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INSPIRATION

Articles

Third Half Advisors: Bridging the Gap for Post-Career Professionals

A post-retirement consulting venture helps retiring boomers navigate through their “third half” in life. At last, retirement has finally arrived! So well deserved, it is the crowning achievement of a hard-working career, the off-ramp of a demanding, challenging profession. You’ve looked forward to this for so long, and now you can finally bask on that sunny Florida beach, sleep in, play golf, spend more time with the grandkids. No more fighting rush hour traffic, working late night hours, meeting deadlines, or crafting that perfect presentation, just lots and lots of R&R … maybe too much R&R. Living in the fast lane juggling responsibilities, goals, number crunching, project management, family, and then suddenly switching to a slower-paced lifestyle can be jarring to one’s physical and emotional wellbeing. Some may view this as being led out to pasture and envision themselves sitting among old folks nodding off in front of a television. It’s a scary thought for those who feel they still have so much to contribute and crave a sense of fulfillment like their successful careers once gave them. Retiring with

Diane Latiker: Chicago South Side’s Founder Of “Kids Off The Block” (KOB)

Chicago South Side’s Ms. Diane opens her heart and home for at-risk youths to realize their potential. A Memorial Like No Other Another stone is placed on a memorial wall in Roseland, a neighborhood in Chicago. Bearing a name and date, the stone is carefully and lovingly displayed among the other 800 stones that have been collecting there since 2007. The wall is a sad testament of young lives cut short by the barrel of a gun. Worse yet, the wall has been rebuilt 15 times since 2007, and is over 400 stones behind! Diane Latiker, a community activist and founder of Kids Off the Block (KOB), set up the memorial wanting to shock “her community and the youth she served,”  KOB is a non-profit started in 2003 in Roseland, one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Chicago, where walking home from school could mean dodging a gauntlet of bullets. Even Latiker is not immune to her neighborhood’s violence. Her own van was found shot up by gangs. On another occasion, she says she found herself between two guns with

Harboring Hearts: Battling Heart Disease with Compassion

A way of healing turns into a safety net for thousands of families in their time of greatest need. A typical day, going about daily chores, taking that 20-minute walk, or going off to work, and then you get the call. Suddenly, everything grinds to a halt; a loved one has had a heart attack and is en route to a hospital. Adrenaline kicks in and off you go, making a few calls along the way to inform others and making sure a friend feeds your pet because you don’t know when you’ll be back home. Questions flood through your mind as you try to maintain composure. You arrive at the ER and eventually told of your loved one’s condition. Time passes, and finally, you can be with them. Just the sight of all the monitors, tubes, and IV is enough to scare you, but you must be strong and comforting for them and the rest of the family. What happens next? It is just the beginning. Hitting Home This scenario repeats itself multiple times a day in every community

Marian Hamilton and The Ken Hamilton Caregiver Center

A private sanctuary for caregivers eases the everyday stress associated with the care of ailing loved ones. Unsung Heroes Imagine having a break in your day, time so precious you can have a moment all to yourself to escape, relax, and recharge. This momentary freedom is appreciated beyond measure by family members whose lives have been dramatically altered to become the courageous caregivers of loved ones with serious illnesses or injuries. Caregivers give their all to support the physical and well-being needs of loved ones. Caregiving is more than a loving, noble, selfless act —it speaks of endurance when courage and strength seem exhausted. But usually, one dives into their newfound role and then realizes how inadequate they are to take on the responsibility. Their own lives become disrupted even to forgo paid work to accommodate the needs of the loved one. Exhaustion, stress, frustration, anxiety, isolation, and depression often creep into a caregiver’s life. Patience and fortitude become precious commodities to survive caregiving. Where does one turn for help? Roughly one third of family caregivers have difficulty in finding

Lisa Klein and Loved Twice: Starting Life with Compassion

A new mother finds room in her heart to help at-risk newborns. It’s another busy day at a San Francisco Bay Area warehouse filled with volunteers sorting through mountains of baby clothes. Another box filled to the brim is sealed, labeled “Baby Boy,” and placed on a stack of similar boxes ready for delivery. Among the piles of baby garments, Lisa Klein can be found examining each article and lovingly divvies them up by size 0 through 12 months. A Head Start in Life Klein is the founder of this non-profit enterprise, Loved Twice, that collects and distributes donated baby clothes to help underprivileged newborns, giving them a better start in life. They collect gently used baby clothes that would otherwise end up in a landfill and pack them lovingly into a boy’s or girl’s wardrobe-in-a-box. Each box contains 75 items including socks, hats, pants, sleepwear, booties, bibs, books, and other items. Deliveries are made to social workers who hand out the boxes to desperate new mothers and guardians in local hospitals, shelters, and clinics. It all started in 2005

