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I put together a little video about my latest skiing adventure. I hope you get as much chuckle from watching it as I did making it!

Skiing

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IMG_1064At 12:57 AM, Friday, October 9, 2015, my dad passed into glory. Three months and two days after mom. Dad’s health was on a steady decline after mom passed away. The hospital labeled it as “Failure to Thrive”. I labeled it as a broken heart.

Over the past three months I had the joy of spending many hours with him. Albeit many of those hours were at the Emergency Room or by his bed in a hospital. Since the technological wonders of this generation do not work in hospitals (maybe for a good reason?) we got to sit and talk. Much of the talk consisted of dad grumbling that he was ready to go home. That was always a good indication that he was feeling better. So we would talk about things important to him, and the topic always centered on his eagerness for the rapture to occur so that he could once again be with mom.

He could not speak of mom without tearing up and telling everyone with a willing ear, what a wonderful woman she was. He showed everyone in the Scan0018hospital, and later at Gosnell, a small black and white photo that he had of mom. It was her graduation picture with a faded inscription on the back speaking of future plans and how much she loved him. He was so proud of mom, the love of his life, and that picture never left his wallet.12079439_498722676962734_22662963006478559_n

As the days wore on, I could hear increasing sadness in his voice, see the loneliness in his eyes, his walk turning to a shuffle and his overall decrease in health. He had been admitted in the hospital several times for pneumonia and falling. Even though we were making sure that he would eat, he was rapidly losing weight. I hired a Health Care Agency to start assisting him at home. All of us were taking turns doing his medications, housework and errands. Yet in spite of all we could do, we all knew we were losing him. One day my brother and his wife showed up at his house and found him lying on his kitchen floor. Living alone was no longer an option for him.

My wife and I found a wonderful assisted living home for him just a few miles from his own home. I talked with him about the necessity of the move. He just simply agreed and went along with everything we suggested. Once living in his new “home” he seemed content but he often told me that it was not his home. That he was tired, missed mom, and was ready to go to his final home.

IMG_1046He lived at the assisted living home for one month, and every day his health and strength continued to decline. On September 27th, Wendy and I brought him to church with us and out to eat lunch. He was very weak and slow but always happy to be with family. The next day, he went into the Emergency Room for what I thought was another case of pneumonia. Every test (and there were many) that they performed indicated nothing physically wrong with him. Though he had no strength and could no longer walk. They admitted him for the night for observation. The next day I went to the hospital and had a meeting with the social worker. She had been following his case since mom’s death, and she told me that the decline in dad’s health was severe and rapid. Failure to Thrive was the diagnosis and she told me he now was at the point of needing Hospice.

Difficult words for all of us to hear, but we all knew she was right. The only difference is that we said he was dying from a broken heart.

Gosnell Hospice Home in Scarborough was mentioned and chosen. The next day we met him by ambulance as they checked him into his private room. I cannot begin to say enough good about Gosnell Home or the loving staff. Everyone we spoke with always had the time to listen and acted like dad was their only patient.

His room was usually flooded with so many faithful family and friends. All very special moments with laughter and tears that I will forever hold very dear to my heartV9595EDE7IMG_1065

From October 2nd to his death on October 9th was without doubt the hardest week of my life. Mom’s death happened so fast that none of us hardly had time to think before it happened. This last week that I spent with dad has bitter sweet memories for me that I will carry to my own grave.

I was there every day before sunrise and left late in the evenings. Outside of stealing a catnap in my van a couple of days, I sat by his bed holding his hand. No longer able to swallow, he ceased eating and drinking and we did all we could do to keep him comfortable. He slept most of the time, but would wake to our touch, offering a small smile and a raspy hi. He told me numerous times how tired he was and that he was ready to go home.

Unable to open his once brilliant blue eyes, speak or move for the past two days, I would take a pillow, lay it on the bed by his head and I would just sit in my wheelchair, resting beside of him while holding his hand and often softly humming to him. Somewhere in his mind I hope he knew how much I loved him and was there for him.

He slipped away in the middle of the night peacefully drawing and exhaling his last breath. A man of great faith that was finally at home with his Savior and reunited with his wife. No longer with a broken heart, but singing praises to his God and King for all eternity.

