Videographer Scott Schaefer works with military veterans through his job and via his volunteer efforts with the Central Missouri Honor Flight and other organizations. Read the post to find out more about the ways he serves the people who have served our country, and discover how you can do the same. #veterans #military

 

If you live in mid-Missouri and own a TV, you’ve likely seen Scott Schaefer’s work. But chances are, you had no idea he was involved in what you were watching. Why? Because he’s the man behind the video camera.

Scott, a graduate of the renowned University of Missouri School of Journalism and 15-time winner at the Mid-America Region Emmy® Awards of the National Academy of Television Arts and Science, lives in Columbia, MO, with his wife, Shannon, and daughter, Lillian. He currently works in the marketing department of Veterans United Home Loans as a videographer, and he and Shannon run a photography business.

But where you’ve likely seen his videography skills is on KOMU 8, NBC’s affiliate in Columbia, MO, where he worked for several years after graduating from Mizzou. Among other tasks, he worked alongside Sarah Hill on her popular “Sarah’s Stories” segments that aired once a week.

Continue reading “Scott Schaefer: Serving Those Who Served Our Country”

If you didn't grow up in poverty, it can be hard to understand the issues, obstacles, and hidden rules people in poverty deal with every day. And when you lack understanding, you either don't see the need to help, OR you might help in ways that actually hurt the people you're trying to help, regardless of your intentions. The books in this list will open readers' minds to the realities of poverty in America, and they give ideas and tips for how to help. #poverty #bekind #serveothers #books

If you didn’t grow up in generational poverty, it can be difficult to understand the issues, obstacles, and hidden rules people living in poverty deal with every day. And when you lack understanding, it can lead to various problems.

If you didn't grow up in poverty, it can be hard to understand the issues, obstacles, and hidden rules people in poverty deal with every day. And when you lack understanding, you either don't see the need to help, OR you might help in ways that actually hurt the people you're trying to help, regardless of your intentions. The books in this list will open readers' minds to the realities of poverty in America, and they give ideas and tips for how to help. #poverty #bekind #serveothers #books

You might think you shouldn’t do anything to help because all they need to do is just “pull themselves up by their bootstraps,” which is not the case for many people. Or, on the other hand, you might want to help, but you end up doing so in ways that can actually hurt the people you’re trying to help, even though you have the best of intentions.

The following books will open readers’ minds to the realities of poverty in America and similar countries in the developed world. Some do delve into alleviating poverty in developing countries, but for the most part, the focus of these books is on poverty in America.

Some of these books about poverty provide general understanding, others lay out best practices for school and/or community involvement and engagement, and still others warn of the dangers of helping without understanding the deeper issues. Without exception, the book titles are self-explanatory.

If you were to only choose one of these books to read, my suggestion is the first one below: A Framework for Understanding Poverty by Ruby K. Payne.

Click on the book covers to go to the Amazon product page and find out more information.  Continue reading “Books to Help You Understand Poverty (and How to Alleviate It)”

Nancy Blaue and Friends Feeding Hungry Kids

 

Note: This is part two of a profile on Nancy Blaue. To read the first post about her promotion of literacy through Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library and her job with Parents as Teachers, click here.

 

“Kids that are hungry aren’t learning.”

Any teacher that works with kids who live in poverty will be nodding his or her head right now. And there is no time when some kids are more hungry than at school on a Monday morning, after having eaten little to no food at home over the weekend.

Nancy Blaue sees poverty firsthand nearly every day when she does home visits for her job as a Parent Educator with Parents as Teachers. Her friend Clinetta Weinrich, who often says the quote above, saw the effects of it at school. And Clinetta, a (now retired) kindergarten teacher for the Wellsville-Middletown R-1 School District in Wellsville, Missouri, decided to do something about it.

She knew of a group that worked in tandem with the Warren County R-3 School District in nearby Warrenton to help feed kids over the weekends. The group would pack bags of food that were then distributed at school on Friday afternoons to kids who might otherwise be without food.

Continue reading “Nancy Blaue and Friends: Feeding Hungry Kids”

Photo of Andrew and Kaylee Paredes: Smiling Through Life with a Cleft Lip and Palate

“There’s something we need to tell you.”

