Blog

Alive East Bay Magazine

What Have You Got To Lose?

Alive_ Mary Smith Toys For Tots Pic

I write monthly articles for Alive East Bay Magazine. My goal is to provide positive information, resources and hope for special needs awareness and inclusionI hope you enjoy December’s edition. ❤

Just as holidays can be misrepresented as a time to buy expensive gifts out of obligation, the season can also be a time where we get to see the best in people through their actions. Whether it is individuals, businesses, or organizations, a sense of hope and inclusion is provided to others through compassionate, kind effort.  It is a way to let others know, whether we know them or not, that they are not forgotten.

The collaboration of Bay Alarm Company and Toys for Tots is a perfect example of such compassion.

“To whom much is given, much is expected,” is a quote that says to help when you have the resources to do so, especially if you have an overflow of those resources. Mary Smith is one person who provides new meaning to this quote, who gives without expecting anything in return.  It is the pure joy of giving to others just to see the smiles on children’s faces and the display of relief and gratitude from the families. Remembering the experiences in her life when there were struggles, Mary Smith made it a part of her personal day to day life to help others through volunteering or giving gifts to those in need.

In 1986, she extended her fundraising activities to Toys for Tots and eventually through her employer, Bay Alarm.  Bay Alarm began generously matching the funds raised at 100%, doubling the financial ability to provide gifts for families that struggle all year long to make ends meet, let alone obtain extra provisions during a holiday.  It was in 2016 that Mary’s fundraising at work reached the highest earnings of $35,000.00 with all of it used to purchase gifts and care packages for the Toys for Tots families. Whether it was families in foster care, those struggling with addiction, or individuals with medical challenges, it was through her 30+ years of devotion to giving to others that still reminds the world that it takes a village.

In 2019, Mary Smith retired from Bay Alarm. At her retirement celebration she was surprised with an honorary gift—a dedication award from Bay Alarm that included the new title of the fundraising efforts to be named “Mary Smith Toys for Tots.”  Just as their logo says, “What Have You Got to Lose?”, her employer showed its gratitude because when a village practices unconditional giving, that village has nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Even though people may retire from jobs, people never retire from having a heart to compassionately give others a moment of joy just when they need it the most.  As the torch is passed for other kind-hearted Bay Alarm employees to maintain the momentum of giving, may the same selfless energy of these individuals carry on infinitely.

That’s what the season is meant to represent—when we give it our all with a focus to benefit others, we never lose.  We gain memories and set the paths that last for generations.  Bay Alarm, Toys for Tots, and Mary Smith are reminders of what really counts in life; not the measurable and tangible, but the immeasurable and intangible.  May we all stay on a path to deliver hope from the heart, not just during the holidays, but every day.

For more information on how you can give to those in need, please visit:

http://www.toysfortots.org

For more information about Bay Alarm’s community support, please visit:

 

https://aliveeastbay.com/category/wellness/

 

Inspirational

Blacktop Rivers

blacktop river poem pic

I had to leave the point of where I was

Left in the thoughts of hell was pretty rough

I had taken many roads before that wasn’t too wise

Only to end up full circle, what a surprise

Back to square one and I couldn’t get away

From the child in me that wanted to stay

Good bye to the ways of the woe

As I float on down this windy road

 

The blacktop rivers

The rivers..the blacktop rivers

Seek and you shall find

The freedom of your mind

The blacktop rivers release the blind

Get on the road of discovery

The blacktop rivers of clarity

Letting it go..letting it go

Set your mind free

 

Blacktop Rivers where my mind goes free

Movin’ to my dream, the road beneath my feet

Pressing forward without touchin’ the ground

Letting the wind brush past me, my thoughts with no sound

 

I’m just letting my mind go free

On the blacktop rivers to the powers that be

The blacktop rivers where no one can stop me

I’m just letting my mind go free

 

Blacktop Rivers where my mind goes free

Movin’ to my dream, the road beneath my feet

Pressin’ forward without touchin’ the ground

Letting the wind brush past me, my thoughts with no sound

 

I’m just letting my mind go free

On the blacktop rivers to the powers that be

The blacktop rivers where no one can stop me

I’m just letting my mind go free

 

On the blacktop rivers to the powers that be

 

Copyright Stefanie Boggs-Johnson

 

Alive East Bay Magazine

Goalbusters

I write monthly articles for Alive East Bay Magazine. My goal is to provide positive information, resources and hope for special needs awareness and inclusion. I hope you enjoy November’s edition. ❤

Goalbusters


Goalbusters

Breaking through barriers is never easy. There will be individuals who will support your endeavors and have your back, and there will be others who belittle your goals and dreams. Then there are those on the same path as you. You join the flock and decide not to give up after all. You keep going for that goal.

