Thank You Notes That Speak Love

Though I first wrote this about five years ago, the message is rings in my heart….

In between working on Reach UP and writing this editorial, I’ve been packing to move across the country. It’s a big chore, but one of my delights has been to rediscover cards and notes written by friends and family tucked away in drawers and files. Love notes. Thank you notes. Daddy notes. Mommy notes. Kid notes.

Some are written on post-its, some on scraps of paper, others on stationery and cards. And now they are little reminders of love and appreciation.

My mom started me out writing thank you notes when I was a little girl. I was taught that if someone took the time to buy me a Christmas or birthday gift, they always deserved a note, even from a seven-year-old.

It’s a good habit to keep and to teach.

Why not start the tradition with your friends and family and write a note to someone? Notes don’t only have to be to express thanks. Sometimes people just need a note of encouragement, don’t they? The fun part is deciding where to hide it for the best element of surprise! Lunch sacks and pillows are good places to tuck your notes in. Is your child going to camp? A note from you in their belongings will bring a smile.

You can also write notes in your working life. In this issue we talk about writing your resumé. Writing a note of thanks to the person who interviewed you makes you stand out from the rest of the job-seekers. It might just make the difference of being hired or not.

Look for ways to make people feel special by writing notes. And you are special, so I’ll end this editorial with a note to you…

     You make my day. When I hear how much you like Reach UP and the articles, I just want to shout and dance and boast about how wonderful you are.

My love and prayers,

Crystal Wacker … Knapp


Memory Making Holidays

When I was a little girl, my mom always celebrated every holiday, whether it was Valentine’s Day, Easter, Memorial Day, or the Fourth of July. You name the holiday — we had table decorations and traditional meals to celebrate it. I remember she’d even buy candy in the colors of each holiday and set it around the house in candy dishes. She would always say, “We’re making memories.” And even as I grew older, there was no stopping celebrating holidays. It just got better and better.          Because of these special times, the years weren’t just passing us by. The memories we were making went with us wherever we traveled or whatever came our way.          It’s true that the details of memories may fade, but the essence of what makes a memory and the love that goes with it can’t be taken from you even if you lose your job, your health, or your loved one. Good memories become the fabric that weaves a family together throughout the generations.          The reality is, you as a woman are key to making those memories.          But doing it doesn’t have to be overwhelming or even cost a lot of money.  We have ideas for gifts you can make, tables you can set – even ways to disguise what you already have to create a fresh look in your home.          Take little steps, start planning now, and your Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations can be as enjoyable and memorable for you as they are for your family.          One more thing. While you may be key to making the memories, the main ingredient of any family celebration is Jesus. Without Him, memories can go flat or even horribly wrong. Keep it real. Keep it with Jesus.                                                                                              Crystal Wacker Knapp                                                                                                 Editor-in-Chief

Cuando el autismo es un regalo disfrazado

Por Victor Velez Mi esposa y yo recibimos un regalo hace doce años atrás – un hijo que llamamos Jacob. Teníamos una buena vida. Teníamos un matrimonio contento y trabajábamos en el ministerio a tiempo completo cuando Jacob se hizo parte de nuestra familia. Nuestro hijo era brillante. Todavía no tenía dos años y supo todos los colores, el nombre de los animales, y pudo contar hasta el diez. Yo era un papá orgulloso y sabía que él estaba a camino a ser el primer médico en nuestra familia. Estábamos tocando el cielo con las manos, y nos sentíamos que nada podía frustrar nuestros planes en esta carrera grande que corríamos. Un día, nos dimos cuenta que toda el habla de nuestro hijo se iba disminuyendo. Al principio pensamos que no era gran cosa. Después de todo, era un bebé. Durante una visita rutinaria al médico, se nos ocurrió por primera vez que pudo haber un problema con nuestro hijo perfecto. Nos refirieron a un especialista que podía observarlo en una situación social. Dijo que quiso ver cómo nuestro hijo respondió en un cuarto lleno de niños “normales”. Mirábamos a nuestro hijo por la ventana. El médico no tenía que decir nada para que supiéramos que algo no era bien. El dolor era tan insoportable y profundo que apenas podíamos hablar en camino a la casa. El autismo. ¿Dios, cómo puede ser? Trabajamos a tiempo completo para el ministerio. ¡No tenemos tiempo para el autismo! Tengo que confesar que estuve enojado con Dios. “¿Por qué permitirías que esto nos pasa a nosotros? Hemos pasado nuestra vida sirviéndote, Dios. ¿Y nos recompensas con el autismo?” Nuestros planes, deseos, y sueños para nuestro hijo se quedaron destrozados. ¿Fueron destrozados para siempre?, pensaba yo. Después de un tiempo breve de autocompasión, pedimos perdón de Dios y buscamos su ayuda para ayudar a nuestro hijo. Nos dimos cuenta que teníamos que ser proactivos. Tomamos una clase sobre el autismo para entender mejor cómo podíamos ayudar a Jacob. Sinceramente, era un tiempo oscuro en nuestra vida aunque estábamos decididos a hacer todo lo que pudimos para ayudar a Jacob. De verdad sentimos como si todos nuestros sueños fueron destrozados. Como muchos, tuvimos gran planes para nuestra vida. Y estos sueños y planes casi nunca incluyen lo “¿Qué si…?” de la vida. Para nosotros, sólo una frase – cuatro palabras del doctor: “Tu hijo es autístico” – cambió nuestra vida. El autismo invadió nuestra vida para siempre. Si te encuentras en una situación semejante, está bien caerte cuando la vida no te salga bien. Nos caímos, pero tienes que levantarte. Quítate el polvo y con la ayuda de Dios, enfrenta la situación. La conciencia del autismo es más común hoy en día debido de mayor parte al número de niños afectados. A unas familias famosas también les invadió el autismo. Lo más importante que puedes hacer como mamá o papá de un niño autístico es educarte. Hay muchos recursos disponibles para educarte sobre este trastorno. BuscarContinue Reading