When Laura Lee Rose heard these words shortly after giving birth to her first child, she didn’t know what to expect. By her own admission, she was “out of it” after the birth, but she clearly remembers that before she saw her daughter for the first time, the nurses wanted to prepare her for something. Kaylee had been born with a cleft lip and cleft palate.

Fortunately for Kaylee’s parents, one of the nurses had a daughter with the same condition. She quickly showed Laura Lee pictures of her five-year-old’s winning smile, which allayed some of Laura Lee’s fears. So she knew it was a correctable birth defect, but she was also well aware that it would be a long road ahead for Kaylee.

So what is a cleft lip and palate? According to the Mayo Clinic’s website, “A cleft palate is an opening or split in the roof of the mouth that occurs when the tissue doesn’t fuse together during development in the womb. A cleft palate often includes a split (cleft) in the upper lip (cleft lip) but can occur without affecting the lip.”

In Kaylee’s words, “There’s basically a hole from the back of my throat up through my nose. It wasn’t closed, so there was just a big opening.”

The birth defect is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors that cannot be predicted or prevented, based on current research. Currently, most parents are aware of this condition before their child is born. However, when Kaylee was born in the 1980s, ultrasounds weren’t as sophisticated or as widespread as they are today, so her parents and doctor weren’t aware she had a cleft lip and palate until she was born.

  Continue reading “Kaylee Paredes: Smiling Through Life with a Cleft Lip and Palate”

A few years ago I did some freelance editing work for the Fuller Youth Institute. The first project I worked on was the Sticky Faith Launch Kit, which I found quite fascinating. 

So what’s this sticky faith thing? The Fuller Youth Institute website describes it as: “Sticky Faith is a ministry framework and parenting philosophy backed by practical and proven ideas to help develop long-term faith in teenagers.” So basically, they help ministry leaders and parents with strategies to help guide the faith development of their children with the hope that they won’t abandon it when they reach adulthood.

I honestly don’t remember everything from the kit, but the one thing that really stuck with me is the amount of adults they believe need to be heavily invested in kids’ lives.

Continue reading “The 5:1 Ratio: Kids Need a Tribe”

 

A few weeks ago I called my young friend to interview her for this post. The last question I asked her was this: “When you hear the phrase ‘living well,’ what does that mean to you? What do you think it looks like to live well?” I wasn’t sure she would be able to quickly articulate an answer that question, but after a few seconds she responded:

To live in God’s image.

Wow. What 17-year-old gives an answer like that? MaKenna Maskey does, and her answer wouldn’t surprise anyone who knows her. She has no doubt that God created her just the way she is, and He wants her to live in a way that shows others who He is.


Nearly 18 years ago, MaKenna’s aunt Jenny called to tell me she had a new niece. The next day, the phone rang again. This time the news was grim. MaKenna had turned blue, so she was being airlifted from the small hospital in Mexico, Missouri, to Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital in St. Louis.

MaKenna’s diagnosis was Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome (HLHS). You can look it up here, but to put it simply, the left side of her heart was undeveloped. The right side had to do all the work, which it would only be able to do for a very limited amount of time without intervention.

This wasn’t a condition that would resolve itself on its own, so MaKenna’s parents were told they had two options. 1) Wait for a heart transplant. 2) Opt for a series of three surgeries that were still fairly new and experimental.

Continue reading “MaKenna Maskey: Living a Full Life with Half a Heart”

When you were a kid and didn’t eat everything on your plate, did your parents ever say, “Eat your food. Just think of all those starving orphans in Africa”? Mine occasionally did, and my smart-aleck response always was, “Well, if they were here, I’d give them this food. But they’re not here, are they?” (Disclaimer: Yes, I know not all kids in Africa are orphans or starving, but that’s a real thing American parents said ALL THE TIME when I was a kid in the 1980s.)

Flash forward to today, and there really is a way to give your food to starving kids in Africa, Asia, North America, and other regions of the world. No, I’m not talking about the actual food you leave on your plate at the Outback Steakhouse or your great-aunt’s questionable JELL-O “salad” at Christmas, but the food you consciously choose not to even buy in order that you can feed a child somewhere else.

A few years ago, I was working on a writing project with Candace Cameron Bure, and she mentioned an organization she supports called Skip1.org. When she told me more about it, I was intrigued by the charity’s focus. Their motto is:

Continue reading “Just Skip It . . . and Feed a Child”