News

Father’s Day 2017: The Gift of Dad

June 17th, 2017

Father’s Day 2017

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Photographs by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Copyright 2017
Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD
The Face of America Project

My father didn’t tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.   Clarence B. Kelland

A father’s tears and fears are unseen, his love is unexpressed, but his care and protection remains as a pillar of strength throughout our lives. Ama H.Vanniarachchy

The History of Father’s Day

The very first observation of Father’s Day in America was not a celebration at all. It was a memorial to 367 miners who lost their lives in Monongah, West Virginia. The accident left 1,000 children fatherless, and it created 250 widows.

Grace Golden Clayton with the help of Dr. Thomas Webb, organized a memorial service to honor all the miners who died in the worst mining accident in American history. She suggested it be July 5, 1908.

Two years later, in 1910, Sonora Smart Dodd organized a celebration in Spokane, Washington, to honor her father and all fathers.

In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson observed Father’s Day with his family.

In 1924, President Calvin Coolidge signed a resolution designed to establish more intimate relations between fathers and their children. The intent of the resolution was to make fathers more responsible to their family obligations.

In 1966, President Lyndon Johnson used an executive order to give Father’s Day a specific date, the third Sunday in June.

In 1972 during the Nixon administration, congress passed an act officially making Father’s Day a national holiday.

Thoughts About Fathers

On this special day, Kitch and I would like to share a few observations about fathers. They reflect the light of wonderful fathers we had.

It is not flesh and blood but the heart which makes us fathers and sons. Friedrich Schiller

Fathers and daughters have a special bond. She is always daddy’s little girl. Richard L. Ratliff

By the time a man realizes that maybe his father was right, he usually has a son who thinks he’s wrong. Charles Wadsworth

A man’s daughter is his heart. Just with feet, walking out in the world. Mat Johnson

A father should be his son’s first hero, and his daughter’s first love. Author Unknown

The father who does not teach his son his duties is equally guilty with the son who neglects them. Confucius

To a father growing old nothing is dearer than a daughter. Euripides

Certain is it that there is no kind of affection so purely angelic as of a father to a daughter. In love to our wives there is desire; to our sons, ambition; but to our daughters there is something which there are no words to express. Joseph Addison

The greatest gift I ever had came from God, and I call him Dad! Author Unknown

The Gift of Dad

We would like to end this article with the poetic and positive words of Ella Wheeler Wilcox:

Father

He never made a fortune, or a noise
In the world where men are seeking after fame;
But he had a healthy brood of girls and boys
Who loved the very ground on which he trod.
They thought him just little short of God;
Oh you should have heard the way they said his name –
‘Father.’

There seemed to be a loving little prayer
In their voices, even when they called him ‘Dad.’
Though the man was never heard of anywhere,
As a hero, yet somehow understood
He was doing well his part and making good;
And you knew it, by the way his children had
Of saying ‘Father.’

He gave them neither eminence nor wealth,
But he gave them blood untainted with a vice,
And opulence of undiluted health.
He was honest, and unpurchable and kind;
He was clean in heart, and body, and in mind.
So he made them heirs to riches without price –
This father.

He never preached or scolded; and the rod –

Well, he used it as a turning pole in play.
But he showed the tender sympathy of God.
To his children in their troubles, and their joys.
He was always chum and comrade with his boys,
And his daughters – oh, you ought to hear them say
‘Father.’

Now I think of all achievements ‘tis the least

To perpetuate the species; it is done
By the insect and the serpent, and the beast.
But the man who keeps his body, and his thought,
Worth bestowing on an offspring love-begot,
Then the highest earthly glory he was won,
When in pride a grown-up daughter or a son
Says ‘That’s Father.’

Pictures in this article are part of Library of Congress collection.

Please provide feedback to:
tony.mussari@gmail.com


Finding Inspiration at the Perelman Medical Center

June 4th, 2017

Magic Moments at the Perelman Medical Center for Advanced Medicine in Philadelphia.

Written by, Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by, Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Copyright 2017
Mussari-Loftus Associates
The Face of America Project

Wherever the art of Medicine is loved, there is also a love of Humanity. Hippocrates

Destination Philadelphia

Our Face of America journey took us to the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine in Philadelphia. It wasn’t like any of our other visits around the country. This was personal. We were on a mission of discovery.

After a year of medical appointments and well-intentioned diagnosis that varied from a stroke to Parkinson’s disease, and the encouragement from dear friends and family members, Kitch picked up the phone, and she called the neurology department at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia. The person who answered Kitch’s call was accommodating, kind and polite.

Much to our surprise she was able to schedule an appointment with Dr. Jerold Mikszewski in less than a month.

Our First Visit

From the moment we entered the valet parking area, we knew we were in a special place. The plaza outside the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine was crowded with people. Some were sitting on benches. Others were standing in front of the entrance to the Perelman Center.

What got our attention were the beautiful spring flowers planted in little gardens throughout the plaza. They symbolized love, cheerful thoughts, worthiness and hope.

The very first person we met, a parking supervisor, gave real meaning to our general impression. He was caring, helpful, welcoming and kind.

Once we were inside the Perelman Center, we went straight to the information desk to ask for directions to the neurology department. The attendant was friendly, and he calmed our fears.

Once inside the neurology department, the receptionist was accommodating and helpful.

In 1931, W. H. S. Jones translated this pearl of wisdom from Hippocrates Aphorisms:

The physician must be ready, not only to do his duty himself, but also to secure the co-operation of the patient, of the attendants and of externals.

At the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine, they translate these words of the Father of Western Medicine into meaningful actions.

Meeting Dr. Jerold Mikszewski

As to diseases, make a habit of two things -to help, or at least,
to do no harm.
Hippocrates

In our opinion, Dr. Jerold Mikszewski was born to be medical doctor. He loves what he does, and it shows.

He is welcoming, competent, empathetic and kind. He understood our apprehensions. He was not rushed or in hurry.

He spent more than an hour with us. He wanted to know my medical history. He performed several examinations. He asked probing questions in a polite and respectful way. He checked my vital signs. He took notes on everything.

Then he shared his preliminary assessment. He told us the evidence supported a diagnosis of Progressive Supranuclear Palsy. More commonly known as PSP and Corticobasal Degeneration. More commonly known as CBD.

He wanted me to have a specialized MRI to confirm his preliminary findings.

When Dr. Dan Kopen, Kitch’s breast cancer surgeon, shared these words advice from his mother, he was describing Dr. Jerold Mikszewski:

Treat every patient as if they are family.

A Very Special Encounter

Tony Nixon is a supervisor at the valet parking hub.

While we were waiting for our car to arrive, he greeted us. He is the perfect person for the job.

He goes beyond the call of duty to make people comfortable. He is nice to everyone. He is natural conversationalist.

He is a living, breathing symbol of what makes the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine so special.

A Symbol of Hope

Men ought to know that from nothing else but the brain come joys, delights, laughter and sports, and sorrows, griefs, despondency, and lamentations…I am of the opinion that the brain exercises the greatest power in the man. Hippocrates

This picture was taken by Kitch as we drove home from our medical appointment in Philadelphia.

We followed the beautiful cloud formation for several miles, and I wondered why this was happening.

I decided that it was a sign of hope.

At the Perelman Center for Advanced Medicine in Philadelphia, medicine is loved, and there is a hopeful, encouraging atmosphere of love of humanity.

Please provide feedback to:
tony.mussari@gmail.com


Thank You for Your Service: Memorial Day 2017

May 28th, 2017

Thank You for Your Service to America

Written by Tony Mussari
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Copyright 2017
Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD
The Face of America Project
www.faceofamericawps.com

These fallen heroes represent the character of a nation who has a long history of patriotism and honor – and a nation who has fought many battles to keep our country free from threats of terror. Michael N. Castle 

Perspective

In the lifetime of our country, more than 1.3 million soldiers gave their lives for America. More than 1.4 million soldiers were wounded defending American values and more than 40,000 went missing in action.

In World War II, fought between 1941-1945, we lost 297 Americans every day of the war.

In World War I, fought between 1917-1918, we lost 279 Americans every day of the war.

In Korea, fought between 1950-1953, we lost 45 Americans every day of the war.

In Vietnam, fought between 1967-1975, we lost 11 Americans every day of the war.

The Father of Memorial Day

We owe a debt of gratitude to Major General John A. Logan, a Civil War general who in 1868 established a tradition commonly known as Decoration Day. At the time, General Logan was commander-in-chief of the Union veterans’ group known as the Grand Army of the Republic.

He encouraged Americans to visit cemeteries and decorate the graves of the 620,000 soldiers who died in the Civil War, the deadliest of all American wars.

He described it with these words:

(It) is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet church-yard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

During World War I, Decoration Day was expanded to include the fallen of all wars.

Memorial Day did not become a federal holiday until 1971.

The Teacher-in-Chief

I have been thinking a lot about this novel concept of the President of the United States as the Teacher-in-Chief. So I thought it might be helpful to include a few pearls of wisdom from Presidents who had something encouraging and insightful about the men and women we celebrate on Memorial Day:

In the truest sense, freedom cannot be bestowed; it must be achieved. Franklin D. Roosevelt

We owe our eternal gratitude to the 2.7 million Americans who gave their lives or were seriously injured in America’s wars.

America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination, and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand. Harry S. Truman

I watched Tom Brokaw’s documentary The Greatest Generation. During the program he made these two points:

When the war ended, more than twelve million men and women put their uniforms aside and returned to civilian life. They went back to work at their old jobs or started small businesses; they became big-city cops and firemen; they finished their degrees or enrolled in college for the first time; they became schoolteachers…

A common lament of the World War II generation is the absence today of personal responsibility.

