Sunday, September 8, 2013

Falling into the Arts

Lately I have found myself positively smitten with art pieces.  If you had asked me a month ago whether I was an art person or a music person (because in my tiny world, you can only be one or the other) I would have said music; hands down.

That was until I discovered this little beauty...

This painting is actually super tiny at only 4"x6".  But boy oh boy did I find it beautiful. I scored this tiny gem on a bidding website called Listia, which I discovered just a few short months ago.  

Needless to say, this spurred a love for art that I previously had not enjoyed!  Since my little discovery, I have taken the time to explore my artistic side (as limited as it may be) and have had the great pleasure of viewing the art of other amazing people. I've viewed things from old school artists such as Giovanni Boldini and Scott Naismith to more modern artists like Sarah Bliss Rasul.

With this new passion came an amazing opportunity.  This weekend I had the immense pleasure of participating in the Kennett, MO Fall into Arts Festival.  At the festival, I was able to represent the American Red Cross and teach Citizens CPR (aka Hands-Only CPR) and recruit volunteers, all while promoting our Holiday Cards for Heroes program!  Not only did I get to view amazing artists and their work, I got to watch people young and old create art right before my own eyes; and for a good cause none-the-less.

Here's how the program works:
Volunteers and members ask everyone we can get to stand still for a moment to sign or create a holiday card for our Veterans and Soldiers overseas. We then take these cards and distribute them to other locations where they do the same.  When the holidays come, we then distribute these handmade/signed cards to our Soldiers/Veterans as a Thank You for the services they gave and continue to give to our country.  It's such a wonderful and thoughtful program that I am sooooo pleased to be a part of.

Take a look at some of the work our artists did this weekend:

Want to find out how you can get involved with the American Red Cross?  Check us out on the web at or

Sunday, September 1, 2013

ONE Red Cross

Whew, these last few weeks have flown by!  It's been the run of a lifetime :)  I've had the immense pleasure of meeting even more like-minded people and sharing ideas with them on how to reach out to our communities.

Let's recap:

Meet Jamie!

This awesome lady has been such a support to me in making things happen.  Always there with positive reinforcement, Jamie is a wealth of knowledge :)

Jamie has been there to teach me all about our Disaster Action Team, and the need for strong volunteers throughout the state. We have spent hours riding around together, brainstorming and analyzing the best way to get our communities involved.  Like the other members and volunteers, Jamie is integral to making the ARC in our chapter run smoothly.


What a great time I had at our All Staff meeting! I won't lie, the first day I was a little lost as we went over the restructuring of our great foundation, but I picked right up when we started discussing how to improve our system and set goals.

As you can see, they were very intuitive when setting up our meetings. Each of us got a little bag of goodies filled with things we could tinker with while we learned.  During the meeting, we were given a little life-lesson on humility.

Debbie, another integral part of our organization, cried as she told us about a disaster she responded to a little while back.  (Forgive me if I don't get the details exactly right)

Debbie said was working a grey sky disaster with a few volunteers. Each of them were beginning to get impatient with the people they were serving and were becoming less and less passionate about the work they were sent there to do.  Upon seeing their change in attitude, Debbie asked each of them how long they had been working this disaster.  Less than 7 days for each of them.  She took a moment to check herself and then directed her volunteers to a board.  The board listed the number of days since the disaster.  83 was the number.  83 days these people were dealing with their life in an uproar... Wondering where they were going to eat and how they would keep themselves clothed.  Trying to figure out where they would find shelter and get the basic needs that each of us, as humans, need and deserve.

Debbie reminded us that the people we serve are going thru so much more than we can fathom. And if we just took a moment to walk in their shoes, we may finally understand what it is that we were sent here to do.  

After her touching story, she showed us this video.  Get your tissues ready...

And now that you've made it thru that tear jerker, I'll share with you what I got to do yesterday!

Yesterday was Annah's sons 3rd birthday party!  Annah has been there for me from day one with the ARC and continues to be a bright spot in my life; her son is no exception.  Happy birthday Jaxon!
Jaxon: the little drummer boy

Annah concentrating reaalllyyy hard on getting a picture of little man and his drums :)

Present time!