When Autism is a Gift in Disguise

When Autism is a Gift in Disguise

by Victor Velez My wife and I received a gift twelve years ago – a baby boy we named Jacob. We had a great life. We were happily married and working in full-time ministry when Jacob joined our family. Our little guy was amazing. He wasn’t even two years old and he knew all his colors, the names of animals, and he could count to ten. Proud daddy that I was, I knew he was well on his way to being the first doctor in the family. We were on top of the world, feeling as though nothing could trip us up in this awesome race that we were running. Then one day, we noticed that all the speech that our son was using was rapidly decreasing. We tried to think that it wasn’t a big deal. After all he was just a baby. On a routine doctor’s visit we were first introduced to the idea that something may not be quite right with our perfect son. We were referred to a specialist who could monitor him in a social situation. They said they wanted to see how he reacted in a room full of “normally” developing children. As we watched our son through the window, without the doctor even saying the words, we knew something was wrong. The pain was so unbearable, so deep, that we could barely talk on the drive home. Autism. How can this be God? We are in full-time ministry. We didn’t have time for Autism! I have to admit that I was very angry at God. “Why would you allow this to happen to us? We’ve spent our lives serving you God, and autism is what you give us in return?” Our plans, hopes and dreams for our son lay shattered around our feet. Were they broken forever? I wondered. After a very short bout with self-pity, we asked God to forgive us and to help us help our son. We realized that we needed to be pro-active, so we took a class about autism so we could better understand how to help Jacob. Honestly, this was a very dark time in our lives, though we were determined to do all we could to help Jacob. We truly felt as if all of our dreams had been shattered. Like most people we had awesome plans for our lives. These dreams and goals almost never include the “What If’s” in life, do they? For us, just a sentence — four words from the mouth of the doctor: “Your son is autistic” — tripped up our lives. Autism had invaded our lives forever. If you are in a like situation, it is okay to fall when life trips you up. We did, but then you have to get up. Dust yourself off and with God’s help, face it. Autism awareness is more common today. It is mainly due to the number of children affected. And a few famous families have had autism invade their lives asContinue Reading

Ajuste de Actitud – ¡lo puedes hacer!

