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Scouting a Path to Golden Years

Scouting a Path to Golden Years

Scouting a Path to Golden Years

By Sharon Cecil

When I moved to Louisville in 1969, I thought it was a temporary situation but Louisville has been my home ever since.  At that time, I also didn’t know that Girl Scouts would become an important part of my life. An organization that influenced who I have become; where I learned about the gift of working with youth and found opportunities to mentor future leaders.

In 1972, having just moved into a new house, not knowing anyone and pregnant, I passed a note in church to a teen sitting behind me asking, “Do you babysit?”   This led to meeting the Osborne family, a family of eight (parents, 5 girls and 1 boy).  The five girls were pretty much the only babysitters my daughter ever knew. Nola Osborne was not only a mother, she was an active member of the community and lived right around the corner.  I looked to her as my mentor.  

Nola introduced me to Girl Scouting.  In 1974, I became her co-leader for Girl Scout Troop 77.  From the beginning, working with these young girls became an important part of who I am.  A turning point for me was during the April 3, 1974 meeting when we had taken the girls to the park. My daughter was at Nola’s house with two of her daughters.  All of a sudden, the sky became dark, there was a strange stillness, the sirens were blaring and the wind began to pick up more and more. I was scared. Nola knew what to do and made it feel like an adventure.  At this moment in time,  “the Louisville Metro Area experienced part of the worst tornado outbreak in United States history.” ~~ Courier Journal  

Nola was calm, confident and reassuring that we would ALL be Safe! WE were!!!

When my daughter became a Brownie in Girl Scouts, I took over the Troop and worked with the girls until 1985.  Then, I transitioned to advocacy with involvement in committees and being a part of new initiates for girls while returning to college.  I received an art degree and successfully became an RN while battling breast cancer over the next 5 years.  

In 1990, I began doing community wellness programming for the American Cancer Society and Kentucky Cancer Program in the high schools while continuing my advocacy with Girl Scouting with their pilot program “Growing Up Female,” a part of the Kentuckiana Girl Scout Program Box.  I mentored young women who were working to achieve their Silver, Bronze and Gold Awards.

1994 was a big milestone for my husband Moody and I, when we co-founded We Survive (a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization) creating a Haven of Hope for young people and families providing activities that centered around Creative Expression.  http://wesurvive.org/creative-expression/

WOW (Women Offering Wisdom)  Program

As we developed We Survive, in 1996, I met Girl Scout Troop 1472.  At the age of 11, these young women were looking for a Silver Award Project and successfully started We Survive’s WOW Program while  achieving their Girl Scout Silver Award.  Nikki (Sherrard) Corbett and Brittany Zinzious-Kinder  took a leadership role and continued to be involved with WOW until they graduated high school.  They continue to have a voice until this day.

Sharon (Wells) McKean WOW Team Member says, “We Survive’s programming provided tools that helped us (Women Offering Wisdom) create transformational and inspirational societal changes with our health and wellness educational programs.  Writing, art, publishing and creating media pieces (magazines, books, pamphlets, press releases, etc.) was a wonderful learning opportunity. These experiential activities helped me become a more effective communicator and leader.”   Sharon is now a business leader in her community.

To help the girls become stronger communicators, they were each given a copy of POSITIVE POWERFUL PROMOTIONAL WORDS a tremendous resource tool for writers and speakers.

On Sunday, October 29, 2000. Girl Scout Troop 169 had a kick-off event for their Gold Award, at We Survive’s  headquarters creating a “Pink Path to Gold.”  Once the path was completed, each girl worked independently on their own project.  http://www.wesurvive.org/WOW/pinkpathtogold.htm 

Laura Adams wrote, “What the Gold Means to Me” stating, “After all, Girl Scouts are about more than just selling cookies!.”  http://www.wesurvive.org/WOW/whatthegoldmeanstome.htm

The Golden Years
Having reached what people call your Golden Years, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue with We Survive or LIGHTFEST (an annual event promoting HOPE).  Then, a young woman reminded me how important it is to continue to give voice to our youth and empower them to be whatever it is they want to be in life. 

