Friday, November 8, 2013

Meet Latressa Fulton!

I'm happy to present Latressa Fulton, a former Diaspora Board member. I have to personally thank Latressa for the cheers from Harlem on Sunday!  I am also grateful for her years of service on Diaspora's Board and her continued support.

Here's more from Tressa: 

MC: Diaspora's mission is to empower families and individuals, starting with young people. What's one of your favorite childhood (or teenage) memories?

LF: One of my favorite teenage memories is being taught how to drive by my brother. I'm the baby of the family, which consisted of my father, mother and my older brother. As we are 8 years apart, I always felt like I was in the way and was a major annoyance to my brother. But at 15 I wanted to learn how to drive. He made it seem like such torture to take his sister out in his shiny burgandy Honda with glistening silver rims. I was more terrified of getting a scratch on the car and him beating me up later. But I really believe I made him proud. We had a great time. I think that he was proud to show his little sister something that he was so great at. I was the first driver in my crew of high school friends. Of course I passed my driving test the first time. My brother has since passed from leukemia but I definitely appreciate him giving me that confidence that I could do anything (no matter what pressure I'm under!) Also, years later, he was the one in my family that also took me to buy my first car. Learning how to drive is one of my favorite teenage memories, it was a great time for us to bond!


MC: No matter how many times I finish a marathon, it still seems a bit implausible. What advice would you give to someone tackling a difficult and seemingly insurmountable goal?

LF: I congratulate you for taking on this marathon (again). My advice would be to break it down in chewable bit sized pieces.. Sometimes when it looks like it's a huge insurmountable goal, you have a better perspective of succeeding if it's broken down into smaller pieces. Also, it doesn't hurt to know that nothing is impossible.


MC: What is a cause that you feel passionately about? (Feel free to promote a particular organization or organizations.)

LF: I feel passionate about a lot of causes. But the one thing ties it all together is that I see that providing resources such as education or health information, can change someone's life. Everyone struggles from time to time, but if you link to them to a solution they are empowered to succeed. I enjoyed being on the Board of DCS! But it was when I sat with a smaller group of women and we talked nutrition and different accessible ways to lower and control their blood pressure did I feel proud about what I provide to the Community. I learned so much from the group and appreciate their openness.


I most recently served on the Grant Advisory Committee for the New York Women's Foundation. This organization is at the forefront of providing funding for nonprofits that serve young women and girls throughout the city. Learn more about them here: http://www.nywf.org/

Finally, check out H.E.A.L.T.H for Youths-- they help youth in NYC stay in college. They have extensive programming that keep our young adults active in giving back to the city by cleaning parks, running programs, etc. Check them out here: http://www.health4youths.org/

Thanks, Tressa!

Meet Ashlyn Clark McCague!

Aaaand now we'll hear from my lovely friend Ashlyn. I'm going to post one of our earliest shots together that I'm stealing from Ashlyn's Facebook page.

Way back in 1995
Next year will be our 20th year of friendship, and that's where it all started!  Just a couple of 14 year olds, one with perfect hair, chilling at the Spragues' house.  Ash has joined the tribe of fundraising professionals and works for an awesome organization called CALM (Child Abuse Listening & Mediation) which you should definitely check out, but she is gracious enough to support Diaspora as well.  

Here's more from Ashlyn: 

I just love this picture
MC: Diaspora's mission is to empower families and individuals, starting with young people. What's one of your favorite childhood (or teenage) memories?

ACM:  I am very grateful to have several of those memories, to the point it is hard to choose just one. There is a video of me at age 3 or 4, jumping on a small trampoline in the backyard.  My dad asks me what I want to be when I grow up, and I respond that I want to be a pilot, a doctor, an astronaut, and a mommy.  My parents always encouraged me to dream big, and that I could achieve anything I wanted.  Of course, as of now, I am none of those things, but not because I ever felt I couldn't.


MC: No matter how many times I finish a marathon, it still seems a bit implausible. What advice would you give to someone tackling a difficult and seemingly insurmountable goal?

ACM: I always overwhelm myself when I look at the big picture, but if I break things down into smaller segments, or look at pieces of the picture, it doesn't seem so bad.  Lists, and boxes I can check off, are my friends.


MC: What is a cause that you feel passionately about? (Feel free to promote a particular organization or organizations.)

