January 11, 2010

"Follow the Money" live on Oxfam America

The TEM produced short, "Follow the Money", is now live on Oxfam America's front page. The 2 minute call-to-action video showcases animations from leftchannel and still photos from Ed Kashi.

"Standing at the pump, watching the numbers tick away, do you ever wonder where the money goes? You’re not alone: People on the other end of the pipeline are wondering too. While we feel the pinch in our pockets, citizens of oil-producing countries are often not seeing the profits."

Oxfam is asking everyone to take the extra step and get involved by telling Congress to open the books on mining and drilling. You can lobby your local representative by filling out a form letter on Oxfam's site here.

Share with your friends and family, and urge them to get involved as well.

January 7, 2010

Final essay from Strayer University

The Strayer University essays continue. Below, sociology student Windy Clemmons discusses how the film Losing Herbie personally impacted her.

Why can’t I remember you, the one I use to love? How can we help our love one’s remember those special moments and what will happen when they reach the point of no return?

After watching Herbie I immediately felt this sense of despair. What would happen to me if I were diagnosed with Dementia? Could my children handle caring for me each and every day as Herbie’s did? The anxiety struck me beyond belief. I have no affairs in order if I were to become gravely ill or die. This would place such a strain on my three children in so many ways. I have no home that I own, so care taking would have to fall on my children, unlike Herbie’s in home health-aids. I quickly began jotting down all the things I needed to do before anything happened to my health, and putting the plan in motion.

I started thinking about my relationship with my children, my fiancée and my family. Would they really be there for me like they always say they will be if anything happened to me? Herbie and Ruth had been together for 11 years, (a very committed relationship I think), yet when Herbie’s health started deteriorating Ruth made it very clear she wanted no part in caring for him. Ruth would call and casually come by once a week, say hello and away she went. I couldn’t shake the thought that I could be Herbie. Dementia does run in our family, and we just had grandma placed in a home three years ago. Me, the care taker after all these years, living with my son or one of my daughters, and relying on them to care for me. I know my family loves me, but knowing firsthand what it takes to care for someone with this disease I can’t help but question how long they could handle it.

Having Dementia and reaching the point where I would be dependent on family or caretakers for almost everything, brings about many strains such as the financial, emotional, and physical aspects. Having a family and being married makes it even harder. I thought to myself would I be able to pick up on the stress and fatigue my presence and illness was causing? Would I be able to feel guilty for requiring so much time and attention that it took away from my very own grandchildren and where would I end my final days if I became too much on their marriage? If they placed me in a home how often would they visit, and would it slowly lessen as time passed? Would I pass away in a cold empty room alone because my family couldn’t get there in time, or was away for the holiday or a family vacation? I was struck with such emptiness; Herbie was surrounded with family at home. I don’t think anyone wants to die alone, especially me.

Finally it all hit me, love. That’s really what it’s all about. Just like Herbie’s family said they signed up for a sprint and got a marathon, but the important thing was they never quit running. Through the good days and the bad, raising children, working, and marriage they stayed true to their word. I admired the bond Herbie and his daughter had as well as the way the grandchildren interacted with their grandfather.

I have saved this video not just for me but for my family, friends and others in this situation as well. Herbie passed surrounded by love, memories, and respect. He reached the point of no return with open arms and a smile on his face, returned to lost memories and eternal love. Who could ask for anything more? Memories may be lost, but love lives on forever.

- Windy Clemmons

January 5, 2010

Strayer Univ. student connects with "Losing Herbie" film

Tegan Webb, from Professor Abramson's "Intro. to Sociology" class at Strayer University, writes a personal essay on Losing Herbie and her personal experience with caregiving.

When I first saw the title of the video, I knew it was going to be about someone dying. Watching this video hit home for me because I was caretaker for my mother before she died. She died in December 2007 from Lou Gehrig’s Disease/ALS. Losing a loved one is never easy, but taking on the responsibility of caretaker can be even more challenging. After watching the video I would say the three things that struck me the most would be how much of a burden it was for his family, the obligation his daughter felt to be caretaker, and the joy his grandchildren brought him while he was there.

A burden can be referred to as some kind of responsibility or duty to be performed. When the video begins, you can see it in Herbie’s daughter and son-in-law’s faces that the responsibility ahead of them was more than they expected. I remember in the video how Julie Winokur, Herbie’s daughter, stated that it was putting a strain on her family. She was forced to juggle everyone’s needs and demands. Her husband felt neglected, putting a strain on their marriage. The children fel
t neglected, by their mother missing out on important events in their lives. Herbie’s granddaughter was upset with her grandfather, she stated she wished he could “do it himself.” A burden can take an emotional and sometimes physical toll on you. I could see with my mom sometimes how exhausted my father and I would be. You ask yourself how much longer can I endure this, but you keep pressing on, just as the Winokur’s did.

Many of us have th
e benefit of growing up with our parents. They see us through from beginning to end. As we grow older, so do they. At a point in our lives we have to decide what is in our parent’s best interest. Does it become our responsibility to take care of them? Some people would agree that it is; others may think differently. Julie truly believed that taking care of her father, was her obligation. He committed his life to take care of her and she is returning the favor. Whether the decision she and her family made was a good one, she knew as she stated “we’ll see this decision through to the end,” and that’s what she did. I would agree with Julie in this aspect. My mother carried me for nine months and nurtured me until I was able to care for myself. I could only hope that during the time I cared for her, she was proud of me.

