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March 2010 Edition


In this issue

Do 1 Nice Thing in 5 Minutes... it's habit forming.  Proceed at your own risk!

Hungry? You're Not the Only One.  Donate free food by playing the vocabulary game at

Go Ahead, Make My Day!  Give Someone a compliment.

Free Kibble. Donate free food for abandoned dogs at

Godspeed.  When you hear a siren, say a prayer.

Home of the Brave. Send a card to a wounded service member. Mail to: MTD, Attn: Soldier's Angels, CMR 402, APO AE 09180

Smile at Someone.  You might be the only bright thing they see today.

What's Up? Call someone you miss.

Got Something New? Great!  Now take out something old and give it away.

Thanks for being a Nice-o-holic!  (Borrowed from


About us

Educating and engaging seniors to do social action;

Empowering grandchildren to make the world a better place;

And creating a legacy from one generation to another.

840 Vernon Avenue
Glencoe, Illinois 60022 
(847) 948-5556

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My Grandmother's Logic

an excerpt of a piece by Aaron Cohen

I was raised by parents who vividly recall the Great Depression, and by grandparents whose immigrant experience was shaped by it. One of my career mentors, Harry, used to regale me with stories of riding the rails when he was my kids' age.


One of the things I learned from all those folks, and which I tried to relate to my son, were that all things are relative. People of conviction, with luck, ultimately prevail; tough times, with leadership, ultimately pass.


My mother told me the story of her mother's commitment to tzedakah during the height of the Depression. Every week, rain or shine, she would make the rounds of the neighborhood with a little pushke (tzedakah box) collecting pennies, dimes, nickels—and if she was really persistent, quarters—for Jews in need in Eretz Yisrael (the pre-state Land of Israel) and in Pittsburgh. My unemployed grandfather scraped together a few dollars as a book peddler; the extended family lived jammed together in a small apartment; and a wealthier uncle sent some help their way.


My grandmother’s philosophy was that having something, anything, meant you had something to give those who had nothing. Having lived by dint of her wits through World War I and the Russian Revolution, having made it through the Great Depression, she faced life with eternal hope. What sustained that hope was that she herself never stopped giving.


I tried to tell all that to my son, who is a savvy guy. Adversity—God-willing in small doses—can be the engine of progress, I said; problems yield to solutions.

  Wisdom for our Grandchildren

Maya Angelou, a very wise writer, was interviewed on the Oprah Winfrey show after her 70th birthday.  These are just a few of the wonderful words she said, all of which could be passed on to our grandchildren.

'I've learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.'

'I've learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas tree lights.'


'I've learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you'll miss them when they're gone from your life.'

'I've learned that making a 'living' is not the same thing as 'making a life.'


'I've learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance.'


'I've learned that you shouldn't go through life with a catcher's mitt on both hands; you need to be able to throw some things back...'


'I've learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.'


'I've learned that even when I have pains, I don't have to be one.'


'I've learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love a warm hug, or just a friendly pat on the back...'


'I've learned that I still have a lot to learn..'


'I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.'

What Could You Live With Half Of?

by Sharon Halper

A recent New York Times article (January 24, 2010 - What Could You Live Without? Nicholas D. Kristof) tells the story of the Salwen family of Atlanta. On a ride home from a sleepover, Kevin Salwen, a reporter and entrepreneur, and his 14-year old daughter saw a Mercedes coupe on one side of the street and a homeless man begging for food on the other.

The daughter expressed a fundamental thought—If the one “man had a less nice car”, the other man “could have a meal”.  In the inimitable approach of a 14 year old, Hannah Salwen persisted in raising the issue of inequality and proposed that the Salwens sell their home and donate half of the proceeds to charity. Father and daughter tell their story in the recently released book “The Power of Half”. I trust it will be a best seller!

Kristof went on to include some comments from Kevin Salwen which might speak to all of us, even those who intend to remain in their current homes! Salwen is quoted as saying “Everyone has too much of something, whether it’s time, talent or treasure. Everyone does have their own half; you just have to find it.”

Grandparents are uniquely positioned to enable their grandchildren to discover their personal “halves”, both by developing their own and by offering opportunities for their grandchildren to uncover theirs.

In this season of birth and rebirth, let us look at our family’s ‘treasure’ and see where half of what we have might be more than enough for each of us! Religious traditions share the belief that meeting the needs of the hungry is considered a godly act. Like God, who fed the hungry, we act in the divine image.

Consider giving a percentage of “normal” holiday-related excess to local programs that feed the hungry for the holidays. Half the cake, half the candy so that others might eat.

