What is the Point of Life? author  and poet Michael Levy


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The Goody Two Shoes of 2007 - Inspirational Good Deeds Contest

The inherent nature of natural human beings is one of divine, unselfish devotion towards their fellow human. Everyone that entered is a victor in their own lives on earth and I am encouraged and harkened by them all.

The prize winner of $500.00 is:


Leslie T Wake from Ohio - Guitar Lady

The three runners up are:

Bill Asenjo - Water for Life
Gabriel Constans - The Pied Piper of Rwanda
Marsha Jordan - Angel Hugs

Honorable mention goes to:
Sharon Alsop - Quilts of Valor
Kamala Sarup - My Motherland For Peace
Jessica Kenned - A Dad's Love
Snehal Subhash Thakur. -I took it as a challenge
Ms. Frances Roberts - The Other Mother
Jonathan Lederman - A Man of Inspiration
Eve Hall - Poetry in Motion
Charlene Smith - Untitled
Jerry Silverberg - Stoem
Ellaraine Lockie - An Act of Kindness
Patricia D'Ascoli - Dolly Whitney Loves to Help Others
Nadja Zajdman - Lost and Found
Bonnie Neely - Nelle Burgess
Charlene M. Ashendorf  - I am not worthy
Dusty Reed - Friendly Persuasion
Amberly White - A  Love for Animals 
Dallas Woodburn - Greg Woodburn
Elizabeth Thomas - Play Ball
Paola Fornari - To England's Green and Pleasant Land
Dwayne Pagnotto - A Christmas Carol Revisited
Kelly Matter - Change
Stanice Anderson, - The gift
Mary Brotherton - My Aussie Angel
Danella McCormick - Robyn
CJ Mouser - Absent Minded
Maureen Brown - Little Goody Two Shoes
Ciara Bogdanovic - Not a Stranger
Robin Ehrlichman Woods - They've Got My Back
Marcia L. Sinclair - Someone's Shoes
Morgan Sweere - Caught Being Good
Matthew Sweere - An Upright Man
Sonja Herbert - The Lipstick
Devon Flanagan - My Best Friend
Marketa Henderson - My Father
Carol Dee Meeks - Life, Laughter, and What we Make of our Journey
Michelle Borinstein - Chicken Lady

The Winning Goody Two Shoes Contest Essay

Guitar Lady by Leslie T Wake

It could be any child. Today it's 7 year old Austin. He's huddled beneath his sheets in a makeshift tent wearing a Superman cape over his hospital Bert and Ernie pajamas. He pokes his head out and takes me in with his pales blue eyes, then looks away, making me want to follow his gaze back to before__before he was diagnosed.

"Hey, big guy, want to help me make some music?" The air is thick with nausea and heat as I put down my wicker basket full of kid friendly instruments and my beat up guitar. Austin stays under his tent. I plop down on his bed, lean in close and start peeling an orange. He sits up and takes a piece, sucks the juice then moves the seeds inside his mouth before spitting them out hard with a p'tooey into my hand. He giggles and suddenly the dingy green room feels cozy.

Juice drips down his chin. I teach him simple songs and finger plays and we both laugh as we shake the bells and hokey pokey around his hospital bed. His small hand flies to my tambourine and he shakes it hard against his bony thigh. Circling around the room, we sing, "boom, boom ain't it great to be crazy...boom,boom..."

His oncologist enters, calm and steady, and immediately I feel a pulling in my stomach. I hit the wrong chord and stumble over words. "Shake it faster, Austin shake it harder", and he does, as the sleeve of my lab coat brushes his fragile arms tattooed with delicate blue veins. His doctor reaches into my basket and grabs three bean bags and begins to juggle-badly-making us both laugh. When I gather my things, I see that Austin is focused on something.

"Hey dude, you can have it," and I hand him my tambourine. His breath sweeps over my face as he stands on his bed, spreads his thin arms out and gives me a hug. "Bye bye Guitar Lady." This young super hero is ten times stronger than me.

I stop at the end of the hall. The pervasive dense hospital smell presses against me as I enter room 212. There's sourness buried in these smells. Travis is jaundiced, bloated and bald...and 9 years old. His nurse, her mouth tightened, leans over him with a prepared syringe. "Noooooooo," he yells. His eyes jump with tears and his hands are curled in tight fists.

"Hey, help me play a song, ok?" He's flailing so much that I climb into his bed, and pin him down with my leg. We bump elbows. Gently I take his fingers and close them around the neck of my guitar and help him strum the strings as if it can somehow steady him in his frightening new world that is so sideways and out of balance.

"Ya gotta sing if the spirit says sing...ya gotta sing if the spirit says sing..." His nurse, echoes along unembarrassed by her off key. I look at Travis and nod my head. He smiles, rolls his wet eyes, and briefly forgets about the weight of his disease.

I am the Guitar Lady. This is what I have to give. When I play for them, I feel like I can make their hospital walls throb with life. For a brief moment the kids and I are glued together by our banging and bittersweet sounds. Sometimes they get lost in a song and their illness is no longer central in the room.