President Ronald Reagan offered these touching thoughts at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day in 1986:

Today is the day we put aside to remember fallen heroes and to pray that no heroes will ever have to die for us again. It’s a day of thanks for the valor of others, a day to remember the splendor of America and those of her children who rest in this cemetery and others. It’s a day to be with the family and remember.

In the CBS news the story of The Lost Platoon of the Vietnam War, Kenny Barker, shared this profound thought with John Blackstone:

Be the best you can be every day, because you can’t let 22 people down.

Blackstone characterized this as “survivor’s obligation.”

Summary

I can think of no better way to end this tribute to the fallen, their courage, their determination, their service, their discipline, and their heroism than to include the words of Frances Ellen Watkins Harper as recorded in her poem God Bless Our Native Land:

God bless our native land,

Land of the newly free,
Oh may she ever stand
For truth and liberty.

God bless our native land,
Where sleep our kindred dead,
Let peace at thy command
Above their graves be shed.

God help our native land,
Bring surcease to her strife,
And shower from thy hand
A more abundant life.

God bless our native land,
Her homes and children bless,
Oh may she ever stand,
For truth and righteousness.

Thank you for your service to America, God bless you.

Pictures in this article are part of Library of Congress collection. Photographer Carol M. Highsmith took some of the pictures.

U.S. military casualties of war were obtained from an extensive report published on Wikipedia.org.

Please provide feedback to:
tony.mussari@gmail.com


5 Blessings

April 29th, 2017

Expressing Gratitude to the John Heinz Institute of Rehabilitation

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Copyright 2017
Mussari-Loftus Associates
The Face of America Project

Some people come in our life as blessings. Mother Teresa

A Fond Farewell

On December 5, 2016, I entered The John Heinz Institute of Rehabilitation
in Wilkes-Barre, PA. I did not know what to expect.

Almost five months later, April 20, 2017, I had my final session. Because of the caring, compassionate and welcoming environment, I felt compelled to express my thanks in a special way. So I designed a graphic with a picture of our garden and one of my favorite Irish blessings for the 5 therapists who made the experience positive and memorable.

This is but another attempt to express my gratitude:

Mark Miller

Mark, my wish for you is best summarized in this Irish blessing:

May the saddest day of your future
be no worse than the happiest day
of your past.

Mark Miller gives truth to the thoughtful words of
James Matthew Barrie:

Those who bring sunshine into the lives of
others cannot keep it from themselves.

Theresa Yaron

Theresa, the words of this Irish blessing reflect
my hope for you and your family:

May your troubles be less
and your blessings be more
and nothing but happiness
come through the door.

The 32nd President of the United States
Franklin D. Roosevelt gave us this great
insight into human nature:

If you treat people right they will
treat you right … ninety percent of
the time.

Theresa Yaron lives the spirit of these beautiful words.

Joanne Orlando:

Joanne, the words of this Irish blessing reflect
my hope for you and your family:

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face
…and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

When Anne Rice penned these words,
she was describing Joanne Orlando:

Be kind. Always if you have a choice, be kind.

Nicole Pelosi

Nicole, watching you greet the children with
disabilities reminded me of this Irish proverb:

Mothers hold their children’s hands for
just a little while…
And their hearts forever.

The celebrated author Og Mandino defined one
of your greatest assets with these words:

A smile remains the most inexpensive gift
I can bestow on anyone and yet
its powers can vanquish kingdoms.

Flo Kohar

Flo, your warm greetings make this Irish blessing
appropriate for you.

May you have warm words on a cold evening
A full moon on a dark night;
And the road downhill all the way to your door.

H.Jackson Brown, Jr. gave us a great standard for success:

The best preparation for tomorrow is doing
is doing your best today.

Flo Kohar lives by that standard.

Thank You

Mark Miller
Theresa Yaron
Joanne Orlando
Nicole Pelosi
Flo Kohar

Thank you to all the men and women
who work at the John Heinz Institute of
Rehabilitation in Wilkes-Barre, PA.

This Irish blessing is for you:

May God grant you always…
A sunbeam to warm you, a
moonbeam to charm you,
a sheltering Angel so nothing
can harm you.
Laughter to cheer you.
Faithful friends near you.
And whenever you pray,
Heaven to hear you.

Please provide feedback to:
tony.mussari@gmail.com


Finding Inspiration

April 15th, 2017

Words that will lift your spirits.

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Copyright 2017
Mussari-Loftus Associates
The Face of America Project

Nothing can be done without hope and confidence. Helen Keller

A beautiful, encouraging note from a former student got me thinking about my medical situation, and what I could do to meet the many challenges Kitch and I are facing with dignity and class.

This was part of my response to that beautiful note:

Thanks for your note of March 26.

I will treasure your kind words until the end of my journey here.

As a result of the thoughts you shared, I decided start a new project. It will give me something positive to think about and look forward to. I am going to design an encouragement garden in Windsor Park.

Attached is one of the graphics that will be placed in encouragement garden.

This was his response:

“Love it!! Great inspiring idea!! Doc, thanks for sharing!”

As we approach the most hopeful day on the Christian calendar, Kitch and I would like to give you a preview of some of the material that will be in the Encouragement Garden.

Calvin Coolidge

In 1923, Calvin Coolidge was the Vice President of the United States. Upon the death of Warren G. Harding, Coolidge became the 30th President of the United States during The Roaring Twenties.

Coolidge was known as “a quiet and serious man…Coolidge served as a sort of father figure. The quiet, respectable and frugal president provided a comforting symbol of old-fashioned responsibility and virtue.”

William Allen White titled his biography of Coolidge, “A Puritan in Babylon.” http://www.history.com/topics/us-presidents/calvin-coolidge
His left an indelible mark with this inspirational quote:

Press on-Nothing can take the place of persistence. Perseverance and determination alone are omnipotent.

J.K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling is celebrated novelist, screenwriter and film producer. She is known around the word as the person who created the Harry Potter books.

In 2011, Cristina Hartmann who worked at the Federal Communications Commission told us that Harry Potter exemplifies a seamless blend of world-building, storytelling, and timeless themes. Among those themes are:

Good versus Evil;

Coming-of-Age;

Meaning of Friendship;

Political Intrigue.

J.K. Rowling has the gift of words and images as demonstrated in the transformational words:

Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery.

John V. Maxwell

John V. Maxwell is a well respected, author, speaker and pastor. Dr. Maxwell is an expert on leadership.

According to an article I read on Amazon.com., Maxwell has sold over 19 million books, and he has trained 5 million leaders around the world.
Maxwell has written three books which have each sold more than one million copies:

The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership;

Developing the Leader Within You;

The 21 Indispensable Qualities of a Leader. (www.amazon.com/John-C.-Maxwell/e/B001H6NROC)

One of his most insightful observations is contained in these 13 words:

A word of encouragement from a teacher to a child can change a life.

H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

H. Jackson Brown, Jr. is the author of Life’s Little Instruction Book. It was on the New York Times bestseller list for 158 weeks.

He has captivated audiences with short, inspirational sayings:

Sometimes the heart sees what is invisible to the eye;

Our character is what we do when we think no one is looking;

Love is when the other person’s happiness is more important than your own.

One of his most instructive sayings is this thought about preparation:

The best preparation for tomorrow is doing your best today.

George Herman “Babe” Ruth Jr.

When I was a child, the legendary Babe Ruth was one of my heroes.

He was known as “The Great Bambino,” “The Sultan of Swat.”

Whenever my dad talked about baseball, he talked about Babe Ruth’s accomplishments.

According to my father, Babe Ruth set the standard for hitting home runs. In his 22 years in the game, Babe Ruth hit 714 home runs, a record that stood for 39 years. In 1927, he hit 60 home runs, a record that stood for 34 years.

Some in the know, my father was one them, consider Babe Ruth to be greatest baseball player of all time.

According to Babe Ruth, It’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.

Anne Frank

As a teenager, Anne Frank saw the face of evil. It forced her and her family to go into hiding. Eventually, she and her relatives were captured, and they were deported to the Nazi concentration camps.

She was fifteen years old when she died of typhus at then Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp.

Anne Frank’s Diary is a statement about hope. That hope is reflected in these entries:
“… ideals, dreams, and cherished hopes rise within us only to meet the horrible truth and be shattered … yet in spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart.”

“I don’t think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains.”

“Where there’s hope, there’s life. It fills us with fresh courage and makes us strong again.”

My favorite Anne Frank truism contains just nine words:

Everyone has inside them a piece of good news.

Jane Goodall

Jane Goodall is an animal rights activist and scientist. She is a genuine pioneer.

For more than 50 years she has been studying the behavior of chimpanzees.

According to an article written by David Quammen and published in National Geographic, “…she set a new standard, a very high standard, for behavioral study of apes in the wild, focusing on individual characteristics as well as collective patterns.”

She shares what she has learned in books and public speeches.

Thinking about her life, she offered this pearl of wisdom:

What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.

Hope is described in this famous Japanese proverb:

Fall seven times, stand up eight.

We will end the blog with an insight from Charles D. Peebler, Jr.

Mr. Peebler served as a member of the Board of Directors of Cure PSP (Foundation for PSP | CBD and Related Brain Diseases.)

“Hope, I’ve come to believe, is as vital to our lives as the very oxygen we breathe. If I were to believe that I couldn’t exert any level of control over my circumstances, I would have already lost the game!”

