Monthly Archives: November 2015

If You Suffer from Anxiety, Remember to be Thankful for Those Who Love You…”It’s Hard Work!”

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Without Loved Ones who Care, We are Lost in Managing Anxiety in Constructive Ways…

Anxiety is Tough, Especially on Loved Ones…13 Things to Remember  Quote from this link article published by Web Heath Paper…

“Anxiety is tough, isn’t it? Not just for the people that have it, but for you – the people that stick with them – while they’re going through it. It’s emotionally taxing on both ends, it’s physically demanding at times, and of course mentally demanding most of the time.  Plans have to be changed to accommodate the anxiety. Situations have to be avoided at times. Planning has to be just that bit more thorough. Emotional needs can change daily. It’s a lot to work through, and it can be hard to get in their head to understand on top of that.”

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I don’t think about the wear and tear on those who are close to me everyday, but I should.  Mostly, it is a huge personal struggle to manage and mitigate anxiety as a life long disorder for many.  When reminded with conversation, writing about stigma, or reading a new article like, “13 Things to Remember,” I’m so grateful for the understanding and patience from loved ones, especially my spouse.  She has a tough job!  But tells me it is worth it because she knows well how to help me work through the anxiety to make our days together much more positive… Otherwise, I would go immediately to my “blanket fort” and waste the whole day in my own self serving misery.  Although close friends and colleagues do the same, at least they are not around me 24/7.  The key is to keep a strong footing and move forward with healthy social interaction.  Without open communications with others and awareness, healing is virtually impossible.  Without a caring coach, those who suffer with severe anxiety, especially a panic attack, often retreat and go into isolation…better safe than sorry…

Please click this link, “13 Things to Remember,” and increase your awareness of what anxiety looks like, and how hard we all work together to support each other.  Distancing yourself from a loved one suffering anxiety is not the answer.  You can make a difference by not thinking what is wrong with your loved one or close friend, but ask yourself “what happened to cause the anxiety.”  This is the healthy way to move forward to be a hero to your loved one…

So, on this day and everyday be grateful and appreciative for those close to you who care enough to stay by your side and make each day a good day for all.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1&2…click the highlighted text for my author page and ordering my books…

SteveSunriver

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Child Advocate

Neighbors for Kids…Annual Gift Appeal… “Megan’s Story…”

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Neighbors For Kids has provided quality after-school and summer programs for school-aged youth in Lincoln County for over 15 years. Click image for larger view…

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Neighbors for Kids…click image for expanded view…

Neighbors for Kids, Depoe Bay, Oregon  Please go to the highlighted website and make a DONATION…  www.neighborsforkids.org

“Neighbors For Kids is an equal opportunity provider”

Neighbors For Kids, a 501(c)(3) public charity, EIN 93-1262846

November 27, 2015

Dear Family, Friends, and Followers,

As the end of 2015 nears, we write to ask you to make an investment in the future of our local youth and include Neighbors For Kids in your year-end charitable giving. In addition to providing USDA-sponsored food programs, recreational activities and one-on-one professional tutoring in reading and math, our after-school and summer programs also offer a diverse array of classes, focusing on the STEAM subjects (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math).

These programs foster interest and engagement in the STEAM subjects and ensure that youth in our coastal communities have pathways to achieving college and career readiness in STEAM.  Many of your neighbors, family members, and friends everywhere are already supporting our programs, but we need your help as well if we are to further our mission and accommodate the needs of the additional youth who continue to sign up each month to take advantage of the life-altering programs we offer. Perhaps you think your gift won’t matter. If that’s the case, permit me to share with you just one of the many personal success stories that were made possible in part by the generous past support of other local residents just like you:

Megan’s Story…

Megan, who is now 13 years old, has attended our programs for the past four years. She joined NFK’s Kids Zone program at age 9 when she came to live with her grandmother Kim. Earlier in her life, Megan suffered child abuse. Her mother went to prison, and she was in foster care off and on. As a result, she had no stability in her early years, and, as her grandmother states, “She felt like she had no voice.” But happily, the Kids Zone program changed all that. Again, in Kim’s own words:

“Kids Zone was the first place to give Megan unconditional love and a place to be where there was no judgment. Before entering the program she was shy, withdrawn, depressed, and had very low self-esteem. The Kids Zone alleviated her anxiety, and she could finally speak her mind, her voice could be heard. She now realizes she has a voice, she values it and knows it matters. She has been able to develop confidence.” Megan now has all A’s and B’s in her classes. Although she is in the 8th grade, she is taking high school level classes. She is in the Talented and Gifted program, takes part in an extra curricular science club called GEMS (Girls Engineering Math & Science) and is part of Save Our Shores, researching and studying the ocean and behavior of whales along the Washington and Oregon coasts. She also surfs, plays volleyball and softball. When asked how she feels NFK’s programs have changed Megan’s life, her grandmother sums it up this way:

Neighbors For Kids gave her the right circumstances to not only thrive but also to excel in her life. She always knew she’d be safe and taken care of at the Kids Zone. She knows Kids Zone Afterschool Program is a consistent and  safe place to be, and it has been a second home for Megan.  She has been able to develop skills and passion for music, art and science. She’s been able to work on her intellectual side but also have opportunities to just be a kid and have fun!”

