Freedom…never given freely!

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?”

Martin Luther King, Jr.

I would like to start this Post off with a sincere and hearty welcome to each of you. I have gained a few new “Friends” over the past several weeks. I sincerely hope the new “Friends” will find this Blog to be both informative and personally satisfying. I invite you to go back a few weeks and read some of the more recent Posts to get the feel for how this somehow all comes together.

So many times I have said that one of my biggest regrets is that you do not yet have the opportunity to hear the news directly from Copey and you lack the advantage of having physically been to Copey. The “having been there” just adds so much richness to my experience when I learn new things each week. Of course, you can remedy this by booking a flight to San Jose, Costa Rica and hire a taxi to take you about 2 hours south of San Jose. The journey there is “almost” as wonderful as the destination. I even have a great Bed & Breakfast location to recommend.  Hush Valley Lodge

Check out www.hushvalleylodge.com.  You will not find nicer people (Anne and Kevin) and a better overnight stay than at Hush Valley Lodge very near Copey.

GOOD NEWS

First, the Copey Learning Center students are continuing to help their environment by picking up litter around their soccer field and in the center of town. The students received help from several Copey High School students who are completing their community service requirements for graduation. zzzstudents cleaning up

Then, the Learning Center was offered the opportunity to move into a vacant building to use as a new and improved facility for the Learning Center. The facility is being donated by the town of Copey to be used exclusively by the Learning Center. The facility will need to be renovated before it is ready for use. Once completed, it will provide a very bright future for the Learning Center. Other benefits to this move include the town helping pay for the renovations needed and waiving the maintenance expenses. The town of Copey’s generosity will contribute tremendously to the long-term development, success, and future of the Learning Center. This will be the third time the Learning Center will have moved since I initially began my involvement with them in 2012. It is becoming a process of continuous improvement. We will keep you posted on the progress made towards getting the facility ready for use.

FEEDBACK AND HITS

Some of you commented on lasts week’s Memorial Day message and again, I love the feedback. And I am still receiving comments about the Mother’s Day Memorial Post issued three weeks ago. Is it really getting back to this “freedom” point I tried to make last week? I am very excited to live in this country where I can express myself openly and freely each week. This is a “Freedom”…paid for in full!

By the way, this small Blog is likely to reach 5,000 hits in the next month or so. The very first Post was issued December 2013 with a modest 15-17 “Friends” on my mailing list. Over time, many new “Friends” have been added and some “Friends” have lost interest for a variety of reasons…just the very nature of Blogging for sure. The official mailing list today is close to 150 “Friends”. However, I get hits from all over the world from locations I do not have on my mailing list. Just this past week, the Blog was visited by viewers from Trinidad, Venezuela, Slovenia, Portugal, Qatar, and Viet Nam. Last week the list included Mongolia, Albania, Israel, and Italy in addition to the consistent visits from Brazil and Costa Rica. I am unable to explain this and I have asked several times for a personal note be sent to me…but no response. Needless to say, I appreciate one and all who care enough to spend five minutes reading a Post no matter where you are. I am Blessed!

NASCAR

The race just ended and once again, Gordon finishes in 10th place. According to the overall standing, Gordon is in 9th place for the season. He badly needs to win one race to be assured of a spot in the final championship race in November. This is causing me a lot of gray hairs. Ooops…it would if I had hair.

Memorial Day Observation

At the Learning Center in Copey students from the advanced group have been involved in a project where they are looking at environmental problems such as habitat depletion and nuclear pollution and presenting causes, effects, and possible solutions.

zzzConservation Project

Another group this week has been practicing in English how to describe physical characteristics and personality traits. zzz CLC 4th graders

Other recent class projects have included writing plays and presenting them in english and learning how to develop and construct teacher lesson plans.

We could easily be preparing future school teachers who will some day lead other students to a much better future.

zzz coffee tourRecently, students went on a tour at a coffee plant to learn how coffee is produced.