Susan Nastasi: “Horsing Around” is Good for You

Sharing the unconditional love of miniature horses promotes peace, joy, comfort, and healing. Humans and animals have shared a bond since prehistoric times, one helping the other for mutual benefit. Our lives are enriched by an animal’s unconditional love and ability to sooth the wounds of our body and soul. A cuddle, a snuggle, a wagging tail acts like a balm for our emotional, psychological, and physical well-being. Just interacting with animals uplifts our spirit, and the feeling is mutual. What place better for this friendly bond to be experienced than at SOUL Haven Ranch in Winter Garden, Florida. It’s the perfect place to immerse in peace, tranquility, and nature, yet only a half-hour’s drive from mega-parks Disney World, Universal Studios, and Sea World. Guests are welcomed to a charming Victorian-style house with a wrap-around porch complete with rocking chairs. Upscale accommodations await the tired traveler as do friendly dogs, cats, and goats. Relax and unwind in the gazebo, hammocks, and swings beneath the large shady oak trees. There’s even a horse-drawn carriage service available for tours, weddings, birthdays, and

Dr. Jim Withers: The People’s Street Physician

Meet the man who brought health care to the homeless and started the “street medicine” movement. Melancholy and despair hover above a homeless man as he limps down the dark streets of Pittsburgh in 1984. This evening he found warm shelter under a condemned and broken bridge. He found company there. An infection on his right foot has been slowly growing making it difficult to walk. He limped up to three men and painfully sat in the corner. He didn’t say anything, but they looked to be starting a fire. He’s getting a fever. Finally, some luck. One of the three men by the fire pit walked up to him, holding a leather messenger bag. “Let me see that,” said the stranger. He hardly understood; it’s been so long since someone was kind to him. But what could this other man, in the same rags as him, possibly do to help? “I’m a doctor,” the stranger continued. The homeless man pulled up his pant leg as the stranger grabbed medical gloves from the leather bag. “Thank you, doctor,” he replied,

Kyle Maynard: Living Large and Going Strong

Experiencing life challenges can be daunting for most, but there are those rare individuals who can transform difficulty into true inspiration. One such person is Kyle Maynard who was born with congenital amputation that left him as a quadruple amputee. Despite what could have been a life-crushing disability, he has instead valiantly chosen to pursue an extraordinary life, oftentimes without the use of prosthetics. Perhaps it is through sheer will power or simply following his dream, or both, he’s turned his disability into his greatest asset. He continues to live a life much fuller than most of us, filled with achievement, and is a motivational force for others to follow. It’s All About Attitude Growing up, Maynard was very athletic as a wrestler, weight lifter, football player, and jiu-jitsu martial artist. More recently, he took up mountain climbing. More than a rigorous undertaking, mountain climbing presented him with a whole new set of challenges that would ensure his defeat. But his slow and persistent approach helped him achieve lofty heights and a sense of personal exhilaration. How many can say they’ve

Patriot PAWS: Service Dogs for Disabled Veterans

Highly trained, four-legged friends do more than just provide companionship —they serve our heroes. Man’s Best Friend Turned Helper Ever since she was a child, Lori Stevens has loved dogs for their unconditional love, loyalty, devotion, and friendship. Her love for dogs grew into a career and she became a certified professional dog trainer. In 2005, her son joined the military following in his grandfather’s footsteps which further solidified her admiration for those who serve our country. That same year, several disabled veterans contacted her for help to train their dogs. “After working with these veterans and visiting the VA Hospital in Dallas, I realized just how many of our disabled veterans are in desperate need of assistance dogs and I knew I had to help,” recalls Stevens. Watch this short video of Stevens on the importance of the work they do… It started in 2006 in a small storefront in Rockwall, Texas, where Stevens and a few friends opened up Patriot PAWS Service Dogs, a privately funded non-profit organization. They had the capacity to train only eight dogs at

Jessica Cox: A Real-Life Superwoman

At its core, this is a human story of grit, resilience and extraordinary achievement. People who soar to great heights while inspiring others to do the same are an uncommon breed. They come from all backgrounds and arrive in a variety of shapes and sizes. Most develop their abilities over their lifetimes, little-by-little, as their experiences shape them. More uncommon still are the few who are simply born to be leaders. Let’s meet an extraordinarily rare born leader.    Baby Jessica first graced our earth in February 1983 when born to Inez and William Cox in Sierra Vista, Arizona, a mountainous Sonoran Desert suburb of Tucson. Her parents’ hearts were broken, their sense of normalcy shattered when they first saw their baby’s body. Due to a rare birth defect, Jessica was born without upper limbs. One of life’s great moments of pride and joy shifted sharply to grief and worry. The Grieving Process Everyone’s grieving process is unique and personal. While the Cox’s worked through their initial stages, including denial, anger and guilt, they mostly worried for their beautiful little girl’s