inspirada por Harvey Mackay Los patos hacen cua cua   Las águilas planean     Nadie puede forzarte a servir bien a los clientes porque servicio al cliente buenísimo es opcional. Havey Mackay cuenta una historia maravillosa de un taxista que demostró que esto tiene razón. Estaba en la fila esperando un taxi en el aeropuerto. Cuando llegó un taxi, la primera cosa que Harvey se dio cuenta fue que el auto estaba brillando. El taxista, vestido muy elegante de una camisa blanca, una corbata negra, y unos pantalones negros recién planchados, salió para abrir la puerta del pasajero para Harvey. Le dio a Harvey una tarjeta laminada que dijo: ‘Soy Wally, su chófer. Mientras meto sus cosas en el baúl, quiero que lea mi misión.’ Sorprendido, Harvey leyó la tarjeta. Dijo, “La Misión de Wally: Llevar a mis clientes a su destino por la ruta más rápida, segura, y barata posible, en un ambiente agradable.” Mr. Mackay se asombró, especialmente cuando se dio cuenta que el interior del taxi era como el exterior – ¡reluciente! Mientras se montaba el carro, Wally le preguntó, “¿Quiere tomar un cafecito? Tengo un termo de café regular y uno de café descafeinado.” Harvey dijo en broma, “No, prefiero un refresco.” Wally sonrió y dijo, “No hay problema. Tengo un enfriador aquí al frente con Coca Cola regular, Coca Cola de dieta, agua y jugo de naranja.” Casi tartamudeando, Harvey dijo, “Tomo una Coca Cola de dieta.” Wally le entregó su bebida y dijo, “Si quiere algo para leer tengo The Wall Street Journal, Time, Sports Illustrated y USA Today.” Mientras arrancaban, Wally le dio a su pasajero otra tarjeta laminada que dijo, “Si quiere escuchar el radio, éstas son las estaciones que recibo y la música que tocan.” Como si eso no fuera suficiente, Wally le dijo a Harvey que había prendido el aire acondicionado y le preguntó si la temperatura era cómoda. Luego le dijo a Harvey la mejor ruta para llegar a su destino durante esa hora del día. También Wally le dijo que sería feliz contarle de los sitios de interés, o si Harvey prefería, lo dejaría en paz. “Dígame una cosa Wally,” dijo el pasajero impresionado, “¿Siempre ha tratado a sus clientes de esta manera?” Wally sonrió al mirar el retrovisor. “No, siempre no ha sido así. De hecho, sólo ha sido así por los últimos dos años. Durante mis primeros cinco años de conducir, pasé el tiempo quejándome como los otros taxistas. Y un día escuchaba el radio y oí a un hombre hablar del crecimiento personal. “Dijo que si se levanta por la mañana y espera tener un día malo, por seguro lo va tener. Dijo, ‘¡Deje de quejarse!’ Sea diferente de sus competidores y vuele sobre la muchedumbre. No sea un pato. Sea un águila. Los patos hacen cua cua y se quejan. Las águilas planean sobre la muchedumbre. ” “Eso me sorprendió,” dijo Wally. “Él hablaba de mí. Siempre hacía cua cua y me quejaba.Continue Reading

Ducks Quack, Eagles Soar

inspired by Harvey Mackay Ducks Quack Eagles Soar Attitude Adjustment That’s Doable No one can make you serve customers well. That’s because great service is a choice. Harvey Mackay, tells a wonderful story about a cab driver who proved this point. He was waiting in line for a ride at the airport. When a cab pulled up, the first thing Harvey noticed was that the taxi was polished to a bright shine. Smartly dressed in a white shirt, black tie, and freshly pressed black slacks, the cab driver jumped out and rounded the car to open the back passenger door for Harvey. He handed Harvey a laminated card that read: ‘I’m Wally, your driver. While I’m loading your bags in the trunk I’d like you to read my mission statement.’ Surprised, Harvey read the card. It read, “Wally’s Mission Statement: To get my customers to their destination in the quickest, safest, and cheapest way possible in a friendly environment.” This blew Mr. Mackay away, especially when he noticed that the inside of the cab matched the outside — spotlessly clean! As he slid behind the wheel, Wally said, “Would you like a cup of coffee? I have a thermos of regular and one of decaf.” Harvey said jokingly, “No, I’d prefer a soft drink.” Wally smiled and said, “No problem. I have a cooler up front with regular and Diet Coke, water and orange juice.” Almost stuttering, Harvey said, “I’ll take a Diet Coke.” Handing him his drink, Wally said, “If you’d like something to read, I have The Wall Street Journal, Time, Sports Illustrated, and USA Today.” As they were pulling away, Wally handed his passenger another laminated card that read, “If you’d like to listen to the radio, these are the stations I get and the music they play.” As if that weren’t enough, Wally told Harvey that he had the air conditioning on and asked if the temperature was comfortable. Then he told Harvey the best route to his destination for that time of day. He also let him know that he’d be happy to chat and tell him about some of the sights or, if Harvey preferred, to leave him with his own thoughts. “Tell me, Wally,” the impressed passenger asked the driver, “have you always served customers like this?” Wally smiled into the rear view mirror. “No, not always. In fact, it’s only been in the last two years. My first five years driving, I spent most of my time complaining like all the rest of the cabbies. Then I heard the personal growth guy on the radio one day. “He said that if you get up in the morning expecting to have a bad day, you’ll rarely disappoint yourself. He said, ‘Stop complaining! Be different from your competition and above the crowd. Don’t be a duck. Be an eagle. Ducks quack and complain. Eagles soar above the crowd.’’’ “That hit me right between the eyes,” said Wally. “He was really talking about me. IContinue Reading