This article is dedicated to my friends at the John Heinz Institute of Rehabilitation in Wilkes-Barre, PA. They live the twin messages of hope and encouragement every day. Thank You Joanne, Flo, Nicole, Mark and Theresa.

Thank You Brian Carey for writing the beautiful note that got me thinking about encouragement.

Please provide feedback to:
tony.mussari@gmail.com

The John Heinz Institute of Rehabilitation

February 13th, 2017

America at Its Best: The John Heinz Institute of Rehabilitation

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Copyright 2017
Mussari-Loftus Associates
The Face of America Project

Work and live to serve others, to leave the world a little better than you found it and garner for yourself as much peace of mind as you can. This is happiness. David Sarnoff

Actions, Attitudes and Words Matter

When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.Maya Angelou

In 2010, my wife and I began our Face of America project. In phase one, we traveled the length and breadth of the continental United States searching for examples of the Face of America on its best day. We drove more than 30,000 miles. We recorded more than 110 hours of video footage. We took 57,000 digital pictures, and we interviewed 400 people all in the span of about 100 days. During the years that followed, we continued our search for examples of America At Its Best.

In our opinion, the Face of America belongs to people who give service to others by doing acts of kindness that give people hope and a belief that tomorrow can and will be better than today. 

The face of America belongs to people who want to give something of themselves to their country, their community and their world, people who never let adversity define who they are.

As we approach the seventh anniversary of our final project, we found a classic example of America At Its Best at the John Heinz Institute of Rehabilitation just 11 miles from our home.

This word cloud is our attempt to capture the spirit of this very special place and the people who work there.

Thoughtfulness

The classic definition of thoughtfulness is showing consideration for the needs of others.

Thoughtfulness is the hallmark of every person who works at the John Heinz Institute in Wilkes-Barre, PA. Every day, the therapists and members of the staff work with people who are experiencing great challenges. They become a bridge of hope for the patients they serve, their caregivers and family members. That bridge is deeply rooted in thoughtfulness.

An Irish proverb best describes the thoughtfulness one discovers at the John Heinz Institute:

It is in the shelter of each other that people live.

Caring

Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have. Margaret Mead

My wife and I have been in the medical system for several years. We have experienced the challenges that come with a diagnosis heart disease and breast cancer. Recently, I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. All three of these health problems have reinforced a basic fact of life. Before you can completely heal the patient, your actions and words must convince them that you care about them and their situation.

An adaptation of the words of the celebrated author and teacher Leo Buscaglia will accurately put this quality in focus:

At the John Heinz Institute they never underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, because they know all of these qualities have the potential to turn a life around.

Competence

There is no substitute for competence. Ayn Rand

Competence is the ability to do something well.

Mark Twain added an important refinement when he wrote these famous words about competence in his Notebook:

Obscurity and a competence-that is the life that is best worth living.

These thirteen words written by an American genius were designed to highlight two important points. It’s not about fame. It’s about doing your best.

The people who offer their services at the John Heinz Institute are not interested in acclaim. They are interested in positive outcomes for their patients.

Thank you, Flo Kohar for conducting the Video Swallow Test in a competent and caring way.

Compassion

The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others. Albert Schweitzer

Researchers at the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley define compassion as “suffering together.” Compassionate people identify with the suffering of others. They actually feel the pain of the person who is struggling with a medical challenge.

During his tenure, the Chief Executive Officer of the Stony Brook University Hospital in New York, Dr. Steven L. Strongwater, made it very clear that compassionate care is integral to the art of healing.

Toward this end:

Patients and family members are treated with respect;

Healthcare providers communicate and share complete and unbiased information with patients and families in ways that support them and are useful;

Patients and families are encouraged and supported in participating in care and decision-making at the level they choose;

Collaboration among patients, family members, and providers occurs in policy and program development and professional education, as well as the delivery of care.

When it comes to sensitive, warm, loving care, the therapists at the John Heinz Institute meet the Strongwater standard as described by Thomas Merton:

The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another, and all involved in one another.     

Accommodating

…accommodation is a gratifying choice.  Sylvia Boorstein

Accommodating people are eager to help someone with a problem. They do it in a friendly way.

Salvador Minuchin is a respected family therapist. He called accommodation one of the silent songs of life without which life is impossible. Sylvia Boorstein teaches at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, California. She believes that accommodation is a gratifying choice.

According to Dr. Minuchin, the the road to accommodation is paved with tolerance, support, and flexibility. These are fundamental family values. It should come as no surprise that all the members of the John Heinz family go out of their way to accommodate the patients, family members and caregivers who depend upon the services and programs offered at the center.

Thank You, Theresa Yaron for all that you do to accommodate the needs of patients.

Encouraging

Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations. Author Unknown

When I think about encouragement, the image that always comes to mind is the iconic World War II image of Rosie the Riveter flexing her muscles under the slogan “We can do it.” It’s all there.

Epictetus, an ancient philosopher and author of The Art of Living, gave us the essence of encouragement in one sentence:

The key is to keep company only with people who uplift you, whose presence calls forth your best.

He provided an accurate description of the encouraging people who work at the Heinz Institute when he advised his readers with this profound statement:

Don’t explain your philosophy. Embody it.

Life-Changing

I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become. C.G. Jung

The founder of analytical psychology also gave us this insight:

The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed.

Just being in the Heinz Rehabilitation Center is a transformational experience. In my two months of rehab, I have met more heroines and heroes than I have seen in a lifetime. They are young and old, rich and poor. They represent a variety of ethnic and racial backgrounds, but they all have one thing in common. They have hope that they can improve their circumstance.

Working with their therapist, they are determined to give their best effort to overcome the challenges they face. They want to walk again, speak again, and work again. They want to have a normal life again.

There is genuine sense of community in this life-changing place.

Humble

True humility is not thinking less of yourself; it is thinking of yourself less. C.S. Lewis

On September 20, 2013, my wife and I attended a Town Hall Forum at the Medal of Honor Convention in Gettysburg. We were there to produce a documentary about the convention. Approximately 300 attended the Town Hall Forum, and one of the most memorable moments happened when Medal of Honor recipient Sal Giunta was asked why he did what he did and what was going through his mind when he did it.

Giunta surprised everyone in the room with his answer.

I did what I did because everyone else was doing the same thing. There’s no room or time to think about you, because you don’t matter. We matter, and it has nothing to do with you as an individual. I never once led. I always stood side by side to my brothers. My first thought was to my boys….

I will never forget that moment and those words. In my mind, they constitute one of the best definitions of selfless humility and service I have ever heard.

Fast forward three years and two months, and I am watching Sal Giunta’s words play out in a totally different setting. There are no video production crews or journalists. There is room filled with therapists and their patients. Every one of them was doing the same thing. They were standing side by side with their patients, offering encouragement and hope. Their first thought and all the thoughts that followed were about helping their patients.

In the 19th century, Robert Louis Stevenson, gave an excellent insight into the importance of humility:

There are two things that men should never weary of, goodness and humility; we get none too much of them in this rough world among cold, proud people…

If you want to find powerful examples of goodness and humility visit the John Heinz Rehabilitation Center. There are no cold, proud people there.

Heartfelt

The heart is happiest when it beats for others. Author Unknown

A heartfelt person is a sincere person.

John O’Donohue believes that a loving heart awakens the spirit to possibilities and engagement with others.

That’s the spirit I experience every time I enter the John Heinz Institute. To be honest, I try to arrive 15 minutes early for my appointment so I can sit in the waiting area and experience the heartfelt engagement between the patients and their therapists. It is polite, earnest and professional.

Positive

The optimists…tend to believe that defeat is just a temporary setback or a challenge, that its causes are just confined to this one case. Dr. Martin Seligman

Dr. Martin Seligman is the father of Positive Psychology He believes that a pleasant manner is the first step on the road to success. He is founder of the Positive Psychology Center at the University of Pennsylvania. His research uncovered five elements for a happy life: Positive Emotion, Engagement, Positive Relationships, Meaning and Accomplishment /Achievement.

I can honestly say that I experience all of the elements of Dr. Seligman’s PERMA model at the John Heinz Rehabilitation Center.

An adaptation of Dr. Seligman’s words applies to all the therapists at the Heinz Institute and in particular my speech therapist, Joanne Orlando:

They use their strengths and virtues in the service of something much larger than who they are.

Welcoming

Great men show politeness in a particular way; a smile suffices to assure you that you are welcome…as if you were a member of the family. John James Audubon

Thank you, Mark Miller for making the effort to welcome in a polite and friendly way every patient and family member who visits the John Heinz Institute in Wilkes-Barre. Your kind words and actions make the rehabilitation center something that I look forward to every week.

Kindness

Kind actions begin with kind thoughts. Author Unknown

Kindness is a human value that is action-oriented. A kind person wants to help people who are suffering.

Dr. Stephen G. Post is a professor of Preventative Medicine at Stony Brook University. He is the director of the Center for Medical Humanities, Compassionate Care and Bioethics. He is the author of Why Good Things Happen To Good People and The Hidden Gifts of Helping.

When he was asked to provide characteristics that are central to America on its best day, Dr. Post was quick to respond with six qualities: gratitude, hope, joy, compassion, generosity and loving kindness, a concept that is deeply rooted in the Mussar tradition.

I believe the spirit of kindness permeates everything that happens at the Heinz Institute. All of the members of the staff want to help the patients they encounter.

My speech therapist, Joanne Orlando, is always looking for ways to resolve my problem. She reflects the light and the spirit of kindness.