In July, 2019, Olivia Bohler sent me an email stating she wanted to obtain service learning hours for National Honor Society (NHS) during LIGHTFEST Re-ignited (We Survive’s Flagship worldwide annual event) and create a project that would be suitable for her Girl Scout Gold Award. http://wesurvive.org/our-struggle-built-the-story/

Olivia started volunteering with We Survive in the 1st grade.  Now entering her senior year, she is still a very dedicated volunteer evidenced by the partnership she created with We Survive to complete her NHS service learning hours and the completion of her Girl Scout Gold Award with 2020 LIGHTFEST. http://lightfestreignited.info
Olivia obtained her NHS hours  November 2019  http://wesurvive.org/finding-light-in-the-shadow-of-poverty-hunger-and-homelessness/nggallery/thumbnails
Olivia completed her dream of the Gold November 7, 2020   http://wesurvive.org/did-the-pandemic-shrink-our-sphere/
The Gold Award was approved on December 3, 2020.  
Believing that offering opportunities for our youth provides a platform to promote health and wellness experiential learning so they can realize the Power of their Dreams, I will continue to provide Hope and Inspiration. Hope – a Gift of Empowerment

Did the Pandemic Shrink Our Sphere

Did the Pandemic Shrink Our Sphere

Did the Pandemic Shrink Our Sphere

LIGHTFEST Reignited November 7, 2020

Written by Sharon Cecil

When we aren’t facing a pandemic, We Survive normally holds a kickoff in Louisville for the LIGHTFEST Reignited global event the first Saturday of November.  http://lightfestreignited.info/

Despite COVID, we took advantage of the many ways you can reach out to others and share hope because We Survive’s LIGHTFEST Reignited believes #HopeHasNotBeenCancelled.

We Survive learned that we could keep LIGHTFEST alive inviting people to complete acts of kindness through service and symbolism all day.  Utilizing VolunteerMatch, we garnered volunteers to help by promoting on social media accounts for several months before the event which was held on November 7, 2020.

In Louisville, there usually is an in-person event with activity stations where participants are offered  instructions on how to make items along with healthful education presentations.  You can view LIGHTFEST 2019 at the following link:  http://wesurvive.org/finding-light-in-the-shadow-of-poverty-hunger-and-homelessness/nggallery/thumbnails

Olivia Bohler, a senior in high school, took up the initiative to make sure the 2020 LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited event happened.  She had planned to work one-on-one with the women from a local homeless shelter to teach sustainable skills such as jewelry making and arm-knitting that could help them to turn it into a way to raise money through a learn and earn process.  

In 2020, this was no longer viable amid the pandemic. There was no way to ensure safe conditions that followed the guidelines within the city of Louisville.  A virtual option was not available for instruction for the women on Google Meets or Zoom due to the lack of computer access within the homeless shelters. 

In order to fulfill her goal, Olivia created “Hope Toolboxes” for members of the homeless community of Louisville where she collected items donated by different groups in Louisville that would have a substantial impact.  Resource material was included in the Hope Toolbox such as job attire and hygiene items so they work to get out of their situation. Adding on, in the Hope Toolbox, were resource pamphlets that detail job tips such as where to find jobs in the area, what to wear to the interview, interview practice questions, language to use, and an overall idea of what to expect. There are plans for this project to remain sustainable.

To see Olivia’s How to for the Hope Toolboxes, click here.

For her efforts, Olivia was named We Survive’s 2020 Youth Ambassador.

Thank you to all who made LIGHTFEST 2020 possible.




When we aren’t facing a pandemic, We Survive normally holds a kickoff for LightFEST Reignited the first Saturday of November, to keep the spirit alive we would like to show many examples of people completing acts of kindness and service all day on our social media accounts.

Despite COVID, there are many ways you can reach out to others and share hope because as the theme LightFEST 2020 says #HopeHasNotBeenCancelled. Use one of the ideas below (or one of your own) to let those in your community know they are remembered.

Here is a list of activities that you can do safely at home:

  1. Say thank you – Write a thank you note to healthcare providers, food bank volunteers, teachers, etc. Note: Check to see if the organization will accept the physical copy by mail or if you should scan/email them copies of these instead. Be creative and say thank you to anyone who is on the “front lines” helping keep everyone safe or supplied.
  1. Make homemade bookmarks which you can later donate to your local library. Here are some ideas to get you started: https://homesthetics.net/diy-bookmarks/
  1. Combat loneliness by writing a letter, drawing a picture or starting a story – Send these to assisted living facilities, hospitals, residential treatment centers for kids or other similar organizations. For the story, you can also include a stamped envelope so that they can add to the story and send it back to you. Note: Check to see if the organization will accept the physical copy by mail or if you should scan/email them copies of these instead.
  1. Make pet toys or shelters to donate to shelters – Did you know you can make dog toys with household items? Here’s an idea to get you started: https://barkpost.com/answers/how-to-make-a-t-shirt-dog-toy/ DIY Cat Shelters https://alleycatadvocates.org/communitycat-care-center/
  1. Make self-care, first aid or birthday kits to be donated to homeless shelters.
  1. Tutor others – If possible, stay connected with other students and offer to help tutor your peers in subjects you excel in virtually. You are probably a rock star in a subject someone else might need help in. Starting an online study group is a way to stay connected while helping others. 

