Inspiration and Hope Shines On

Inspiration and Hope Shines On

Inspiration and Hope Shines On

Written by Sharon Cecil

henry-holden-1Henry Holden, a LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited Ambassador, has left us to become a star shining brilliantly for the universe. He was an INCREDIBLE talent.

LIGHTFEST originated in 1997. It was inspired by the 1996 Olympic Torch Relay and the theme song from the Olympics, “The Power of the Dream.”

HenryMarathonHenry Holden was an incredible person, role model and so much more. He agreed to be an Ambassador to the re-igniting of LIGHTFEST in 2014. LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited goals remain the same as the original LIGHTFEST, Inspiring Hopes and Dreams. Henry was diagnosed with polio in 1952 at the age of 4 years old during the polio epidemic. He did not allow this to deter him from being exuberant about life. He played sports, became an actor, stand-up comic, motivational speaker, writer, playwright and advocate for those with disabilities and a two-time LA Marathon participant.

I have said that Henry was my hero Henry. He had a way of inspiring and motivating people. In talking with a close friend of Henry’s, she shared how Henry hated to be called “an inspiration”. She says, “I get it, he was often told that he was an inspiration when he was also being told that he didn’t get the part. ‘I’m sorry, Henry, we’ve gone in another direction. But you are an inspiration to me.’ Oh my, would he get upset. I used to pretend to be a woman in a drunken brawl using the word inspiration as a curse word. ‘I’m an inspiration? An INSPIRATION?!?! YOU’RE an inspiration! You wanna see inspiring? Go look in the damn mirror! Why don’t you go home and INSPIRE YOURSELF!’ He would laugh until he couldn’t breathe. Nonetheless, he was and still is, an inspiration.”

Henry was a perfect role model on how to overcome adversity. He supported and encouraged my abilities. He allowed the young people I worked with to interview him in order to strengthen their skills while sharing his strength and talents.

In a review of the “The Hitman and other short plays” by Henry Holden, it states that, “Unlike books about the disabled that prey on your sympathy, The Hitman and other short plays show the disabled living within a mix of regular people, and facing the same conflicts and feeling the same emotions as everyone else. It’s one big melting pot of human beings from every walk of life. There are the young and the old; there’s new-found love and romance, and then there’s marriage; there are politicians, actors and just plain middle class workers at IKEA and in an optometry store in Wassila, Alaska. Henry Holden creates characters that are simultaneously similar and different…and we can relate to all of them.”

Heartfelt gratitude to Henry Holden for his talent to inspire!!

Sharon (Wells) McKean’s Story Shared

Sharon (Wells) McKean’s Story Shared

Sharon (Wells) McKean’s Story Shared

Written by Sharon Cecil

SharonChrissyStarWith the popularity of social media, the internet and hand held devices, life’s pace has increased greatly.   Some days, it is just hard to keep up with yourself much less what others are doing.

Yet, in our lifetime, we will all face some form of adversity—financial, crushing personal relationship(s), job, unrealized dreams, illness and more.

“Between stimulus and response is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” – Viktor E. Frankl

Married to an Army soldier who has served all over the world, Sharon (Wells) McKean has been an avid participant with We Survive, since high school.

Sharon was an active member of We Survive’s WOW Program.

As a contributor to WOW publications, Sharon says, “Through working with We Survive I found my voice. I was challenged to write about topics I had never thought about before. I learned to display my empathy for others through my writing and was able to connect with people I had never met before. I remember meeting a lady when I was 16 who told me her story of how she had taken my poem on breast cancer out of the WOW Magazine hung it on her wall while she herself was going through treatments for breast cancer. It was pure happenstance I met her and we talked, but she cried and thanked me saying my poem gave her strength to fight for her children. I was 14 when I wrote that poem and had never known anyone with breast cancer. That is what writing with We Survive did for me, it presented me with challenges that enabled me to grow as a writer that literally gave people hope and changed their lives.”

As a co-host and moderator for WOW’s radio talk show, Sharon interviewed others on topics that covered the spectrum of health and wellness. Sharon felt, “I was empowered to use my voice, ask hard hitting questions and educate my community on issues I felt everyone should be aware of. I built self confidence and became assertive standing for my opinions and representing my peers. I learned to plan a show, develop interview questions and techniques. Opportunities I would have never been given had it not been for We Survive.”