When Mark Twain wrote these words, he provided a great insight into this life-changing value:

Kindness is the language which the deaf can hear and the blind can see.

Pleasant

Garner up pleasant thoughts in your mind, for pleasant thoughts make pleasant lives. John Wilkins, 17th century English clergyman

Thank you, Nicole Pelosi for your warm and friendly greetings when you pass me in the waiting area. Your engaging smile lifts my spirits every time you ask, “How are you doing today?”

If I were an artist painting a portrait of the people who staff the John Heinz Rehabilitation Institute, their faces would radiate vivid images of hope, love, joy, faith, courage, creativity, community, and nobility of purpose.

Thank You

Mark Miller

Theresa Yaron

Joanne Orlando

Flo Kohar

Nicole Pelosi

Thank you to all the men and women who work at the John Heinz Institute of Rehabilitation.

You are America at its very best.

The picture of Rosie the Riveter is part
of the collection at the National Museum
of American History in Washington, D.C.

Please provide feedback to:
tony.mussari@gmail.com

The Most Beautiful Lady in America

January 29th, 2017

The Most Beautiful Lady in America

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Copyright 2017
Mussari-Loftus Associates
The Face of America Project

The main objects of all science, the freedom and happiness of man. . . . [are] the sole objects of all legitimate government.Thomas Jefferson

A Year of Change and Challenge

The news of this contentious day got me thinking about a life-changing experience I had as a teenager many years ago.

The year was 1957. General Dwight David Eisenhower was the 34th president of the United States. He had a larger-than-life persona, an infectious and friendly smile and he was a person of character who appreciated the virtue of humility.

Humility must always be the portion of any man who receives acclaim earned in blood of his followers and sacrifices of his friends. Dwight David Eisenhower

During his first campaign in 1952, I proudly wore my “I like Ike” button.

On the international stage, 1957 was the year the space age began. The USSR launched Sputnik and the first Intercontinental Ballistic Missile.

It was also the year of the Eisenhower Doctrine. The foreign policy pronouncement offered economic and military assistance to any country that was being threatened by armed aggression from another state.

Eisenhower relied on patience and humility. Eisenhower didn’t storm around and demand that everything be done his way. He knew he had to work within a system and lead from within it.Samuel B. Bacharach

Here at home, the Little Rock Nine integrated a high school in Arkansas. A ground breaking television program, Leave it to Beaver, premiered on CBS, and Elvis Presley made a controversial appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. Virtually every teenager in America who had access to a television set watched Elvis sing Hound Dog, Love Me Tender, Heartbreak Hotel, Don’t Be Cruel, Too Much, When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again and Peace In the Valley.

I was one of those enthusiastic fans.

At the same time Elvis was alarming parents, a group of talented actors made West Side Story. It was the talk of Broadway.

The editors of Time Magazine selected Nikita Khrushchev as their “Man of The Year” for his "de-Stalinization" policies.

A Priceless Symbol of Democracy

Speaking of New York, while all this was happening, the Symbol of Liberty Enlightening the World stood majestically in New York Harbor.

For some unknown reason, one my teachers, Sr. Mary Felician, R.S.M., encouraged me to enter the Voice of Democracy speech competition. I respected her, and I decide to write a speech about the Statue of Liberty. Little did I know it at the time, but this would be a transformational experience. I discovered something about an important symbol of democracy, and I discovered something about myself. I enjoyed research, writing and public speaking.

The Essence of America

For me, the Statue of Liberty represents everything that is good, decent, wholesome and caring about the land of my birth.

When President George H.W. Bush wrote these words, he captured the essence this national treasure:

Nearly all Americans have ancestors who braved the oceans-liberty-loving risk takers in search of an ideal-the largest voluntary migrations in recorded history. Across the Pacific, across the Atlantic, they came from every point on the compass-many passing beneath the Statue of Liberty-with fear and vision, with sorrow and adventure, fleeing tyranny or terror, seeking haven, and all seeking hope…Immigration is not just a link to America’s past; it’s also a bridge to America’s future. George H. W. Bush

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg spoke with insight when she shared her thoughts about Lady Liberty:

America is known as a country that welcomes people to its shores. All kinds of people. The image of the Statue of Liberty with Emma Lazarus’ famous poem. She lifts her lamp and welcomes people to the golden shore, where they will not experience prejudice because of the color of their skin, the religious faith that they follow. Ruth Bader Ginsburg

The Poem That Says It All

In 1883 Emma Lazarus wrote a poem to help raise money to subsidize the construction of the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. Lazarus wanted the poem to help people understand the plight of immigrants. The poem ended with these immortal words:

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

This is the entire sonnet.

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
“Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she
With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

The Most Beautiful Lady in America

Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross knows something suffering. In 1969, she wrote the seminal book On Death and Dying:

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

The most beautiful Lady in America, our Statue of Liberty, symbolizes compassion, gentleness, hope, freedom, friendship and a deep loving concern for the suffering of others. That’s the essence of America at its best.

Picture Credits:
The Library of Congress,

Please provide feedback to:
tony.mussari@gmail.com


Words of Wisdom from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

January 15th, 2017

Words of Wisdom from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Copyright 2017
Mussari-Loftus Associates
The Face of America Project

Voice is not just the sound that comes from your throat, but the feelings that come from your words. Jennifer Donnelly  

I was watching a cable news show when I saw my first Word Cloud.  It was a graphic representation of the words used by a very_Word Cloud MLK_FFC_FC prominent politician. To be honest, I had never seen anything like this. I took notes on the image, and then I went straight to my room where I work to do some research on the term Word Cloud.  Then I decided to design my first Word Cloud or Word Text image.

I had been doing research for an article about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and the graphic illustration you see on the right is the final version of that image.  The 20 words are representative of Dr. King’s vision for America.

Below you will find the appropriate quotes that give life and meaning to these words.

God & Faith

Dr. King was a Baptist minister. Every word he spoke and MLK 2everything he did was deeply rooted in his practice of religion.

Use me, God. Show me how to take who I am, who I want to be, and what I can do, and use it for a purpose greater than myself.

Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.

I accept this award today with an abiding faith in America and an audacious faith in the future of mankind. I refuse to accept despair as the final response to the ambiguities of history. I refuse to accept the idea that the "isness" of man’s present nature makes him morally incapable of reaching up for the eternal "oughtness" that forever confronts him. I refuse to accept the idea that man is mere flotsom and jetsom in the river of life, unable to influence the unfolding events which surround him. I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality.

 Brotherhood & Together

On August 28, 1963, I was a recent college graduate. I borrowed a reel-to-reel tape recorder so I could make a personal copy of Dr.MLK 15 King’s transformational “I Have a Dream” speech.

Three times during that speech he made reference to the importance of brotherhood.

Now is the time to lift our nation from the quicksands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood..

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

Three times in one sentence he mentioned the importance of working together:

With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

In another part of the speech used a powerful 3-word sentence to remind the 250,000 people who had assembled on the Mall in Washington, D.C.to work together:   
We cannot walk alone.

Hope, Justice & Love

I don’t know this with certainty, but I think it is fair MLK 11to assume that whenever Dr. King had an opportunity to speak, he used it to teach the basic principles of Hope, Justice and Love. These are a few examples of his marvelous ability to share his thoughts in tightly constructed and memorable admonitions:

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.

Change, Nonviolence & Peace

In my opinion, these three words form the foundation for Dr.MLK 7 King’s vision of America. That is why he was so inspirational to my generation. He was resolute, but caring. He was determined but peaceful and he was realistic, thoughtful  and kind.

Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent.

Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.

Sooner or later all the people of the world will have to discover a way to live together in peace, and thereby transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of brotherhood.

Peace is not merely a distant goal that we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.

Peace is more precious than diamonds or silver or gold.

Character, Consensus & Excellence

Dr. King had very high standards for himself, his family, and MLK 16everyone he was trying to lead. These words of wisdom underline that standard:

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

A genuine leader is not a searcher for consensus but a molder of consensus.

Whatever your life’s work is, do it well. A man should do his job so well that the living, the dead, and the unborn could do it no better.

All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.

Forgiveness, Overcome & Light

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. lived the lessons he learned in the Bible. He understood the humanness of our nature:
MLK 14

We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love. There is some good in the worst of us and some evil in the best of us. When we discover this, we are less prone to hate our enemies.

Forgiveness is not an occasional act; it is a constant attitude.

We must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

Dignity, Service & Quality

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. personified the meaning of Dignity, MLK 1Service and Quality. He never misled his followers. He did not believe in violence, and made no exceptions for it. He celebrated service to others, and he was a high-quality leader.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence.

We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating for whites only.
I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits.

Everybody can be great … because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.

Those who are not looking for happiness are the most likely to find it, because those who are searching forget that the surest way to be happy is to seek happiness for others.

The quality, not the longevity, of one’s live is what is important.

Dream

Dr. King had a dream, and he reached out to all Americans to share that dream with them:
MLK 3

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

No person has the right to rain on your dreams.

I can think of no better way to end this blog than to share the words Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. used when he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. These eloquent and powerful words inspired thousands of young students from my generation, and they continue to inspire us to this day:

I believe that what self-centered men have torn down MLK 5men other-centered can build up. I still believe that one day mankind will bow before the altars of God and be crowned triumphant over war and bloodshed, and nonviolent redemptive good will proclaim the rule of the land. "And the lion and the lamb shall lie down together and every man shall sit under his own vine and fig tree and none shall be afraid." I still believe that We Shall Overcome!