No one is limited to these tasks, but we wanted to provide you with some safe ideas for volunteering at home. If you need help finding organizations to donate to, let us know at lightfest@wesurvive.org.

Post a video or a photo and tag us @lightfestreignited and use the hashtag #hopehasnotbeencancelled. We would also appreciate a follow on our accounts and any help to get the word out about our organization. 

A Special Thank you to:

Olivia Bohler – working toward Girl Scout Gold Award

Girl Scout Council – https://www.gssjc.org/


LightFEST Reignited 2020

LightFEST Reignited 2020

Finding Light in the Shadow of Poverty, Hunger and Homelessness

Finding Light in the Shadow of Poverty, Hunger and Homelessness

LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited November 2, 2019

Written by Sharon Cecil

We Survive celebrated their 25th Anniversary on November 2, during LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited’s CELEBRATION of HOPE.

People were out and about around the globe

LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited keeps us UNITED.

*GO LIGHT YOUR WORLD was the theme for LIGHTFEST Reignited held at St. Augustine Catholic Church on a brisk, bright Autumn Saturday. 

Education and awareness was provided for attendees on the issues facing those vulnerable to poverty, hunger and homelessness while participating in various activities including health and wellness activities.   

There was a diverse group of participants involved in this event.   

Heartfelt appreciation to Joni Jenkins and the House of Representatives – Commonwealth of Kentucky for the Citation Honoring and Commemorating We Survive and LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited in Louisville, KY – “offering sincere congratulations to all those associated with LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited upon this notable occasion and in extending best wishes for the future success and good fortune of this community event.”

Sponsor—Passport Health Plans

Host—St. Augustine Catholic Church


THANK YOU Volunteers/Volunteer Organizations

Diane Corsey – Passport Health Plans – Blankets for our homeless guests

Jacqueline Browning – Yoga

502 Power Yoga 

Angelique Shah – Yoga

Bronx Girl Yoga

DuPont Manual Students – diverse activities including soccer 

National Honor Society

Key Club

Soccer teams

Olivia Bohler – Manual National Honor Society Representative – arm knitting activity

Ashrith Garimella – Manual Key Club Representative, soccer player – coordinated activities 

Brad DeZern – coordinated Last Days Motorcycle Ministry

Last Days Motorcycle Ministry – set up, distributed food, coordinated/monitored youth, face  painting and other activities

Sunshine Joe Mallard Tapestry Artisan – LIGHTFEST Ambassador – tapestry demonstration

Carol Balogh – Enrichment Activities, LLC, art activity

Stacy Burks – ATA Nursing Instructor

ATA Nursing Students – health screenings, cake walk

Michelle Wolf

Matt Wolf

Sharon Moody

Roosevelt Fenelus – NuLou – helped with LIGHT YOUR WORLD karaoke LIGHTFEST conclusion

NuLou – website promotion


In case we have missed anyone, please know we appreciate your support.


Handstands for Homelessness

Handstands for Homelessness

By Jacqueline Blue Browning, RN, BSN


Handstands of Hope was born from the memory of being a child in Los Angeles living amongst the gang violence, drug epidemic, riots etc. Every now and then someone or a group would come from the outside world and share a view of a different world, a different way of living and it always gave me hope, whether that was a traveling performing group or a motivational speaker, these individuals somehow provided that feeling of hope and I continued to dream.

Yoga has been instrumental in my healing journey and my mental health. When I entered a handstand challenge via 502 Power Yoga last year in the summer of 2018, it transformed me and my world. At last year’s Lightfest Reignited, I shared yoga with the kids who were there and their eyes lit up when I shared wheel and other yoga poses. The children opened up to conversation and very much enjoyed moving their bodies and exploring the world via yoga, can’t wait to do it again this year. 


handstands2Working with WeSurvive has provided me the opportunity to share and give back to our community via Lightfest Reignited, Day of Hope and all the wonderful events We Survive creates with love. 

As a psychiatric nurse for Our Lady of Peace I am very proud to serve our patients and community. Currently at Eastern Kentucky University I look forward to completing the Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner Program so that I may continue to serve our community via a holistic healing approach including art therapy, yoga and so much more.