Think about the days after the holiday, when donations wane and hunger remains. Can you enjoy half as many costly take-out coffees? Can your grandchildren thrive on half the treats they currently consume? Sit down and find your “halves”. You might consider matching your grandchildrens’ “halves” with a corresponding donation.

Do you garden?  Plant vegetables together and donate half to a local food pantry.  Look at, for a local recipient group and include your little half in the harvest and delivery. If your grand-gardener is not local, take pictures and share the story with the child. Perhaps the child can emulate the project at home.

“Adopt” a profoundly poor and hungry family in the United States with a monthly gift of needed items through Family to Family

Discuss the personal “half” each family member will contribute in order to make your donations possible. A grandchild that gives up a cupcake a month will feel their power to do good long after their cupcake years have passed!

In the words of Kevin Salwen, “We essentially traded stuff for togetherness and connectedness. I can’t figure out why everybody wouldn’t want that deal.”


Who wouldn’t?

Sharon Halper



Messages for My Grandchildren

Dr. Robert Brooks is a fabulous motivation speaker on the subjects of Resilience, self esteem, motivation and family relationships.  In addition, he has a web site and sends out monthly enewsletters.  The following is an excerpt from a longer article from a Sept. 2009 newletter that you can still find on his web site.

Flooded by these memories of my youth I could not help thinking once again, “What are the values I wish to convey to my four grandchildren through my words and deeds, values that I hope influence their lives?” I am certain they are not very different from what other parents and grandparents hope to witness in the behaviors of the next generation of their family. As I begin to share these thoughts with my grandchildren, I would like to share them with my readers as well.

The importance of cultivating relationships. Earlier I emphasized the significance of connections in our lives. Paradoxically, we live in a world where in many ways technology has brought us closer together, but has also served, at times, as a barrier to closeness and intimacy. For instance, people working in offices next door to each other use e-mails to communicate rather than meeting face-to-face. As I mentioned earlier, sites such as Facebook inform us instantly of happenings in each other’s lives, which has its benefits but all-too-often can limit other forms of interactions. We must consciously make time for connecting with others, and not permit busy lives from depriving us of the joys of truly being together. On a trip to the west coast earlier this year I sat next to a man who was flying to attend the funeral of his brother who had died suddenly of a heart attack. When he inquired what I did and found out that I was a clinical psychologist, he plaintively told me that he hadn’t seen his brother in almost two years, adding, “We kept in touch primarily by e-mail. Isn’t it ironic that we couldn’t find time to see each other when he was alive, but somehow I find time to go to his funeral.”

The need to enrich the lives of others. We must take care of ourselves, but always find time to brighten and enrich the lives of others. As I write this article, we are mourning the loss of Senator Ted Kennedy, not just here in Massachusetts but nationally and internationally as well. Whatever one’s political beliefs or political party, I think one cannot help but be impressed with the first-hand accounts of Senator Kennedy’s generosity that have emerged since his death. Numerous individuals reported, regardless of their “station” in life, that when they called Senator Kennedy’s office to seek assistance he spoke directly with them. When a teenage girl from Massachusetts, Molly Bish, was abducted, one of the first people to call her parents was Senator Kennedy. He called on the day that her remains were discovered three years after her disappearance and he called the hospital when Molly’s father had a stroke.

Many similar stories of graciousness and thoughtfulness were shared upon his death, too numerous for me to describe in this article. Few of these stories were publicized prior to his passing. I said to Marilyn that although we had lived in Massachusetts for years and knew of Senator Kennedy’s passion for improving the lives of others, I was not aware of the extent to which he was accessible and helpful to all of his constituents. I was very touched by a report indicating that in the aftermath of the horrors of 9/11 he wrote a personal note to the families of each person from Massachusetts who had been killed in the terrorist attacks (almost 200) and year after year he continued to keep in touch with them offering his support. He did so out of the view of the media. Those who are cynical about politicians, as many are in today’s world, might argue that such seeming acts of kindness are rooted in the motive to garner votes. I believe that Senator Kennedy engaged in these actions not to capture votes but because he knew that he was privileged to be in a position to better the lives of others. Given the well-documented tragedies that he suffered in his life, he was well aware of the importance of “being there” for people, reaching out to them especially in their darkest moments.

While most of us do not wield the influence that Ted Kennedy did, we all have the power on a daily basis to say and do small things that will have far-reaching positive consequences. I know from research I conducted about significant memories from one’s childhood that even seemingly small gestures of kindness can have a profound impact on the recipients of that kindness. Performing such gestures also infuses one’s own life with purpose and satisfaction. To my four grandchildren, I hope you all experience such satisfaction. 


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Grandparents for Social Action
840 Vernon Ave
Glencoe, Illinois 60022

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