This faith can give us courage to face the uncertainties of the future. It will give our tired feet new strength as we continue our forward stride toward the city of freedom. When our days become dreary with low-hovering clouds and our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, we will know that we are living in the creative turmoil of a genuine civilization struggling to be born.

God Bless Dr. Martin Luther King and his family.

God bless America

This article is dedicated to Congressman John Lewis and all the courageous men and women who have worked tirelessly to guarantee the promise of American equality to everyone.

Picture Credits:
The Library of Congress, The National Archives, The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library

Please provide feedback to:
tony.mussari@gmail.com


A Survival Kit for 2017

January 1st, 2017

A Survival Kit for 2017

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Copyright 2016
Mussari-Loftus Associates
The Face of America Project

The most important thing in life is to learn how to give out love, and to let it come in. Morrie Schwartz

“As we begin the New Year, none of us has to be reminded about the alarming state of affairs in our nation and our world. Those of usall-or-nothing_gmt_fc who are blessed with children and grandchildren worry about their future, their safety and the contentiousness that has become a way of life for so many people who are alienated, frightened and alone.” Those words were written in our blog on January 1, 2016. I think most people would agree that not much has changed in 365 days.

Rather than provide a litany of the negative obstacles we will face in the New Year, Kitch and I decided to focus our attention on some of the positive things we can do to make life more enjoyable. What follows here is a number of insights from people we think will enhance our lives and bring us peace and joy.

Resolve to Be Happy

Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties. Helen Keller

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in its publication picture_aa_5_3_smGulls and Man documents the fact that seagulls are resourceful, inquisitive and intelligent. Seagulls symbolize friendship, freedom, community, cooperation and effective communication.

In his celebrated book, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, Richard Bach wrote these insightful words:

We can lift ourselves out of ignorance, we can find ourselves as creatures of excellence and intelligence and skill.

Every problem has a gift for you in its hands.

If your happiness depends on what someone else does, I guess you do have a problem.

Anton Chekhov gave us this advice in his book The Seagull:

I understand that in our work – doesn’t matter whether it’s acting or writing – what’s important isn’t fame or glamour, none of the things I used to dream about, it’s the ability to endure.

Change Your Habits

Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. Albert Einstein,

These three words provide a roadmap for success. They were applied with great effectiveness by Nick Pokoluk, the author of nick_6340-300x241Scourge of the Ages: Glycation, and Diabetes, Cancer, Heart Disease, Alzheimer’s and Aging.

The American Cancer Society estimates that 1.68 million Americans will be diagnosed with some form of cancer this year.

The majority of all cancers are not inherited. Two out of every three cancers are lifestyle related. We need to spend more time examining and talking about lifestyle and environmental causes of cancer.

According to Nick, the three pillars of health and longevity are: diet, physical activity and mind body attitudes.

If we learn these fundamental principles, and we pay close attention to what we eat, how we exercise and what we put in our mind, we can live a longer, healthier, happier life.

Og Mandino knew a great deal about breaking bad habits. He was a successful speaker and author who was inducted into the National Speakers Association Speaker Hall of Fame.

Good habits are the key to all success. Bad habits are the unlocked door to failure.

Mind Over Matter

When I was a youngster, I often heard these three words. Recently I found a poem that captures the essence of the gift my mother wanted her three children to have:

May Light always surround you;
Hope kindle and rebound you.
speakam_6691-300x194
May your Hurts turn to Healing;
Your Heart embrace Feeling.
May Wounds become Wisdom;
Every Kindness a Prism.

May Laughter infect you;
Your Passion resurrect you.
May Goodness inspire
your Deepest Desires.
Through all that you Reach For,
May your arms Never Tire.

D. Simone

Think Positive

The Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Ellen Goodman helped us to better understand how we can approach the New Year with a positive attitude.

We spend January 1st walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives…not looking for flaws, but for potential.

William Arthur Ward is recognized as one of America’s most inspirational authors. I like to think of him as the father of positive thinking.a-friend-in-need His advice is captured is a special way in this poem:

Another fresh new year is here . . .
To banish worry, doubt, and fear,
To love and laugh and give!

This bright new year is given me
To live each day with zest . . .
To daily grow and try to be
My highest and my best!

I have the opportunity
Once more to right some wrongs,
To pray for peace, to plant a tree,
And sing more joyful songs!

Make Good Choices

In the end, life is about the choices. No one makes it through life with without scars. In 2017, Kitch and I will follow the advice contained in these pearls of wisdom:

Celebrate what you want to see moresky_0428 of. Tom Peters

One resolution I have made, and try always to keep, is this — To rise above the little things. John Burroughs

I am what I am today because of the choices I made yesterday. Stephen R. Covey,

Be always at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let each new year find you a better man. Benjamin Franklin

Hope
Smiles from the threshold of the year to come,
Whispering ‘it will be happier’…
Alfred Tennyson

Peace and Unconditional Love

In 1955, Jill Jackson Miller and Sy Miller wrote a song that became an American classic, Let There Be Peace on Earth. During an interview, Jill Jackson Miller said she wrote the song after she discovered the “the life-saving joy of God’s peace and unconditional love.”

The lyrics of the beautiful song capture those priceless treasures, and they teach us how “to give out love, and to let it come in”:

Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me.
winnie-_0219_a
Let there be peace on earth
The peace that was meant to be.
With God as our Father
Brothers all are we.
Let me walk with my brother
In perfect harmony.

Let peace begin with me
Let this be the moment now.
With every step I take
Let this be my solemn vow.
To take each moment
And live each moment
With peace eternally.
Let there be peace on earth,
And let it begin with me.

(child)
Let there be peace on earth
happy-new-year_0011_sm
And let it begin with me.
Let there be peace on earth
The peace that was meant to be.
With God as our Father
Brothers all are we.
Let me walk with my brother
In perfect harmony.

Let peace begin with me
Let this be the moment now.
With every step I take
Let this be my solemn vow.
To take each moment
And live each moment
In peace eternally.
Let there be peace on earth
And let it begin with me.

We hope 2017 will be a year peace, happiness, love and good health for you and the people you love.

Happy New Year and God Bless America.

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tony.mussari@gmail.com

A Christmas Story About Caring, Comfort and Hope

December 23rd, 2016

Experiencing the Essence of Christmas at the John Heinz Institute of Rehabilitation

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Copyright 2016
Mussari-Loftus Associates
The Face of America Project

Christmas is doing a little something extra for someone. Charles M. Schulz

This picture of the Nativity was taken after a recent visit to the John Heinz Institute of Rehabilitation in Wilkes-Barre, PA.
044_st

My journey to this facility began in January while I was recovering from cataract surgery when I was diagnosed with a stomach virus. The virus persisted for many weeks. It was accompanied by Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

In June, I was diagnosed with dehydration. One month later, my cardiologist found two blocked arteries in my heart.  

In September, I experienced difficulty speaking. In October, my primary care physician was concerned about the problem I was having with slurred speech. He recommended an MRI, and as my speaking problem worsened, he made arrangements for me to see a neurologist and a speech therapist. Shortly after that, my neurologist determined that I had early signs of Parkinson’s disease. I was having great difficulty speaking, and there were other physiological abnormalities.  

In November, I made my first visit to the Heinz Center.

From the moment Kitch and I entered the rehabilitation center, we _-geo-bailey-locgot the feeling that this was a very special place.

As we were about to enter the room, a gentleman stepped backward so we could walk into the room. He greeted us with a pleasant smile and kind words. We did not know it at the time, but he was a therapist named Mark. He is one of about 20 therapists who serve patients every day. He is welcoming, kind and courteous. To this day, whenever we meet Mark, he treats us as if were family.

In my opinion, Mark personifies the advice George Bailey’s father gave to his son in It’s A Wonderful Life:

All you can take with you is that which you’ve given away.

Shortly after our defining moment with Mark, we met Theresa Yaron. She coordinates all of the appointments for patients who visit the045_st center. Her office is a crossroads of sorts for patients, their relatives, therapists, and other professionals who work in this facility. Theresa is the perfect person for the job.  She is pleasant, courteous, and kind. She goes out of her way to accommodate the needs of the patient. She is an excellent conversationalist, and a delightful person to be with.

She has empathy for the patient, because she knows in a very real ways what they are experiencing. At the moment, she is caring for her mother who has a serious heart condition and her mother-in-law who had total knee replacement surgery.

Theresa reflects the light of two of my favorite Christmas quotations:

I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.  Charles Dickens

My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?  Bob Hope

Joanne Orlando is my speech therapist. She has been serving patient needs for 34 years. She is a woman of dignity and class. She creates a welcoming atmosphere for the patient and the caregiver. She cares about her patients, and she attends to all of the little things that make a patient feel comfortable. She is engaging. She explains the procedures in language that is clear and simple. She designs exercises that are realistic, and she helps and encourages the patient in all the ways that matter.

During my second session, she asked me to record ten statements that would be used in our sessions. I decided to list a few aphorisms that have encouraged me throughout my life:  

Whether the job be big or small do it well or not at all (John Ferko);

What this world needs is a new kind of army-the army of the kind (Cleveland Amory);

Hope is stronger than death (A sign at the Shanksville Temporary Memorial);

Impossible is just a degree of difficulty (Coach Herb Brooks);

People fail forward to success (Mary Kay Ash).    

When Joanne read the list, she offered only positive feedback.