Our struggle Built the Story

Our struggle Built the Story

Our struggle built the story

Sharon and Moody Cecil 

by Sharon Cecil

We met, became best friends, and eventually married.  Our life’s struggles became our story, filled with passion and compassion to help.  We created so many programs that helped others as well as helping us heal.  Our love grew through our struggles.   Our careers gave us the ability to promote Heath and Wellness.  We Survive will celebrate 25 years at LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited on Nov. 2 sharing a Light of HOPE. 

You + Me = We Survive –25th Anniversary.

imageEveryone has dreams. Some dreams are forgotten. Others are never forgotten but never see a follow through.

Moody Cecil had a dream that led to the creation of We Survive in 1994. Blending our talents, Moody focused on nature and Sharon Cecil created Women Offering Wisdom in 1996.

January 2019– Life brought us to it “Nurturance in nature brought us through it”

Moody Cecil has provided a guiding light since he passed away in December, 2016, while I have taken several years to reflect, restore and renew.  Knowing I wanted to keep the legacy alive, I wasn’t sure what that would look like although LIGHTFEST continued to be the mainstay for We Survive through the transition. 

croppedIn July, 2019, Olivia Bohler sent me an email stating, “You may remember my mom, we used to help out with the Day of Hope on the farm and LIGHTFEST at the church in downtown Louisville… I am looking for an organization to partner with for my National Honor Society (NHS) Project as well as my Girl Scout Gold Award.”  In that moment, as I read her email, I could feel the passion for working with youth filling the empty void that once was the “fire in my belly.”

Olivia and I worked together on her learning how to arm knit for her NHS project. She acquired the necessary amount of hours to meet her NHS requirement.  As we moved forward towards her Girl Scout Award, Olivia wanted to put together Hope Bags for the homeless that include various necessary supplies such as toiletries (soap, tooth brush, tooth paste, deodorant) and items to keep them warm (gloves  hats and socks).  Also, Olivia decided to include arm knitted scarves, which are warm, useful and not to large for her first Hope Bags. Making arm knitted scarves was something that she could make and also teach the recipients to make one which they could either keep for themselves or give to someone else.   

By We Survive partnering with Olivia with her NHS project and Girl Scout Gold Award, it was a reminder of what a young woman wrote years ago. “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 educational 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 

We Survive is looking forward to Olivia’s plan to sustain her project by offering others the opportunity to help her.   They will be creative while meeting new people. Classes will encourage women to make arm knitted scarves or other artistic items so that they can “Learn to Earn.”  

Happy 25th Anniversary We Survive.  Celebrating LIGHTFEST 2019

Red & Yellow Border Invitation
Closing a Door to the Future

Closing a Door to the Future

My name is Sharon Cecil, a resident of Fern Creek for almost 50 years. I am writing regarding the proposed closing of the Fern Creek Branch of the Louisville Free Public Library (LFPL).

It is my belief, that for many reasons, it makes no sense to close the Fern Creek branch of the LFPL. Statistically, you will be closing the largest youth service provider in the Fern Creek community.  

As an educator, I believe Education is the Key to Understanding.  We need to give the  best opportunities to our  youth if we want to ensure a strong America for their future.  

In order to build a relationship with our youth, it is important to build  trust and cultivate an environment where the youth can tell us what they think.  Youth are the assets for the future of this great nation.  

From what I have heard from the youth in the Fern Creek Community, the youth (and their parents) do not want the Fern Creek Library to close.

Being very involved with multiple organizations over the years, my efforts have been to strive to improve the lives of the people in our community. My personal goal has been to provide hope to those who are marginalized in our society. It is important to give a voice to those who are dealing with adversity.

The Fern Creek community is comprised of diverse populations. For example, there are families in Fern Creek that are highly educated and can’t find jobs because they come from other countries where their credentials are not recognized in this country. The library offers help with writing a resume and resources on how to search for jobs along with support from library staff.

Pre-school and school aged children in the Fern Creek community rely on the library for programming that includes story hour, craft projects and activities from pre-school to teens. The local schools attend the library for field trips. Approximately 40 community organizations utilize the meeting rooms. The library is a Safe Place for children to learn and grow.

Fern Creek Library has a history that dates back to 1937. I have been witness to the changes over the past 5 decades that the library has undergone. In November 1993, when the Fern Creek Library rejoined the LFPL system after being a voluntary initiative housed in the Fern Creek Community Center, those who worked to keep the library open during the interim never thought that the library would ever be closed again.