ACM: I currently work at CALM (Child Abuse Listening & Mediation)  a counseling center for children and families in crisis in Santa Barbara, CA.  As a native Santa Barbaran, I feel passionate about protecting my community, and providing my neighbors with the tools to prevent and heal child abuse.


Thanks, Ash!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Meet Justin McCague!

Hello again!  I'm happy to introduce you to another of my fabulous donors, Justin McCague. Justin had the good fortune to marry my dear friend Ashlyn. He's a music fanatic, an diehard Ducks fan, and judging from his and Ash's Facebook posts, kind of a foodie. Plus he's hilarious and generous and fun. But you can judge for yourself!  Here's Justin: 


Justin, basking in the post-marriage
glow
MC: Diaspora's mission is to empower families and individuals, starting with young people. What's one of your favorite childhood (or teenage) memories?

JM: I'm having to dig deep into the recesses of my memory, as the real world has left me jaded.  There was a time when (probably during the summer between 8th grade & high school) when I was starting to get okay at basketball (or so I thought), perceived myself as being somewhat successful with the ladies, and thought I would be able to reinvent myself in high school.  I think that was also the last time I didn't allow my self-consciousness to kill my creativity.  I daydream occasionally about being able to press the reset button & try high school again using what I know now...don't we all?

MC: No matter how many times I finish a marathon, it still seems a bit implausible. What advice would you give to someone tackling a difficult and seemingly insurmountable goal?

JM: Never having run a marathon (obviously), I'm not sure I've ever faced anything physically insurmountable on that level.  However, I've found that the easiest way to accomplish any huge goal is to make it smaller.  Break the boulder down into much more manageable rocks & deal with each of them accordingly.  I guess in your circumstance that would be breaking it down at a per-mile level, or setting various landmark goals across the route.  Also be sure to reward yourself DURING the journey; have your cheering sections set up at different spots on the marathon & surprise you with various signs of encouragement....something to make you laugh as you're in your personal hell.

MC: What is a cause that you feel passionately about? (Feel free to promote a particular organization or organizations.)

JM: I feel passionately about CALM (Child Abuse Listening & Mediation), because it's an amazing organization that pays my bills & certain members of the staff cook me dinner on a fairly regular basis.  I guess helping at-risk families is an added benefit.  Pretty similar to Diaspora, as you know!

Thanks, Justin!

I Ran the City for Diaspora! And Also, Meet Dhatri!

So I did it!  I ran it in 4:54, which was my fastest time since 2005, and my third fastest time of my 7 NYC Marathons.  AND I didn't realize it, but it was my tenth marathon overall.  Lots of milestones for me personally, and thanks to all of you, we have raised almost $3,000 so far for Diaspora's work in Brooklyn and Haiti.  Thank you all so much for your support.  Here are some fun pics of the day (please take special note of the awesome legwarmers that I forgot to take off before I started running):

Just to clarify, that's a lollipop
Somewhere in the home stretch
So happy when Marina
found me in Harlem













Anyway, it was a great day. But back to the point of this blog: all of you!  I have MANY profiles to post, and want to get even more, so donors, if you haven't filled your questionnaire out please click here.  I'm going to start with Dhatri, who is an amazing teenager and already a leader in her high school.  She chose to make a gift to Diaspora separately from her parents, and apart from that, she has a deep commitment to give back to her community. Thank you so much, Dhatri. And now, Dhatri's responses:

MC: Diaspora's mission is to empower families and individuals, starting with young people. What's one of your favorite childhood (or teenage) memories?

DA: My favorite childhood memory was the day I got my dog, Cadman. I had been begging for a dog my entire life, and finally when I was nine years old we moved into an apartment that allowed pets. After weeks of searching, we finally found an adorable black and white puppy in a shelter in upstate New York. He was the runt of the litter, but from that day on he has been my best friend. It's so important for every kid to experience a moment when they get something they truly want. Cadman has been with me through every childhood experience, and is the best companion I could ask for.

MC: No matter how many times I finish a marathon, it still seems a bit implausible. What advice would you give to someone tackling a difficult and seemingly insurmountable goal?

DA: Enjoy every moment and remember that every step gets you closer to your goal. If you keep going you will get there before you know it. I always try to imagine myself at the finish line, and how proud I will be of myself!

MC: What is a cause that you feel passionately about? (Feel free to promote a particular organization or organizations.)