Joanne Orlando loves what she does, and it shows in the way she treats people. In thought, deed and action, she reflects the light of these comforting observations:

Whoever has a heart filled with love always has something to give. Pope John XXIII

Christmas is…a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. Charles Dickens

If there is one constant that underlies all of the work that is being done at the John Heinz Institute of Rehabilitation in Wilkes-Barre, PA. it is recorded in these five words:

Miracles in rehab, performed daily.

That happens at this very special place, because the men and women who work here manage to cultivate the essence of Christmas as beautifully expressed by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow every day of the year:

God is not dead, nor doth he sleep!
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men!

Thank You, Mark, Theresa and Joanne.

Thank you to all the men and women who work at the John Heinz Institute of Rehabilitation.

May your Christmas be blessed with joy and your New Year be blessed with peace.

You are America at its very best.

“God bless us, everyone.”

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tony.mussari@gmail.com

 

To Kill A Mockingbird: A Treasury of American Values

December 7th, 2016

7 Characteristics of America at its Best

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Copyright 2016
The Face of America Project
Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD

The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s
conscience.
Harper Lee

Defining What America Is At Its Best

While looking for a quotation that would encourage and inspire a teenager who is going through some rough times, I found these words of wisdom:

You just hold your head high and keep those fists down. No matter what anybody says to you, don’t you let ’em get your goat.

Those words of advice were written by Harper Lee, the author of the American classic To Kill A Mockingbird. Not only did they satisfy my need, they motivated me to look deeper into the treasury of Harper Lee’s work.

To Kill A Mockingbird is a celebrated, Pulitzer Prize-winning book about justice, friendship,mockingbird-graphic3a_fc_perseverance innocence, love, tolerance and transformation. The story takes place in a small Alabama town in the 1930’s. It features a well known attorney Atticus Finch, his two children Scout and her brother Jem, their housekeeper Calpurnia, their neighbor Miss Maudie Atkinson, a recluse Boo Radley and a black man, Tom Robinson, who is falsely accused of raping a poor white girl Mayella Ewell. Atticus accepts the appointment to represent Mr. Robinson, and he uses this opportunity to teach his children and the community the importance equal treatment under the law and compassion for people who are suffering.

In this article we use Harper Lee’s words to identify and explain some of the characteristics of America its best. The words were written more than 56 years ago, and they are as powerful and practical today as they were then.

Courage

courage_sm-_nc

I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin, but you begin anyway and see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do. Atticus Finch

Integrity

“Atticus, you must be wrong."

“How’s that?”integrity_sm_nc

“Well, most folks seem to think they’re right and you’re wrong. . .”

“They’re certainly entitled to think that, and they’re entitled to full respect for their opinions,” said Atticus, “but before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.” Atticus Finch

Love

love_sm_nc

I do my best to love everybody…I’m hard put, sometimes- baby, it’s never an insult to be called what somebody thinks is a bad name. It just shows you how poor that person is, it doesn’t hurt you. Atticus Finch

Modesty

People in their right minds never take pride in their talents. (Miss Maudie Atkinson a neighbor of the Finches)
modesty_sm-nc

As you grow up, always tell the truth, do no harm to others, and don’t think you are the most important being on earth. Rich or poor, you then can look anyone in the eye and say, I’m probably no better than you, but I’m certainly your equal. (Harper Lee 6/7/06 handwritten note to a fan)

Perseverance

perseverance_sm_new_fc

Simply because we were licked a hundred years before we started is no reason
for us not to try to win…

Atticus Finch

Respect

First of all," he said, "if you can learn a respect_sm_nc
simple trick,Scout, you’ll get
along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view–until you climb into his skin and walk around in it. Atticus Finch

Wisdom

wisdom_sm_nc

It’s not necessary to tell all you know. It’s not ladylike — in the second place, folks don’t like to have someone around knowin’ more than they do. It aggravates them. Your not gonna change any of them by talkin’ right, they’ve got to want to learn themselves, and when they don’t want to learn there’s nothing you can do but keep your mouth shut or talk their language.(Calpurnia, the Finches’ housekeeper and a trusted member of the family. She acts as a mother figure to Atticus’ children Jem and Scout)

We are publishing this article on the 75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor as a tribute to the america-at-its-best_3-men_ffc_smmen who died on that tragic day. We must never forget their service and sacrifice. They gave their lives to preserve the values Harper Lee personified in the characters in her wonderful book.

God Bless the soldiers and sailors who gave their lives for America and American values on December 7, 1941, and God Bless America.

Please provide feedback to:

tony.mussari@gmail.com

 

Celebrating Our National Gratitude Day

November 24th, 2016

Thanksgiving 2016

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Copyright 2016
The Face of America Project
Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD  

To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant, to enact gratitude is generous and noble, but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven. Johannes A. Gaertner

Gratitude

While doing research for a speech to the Back Mountain Men’s Ecumenical Club, I came across a PowerPoint presentation Kitch and I flower-typefcdesigned about gratitude. It began with a beautiful picture from our garden. It ended with summary of George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation:

Acknowledge His Providence…

Be grateful for his benefits…

Establish a Day of Thanksgiving
and prayer…

Show our grateful hearts for His
favors and our government.

In 1863, 74 years later, President Abraham Lincoln established Thanksgiving Day as a national holiday. He ended his proclamation with these words:

I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings… they do also fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.

On this, our national day of gratitude, we thought it would be appropriate to share some the highlights from this presentation. We are doing this to offer encouragement and hope during these challenging times.

Gratitude Defined

angels-book

Those in the know define gratitude with one word, Thankfulness.

Angeles Arrien, the author of Living in Gratitude: A Journey That Will Change Your Life, believed that blessings, learnings, mercies, and protections are the four portals to a grateful heart.

She shared this important point with her readers:

The practice of gratitude bestows many benefits, anger, arrogance, and jealousy melt in its embrace. Fear and defensiveness dissolve. Gratitude diminishes barriers to love and evokes happiness.

Gratitude Examples

So what is this emancipating virtue called gratitude? These are some examples.
emma-art-2001

It could be a drawing like the one that came straight from the heart of an elementary school student.

This particular expression of gratitude was tacked on a bulletin board in a classroom in a school just a few blocks from the site of the 911 attack on New York city.

The words and the image speak to gratitude and its power of healing.

Thank you to the policemen and the firemen for trying to rescue the people. Thank you to the rescue dogs. Love Emma.

song_fc

This may surprise you, but gratitude may be a song.

Affectionate Gratitude was written by a Sister of Charity in 1881.

It is preserved in the Library of Congress collection Music for the Nation.

Equally surprising, gratitude can be a boxcar. Yes, you read it correctly.

In 1949, the French government sent a very special gift to the peoplegratitude-boxcar of the United States. It was called the Merci (Gratitude) Train.

It is a unique symbol of gratitude for the $40 million in relief supplies Americans gave to war-torn France and Italy in 1947. The supplies were carried in a 700-car train appropriately named the Friendship Food Train.

Recently, Kitch and I had the opportunity to see one of those Gratitude box cars at Fort Indiantown Gap.

What a moment!

The Virtues of Gratitude

gratitude-quotes

Gratitude is an attitude that is deeply rooted in kindness.

Gratitude permeates every aspect one’s life. One never misses an opportunity be kind and say thank you. Our friend Helene Bigiarelli clearly defined the connection between gratitude and kindness:

To receive kindness and understanding from my neighbors and friends, I have to be kind and understanding to them.

There is a mystical connection between gratitude and joy.

amanda-quote

Amanda Gore, a popular motivational speaker and author, explained that connection with this beautiful thought:

Gratitude is the foundation for joy. That’s the secret! Until you find and live with gratitude and appreciation, you will never find joy.

Gratitude makes us more mindful and it helps to control the most divisive modern-day disease of “Mefulness.”

The celebrated author of Our Town, explained this important insight when he wrote these profound words:

We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures. Thornton Wilder

Gratitude is speaking kindly about someone who is angry with you. When your day revolves around being grateful, it is impossible to be depressed.

Expressing Gratitude

Sometimes the best way to express gratitude is in an old-fashioned, handwritten note to a friend or a loved one.

I was blessed to receive a priceless note this morning:

On this Thanksgiving, we’re facing a big medical challenge, but as with all the others, we hold hands and move through it. The sun will be shining on the other side. I’m by your side, and I thank you on this special day for all your love, kindness, and understanding.
I love you dearly,

Kitch

I can think of no better way to end this article about Thanksgiving than to share a quote from William Arthur Ward:

thank-you-sign

God gave you a gift of 84,600 seconds today. Have you used one of them to say thank you?

We hope your Thanksgiving Day was blessed with peace, love and the joy of community with family and friends. May we all renew the Thanksgiving plea of our greatest American President Abraham Lincoln that our county is blessed with peace, harmony, tranquility, and union.

God bless you for taking the time to read this article, and God bless America.

Please provide feedback to: tony.mussari@gmail.com


Messages of Hope During Difficult Times

November 13th, 2016

Thoughts About Hope That Will Lift Your Spirits

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Copyright 2016
The Face of America Project
Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD  

We have to remain hopeful. Dr. Judith Gardner

What is Hope?

As we approach the end of this tumultuous year, we need messengers with messages of hope.hope-3-aspects-hope

The authors of the Merriam-Webster dictionary tell us there are four aspects of hope:

It’s a feeling of wanting something to happen and thinking that it could happen … a feeling that something good will happen or be true;

It’s the chance that something good will happen;

It’s someone or something that may be able to provide help … someone or something that gives you a reason for hoping.

This is our humble attempt to identify a few of the symbols and words of hope.