Based on the students’ learning activities, there could be a future playwriter, school teachers, plant production managers, environmental scientists and the works developing right there in the Learning Center.

La CimaAt La Cima, a few miles away from the Learning Center, they have celebrated the first month of operation. Here, the volunteer teacher is helping the students learn the word “ear” in English. Clearly, they have begun their English learning journey.

For you Anne G. Broady Scholarship donors, you are in for a very special treat this year. I have seen the format of the information you will receive on your scholarship recipient being sent soon to you directly from the Learning. Many of the students you see in these photos are attending the Learning Center because of your financial support to the Anne G. Broady Scholarship Fund.

MEMORIAL DAY OBSERVATION

It is Memorial Day weekend in the US. Actually, I would prefer the day be called Remembrance Day but there are places already where Remembrance Day or “Poppy Day” is observed. In European countries, Remembrance Day is observed in November in remembrance of the end of World War I. We celebrate Veteran’s Day at that same time.

US Flag.2It is Remembrance Day for me because that is what I do and what others hopefully will take a minute to do today…remembering those who died for freedom, those who have been wounded in battle, and those still in the battle to protect us and our lives as free people. It is all about remembering and honoring their service and the sacrifice’s made for the freedoms we all enjoy.

Some have a hard time remembering that freedom is in constant need of protection.Turn on your television news. Likely, you will see and hear about those people in countries who are fleeing their home because of terrorists. As refugees they have no freedoms, no homes, and probably very little future.This is now, today and all happening in real time. People, including children in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Sudan, eastern Europe, and other places have lost their freedom and others are in the crosshairs of those determined to enslave or kill them.

When I sit to write this Blog each week and I am reminded how free I am to speak my mind and share my thoughts. I am reminded how free you and I are to get involved in a project that only free people can do without government dictators controlling or preventing it. The Blog is reaching others around the world and I have no fear of reprisal or incarceration from a government dictator for speaking my mind and for doing this Blog.This is in part what makes “Friends of Copey” extraordinary and special. We are exercising our freedom to help and to have a positive impact on others. Those who have lost or losing their freedom can not do this…as a free person.

I enjoy my freedom, use my freedom, and fully support the protection of my freedom and hope you will remember today that this freedom is not a gift…many have paid for this freedom starting back as early as the Revolutionary War.

A few schoolmate friends paid part of “freedom’s” price during the Viet Nam Conflict (War). Vietnam Veterans Memorial Oct 15 2007   Each year now for almost 50 years, I have found a way to publicly recognize them on Memorial Day for their service and sacrifice while serving in our military. I recognized them in my Memorial Day Post in 2014. So today again I salute Danny Watkins from Meadowview, Virginia; Michael Charles and Kenneth Delaney both from Bristol, Virginia; and Frank Campbell from Chilhowie, Virginia. This is my Remembrance Day! 

NASCAR

Jeff Gordon finished 15th yesterday at Charlotte Speedway…no further comment!

 

The Thrill is Gone…!

“The beautiful thing about learning is nobody can take it away from you.”  B.B. King

Well, “the thrill of education is not gone“ in Copey. There is much going on there as well in the nearby town, La Cima, where the new satellite Learning Center is operating with one volunteer so far. The Learning Center is now officially under the direction of Angela, Eve’s replacement.

Learning FrenchAngela reports things are going very well. In fact, this year French has been introduced as a new language added to the curriculum. This is being well received by young and older students.

In La Cima, more children now have the opportunity to improve their English-speaking, reading, and writing skills. Having a satellite learning center in my opinion is a very bold step. It shows the Copey Learning Center is becoming the practical educational solution to the problems small rural communities are experiencing while trying to prepare their children for adult life. Just as the Learning Center is proving to be a successful response to the need for additional education for the Copey community, “Friends of Copey” is also proving to be a viable means of support for the Learning Center. As “Friends” we provide support in multiple ways to the learning process while avoiding the unfortunate hassles of trying to work through bureaucracies. Being able to communicate and work directly with the staff at the Learning Center is a tremendous advantage as we learned with the “Big Parking Lot Sale”. Also, working directly with “Friends” is also a major benefit.

