There have been so many deaths over the past few years here
in our town, my beautiful 17 yr old daughter told me yesterday
"Mom, we just can't catch a break around here" I'm
scared these kids are beginning to think this is the norm. My
daughter has been to 8 funerals in 3 of her high school years...8!
This town needs you Steve!
You have plenty
to be worried about, Andrea. There is a high school in
that just had their fifth suicide in four years and now it sounds
traditional. Now kids wonder, "Who is it going to
be this year?" In two weeks, I am speaking in a small valley
near Los Angeles that has had four sucides just in the past twelve
months. These cycles MUST be broken by positive actions with
full participation of the parents, students, faculty and administration.
Everyone has some skin in this game.
I had not heard
about these losses in Union MO so I don't know the causes. I
can say I have seen headlines in your local paper calling neighboring
Washington MO a regional "crystal meth capital." How
many people and productive lives have been lost to drugs in America?
That total will be more than car accidents, diseases, natural
hazards and homicides combined.
However, I do
have ideas about what your daughter and her friends can do. They
can stand up and fight back. Whenever the battle seems lost and
the value of a person has crept away, the best way to get back
into the game is to do something for someone else. Freely, selflessly.
The answer is ice cream for the other person, not for us (although
you can share).
people. Make 30-40 PB&J sandwiches, bag them up, hand them
with a bottle of water to homeless people. Put something frivilous
in the lunch sack like a fancy napkin, single serving of candy
or one of those little drink umbrellas. You will feel useful
and the other person will feel cared about. That adds up to a
lot more than a sandwich and she can do this for $12.00.
- Volunteer at
a shelter and treat people with dignity like welcome guests.
She can be sure that quality if missing in homeless lives. Homeless
shelters, battered women's shelters.
- Bring food to
a shut-in. Meals on Wheels needs volunteers.
- Find a shut
in whose house needs paint and find a sponsoring Rotary-Optimist-Chamber
civic club or two willing to pay for the paint. Then get friends
together and paint it. Any paint will leave it better
than it was and a resident who feels valued.
- Find a shut-in
whose yard could desperately use a weed whacker, and whack it
for them. She probably doesn't need to ask. Just whack and
- At school, go
sit with the friendless kid over there. Talk to him or her like
"us" rather than like "... you."
- Your daughter
can challenge herself to smile at enough people daily to make
20 of them smile back at her. Up the ante - 20 people she doesn't
know well enough to converse with, or 20 people before noon.
She should keep a written tally. Smiles are a BIG way to pay
it forward. Get her friends to do it without telling anyone else
what they are doing.
- Kristina Ellis has a best seller on the market, "Confessions
of a Scholarship Winner" that includes her techniques for getting
scholarship judges' attention. Part of her 1,000 hours of volunteerism
through high school was that she found out people in East Africa
had parasites entering the body through the soles of the feet.
They were shoeless and defenseless. Kristina organized a drive
to gather hundreds of pairs of shoes and shipped them to organizations
that would distribute them to grateful people. High school
girls can save lives!
- When my father
was in his last days at a hospice center, a group of young college
students came weekly to the hospice center, individually going
bed to bed singing songs popular in the 1940s and 50s. The girl
who came to Dad's room twice couldn't hit all the musical notes,
but she sang softly to him. It was so sweet it drove me to my
knees and still tears me up.
- Out there somewhere
is a woman in her 80s whose eyes have dimmed and she can't read
any more. Read to her, share a book page by page and this woman
will radiate her appreciation. Every time, your daughter will
leave this woman's home with both of them a few inches taller.
are endless for contributing to people whose lives are diminished,
and your daughter will be the confident winner. As the expression
goes, we all have to bloom where we are planted.
And of course,
if there is someone I should be talking to in/around your town
- school administrators, churches, scouts, youth teams, I'd be
happy to come speak. Tell them
what I do
and help us get in touch with one another!