NFK’s nationally-acclaimed enrichment programs fulfill a critical need in our local communities by supporting the academic and social development of our area’s youth. Studies show that students who participate in effective afterschool and summer programs like those provided by NFK show an increased interest in school and express greater hope for the future. They earn higher grades, have improved attendance, develop better communication skills, demonstrate higher social competence and are more apt to graduate than youth who are left alone and unsupervised during out-of-school hours.

We hope you’ll make a tax-deductible gift to NFK this year so we can put your contribution to work helping other students like Megan develop the academic, social and personal skills they need to achieve their greatest potential.  Please take a moment right now and click on www.neighborsforkids.org and make a donation.   Or, if you prefer, simply call 541-765-8990 to contribute.

Many thanks and best wishes for a happy New Year!

Cordially,

Bob Houston, NFK Chair

Steve Sparks, NFK Vice Chair

P.S. Your gift is essential to ensure the success of our programs and the impacts they have on the youth we serve. Please be as generous as you can.

 

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Thanksgiving 2015 in Bucerius, Mexico…Love Prevails in the Hearts & Minds of the Mexican People.

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Mexican Culture…Love, Kindness, and Respect…

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Suites Costa Dorada, Bucerius, Mexico…

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Bucerius Community…view from Suites Costa Dorada

Mexican Family Culture…Love, Kindness & Respect…Family Traditions…

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“Young, Mexican females are honored on their 15th birthday with a quinceaneracelebration. The party is full of emotion as the girl’s father ceremoniouslyexchanges her flat, childish style shoes for a demure pair of modestly high-heeled shoes to denote her passage into womanhood. The event is full of sentiment as the young woman dances with her father and the guests look on.

Another touching Mexican cultural tradition is the matrimonial golden coin ceremony. The groom bestows his betrothed with 13 golden coins as a gesture of his trust in her to treasure and care for him and his possessions. Her acceptance of the coins signifies her devotion to love, respect and nurture him.”

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Judy and I celebrated a peaceful and restful Thanksgiving in Bucerius, Mexico (click this link) for the year 2015.  We have been here 3 weeks on this day and are giving much thanks for our life together and for all of our blessings.  Although we miss our children and quality family time on this day, we are in the middle of great family tradition in Mexico.  I am constantly reminded of what is good in the world while experiencing and observing the children and families of Mexico, especially in this beautiful beach community.  We discover and experience here what we rarely see or hear in the news back home…love, kindness, and respect for all…hate is not allowed!  We feel totally safe walking the streets and enjoying the people, fine food, art galleries, and festive atmosphere.  Unlike some areas where drug cartels reign, we do not see armed military guards or police presence nor citizens acting out with protests and anger toward each other.

I believe this wonderful place, Bucerius, Mexico, is a snapshot of the world in general.  It is a small minority of people, no matter where one travels around the globe, that truly feel hate.  There is despair and poverty everywhere, including Mexico in a big way.  From my perspective, the people and cultures of the world typically have strong family traditions like Mexico.  We are all challenged daily with a myriad of survival issues that create significant stress.  But by and large love prevails in the hearts and minds of children and families everywhere we go.  So, we give thanks on this Thanksgiving day of 2015, and wish the very best to our family and friends back home, and to all the Mexican people and amigos here in Bucerius who have helped to make our visit so special…

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life after Trauma Part 1&2…  Click the highlighted text for my author page…

SteveSunriver

Steve Sparks, Author. Blogger, Child Advocate

November 20th Universal Childrens Day…”Be A Kids Hero!”

 

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Kids with Globe

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Be A Kids Hero…click image for larger view…

Universal Children’s Day  Guest Post by LAURIE A. GRAY, JD http://sumo.ly/cNqo via @GingerKadlec  Click the highlighted text link for more…

“November 20 is Universal Children’s Day.  The date marks the day the United Nations (“UN”) adopted the Declaration of the Rights of the Child in 1959 and the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1989.

Within a year of its enactment, 130 nations ratified this treaty guaranteeing certain fundamental human rights to children. Today the UNCRC stands as the most widely ratified human rights treaty in the world. With Somalia and South Sudan ratifying the treaty in 2015, only one nation has refused to stand with the rest of the world to protect children: The United States of America.

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I am a proud member of Ginger Kadlec”s “Be A Kids Hero”   As an author, blogger, and child advocate for many years, it is an honor to help advance awareness of the rights of children of all ages, especially child abuse and maltreatment.  My great passion is supporting the education of children through my work with Neighbors for Kids, Depoe Bay, Oregon.  As parents, teachers,  and mentors we should be more aware of the steps we can take to protect our most precious asset, the children of all ages everywhere.

