What Are You Thinking?

Another year is gone.   What’s running through your head? The satisfaction of accomplishment, or the regret of missed opportunity? Plans for change in the new year, or the comfort of familiar routines? Our GSB 1980 classmates no doubt have much on their minds; here are some end-of-year thoughts from a few them.

Cara and Bryan Bowers: satisfaction through on-going volunteerism

I am getting involved with All in Brooklyn, a group of women here who commit to tithe each year to fund women and children’s charities.  I’m also part of a joint venture between two local groups that will get young children from the projects involved in some basic gardening.  Bryan has been supporting “Play Rugby USA”, which provides coaching and tutoring for young inner-city kids who want to learn rugby.  The team sport helps the young players gain self-confidence and a sense of belonging – and they must achieve a decent GPA to be allowed to play. We have met some terrific kids through Play Rugby!

Joyce Appiah: inspiration from the gift of giving

Earlier this year, I joined the 12-member vestry and also the finance committee of an Episcopalian church I attend in downtown San Jose. While this comes with some responsibilities, I have found great joy and inspiration in being a part of that community. It reminds me of the importance of belonging to a community in which to share our common humanity and our gifts in the same way that participating in Project Redwood has done.
The touchstone at our church is “a place at God’s table for all” – a message of inclusivity. As the New Year begins, may we thank our Creator for our gifts and may we all be inspired to continue our service of sharing those gifts with those who may not be as fortunate. Thank you all!


Kermit Eck: fulfillment from involvement in Project Redwood

A couple years ago when I mentioned to Dick DeMarle that I was bit bored in retirement, his wife Laura suggested that I get more involved with Project Redwood.  In particular, she suggested that I might assist our classmate, Ann McStay who was busy completing two grant applications.  Screwing up my courage, I called Ann, and at one point reminded her that, although we didn’t really know each other at the B-school, I remembered her quite well and she very honestly replied that she didn’t remember me at all.  She then graciously pretended that I was actually helping her as she initiated me into some of the ways of “PRW”.  Even more importantly, she introduced me to an orphanage in Uganda that she had been almost single handedly supporting for a few years.  Three wonderful things came out of this effort.  First (as many of you can imagine), was getting to know Ann,  second was getting involved with the St. Paul and Rose Home for Children in an on-going way, and third was being convinced by Ann to come to the “PRW” day prior to our last reunion.   Although I am still only modestly involved in “PRW”, the connection with “Ann’s orphanage” has brought home to me firsthand the dramatic  amount of good that can be done in the third world with relatively few dollars and a bit of expertise.  My hope for the season is that our many classmates who have really built  “PRW” over these last ten years stop for a moment to  appreciate the impact that they have had.  Best wishes for the holidays.


Gail Schulze: contentment in chaos, and from tackling new challenges

As this crazy year comes to a close, I find myself enjoying the little things way more than normal.  This includes the holidays and my zany and large and all-around family.  Yep, I am the matriarch and almost ready for Medicare, and am treasuring both.  Next year I intend to keep giving back but more actively to the Democratic and progressive issues I care about. I also want to add a more hands-on element to my giving – just approved as mentor to two undocumented Latino high school seniors. Finally plan to keep enjoying my renegade son as he progresses his dream to medical school and neurosurgery.


Donna Allen: happiness from sharing holiday bounty

Dinner parties are our favorite way of celebrating the end of year holidays with friends.  I love setting the table and decorating our home and preparing delicious meals.  In the midst of all of this, however, we also remember those who are not as fortunate as we are, by offering food and financial support to our area food banks so that others can have full stomachs and festive times, too.


Laura Power: the thrill of hope

When it gets to be Thanksgiving time, and I start fiddling with the car radio to find Christmas music, I think of Mr. Naretto. A lot of people I grew up with knew of him because he owned an automobile dealership. Back in the 1960s, in western Pennsylvania, that made him a little bit of a celebrity.

My sisters and I admired him, not for his buicks and chevrolets, but for his voice, a rich and mesmerizing tenor. Its range and timbre were singularly perfect for ‘O Holy Night.’ When he sang that carol every year at our church’s Christmas Eve service, all five Power girls sat still and rapt in their seats, ears and eyes just on Mr. Naretto.

I was a shy little girl, and my regard for Mr. Naretto never found form in an actual exchange of words.   I was too reticent to even say ‘hello.’ But as an adult I’ve thought of him often, and of the lessons that his once-a-year ‘O Holy Night’ left for me.

On the not infrequent occasions when I’m a bit impatient or snappish, I remember from Mr. Naretto that people we don’t necessarily notice do see us, and observe and internalize our examples. Perhaps, I remind myself, a seemingly meaningless incident has a lasting impact on a young and impressionable psyche.

The other thing I learned from Mr. Naretto was, literally, the words to ‘O Holy Night.’ I’m particularly fond of the fifth and sixth lines: “a thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.” I love those lines, and the idea of giving the gift of hope. And it’s that idea, too, that I love in Project Redwood; that through our modest donations and projects we bring the “thrill of hope” to many who wouldn’t otherwise experience it.


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