By David Hansen
First off, the winners of the Compassion Games are all of us. Everybody wins when somebody makes an effort to treat others more kindly, respectfully and thoughtfully. So the short answer is everybody won! Thank you to all of our partners, sponsors, volunteers, and participants for making the games a great success!
At the same time, Seattle was responding to a “community challenge” from the City of Louisville, Kentucky…. read more here.
By Atit Marmer
My entire life has been committed to learning and understanding the giving and receiving of compassion. My first memory of an event involving this spiritual path goes way back to the sixth grade when our class visited a student art show presented by a school situated in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Cincinnati, Ohio, where I grew up.
I felt the pain and resilience of the students, many of whom were my age, and I instinctively reached out to a number of them, talking and laughing with them, sharing in their joy at the display of their talents. Little did I know then that my calling in life as a therapist was to stand in the gap with all who have been in my resonance; the gap between the chaotic experiences of life and the joy of discovering our true nature. Nothing I could have articulated then, but something I intuitively knew.
As I’ve grown through my dharma path the most important realization opened up to me is that compassion is a two-way stream. As I offer this delicious fruit of love I likewise receive it and as I receive it I can’t help but give my compassion in return. It’s really as natural and instinctive as breathing. I believe love and compassion are not just verbs and nouns but more essentially are the descriptors of my being. In other words by my very nature I am love and compassion. It’s only when I stand in my own way that this does not take place.
By Marilyn Pulliam
Mary and her mother were with the principal, who introduced Mary saying, “Mrs. Jones will be your reading teacher.” “I don’t read,” came the reply. “Mrs. Jones will teach you.” “I don’t read,” she repeated.
To break the impasse Mrs. Jones invited Mary to a corner of the room. Mary really meant she not only did not read but couldn’t. Mrs. Jones had a book which contained only stick figures to illustrate the story. After several pages a single word appeared on the page. Soon Mary was leaning on Mrs. Jones shoulder. Was she asleep? Reading and turning several more pages Mrs. Jones stopped and said, “It’s your turn, Mary.” She certainly did not ask her to READ the short sentence, but Mary did — she read the sentence faultlessly.
“Mary, do you know what you just did?” She had read. She can read after all; she had just discovered that. She grabbed Mrs. Jones around the neck in utter amazement. This was March and Mary had not been in school all year, and perhaps never for long enough at a time to receive help. She and her mother, a prostitute, moved often.
Mary, bright and world wise, was placed in the third grade; she was nine. Within a few months she was holding her own in the class. Her mother quit her profession and became an aide in the school. Their lives had been changed forever.
Note: Marilyn Pulliam is a volunteer with Companis, an agency that fills staffing gaps of nonprofit organizations with professional volunteer and community workers.
Submitted by What’s Good 206
If you let a community tell its own stories, what do you hear?
During Seattle’s Compassion Games, independent filmmakers brought us stories of a neighborhood coming together around a community garden, a community formed around an all-night diner, and a community of dancers that became family for a Seattle newcomer.
These and about a dozen other films were shown during an event called, “A Story Runs Through It, ” which was hosted by Seattle International Film Festival during Compassion Games: Survival of the Kindest.
Scott Macklin, event organizer and filmmaker, said the easy availability of technology has returned the power of story-telling to the community.
“I can make a life-changing, world-altering film with just this,” he said, holding up a smart phone.
“But the fundamental key then is still story. As a filmmaker, how do we suspend our own story so we can listen to and enter into (another’s story), and in that… create the possibility of cross cultural understanding (that becomes) a way to nurture, build and create significant change and social justice?”
Video produced by What’s Good 206, Seattle’s source for youth driven media and information.
By Jon Ramer
The Rainier Vista Boys and Girls Club needs you.
Dedicated school chef Patrice Freeman shops the sales to feed her hungry troupe, but she has a dream, to feed her boys and girls with fresh fruit and vegetables from a bountiful school garden. She has the space, and she’s looking for donations of soil and the materials to create eight to 10 large planters for the garden and fill them with rich planting soil for the 2013 spring and summer.
