Firehouse Fest and Chef Jess

Firehouse Fest and Chef Jess

Firehouse Fest and Chef Jess 
LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited activities are geared towards innovative educational experiences while having fun.

The first Firehouse Fest was held on Saturday, May 9, 2015 was a great success! As noted by Sharon Cecil at her “Speaking Intergenerationally” blog site,  “Participants visited an historic firehouse and provided with valuable information for health, wellness and mental well-being.”

chefjessShortly after graduating from high school, Jessica began working with senior adults.  With a quiet demure, her rapport with the participants in the senior program was AMAZING.  She demonstrated a remarkable artistic talent.

With her incredible artistic ability it wasn’t surprising that she wanted to be an artist.  A Culinary Artist that is—something she had aspired to do since she was four years old.

At Firehouse Fest, participants enjoyed working with Chef Jess who volunteered her time decorating cupcakes, cookies and donuts on May 9 with graduation from the Culinary Arts Program on May 12, 2015.

LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited wants every young person to know, “If you can dream it, you can do It.” ~~ Walt Disney

Chef Jess epitomes “The Power of the Dream!”

To read more Portrayals of Hope go here.





By Bob Mueller, Vice President of Development at Hosparus

volunteerDo you hold back from volunteering because you believe your help will not be enough, just a drop in the bucket?  I like the example of Mother Teresa, who committed one small voluntary act of kindness, then another and then another.  Ordinary acts of service accumulate into an inspiring, indelible and loving declaration about the power of helping one another.


The word volunteer originally came from an ancient Latin word, voluntarius, meaning “voluntary.”  To volunteer, then, is to exercise our free choice on behalf of others.  The act of volunteering influences how we design our lives and makes our choices more conscious and meaningful.  Volunteering also signifies generosity, a cherished form of spiritual development and expression in all traditions.  To volunteer is to offer up the fruit of our enlightened intention.  It elevates us and others by both deepening connection and reducing suffering.


We can wait for others to make the world a saner and compassionate place, or we can volunteer to use the upcoming time we have to move in a beneficial direction.  The compassionate action you take does not have to once and for all create world peace, end all injustice or otherwise dramatically alter the world.  It only has to be one action that can serve such ideals.  Many people hold back from helping because they wrongly believe that their actions would be inadequate to make the huge changes that are needed.  They mistakenly judge what they can do as a failure.


Keep a journal about your journey of volunteering.  Look for opportunities to volunteer throughout the day, and keep track of these.  Volunteering opens your heart, so listen to your heart to guide you to those areas where you feel a connection – such as working with children, the sick, the dying, the grieving, the under-privileged, the elderly, the disabled, the animal kingdom, and so forth.  Share your dreams of volunteering with others, and you may gain new insights and extra encouragement.


It goes without saying that harming others does not a friendly community make.  When we volunteer we can begin to refrain from doing harm while cultivating love and good relations.


Here are four ways to plant seeds of friendship which I have observed volunteers do best:


  1. Notice your negative impulses.  This means accepting and recognizing that you can’t force yourself to be kind and loving all of the time.  Even Mother Teresa’s path was filled with doubt.  If you notice a harmful emotion or thought, take a minute to breathe and investigate what caused it.  Remind yourself that you’re doing the best you can.
  2. Spend a minute saying a prayer for a difficult person or situation in your life.  When we pray for others, we feel compassion for the circumstances that make them who they are.  This may help you gain more understanding and empathy.
  3. Plant seeds of friendship by helping and cherishing others, even in little ways.
    It is the small actions that let others know they are loved and valued, and small actions only take a minute.  Take to heart the words of Robert Louis Stevenson, who wrote in a letter, “It is the history of our kindnesses that alone makes this world tolerable.  If it were not for that, for the effect of kind words, kind looks, kind letters. . . I should be inclined to think our life a practical jest in the worst possible spirit.”
  4. Strive to let go of your expectations about the way people should act.  Instead of getting frustrated, accept that all individuals are imperfect and subject to ignorance, confusion and delusion.  Then give as much as you feel capable of giving from your heart, without demanding anything in return.  Give freely to others.  And you never know from what direction friendship may come, so place one-minute seeds of love and kindness wherever you happen to be.
Annie’s Inspiring Song

Annie’s Inspiring Song

Annie’s Inspiring Song

Written by Sharon Cecil

hopewritingsongWith aspirations of being a singer/songwriter Annie Grace, wrote and performed a song on Saturday, November 8, 2014 at We Survive’s LIGHTFEST Station in Louisville, KY.