Miles of Smiles

by Elaine Mizuo   Whether it’s a sweet smile from a baby, a happy smile of a child, a casual smile between strangers, or a contagious smile between friends, a great smile can go a long way. The average woman smiles about 62 times a day. Kids laugh around 400 times a day. Everyone loves smiles. How do you keep that smile at its very best? Here are a few tips to help you. Parents play a key role in ensuring that their child’s teeth are clean and healthy. The goal should be healthy teeth for life. For babies: Proper dental care begins even before you see your baby’s first tooth. By the time your baby is born, most of the baby teeth are already formed but are not seen since they are still inside the baby’s gums. Carbohydrates from formula, milk, and juices cause bacteria to grow in your baby’s mouth, so after a feeding, make it a goal to gently wipe your baby’s gums with a soft, clean, damp washcloth to keep bacteria growth down. From the time that first adorable tooth appears, wipe it with clean gauze after every meal—well, at least try…. When more teeth appear, use a soft baby toothbrush to clean the teeth after every meal, (it can be a goal you work towards). Don’t let your baby or toddler use a baby bottle or a sippy cup filled with formula, milk, juice, or other sugary beverages as a pacifier during waking hours. If you do, it will bathe the teeth in sugars all day long, resulting in tooth decay. If a baby bottle or sippy cup is used at bedtime or nap time, fill it with only water. Then you will prevent the bacteria from eating away at your baby’s teeth during sleeping hours. The first visit to the dentist should be around your child’s first birthday. For children: See the dentist twice a year for regular check-ups. Start when your child is young so that it becomes a natural part of your child’s yearly routine for a lifetime. Allow your child to choose a cute or colorful child-sized toothbrush with soft bristles. Find toothpaste in a flavor that your child likes. Many are safely formulated for children under age 3. Brush after each meal. This is the best practice, but at least after breakfast and dinner. Once your child has learned not to swallow toothpaste, use one with fluoride. Use only a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste with children under age 7, especially if your child is still prone to swallowing some of the toothpaste. Have your child brush before going to bed as part of the nightly bedtime routine. Eat healthy snacks and limit starchy foods, such as chips and sweet foods and sweet drinks, because they stick to the teeth. Adults should brush and floss their child’s teeth until the child is capable of doing a thorough job without adult help. Children lack the fine motor skills that are necessaryContinue Reading

¿Por qué debo vacunarme contra la gripe?

Serina del Queens pregunta: La mejor manera de protegerte contra la gripe es vacunarte contra ella cada año. La vacuna contra la gripe es una vacuna que contiene los virus muertos, y se administra mediante una inyección en el brazo. Cada vacuna es una combinación de tres virus. Aproximadamente dos semanas después de la administración de la vacuna, unos anticuerpos, o células combativos, proveen protección contra el virus que pudiera formar en tu cuerpo.      ¿Cuándo debo vacunarme? AHORA, o tan pronto que te enteras de la vacuna en la televisión, en la oficina del médico o en el periódico. La temporada de la gripe es desde diciembre y enero en adelante. Aunque puedes enfermarte de la gripe en cualquier momento, muchas personas se enferman en enero o después.      ¿Quién debe vacunarse contra la gripe? Algunos que deben vacunarse contra la gripe son: Niños de 6 meses a 19 años de edad Mujeres embarazadas Personas de 50 años de edad en adelante Cualquier persona que está deprimida Adultos mayores que viven en un asilo para ancianos Cualquier persona encargada del cuidado de los arriba mencionados: empleados del área de salud, madres que se quedan en casa con los niños y los que cuidan a los padres mayores.      ¿Quién no debe vacunarse contra la gripe? Personas que son alérgicas a los huevos de la gallina Los que anteriormente han tenido una fuerte reacción a la vacuna contra la gripe (no incluye un brazo dolorido después de la inyección) Personas que han tenido el síndrome de Guillain-Barré dentro de 6 semanas de haber recibido la vacuna contra la gripe Los que tienen una fiebre o un catarro cuando van a vacunarse Niños menores de 6 meses de edad. Patricia M. Gonzalez, RN, BSN, CPAN, Directora de la UCI en el Hospital Kingston/Benedictine, Kingston, NY