The club is budget challenged. On the day of our visit, we dropped off a ream of copy paper because the club had run out. But it serves a great need. And now it needs our help.
Strong academics are a byproduct of a good school.
That’s the model for Puget Sound Community School, which operates on the premise that students learn best when they are supported in their passions. And yes, they do take classes like pre-calculus and physics.
Teaching compassion and kindness are an essential part of that education, says founder Andy Smallman, who founded the school 19 years ago with his wife Melinda Shaw.
Hear students and teachers talk about this amazing school.
Hosted by John Ecklof
What’s Good 206 is Seattle’s youth media source.
By Martha Hopler
As I head to the home of J. I feel a sense of urgency today is the day. Today is the day I have waited for, for some time. I have waited for the moment she is ready to head to re-hab. I am very aware of the choices I have made to allow her to continue to care for her children while she chooses to use drugs and alcohol to escape the realities of her difficult life.
As the social worker I live in the ever present tension of what is right for her kids and what she wants…. She on her own has finally said, “Yes I will go.”
I am grateful, for I am aware, that soon I would not have had the choice to place the children in protective custody and that would have been a new level of pain for all involved. In this case, mom is making that very difficult decision, and I have assisted in placing the two younger children with a family they are very familiar with and a family that mom trusts. She will start with detox and there she can have none of her children with her. The older son was supposed to be at the grandmother’s home. I am here to pick up J. and take her to what is hopefully going to be the beginning of new.
As I enter the home, the first thing I am aware of is the older son, R., sitting on the steps. He is 14 years old and cannot stay in the home alone. In my head I start thinking of my options. I say, “You will have to come with us. I am taking your mom to the hospital.”
In reality I am buying time to figure out next steps. I cannot leave him in the house alone. He says quite loudly, “NO.” I pass him on the stairs as I go to find him mom who is calling to me. And then he states, “You do not give a shit about me.” I stop and ask, “Why would you say that?” He says “Because I am a black male.” My heart breaks and my brain says, “Oh no, you didn’t….. I know this is a truth grounded in him for his whole life ….and it is a challenge to me — Will you be like every white social worker or person in the system and pass him by? Oh what to do?”
The next actions were not planned. They did not fit the “social work hand book,” nor would I brag of such an action in the next staff meeting, for it might be viewedas a very bad idea. I went to the pay phone passing several men doing drug business. If I leave R. at the house he will be in this business soon I think…..he may already be.
I call my office hoping to connect with my supervisor who can give me some “good ideas” of the next thing to do. She is not there. I cannot take mom to rehab and leave R. in the house. I then remember that due to R. not going to school there is a bench warrant for his arrest. I call the police. Again was not thinking this was the best action but I was just working toward the goal of getting him to leave the house. The police come. R. comes with me to the van. He has calmed down, he has stopped yelling at me. He is terrified and rightly so. A woman and a man get out of the van. Two police officers, looking like those you have seen on TV, tell him that they have the van, so they can arrest him if it comes to that.
The man grabs R. and starts to throw him up against the van. I lost it again, not my finest moment, but no one was going to hurt R., that was not why I called the police. I forgot for a moment that not all who are in power want the best for R., and he does represent men who have been portrayed as scary and dangerous. I grab the police offer by the shirt and say. “Do not hurt him. I called you but I am the one to deal with him.” He lets go of R. and turns to listen to me. I explained what I was needing and he talked to me and the woman went and checked if the warrant was in the system. It was not….I said thanks for your time and help they left and R. got in my car so I could take him mom to detox.
By Alanna Gunne
Lying in his bed, he listened to the sounds of life. He could smell the pot roast cooking in the kitchen and hear his housemates moving through the halls. A movie was playing on his VCR and he was comfortable. He had not envisioned his life this way. He loved the beach and the sunshine. He loved his work and his many friends knew him as a passionate foodie. Assisted by his pain medications, he often dreamed of those days. In a way it was a gift because he could live in whichever memory he chose – and he chose the best ones every time.
