What is the Sequoia project?

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Wausau, Wisconsin, United States
The Sequoia tree is one of the largest in the world. The seed is the size of a grain of wheat. One kind act will often seem unimportant but has ripple effects across humanity.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Sharing a Christmas meal.

We always shop at a grocery store where it takes a quarter to use their carts. When it’s returned the quarter is given back. All the carts are linked together with small chains. The reason for this is because carts are not left out in their parking lot. Cuts costs in employees and in turn savings are passed on to customers.

After our shopping we returned our cart to the area where they are lined up at. I had a pocket full of quarters so decided to unlock as many carts as I could. Just a simple way to make people smile in getting theirs for free. No big deal and didn’t think much about it.

While preparing to pull out of the parking lot we noticed an elderly lady pushing all the carts back together and taking the quarters that come sliding back out at the same time. This wasn’t what we intended. At first I just shook my head and was a little upset. When I seen the clothes this lady was wearing my attitude changed. It was in the middle of winter and her coat had holes in it. She had tennis shoes on and no boots. I understood better why she was doing what she was. These quarters were needed. Sandi looked at me and said we should stop and give her some money. Sounded like a good thing to do but we didn’t have any. We had paid for ours with a swipe card and the quarters I had she had already taken.

What we did have was food though. We shop at this particular place because of the prices. Its like a warehouse of generic labeled food. We don’t mind and the costs really are about 50% less, throughout the year, as a regular grocery store. Food is food in my book. The fancy packaging and colors means nothing. Most of our funds are put towards our home with hopes to someday pass it along to our children. Instead of a 30-year mortgage we have a 15-year one. Things are always tight but we are so much better off than millions. At least we had a home.

I backed up the car, got out, and opened the trunk of our car where the food was placed. We had picked up two turkeys because they were on sale and many meals can be made from just one. The biggest one was picked out and taken over to the woman. She looked surprised and relived when I told her to have a Merry Christmas. I think she thought I was going to say something about her taking the quarters. This concern on her face soon changed to an expression of relief. I didn’t want to hurt her pride and shared that we had bought an extra one by accident and didn’t want to deal with the crowds inside the store. Her face light up and we thought for a moment she was going to cry. Told her that it was no big deal and we had plenty to share.

How we respond to people in need is what makes the human spirit what it is. We didn’t do this because we wanted to be thanked or looked at as nice people. We did it because it was the right thing to do. That little voice that tells us what’s right and wrong was listened to. When so many people were shopping for Christmas presents and going about holiday plans this lady probably had none. Her concern was making it through the next 24-years.

That night, before sleep came, I said a prayer for this lady with no name. I prayed that she find peace and hope this coming new year and that her life would be transformed. Nobody should ever have to survive on the change that many take for granted. I don’t know what will ever happen to her but did know that she would not go hungry on that night. Maybe her life will change and she will remember this simple act and return it to another. You just never know how far one and seemly small thing will impact another’s’ life.

Monday, December 21, 2009

A Christmas Tree.

It’s Christmas time and gifts are soon to be exchanged across the world. What is this day for? Is it to prove to others how much we care by the amount of money spent on their gifts? Television tells me that if I love my wife I need to go down and buy a diamond.

Christmas is the celebration of a man named Jesus birthday. I’m not sure where gift exchanging started in history, but its probably related to the three gifts that were presented to this child. The “giving” of gifts, for us, we have tried not to commercialize. We weren’t always this way though. We use to stress over the added costs, during the hardest winter months of the year. We’ve never known financial security. Who really has? Maybe a small percent of Americans but not the majority. You live with what you have and keep your eye on the things important. We have never not had a meal when it was needed, or spent the night in the rain. Millions have though, and will tonight.

What is special to us, during this special time, is a Christmas tree. That’s really it. Nothing fancy and often “Charlie Brown” trees. The decorating of this tree is what makes it special. The handmade ornaments that our friends and family have made, the songs in the background. The smell of bread and cookies fill the house. Its not about what’s under the tree but the spirit that it’s put up with. The tree itself always manages to fall over once or twice each year as well. Last night it came crashing down with then the sound of two cats taking off into hiding.

