Everything listed under: Connect

  • Sages & Seekers: connecting generations

    I ♥ senior citizens.

    There, I said it. It’s out, and I can’t take it back. I just simple LOVE them!

    Maybe I’ve played too many games of shuffleboard or horseshoes to make a clear judgement on that statement -- or maybe it’s the cookies and brownies that come by the bucket loads from all the grandmas I amassed over my travels -- whatever the reason, all I know, is that I have a lot of fun with those who are often called our elders.

    So, when I got the chance to volunteer at the Windy Hill Senior Center in Spring Grove, I jumped at the opportunity!

    I was introduced to this organization by a group of senior line-dancers, one Wednesday afternoon, at the local coffee shop. They were a rowdy bunch of ladies whose conversation spilled over to me (they actually got me to blush) while talking and joking about their last dance session. One of the ladies eventually asked me why I was in their small town and I told her about my Pennsylvania adventure.

    Once they heard about Here A Year’s mission to connect people to good organizations and charities, they immediately told me about their senior center and its director, Tammy Miller.

    And, so, after a few more laughs and another shot of espresso, I promised the ladies I would swing by to see if I could get involved somewhere. I also told them I would make it to one of their line dance classes before the year was up -- this would come back to haunt me (just look at the slideshow above).

    I went directly from the cafe to meet with Tammy, and after a short introduction, I asked if there was anything I could do to help out. I was thinking I could teach a computer class, or help serve meals, or whatever -- but it just so happened that she was looking for a person to facilitate a class called, Sages & Seekers.

    S&S is a program which brings teenagers (the seekers) together with someone over the age of seventy (the sage) to share life stories with each other, which in turn, help break down age related barriers in the community. It’s an eight week series that met once a week, and ended with an hour-long program where the seekers “show off” their sage to their family and friends.

    It didn’t take me long to accept the task as I basically said, “when do we start”? Tammy was thrilled!

    - - - - - - -

    Now, I don’t usually end a blog in the middle of a story, but I am today.


    Well... I kind of already wrote about this event on another blog... and since I’m contracted with them (meaning I can’t repost it after it’s posted on their website), I encourage you to read {in a Paul Harvey voice} “the rest of the story” over at Create The Good’s blog. >> "Connecting through conversations"

    BTW...I hope you love senior citizens too! If you do, leave me a comment about how you connect with them in your community.

    Monday cheers Here-A-Yearers!

  • People worth emulating: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

    Happy Martin Luther King Jr. Day!

    Obviously, this man needs no connection to Pennsylvania to be honored on this website -- but you know me -- I found one -- MLKjr graduated from Crozer Theological Seminary in Chester, PA. I love it when I able to link good people to this great state. (Truly, in Pennsylvania, you don't have to look too far.)

    "Everybody can be great, because everybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You don't have to know about Plato and Aristotle to serve. You don't have to know Einstein's ‘Theory of Relativity’ to serve. You don't have to know the Second Theory of Thermodynamics in Physics to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love, and you can be that servant."

    ~Martin Luther King Jr. - excerpt from "The Drum Major Instinct"

    One way to motivate yourself onto greatness is to emulate those who are worth emulating. Martin Luther King Jr. is one of those people whose words and actions always seemed to match up. He became a servant to make the world better (and arguably, to correct the world's faulty beliefs). He stood up to oppression and moved a country to action.

    Thank you Dr. King for your life and testimony.

    For more information about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., start by visiting The King Center's website.

  • Gods of Pennsylvania: Henry Mercer

    From the moment I stepped inside the central atrium of the Mercer Museum, I felt like Alice falling through the rabbit hole and emerging in Wonderland.

    My senses were overloaded as floor after floor contained an eclectic display of pre-industrial tools, seen from a multitude of vantage points, which made each tier of this castle grander than the next.

    Simply put -- this place is magical.

    Unless you live in the Doylestown area (a northwest Philadelphia suburb), it is doubtful you know much, if anything, about Henry Mercer and his giant, six story, cement building in the middle of the borough.

    So -  let me take a moment to introduce you to the man and his mission.

