hcg

Posts Tagged ‘disaster relief’

1
Sep

Lessons from a Teenager’s Heart

   Posted by: admin    in Musings

I was invited to write a guest post on Carlyle Labuschagne’s Worlds Away Book Blog.  I shared one of my favorite stories, where my friend Hailey Sanford taught me something about giving back.  Grand Haven High School hosts a chapter of the Interact Club, a youth community service club sponsored by Rotary.  Each May, the GHHS Interact Club partners with the National Relief Network to take a cross-country trip to help with disaster relief.  We go wherever we are needed and often don’t know where that will be until the week before the trip.  In 2010, we were sent to Mississippi where a tornado had recently struck.  My post is about a special incident on that trip.

There’s a point in the story where I doubt Hailey’s dedication and I feel bad for that.  The post doesn’t hit on those feelings much, but it is a big part of the story for me, so I thought I might quickly mention it here.  I won’t give away the ending (you can read the full post via the link below), but suffice to say Hailey reminded me that you can’t always trust your eyes.  If you know in your heart that someone is a good person, then you should give them the benefit of the doubt.  They just might be about to share one of the most memorable and generous experiences of your life.

That’s what Hailey did for me.  I can’t thank her enough for it.

You can read the post at the bottom of this page.
The local news paper, the Choctaw Plaindealer, also wrote an article about our efforts.
Information about National Relief Network can be found on their website.
More about Rotary’s Interact Clubs can be found here.

If you’d like to read a story about other people trying to do the right thing, I invite you to try my novel Good Deeds.

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9
Aug

Math, Motorcycles, and Mr. Mauro

   Posted by: admin    in Musings

When I decided to create a blog for my website, I knew I didn’t want to make it just about writing.  In fact, I wanted to make it mostly not about writing.  I wanted to make it about inspiration.  About good people who do good things.  I write creepy stories but, more importantly, I write about people in creepy situations.  I like stories with characters that persevere against insurmountable odds or make sacrifices to help someone else in need.

I want my books to be about those types of people, and I want my writings here to be about those types of people.  I want to share some really great people with you.  Once I decided that, I knew immediately who I wanted to tell you about first—my friend John Mauro.

John is a math teacher.  Teachers are an inspiration anyway (says the former teacher) but John is one of those teachers that they make movies about.  One of John’s students once said to me, “I’m not worried about Mr. Mauro getting mad at me.  I’m worried about Mr. Mauro being disappointed in me.”  John Mauro’s students want to do good by him, and that’s a sure sign of someone who wants to do good by others.

John’s generosity doesn’t stop at helping students solve tricky equations in his classrooms.  John takes the classroom outside and I’ve seen him in the evenings tutoring students at the local coffee shop.  John is usually sporting one of the many T-shirts he purchased from Rosa Loves, an organization whose shirts literally tell a story of need and whose profits go directly to the needy in those very stories.  John chaperones teens on a yearly cross-country trip to do disaster relief, and he tells the kids, “We’re here to work hard, but take every opportunity to talk to as many people as you can.  Get to know them.  Every person you meet has a different story, and I bet they’d like to share it.”

This guy’s heart is as big as they come.

John has recently taken the idea of helping others to a new level.  He took a hiatus from his teaching job here in the States to connect with Rustic Pathways, an organization that helps young people give back around the world.  John journeyed to Peru to help a small community make a better life for its youth.  A long-time proponent of the Girl Effect, which says educating young women is essential to improving the situation in impoverished countries, John has parlayed that support into work on the Sacred Valley Project, where he’s helped build a school for young girls, teach them all those confusing equations, and give hope to people he’s never met.  I can’t think of too many things more inspiring than that.

In his stint in the Peruvian mountains, making lasting connections with people of all ages, John slept in tents during the cold nights.  He endured rain and snow and constant stomach issues.  He cared for others and he worked himself to fatigue.  But for John, that’s all worth it if it helps children get an education and a chance at a full life.

John Mauro makes sacrifices and never complains.  John Mauro is not a martyr.  He’s not looking to impress anyone.  He just wants to be a good person.  He has succeeded.

By the way, he also had his motorcycle shipped down to South America.  He’ll be riding it back—from Peru to Michigan—over the coming months.   He’s decided to take his own advice and stop to talk with as many people as he can and collect their stories.

As a writer, I know that my characters have qualities taken from the people around me.  It’s unavoidable.  Sometimes the jerk in line at the DMV gets himself rolled into a sadistic kidnapper, or a crabby old neighbor becomes a vampire, or something I overheard at the gym sparks an idea for a gruesome death.  My villains come from any number of places.  But I think all my heroes have a little piece of John Mauro in them.

You can find John’s blog about his trip to Peru and back here.
The Rosa Loves T-Shirts that John likes to wear are here.
Information on the Girl Effect can be found here.
The Rustic Pathways website has more information on their programs.
To learn more about the Sacred Valley Project, visit here.

And if you’d like to read a story that has a piece of John Mauro in it, check out Good Deeds.

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