Annie dedicated the song LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited and the mission of bringing awareness to issues faced by those dealing with poverty, susceptible to poverty, hunger and homelessness.

Annie‘s song addresses homelessness.  Her sweet angelic voice and the insightful words she had written brought tears to the audience.

We want to thank Annie once again for dedicating and performing her song.  LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited inspires Hopes and Dreams.  Annie fulfilled a dream in Louisville, KY, November 8, 2014.  Our THANKS to Dave Hufana and Long Island Records for the opportunity to once again share Annie’s song.

“See Me” Written by Annie Grace

 Lost and alone

Sinking like a stone

Oh I don’t know where to go oh

I cried the tears that you never saw me cry, why can’t you hear my call….

Chorus: why can’t you see me ‘cause I’m on my knees

As I’m crying out for help from you

Why can can’t you save me ‘cause its all I need

Why can can’t you see me Just wanted to make sure it is can’t instead of or can

Verse: and I know life is unfair but nobody seems to care about me

These lonely streets through the cold and heat

The wind chill to my bones


But now I’m OK, Now I’m alright.

Only ‘cause someone saved me when they heard me plead

Revised Chorus:  They saw me when I was on my knees

As I was crying out for help from them

Now I know what to do:

I’m gonna save you, and I hope you do too.

Cause now I’m fine, cause someone saw me.

Can you see somebody?

Getting to the Heart of the Matter

Getting to the Heart of the Matter

Getting to the Heart of the Matter

Written by Sharon Cecil

hearthandcrystalballIn July 2012 I wrote, “Are You Part of a Sandwich Family,” discussing the complexity of the family unit due to the fact that multi-generations live under the same roof, often referred to as the “Sandwich Generation.”  We are like a sandwich.  The top and bottom pieces of bread representing birth and death.  In the middle you find the Heart of the Matter…LIFE.

With the proper plan, materials and tools we build a house or construct a highway.  When it comes to a better life, there are no blueprints or guarantees to pave the way to a perfect life.

We have health problems, financial issues, difficult relationships and much more that will crop up.  It is important that we learn from our past, experience today so we can dream for a better future.

Are You Part of a Sandwich Family,” talks about,   “As we age, family becomes more important.  We want to spend more time with our children.  For some, we find it feasible to join resources and move in together so that life can be simpler—parents helping out with the grandchildren, expenses, etc.”

If you watch or listen to the news, you are hearing about jobs that are going unfilled because of the lack of qualified people.  They say that this is because of a “shortage on tech talent.”  Then a few days ago, ITT Technical Institute’s closed all of their schools.

Before you know it, the “Sandwich Generation” becomes more complex.  It can make it even more complicated to deal with your life journey if your family doesn’t get along or there are complex issues.  Those of you who are old enough may remember the Walton’s, a long running TV Series about a family that worked together, worked things out and they thrived.

Due to not being able to find employees for skilled jobs, we will be seeing more and more “Sandwich Generation” households.  Filling healthcare positions is a huge concern, especially nursing.  In Louisville, Kentucky, on August 24, 2016, WHAS TV reported 2,000 nurses needed as shortage hits Kentuckiana,  “Nationwide there is a nursing shortage and KentuckianaWorks estimates there are more than 2,000 nurses needed in Kentuckiana alone.”