I hope you all have had as much fun as I have had taking a walk thru my life with the American Red Cross.  I'm learning and growing every day!

What kind of experiences have you had helping people?  Are you involved in a non-for-profit organization like the ARC?

I hope you all have a fantastic Labor Day!

Oh, and btw: how awesome is this ARC pic that I snagged off of Google?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

One week down, 51 more to go

It's hard to believe that it's already been a whole week since my first day at the ARC. It's encouraging to be greeted by so many people who share your compassion and excitement for humanity.

Today I'm going to show you my office!  (Can I get a Woot! Woot!)

Check out my super snazzy desk!  It's used and older, but perfect for what I need!   Can I be honest and say that I am actually psyched to see that there wasn't a ton of expense here?  Somehow knowing that we don't have exquisite office furniture makes me feel better.  I guess it just goes to show that the Red Cross uses its' resources wisely :)  Why have a new fancy desk when an old beater will do? 

Hello Mr. Awesome welcome sign!  Your purty sticky hand was just what I needed to feel at home hehe. And did anyone else notice my 3 exclamation points?  That means they REALLY ARE excited to have me on board! Or at least that's what I'm going to tell myself.  I wonder why my sticky hand is leaving a trail on my welcome sign tho?  Add that to the list of things to ponder on a rainy day.

This beauty was something I picked up at the Thrift Store just last week.  I found it very fitting as my first desk decoration, and am quite pleased that I only had to spend $2 for such a great piece.  

(Note:  The opinions stated above are strictly from my own observations and are not intended to be the opinion of the Red Cross...however, I will say that it would be awesome if I was right ;) 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

8.7.13 The Beginning

Today is the day.  The day I get to start making a difference.  For the next 365 days, I have been charged with a very real task... being a member of the American Red Cross via Americorps.  It will be my duty to teach, recruit and be a part of an organization who's purpose depends on the individual, but is so much greater than any single person could be.

My first impression...
Let me tell you about my interview. Wow.  I don't think I've ever been so nervous for anything in my life!  For those of you who know me, you know that I tend to be calm and prepared for high-stress situations like an interview...but this one was different.  It mattered.

I remember walking in the door of the ARC and being met by a lovely lady named Annah.  She greeted me with a smile and a handshake and led me into 'the interview room'.  From there I was introduced to Luke and Angie, who were to be assisting Annah in interviewing me.  (3 Interviewers?! Yikes!).  It started out with the normal interview questions, but quickly made a transition into my favorite part of the interview.  'Why'... I was given the opportunity to explain why being a part of this was so important to me.  And I could see that, as I was speaking, these people really wanted to know my answer.  I was no longer just some woman interviewing for a job...I was Kara and I was telling these three strangers stories from my life.  The things that I believe make up 'me'.  The crazy thing is that they were listening!  Not that polite, because-we-have-to kind of listening, but the I-really-want-to-know kind.  It struck me at that moment that I was not the only one in that room who wanted to 'be more' for people.  What I so desperately wanted was reflected in the eyes of my interviewers.

When I walked out of the ARC that day, I knew one thing for certain...I wanted to be a part of the American Red Cross.  And one way or another, it was going to happen.

Luckily for me, I got a call not long after.  I had Angie, Annah and Luke all on the phone asking me(!) to be a part of the ARC.  I won't lie, I cried, lol.  At one point, I heard Annah say 'so is that a Yes?'. And so it came to be that I, Kara P, am a member of Americorp and the American Red Cross.

Day 1...
Finally, we have made it to day 1!  What a fabulous day!  I can just hear you now 'Who is this crazy person, excited about orientation?'.  *Points at self* oh yeah, that's this lady (lol).  And I wasn't the only one...

Seriously, it was great.  We learned so much about the founding of the Red Cross, and what changes have brought us to where we are today.  We learned about the overwhelming need for disaster relief and blood.  We learned about each other and we even got to watch powerpoint presentations (eeek can't you just hear my squeals of joy?!)

All I can say is that I can't wait to see what this next year has in store for us.  Today is a new day with a new purpose, and I am overwhelmed by the possibilities.