    Henry Chapman Mercer was born just prior to the Civil War in 1856, in Doylestown, Pennsylvania to the wealthy Mercer family (Massachusetts textile industry). He was well educated and had lots of opportunities to travel, especially throughout Europe. He acquired a degree at Harvard, then went onto law school at the University of Pennsylvania, but never practiced because his interests turned toward archaeology - this is when he helped found the Bucks County Historical Society and was appointed the curator of American and prehistoric archaeology at the University of Pennsylvania's museum.

    His turning point in life was around 1897 when he noticed the quick decay of early American society, which was being replaced by industrialism. Mercer’s story is that he saw a mess of old agricultural tools and household utensils piled together to be sold, and then realized that American pre-industrial history was being discarded. He made it his mission to start saving these items to be preserved for future generations and according to the Annapolis Capital Newspaper, he went about "rummaging the bake ovens, wagon houses, cellars, haylofts, smokehouses, garrets, and chimney corners" for anything Americana.

    The collection continued to grow until he had over 30,000 items - and like any good collector, he needed a place to display his wares.  This is where the Mercer Museum comes into play.

    In 1913, Henry, along with eight day-laborers and “Lucy” the horse started construction on the 6-story concrete castle (completed in 1916) and filled it with his vast inventory. Every year, more than 80,000 people visit the showroom and leave awestruck over what they see. And since the museum was specifically designed by Mercer to display pre-industrial tools, he created an experience for people to view the items up close and from many different perspectives - this produces an intimate connection to the people who used these devices.

    One of the best compliments about the location came from Henry Ford, who stated that “the Mercer museum was the only museum worth visiting in the United States”, and if you have ever been to Ford’s own museum in Dearborn, Michigan, it’s apparent that Mercer inspired him greatly.

    So - now that you have a little background, here’s my picks for why he made the Gods of Pennsylvania list:


    When we see a problem, what do most of us do? We usually shrug our shoulders and wish there was something they could do about it. Well, when Mercer saw a problem, he went about fixing it.

    For instance, while he was amassing his collection of pre-industrial tools, he became interested in German Pennsylvanian tile making and quickly realized this craft was going the way of the dinosaurs. Mercer immediately apprenticed himself to an authentic potter in Bucks County where he became proficient in the art. He then followed up by building the Moravian Pottery and Tile Works to preserve the craft (which still operates to this date).

    His passion led him to action - something we all should desire.


    In a few of  Mercer’s books, he talks about his frustration with certain aspects of archeology, especially drawing conclusions from finding items that don’t have a connective line to the present. So his idea was to start with the present (what we know) and then work toward the past.

    Also, while he travelled throughout Europe, he became aware that many museums had been destroyed (and with it their collections) by fire. He had the foresight to make his house, tile factory, and museum out of reinforced concrete to ensure they would around for a very long time.

    Renaissance Man

    Much like Thomas Jefferson and Leonardo Da Vinci, Mercer was well educated and gifted in many fields of study. In his lifetime, he was a lawyer, architect, artisan, engineer, anthropologist, collector, curator, author, historian, and a tile-maker (to name a few).

    After talking with Ed Reidell, site administrator at the Fonthill Museum (Mercer’s home), it became apparent that Henry was incredibly gifted at whatever he set his mind to do. Henry’s skill at tile-working landed him the job of creating four hundred different scenes from Pennsylvania’s history to decorate the state Capitol’s floor. His work also shows up at the Monte Carlo casino, Rockefeller's New York estate, the St. Louis Public Library, and Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood, California.

    Upon his death in 1930, Henry Mercer left Fonthill Castle to his housekeeper and the museum and tile-works to the Bucks County Historical Society where they continue to keep his vision alive today.

    I highly recommend you put Doylestown on your lists of “must sees” and visit all three of Mercer’s buildings (The Mercer Mile), but if you can’t get there immediately, check out this virtual tour of the main atrium.  (http://www.mercermuseum.org/themes/mysite/swf/p01tm.swf)

    To see pictures from my adventure there, click here.

  • #GivingTuesday Meets Movember

    We’ve all heard of Black Friday and Cyber Monday -- so it seems quite natural to add another day to the mix with #GivingTuesday.

