Charlotte Byndas

Inspiring Success in Many


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Vandals, Opportunity and Solutions

This summer something great happened in Detroit, the SPLASH PAD at Palmer Park opened. It is a great story that started when vandals (scrapers) stole the plumbing from the pool closing it for good. But as interesting stories go this was only the first chapter.

PalmerParkSplash

Chapter One: Vandals steal the plumbing closing the pool
Chapter Two: Palmer Park is neglected and ignored
Chapter Three: The People for Palmer Park, 501c3 is formed to take care of the park
Chapter Four: Everyday heroes (citizen volunteers) clean, rake, mow, repair fences, start baseball teams, run events, classes, BBQ’s to rally the community around Palmer Park. Many think the volunteers are fighting a losing battle and that saving the park is too big a problem to solve, but others see the promise and the park starts to turn around.
Chapter Five: The LEAR corporation decides to support Detroit families by supporting Detroit parks with a large financial donation.
Chapter Six: Palmer Park is chosen and the opportunity to solve the pool problem becomes the Splash Pad. The Splash Pad, turns on remotely, it can be used by young and old alike and it does not require the upkeep and staff that a pool requires. A great solution that gives families a place to gather and kids a safe place to play.

This is only one of hundreds of stories happening in Detroit. Too many are started by criminals. But many have positive endings due to the efforts of everyday people who care enough (are crazy enough) to cut that first path of grass or pick up that first bag of trash. It is reported that over 30% of the current residents of Detroit are children each one deserves a safe places to play.

Bravo to the LEAR corporation for taking action and being a part of a creative solution. Props to the People of Palmer Park for meeting the need and loving and supporting the community by showing the park some tender loving care. Without you the SPLASH PAD would have never happened. Small acts lead to bigger and better things.

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The Cough Drop Lady

Food Prep

Food Prep for PBJ Outreach 6am

About a year ago I was invited to help out with an Eagle Project. The task at hand, clothing distribution at a lot in Downtown Detroit, would begin my first year of service at PBJ Outreach.

Every Saturday for 11 years this group of volunteers deliver food, clothing and human dignity to anyone that shows up at barren lot in the Case Corridor of Detroit. To participate is to experience the best and worst of the human experience. This is true of the people on both sides of the “table”. The table and the “take line” require a bit of explanation. As the group arrives there are 2-300 people waiting in line. Like a well choreographed play, a half-dozen pick up trucks arrive at the lot. Tables are unloaded and set in neat and tidy rows, posts are pounded into the ground and a line similar to what you find at Disney is set up. Organization is created.

For an hour the world stops and the lot becomes a welcoming, warm place. The affluent from the suburbs mix and mingle with those that call the streets of the city their home. Food, clothing, smiles, hugs, conversation, and eye contact is exchanged.

To share in this experience once is moving. Returning for most Saturdays over a year the experience has enriched my life in ways I would never of imagined. The lessons have come in so many forms.

My role with PBJ would not be behind the comfort of a table, but instead out on the lot interacting. Handing out cough drops would be my conversation starter. As I walked the line, week after week, handing out cough drops and Kleenex,  my lessons began.

The first came in the form of the cough drop pocket. It is hard to take a cough drop when you have several bags in your hand. But where do you really want your cough drops? The front pocket of your coat ,right? So it started, each chance I got I asked “can I slide a few cough drops and Kleenex in your pocket for later? ” I can not put words to the reaction this simple gesture received, many could not believe I would be willing to reach over open the flap to their pocket to drop in a cough drop or two.   First lesson received. The willingness to do something as small as sliding a cough drop in someone’s pocket can make their day, never underestimate the power of small acts of kindness.

The next lesson… kindness like water will flow into all cracks. Building trust and rapport takes time and effort on the “lot”. I knew I had become a regular when the guys in line started to call me the “cough drop lady”, a title I am quite proud of. Many in the line started to ask for more than their share of cough drops. My first reaction was to resist, but instead I reached back into my stash and gave them a second handful along with a request. I asked that they take the extra andthat find someone I had not met and share one. What I never expected is that I would actually start to hear the stories of where the cough drops would end up. Week after week I would be brought the stories. A cough drop given to a buddy at the Veterans hospital that was not doing so well. On another occasion, a cough drop taken home to a sick wife that had been in bed for week. With no prompting the stories came back of where those cough drops had gone. BTW, I learned that a cough drop in a cup of hot tea is nice. A group of the guys use them this way when they hit a food kitchen at night for a hot meal. No matter how bad our situation gets, most of us have the desire to help each other out and share what we have.

