November 23, 2009

A Beautiful Reaction from Motherrr's Blog

Barb from Motherrr!’s blog shares:

“I know that when my dad was dying and we were all there holding his hand and talking to him up until the end, my oldest girlfriend and I promised that we’d be there for each other and would hold each other’s hands…not really thinking through the practicality of not both being able to do that!”

She wrote this in reaction to The Sandwich Generation, and her revelation is touching to say the least. Any discussion, reflection, or learning experience brought away from our work is a validation of all the effort spent on it. This paragraph is so heartwarming because it’s moments like these that make us really cherish what’s around us. She concludes her post understanding that time spent with aging parents can be a gift, and that there is an ongoing life lesson in every affair.

Please go to Motherrr!'s blog and read this astonishingly candid blog. The insights that can be found there really are worth the time, if only to remember how important family can be.

November 20, 2009

Purpose Prize 2009 Winner - Connie Siskowski

Memories of caring for her grandfather as a pre-teen - giving him medication, even bathing him - often return to Connie Siskowski. She learned firsthand that managing the well-being of relatives at a young age leaves little time for homework or friends and brings stress no child should experience. Her own background guiding her, Siskowski started an organization in Palm Beach County, Florida, that facilitates support groups in middle schools, offers classes on life skills, and provides other resources to ease some of the responsibility and give young caregivers the chance to be kids.

November 19, 2009

Purpose Prize 2009 Winner - Ann Higdon

Ann Higdon knows the despair of going nowhere. Homeless as a kid, she grew up with no love for learning and little hope. It took just one teacher's kind words to drive Higdon to try harder and finish school. Through the years, she has convened a chorus of professionals to similarly inspire high school dropouts in Dayton, Ohio. Higdon's organization, which includes three charter schools, helps area dropouts earn their diplomas while training for jobs in health care, construction, computer operations, and manufacturing.

November 17, 2009

Purpose Prize 2009 Winner - Marcy Adelman

As some of her friends approached old age, Marcy Adelman worried they would have no place to go without fear of discrimination and loneliness. Through her research, the psychologist appreciated the trials of aging within the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) community. She saw the group was less likely to have children to care for them or senior housing that welcomed them. Adelman and her partner set out to meet the need by providing affordable, LGBT-friendly housing and eventually training service providers to better support LGBT elderly in the San Francisco Bay Area.

November 12, 2009

Voice Your Opinion on Health Care to Harry Reid

Senator Harry Reid is conducting an informal survey about which aspect of health care reform matters most to us. It's critical that we voice our opinions at every opportunity to our elected leaders, so please take a moment to text your response. Just use your cellphone and pick one of these options:

What's the most important aspect of health insurance reform?

TEXT A to 42779 for:
Making sure people with preexisting conditions can get affordable insurance

TEXT B to 42779 for:
Prohibiting insurance companies from dropping people when they get sick

TEXT C to 42779 for:
Creating a public insurance option to lower costs by creating competition

TEXT D to 42779 for:
We should not reform health insurance, status quo is ok by me

TEXT your answer (A,B,C or D) to 42779 (HARRY) to vote

The only caveat is that you'll automatically be registered to receive mobile updates from Reid's campaign in the future (which you can also opt out of).

Purpose Prize 2009 Winner - Henry Liu

Henry Liu turned poison into possibility. The former engineering professor found a way to transform fly ash - a toxic byproduct of burning coal - into bricks that look and function like the old standards made of clay. The innovation not only removes a harmful substance from the environment, but the related manufacturing process requires less energy, is cheaper, and doesn't contribute to air pollution or global warming. Now that the bricks have been licensed for production in 11 countries, the Missouri-based scientist is working to find out a way to move freight more efficiently through underground pipelines.

November 11, 2009

We Honor Our Troops

On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918, the conflict on the Western Front of World War I ceased. Regrettably the celebrations have become more meaningful as the number of conflicts and, inevitably, unnecessary tragedies have grown.

We celebrate our veterans, the work they have done and the bravery they show when they put their lives on the line. But it seems at times we neglect to recognize the struggle they face after their return. Enlistment and service can become a lifelong commitment for those who have suffered the traumas of war.

In 2008, the Discovery Military Channel's website released a video of ours addressing the troubles and triumph of retired Sgt. Juan Arredondo: his recovery after a tragic explosion that resulted in the loss of his left hand and a great deal of his calf muscles. In memory and appreciation of our soldiers, please view this video, pass it along and remind those around you that the perils of war follow our soldiers beyond the battle field.

