Archive for July, 2009

Staging A Miracle – Week 3!

We are now in week 3 of 5 for Staging A Miracle.  It’s amazing how far we have come, and incredible to see the different pieces of the workshops now weaving together.  Each rehearsal I find myself having a magical moment of some type.  Last week it was watching a group of younger children, ages 6 to 10, gather around their music teacher singing their hearts out to the Creedence Clearwater Revival song “Have You Ever Seen the Rain” to the lyrics customized for the show. 

Tonight, my moment was helping Rydell, an autistic 13yr old in the program who is participating with his younger sister.  Rydell is such a sweet kid.  I haven’t had many interactions with him yet, but there has been enough that he gives me a big hug when he says hello and good-bye.  This evening was our first rehearsal where we merged most of the kids together.  Picture 40+ kids ranging in age from 6 to 17 singing, dancing and teaching them the choreography to make all their actions look cohesive.  It was loud.  It was chaotic.  There was lots of movement.  I saw Rydell sitting in the back of the room by himself.  I joined him, to make sure he was ok.  He did great for a while, then it was clear he was overstimulated.  He shared a few methods with us to help calm him down, then eventually went for a walk (picking up three other adults he invited to join us), and we all walked around the church with him while he told a story.

Having an instant connection with kids has never been my thing (it’s really my brother’s gift), but as I am spending more time with these kids, with such various backgrounds, we still find a way to all have fun through this program together.  Although I won’t complain when I have my Tuesday/Thursday evenings and Saturday afternoon back, I am still looking forward to each performance and the miraculous moments we will experience!

July 21, 2009 at 10:24 pm 1 comment

Feelin’ Furlough Friday

Today I felt the pains of Furlough Friday for the first time.  No, Eric is not furloughed (yet), but many state employees, including the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) large offices near my office, are now furloughed 3 Fridays per month.

Since I was riding my bike to a breakfast meeting downtown before continuing to work, I didn’t brown bag my lunch figuring I would just stop by the little bagel deli (note: sign on the building is titled “Bagles”, yes, they are spelling challenged) around the corner that my colleagues frequent and get one of their delicious salads or sandwiches.   Today for lunch, in the 100+ degree heat, I walked over to the bagel shop and noticed they were closed.  After studying their sign closely and confirming they should be open, my colleague and I concluded it must be due to Furlough Friday.  Sigh.  No worries, I’ll try the new Teriyaki joint one block over.  No dice.  Lights out, locked doors.   The owner of the dry cleaners next door told me it was due to Furlough Friday. 

As I stared at the Taco Bell contemplating if I wanted to be spending quality time with the porcelain god this afternoon, I noticed a little Mexican restaurant, Los Jarritos, one more block away…please…be open and delicious.  Thank you Los Jarritos!  Not only did I have a delicious enchilada, taco, beans and rice for lunch, it was only $5.43!  What a deal. 

Although the struggles  furloughed employees have (14% paycut) are much greater than mine, in a very minor and peripheral way, I shared their pain today.  Oh California, what will we do…

July 17, 2009 at 5:35 pm 1 comment

Are You Ready for A Miracle?

staging_a_miracle_LO_FFFor the past five months I have been volunteering with a wonderful team of people planning, preparing and doing lots of praying for a program called Staging A Miracle.  (Click here to see a video of the inaugural performance from last year).  This is a five week summer arts theater program, primarily for families in the Sacramento community who are transitioning out of homelessness.  It’s of no cost to them, and an opportunity for grade school children to receive quality arts programming three times a week, culminating with a performance of their musical on Saturday, August 8th as part of the Sacramento Second Saturday Art Walk.   These kids will not only perform in the play, but their art will become the backdrop, their words will become the script, and their voices will be the music. 

While the children are in different workshops with practicing artists learning to paint, dance, sing, act and write, we provide childcare for the babies and other arts-related classes for the preschoolers and the parents.  It truly is a summer arts program for the whole family.  

In the months leading up to tonight, we already witnessed a few miracles.  One of the key aspects to this program is the provision of transportation.  Many of these families don’t have reliable transportation, or the funds for additional trips.  Months ago we thought we had secured donated vans to transport the families (100 participants in total!) to and from the church for each rehearsal.  3 weeks ago the van deal fell through….that same day, we received a generous grant (in this challenging economy) which has enabled us to pay for alternative transportation.  Such a blessing!

Tonight was the first night of this summer’s Staging A Miracle program.  It was electrifying to see the church transform into a center for children in the arts, bringing participants and volunteers from all walks of life together to be creative and have fun!  It seemed as though everywhere I turned there were smiling faces.  What began as a crazy idea from some amazing people at First United Methodist Church in Sacramento, has grown into a community of love, support, and hope for the future.  I’m so grateful and excited to be part of this program, I can’t wait for our next gathering on Thursday!

July 7, 2009 at 10:19 pm 1 comment