Looking Out for Others


In my life, I had two Mothers, Macedonia who gave me birth and America who adopted me.”  ~ Stoyan Christowe 

Have you ever made friends with someone who is a stranger from a strange land, yet they reverse the role and make you, the American, feel more at home? 

Two and a half years ago, I moved from my 35 year Vermont residence to the West. I came to this town, Steamboat Springs, Colorado, site unseen and had no idea what to expect. Within a few months time, I met a woman, about my age from Macedonia. Heretofore I had never known a soul from Macedonia, and was not even sure where the on the map the country lies. 

Two years into our friendship, my friend told me a story of an immigrant orphan from Macedonia, Stoyan Christowe, who arrived in 1897 in my “adopted home” state of Vermont. He started a new life and eventually became a Vermont State Senator, journalist and author. http://bit.ly/n94kTO . He lived out the rest of his life in America and during that time, he six published books including “This is My Country.” 

A film is currently being produced about the life of Stoyan Christowe by the Macedonian Arts Council. http://bit.ly/pPj1SC. I look forward to seeing this film and I hope it well captures the feeling that Mr. Christowe expressed about his native land and his adopted country. 

Today, I celebrate my Macedonian friend’s birthday. She made such a positive difference in my life. She helped me to assimilate into a new community nearly effortlessly. I can think of no better way to say Happy Birthday to her than to tell her how deeply grateful I am for her kindness and her help. 

After many years of living in the U.S., she and her family have returned to her Motherland. Although the distance between us is now great, I can not help but feel our two countries of the United States and Macedonia, have grown just a little bit closer by the fulfilling friendship and bond my friend and I have formed. We hope to continue our friendship for many years to come. 

Happy Birthday, Vesna!

International Film Trivia

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I really love it all: theatre, film, television.” ~ Charlotte Rae  

It’s been a busy, busy week! All kinds of fulfilling activities were on my business calendar for this past week. Since it is Film Friday, today we will play a little international film trivia, to mix things up.

If you can answer these two film trivia questions, without cheating, you can consider yourself really “in the know” and on top of the scene! The answers will be located at the very bottom of this page. Good luck! 

  1. Two short documentary films by Macedonian filmmaker Marija Makeska will be presented tonight in remembrance of the Macedonian WWII Holocaust. The names of the films are “Soul Mates” and “Getting to Know Us.” In what city in the United States will these films be screened and what is the non-profit organization that will be presenting these films?
  2. On February 13th, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts http://www.bafta.org/  honored this individual for his outstanding and exceptional contribution to film. Who was the actor? Hint – He played Saruman in Lord of the Rings Trilogy and Count Docku in Star Wars and Dracula in at least 10 films. Who is the actor that was honored with the BAcademy Fellowship at London’s Royal Opera House ? 

Curious? Go ahead and peek. I will not hold it against you! Or you can use your favorite search engine to find out the answers.

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Answers: 1. Steamboat Springs, Co and Macedonian Mission for Humanity. More information: http://www.steamboattoday.com/events/2011/mar/11/9874/

                   2. Sir Christopher Lee

The Beat Goes On

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“Gratitude is a quality similar to electricity: it must be produced and discharged and used up in order to exist at all.” ~ William Faulkner

Being a blogger, I am always on the beat looking for inspiration around which to write the next story. Saturday night, I did not have to stray far! Just a quick drive to the United Methodist Church in downtown Steamboat Springs, CO. A beautiful example of cultural harmony through the Arts, was waiting to be found.

The Macedonian Mission for Humanity brought together two artists, one from an ancient civilization and one from a much newer world order, to provide a night of amazing musical entertainment. Keri Rusthoi, and soprano soloist living in Steamboat Springs, CO and award winning, international concert pianist from Macedonia, Kalina Mrmevska, could not have better displayed a great example of two countries working toward the good for the other through the Arts. The proceeds for this concert will go toward getting medical supplies to Macedonian Children’s Hospitals, where they are so badly needed.

If you missed this concert, the two artists will be repeating  the performance at the Colorado Community Church on Saturday, May 21st at 7pm. The church is located in Englewood, Colorado at 3651 So. Colorado Blvd.