Growing up, I lived within a family unit that was continually disrupted.  There was continual drama and trauma.  By the time I graduated from high school, I didn’t feel very hopeful about life or the future.  Then, a minister said to me, that I had two choices, continue the turmoil or find peace in my life.  I decided that I wanted to find peace.  It sounded so easy.  Although I tried to keep my eye on the target, I can say that I missed the mark more than a few times.

Deciding to work with children and families was a lifetime commitment for my husband and I after we got married.  In 1994, we started working with families dealing with poverty, hunger and homelessness.

My husband had a vision and wanted to share it with everyone along with his belief that “nurturance in nature” is healing.  Not to say that there weren’t rough patches along the way, the path we took has been most rewarding.  People of all ages have been given the opportunity to share their stories of inspiration and hope.

As our journey winds down, I have been given the honor to share precious inspirational moments everyday with my husband as we travel our journey with dementia.

Several years ago, a precocious 4-year-old homeless girl informed a group of us, “When you have HOPE you’re HAPPY!”

I feel HOPE is the Heart of the Matter.

We would love for you to share a message of inspiration and HOPE.  For more information about Portrayals of Hope contact us at

Louisville African Heritage Festival

Louisville African Heritage Festival

Louisville African Heritage Festival

Written by: Sharon Cecil

With a shared interest in our youth, Sunshine Joe Mallard will once again working with LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited  “to heightened awareness of those who live in poverty, susceptible to poverty, hunger and homelessness and help to Improve Impoverished Lives.”

AHFestivalSupport Sunshine Joe Mallard and please attend the Louisville African Heritage Festival on August 26th & 27th. It will be a celebration of unity, culture, art and history across the African Diaspora.

Opening Ceremonies will be Friday, August 26 from 7-9pm, at the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage with a cultural reception featuring the art of quilter Sunshine Joe Mallard, performances by the artists of Roots & Wings, refreshments and more!

To find out more, visit this site.


Hope–Spiritual Food and Medicine for the Mind

Hope–Spiritual Food and Medicine for the Mind

Hope–Spiritual Food and Medicine for the Mind

by Sharon Cecil
As a cancer survivor, I had to keep HOPE in my Heart in order to
survive.  I was continually staying busy.  I developed the motto
“Purposeful Living is the Best Preparation for Dying.”

My husband and I were continually looking for projects to be involved
which brought us to co-founding We Survive.  I received a reminder
from Dr. Joe Pecoraro, “Form habits that feed your success and not
your failure.”

Thank you  for this thought provoking message.

MindSuccess (1)

I am a firm believer that HOPE is not only Spiritual Food, but also
medicine for the mind.

Olympic Torch Relay Generates Enthusiasm — Now and Then

Olympic Torch Relay Generates Enthusiasm — Now and Then

Olympic Torch Relay Generates Enthusiasm — Now and Then

Written by Sharon Cecil


olympic torch relayThe Olympic Torch Relay is a ceremonial event focused on the Olympic Flame traveling from Olympia, Greece, to the site of the Olympic Games via a torch from person to person until it reaches its destination.

This is the 31st Olympiad. The Torch Relay is coming to an end and the Summer Olympic Games will begin Friday, August 5, in Rio.

A lot of work goes into preparing for the Olympic Games.

For the athletes, it is a daily commitment to a rigid regime. Athletes do everything they can to excel in their field.  Reaching the Olympic Games is every athlete’s dream.  It requires an enormous amount of practice, skill and determination working with coaches and trainers as well as a rigorous schedule. Not to mention the financial investment!  There is no guarantee that any of this will mean they will be an Olympian.

Wherever the Olympic Games are located, there is an inordinate amount of planning, preparation and coordination.

It seems that there has been little coverage for this year’s Olympics in Rio and almost no coverage on the participants. Or it might seem that way because the 1996 Olympics holds a special place in my heart for a multitude of reasons.

20th Anniversary

In a New York Times Magazine article published SUNDAY, July 7, 1996: The Olympics; Atlanta Needs Flame! Notes From a Long Torch Trip “In 60 years of Olympic torch relays, never have so many carried fire so far.”

