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Charity Logo

Charity of the Month


In December I am riding for Heifer International. Founded in 1944, Heifer International works with communities around the world to end hunger and poverty and to care for the Earth. Its approach is more than a handout. Heifer provides animals (e.g., heifers, goats, water buffalos, chickens, rabbits, fish, and bees) and training to impoverished people in over 30 countries. The animals can give milk, meat, or eggs; provide draft power; or form the basis of a small business. Communities make their own decisions about what crops, animals, and market strategies make sense for their everyday conditions and experiences.

Heifer International is based on 12 Cornerstones, such as Sustainability; Genuine Need and Justice; and Gender and Family Focus. Perhaps the best known Cornerstone is Passing on the Gift, in which Heifer recipient families pass on the offspring of their animals to others in need. In this way, whole communities can raise their standard of living.

A donation to Heifer International also can make a wonderful alternative holiday gift. Instead of yet another sweater for Grandma that she really doesn’t need, why not donate a Heifer animal or a share of an animal in her honor? Does your child really need so many new toys? Instead of five new toys, give him/her three new toys and a Heifer flock of chicks. Heifer has honor cards to let your loved ones know of your gift on their behalf.

I have set up a Team Heifer page to support Heifer International through A Year of Centuries. My goal is to raise $500. Please make your donation through If you would like more information about Heifer’s work, please visit Whether you give to honor a loved one or make a regular donation, thank you for taking steps to transform the world for the better.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Breakfast with Eli

This morning I got to have breakfast with Eli.  Eli is 10 years old and has Down syndrome.  His dad Tom is a cycling friend of mine.  Tom and Eli have breakfast at Waffle House every Friday morning, and they graciously agreed to let me join them today.  It was kind of like an extension of Halloween, but it was all treats, no tricks.

Tom had let me know beforehand that Eli doesn’t talk much due to a speech disorder called apraxia.  Eli communicates a lot, however, through his wide, bright smile.  The two of them were already at Waffle House when I arrived, and as I approached their table, Eli grinned and patted the seat beside him, indicating that I should sit next to him.  Talk about a warm welcome!

With Halloween being yesterday, of course I had to ask Eli what he went as to go trick-or-treating.  He told me Mario, as in Super Mario.  Also, he likes Whoppers candy.  Then I told him that I dressed up for Halloween, too, playing the Mad Doctor at Haunticello, which is trick-or-treating on the square in my town.  This was my 16th year as the Mad Doctor; it’s a highlight of my year!  I showed Eli a picture of me from yesterday, but I don’t think he liked it very much.  Understandably, he’s kind of scared of doctors anyway.  I told him that I play a nice doctor who gives out candy.  Candy shaped like body parts, but candy nonetheless.

Eli is a whiz with an iPhone.  Tom kind of has to keep an eye on his when Eli has it.  In fact, while we sat there, Eli dialed a friend of theirs.  Tom quickly recovered his phone and disconnected; it was only a little past 6:00 A.M. where their friend wasJ  Later, Tom said that Eli often goes to the “favorites” list on his phone.  Eli finds the number of his older brother (who does not have Down syndrome) and deletes it!  Ha ha – sibling rivalry, just like in any other family.

I could understand most of what Eli said, but sometimes Tom interpreted.  At one point, Tom thought he misheard something that Eli said and asked him to spell it.  Eli did, and Tom realized he had heard it correctly.  I was amazed to learn that Eli is such a good speller.  Tom said he has beautiful penmanship, too.  Although I’ve met people with Down syndrome before, Eli taught me that I’ve had some preconceived notions about what people with Down syndrome can do.  I’m sure I have more to learn.

My favorite part of our meal together was when Eli leaned over and gave me a big kiss on the cheek!  Actually, he kissed me three times.  That made me feel better because I left my house this morning before my husband got up, and so I didn’t get my usual kiss from him.  Tom described how Eli is always so friendly to the other Waffle House customers.  Most of them are kind of gruff old guys, and they are somewhat taken aback by Eli’s openness.  However, everyone in the restaurant winds up smiling.  I imagine that we all could take a cue from Eli.

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