As I sat and enjoyed this outstanding concert, I couldn’t help but think what it would be like to hear these two diverse artists perform in an ancient church, in an ancient city, in a place like Ohrid, Macedonia. The Macedonian Mission for Humanity (A Colorado based 501(3)C, non-profit organization) is so very grateful to the United Methodist Church in Steamboat Springs, CO for making this concert possible, right in our own backyard. Don’t count me as ungrateful – the acoustics there were certainly more than good enough, for my untrained musical ear!


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Cultural Understanding

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“Things go wrong because people build walls instead of bridges”   ~Unknown

For those who do not work in the arts industry, understanding the value of a creative industry is difficult to understand. When you understand the scope of how many are employed in creative industry, how the Arts help to build the fabric of community life, how arts education touches the lives of children and how Art provides for cultural exchange between countries, supporting Americans for the Arts Action Fund www.artsactionfund.org is not a hard pill to swallow.

Mayer Michael Nutter recently testified about  the importance of the Arts in his city of Philadelphia. His testimony and arguments for the importance of the Arts, could be echoed by cities, big and small, across America. To listen to Mayor Nutter’s testimony, please go to http://bit.ly/bZetCV.

Even in small cities, like Steamboat Springs, Colorado (population 9600), the Arts are very important. The Macedonian Mission for Humanity (Colorado based non-profit organization 5013(C) is focused on humanitarian assistance and cultural exchange between Macedonian and U.S. artists.

On May 15, the non-profit will be hosting a Concert, at the United Methodist Church in Steamboat, between an international award winning concert pianist, Kalina Mrmevska from Macedonia, and soprano soloist, Keri Rusthoi from the U.S. It is bound to be a beautiful evening of entertainment between two artists who come from very different backgrounds.

All proceeds from the concert will go toward the expense of shipping no longer needed medical supplies from the U.S. to Macedonian children’s hospitals. For more information on this non-profit, please visit http://bit.ly/askllQ.

The Macedonian Mission for Humanity is building bridges between culture and humanitarian needs. What vision this represents!


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Pay it Forward

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“Many men have been capable of doing a wise thing, more a cunning thing, but very few a generous thing.” ~ Alexander Pope

The other night I went back to school! I am exaggerating just a bit. It wasn’t really  night school, but being a supporter of life long learning, how could I turn down the opportunity to learn some new things? Two of my friends invited me to attend a dinner meeting to learn all about the purpose of a hospital auxiliary. All I could think of when I heard the words “hospital auxiliary” were my high school friends who were signed on by their mothers, against their wishes and much to their dismay, to be “candy stripers” at the local hospital for the summer.

I found out that my perceptions of a hospital auxiliary were misconstrued. Hospital auxiliaries serve to bring involvement opportunities to the whole community, not just to idle teens. They help raise funds for approved projects. They set up programs so that community members can volunteer their services at the hospital.  I learned of the multitude of volunteer opportunities available at our local hospital, the Yampa Valley Medical  Center.  To name just a few – if you are a person who loves pets, you can volunteer with their pet therapy program. If you wish to spend time with little ones, there is a volunteer program in the hospital employee’s daycare.  If you are a “people person” and enjoy talking with patients and their families, you can spend time visiting and spreading good cheer with the cookie cart, rolling it through the hospital halls. It is not just about candy stripers anymore!

The conversation of the evening turned to the amount of supplies such as crutches, knee braces, splints, arm slings that go home with orthopedic patients in this very athletic town. The supplies are used and then discarded when no longer needed. Often, they are still in like-new condition. Is there not some way they can be reused by patients in other countries such as Macedonia, who  are lacking in current and  up to date equipment? Wouldn’t recycling them be a better alternative then having them end up in landfills and dumps? How about it America?

Many hospital volunteers are retirees who are in good health and have good hearts, who wish to help others. No one likes  being in the hospital, but with folks who so generously give of their time and fulfill themselves through community involvement, it can make a difference in the lives of those who need it most. You never know when you may be on the other side of the coin and in need of help from others. How would it feel to be able to pay it forward?

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Lean, Green Fundraising Machine


“Doing the same thing over and over, yet expecting different results, is the definition of crazy.” ~ Unknown

What would it be like to no longer have to knock on doors to help raise money for your favorite non-profit? No more pestering friends, relatives and business associates to buy fruit, wrapping paper, cookies, raffle tickets and all the other things that organizations sell for fundraising. Those dollars spent driving from door to door, place to place will be saved and could be donated to the cause.

