My First Day at LEAH

Crossposted from A Stick in The Mud. - GH

It’s 6:30 in the morning. I’m at the house of a stranger. The lights are off and I am trying to break in. Ten minutes go by, fifteen. I’m pounding on the door, circling the house, cussing at the door, peaking through the window, pleading with door, but it does not open.

I met Ellen the day before. I also work at Staples and I was helping her lift a box of paper into the trunk of her car. We got into a conversation about the non-profit she is running, The LEAH Advocacy Group (Staples calls this customer communication technique the Selling FunnelTM). Before long, she had hired me on to help support a bill set to hit the floor of the New Hampshire House the very next day.
For those of you who don’t know Ellen, she is a bit disorganized and, that morning, she was still asleep. It took some time, pleading with the door of my employer-to-be, but she finally came downstairs to open the door.
“Would you mind taking off your shoes?” And just as I was about to, she added, as if needing explanation, “I just don’t want you to track in any pesticides into my house.”
Boy, I thought, we’re not in Kansas anymore.



The Fresh Air Fund: Seeking Host Families for Summer 2011

The Fresh Air Fund (Fact sheet: English, Spanish) is a program that helps inner city children from New York City; it's been around for a very long time, and we've even posted about it in the past. Some additional details, from their About Us page:

Since 1877, The Fresh Air Fund, a not-for-profit agency, has provided free summer experiences in the country to more than 1.7 million New York City children from disadvantaged communities. Each year, thousands of children visit volunteer host families in 13 states and Canada through the Friendly Town Program or attend Fresh Air Fund camps.

Nearly 10,000 New York City children participate in the program every year. Children from low-income communities ranging in age from six to 18 years old are selected for participation based on financial need. Host families open their homes to these children for one to two weeks or more during the summer time; they are not paid, and there are no financial requirements for host families. Families are selected after "Friendly Town" committees review their applications, visit them in their homes and check personal references.1

Learn how two weeks can change a child's life...

With the summer of 2011 fast approaching, the Fund is looking for more hosting families:

If you or someone you know is able to host, please sign up now. In 2010, The Fresh Air Fund's Volunteer Host Family program, called Friendly Town, gave close to 5,000 New York City boys and girls, ages six to 18, free summer experiences in the country and the suburbs. Volunteer host families shared their friendship and homes up to two weeks or more in 13 Northeastern states from Virginia to Maine and Canada.

To learn more about becoming a host family, read more here. If you are located in one of the five boroughs of New York City and wish to sign your child up for the program, read more here about how to sign up.

Children are our future. Any time you can help children, you are helping by setting an example for the rest of us, as well as providing hope for the legacy of human civilization - a legacy of hope that our future will learn from our past, and benefit from the opportunities we provide.2




1 Information according to the Fresh Air Fund fact sheet.

2 Some additional ePluribus Media pieces, stories and blurbs regarding children our history and legacy:

Gaza Views, First hand report of conditions in Gaza -- Part III

About Me

Felice Gelman

I am a member of the Wespac Middle East Committee and part of a group of four delegations under the umbrella of CODEPINK invited to Gaza by the UN Relief and Works Agency. This trip is a follow-on to a March CODEPINK Gaza trip which I participated in

Rafah -- Survival Strategies for Palestinians

The first morning in Gaza, we returned from Gaza City to Rafah to spend time at the Lifemakers Center – the children’s center Fida Qishta and her sister Faten founded. Our drivers took the coastal road – a real treat. Absolutely no traffic, beautiful seascapes most of the way. Even here, however, there was plenty of evidence of destruction… the occasional large home destroyed, factories, workshops, and farm buildings flattened. Also, near Deir Balah, you cross a bridge over Gaza’s open sewer (the parts for the sewage treatment plant have been held at the border forever). Raw sewage must be pumped untreated into the sea, polluting all the coastal waters.

C Bomb Exports Permanently Banned!‏

I received this yesterday, on the 11th, from the Friends Committee on National Legislation and was going to post it around but couldn't get the links to load, they're fine now, So Please Use Them!