Star studentsFor many of you I know this sounds like a worn out record. But in this day and time, repeating the truth is important.  What we do as “Friends” for the Copey community is significant and very unique. I believe many “Friends” appreciate the opportunity to do something humanitarian whereby the results can be witnessed. Our approach to offering and providing support is practical. The staff, the Board, the community, the parents, and certainly the children know of our willingness to be their partners and “Friends”.

As “Friends of Copey” we should be excited, encouraged, and inspired to see our efforts having a very positive impact on children. The children are enjoying their time at the Learning Center and are experiencing a great deal of educational success.

With administrative activities due to the change-over settling down, we are expecting to hear soon about the scholarships recipients. We will not get too deep into the recipients’ background for privacy reasons. However, we believe each donor should know the name and hopefully see a photo of their student. I enjoy seeing photos of the students and over time I am beginning to recognize several by their name.

I am hoping this week to determine what additional means of support we will work on for the balance of the school year. Students in the US are getting close to ending their school year while the Copey students will continue until December. “Friends” are always welcomed and invited to share ideas with me. I know many of you and with the growing number of “Friends” with an education background, there is much you can offer. Communicate with me…you make a difference!

IN REMEMBRANCE!

I want to acknowledge the passing of Riley B. King, aka B.B. King. He passed away late Thursday evening at age 89. B.B. King was already a Blues legend it seems when I first began to seriously listen to music at an early age. I had the pleasure of seeing him twice in concert and heard live his performance of “The Thrill Is Gone”.

Riley B. King (BB King)

Riley B. King (BB King)

Ben E. King

Percy Sledge

Percy Sledge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ben E. King, was once the lead singer for the Drifters. He sang lead on “There Goes My Baby” and “This Magic Moment” plus many other top of the chart hits by the Drifters. I first heard the Drifters on a 45 (some of you know what a 45 is) when I was in St. Louis while on Christmas vacation with family when I first heard “There Goes My Baby”. I was only 14 years old. A few years later, as a solo artist, King hit the charts again with “Stand By Me” and “Spanish Harlem” and even more hits songs. He passed away on April 30.

Percy Sledge best known for the original version of “When a Man Loves A Woman” passed away on April 14. I first heard this unforgettable song during a senior trip to Washington, DC. On the final night of the trip, classmates were treated to a dance on a riverboat on the Potomac and the DJ introduced us southwest Virginia students to Percy Sledge and “When A Man Loves A Woman”. I have never forgotten the time and place when I first heard both singers and these two songs. God Bless all three artists. Their combined years of singing is over 150 years. They join the heavenly choir already assembled with noted members including Ray Charles, Jackie Wilson, Otis Redding, Etta James, and Johnny Taylor all singing up there in soulful harmony (to list but only a very a few). Even Marian Anderson and Mahalia Jackson are adding their unforgettable voices no doubt. Perhaps the Thrill Is Not Gone but has just relocated to Heaven.

Mom’s Day!

I want to say thank you to several “Friends” who commented on last week’s Post pertaining to Mother’s Day. Mothers are so special. Your comments were very wonderful to read and I would like to share part of a response from one “Friend”. This “Friend” personally knew Ms. Dunn and had traveled with her to Great Britain with the choir from their church. Ms. Dunn and others gave him a T-Shirt from Great Britain as a gift. He spoke of his own mother and said “I too, was blessed by our Lord. She and my Dad were great role models. My Mom died in 1984 and I should have been taking your approach every Mother’s Day since. I’ll start this coming June for my Dad and will try to remember to do it for both parents over my remaining years.”

Needless to say, such comments from “Friends” provide me a great deal of inspiration and comfort.