FLU SHOTS? Answers from Nurse Pat

Serina from the Queens asks: Why should I get a flu shot ? Flu Shots are very important to stop  the flu. The single best way to protect against the flu is to get a flu shot (or to “get vaccinated”) each year. The flu shot is actually a flu vaccine that contains the killed virus, and it is given as shot in the arm. It has three viruses in one. About two weeks after you get the shot, little antibodies, or fighting cells, provide protection against the virus that could develop in your body.      When should I get vaccinated? NOW, or as soon as you hear about it on TV, in the doctor’s office, or in the newspaper. Flu season is December, January, and beyond. Though you can get the flu at any time, many people get sick in January or later.      Who should get the flu shot? Some of the people who should get the flu shot:     Children from age 6 months to age 19     Pregnant women     People 50 years of age and older     Anyone who is depressed     Older adults living in a nursing home     Anyone who takes cares of anyone listed: health care workers, stay-at-home moms, and those taking care of elderly parents.      Who should not get the flu shot?     People who are allergic to chicken eggs     Those who have had a bad reaction to a previous flu shot (this doesn’t include a sore arm after the injection)     People who have ever developed a sickness called Guillain-Barre Syndrome within 6 weeks of getting a flu shot     Those who have a fever or cold at the time of getting the flu shot     Children less than 6 months of age. Patricia M. Gonzalez, RN, BSN,CPAN, Director of ICU at Kingston/Benedictine Hospital, Kingston, NY

Accidental Spokeswoman

  “One last time,” I thought. “One last time to drive around the peninsula.” It was the Palos Verdes Peninsula in California, home to the Trump Golf Course. It was home to my family, not exactly near the golf course, but still, the air was pristine, city view of the LA basin spectacular and streets lined with beautiful homes. I was excited yet anxious at the same time because in hours my life would be changing dramatically. The drive was something out of a movie as I faced a brilliant sunset on a two-lane highway overlooking the spectacular cliffs. I could see the outline of someone hang gliding and thought, “What am I doing? Tomorrow I leave all this beauty for, for what?” I did not know exactly. Sure I had visited, but my visits gave no indication that someday I would become a spokeswoman for disenfranchised women. The next morning I flew from sunny California to New York – alone. I was setting out to work for a very aggressive inner-city children’s non-profit. At that time its staff and volunteers touched the lives of 20,000 kids on a weekly basis. We worked hard in the community. They had been there since the early 80’s and had achieved major acceptance in New York’s inner city whose neighborhoods were rife with distrust and violence. I was picked up by a soon-to-be dear friend and dropped off at my new, or more aptly old, very old apartment. The tenement house itself was owned by the organization and everyone was gone on his/her only day off. I was given a loft in the front room. But let me describe the loft lest it conjures up some gorgeous open space with hardwood floors and tall windows. My loft was over a 7.5’x9’ space with a clearance of 3’. I climbed a handmade ladder to get into bed. My roommate left a small lamp sans the shade so I’d have light. The bathroom had an original claw foot tub! In winter months I’d experience dealing with two inches of ice layering the inside of the tub. That was due in part to the holes in the floors and walls throughout the apartment. The ones in the floor allowed a direct view into the basement. It struck me as funny as the largest hole was right in front of the refrigerator. My apartment held the single thermostat regulating heat for all three floors. It worked great! Too much heat for the third floor, just about right for the second floor and a coat required for the first floor. Occasionally, I used the gas oven to heat my side of the apartment though I’d been warned that it was an unsafe practice. Sure enough when I opened the oven door one evening when I was too tired, a pop of flame escaped and singed my hair and eyelashes. All staff lived in and around the people we served to earn their respect and gain credibility. It wasContinue Reading


Christy Sobolick, East Central Ministries

Everyone really enjoyed the last issue.

Bruce Marchiano, Actor, Author and Producer

“What you’re doing through Reach UP is very exciting and special. Well done!”

Joanna Lopez-Walker, Tampa Housing Authority

“Reach UP brings a smile to the people getting it.”

Linda “Peaches” Tavani, WowJam/originally of “Peaches & Herb

“Great to be Reunited. Love your mission. Blessings!”

Charreah Jackson, Essence Magazine