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Reaching Out

Beautiful on the Inside,Reaching Out

Connecting Creative Women: Inspirational Conference for a Cause

I believe everyone deserves a chance…  A chance to learn, to grow, to find a voice… When we take action to pursue our dreams and passions and then share that journey of discovery with others, we demonstrate that it can be done! That challenges can be overcome! That goals can be achieved and that dreams can be realized!  Read More »

Beautiful on the Inside,Reaching Out

We All Need Each Other

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Raising a family is beautiful… and hard. It’s important to know you have support and that you are not alone.  Are you a mother of young children looking for some help?  Maybe you’re in need of a mom who’s been there and done that and can offer some advice and encouragement?  Maybe you simply need to connect with other moms and have some honest, real conversations, listen to some insightful speakers, or just dig into a good craft with others like you?  Then you might find yourself right at home with lovely ladies at Mothers Of Pre-Schoolers (MOPS).   Read how Sara Lewis’s experiences with MOPS changed her life, helped her find balance, and provided her with an opportunity to strengthen and support other moms.   Read More »

Beautiful on the Inside,Reaching Out,Women

A Force For Good: Service-Learning and Civic Engagement

By Jean Strait

In Western Pennsylvania, ethics and hard work go hand in hand. Coal and Steel were the two biggest industries in Johnstown, Pennsylvania where Dr. Jean Strait grew up. The ethics of hard work were passed from generation to generation.  Her mother, would tell you Jean was born a teacher, leading the neighborhood kids in just about anything. It is no wonder she grew up to become a strong advocate for service-learning and community engagement. Read More »

Reaching Out

Neda Kellogg: Just One of the DIVAs

When Neda Kellogg was a little girl, it seemed like she had a perfect life with the perfect parents.  Then her parents divorced when she was seven.  When her mom had a nervous breakdown (and was later diagnosed with catatonic schizophrenia), Neda moved in with her dad and stepmom, which she describes as “a living hell.”  She only talked with her mom twice during her middle school years and not at all in high school.

Neda was lonely and confused, “like a functioning addict,” with no close friends, despite her involvement in many clubs to escape her rocky life at home.  What struck her most at that time, though, was that although she had a huge extended family, no one checked in on her or her brother.  She was hurting so deeply, yet no one ever acknowledged what was going on in her life.  As an adult, she wanted to do all she could to prevent girls from feeling like she did.  And so Project DIVA was born. Read More »

Reaching Out

Terry McDaniel: Environmental Artist

How would you describe yourself?  Not easy, is it?  For most of us, a few labels might come to mind: daughter, employee, mother, reader, gardener.  But who we are is so much more than a list of labels.  Sure, those classifications may help us determine our social groups, but that’s not a guarantee that we’ll find a kindred spirit behind that kindred label.

Terry McDaniel defies labels…even the one we used in this post title!  She is a passionate artist, and she does work tirelessly to protect the environment.  But most of all, she lives to enjoy the beauty of each day, each person, and each thing with which she comes in contact.

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Reaching Out

Ana Munro: Native American Advisory Council

When Ana Munro was an eight-year-old girl growing up in Bristol, England, the English teacher (who was also the principal) at her tiny village school loved to read Native American poetry to the class.  Little did Ana know then that her teacher’s love of poetry would influence not only Ana’s career, but her family and entire life’s mission.

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Reaching Out

Kids Race Against Cancer

This weekend was the fifth annual Kids Race Against Cancer.  My oldest daughter, Haley, founded the race five years ago, at the ripe old age of eight, to fulfill a service requirement for a church youth program.  I had just run my first 5K, and she knew that the funds raised for that race went to charity.  So, when her booklet suggested to “plan and complete your own activity to serve others,” she immediately announced, “I’m gonna plan a race for kids to raise money for cancer research!”

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Reaching Out

Rothana Walbolt, Founder of M3C

When I first met Rothana, we had just moved to town, and I was thrilled to have a friend with whom I could speak some Thai (I served a mission in Thailand for 18 months, and I rarely have the chance to use my language skills).  Over the years, our friendship has deepened beyond giggling over shared pleasantries in another language.  She’s shared bits of her story with me, and with so many refugees throughout the world right now, I felt that we could all benefit from a little insight into what it feels like to leave everything behind, just hoping to find a better life.


Former Executive Director and Co-founder of M3C (Minnesota Cambodian Communities Council), Rothana has been a tireless community advocate for the advancement and preservation of rich Khmer traditions through education, mentoring, and community development programs. Rothana’s varied experiences include co-founding the first Khmer Classical Dance Group in Minnesota, managing Red Rose Productions events, and formerly serving on the board of the Asian Pacific Cultural Center.  Click here to watch an interview of Rothana for the Immigration History Research Center.rathana1

Here is Rothana’s personal story of her years as a refugee:

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Reaching Out

Heather Kristin, Mentor with Girls Write Now in NYC

by Laura (all photos courtesy of Heather Kristin)

Heather Kristin and I first met as freshman theatre majors at Miami University in southern Ohio.  We were fast friends, and when she announced that she was moving back to New York City and wasn’t coming back the next year, I was nervous that I wouldn’t make another friend like her.  Luckily for me, I soon became her sister’s roommate!

Heather has written for Glamour, Huffington Post, Salon, Slate, and for the anthology LIVE AND LET LOVE (Simon and Schuster).  She has been interviewed by Oprah live on-camera, in Elle Magazine, on Latino NPR, and on Huffington Post Live.  She’s also being featured in Woman’s Day this November (check out page 67!).

Heather has been honored by the State of New Jersey for mentoring at-risk teen girls for almost a decade with Girls Write Now. She teaches violin and lives in New York with her husband and two daughters, Daisy and Clover.

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Reaching Out

Shelly Siegel, Director of TRIO Programs

By Laura

I was on a girls weekend, and my friend, Andrea, who is going back to school for her Associates degree in Nursing (on her way to becoming an RN—we’re so proud of her!!) told me about an amazing department on campus called TRIO. It’s a federally funded, national program that provides free academic support to students who are either low-income, first generation college students, or who have a documented disability.

Nationally, TRIO actually offers eight different programs that help students from middle school through college. They even have a program for veterans! And the funds aren’t limited to just colleges. They are also available to agencies and community-based organizations that serve disadvantaged youth or secondary schools.

Andrea is currently attending North Hennepin Community College (NHCC), and their TRIO department offers two programs: Student Support Services for current NHCC students, and Upward Bound, which helps eligible high school students prepare for college.

I wanted to learn more about the program, and the kind of people who make a career out of serving others, so I reached out to NHCC’s director of TRIO, Shelly Siegel. Read More »

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