This year we wanted to help bring this spirit to another family. We always go to the same family that sells then just a few blocks from our home. Jeff is always there, looking cold, but always with a bright smile and handshake. This year we took a Christmas card to him, with money in it, to cover the cost of a tree for a stranger he felt might need it. A simple act that can maybe mean the difference in someone’s life this holiday season. Maybe they will have their children helping them set it up. This child will remember the fun and will make it a point to do it with theirs 20 years later. Just because of that one special year in their memory of past Christmases. Who really knows. All of these projects could mean nothing and be a waste of time.

Really? Not a chance. Each act of giving to another does change lives. Christmas may be a little different to the family where this tree will call home for a week. There is just something about a Christmas tree. Strive to give, with no expectations in what comes back all year round. It will change your life. Your eyes and heart will open to things you never imagined.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Helping to save lives.

Home looked real good after a long and difficult week. Sandi had a choice. She could go home for the day or decide to stay at work and help give H1N1 shots out in another area of the hospital. Sandi is a cardiac surgery nurse and is on her feet all day long. On some nights her legs cramp up so bad that she has sit in a bathtub of hot water. Massaging them does little good and the hot water seems to be what works best. When she gets a chance to go home early she usually takes advantage of the opportunity.

Today was different. The H1N1 flu virus was declared a pandemic. The president even declared a national emergency to help in this medicine getting moved quickly. This flu was attacking the youngest and most vulnerable. Thousands of people die each year from the flu but this was a much stronger strain. The state we live in lead the nation in statistics when this flu first hit the country. Medicine was needed badly.

Because Sandi is a health care worker she was considered as “high-risk”. We also have 2 grandchildren who are considered to be in the same category. Fear increased as this virus spread at a unbelievably fast rate. What could a single person do about something that nature has known since its existence? Thousands of people were lined up, across our great land, with hopes in getting vaccinated. Most were told to return later because the vaccine was in very short supply. The coming winter didn’t look good for millions of lives.

When the medicine (some of it) arrived she knew that her help was needed. She would have loved to have just gone home and put her feet up. Staying she knew would bring the painful leg cramping on in the evening. It had been one long week.

She considered the choice for about 2 seconds. She wanted to help. She spent the day giving out one shot after another. She filled out documentations when she wasn’t giving the shots. It was a long and tedious day but an important one.

What do we do with the choices that come our way? Do we think only of ourselves and what’s in our own best interest? Or do we think about what the right thing is regardless if we are tired, sore, and only wanting to sit down and rest? We are probably faced with these decisions many times each week. What do we do?

I was really proud of Sandi today. She never does cease to amaze me. Her kind ways stood out to me the first day we met. Her compassion for people really comes from her heart. She knew that it was important to help in anyway she could. That night her legs did in fact cramp up. Most of the time, because it happens in the middle of the night, I’m not even aware that she is having problems. The pain is sometimes so bad that she cries. This is one tough woman and rarely sheds a tear from pain. This evening I heard the tears and quickly got out of the bed to be with her. Not much I could do except rest her head and still try to massage the cramps. The muscles had tighten up so bad that her calves felt like stone.

She could have made the choice to come home early. She didn’t though. She listened to her heart and knew that other lives would be worse off if this virus attacked their system. These were all high-risk people who were getting vaccinated. She entered the medical field (over 30 years ago) to help make a difference in peoples lives. Today she certainly did.

Friday, December 4, 2009

A Thankful day.

This past week had Thanksgiving Day in it. We have always looked at this day as being very special in our home. We take time out to really think about the people and the good in life. With every family member kind of spread out this year Sandi and I decided to help others with theirs.

There were a lot of places that were helping with free meals, We picked a place kind of back away from things. A little club that held events year round for this day.

The work was in washing dishes, cooking, serving people. Everyone pitched in and did what they could. Over 350 meals were served. It didn’t cost people a dime. How cool is that. What a positive experience.

Helping people for such a good cause was important. You never know when you will be on the receiving end of another’s compassion. Today nothing separated people. Not skin color, wages, hair style, everyone was as one. Children ran up and down the room and there was laughing in the air.

To help highlight this little club a short video was made and sent to large internet news outlets. The story was picked up by one and then many more learned of their cause. Maybe at a time when they were questioning doing it again next year. Who knows.