“Never underestimate the difference you can make.”—Christopher Reeves

During her travels around the world with her husband, Sharon continues to serve We Survive in an advisory capacity.  She brought global attention to LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited

At the age of 26, Sharon was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS).  She has been involved with MS activities to include the MS Walk and educates especially during the Month of March which is MS Awareness Month.

Starting March 2016, Sharon will be launching a We Survive Multiple Sclerosis education and awareness initiative that focuses on how much having HOPE played in her resiliency.

 

LIGHTFEST Stars of the past offer HOPE for future

LIGHTFEST Stars of the past offer HOPE for future

Written by Sharon Cecil

“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.”  ― Norman Vincent Peale

 

While reaching for the moon, we went beyond our expectation and reached the moon and the stars. The youth were stars that surrounded us. Each one Shined Bright for HOPE.  We are ALL Brilliantly made.  How bright can we shine for ourselves and others?

LIGHTFEST Stars of the past offer HOPE for future

In 1996, the WOW (Women Offering Wisdom) Program began thanks to Girl Scout Troop 1472 and many supporters.  The young women of Troop 1472 wanted young girls to understand “today’s women’s” issues.

The WOW program was instrumental in educating through special health and wellness programs, events and a resource center where they could meet and mentor their peers.  Having a special peer mentor had a significant effect on these young women’s lives.

During discussion meetings, we would see certain camaraderie with each group.  Each participant would bring a different perspective to the table.  Yet, each person seemed interested in what each one had to say.  Like a “Dialogue on Hope” sessions, before long, it becomes an intimate discussion.

Nikki and Brittany

Nikki (Left) and Brittany (Right)

At 11 years old, Brittany Zinsious-Kinder and Nikki Sherrard (Arielle Sherrard Corbett) joined WOW and continued with the WOW Program until they graduated from high school.

Nikki, with help from Brittany, was instrumental in the formation of the WOW Radio Talk Show (began in 1999) in order to share how young people are helping each other and themselves grow into healthy and productive adults. Together, Nikki and/or Brittany co-hosted the show every week. They wanted to share stories that they had heard which lead to publishing WOW Girlz.

As you can see from the following, which was originally printed in the first issue of WOW Girlz, as an insert in Today’s Woman Magazine, September 2000, written by Brittany Zinsious-Kinder at the age of 15 and a member of Girl Scout Troop 1472, being a mentor for WOW made a tremendous impact in her life.

“With everything that I am involved, I tend to meet a large variety of people.  Some…were mysterious but nice, while others were opinionated or exciting.

When I meet someone, I tend to make the assumption by guessing how his or her lifestyle is.  If I saw them wearing a big smile and expensive clothes, I would think they were happy.  Some of the people I meet, I later found out had terribly sad pasts and I was surprised to see them so happy.  I got to know these people and some of them had the most interesting personalities that I wanted to talk to them forever.  Then I learned all the information.  Some had parents in jail, or their parents were dead.  Some had run away and then were sent to group homes and others were poor or homeless.  Most had stories that were sad but not of their own making.  It was because of fate or their parent’s choices that they had been through what they had.

But no matter what, I promised myself I would push away their past and accept them for who they made themselves to be.  I promised myself to always try to recognize the sense of innocence from which may only be seen from within.”

lightfest_logoWOW was very instrumental in the formation of LIGHTFEST (held from 1996 to 2001), inspiring HOPES and Dreams in young and old alike. Through the years, the youth planned, promoted and presented this event along with Women In Touch Luncheon and Seminar all held at Churchill Downs. The opportunity for the WOW team to hold this event at Churchill Downs was an amazing experience for these young women.

As we celebrate the New Year, I hope that you will help to Light the Way for more youth around the world and join LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited.

Grassroots Movement Gains International Exposure

Grassroots Movement Gains International Exposure

Written by Sharon Cecil

“How wonderful it is that no one need wait a single moment

before starting to change the world” ~ Anne Frank

A non-profit organization with headquarters located in a one stop light town, Bloomfield, KY, took a big step when they re-ignited LIGHTFEST. We Survive is sending the same message today that was sent by the original LIGHTFEST held from 1997 to 2001 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, KY— Inspiring Hopes & Dreams.