Both of my parents now deceased, in earthly terms, leaves me an orphan. Yet both of my parents made sure that I would never be an orphan. They left me with the knowledge of my heavenly Father leaving me not an orphan, but a child of a King. That is the legacy that my brothers and I were left. That is the legacy that as parents, I pray that I can pass on to my children.

John 18 says “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him”

I am not an orphan. What I am is a son that was blessed with a wonderful earthly father that taught me about my heavenly father. Someday soon, I will see my parents again and be part of God’s family where we will never be separated again.

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US making little progress on jobs for disabled Americans

Published March 24, 2013

Associated Press

  • Disabled Americans Em_Cala.jpg

    In this photo taken Friday, March 1, 2013, Jennifer Lortie works on an iPad in her Willimantic, Conn. office. Of the 29 million workingage Americans with a disability Lortie, who has limited arm and leg use due to cerebral palsy, is one of the 5.1 million, who are actually employed. The National Council on Disability’s Jeff Rosen says long-standing prejudicial attitudes need to be addressed to boost jobs. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

  • Disabled Americans Em_Cala(1).jpg

    In this photo taken Friday, March 1, 2013, Jennifer Lortie works in her Willimantic, Conn., office. Of the 29 million workingage Americans with a disability Lortie, who has limited arm and leg use due to cerebral palsy, is one of the 5.1 million, who are actually employed. The National Council on Disability’s Jeff Rosen says long-standing prejudicial attitudes need to be addressed to boost jobs. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

  • Disabled Americans Em_Cala(2).jpg

    In this photo taken Friday, March 1, 2013, Jennifer Lortie maneuvers herself into a bus during her two-hour commute home after work in Willimantic, Conn. Of the 29 million workingage Americans with a disability Lortie, who has limited arm and leg use due to cerebral palsy, is one of the 5.1 million disabled Americans who are actually employed. The National Council on Disability’s Jeff Rosen says long-standing prejudicial attitudes need to be addressed to boost jobs. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill)

WASHINGTON –  Whether it means opening school track meets to a deaf child or developing a new lunch menu with safe alternatives for students with food allergies, recent Obama administration decisions could significantly affect Americans with disabilities. But there’s been little progress in one of the most stubborn challenges: employing the disabled.

According to government labor data, of the 29 million working-age Americans with a disability — those who are 16 years and older — 5.2 million are employed. That’s 18 percent of the disabled population and is down from 20 percent four years ago. The employment rate for people without a disability was 63 percent in February.

The job numbers for the disabled haven’t budged much since the passage of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, which gave millions of disabled people civil rights protections and guaranteed equal opportunity in employment, public accommodations, transportation, government services and more.

The National Council on Disability’s Jeff Rosen said long-standing prejudicial attitudes need to be addressed to boost jobs.

“Employers are still catching on to the fact that the needs of most workers with disabilities aren’t special, but employees with disabilities often bring specialized skills to the workplace,” Rosen said. “Perhaps no one knows how to adapt, think critically or find solutions better than someone who has to do so daily in order to navigate a world that wasn’t built with them in mind.”

Rosen, who is deaf, was named in January as chairman of the council, an independent federal agency that advises the president, Congress and other federal agencies on disability policy.

The Obama administration recently has acted to expand the rights of Americans with disabilities in other areas.

The Education Department’s civil rights division released new guidelines that direct schools to provide students with disabilities equal access to extracurricular sports teams. If schools can’t, they should create similar athletic programs for disabled children, the department said.

Also, the Justice Department said in a settlement with a Massachusetts college, Lesley University, that severe food allergies can be considered a disability under the law. That potentially could lead to new menus and accommodations at schools, restaurants and other places to address the needs of people with food allergies.

One silver lining in the lagging employment for the disabled has been federal hiring.

The latest data from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management shows nearly 15 percent of new federal hires between 2010 and 2011 were people with disabilities — almost 19,000 people. That’s up from the previous year when about 10 percent of new hires were people with disabilities.

President Barack Obama signed an executive order in 2010 aimed at improving the federal ranks of people with disabilities. The goal was to add 100,000 disabled people to federal payrolls in five years; that would be within reach if the 2010-2011 hiring numbers were to stick or improve.