Purpose Prize 2009 Winner - Judith Broder

As Judith Broder watched a play documenting the mental anguish some veterans experience after coming come from war, something clicked. As a psychiatrist, she knew that without help some soldiers would never get past what they had seen and done. She also understood that a veteran's distress can painfully affect loved ones. Taking action, Broder created an organization that supports free, confidential, unlimited therapy to service members and their families.

November 10, 2009

Purpose Prize 2009 Winner - Timothy Will

Tim Will saw that his adopted community - chosen for its stunning beauty - was decaying. Manufacturing jobs, the Appalachian county's economic base, had moved elsewhere, and the area lacked the infrastructure to support new business in a technology-driven world. So Will used his telecommunications background to connect the North Carolina county's agrarian past to a digitally supported future. After getting the rural area wired (no small feat), he linked local farmers and chefs in the nearest big city through an online ordering system, bringing laid-off factory workers back to farming and lifting the area's economy.

November 6, 2009

Purpose Prize 2009 Winner - Don Coyhis

Don Coyhis felt emptiness in sobriety. He found himself going through the motions at support group meetings, disconnected from the reasons why he shouldn't drink. Searching for understanding, he turned to his Native American roots. During a five-day fast in the Colorado mountains, Coyhis saw a white bison rise from the ground - to him, a sign that his recovery would be incomplete without his culture. Coyhis founded a nonprofit offering native-focused recovery resources to communities across the country, and in turn, launched a movement called Wellbriety.

November 4, 2009

Purpose Prize 2009 Winner - Duncan Campbell

One night when Duncan Campbell was 3, he went looking for his parents. Police found the couple at a bar. Through boyhood and adolescence, Campbell felt he was raising himself. Somehow, he fought against his disadvantages and eventually established a successful investment firm. Now, he's investing in children. His national organization looks for kids "who have accumulated the most heartache and trouble," promising them a caring adult in their lives from age 5 or 6 until they approach adulthood themselves. The mentors are paid professionals, not volunteers, helping to ensure quality, consistency, and commitment.

November 3, 2009

Purpose Prize 2009 Winners - Stephen & Elizabeth Alderman

The death of their son on 9/11 brought Elizabeth and Stephen Alderman merciless grief. Soon afterward, they learned in a news report that a billion people around the world had experienced severe trauma. The Aldermans could relate. They understand: Suffering is suffering. To honor their son and to treat living victims of trauma and terrorism, they created a globally focused foundation that helps create homegrown mental health systems chiefly in Africa, where violence of all kinds - rape, war, kidnapping, the unspeakable - has desecrated communities.

November 2, 2009

Purpose Prize 2009 Winner - James Smallwood

This weekend the San Francisco non-profit organization Civic Ventures held their annual Encore Careers Summit, where they introduced to a very large crowd the winners of the 2009 Purpose Prize. Talking Eyes Media produced a short video for each of the winners, traveling all over the United States this fall to meet and film the recipients. Along the way we met many wonderful people doing amazing things with their second or third (or fourth!) careers.

In honor of the Summit, we'll be posting a video a day to our blog, so that you can get to know the winners a little better. If you want to see all the videos right now, head over to our website where we have a special page devoted to the Purpose Prize winners. To read more in depth information on each winner head over to We'll start off today with the first winner we filmed, James Smallwood from Camden, NJ.


James Smallwood was homeless, drug-addicted, and bug-infested. Knowing he might die on the streets, he got himself into a rehabilitation center and promised God that he if got clean, he would help others. Smallwood beat his cocaine dependency and is now fulfilling his vow through a nonprofit he created to serve ex-convicts, drug addicts, and the homeless in Philadelphia and Camden, New Jersey. The organization trains program participants for work in the construction trades, while helping them with reading, math, and job-hunting skills. and Huffington Post on "Denied"

More responses are coming in to our short film Denied that published last week. picked up the story, commenting "It manages to expose just about every fallacy the enemies of reform like to spread, from supposed safety nets to the horrors of socialized medicine."

Also included in their post is an introduction to Army of Women, a group who "aims to eradicate breast cancer by changing the face of breast cancer research."

Sheila's story was brought to an even wider audience after The Huffington Post published a summary of the film and posted the video on their site. Check it out and leave a comment.