Communities around the world stepped out on November 7, 2015 to make a difference in the lives of those living in poverty. The steps taken on November 7, 2015 have kick-off a year long campaign to IMPROVE IMPROVERISHED LIVES and realize The Power of the Dream.

There are no easy solutions to poverty.

2015-11-07_212838An Act Out 4 Kids (AO4K) production—Local Louisville area youth took simple steps towards social change by bringing together youth from different organizations throughout the Louisville community. They created an invitational video for LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited.

On November 7, 2015, St. Augustine in Louisville, KY as reported by WHAS 11 Staff, @WHAS11 8:47 a.m. EST November 8, 2015 “held their own ‘Light of Hope’ display to show support for the ‘Lightfest Re-ignited Movement,’ which is a worldwide campaign dedicated to showing hope and support for people living in poverty.

LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited 2016 will be November 5.

Spread the Word NOW

LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited will have activities throughout the year that will educate and raise awareness about what the impoverish face.

Check out the LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited website and get to know the LIGHTFEST Ambassadors from all over the globe.

LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited is a time to bring together communities to convey the need for attention to issues the impoverish face. Those living with and beyond poverty, family members, friends, healthcare providers and encouragers will to show the world that we all can live meaningful, productive inspiring lives.

Let’s get everyone involved in this WORLDWIDE initiative to turn this snowball into an avalanche.

LIGHTFEST Ignites a Global Awareness to Poverty

LIGHTFEST Ignites a Global Awareness to Poverty

flameLIGHTFEST Re-Ignited 2015 ~ LIGHTFEST Ignites a Global Awareness to Poverty

Written by Sharon Cecil

Worldwide messengers are needed to help a small town non-profit and newly formed youth run production group.

With headquarters in Bloomfield, KY, We Survive re-ignited LIGHTFEST originally held at Churchill Downs from 1997 to 2001.  LIGHTFEST was born from the 1996 Olympic Torch Relay with a mission of Inspiring Hopes & Dreams.

Act Out for Kids (AO4K) grew out of a backyard drama camp that a sister and brother started while in middle school, which ran each summer with their friends and cousins. Now that they’re older, they have started kids’ production group that creates projects and videos for non-profits.

AO4K’s LIGHFEST Re-Ignited Invitation Video has made it possible to connect with individuals, organizations and agencies across the globe.  LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited will join together hundreds of communities celebrating HOPE on November 7.

LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited will have activities throughout the year that will educate and raise awareness about poverty and homelessness.

Dorothy Day said, “People say, what is the sense of our small effort? They cannot see that we must lay one brick at a time, take one step at a time. A pebble cast into a pond causes ripples that spread in all directions. Each one of our thoughts, words and deeds is like that. No one has a right to sit down and feel hopeless. There is too much work to do.”

LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited is a time to bring together communities to convey the need for attention to issues faced by those in impoverished situations. Those living with and beyond poverty, family members, friends, healthcare providers and encouragers will unite in this symbolic event to show the world that we all can live meaningful, productive and even inspiring lives.

National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week

November 14-22, 2015

 

LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited – a perfect time to make plans to take action

 

PaperFest—Eco Friendly project

Improve Impoverished Lives by making plantable paper for We Survive’s LIGHTFEST activities.  The paper will be used for messages on note cards, invitations, packaging labels and other printable pieces.

 

KiteFest—Health and Wellness Event

An inspiring late afternoon to dusk activity that will Light a Kite to take Flight at Night. See—Is hope just a dream or can it fly?

 

“Brighten impoverished lives by displaying a Light of Hope wherever you are on November 7, 2015 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!”

 

We Survive

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

Fueled by

LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited

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

Fall provides a Light of Hope—LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited

Fall provides a Light of Hope—LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited

Fall provides a Light of Hope—LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited

Written by Sharon CecilTreeAutumn

Fall is approaching quickly.  It won’t be long before we will be watching the leaves on the trees change color while dropping off the trees letting us know that winter is on its way.  The holiday season will not be far behind.

The fall and winter holidays are a time of year that we reflect upon our lives and the lives of others, especially those that struggle through adversity.

We Survive, a volunteer-driven, not for profit organization that provides Day of Hope day camps and programs throughout the Kentuckiana area offer children and families an opportunity to explore in a nurturing environment providing experiential learning.