A live, U.S-made M77 cluster submunition in a citrus orchard in Southern Lebanon--one of an estimated 4 million dropped in 2006.
President Obama signed a law yesterday, March 11 2009, that will make permanent a ban on nearly all cluster bomb exports from the United States. Congress included the export ban in an omnibus budget bill that passed the Senate last night. This provision will move the U.S. one step closer to the position of the nearly 100 nations--including our closest NATO allies--that signed a treaty banning cluster munitions in December.

The legislation states that cluster munitions can only be exported if they leave behind less than one percent of their submunitions as duds, and if the receiving country agrees that cluster munitions "will not be used where civilians are known to be present." Only a very tiny fraction of the cluster munitions in the U.S. arsenal meet the one percent standard. This export ban was first enacted in a similar budget bill in December 2007, but that law mandated it for only one year.

U.S.-exported cluster bombs were most recently used by Israel in Southern Lebanon, where dud rates were reportedly as high as 40 percent; hundreds of civilians and deminers have been killed or maimed since the fighting ended in 2006.

Now Congress needs to take the next step and ban U.S. use of these deadly weapons. Nearly one in four senators have already cosponsored the Cluster Munitions Civilian Protection Act (S. 416), introduced one month ago, which would stop the military from using virtually all of the cluster bombs in its vast arsenal by applying this same one percent standard to U.S. use. Do your senators support this bill? If not, urge them to co-sponsor today. If it's unacceptable to export high dud-rate cluster bombs, then it's unacceptable to use them. Growing Senate support for S. 416 will show President Obama that the U.S. public stands with the rest of the world in supporting a ban on cluster bombs.

As 17 year old Soraj Ghulam Habib from Herat, Afghanistan, who lost both legs to a U.S. cluster submunition in 2001 observes, "You'd ban them for sure, if you had them here." Click here to see what a cluster bomb would do to your neighborhood.

Victims of bush's "War on Terror": Children

On January 12th 2009 President bush gave his final Press Conference to the Nation.

In it he made a number of statements that have been analyzed by many, my take on his answers and spin was his showing how little a man, who is in total denial and lacking any compassion or moral feelings, of how big a failure as a person, and especially as the President, he has been!

In one of his answers he said this:

Children Go Where I Send Thee: Die.

Photo: Breaker Boys © Louis Hine @ Child Labor - U.

1938: For the first time, minimum ages of employment and hours of work for children are regulated by federal law


One afternoon last fall, the 17-year-old Guatemala native ran a machine to grind damaged pallets into mulch. When a co-worker at the Greensboro plant returned from another task, he didn't see Nery – until he looked inside the shredder. “A person shouldn't die like this,” said older brother Luis. “…He came with a dream and found death.” [Ames Alexander+Franco Ordonez/CharlotteObserver: Child labor going largely unchecked]

Economic Triage: Euthanizing Hope and Promise in the U.S.

Our nation's forefathers started us off with good intentions.


We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

            -- Preamble of the United States' Constitution


Emphasis mine.

That's not to say that they envisioned a "welfare state" -- an accusation oft tossed into the mix by radical right-wing conservatives. The line "promote the general welfare" does, however, denote the support and importance of the "health, happiness, or prosperity; well-being"1 of the people, the states and the nation itself. The mythos that later came to embody the "domestic Tranquility" and principles of liberty and justice in a free democratic Republic was bolstered with the words from a plaque at the base of one of our most notable national symbols, the Statue of Liberty:


"Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses
yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

            -- Emma Lazarus, The New Colossus, 1883


What a grand dream of freedom, of democracy, of goodwill and equal opportunity...

How horrified our founding fathers might be now, to read of the way our system has been twisted and corrupted so that the poor and the sick are effectively shut-out from the benefits that modern-day medicine can provide, like the child who was taken off a liver doner list through an example of the cold, hard nature of economic triage2 as reported recently in the Miami Herald:

The day I found out I had a bi-racial child.

bumped by carol.