NASCAR UPDATE

Okay! I did not report on Gordon last week. I was too upset. You know…if you cannot say something nice, then do not say anything.  He finished somewhere in the back of the line last week so I was a bit unhappy. This week he finished 4th and so I am back being a devoted fan again. I just needed a short break. I take this racing stuff way too serious at times. Overall, he is in the top ten drivers and well, it could be worse. He is a great driver, gives back to the community, and has always shown himself to be a classy guy. God, please give me strength to get through this season! Amen…

 

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY TO ALL!

Train up a child in the way he/she should go;  even when he/she is old he/she will not depart from it.”   Proverbs 22:6

Happy Mother’s Day to all my “Friends of Copey” mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and the rest. I am going to start out this Post by saying, this day should be among the top three most special days we have to celebrate annually. Especially, for those of us who have or had the wonderful experience of a motherly type woman who in the role of a mother, loved and nurtured us. Since I happen to know many of the mothers who are devoted “Friends of Copey”, I am truly honored and deeply appreciative to have you be involved in this effort. You can possibly more easily relate to the hearts of the mothers in Copey whose children we support. As mothers, you have also wanted your children to grow up and experience a safe, meaningful, and purposeful life. I “wish” I could hug each of you for a moment. It would feel like hugging my own mom again.

Well, speaking of Mom…imagine me doing that! Yes, this is our second Mother’s Day my sister and I are spending without her. Today, most likely we would have been in church with Mom, shared a big fancy meal and Mother’s Day cards, gifts, hugs, and kisses.  We miss this!

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I think last year my thoughts were mostly wishing she was still here. My thoughts this Mother’s Day are mostly just being grateful for her having been here. The memories capable of surviving the passing of time, those which I most often think of and share with others, and those memories which tend to define Mom as a person are those memories that provide both strength and comfort to me.These are the memories that keep her close to me as my Mom. As such, less time is spent wishing she was here and more time spent being thankful for the time we had. Happy Mother’s Day Mom! (Mom, by the way…did you see Dale Jr. win the race last week? Hey! Why are you smiling?)

There were two mothers of “Friends of Copey” who passed away since last Mother’s Day. These “Friends” are very devoted supporters and one “Friend” I have known about 55 years and the other “Friend” for over 30 years. Calvin ( a distant relative) experienced his mother’s passing away on August 6, 2014.

Lucille Broady Lee

Lucille Broady Lee

Lucille Broady Lee’s life was rich and full and on this Mother’s Day, I am sure she is truly missed by her family and close friends. Calvin wrote the following poem in honor of her passing and we are happy to share this with you “Friends”:

MOMS LIKE YOU

“Moms like you, so hard to find, many qualities beyond compare,
A smile that lit a room so bright, thought provoking words to always share.

You continuously showed a concern for others, no matter how you would feel,
Making their well being a priority, uplifting them, a Mom’s love so genuine and real.

You enriched the lives of others all around, the true meaning of mom, you would always show,
Maintained the home, filled it with needed love, that only mom would know.

Today, we play tribute to you, a celebration that is solely yours.
We remember a mom and dear friend, one that any loving family forever adores.”

Joanne’s mother, Marlyn G. Dunn passed away March 23, 2015. I attended Ms. Dunn’s “Celebration of Life” service and was personally moved by the numerous stories and memories shared by both friends and family.

Marlyn G. Dunn

Marlyn G. Dunn

I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Dunn once. She was very warm and friendly and I enjoyed my brief time with her. While listening to the very rich and at times very emotional reflections being shared during her service, I thought how fortunate we are to have really known our mothers. There are those who do not or have not known their mothers. It was a blessing that even near the end, there was such a close and abiding love with our mothers that will prove lasting long after they are gone. I recognized from the comments the influence and character Ms. Dunn passed on to her family including Joanne. I concluded that Joanne, Calvin, and I each had mothers who were truly loved and admired by others for their internal beauty, unselfishness, devotion to the betterment of others, as each Mom went through life just being themselves. Joanne’s comments expressed during the service included:

“One very special recollection I have…that is also quite personal but describes my Mom’s state of mind and priorities at the time about three weeks ago (before Ms. Dunn’s passing) when the doctor in Spokane asked her what her concerns were and she quickly answered…just my family.  Joanne went on to say “I have great respect for her and find that she had many great qualities. She was a loving wife and mother…and an excellent grandmother to our two children. She had an unwavering faith in God that I respected and I believe that she lived her life and treated people in accordance with that faith. ”

Joanne’s final comment was “I hope I have some of the great qualities my Mom had. I love her and will miss her a lot!”  Joanne, I am sure you do have her great qualities…!