Symbols of Hope

The Peace Dove

Wednesday, July 13, was a very difficult day for Kitch and me. We traveled tohope-quote-6-a-fc-color CMC in Scranton for my cardiac catheterization. The results of the test were not good. The cardiologist discovered two blocked arteries in my heart. To make matters worse, in order to fix them, they would have to go through the original graphs from my open heart surgery. The cardiologist told us it was too dangerous to do that. He would try to treat the blockages with medications.

After eight hours in the hospital, we made our way home. Shortly after we arrived, I noticed a beautiful peace dove perched on the railing outside the room where I work. The peace dove is universally recognized as a symbol of hope. The peace dove represents life, hope, renewal and peace.

The Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu wrote these insightful words about peace:

If there is to be peace in the world,peace-dove-sm
There must be peace in the nations.

If there is to be peace in the nations,
There must be peace in the cities.

If there is to be peace in the cities,
There must be peace between neighbors.

If there is to be peace between neighbors,
There must be peace in the home.

If there is to be peace in the home,
There must be peace in the heart.

The peace dove reminds us there can be no peace without hope.

The Monarch Butterfly

The Monarch butterfly is called the "Symbol of Hope.” It also represents change, endurance and life.
butterfly_9911
On Saturday, July 16, Kitch and I saw the first Monarch butterfly of the season. Ironically, it was fluttering around a recently planted butterfly bush in the Garden of Life. I was mesmerized by this scene.

The words of Maya Angelou and an Irish blessing came to mind:

We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.

May the wings of the butterfly kiss the sun
And find your shoulder to light on,
To bring you luck, happiness and riches
Today, tomorrow and beyond.

There can be no luck, happiness and success without hope.

During the difficult moments of change, inconvenience and failure, hope provides a pathway to success.

The Innocence of a Child

On a beautiful August afternoon Kitch and I received a telephone call fromimg_0066-rachel our neighbor Marge Janosik. Her granddaughter was visiting and she wanted to come to the garden to feed the fish. What a pleasant surprise. We obliged, and Rachel’s visit turned out to be one the most memorable moments in the garden.

Rachel is full of life. She has a very pleasant disposition, and she is a good conversationalist. She fed the fish in the Angel Garden, and then she walked along the path to the Garden of Life. Her grandmother joined us, and we took some pictures.

Little did I realize when I snapped this shot of Rachel, the fish in the pond are symbols of hope in the Christian tradition.

Rachel is also a symbol of hope of what our future can be. Eric Hoffer said it another way:

Children are the keys of paradise.

Walt Disney amplified that thought:

Our heritage and ideals, our code and standards – the things we live by and teach our children – are preserved or diminished by how freely we exchange ideas and feelings.

The Beauty of a Rose

While walking in the garden in October, I saw the proverbial last rose ofrose_6149_sm summer. You may be asking yourself how this applies to the symbolism for hope.

The answer is simple and direct.

According to Avia Venefica, in Tarot, the rose is considered a symbol of balance. The beauty of this flower expresses promise, hope, and new beginnings. It is contrasted by thorns symbolizing defense, loss, and thoughtlessness.

When I look at a rose, I am reminded of G. K. Chesterton’s famous observation:

To love means loving the unlovable. To forgive means pardoning the unpardonable. Faith means believing the unbelievable. Hope means hoping when everything seems hopeless.

Another famous thought about hope comes to mind:

Live, then, and be happy, beloved children of my heart, and never forget, that until the day God will deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is contained in these two words, Wait and Hope. Alexandre Dumas

A Classic Example of Hope

Shorty before the end of October, we received a very special gift form our deardenise-with-grandson friend Denise Williams. It was a picture of Denise with her grandson Ryder. The picture lifted our spirits and gave us hope. It reminded me of something the author, psychologist and family counselor Eda J. LeShan wrote:

A new baby is like the beginning of all things wonder, hope a dream of possibilities.

It also reminded me of Cicero’s famous five-word sentence:
While there’s life, there’s hope.

This incredible symbol of hope, a grandmother with her new born grandson in her arms, reaffirms this adaptation of the ancient Persian saying:

Children are the bridge to heaven, because they give us hope and happiness.

A Classic Comment about Hope

Some things leave a lasting impression on your mind and in your heart. They become the fibrous tissue that gets you through the most difficult experiences in life.

During one of our visits to the Flight 93 Memorial in Shanksville, we came upon one of those unforgettable images. It was a simple sketch drawn by a student on a ceramic tile. It had two puffy clouds, a golden cross and five priceless words:sganksville-aphorism_0103

Hope is stronger than death.

These words came straight from a child’s heart. They were designed to ease the pain of everyone who visited the temporary memorial to the heroes of Flight 93.

During the years that followed this discovery, this profound aphorism encouraged us during medical emergencies like cancer and heart disease, failures, disappointments and many other bumps on the road of life.

This saying gives testimony to healing power of hope.

A Final Thought

On Tuesday, November 8, Kitch and I stood in a long line at our polling place the Fellowship Church. For almost two years, Americans had been waiting for this day.hope-romans_color

Although we had to wait in line for more than an hour, it was a very pleasant experience. We had conversations with neighbors, friends and former students.

On the way into the polling place, I saw a mural that captured my attention. It summarized hope in a very special way. It reminded me that whatever the outcome of the election, this was the perfect thought for this day and every day that followed:

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him.

Saint Mother Teresa amplified this thought from Romans with her humble and insightful words:

If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.

Let us all walk forward into the uncharted waters of the future with hope, love, respect and an understanding that we belong to each other.

God bless you for taking the time to read this article, and God bless America.

Please provide feedback to: tony.mussari@gmail.com

 

 

Remembering A World War II Veteran and Hero

November 11th, 2016

Andy Sokol: The Best America Has To Offer

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Copyright 2016
The Face of America Project
Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD  

A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than oneself. Joseph Campbell

Several years ago, Kitch and I produced a Windsor Park story about a veteran who made a permanent mark on our souls. In honor of thisuncle-andy_sm_0347 Veterans Day, we would like to share that story with you.

Andy Sokol was one-of-a-kind, and his kind was pure gold.

This humble, unassuming man was a genuine hero at Normandy and Bastogne where he earned the Bronze Star and seven other medals for courage and valor. Yet Andy did not consider himself to be a hero.

The heroes, according to Andy, were the people who did not come home.

Andy Sokol is representative of the best in every person who ever wore, or will wear, an Army uniform. By honoring Andy, we honor his brothers and sisters who quietly serve our country with courage and honor.

Andy was not rich or famous. He was genuine. He was a humbleuncle-andynot-rich-fc_0347 man. He was an honest man who spoke his mind. He was a thoughtful man who defined friendship in beautiful and meaningful ways.

We first met Andy on a fall afternoon in Windsor Park. He came here to supervise his nephew, Jeff Yedloski, who was helping us clean up the gardens and get the park ready for winter.

We liked him from the first hello. He was happy and smiling when he introduced us to his faithful companion, Bunny.

Bunny came bounding out of the yard to be with his master and you couldn’t help but love him, too.

We learned later that Uncle Andy, as we affectionately called him, had gone back to school at 69 and was the oldest graduate in his class at the Luzerne County Community College.

On a beautiful afternoon, Uncle Andy and his wife, Aunt Faye, came to dinner at the greenhouse with the Yedloski family, and it was then we started to learn about his success as a gardener. He talked about starting his tomatoes from seed and the flowers in his garden.

So it was a no brainer that for the Gardens That Work segment of The New Windsor Park Stories, Andy was the perfect man for the job. He became the Greenhouse Gardener at Windsor Park, and we learned more from our sessions with him than we could from reading a library full of gardening books.

Uncle Andy had the proverbial green thumb but he was also auncle-andya-show-you_sm_0347 teacher extraordinaire. He knew how to show you what to do in a way that gave you the confidence to try it yourself. He demonstrated how to get cuttings from geraniums, root forsythia branches, plant tomato seeds, choose the right potting soil and water correctly.

It was fun to be with him and learn about gardening, philosophy, values, history and a thousand other things.

Andy was a World War II veteran who hadn’t forgotten his days in the service and proudly showed us the contents of his box of memorabilia from those years.

uncle-andy-a-happy-man_sm_0347

He talked with great warmth about his career as a mail carrier in the Back Mountain and his love for the people on his route. He said he would trace the old paths on days when he felt nostalgic.

In 2006, he became ill while working in his garden, and he never recovered from the surgery he had to undergo. During the last four months he tried his best to get better and get back to his real life, but God had other plans for him. We have to accept that, but we can’t help but feel sad that we didn’t have more time with him.

He met the Angel of Resurrection in the shadow of Veterans Day, and he is very much missed…not only him, but his spirit, his enthusiasm, his love of life, his curiosity to learn, his kindness, his loyalty and his honesty.

At least we can say that we knew him, we laughed with him, we learned from him, we admired him and we will never forget him, because his spirit is now a part of our lives.

When Abraham Lincoln wrote these words he was describing Andy Sokol:

uncle-andythank-you_0347

"Honor to the soldier and sailor everywhere, who bravely bears his country’s cause. Honor, also, to the citizen who cares for his brother in the field and serves, as he best can, the same cause."

On this special day we express our gratitude to the 20 million veterans who, like Andy Sokol, represent America at its best. Thank you for your service to America.