Wait! It gets better than that!! All your donors or contributors can shop on-line for what they want at www.GoodShop.com and a percentage of the value of the purchases will go to charity or to a school of your choice. Merchandise is the same price, but a donation goes to a cause you feel passionate about.

This inventive way of raising money for your favorite charity www.GoodSearch.com has been featured in Oprah Magazine, CNN, The New York Times, ABC News and the Wall Street Journal. Get on board, non-profits – raise money the easy way. Register your organization.

Don’t believe me? Go to www.GoodShop.com buy something from one of the 900 top on-line retailers involved in this new way of giving. Your money will buy something you want and need, not for something you feel obligated to buy.

For example, you can help raise money for children’s hospitals by designating The Macedonian Mission for Humanity as your charity of choice. You will be helping children across the globe. How easy is that?

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Beyond Ourselves

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“Compassion is the basis of all morality” ~ Arthur Schopenhauer

Yesterday, we had a very timely speaker at our Kiwanis International weekly meeting. Dr. Dawn Obrecht and her husband Erik Landvik were there to speak with our group about the disaster relief work they have done all over the world. They set up a medical clinic to assist the victims of the Indonesian tsunami, Dr. Obrecht doctored the injured after Hurricane Katrina and has in fact, volunteered her time to five other calamitious events resulting in great loss of life and widespread destruction.

As we watch all that has happened in Haiti over the past week, it gives me pause to think, what this world would be like if Doc Dawn and her husband Erik and thousands of other extraordinarily compassionate individuals did not exist in this world.

Dr. Dawn Obrecht has chronicled her experiences through the writing of her independently published book, Mission Impossible: A Missionary Doctor’s Journey of Healing. http://www.docdawn.com/book1.php.  The perils that she has been up against in her work as a missionary doctor will leave you with an increased understanding of the compassion, kindness and unique human qualities that exist in individuals that are so willing to put themselves, at their own expense, on the line for others.

Dr. Obrecht’s work is not done, she has gotten calls to help in Haiti, however, until there is more order and structure with the relief efforts, she has been advised to wait. Hopefully, Erik will be at her side as this extraordinarily gifted couple work together to fulfill the work that is so important in their lives and to the survival of others.

It has been an honor to begin to know Dr. Obrecht, who like me, was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland! We will  be working together with the Macedonian Mission for Humanity, to help raise funds through an international dinner,  to ship a container of much needed medical supplies to children’s hospitals in Macedonia.

What small thing can you do to help your community or another community of people who are in dire need of help?

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Being Caught Unprepared


“All speech, written or spoken, is a dead language, until it finds a willing and prepared hearer.” ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

Well, I have done it now. I do not mean this statement in a bad way, because I am happy to support a great cause. I have jumped in with all two feet and committed to something that may be beyond my expertise. I have volunteered to cook a dish for an International Dinner which is proposed to be in early March to benefit the Macedonian Mission for Humanity.  This worthy non-profit is hosting the dinner along with the Culture Club of the Steamboat Springs High School to raise money to ship a container of medical supplies from the USA to Macedonia. The medical supplies are needed for children’s hospitals in Macedonia, and the alternative would be for all of the no longer needed supplies to end up in America’s landfills.

As I have mentioned in my blog writing before, I am a comfort food junkie, so for me to commit to cooking a dish with international flair is a stretch! I will have to dig deep. Deep into all the international cookbooks at the Bud Werner Library, to see what recipe I can find that I can handle. Thankfully, I have some weeks to prepare.

I guess I could even call on my brother-in-law, a chef who has worked at some of the most impressive restaurants and a few embassies in Washington, DC and the Capital district. His recipe book might be a little too complicated for me, though.

This town is filled with all kinds of talent – good writers, good Artists, good restaurants, good cooks. Perhaps there are others that would like to join me in supporting the International Dinner and can rustle up some good international flavors and foods to donate to the cause. I challenge you and don’t forget to stay posted for more information on this event! It is a win-win cause, and the MMH could use all of your support, by attending the dinner or by bringing a dish to share. It is all about community sharing and the children in Macedonia are waiting!

Hungry yet?

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