In my opinion, children carry such a sweet spirit. Some children’s spirit is disrupted with negligence they receive from their parents or caregivers, abuse, or any other traumatic experience they face. From the video I could tell that the Winokur’s children were not neglected of love. The love that they received from their parents, they expressed and shared with their grandpa. At times when he may have felt alone, or unaware of his surroundings, they were there to support him and remind him who he was. With their hugs, kisses and laughter he would be assured of who he was. The loved he received I believed kept him going. When I lost my mother I was 4 months pregnant with my son. I know if she had the opportunity to have met him, he would have had the same impact on her, as did Herbie’s grandchildren with him.

Dementia does not have a cure. When a family is told that their loved one is diagnosed with this disease, they know they face a long journey. The Winokur’s got to see it first hand everyday all day with her father. I believe even though she was glad for him to be alive, she was probably more relieved when he passed away. Caring for someone with this disease can be a burden on you. But as children we feel an obligation to be there for our parents when they are in need. We can only hope that through this time they get enough love from us or their grandchildren, and it helps to ease them through.
“Losing Herbie” was a very touching video, and made me be more aware of my own father and pray that I won’t have to be in Julie’s place.

- Tegan Webb

January 4, 2010


Happy New Year to all. I'm off today to Phoenix to show a clip of FIRESTORM to the board of the National Association of Emergency Physicians. I'm excited to share the film with such a distinguished body, who we are hoping will help us deploy the film to help address the many problems plaguing our emergency medical care system.

In October I spoke to the board of the NAEMT - the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians. We taped the discussion that followed the screening and I've posted a clip of excerpts from that discussion below.

NAEMT invited us to join them in Washington DC in May for "EMS On the Hill Day" where they will be bringing the issues important to pre-hospital professionals to the attention of national leaders and lawmakers. We're also thrilled to be a part of this effort.

Student reflects "Losing Herbie" film

Losing Herbie helps Strayer University student Shanna Averre realize that she may need to make future plans for her own family. Read Shanna's essay below.

Caring for an aging parent, elderly spouse, domestic partner or close friend presents difficult challenges – especially when a crisis hits and you are suddenly faced with the responsibilities of elder care. According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, the number of “unpaid caregivers” is set to reach 37 million by 2050, an 80 percent increase from the year 2000 (Baldauf, 2007). “Losing Herbie” documents the struggles placed on a family when they decide to become the caregiver to their aging father/grandfather who also suffers from dementia. Three major things that stood out the most to me in viewing this documentary was the emotional conflicts placed on the family, the effect on relationships within the family, and financial aspects the family had to face.

Throughout the entire documentary the first thing that stood out to me was the emotional journey each family member experienced. Starting with the aging father we were immediately shown how bad his dementia was and when asked a question about what town he lived in, he earnestly answered “I surely cannot remember.” I was struck by his disappointment and his unwilling acceptance of not having control over his mind anymore and how absolutely devastating that must be. I forget a name of a song or a thought I want to share and it drives me mad! I admired his daughter and her husband for coming back to New Jersey just to take care of Herbie, her resolve to take care of her dad the way he had taken care of her all her life. Yet she experienced conflicting emotions as she realized the effort involved in trying to run a house, a job, be a wife, a mother, and a full-time care-giver to her father. She experienced overwhelming love for her father but frustration, depression, and guilt as the task sometimes was overwhelming. The husband and children also experienced conflicting emotions, the joy and love that Herbie brought to the family and the resentment from him always having to be the number priority in the house.

The second issue I noticed was the strain put on the various relationships in the house and the importance of having a strong loving family that communicates with each other. The husband and wife mentioned that Herbie had definitely put a strain on their marriage. Getting caught up with all the responsibilities they didn’t have time for each other. The children also expressed some resentment in the fact that when trying to have one of their parents’ attentions it always was short-lived, as something would happen with Herbie that would pull their parents away. The kids, even in their disappointment, knew however, that Herbie did require attention and it wasn’t his fault. The kids have to grow up so fast in dealing with aging, sickness and death. The parents mentioned being scared that one day the kids would not come talk to them about something important thinking that they were too busy with Herbie. However, I also notice that the family seemed to grow closer in sharing the responsibilities of helping and providing love to Herbie.

Lastly, the financial strain the family faced definitely caught my attention as I realized that one day I might be in a situation where my parents need full-time care. Herbie’s family chose to provide home care rather than place him in an elderly home. Caring for someone with dementia is one of the most difficult challenges facing caregivers as people with advanced dementia requires 24-hour surveillance. The Winokur family had to hire two nurses to help care for Herbie. In order to cover the cost they had to sell their father’s home. The cost to place a loved-one in an elderly home or assisted living facility is even greater and is often not even a considerable option for most families.

Watching “Losing Herbie” I realized the importance of having a plan for aging loved ones. It is important to talk to your family members early on while they can be part of the decision process. It is important to talk to your family members about personal goals, housing issues, who they trust to make decisions for them when the time comes, sorting legal documents, discussing healthcare issues, and exploring financial options. The emotional aspects of providing care for an aging loved-one are difficult enough; you shouldn't have to worry about the financial and planning aspects as well. With some foresight, planning and a little help, you can be assured of making your loved-ones last days as comfortable as possible for everyone involved.


Baldauf, Sarah. (2007). 15 Ways to Take Care of Your Elderly Parents. US News and World Reports. Retrieved December 1, 2009, from


- Shanna Averre