I have concluded that Joanne, Calvin, and I each had mothers who were truly loved and admired by others for their internal beauty, unselfishness, devotion to the betterment of others, as each Mom went through life just being themselves. I trust all three moms are now enjoying the fruits of their labor.

I really like to think each day is “Mother’s Day” because everyday those working hard at being mothers never take a day off from being a mom. Because of this fact, we should continuously recognize, celebrate, honor, and love mothers all year around. So to all mothers including my five wonderful aunts and those very special mothers in Copey….Happy Mother’s Day! 

It’s May Day….!

“Everybody wants to do something to help, but nobody wants to be the first.”                   by Pearl Bailey

Happy May Day!  We are already into the new month and into my favorite time of the year. In fact, this past weekend was a totally different and welcomed change from the previous four or five weekends.

IMG_5004I went fishing and it could not have been any better than it was. I seldom thought of Blogs, Posts, fundraising projects, and the sort. It was just a great time to spend with loved ones on a beautiful lake and catching a few fish.

The community of Copey has said goodbye to both Eve and her husband Joseph who both spent nearly two years in the Copey community. Joseph taught at the local high school and of course Eve took over the lead duties at the Learning Center. Joseph and Eve

A surprise going away party was provided to them and the community showed its appreciation for their service.  Hopefully, all of us “Friends” will always remember Eve’s work with the young girls teaching them ballet. Especially, she will be remembered for her hard work that resulted in several of the girls getting to perform in The Nutcracker last December. I will miss Eve and I wish her well in her new adventure. I hope our paths cross again someday!

The Nutcracker PerformersIt is now Angela’s turn to head up the Learning Center and help ensure its future. I look forward to working with her each week to support her and the Copey community’s efforts to have a first class center of education. Over the short time I have been working with Angela, I have been very impressed with her enthusiasm, dedication, and devotion to the Learning Center. Of course, she is also putting up with me as well as Eve did so I think we have some great days, weeks, and hopefully years ahead of us.

Real Kiwanis PicNow, I am ramping up for the big Kiwanis fundraiser being held this weekend…the Inland Empire Century Bike Ride. www.inlandempirecentury.org.  I will probably be ready for another fishing adventure this time next week. Seriously, after the Bike Ride, I will welcome the opportunity to spend more time following up on several important initiatives under development for the Learning Center. I have learned during the past month or more that it takes a lot of time and energy to do several important things well all at the same time. I fear that some time and a few opportunities have been lost with “Friends of Copey” but soon I will be focused like a laser on some of the key initiatives.

Next week is Mother’s Day Weekend and I plan to issue a special Mother’s Day Post. I hope you will find time to show your love to a Mom next Sunday.

NASCAR UPDATE

Jeff Gordon is becoming a slight drain on my mental state. He is a great driver and I am convinced his win will come soon. I am just not sure what my state of mind will be when it happens. But that’s NASCAR! Jeff Gordon

These guys go out there week after week to give it their all. Unlike many or most sports, for three plus hours these drivers are under the watchful eye of many thousands of people/fans and let’s not forget owners and sponsors scrutinizing each minute of their performance. Even when they come to the pit area for gas or tires, one mistake can cost them the race. Gordon lead 40 plus laps out of about 180 during the day. Near the end, he drove into the pit area a couple of miles per hour too fast and was penalized. This one infraction basically ended his chances for a win. Whenever a baseball, football, or even basketball player leaves the court or the field, 99.999% of the time a player will not cause a team penalty that would cost the team the game.  C’mon Jeff…we need a win!