That is what AYSO VIP League did for my perspective of finding a sport for children within the special needs community. A soccer organization that offers competitive sports for the mainstream and a non-competitive sport for those diagnosed with special needs (VIP), my husband and I signed up our ten-year-old daughter. We were not disappointed.

The season recently ended and, after having the enjoyment of watching my daughter’s confidence flourish on the field, I was so impressed. It was so positive and touching to watch how the VIP coaches and mainstream coaches collaborated in each game. Assigned as “buddies,” the team of mainstream kids patiently interacted with the VIP team. I watched inclusion and a balance of competitiveness of which the opposing team adjusted, based on the skill level of my daughter’s team. It was an hour of easygoing enjoyment where no mama or papa bear showed their fangs on the sidelines. The players played, the parents watched, and the coaches coached.

It was because of the coaches that these moments were able to occur with passion, focus and consistency—all of it done on a volunteer basis. The coaches, past and present, exemplified action that came from their hearts. As I recently sat with them enjoying a spaghetti dinner at the VIP Soccerfest costume party, I was amazed at how long they all have been dedicated to providing an inclusive sport for a special group of young individuals.

The fearless leader of my daughter’s team, “Goalbusters,” Peter Gaughan (aka Coach Pete) has volunteered with the AYSO VIP league for 21 years with some of those years as Director for the league. His spunky “let’s do this!” attitude was apparent to me the moment I meant him. To find out how long he has been giving his time and energy only added to my respect for him. His coaching assistant, Cecilia Romero-Chavez, became involved after moving from Richmond to Pleasant Hill and began looking for sports activities for her son. Through her “Googling,” she became part of AYSO VIP in 2006 and is currently the Division Coordinator. They are a duo that follows through with emails, practices and games. Also in attendance at the league’s Halloween celebration was Steve Forbes, who began volunteering in 1997. Even though he no longer volunteers as a coach, there he was attending this event for these special kids out of pure admiration for the division and all it stands for—inclusion. I truly felt surrounded by sincere human beings.

If you are a parent of a child diagnosed with a special need and are in doubt of which way to turn or how to find a compatible environment, just know that you are not alone in feeling overwhelmed or in despair. Uplifting, helpful, and inspiring resources are available in many different forms. Achieving milestones are possible for people of all abilities. There is a flock ready to include you to help you bust through any barriers and reach the goal. I know this to be true because my family and I started out with so much fear and despair. Now, ten years later, we get to witness our daughter “bust” out of any restrictive assumptions that society prematurely places, and she is achieving more goals than we ever could have imagined. Every child is born with VIP status but AYSO helped remind my daughter’s teammates that they are all “Goalbusters.”

Thank you AYSO VIP league coaches and volunteers. I hope my gratitude in this article is the fuel that keeps reminding all of you that your devoted actions do make a difference. It is your efforts that reminds me that there is always a flock that I can call upon. As Coach Pete would say at the end of every game, “Who you gonna call?”, I happily answer along with my daughter “Goalbusters!”

For more information about AYSO VIP League, please visit https://ayso.org/play/vip/

Inspirational

Mirror Talk: Isolation

Always push through the mindset to isolate. On a day that you do, the people God plops in front of you on the other side make you want to keep showing up for your life.

I am a social butterfly that flutters back to hiding at home once my masks are off. Despite my crazy and goofy butt, it’s been rough for me in many areas. I may not be able to foresee every arrow the devil aims at me but will practice at not letting the cloudy emotions talk me into hiding so much at home. If this resonates with some of you at the perfect moment, then I did my duty of the day..reminded you that you aren’t alone. So don’t lock yourself in. The struggles that you think separates you is actually what will connect you with genuine people because it is the same trials so many others endure. Humans weren’t designed to cry- or celebrate-alone. It always takes a village.

Look in the mirror daily and be sure to remind person staring back at you the above words. I too will do the same. 🤗

#MirrorTalk

Inspirational

Mirror Talk: Belief Systems

God’s promise to give you gladness in proportion to your past misery is a constant energy. The promise was stated, is stated and will be stated repeatedly. The ability to see the promise is based on seeing any current belief systems in an area of your life that needs to change. The proportion promise is available in small amounts or large amounts depending on that particular sector of your inner world. It isn’t always an “all or nothing” reform. God knows at what level you are capable of realizing certain spiritual blocks. He knows more than you know about yourself. He knows when it is time for a huge awakening or epiphany and when it is able to be received by you in droplets. As you see the belief systems that no longer work for you, God watches as you locate the tools He has set before you. The resources to this “joy” you always wanted but never seem to truly grasp are realized as little by little, step by step one of your many blinders is removed.

As one block is removed, a new one is laid down for the building of a new belief system. You are on your way.

#MirrorTalk #BeliefSystems