In 1997, Louisville sent a 10-person delegation to the President’s Summit for America’s Future. The Mayor asked that youth provider organizations make a “commitment for kids” as part of the America’s Promise. As one of those organization members, I made the commitment to the five fundamental resources. They can be seen at the America’s Promise website https://www.americaspromise.org/.  

America's Promise Alliance

LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited 2018

LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited 2018

Written by Sharon Cecil

November 3, 2018

November 3, was a Brilliantly Bright Autumn Day, where education and awareness was provided regarding issues faced by those vulnerable to poverty, hunger and homelessness while offering various activities for all that attended.   

tapestry lightfest 20182VOICES were heard through artistic initiatives—displayed, demonstrated and created.  

LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited Ambassador “Sunshine” Joe Mallard’s commemorative tapestry from LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited 2017 was presented to a representative of St. Augustine Catholic Church in appreciation of their continued support of LIGHTFEST. 

Sunshine Joe Mallard is a motivational lecturer and visual art presenter and educator.  During a presentation some years ago, a young girl called Mr. Mallard “Sunshine Joe.”  She said to him, “The sunshine brings light and you do too.”

There was a diverse group of participants where education and awareness regarding issues faced by those vulnerable to poverty, hunger and homelessness was provided. 

All participants, including those within the homeless community, were invited to light up at 7pm led by Brad DeZern as participants sang This Little Light of Mine and This Land is Your Land.

Click here to see more pictures and a video from the day.

Sponsor—Passport Health PlansIMG_20181103_173207199

Host—St. Augustine Catholic Church





Diane Corsey

Jacqueline Browning

Kentucky One Health—Our Lady of Peace

Jacqueline Browning

Last Days Motorcycle Ministry

Brad DeZern

Linda Young

Jason Reynolds

Sunshine Joe Mallard Tapestry Creation

Carol Balogh

Enrichment Activities, LLC

Cathy Upshire

Carol Wieger

Joy Hooten

Bernell Porter

Complex Collaboration Step Dancers

Michelle Wolf

Matt Wolf

Sharon Moody

Surekha Kulkarni

Beaded Treasures Project

Marlene Will

Fern Creek Funeral Home

Kyle Mitchell

“Learn and Earn” Entrepreneurial Initiative Members 


In case we have missed anyone, please know we appreciate your help.  

Invisible Yet Invaluable part8

Invisible Yet Invaluable part8

Invisible Yet Invaluable

You know who they are.  People who are passionate and committed to helping while encouraging others.  The invisible are invaluable.  They use their talents to let someone else shine. The invisible do not encourage others for accolades.  They do it out of the passion that is in their hearts.    

On November 3, you will be able to meet amazing encouragers and see some of the work that has been done by those that they encourage at the 2018 LIGHTFEST Re-Ignited.   

Location                        St Augustine Catholic Church

                                          1310 W Broadway, Louisville, KY 40203

Time                               5:30-7:30pm (the Walk of Hope is at 7pm)

Vernell Porter Jr. Founder of Complex Collaboration Step Team Est. 2011

Vernell Porter Jr. Founder of Complex Collaboration Step Team Est. 2011

Let us introduce you to the Complex Collaboration Step Team.

I want to continue to inspire, motivate, and instill passion into others! Back in 2011, I created something that was a desire, a dream, a vision; Complex Collaboration Step Team. CCST is a youth organization made up of elementary, middle, and high school students in Louisville, KY that enhances confidence, builds character, promotes progression, & saves lives through the art of STEP & DANCE!

Complex Collaboration Step Team has been blessed to have rehearsal space partnerships with different venues and we are so thankful for all of them. Now it’s time we know what it feels like to have a key to our own space and somewhere to call HOME! I want to provide these kids with a facility where they can continue to develop and explore their creative voices through the sound of step and the movement of dance.

Louisville, Kentucky is a city of hidden talent! My dream doesn’t stop here. I plan to expand and develop more opportunities for the youth in my community using this facility! The Complex Dance Centré  will instill positive attributes in the generation today! Most importantly giving an outlet for the youth to release energy, express emotions, and escape from hardships. I am dedicated to my art! This is why this space is sure to make a difference in what I will be able to contribute back to my community.

Here is where I need YOU:dance
The Complex Dance Centré will be HOME of Complex Collaboration Step Team but will also be HOME to any supporter who is willing to donate. With a new business, comes a lot of start up expenses. All money donated will go towards start up cost (mirrors, studio equipment, signage, etc.). Any monetary contribution will be greatly appreciated and the Complex Collaboration Step Team family will love you long time!


-Complex Collaboration Step Team