Chris Hawkins was pretty sure he would not live much longer – although over the years he had entertained this possibility countless times and still – here he was. Thinking of ‘life’ he sometimes counted off the living that he could no longer accomplish. First of all, he was blind – so he could no longer watch his beloved movies or see the smiles on his friends’ faces. His frame was skeletal and he could no longer walk. His kidneys were shutting down so his ‘big day out’ was going to the clinic for dialysis. All of his physical and social needs were supported by the staff and volunteers at Rosehedge – his home for 14 years.
Compassion. That was the word Chris used to describe the lifeblood that kept him going – countless acts of compassion and love. The house cook stopped by his room regularly to chat and find out what he felt like eating. They had long foodie talks and had become real pals. CareTeam volunteers sat with him, sharing movies and conversation. One older gentleman became his best friend. With the help of a wheelchair, they would roam the neighborhood. He would feel the fresh air on his face and listen to the kids as they raced home after school. The nursing staff loved Chris – in fact, everyone loved him because he was so ready with a smile and encouraging word even when the days were hard to live through.
One evening, he fell asleep listening to a movie. The nurse came in to see him and realized that he was in crisis. That night Chris left his body in the local emergency room and was suddenly free of pain and restriction. Those he left behind mourned.
Chris’ memorial service was held on a sunny afternoon at the church across the street from his home. His family came from California and Portland; his friends came just as far. His father, who was in the hospital at the time, attended the service via Skype. One of his former house nurses came from Bellingham. There were house staff, volunteers and housemates – all gathered to honor him, remember his life and support each other in their grief. His 8-year-old nephew played the violin. Memories were shared and the healing began.
And as Chris watched this gathering of people who had touched his life, he recognized that he was right all along. His world was COMPASSION.
Alanna Gunne is a Companis Worker placed with Rosehedge/Multifaith Works, which serves those living HIV/AIDS by providing housing, compassionate health care and supportive services that enhance the quality of their lives.
Submitted by Kizzie Funkhouser
We are fellow volunteers that serve those in need,
Farmers of hope, we’re planting the seeds -
Weeding out obstacles when lives’ pathways are blocked.
Standing together, our diverse strands, woven to stalks
Of goodwill and compassion we nurture,
Strong – rooted in belief that every life matters
That dignity and respect have no boundaries or status.
We are young, we are old, yet we are the same
Our vision not of the chore, we see the faces, know names,
Know the look of appreciation and the sighs of relief,
Volunteers motivate, because we believe -
That making a difference is within our reach.
We are driven in faith that we can improve,
The quality of one’s life, it touches us too.
We are volunteers, we just are, we just do.
The man in the store without help, he can’t read the labels
But can cook up a meal befit the KINGS table,
There’s a woman independent but can no longer drive
Her eyes, they light up when you simply arrive.
Volunteers are a blessing, they just are, they just do.
Here are a few of our stories that represent the essence of volunteerism.
We extend our thanks to all volunteers whose compassion always gets the gold.
Let the games begin.
Living alone at age 90 is a challenge. With a limited income and her nearest family in Vancouver, she counts on VCS volunteers to help keep the home in shape, take her grocery shopping and to medical appointments. One volunteer visits weekly to vacuum, mop, fold laundry and change bed linens.
At 84, she is partially sighted and living with arthritis. She confided her fear that her yard would be “what sends me to a nursing home, because they say I can’t take care of it.” VCS volunteers totaled 100 hours that summer clearing her yard of weeds, blackberries, and debris, so that she is able to walk into her garden again.
Living with stage 4 cancer and fighting through chemo treatments leaves him with very little energy. With the rainy season nearing, he knew the gutters needed cleaning but could no longer safely climb a ladder. VCS volunteers cleaned the gutters, swept off the roof and repaired some damaged spouts. He said they did a fabulous job and was so appreciative, not just for the work completed, but for the kind spirit in which it was offered.
Volunteer Chore Services volunteers provided an average of 3,972 hours of assistance each month throughout King County last year, helping with housework, laundry, shopping, transportation, minor home repair and yard work.