Being a torchbearer for the 1996 Summer Olympics, my husband and I attended several events before the actual arrival of the flame in Louisville, Kentucky.  At one event, we were able to meet Muhammad Ali.

During its journey, the flame was to cross the bridge from Indiana to Kentucky. The excitement was mounting on the evening of June 5th in Louisville, Kentucky as everyone waited with great anticipation for the arrival of the flame at the Riverfront Plaza-Belvedere.  There were some eventful moments.  But the flame arrived safely.

Muhammad Ali, Louisville native, lit the Cauldron 20 years ago during the opening ceremonies.

In an interview on WSBTV-Atlanta, Billy Payne, who headed Atlanta’s Olympic organizing committee said, “The Olympic movement is the only thing in the world that brings together so many people of diverse races, religions, ethnicities and economic statue. It’s such a celebration of sport. And who better to stand at the top of that mountain than Muhammad Ali, because that’s what he represented throughout his life,” The incredible UNTOLD story of Muhammad Ali and the 1996 Olympic Flame

LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited is born from the 1996 Olympic Torch Relay.  Everyone can help IMPROVE IMPOVERISHED LIVES and provide HOPE to encourage the POWER of Dreams.

WorldIlluminatedStep out to illuminate the world by displaying a Light of Hope wherever you are on November 5, 2016, at 6pm Eastern Time.  It can be a porch light, candle, cell phone, or flashlight. Join others around the world in celebrating the LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited movement!

Hope and Healing from Sunshine

Hope and Healing from Sunshine

Hope and Healing from Sunshine

Written by Sharon Cecil

There is no doubt about it.  We are like bears, hibernating in the winter waiting for springs lavish colors from nature’s pallet breaking out into full bloom, as the days are longer while enjoying the warmth and glow of sunshine.

I remember hearing the voices and laughter as the children in the neighborhood would play outside.  With all of the electronic devices and both parents working or being part of a single parent household, the sound of the children outside is a rarity.

Advocating for youth, We Survive has been able to bring sunshine to the life to an under-served population through intergenerational connections.

I have created programming for all ages for over 40 years.  These programs encourage people to believe in themselves and dare to DREAM.

Creating youth driven programming for We Survive has offered an extreme amount of joy in my life. Youth were instrumental in the creation of LIGHTFEST, originating in 1997 as a Festival held at Churchill Downs from 1997 to 2001.  As Bill Wolfe wrote in the Courier-Journal on March 24, 1997, “Festival radiates light, hope, dreams and Olympic spirit.”

Sunshine8493I was first introduced to “Sunshine” Joseph Mallard’s artwork in 2005. In November 2006, “Sunshine” Joe was part of We Survive’s month long activities for Hunger and Homelessness Awareness. It all started on November 3, with a tapestry/needle art exhibit.

In collaboration with Wayside Christian Mission, “Sunshine “Joe” Mallard’s tapestries were featured at Expressions Gallery (Wayside Christian Mission’s Art Gallery).  There were handcrafted items made by Jeffersontown Christian Church—Grateful Threads. Also, items created by clients served by Wayside Christian Mission were also displayed.

While on my personal and professional journey, I combined my art and nursing degrees to provide Creative Expression  programming which has been an important part of my life’s journey.

In 2016, “Sunshine” Joe’s name crossed my path once again. Who could forget his creative ability with his tapestries and his embroidery!

Without light, darkness prevails—SUNSHINE is a natural healer and offers HOPE. With a name like Sunshine Joe, this was a perfect re-connect.

Sunshine8496I wondered how Joe Mallard got the name Sunshine Joe.  He told me,  “Many years ago while working with a group of fifth graders in Louisville KY, a student asked if she could give me a nickname. I said yes.  She said ‘Sunshine Joe.’  I asked why. ‘She said, ‘the sunshine brings light and you do too.’”