A few weeks ago I was talking with some people about Obama's A More Perfect Union speech, and the discussion led to a discussion of race in general...

It was one of those conversations that became a little heated, causing others who walk in on it to be taken aback. They weren't there to adjust to the slowly climbing temperatures.

A Loss of Innocence: In Memory of "The Mayor"

Today, my nephew "TJ" would have celebrated his seventh birthday, surrounded by his family, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. He would be seven -- a lucky number -- if he had lived.

He died on February 20, 2003, two days before his second birthday.

After several years of uncertainty about how to post a story I'd written in his memory, I finally posted it last June.1

Now, as the anniversary of TJ's death passed two days ago and the anniversary of his birth dawns today, I feel that it is only right and fitting to repost the piece here, on the newly redesigned ePluribus Media community page, to both honor my nephew and to further remind folks just how precious the young ones are in our lives. They are the hope for our future; we are their best, last hope that there will be a future for them to inherit. The legacy we have left so far, within the first decade of a new century, is not exactly promising.

The significance of this was driven home, ironically, by Melody Townsel's scary encounter which she originally posted on DailyKos on February 20th.2 Her 8 year old child, playing in front of their home, was asked by a stranger to help look for his lost dog. The person could have been innocent, might have really been looking for a dog, and the flyers he claimed to have put up -- which were never found by the police checking into the matter -- may have been pulled down. The person may have shown bad judgement. However, the "lost dog" ruse has become popular of late, and it is also quite possible that the man intended harm.

It wasn't up to Melody to decide that -- it was up to her to respond to the situation in a manner that she felt was appropriate. She did, and then posted about it in order to remind parents of a very important lesson that parents should pass along to their children. It wasn't a cry out for a legacy of fear and distrust but a call for parents to ensure that they've instilled an important lesson for their children's safety.

No matter the reason, the loss of a child is as tragic and terrible as the birth of a child is wonderful and miraculous. We have, through our children, the direct potential for imparting our wisdom (such as it is) and hope for the future through sharing of our experiences, informing them about our past and educating them to the best of our ability to provide them with the tools they'll need to navigate through life's challenges successfully.

The story of my nephew's passing is sad, but the hope, love and laughter he still inspires is wonderful.

Please keep that in mind as you read the piece that follows.


In Melody's Own Words: "Stranger Danger" Hits Close To Home

The following is reprinted with the permission of Melody Townsel and presented as a reminder for parents to talk to their children about how to react when approached by strangers.1

CRIMEWATCH! Today, Stranger Danger Hit Home!

by Melody Townsel. Originally posted on DailyKos on Wed Feb 20, 2008 at 02:59:39 PM EST.

Hello, all:

Today, my tiny family of two got an up-close-and-personal look at stranger danger -- and I can't help but think that our story is worth a reminder to all of you who are parents.

This morning, my daughter and I awoke in great moods, getting ourselves around and ready to cover the five miles between here and Reunion Arena to go and see Barack Obama. As we were preparing to leave, a friend called, and while I was on the phone, my eight-year-old, Sadie, went out to the sidewalk in front of our house to bounce her new yellow ball.

Five minutes. That's all the time that lapsed while I chatted briefly with a friend.

Five minutes.

Loss Of Innocence: Children, Strangers, Sickness and Death

It's now an hour into the new day.

I am still up, although soon to retire for the evening. My last online task tonight is to provide a comment, a reference and a reprint for parents, uncles and aunts everywhere.

Today, a very scary event occurred in the life of Melody Townsel, a blogger at DailyKos and a mother. She relates it here; I've asked her to crosspost it and offered to do so for her if she wishes. If she is gracious enough to provide it or permit it, I will then front page her piece -- it is that important.

The event that occurred will raise the hackles and form a ball of nausea in the pit of anyone's stomach.

A stranger approached her young daughter in front of their house today, and sought to entice the little girl to accompany him in search of "his lost dog." The child had the presence of mind to go inside and tell her mother that she was going to help find the man's dog.

