Marion Institute Blog
What motivates us to turn good intentions into action? Angela Silva, Marion Institute's Accounting Manager, shares how she decided to become a "Big" sister and what she has learned about gratitude and compassion in the process:
How long have you been a "Big" sister?
I met my “Little”, Stephanie Nicole, in December 2012 and shortly after, I officially became her “Big”. My colleague, Zoe Hansen-DiBello, introduced me to the program. Zoe was a “Big” to Stephanie Nicole’s younger sister, Stacy. When Zoe would arrive to pick up Stacy at her home, she learned that Stacy had an older sister and thought how wonderful would it be for her to have a “Big” as well. I have always wanted to contribute to my community and this was a small way for me to have a large impact. I just had to step up!
What kinds of things do you do with your “Little” sister?
We have done all sorts of fun things together, from cooking to eating out at local restaurants; walking on the beach to spending time by my Aunt’s pool (that’s been a favorite of ours!). We’ve gone ice skating, glow in the dark miniature golfing and taken many trips to eat yummy ice cream on hot days. We’ve worked on homework and school projects together. We have also spent a lot of time talking and getting to know one another.
Has this program changed you in any way?
Before signing onto this program, I was unsure of whether or not I would be able to fully commit to it due to time limitations, capacity and just ‘life’. Something many of us, I’m sure, can relate to! The program requires a commitment of at least one year of mentoring and sharing four hours per month with your “Little”. This short amount of time has been instrumental in my life and I’d like to believe in my “Little’s” as well. It has taught me how important it is to find that time and space to dedicate your energy to a worthy cause that has the potential of having long term positive ripple effects. My “Little” has taught me more about gratitude and compassion than I can imagine. Not only am I there to serve and be a positive role model to Stephanie Nicole, we have built a friendship too. This experience has taught me about trust, how to build it and how important it is in life. Without trust, we wouldn’t have the relationship we have today.
“We often think trust is built by grand gestures at crucial moments in our lives, but trust is typically built with simplicity and small actions…It’s very clear. Trust is built in very small moments.” – Brene Brown
How do you think the program has changed or influenced your “Little” sister?
I believe it has shown Stephanie Nicole and her family that there are people right here in their community that genuinely care and want to make a difference. I remember the eye opening conversation we had about “volunteerism”. It was interesting to see their reaction when they realized I was not being paid to be a Big Sister, but doing this because I truly care and want to make an impact. Through this relationship, I feel that Stephanie Nicole knows that she can trust and rely on me for many things.
What would you say to those who are thinking about doing this or a similar program? Why should they take the plunge?
Do it! Sign up and make that difference! As part of the program, I’ve experienced firsthand how much of a positive impact you can be as a mentor. Statistics show that children who take part in some form of mentoring programs are less likely to get involved in adverse activities, including skipping school, doing drugs and using alcohol. As you can imagine, there’s a constant need for mentors in our communities. There’s currently a “waiting list” of youth. They need YOU and are WAITING for YOU as a mentor! For more information, visit their website or contact Deanna or Whitney at 508-990-0894.
We're busy building new community gardens at Trinity Day and New Bedford High School. Parker Elementary Summer Academy is planning their community garden curriculum that will conclude in late July with a one-day farm stand run by teachers, families and students and featuring an original recipe developed, marketed and sold by students.
YouthBuild New Bedford has been working on garden signs for the past month that will serve as a method of communication between the schools, Grow Education and the community. Rodman School hosted a poetry in the garden event featuring poems written by students about their school-based community garden, with over 75 people in attendance.
On June 6th we are excited to host our first cooking demonstration with Not Your Average Joe's at the Carlos Pacheco Elementary School featuring a garden grown salsa. Summer workshops at all the garden sites will include garden storytelling, cooking demonstrations, canning and more so stay tuned!
by Kristin F., Patient at the Paracelsus Klinik, 2016
When we learned of the Paracelsus Klinik, I had been in treatment for chronic Lyme disease for almost 8 years, battling chronic pain, brain fog, neuropathy, migraines, and chronic fatigue with my US doctors. I had done traditional and alternative treatments and improved somewhat, but never seemed to get completely better. During my most recent relapse of symptoms I had to resign from my teaching job and my US doctors admitted that they really didn’t know what to do with me. So, we desperately began searching for other options. After watching Dr. Rau’s talk on Lyme treatment, we decided Paracelsus offered the best hope of true healing.
