Contest in September, 1999. He was the State Coordinator for five years. After he resigned, they did not find a new coordinator for quite some time. It is felt that Moody’s shoes must have been hard to fill.

HPIM0948As time passes, Moody’s memory is fading. He is losing many of the memories that he held so dear. But his desire to be around people of all ages and his love of nature still shines bright as he continues to make new memories for those of us who love his company.

What is most admired about Moody is that he continues to be a champion for causes in which he believes. This allows those of us around him to Celebrate Life.

In Pursuit of Hopes and Dreams through Creative Expression

In Pursuit of Hopes and Dreams through Creative Expression

This is a journey of 3 Wise Women and 1 Wise Guy (the Visionary) and an Envisioner

Everyone has dreams. Some dreams are forgotten, others are never forgotten but never are followed through.

You are about to go on a journey that involves:

Friendships
Families
Love
Heartaches
Happiness
HOPE

A Celebration of Life

AttitudeDuring this journey, you will get to know Sharon Cecil, Marlene Will, Jenniffer Truitt, Moody Cecil and Melissa Black. A group of people brought together through extraordinary circumstances, overcoming multiple adversities while believing in the power of a dream.

By stepping out of a comfort zone, a craft class began in 1974, where Sharon Cecil met Marlene Will. Two young mothers were seeking an opportunity to be creative while meeting new people. The class became a social network. Participants further developed their creative abilities—the sharing of ideas and making all sort of artistic craft items.

There were a few that were able to sell items through consignment. Others enjoyed the single items made during class, taking that knowledge home and creating gifts for family and friends.

The class began to include short walking trips, visiting shops along a corridor in the heart of the Highland community in Louisville. These short trips soon included lunch along with innovative conversation. The talents of each participant shared.

It was amazing the creative energy generated from a class that continued until 1988.

In 1994, Sharon and Moody Cecil co-founded We Survive. Sharon, Moody and Marlene began coordinating programming.

Jenniffer Truitt was introduced to programming created by Sharon, Marlene and Girl Scout Troop 1472 in 1996. Jenniffer was an 11-year old homeless child who just happened to be at the shelter during the first WOW Program.

As a middle school student, Melissa Black entered the picture in 2004. Melissa’s writing abilities awarded her the opportunity to be published in a magazine that was started by We Survive’s WOW team in 2000.