Federal agencies are trying to achieve the numbers through better recruitment, especially at colleges and universities. And last month, OPM issued rules to limit the paperwork that potential hires with disabilities would need to provide. They essentially “self identify” as disabled by qualifying for a special hiring category known as “Schedule A” that allows disabled people to apply for a job through a noncompetitive hiring process, meaning they could be hired without competing with the general public.

The administration also is considering new rules that would leverage the power of federal spending to encourage companies to hire more disabled workers. The Labor Department is weighing a rule that would require companies with federal contracts to set a goal of having at least 7 percent of their workforce be disabled. Federal contractors employ nearly one-quarter of the nation’s workforce.

Since the rule was proposed more than a year ago, business groups have complained that it would be too burdensome and lead to conflicts with federal laws that discourage companies from asking job applicants to identify themselves as disabled.

“We have had a long history of supporting the disabled community,” said Randel Johnson, vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce for labor issues. “But this proposal goes too far, woefully underestimates cost of compliance, and is completely unworkable as structured in the proposal.”

Jennifer Lortie, 29, of Griswold, Conn., considers herself one of the lucky employed Americans with a disability.

Lortie was born with cerebral palsy and has limited use of her arms and legs. She graduated college during the recession and it was no easy task finding a job.

She spent more than a year scouring newspapers, job search websites and sending out dozens of resumes. She worried her wheelchair might be a strike against her until she landed a position in 2009 as an assistive technology specialist with the Connecticut Tech Act Project. The federally-funded program aims to increase independence for people with disabilities by educating them on new and best-fit technologies for work, school and community living.

“I think helping people kind of makes me think maybe there’s a reason that I am in a wheelchair,” Lortie said in an interview. “There has to be some reason to all this, so it gives me a sense of purpose as far as `OK, I’m in a wheelchair but I can help other people’ instead of just sitting home feeling sorry for myself.”

Lortie spends four hours each day commuting to work and then back to the home she shares with her parents. They drive her to the bus stop and then she takes two buses to get to work — two hours each morning and two hours at the end of the day to get home. And she doesn’t mind a bit. “I like to help people,” she said.

Jill Houghton works with companies to expand employment for people with disabilities. Among the big barriers, she said, are concerns about cost. Companies worry about whether they’ll have to make special accommodations or additional training and they want to know how much it’s going to cost.

“The reality is that businesses have found that when they create inclusive workplaces, where people with disabilities are working side by side with people without disabilities … the bottom line is that it doesn’t increase costs,” said Houghton, who heads the US Business Leadership Network, a trade association that represents about 5,000 businesses.

She said she has noticed a significant increase in calls and requests recently to the group from the business community about hiring people with disabilities.

Companies want to be inclusive of people with disabilities, Houghton said. “Businesses are learning that it just makes good business sense.”

 

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/us/2013/03/24/us-making-little-progress-on-jobs-for-disabled-americans/#ixzz2OVuPanWh

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In the immortal words of Willie Nelson…”On the road again.”

There are many things in life that give the appearance of hindering anything a person attempts to do. This is not a new concept, but for people with disabilities, it does seem like the “curve balls” come faster and harder. Giving in, or quitting, to the trial often seems like the only course of action to be taken. And then we start to see the light at the end of the tunnel (praying it is not an oncoming train) and press forward. So that being said, let the journey continue.

IMG_0408Leaving the port of Ashdod behind us, we sailed our way northward to the port of Haifa. The city of Haifa slopes upIMG_0411 steeply from the coastline to the top of a small mountain. The view from the ship was beautiful as we were docking at 7:00 AM. Haifa is located in northern Israel and from here we would be touring many sites in the Galilee region: Mt. of Beatitudes, Tabgha, Church of the Primacy, Church of Loaves and Fishes, Capernaum, and a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee.