Please provide feedback to: tony.mussari@gmail.com


A Unique Experience at an Express Pros Webinar

November 6th, 2016

A Unique Experience of Belonging and Learning at an Express Pros Webinar

Written by Tony Mussari, Sr.
Edited by Kitch Loftus-Mussari
Copyright 2016
The Face of America Project
Mussari-Loftus Associates, LTD

The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say thank you. In between, the leader is a servant. Max de Pree

Destination: Johnson College

Johnson College is one of the premier institutions of learning in northeastern Pennsylvania. It has been serving the need of students since 1912. On this fall morning, Kitch and I drove to thishealth-sience-tech-johnson-college beautiful campus to attend a special “Lunch & Learn” event featuring Atty. Julie Donahue, a member of the Philadelphia law firm Olgetree and Deakins and motivational speaker and author Eric Chester.

This unique learning experience was organized by Amy Clegg and her staff at the Express Pros office in Scranton.

A Roadmap for Change

Attorney Julie Donahue is a soft-spoken, analytical person. She received her undergraduate degree jad_0109from Loyola College in Maryland and her lawdegree with honors from Temple University Beasley School of Law.

According to her colleagues at the Philadelphia law firm Olgetree and Deakins, “she represents employers in a broad spectrum of employment-related matters including matters involving Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Fair Labor Standards Act, the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, as well as many other federal and state employment discrimination laws.”

She also handles matters relating to wrongful discharge, breach of contract and grievance arbitrations.

On this November morning, she informed her audience about the new Department of Labor overtime regulations that will go into effect in December. According to Atty. Donahue, the Department ofad-handout-1 Labor has been broadening the legal rights and protections afforded to workers through its power to administer several statutes.

To help people better understand the complexities of these changes, she provided everyone in the room with a printed copy of her 34 page PowerPoint presentation.

Her presentation was well organized, and she took the time to answer questions and clarify how employers could get prepared for these changes without alienating anyone.

She shared an invaluable a 10 page, 17 point handout that defined all of the new regulations including:

A new Minimum Salary Threshold of $47,476;ad-handout-2
Inclusion of Bonuses and Incentive Pay when
Calculating Salary;
Indexing Every Three Years Starting January 1, 2020;
Total Compensation Requirement for HCE Exemption
Increases to $134,004;
No Changes to Duties Test;
Increasing Salaries to Meet the New Threshold;
Overtime as a Reward;
Updating and Revising Job Descriptions and Job Titles;
Changes in Pay Structures for Employees Converted to Nonexempt;
Job Titles that Now Will Include Both Exempt and
Nonexempt Employees;
Reporting Payroll Errors;
Limitations on Hours Worked;
Adjusting the Worksheet;
Timing;
Who Should Communicate This Information to
Employees;
Individual and Group Communications;
Communications Regarding Timekeeping.

She distributed another 10 page handout entitled “The New Overtime Exemption Regulations Facts and Flowcharts.” It outlined the following:ad-handout-3

Executive Employee Test;
Administrative Employee Test;
Learned Professional Employee Test;
Creative Professional Employee Test;
Computer Professional Employee Test
Highly Compensated Employee Test;
Outside Sales Employee Test.

The handout also included two pages of Definitions and Examples.

Her topic was complicated, but she found a way to make sure everyone in attendance had a better understanding of the many nuances of the new overtime regulations, but she did not stop there. In her thoughtful way, she made sure that everyone had printed materials that would help clarify the issues long after the conference ended.

When John Ruskin wrote these words, he was describing Atty. Julie Donahue:

When love and skill work together, expect a masterpiece.

How to Attract and Retain the Best and The Brightest

“Everyone should ask themselves everyday… “What am I doing today, to make my craft better?” – Eric Chester.

ec-on-fire_0214Eric Chester started his professional career as a teacher and coach. Today he is a celebrated motivational speaker and writer. To help leaders end entitlement and restore pride in the emerging workforce, he founded The Work Ethic Development Center. The centerpiece of this popular work ethic training curriculum is a training and certification program entitled Bring Your A-Game to Work. It is used in schools, universities and workforce centers.

These are a few of the books Eric Chester has written:

Reviving Work Ethic – A Leader’s Guide to Ending Entitlement and Restoring Pride in the Workforce

Employing Generation Why: Understanding, Managing, and Motivating Your New Workforce

Getting Them to Give a Damn: How to Get Your Front Line to Care about Your Bottom Line

On Fire at Work: How Great Companies Ignite Passion in Their People without Burning Them Out.

On this day, he called upon all of these sources to craft a presentation which he titled From Rookie to Superstar. The foundation for his presentation can be found in these three sentences:

Work has degenerated to little more than a four letter word; a necessary evil. It’s no longer viewed as something to be proud of, but rather something to disdain, to shortcut, or to elude all together…It’s time to revive work ethic. – Eric Chester.

Setting the Tone

To set the tone for his remarks and to help people better understand his central thesis, he told a story about Bob Knops a Korean War veteran who worked at Twin City Wire Company for 59 years. Mr.img_0118 Knops never missed a day of work.

Mr. Knops’ accomplishment grew out of his work ethic. He was positive and enthusiastic. He showed up for work on time. He was dressed and prepared properly. He did more than was required of him. He was honest, and he played by the rules. He was pleasant and he gave friendly service.

Several times during his remarks Eric Chester highlighted the seven elements that comprise a positive and productive work ethic:

Being Positive;work-ethic-slide_all_fc

Being Reliable;

Being Professional;

Taking the Initiative;

Showing Respect;

Having Integrity;

Expressing Gratitude.

Instilling those seven attributes into the hearts and minds of the emerging workforce is the key to keeping our companies, and our country, stable and prosperous.

For America’s young employees, work ethic is the key to success, whether they are flipping burgers, roofing houses, checking a patient’s blood pressure, or piloting spacecraft or NASA. -Eric Chester

The Importance of Values in the Workplace

For Eric Chester, the essentials of work ethic are core values not skills, “Therefore we can say that knowing the right thing to do, and then doing it.”

Using a special graphic, he explained how important values are in the workplace.

When employees know what to dovalued_0141
and they don’t do anything, they
are idle and not of much value to
anyone.

When employees don’t know what
to do but they take a chance and do
something that happens to be of
value, they are lucky
.

When an employee knows what to
do and they don’t do it or worse
they do the opposite, they are
cheating.

When an employee knows what to
do and they do it, they have value
to their employer.

Great leaders know how to move their employees up and over to the value quadrant. They show their employees how to end entitlement and how to restore pride in the workforce. Eric Chester

Practical Matters

Eric Chester introduced a very important issue with this question:

What do you expect out of your job?

He used an effective slide to answer the question. It had seven elements:

Atmosphere;special-slide_0145

Compensation;

Career Growth;

Learn More;

Autonomy;

Open Communication;

Acknowledgement.

Then he effectively related these objectives to the seven elements of the work ethic. According to Chester, when both sides’ needs are met, it is called engagement.

He transitioned to another important matter with these questions:

How do your employees evaluate you and how does your company compare against your competitors? These questions reveal one of Eric Chester’s most strongly held beliefs:

The best way to recruit is to offer an unbeatable culture.

best-cultures_0151With that fundamental truth in mind, he shared information he obtained by interviewing the executives of companies who repeatedly earn the designation of the best companies to work for in America. Some of his examples were:

The Container Store, a company that believes that one great employee is worth three mediocre employees;

The Mars Company where everyone including executives clock in every day, and you are rewarded if you clock in early rather than disciplined for being late;

Wegman’s is considered to be one of the best places to work in America. Everyone in the company has an employee growth path to get to the next level;

The Apple Store is one of Eric Chester’s favorite examples. It hires “geniuses” not sales clerks, and its culture is deeply rooted in acknowledgement.

Chester posed another important question: “How do you find the best people?”

At first glance, his suggestion was somewhat unorthodox: “Stop fishing and start hunting;” “Know what you want for each and every position, and what it takes to succeed;” Identify your bestaphorism_0190 employees and hunt their friends;” “Establish relationships with schools that are in your vicinity, and hunt these schools for their best prospects;” “Hunt the military. There are 20 million veterans in the US;” ” Hunt the competition.”

He pulls no punches. He is quick to admit that it takes time and money to get good employees, but you only get out what you put in.

The words of Dale Carnegie best describe Eric Chester and his presentation:

Live an active life among people who are doing worthwhile things, keep eyes and ears and mind and heart open to absorb truth, and then tell of the things you know, as if you know them. The world will listen, for the world loves nothing so much as real life.

Eric Chester relates to people of all ages because he is genuine.

One can best describe the atmosphere of this Express Employment Professionals Webinar event by paraphrasing the words of F. Scott Fitzgerald.

The beauty and meaningfulness of this event is found in the reality that your needs are universal needs. You are not isolated from anyone. You belong.

On this special day we experienced America at its very best, and for this wonderful learning experience we want to thank:

Amy Clegg; Owner, Express Pros, Scranton; amy-team_0221

Nikki Schake, Director of Community Engagement, Express Pros, Scranton;

Brittany Pagnotti, Business Developer, Express Pros, Scranton;

Roseann Martinetti- Career Services, Johnson College;

Jocelyn Irizarry- Director of Recruitment, Express Pros, Scranton;

Kate Fajardo- Staffing Consultant, Express Pros, Scranton;

Lee Yeomans- Director of Operations Express Pros Scranton;

Tracey Pratt- Advancement Specialist, Johnson College;

Jessie- Johnson College photographer;

Richard Jalil- Parking Lot Attendant, Express Pros, Scranton; Associate;

Atty. Julie Donahue;

Eric Chester.

You are the Face of America on its best day, and we are in your debt.

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