I spent most of January 2016 at Paracelsus and am amazed at how much better I now feel. The experience at the clinic was wonderful. Within a week and a half my chronic joint pain was gone, and it has not returned! I am thinking much more clearly, and we are working on healing my cells so I can have more energy. I will be returning for a follow-up stay in July, not because I’ve relapsed, but because we want to continue to foster the healing that is happening.
During my stay, I worked with Dr. Oettmeier and Dr. Kimbles. They are compassionate, confident in their knowledge and ability to foster healing, and full of joy. They treated me with gentleness and a sense of humor. I hadn’t laughed much in my Lyme treatment, but we laughed often at Paracelsus. Both doctors were patient with my questions and explained treatments in detail to my biologist husband and to me. When I experienced migraines, Dr. Kimbles was always willing to provide homeopathic remedies to help, even if that meant squeezing me in briefly between other patients. However, these headaches were the only difficulty I experienced in treatment. In the US, I herxed from every new treatment, but Paracelsus provided herx-free, gentle healing.
We are not wealthy, and the decision to seek healing at Paracelsus did not come lightly. It is a financial commitment, but it has been more than worth it for me and for my family. The clinic days are very busy, and we appreciated that our time and money was honored by providing all the treatment possible in my three week stay. It was a tiring schedule, but we were well cared for. The staff work closely together, and they really were a team of healers for us. We also appreciated that the staff were quick to learn our names and greet us personally. This made us feel very comfortable in a new country.
Over the past few years I had grown used to the roller coaster of feeling somewhat better then crashing, and we were feeling quite hopeless that I could ever feel better. Paracelsus has restored our hope. While I am not fully healed yet, I was able to ski a couple days this winter and just returned from a weekend mountain biking trip with my family. These are activities I surrendered years ago, and we are overjoyed that I’m returning to a more active lifestyle. My family is saying, “We have our Mom back!”
I am not able to pinpoint which treatment fixed my pain or my brain fog, but am confident that biological medicine is an effective treatment protocol for Lyme disease. Rather than just focusing on killing the infections, we are also treating additional ailments discovered by the doctors at Paracelsus (heavy metal toxicity and leaky gut), and healing my cells so they will produce more energy. My home protocol is manageable, and while I still require more rest than other adults, I am confident I will reach a place where we can say I am better.
Paracelsus is a place of healing and of hope, and we highly recommend them for Lyme treatment.
If you would like more information or are interested in becoming a patient at the Paracelsus Clinic, please contact: Barbara Christian, Patient Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our Executive Director Janet Milkman recently visited Nepal to see the work of The Himalayan Project firsthand. Below, Janet shares what she observed:
In March, Marion Institute Board Member Ryan Wagner and I went to Nepal to visit The Himalayan Project in Chaurikharka and trek halfway to the Everest Basecamp. The Marion Institute has been the fiscal sponsor for The Himalayan Project for over a decade. We make it possible for Sally Hunsdorfer to raise charitable donations from the U.S. for the project. As a new Executive Director, I wanted to see one of our Greenhouse Initiatives in action, engage with the leaders, and test a new model for adventure travel for MI. As an outdoors enthusiast and practitioner of mindfulness meditation, it has also been a dream of mine to visit the home of Buddhism and hike in the Himalayas.
In a country like Nepal - and perhaps everywhere- it is very, very difficult to bring about large-scale positive change. This hit me hard during our trip. In my non-profit work spanning nearly 30 years, my goal had always been to aim high, to think big, to bring about systemic change. My greatest learning from this trip is that change at scale usually only comes about after many years of small steps. These small steps are what most people can and should hope to accomplish with limited resources. We must aim to do the most we can as efficiently and effectively as possible. We must leverage leadership on the ground everywhere we find it.
Progress: Rebuilding Homes and Structures
The $200,000 raised by The Himalayan Project for earthquake relief and to otherwise support the village, made an enormous difference. The April 25th earthquake measured 7.8 and its aftershock, 7.3. While no one was killed in Chaurikharka, many homes were badly damaged. Most families lived in tents for 9 months, through the winter, until rebuilding finished shortly before we arrived. When we arrived in March we saw:
- Homes of 52 families (250 people) totaling 50,000 square feet had been repaired or fully re-built; with structural changes to support them in the event of another earthquake
- The Sherpa Cultural Center (first built with the help of THP) was rebuilt
- The monastery and stupas are in the process of being rebuilt
- Funds were set aside for the reconstruction of the Lama’s house
- Scholarships for 25 students to Chaurikharka school (all schools cost money, even public schools) and 1 to Kathmandu
Challenges: Fuel & Transportation
The mountainous Khumbu (Mt. Everest) region, like many areas of Nepal, has no roads. Everything that must be delivered beyond the airport in Lukla – food, materials, etc. – must travel on the back of a porter or animal. Because of political disagreements over the new Nepali constitution, there was also a blockade by India for several months in the fall and winter, which meant that fuel was only available on the black market.