I had visited all of these places on my last trip to Israel, and despite my memory of some IMG_0412IMG_0417accessible challenges ahead, I was eager to see them again. Of all the places to visit in Israel, the beautiful region around the Sea of Galilee is probably my favorite. From the sloping hills of the Mt. of Beatitudes, to the steep Arbel Cliffs, the area isIMG_0423 filled with biblical history. The churches have a peaceful simplicity to them that welcomes a person to slow down and reflect. Our guide was wonderful, and made sure that each place we visited we saw and heard about it in great detail. She was completely at ease with me being in a wheelchair and anything that I wanted to attempt she was eager to make it happen for me.

The two sites here that I am going to focus on are Capernaum and our boat ride. The ancient city of Capernaum is amazing to say the least. Excavations here are remarkable including the remains of a synagogue dating back to the Byzantine period. Because IMG_1227IMG_1239Jewish culture demanded that the ground where a synagogue would be built had to be sanctified, it would be marked as holy ground. Rather than going through this process again, any new synagogues would be built on top of the older ones. So the remains of the fourth century white synagogue that we were able to be in is built on top of the first century IMG_0434synagogue that Jesus would have taught in. Just outside the steps of the synagogue there is an excavated site of the first century village. The homes were communal in fashion with larger central rooms for cooking and family gatherings in open courtyards. As the family grew, rooms were added to the central home for expansion. We also saw the site of what is believed to be St. Peter’s home. There is much biblical evidence, and physical inscriptions that have been excavated, for proof of its location. This park area is owned and maintained by Franciscan Monks, and once again, offers the tourist a place of peace and quiet to walk (or roll) around the grounds soaking up the serenity.

IMG_0448When we left Capernaum we headed to Nof Ginnosaur where we would get on a fishing boat for our ride on the Sea of IMG_0452Galilee. The last time I was here, getting from land to the boat proved to be a very accessible challenge. I was absolutely amazed this time! The dock area had been completely reconstructed with a smooth ramped surface taking me right to the boat. Last time I had to have men lifting me up and down stairs and slippery ramps to get me to the boat. This time I had complete independence and rolled my way along with no problems at all. When I got to the boat, three men lifted me and my wheelchair from the dock and set me in the boat. The entire transition was seamless and without fault. Once on the boat we headed out onto the waters as the crew played the US National Anthem and then the Jewish IMG_0794National Anthem. Once we were out quite a ways, the motors were cut off and silence and calm surrounded us. Our guide pointed out all of the many locations around the sea and then the party started!  Lol They played traditional Jewish folk music for us and taught anyone willing how to dance. The boat rang with music, dance, laughter and many good friends. Needless to say it was a wonderful time and I hated to have it end. But like all good things, end it must.

Once back on shore, our bus driver was waiting for us. He drove us back to the port of Haifa where we boarded our ship at a rather late hour. But there is 24 hour food available and wow, were we hungry! The smells coming from the buffet tempted our senses and we ended our day with a tremendous meal and many great memories.

As Wendy and I went to bed that night we felt the movement of the ship as we left Haifa and headed for the port of Kusadasi, Turkey.

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We are in the last minute frenzy of packing (well Wendy is) and the clock is ticking rapidly to our day of departure. I thought I would share our itinerary with you and a few pictures as well. I am so excited about this entire trip! And to put the icing on the cake, I have been asked to read a portion of Scripture and briefly speak when we are at Corinth.

Traveling around the Mediterranean and visiting cities and cultures that are thousands of years old is such an amazing thought. I will keep journal entries at each place and take plenty of pictures to share. I am hoping to be able to post from the ship when I am over there. But if for some reason that should not work, I will make sure and catch everyone up when we return.

Just a couple of last minute details before the itinerary. For people in wheelchairs, you may want to make room in your packing for a few wheelchair parts. I always bring an extra seat cushion with me (in case mine should pop) and an extra set of tubes for my tires. This is much easier than trying to find the necessary parts in an emergency. Also you should make copies of your passport and credit cards. Keep one copy with you and leave one copy at home. We have never lost our passports or credit cards, but once again, plan for the possibility.

Here are the details of our room which is accessible with an ocean view balcony. Two twin beds (can convert into queen-size) with open bed frames, wider entry door, turning spaces, private balcony, sitting area with lowered vanity, closet rods, and safe, and a private bathroom with a wider door, roll-in shower, grab bars, fold-down shower bench, hand-held shower head, raised toilet, and a lowered sink. (275 sq. ft., balcony 42 sq. ft.)