Since retiring in 2013 from Corporate America, Sunshine Joe said, “I turned my energies exclusively to my community work and my own art.”  Sunshine Joe’s exquisite artwork has gained national recognition. He says, “The tapestry-quilts, sometimes taking years to complete, pulsate with color, energy, and joy.”

With a shared interest in our youth, Sunshine Joe will be working with LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited  “to heighten awareness of those who live in poverty, susceptible to poverty, hunger and homelessness and help to Improve Impoverished Lives.”

We Survive would like to invite everyone to be part of LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited “to show your support for the future of America with a Light of HOPE.” By joining this worldwide movement, you will be showing the passion that you have for your community and the world.

On November 5, you can send a message of HOPE for LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited 2016, by having a Light-Up Celebration at 6pm Eastern Time, with your family and friends while putting compassion into action. Display some form of LIGHT representing HOPE. It can be a porch light, candle, flashlight or cell phone.

For more information about Sunshine Joe Mallard’s work, you can contact him at: Email

Telephone: 502-491-2517 or 502-533-2261

Encouraging Words

Encouraging Words

Encouraging Words

Written by Sharon Cecil

words have powerWords have power.  Everyone needs to hear words of encouragement.  Unfortunately, sometimes words are used to inflict pain.

We Survive was part of a health and wellness pilot program developed by Girl Scout USA called Growing Up Female.  In 1996, I met with Girl Scout Troop 1472.  Emphasizing the importance of a positive ATTITUDE, I presented a message on health while introducing ways for the girls to feel comfortable knowing their own bodies.


The young ladies in the troop were 11 years old, so I wasn’t sure that they were really hearing the message.  When one of the leaders called me and said that the “girls” wanted to take the information they learned and had already started planning a way to create a Silver Award project, I realized that there was power in that presentation.


Girl Scout Troop 1472 produced an educational video along with materials for handouts, which was formally presented at a Women’s Luncheon, which opened the door for a discussion on health and wellness with a focus on breast cancer.  This program became We Survive’s Women Offering Wisdom (WOW).


Brittany Zinsious-Kinder and Nikki Sherrard (Arielle Sherrard Corbett) continued with the WOW program, after the Girl Scout Troop members received their Silver Award, until they graduated from high school.


WOW made it possible for valuable information to reach young women while offering opportunities for young women to serve their community with the support of adult advisors.


In leadership roles, Brittany and Nikki planned, promoted and presented programming while being the creators and educators of health and wellness events. Brittany and Nikki assembled a team of presenters for programs and events.


rsz_mofclogoAsking if they could learn more about event planning, Brittany, Nikki and several other young ladies on the team met with Linda Surbeck founder of Master of Ceremonies.


Linda was more that willing to act as an advisor to this group of young ladies.  Linda inspired them with her creativity and diversity.  They could see the passion Linda had for her work.


rsz_positive_book_3Positive Powerful Promotional Words,” a book Linda authored, was given to the group.  With book in hand and carrying the inspirational words in their heart, these young ladies left the meeting realizing their hopes and dreams were attainable.  Linda Surbeck gave meaning to the power of words and presented them with the “Power of the Dream.”


“There never shall be one lost good. All we have willed or hoped or dreamed of good shall exist.” —Robert Browning


With Compassion, Courage and Collaboration, the WOW Girlz gave voice to young people through a radio talk show, magazine, book and creative health and wellness programs, events and a resource center located at Jefferson Community and Technical College where they could meet and mentor their peers.  “Having a special peer mentor had a significant effect on these young women’s lives.”


“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” – Anne Frank


Linda, THANK YOU for your continued support!!

Chili’s Fundraiser

Chili’s Fundraiser

Enjoy a meal at Chili’s with family and friends while supporting We Survive’s effort to provide Day of Hope  experiences so that children and families living in poverty, those susceptible to poverty, hunger and homelessness know that someone cares.

Print and bring this voucher with you and 15% of your purchase (before taxes) will go to support a Day of Hope. During a Day of Hope experience, participants are empowered to BELIEVE in the power of having a dream.