“In the United States we now acknowledge that corporal punishment inflicted on one’s spouse is a form of domestic violence, but about 70% of parents still cling to the belief that hitting, slapping, and other forms of violence intended to inflict physical pain on a child are appropriate.”  UNCRC. Article 37(a) states, “No child shall be subjected to torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.”  The United States needs to ratify the UNCRC Treaty to join all nations who provide children with the same protections under the legal system as adults.  Please take quality time to become more aware of the UNCRC Treaty and encourage your congressional delegation to act on behalf of America’s children.  “Be A Kids Hero” and do your part in recognition of Universal Children’s Day…

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life after Trauma, Part 1&2… Click the highlighted text for my author page and ordering books and Amazon.com products…

SteveSunriver

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, and Child Advocate

National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week…The Resilience of Homeless Kids…

The Resilience of Homeless Kids…but not without long term emotional needs and support…

Who is the homeless?  “Storied Streets” Watch this powerful documentary trailer…

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National Hunger and Homlessness Awareness Week November 14th-22nd, 2015

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Homeless kids look and act typical in school but often suffer alone and in silence…

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I was moved today listening to Susan Sarandon on NBC Today talking about her new documentary “Storied Streets.”    I know in my own community of Lincoln County Oregon, we have experienced an increase in the population of homeless children who go to school each and every day and survive and thrive…moving on with their lives in very responsible ways.  These kids stay focused on getting a good education because they know this is the path to becoming a healthy and productive adult.

In my own experience as a board member of Neighbors for Kids, Depoe Bay, Oregon, and as a author and blogger, there are many stories of homeless kids who set a great example for others by overcoming the many challenges of surviving and thriving without the consistent emotional support of a stable and permanent home.  We work hard to help kids find a strong footing and balance with healthy adult and peer support in our community.  Most importantly we show love and compassion for children of all ages who join us each day during normal public school hours and out-of-school programs like Neighbors for Kids.

In my most recent book, My Journey of Healing in Life after Trauma, Part 2, I included a special story, written by Jenny Green, a former homeless child.  Following is an excerpt from my book, Chapter 3. in her own words as a homeless military child.

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Jenny Green while working for the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife…

“It was during one of these summers when I was 12 about to be 13 and had to attend summer school, that Mom closed the door to me. It was my last day of elementary school, when I got home all the doors and windows were locked and Mom was not answering. I sat on the porch till 10pm wondering what had happened, asking neighbors if they had seen anyone at the apartment, nothing. I went to a 5th grade friend’s house, but her family did not want anything to do with stained clothed, ammonia smelling kid; they told me to leave and not return.

Under the glow of the dim street light I slept on the porch that night.  The next morning I walked downtown to the amphitheater next to the Ohio River. I would sleep in and around this amphitheater for the next three months. Summer school did not serve lunch, so at night for food I would dig in the dumpsters of the local restaurants after they had closed. I remember eating half eaten fried chicken legs, macaroni salad with my fingers, licking pie filling off of paper plates, and using old napkins with lipstick stains smeared on them.

I remember being afraid to sleep outside at night; so I would walk around town, watch the trains, or sit and listen to the coal barges and tugs going up and down the Ohio River till dawn. I was also afraid of the local law enforcement, as I was scared of getting in trouble for being homeless and filthy. I did not know at the time that they would actually have helped me. I kept going home every other day and knocking on the door and no one ever answered, even though I could see the mail was picked up and curtains were moved.

The day 7th grade started, again I went back home and knocked on the door. To my surprise my mom answered the door. Dark circles under her eyes, dirty clothes, and matted hair is how she greeted me. I asked where she had been, and all she could say was that she had been busy. I told her 7th grade started today and I need her to go register me for school at the junior high, she agreed and we walked to school. I walk in the office with the same jeans, t-shirt, socks, and shoes I had been wearing for four months since the end of April, as people are staring at us I get registered for school and receive my class schedule.

Second period was algebra, and I hated math but I did not know that my life was about to change. I met my best friend Tracy; she didn’t care what I looked like or smelled like. In fact, later in the school year her Mom and Dad invited me over to their house as often as I wanted. They fed me, washed my clothes, and let me shower. By 8th grade I was living in their house. Mom still had custody of me but she allowed for my move. I was in their household ’till just after high school graduation with a 3.75 GPA, college bound, clean clothes and good food.

Someone had finally given me a chance to survive, and I thrived…”

Jenny Green has been working for Neighbors for Kids as our STEM Teacher for several years now.  She is one of our most popular teachers.  Jenny continues her higher education with the goal of a long term career in teaching K-12 science.  Jenny also loves photography and spends her free time finding unique photo shots of the Oregon coastal region.

Please become involved in supporting homelessness in your community during this week of National Hunger and Homeless Awareness…and all year long…

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story, and My Journey of Healing in Life after Trauma, Part 1&2… Click the highlighted text for my author page and order my book(s)…  Jenny Green’s complete story is in chapter 3 of My Journey of Healing, Part 2.

SteveSunriver

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, and Child Advocate…