The most important lesson has been how strong faith is on the lot. The demographic of the group are depressing, a third are addicted to something, a third suffering from mental illness, and the last third have slipped into a series of negative circumstances. In spite of any or all of this, there is a great eagerness to share in prayer, extend well wishes, and connect on a personally uplifting level.
I read the paper, listen to the news, ect. I know there are many reasons to not get up and go on a Saturday morning.

Blessed am I for pushing through the fear and reservation and sharing in the PBJ experience.
Want to join me on Saturday morning? Find out more at www.facebook.com/PBJOutreach


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www.breastcancersucks.com

Yesterday was filled with news of Steve Jobs and his surprise announcement that he was stepping down from his position. As the reaction hit the social media circles I found myself drawn to the video clips of Steve Jobs speeches. The one that really hit hard for was his commencement speech to the graduating class at Stanford. It really is a must watch for everyone.

I had two immediate reactions to watching the video. First that cancer really does suck and that it does not matter how famous, rich, or connected you are, cancer can get to anyone. Second that life is brief and that we are called to use our lives in positive ways.

The stories of famous people who are  fighters,  like Steve Jobs,  that fight valiant battles and share the details with the public  help shine  light on the disease and the devastating effect it has on families.  My  hope is that this attention aids in the fundraising efforts that fund the research efforts to find a cure for cancer.  At the same time I can’t help thinking about the ordinary people who also fight this battle.

Years ago I had the opportunity to partner with an entrepreneur (Lorie Brady) who had survived several battles with cancer. She has quite the story. How many of us could imagine dealing with cancer once, but could you imagine three or four times? This is Lorie’s story.   It  was impossible to work with Lorie and not be inspired like Steve Jobs  positive energy follows her everywhere she goes.  Matter of fact if you had not been told you would never know that she carried the burden of cancer on her shoulders.  She was one of the most upbeat, giving, supportive  people I have ever had the pleasure of working with.

Lorie writes about her journey with cancer at www.breastcancersucks.com

I am inspired by the  stories and grateful that both Steve and Lorie have had the courage to share them.


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Great Men Walk Amongst Us

It is a sad Monday for Scouters  all across the country who have awakened to the news that Assistant Scout Master (ASM)  Arthur Anderson was killed over the weekend while leading a crew of boy scouts on a hike.   This terrible event is magnified by the fact that Mr. Anderson was killed in a random act of violence by a young man, just a few years older than the boys out on this hike.    No one could have been prepared for an event like this, not even a boy scout leader.

Mr. Anderson was doing what he loved, leading scouts on an adventure.   In his 50 years of service to the Boy Scouts  he is sure to have led hundreds of hikes just like this one.  Hikes that were filled with laughter,  discovery, knowledge sharing and skill development.   Who in their wildest imagination could have predicted that the day would turn out as it did?

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/44224604/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/?GT1=43001#.TlJpZV2Bpu5

Thing is we never know what will happen next in our lives.    As the community gathers to mourn the loss of  ASM Arthur Anderson I would imagine everyone will be reflecting on a life “lived well”.  Will no doubt be a fitting tribute to the great man that he was, an everyday hero whose service probably went without fanfare or attention until now.  It often takes a tragedy to shine the light on the good that goes on in our own backyards.

We all  have the same opportunity to play a role in our community.  Question is how many of us will rise to the challenge and take that job?  How many of us will dedicate the time and resources needed to give back to our communities? There is always a good reason not too.

Is refreshing  to have the opportunity to  interview  professionals  looking to make a job change and hear that they are looking for a role that will allow them greater flexibility to serve the community.  Their stories (passion) are all different it may be scouting, church,  youth soccer, the “Y”, or feeding the needy but they have put an importance on the role they play in the community.   It is what I believe is the growing trend toward LIFE/work balance.

This is the  “kick in the ass”  kind of  event for me helping me  stay focused on what is most important in  life;  faith, family, friends, community and finally my job.   In sharing this story I hope it does the same for you.  Join me in praying for Arthur Anderson’s family and the community of boy scouts that were blessed to know him.


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Dedicated to the great task…

In 1863 it was about the people.  In 2011 it is about the people.   The challenges, the players, the date on the calendar all have changed but the great moments in our history remind us that it always comes down to the people, this never changes. When was the last time you heard the words in this video clip, 4th grade?  Take a moment and listen to each one, for they are as important today as they were in 1863.

“Dedicated to the great task remaining before us”..Lincoln

The economy is slowly recovering and it is the courageous who are willing to take risks and dedicate their lives to creating opportunities that are leading the way.