Brochure details provided by Educational Opportunities.

October 18 Depart USA Our pilgrimage begins as we depart the USA.

October 19 Rome Arrive in Rome, and time permitting, take a panoramic tour of this beautiful city.

October 20 Ancient Rome History is woven through the streets and neighborhoods of Rome as in no other city. Today we’ll explore the many wonders of ancient Rome when we visit the magnificent Colosseum. From the most sacred hill of ancient Rome, Campidoglio, we’ll view the Forum. You’ll also view the Circus Maximus, Mamertine Prison, the Arch of Titus, the famous Baths of Caracalla and the Arch of Constantine. We’ll see the Victor Emanuel Monument and the Monti Region, Rome’s most ancient neighborhood, which spreads over three of her seven hills. Board the beautiful Royal Caribbean Mariner of the Seas.

October 21 & 22 At Sea

October 23 & 24 Alexandria & Cairo, Egypt Dock in Alexandria, founded in 331 BC by Alexander the Great. See the site of the ancient library, lighthouse, and Pompey’s Pillar during your tour of Alexandria. Visit the catacombs and enjoy time to explore the old city. Travel to Cairo, the capital city of Egypt which means “The Vanquisher” or “The Triumphant.” Cairo is the most populated metropolitan area in Africa. See the Great Pyramids of Giza, the Egypt Museum, and the King Tut Treasures.

October 25 & 26 Joppa, Caesarea, & Jerusalem, Israel Drive through Biblical Joppa, now the port city of Jaffa. Jonah sailed from here, and Peter raised Dorcas from the dead while staying with Simon the Tanner. Visit Caesarea and see the impressive theater and aqueduct. Here Cornelius became the first gentile convert and Paul was later imprisoned before being sent to Rome. Travel to Jerusalem and visit the Upper Room, the traditional site of the Last Supper. Visit the House of the High Priest Caiaphas, where Jesus was tried before the Sanhedrin. Stand upon the Mount of Olives and view the city as Jesus did. Wander among the olive trees of the Garden of Gethsemane. Enter the Old City and visit the Pool of Bethesda. We’ll walk along the Via Dolorosa to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

October 27 The Galilee, Israel Travel inland to the Sea of Galilee. We’ll stand on the Mount of the Beatitudes where Jesus gave his most well known sermon (Luke 6:12‐49). At Tabgha, the traditional location for the calling of the disciples and the feeding of the 5000, you’ll visit the Church of the Fish and the Loaves (Luke 9:10‐17). Visit the Chapel of the Primacy where three times Peter professed his devotion to the risen Christ (John 21). Travel to the shore town of Capernaum where Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James, John (Matt 4:13) and later Matthew.

October 28 At Sea

October 29 Ephesus, Turkey Journey to Ephesus, the marble city where Paul spent three years of his ministry. The ruins of Ephesus have been restored much like the city was in Paul’s time. You will visit the ancient Agora and view the Great Theater

October 30 Athens & Corinth, Greece Travel to Corinth, a city that inspired St. Paul’s most familiar letters. You will visit the Archaeological Museum, the Market Place, and Temples. Walk among the ruins and stand on the Bema where Paul stood. The architectural splendors of the ancient city of Athens are as magnificent as ever. Visit the world renowned Acropolis, the Propylaea, and the Parthenon. View Mars Hill where Paul debated with the intellectual community of his day. Time permitting, walk among the ruins of the Agora, the ancient market place and center of Athenian public life. You will view the Olympic Stadium, birthplace of the modern Olympics.

October 31 Chania, Crete Dock in Crete, Paul set sail from Crete on his voyage which ended in shipwreck. Chania is known for the Venetian Harbour, the old port, the narrow shopping streets and waterfront restaurants. Much of the Chania you will want to see is clustered close to the harbor ‐ see the Byzantine Museum, Naval Museum, or perhaps take a trip ouside of Chania to one of the several surrounding monasteries such as Samaria Gorge.

November 1 At Sea

November 2 Return to the USA Dock in Civitavecchia, Italy. Transfer to the Rome airport. Return to the U.S. with memories to share.

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