Bob Mueller, Vice President of Development at Hosparus, says,  “Truly humble people don’t think little of themselves, rather they think of themselves little.”

Moody Cecil co-founded We Survive, is a kind, patient and humble man.  He believes that children need to experience and explore natures nurturing environment.  Although Moody is a behind the scenes type of person, he has worked to make things happen.

Living in a fast paced world, we continue to hear about the ups and downturns in economic activity.  Our lifestyles are hectic and time is precious.  We often hear people saying that they don’t have enough time to fit everything they need to do in a day.

We Survive has been fortunate to have volunteers who make the time to help us with the children and families during We Survive Day of Hope programming.

“Dreams do come true for those who dare to believe in themselves.” — Bryant McGill

The original LIGHTFEST was held from 1997 to 2001 at Churchill Downs. LIGHTFEST was a dream. Bill Wolfe, The Courier-Journal ACTOutForKidsLogo resizedMarch 24, 1997, said,  “Dare to believe, and your dreams may come true… Sharon Cecil and her husband, Moody, had a dream fulfilled.”

Once you fulfill one dream, there is usually another one lurking in the shadows.  Celebrating 20 years of community service has been a dream come true.  Re-Igniting LIGHTFEST has so much vision from our supporters. The latest effort is the LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited Mural Design & Poetry Project which is hosted by Act Out for Kids and We Survive. Find out more about how to participate here.

Moody’s dream, along with supporters of We Survive, is to develop a Nationwide Network of We Survive Day of Hope Chapters. There are those of us who would like to fulfill this dream which is fueled by LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited.

On November 7, 2015, We Survive is asking everyone Around the World 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, cell phone or flashlight…this can be done as a group or individually.

With the passing of time, Moody’s memory is fading. He still enjoys being with the children and families that we have worked with for years.  His love of nature still shines bright as he continues to make new memories for those of us who love his company.

 

LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited Official Sponsor: NULOU

Hope Found in the Tree of Life

Hope Found in the Tree of Life

Written by Sharon Cecil

Hope found in the Tree of Life

From a poem by ― E.E. CummingsTreeLoveRoots

“…here is the deepest secret nobody knows

(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud

and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows

higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)

and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)”

 

Twenty years ago, We Survive’s original logo was a hand drawn tree and the roots said ”Long Life” written in calligraphy. With modern times, there were modern updates called computer graphics.

At the same time, Moody Cecil coined a phrase “nurturance in nature.” He believes that if seeds are sown hope will be grown.

From a small child, Moody loved nature and its healing properties. Moody is dedicated to children having a nurturing environment to experience and explore.

Manual High School’s STEAM Innovation Club hosted a “Dialogue on Hope” where community artists, advocates, teachers, counselors and students meet on September 8, 2015. Seeds were scattered throughout the community by Act Out for Kids and We Survive’s LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited. The participants discussed ways to look at artful ways to represent HOPE. Many great ideas were generated during this “Dialogue on Hope.”

Nikki Giovanni, says, “We all benefit when dreams take precedence over fears. When possibilities take precedence over probabilities. When we choose love over fear.”

The following story link is a window into how some people handled the events in Ferguson, Missouri. “From shattered glass to blank canvas, Missouri communities paint to heal” by Corinne Segal December 5, 2014 PBS NEWSHOUR ART BEAT It is incredible how art can heal.

Join the LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited movement on November 7, 2015 at 6pm Eastern Time, and display a Light of Hope. It can be a porch light, candle, cell phone or flashlight…this can be done as a group or individually. If you would like to do a Hunger and Homelessness Awareness event November 7, or anytime throughout the year, please contact us for ideas.

LIGHTFEST Re-IgHeartHandCrystalballnited believes that a visual recognition of HOPE will offer inspiration to those who feel there is no hope. Each of us can carry a seed of doubt that can make us vulnerable to feelings of hopelessness and despair. Deep in everyone’s heart, there is a spark that we sometimes may need to be re-ignited.

“The Power Of The Dream” was the theme song of the 1996 Olympics. It was also the theme for LIGHTFEST held from 1997-2001 at Churchill Downs.

“Deep within each heart

There lies a magic spark

That lights the fire of our imagination…

Faith of things unseen

To realize the power of the dream.”

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

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.