Across the hall, a little girl, age 5 lies comatose in a crib. The fluorescent light mutes her delicate, luminous skin. Chelsea's head is shaved so that the shunts can adhere to her fragile scalp. Her eyes are open, but she sees nothing. She's surrounded by family photos and untouched coloring books. I pluck the strings gently - 'hush a bye, don't you cry,..." and watch the slow even movement of her chest and her small out-flung listless arms. Soft, like a whisper, I sing, "twinkle, twinkle, little star." Her monitor blinks like a neon sign. I leave her room, pretending that my voice floats behind like a ribbon through her silent room.

"Hours later, still haunted by her eyes, my phone rings. "We had to call you. Chelsea is singing twinkle, twinkle even though she's not responding to any other stimuli."

My arms broke out in goose-bumps. Then I felt something even weirder. It was as if molecules had shifted inside my body and I felt something inside my heart open up. I wanted to rush back to the hospital, lower the crib bars, and put my head against Chelsea's beating heart. Each time I leave the hospital, pieces of the children stay with me like shrapnel. Their scents and echoes sit beside me in the open spaces of my car as I drive home. I honor the communion we share.


Runners-up

Water for Life by Bill Asenjo, PhD

Willis Miller believes in fate. Near death with a heart attack at age 50, he vowed to spend the rest of his life doing good in the world if he survived.

Now 87, Miller can take satisfaction in the decades of good created through his non-profit organization, Water for Life. Miller spent all the money he saved as a successful water well driller to provide and maintain hundreds of water wells for the poor in Haiti, many of whom walked over 5 miles for a bucket of dirty water. "If you don't have clean water," Miller said, "you don't have anything."

Water for Life provides clean water for over 200,000 people a day in Haiti. Clean water not only improves health, but crop production and living conditions as well.

While recovering from his heart attack, Miller met a man one day who asked him what he did for a living. "I told him I was a water well driller, " Miller said. "This man started telling me about how bad it was in Haiti, how a Haitian mission had a water well that no one could fix."

For the next seven years Miller gave his time and expertise to large organizations such as World Vision and Compassion International. He remembers how the people reacted when he came to drill a well for them. "People just mobbed me and cried," he said.

The large organizations didn't service the wells once they were drilled. "It just didn't work out," Miller said. "I drilled over 40 wells for them, but today none of them are working."

Miller became so frustrated he was ready to return to his home in rural Iowa. But a friend decided he would rent out his farmland and give Miller the money so that he could continue his good works in Haiti. "We started with nothing," Miller said, "but today Water for Life has a budget of over $500,000 and has more than 300 working wells in Haiti." Water for Life trains Haitians to service the wells. A single well provides clean water for about 500 people and 250 livestock.

Water for Life also built two irrigation systems, a church and a primary school in Haiti. Before the irrigations systems were put in, Miller said, crops baked in the sun and yielded little edible food. "They used to get a bushel of corn. Now they get a roomful of corn," Miller said.

Although he retired about 7 years ago, Miller remains involved in the operation of Water for Life from his home in Kalona, Iowa. His son, Leon, now president of Water for Life, spends much of his time in Haiti conducting most of the work, Miller said. "I feel I've accomplished what I set out to do, " he said. Seeing the living conditions in Haiti change dramatically has been one of Miller's greatest rewards.

Miller said, "Mothers would tell me their babies once had worms up to 3 feet long, but not any more." Then he smiled, "That just thrilled my soul."


THE PIED PIPER OF RWANDA by Gabriel Constans

Sylvestre Nzitukuze was a good soldier. He served in the Rwandan National Defense Forces until an inescapable vision tore him away to a new life. "I don't know where or how it came, but I knew I had to leave the army and help the street kids," he exclaims. With permission from the military, he took an honorable discharge and became the pied piper of the street children in Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, a predominantly Catholic country still reeling from the 1994 genocide that left over a million orphans.

"With the help and support of churches and organizations here in Rwanda and in the U.S., we have been able to house, clothe, feed and educate over four hundred children that use to be living and dying in filth, left to fend for themselves in the alleys, gutters and fields of our beautiful country," Sylvestre explains, with a smile that would light up the darkest night.

If there is such a thing as a hero for the abandoned children of the world, Sylvestre fits the bill. Until he received some assistance from a local church, that lets him use a dilapidated large brick warehouse, Sylvestre was bringing child after child into his own home, which now includes his wife Felicite and their 3 children. He helped the kids that nobody seemed to want and often called "street rebels", to get off of drugs and stop prostituting themselves for food. With prayer and a new technique to treat post traumatic distress, he showed them how to heal the nightmares and horrors they have experienced and gave them hope and stability. Sylvestre became the Data (father) that so many youth were missing (through genocide, abandonment or AIDS).

Our first meeting with Sylvestre took place when we descended the steps into the main room of El Shaddai Orphan Center and were met with exuberant children singing and dancing greetings in Kinyarwanda, the national language of Rwanda. Sylvestre stood out with his gigantic grin, big embrace and heartfelt welcome. After the ceremonies were concluded, he took us on a tour of El Shaddai and pointed out what was working and what was needed. Within minutes he had made us feel like it was our home, as much as its residents.