Keys to Success: Local leadership and Personal Responsibility
Leadership and community were the keys to rebuilding. The key players were Sally Hunsdorfer, the US leader of THP, and Karsang Sherpa, a community leader with whom Sally has worked for 18 years, supporting Chaurikharka and other villages in the Khumbu region of Nepal. A few weeks after the earthquake, Karsang reached out to Sally and asked for her help. There was little to no help coming from the government, the Red Cross or others. Sally and her husband, Peter, went to Chaurikharka just in time for the aftershock. They made it to Chaurikharka and, with Karsang, interviewed everyone in the village to assess the damage and prioritize funding. Then they came home and through the Marion Institute, communicated their story and pleas for support. When the funds came in, Sally returned to Chaurikharka and a counsel of villagers made a plan for and distributed the funds. Because Sally had built relationships in the village over many years, and because Karsang was a respected village leader, the process worked.
What still needs to be done?
The master plan for the school in Chaurikharka, which serves the region – children walk up to 2 hours each way in some cases – requires $700,000 for implementation.
Much of the earthquake damage in Nepal remains. According to our Red Cross dinner companion one evening, very little international organization funds have been spent on rebuilding yet, as the Nepali government is working to develop “earthquake-proof” building standards and train builders. Tent villages still cover acres of Kathmandu. Recent stories in the Wall Street Journal and TIME Magazine confirm this.
I’m carrying around one of katas (the ceremonial scarves given to us by everyone we met in Chaurikharka to express their gratitude) with me (see photo) to keep this experience fresh. The Sherpa sense of community and generosity will continue to inspire me.
GROW Education's Director honored as Earth Day Hero by the Standard-Times
The Standard-Times is saluted six local (Southcoast MA) residents whose earth-friendly actions have helped improve their communities and the planet.
"New Bedford students will be tending nearly 130 raised garden beds across 12 schools by the end of this spring, and among others, they’ll have Zoe Hansen-DiBello to thank.
Hansen-DiBello, a 29-year-old Dartmouth resident, is the Grow Education program director for the Marion Institute. Grow Education is a collaboration between the institute and New Bedford Public Schools, with a goal of increasing nutrition, agriculture and sustainability education across the city.
Thursday at Alfred J. Gomes Elementary School south of downtown, Hansen-DiBello walked through the 12 garden beds on the school’s north side and eyed seedlings for Portuguese kale, strawberries, sugar snap peas and more. Adam Davenport, Grow Education’s garden manager, watered and ran a hoe through some of the beds.
Hansen-DiBello said the program will break ground next month at New Bedford High School, where 15-20 raised beds could be installed. She said Grow Education also is partnering with Dartmouth restaurant Not Your Average Joe’s, and New Bedford specialty foods distributor Sid Wainer & Son, to hold cooking lessons for local youth.
“We’re really trying to engage with community resources,” Hansen-DiBello said.
On Saturday, a day after Earth Day, she’ll be planting seedlings with local youth at the New Bedford YMCA downtown. She said people wondering how to get more involved in environmental efforts could start by joining like-minded programs.
“I think that when people are kind of stuck, I think the best thing to do is connect with groups of people who are doing things you want to do,” Hansen-DiBello said, suggesting checking out local composting workshops, for example, or volunteering at community gardens.
“Getting involved socially is going to lead you to pathways to become more sustainable,” she said."
— Mike Lawrence
This month at the Marion Institute we are looking at examples of leadership both locally and globally, so it made sense to pull this keynote from the Connecting for Change video archive.
Bill Strickland's work in providing job training for at-risk youth and adults is nothing short of revolutionary. Students learn real-world skills and engage with the arts in state-of-the art centers. Strickland is motivated by the belief that "People are born into the world as assets, not liabilities."
Watch Bill Strickland's 2013 keynote and get inspired to lead:
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