    #GivingTuesday (yep, it’s spelled that way with the hashtag and no space) consists of more than 2,000 recognized partners, from all 50 U.S. states, which are either registered charities, or they are for-profit businesses, schools, religious or community groups who have committed to spearhead a project that will benefit at least one 501(c)3.

    Personally, I think it’s a great reminder to keep charities in focus during the holiday season. As much fun as it is to give to family and friends, it’s equally fun to donate to a great cause. And trust me, non-profits need your gifts quite badly.

    The more I travel around to meet with charitable organizations, the more I hear about how funding is drying up. Mostly because of government cuts, the economic downturn, and general public opinion about some charities. Simply put, they need your help to continue serving their communities.

    For me, #GivingTuesday means building a fence at a local animal rescue, donating some cash to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, and raising awareness and money for Movember (men’s health initiatives & prostate cancer research) by growing out my ugly stache. (Click here to watch my Movember video or click here to donate on my Movember page.)

    So -- if you have a dollar to spare, a hand to lend, or some time to give, please do so this Tuesday (November 27, 2012) as a way to promote and encourage your favorite organizations.

    If you’re looking for some suggestions on where to give, here are just some of the places I’ve volunteered at while in Pennsylvania. They’re worth your time to check out and support.

    Special Olympics Pennsylvania

    The Super Hero Foundation

    Angel Acres Horse Haven Rescue

    Mercer Museum & Fontill Castle

    Are you participating in #GivingTuesday?

  • 8 Pennsylvanians to be thankful for

    There is a lot to be grateful for this Thanksgiving.

    And as important as it is to be thankful for a job or home or family or lots of food -- there are many people we should be grateful for as well. Many of whom have passed on, but their ability to make our world a better place lives on.

    Since I’m in the state of Pennsylvania this year, why not consider these eight individuals as starting points of praise?

    1. Benjamin Franklin
    - although he was born in Boston, Massachusetts, Franklin is better known as a Pennsylvanian, spending most of his life in Philadelphia. His resume includes being an author, activist, diplomat, inventor, musician, politician, postmaster, printer, satirist, scientist, and statesman. He is often referred to as "The First American" and is still looked highly upon as one of the most important figures in American history.

    2. Louisa May Alcott
    - born in Germantown, Pennsylvania, she is known for her literary classic, Little Women depicting everyday life in post Civil War America. She used her influence to be a strong voice in the abolitionist and women’s suffrage movements.

    3. J. Presper Eckert - an electrical engineer and a pioneer in the field of computers, along with John Mauchly, he invented the first general-use electronic digital computer. This, along with being the first person to teach a college course on computing, and founding the first commercial computer company, makes him one of the most notable, yet unknown people from the Keystone State.

    4. Robert Fulton
    - American engineer and inventor who is widely credited with developing the first commercial steamboat. In 1800, he was commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte to design the first practical submarine in history. His inventions helped usher in an age of faster, more reliable transportation and trade.

    5. Fred Rogers
    - best known for creating and starring in Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, Rogers was crucial in the promotion of early childhood education and is noted for saving PBS back in the 1970’s. He testified before congress over the use of VCR’s in 1979 and is often credited with being the savior of video recording devices.

    6. Andrew Carnegie
    - thought to be the second richest man in history, Carnegie made his fortune in steel. Even though he was mostly known as a shrewd businessman (with a handful of big business blunders), toward the end of his life, he became one of the most charitable individuals ever to walk this earth, giving away almost five billion dollars (in today’s money).

    7. Milton Hershey
    - American confectioner, philanthropist, and the founder of The Hershey Chocolate Company. No campfire “s'mores” would be complete without this man’s contributions. Not only was he a wonderful chocolatier, his contributions to the social well-being of his employees are known worldwide.

    8. William Penn
    - as the Founder of Pennsylvania, William Penn was able to set up the colony as he deemed fit and made it a “melting pot”. He is credited with framing many of the principles for the current United States Constitution and is noted for impressing many ideas of the Founding Father, such as: the freedom of religion, an amendable constitution, and that “all men are created equal”. Penn is also credited with fair trade with the natives and the layout of Philadelphia, which was made the first capital of the United States.

    Happy Thanksgiving friends!

    {All pictures used are in the Public Domain.}