A few days later, Sylvestre took us out into the streets and showed us where kids are still sleeping in the gutters, fields and crumbling abandoned buildings. We saw teens scrounging through decayed meat in a broken-down wheelbarrow, trying to salvage something to eat. Children everywhere came out to talk to their "brother" Sylvestre, who they know by sight. He greeted these barefoot, dirt-covered children with the same familiar hug and warmth that we were treated to on our first meeting. It didn't matter if they were high on sniffing glue, had scabs or wounds on their bodies or would normally rob somebody of everything they had, in order to survive. When they were with Sylvestre and anybody who was with him, they showed their real selves. They didn't ask to be where they are, but circumstances and the cruelty of adults left little choice. Child after child told Sylvestre they just wanted food, clothes, shelter and an education. And the most amazing thing, in light of! their situation, is that they still believe in God and have faith that someday, somehow, they will be remembered and cared for.

Sylvestre and the committed teachers and staff at El Shaddai would love to bring the kids still on the street into their center, but they barely have room as is and their current situation is precarious at best. Even though it is a far cry from living on the streets, the center dormitories are dark, with no windows or ventilation and rows of bunk beds that have 2 to 4 children sleeping on a single mattress, depending on their size and age. There is one bathroom, consisting of two deep holes, in an outhouse in the backyard and the cooking facilities consist of a small brick room with two big pots that are heated with wood. About 150 boys sleep overnight at the center. There is no room for the girls, who stay with church members and any living relatives or friends at night and attend classes at El Shaddai during the day. To top off an already dire situation, the government plans to demolish the entire area and build new dwellings.

The staff at El Shaddai have worked hard to make do with what they have. Sylvestre has developed a large garden on the property, which is growing healthy food for the children to eat and sale; and with the help of the team we were traveling with (which included medical personnel, a minister and educators from various churches and non-profit organizations), they have now connected with local medical and dental care providers who will assist all the children at El Shaddai. There is also a vocational program, designing one-of-a-kind African quilts, that the older children have now begun and possible funding to pay for books and uniforms for the teens at the center to be able to attend secondary school.

Sylvestre Nzitukuze has never wavered from the vision he received when he was in the military. El Shaddai has been given land on which to build and now must find the money to move ahead. Rather than waiting for that to happen and staying home with his wife and three children, Sylvestre continues to spend most of his days (and evenings) at El Shaddai, visiting the kids on the streets and greeting each person as a true child of God, whether they are a sixteen-year-old girl who saw her mother and sisters hacked to death in the genocide or a group of well-dressed adults visiting from America.
ANGEL HUGS by Marsha Jordan

Ever wonder what angels look like? Are they gray-haired women with dangling earrings like Della Reese in the television show? Or do they resemble chubby, winged babies portrayed in paintings? I've never seen a spiritual being, so I can't say for sure, but I have encountered some "earth" angels who are just as beautiful as any heavenly spirit could be.

There's my friend Eileen in Illinois who tirelessly keeps records of hundreds of sick children, sending out weekly updates on their status to a network of volunteers across the country. After working all day and caring for her family, Eileen creates beautiful blankets which raise money for toys sent to homebound children. Eileen may not have wings, but she's an angel in my eyes.

Across the country, on the East coast, a forty-something preschool teacher, Jan, shares the strength and wisdom she gleaned from her battle with cancer. Understanding the terror of facing this disease and the joy of defeating it, Jan helps others wage their own wars. She gathers them under her wings and upholds them, traveling alongside them on their journeys. A gifted graphic artist, Jan also designs web art for sick children. Maybe she's not a real angel, but to those hungering for a listening ear and a hand to hold, Jan is a gift sent from heaven.

In Oklahoma, there's Fred, a quadriplegic who spends many hours each day typing uplifting messages to lighten hearts and restore hope to those weary of life's struggles. It's the tapping of a computer keyboard I hear, but it sounds strangely like the fluttering of angel wings.

Autumn, in Idaho, packs a lot of love into each box of goodies she mails to hospitalized children. She boasts no supernatural powers, but the smiles she provides are nothing short of miraculous.

In Florida, Cathie moderates a chat group which is really a lifeline for weary parents to find encouragement, bask in acceptance and understanding, and make lasting friendships. Though she has no halo, Cathie is an angel to hundreds of chatters who depend upon her technical skills.

In New Jersey, Terresa, a busy mom of two little girls, organizes fundraisers which pay for beanie bears, balloon bouquets, and books for sick kids who look forward to receiving "happy mail."

These heavenly folks are just a few of the 3,500+ members of the Hugs and Hope Club -- a group of the most caring, selfless angels this side of heaven. They are ordinary people, linked by the Internet, who are accomplishing extraordinary things through their combined efforts. The club is seeking more hope-restoring earth angels to join them in spreading love (and a little heaven on earth) to sick kids and their families -- one smile at a time. To become a Hugs and Hope angel, all you need is a caring heart and the desire to share your love. To learn more, visit the Hugs and Hope web site at http://www.hugsandhope.org/.

Email: mikmikl@aol.com




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