Go read the story. Hug your own children; look in on them if they are already asleep, and kiss them gently on the head.


This story would have had a strong impact on me if it was any other day. Time-wise, "today" has become "tomorrow" -- but for me it's still "today," February 20th.

Today, the story hit me even harder.

February 20th is the anniversary of the death of a young nephew, two days before his second birthday. He died in 2003 from an undiagnosed viral infection.

The loss of a child is difficult -- horrible, in and of itself, regardless of reason. Losing the child to an unknown disease, unexpectedly, sucks massively more. I can't even begin to imagine what it would be like to lose a child to a predator.

I don't want to.

I tried to fathom it and failed. I can't try again, and I never wish to know.

Melody must be still be freaking, and yet thankful that her child came in to tell her what was going on. I'm thankful for that, too.

Please read her story. We'll bring it to folks here, too, as soon as it's possible. Regardless, share the story with your friends and family, and let them know that they ~must~ talk to their children about strangers -- help them, if necessary, if they have trouble explaining.

It's too important not to.

And A Little Child Shall Lead Them...

This piece was originally published on the older ePluribus Media scoop site on Sat Nov 24, 2007 at 12:07:25 PM EST, in addition to several other locations. I was unable to post it here at that time. I am now remedying the situation; relax. You are not experiencing deja-vu if you saw this article before.

A famous US patriot once said "These are the times that try men's souls." At the time, he spoke of the events and circumstances surrounding the birth of a nation destined to be defined by the rights and freedoms of the people; a nation led by government of the People, by the People and for the People, where leaders could inspire the People to stand united in spite of differing opinions or particular religious influence.

The advent of the twenty-first century has marked the most severe departure from our founding principles than ever before. We stand on the brink of self-immolation, leaderless and adrift, while selfish, arrogant hypocrites steer our ship of state toward the shoals.

Should we fail now to grow resolute and united in our determination to right this ship, we fail not only ourselves but our children, and their children's children.

It is time to look to those children for inspiration and a reminder of what we, as adults, are tasked with as parents and guardians: to create and foster an environment where children can grow to adulthood, secure in the knowledge that we have passed along the best models for ethical leadership and responsible stewardship of this nation that we know how.

Join Us Leading Up To Dec. 8th

Starting on this Thanksgiving Day 2007!

It's long past time for Us Adults to Finally become the Responsible Beings we are supposed to be, for the Coming Generations on a whole host of issues!

We aren't here for Our Personal Benefit, Wealth, or Power, we're here to build better Futures for those who follow, that's our Main Responsibility and Always Has Been!

But I'll let Pete Seeger, and the children {always more adult than us} introduce us to one Extremely Important Issue and Coming Event!

Pete Seeger on December 8th

"Bless the beastly little children of a lesser god than mine."

The following post originally appeared on ePluribus Media's old Scoop site and was crossposted on DailyKos, ePluribus Media, Street Prophets and My Left Wing by GreyHawk on Wed Jan 03, 2007. Migrated to this site 2010-01-31 09:23 am.

For why is all around us here

As if some lesser god had made the world,

But had not force to shape it as he would?

   -- Alfred Lord Tennyson,
      Idylls of the King: The Passing of Arthur. Line 13.

Harsh, indeed, rings the title of this article; all the more inciteful for the accuracy with which is betrays the blatant, arrogant hypocrisy of the "priveleged" few. They who would beat their chests with cries of righteousness and claims of Christian piety are the self-same misbegotten misanthropes who call for the annihilation others in the name of their god. Images of destruction and the realities of war fail to penetrate the thick miasma of self-delusion that so heavily clouds their hearts and minds.

We as a nation have been played, taken for fools by fools themselves. I've heard said that there is no rest for the wicked: so be it. There are none more wicked than those who support this Administration and the follies of their war, for it is not a "Global War on Terror" that they wage: it is a war on all that it holy in this world.