DA: Over the past few years, I have been supporting an organization in Sri Lanka called Navajeevana, which fights for the rights of people with disabilities and provides education for disabled children in rural areas. I feel so fortunate for the education I have been given, so I wholly support any organization providing equal opportunities and education for all children!

MC: Anything else you want to share?

DA: Hulloo!

Isn't she awesome!  Thanks, Dhatri!  More profiles to come...

Sunday, October 20, 2013

After a Long Hiatus...Meet Dayan Abeyaratne!

So...I haven't been posting, but I have been running!  Here are a couple pics from recent runs:


From the Grete's Gallop Half
when I made my friend Nicole
crazy and ran into many of my
running friends
From when I woke up late for the Bronx 10 Mile
and was last for a while - you get a police escort
when you're last
From the Staten Island Half
Marathon when I ran with my
girl/Adobo teammate Rhea

















Dayan (linked from the
Sunday Times)
Despite my internet absence (at least on this blog) many of you wonderful people have continued to support my run for Diaspora, and so I'm going to play some catch up on donor and Diaspora profiles.  First among them is Dayan Abeyaratne, the brother of my friend Shala (also my sister's best friend), who supported Diaspora along with his wife Aruni and daughter Dhatri. I could tell you how awesome Dayan is, but you can also just read more about him, and why he runs the Marathon himself, here.  Thank you, Dayan, and thanks for introducing me to Dhatri, who is amazing in her own right and supported Diaspora separately from her parents - the next donor profile will be of Dhatri. Again, you can join me and Dayan, Aruni and Dhatri as Diaspora supporters by clicking here.

Monday, September 30, 2013

We're at 34 Days...Time to Meet Auntie Joanne!

What can I say about Joanne, my godmother and my mom's best friend since their childhood in Guyana?  She's one of the strongest, smartest, calmest, loveliest, and most rational people in my life.  I'll let her describe a few aspects of herself in her own words with my donor questionnaire:

MC: Diaspora's mission is to empower families and individuals, starting with young people. What's one of your favorite childhood (or teenage) memories?

JYM: One of my favorite childhood memories is waking up at 5.00am by [my] Aunt Vi. She would lead my brothers and me (and any of my cousins who were there) down a completely deserted Camp Street Avenue to the Sea Wall [MC: in Georgetown, Guyana, for those who don't know] to swim in the Atlantic Ocean. Well...she would swim. The rest of us just experienced the breathtaking magnificence of salt water, sand and waves while trying not to swallow water or drown. Afterwards, she would feed us butter and brown sugar sandwiches. It doesn't sound like much but they were delicious!! When she marched us back home under the towering flamboyant trees on Camp Street, she would lead us in singing campfire songs. It was a magical time for us. It was long before the usual traffic so it seemed as if the City belonged to us.

MC: No matter how many times I finish a marathon, it still seems a bit implausible. What advice would you give to someone tackling a difficult and seemingly insurmountable goal?

JYM: Well, first believe that you are capable of achieving it. Then break it down into small steps. Reward and praise yourself for each small step that you achieve. Say your affirmations every day. Visualize yourself reaching the final goal. Enjoy the process.

MC: What is a cause that you feel passionately about? (Feel free to promote a particular organization or organizations.)

JYM: Reading is for me the Key to self discovery. I learned to read at an early age and I read to my children. With a book you will never be bored (even when there is no wifi). I support Literacy programs everywhere!

MC: Click here and here to learn about top literacy nonprofits around the country. Finally, is there anything else you want to share?

JYM: I admire your commitment to helping families and young people who need assistance to improve their lives. Big Hugs to you, Lovey, for your hard work!!!

As you can see, she's the best. Thank you, Auntie Joanne, and thanks for sharing your time, resources, and wisdom! As always, you can join me and Joanne as Diaspora supporters by clicking here.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

35 Days...and Over $1,000 Raised for Diaspora!

35 days...and with the help of my lovely friends and family, we've raised 35 percent of my fundraising goal for Diaspora! Everyone's support has been amazing - thanks again.

Today's Diaspora program spotlight is the Medicaid Health Homes Program, a program that helps families manage medical and behavioral care and support services.  Learn more here on Diaspora's website: http://www.diasporacs.org/medicaid-health-homes/

On a totally separate note, I have several free tickets to a show for my brother AndrĂ©'s band the Wham Bam Bowie Band on Thursday, October 3 at 9:00pm. If you're interested in coming, email me!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

At 36 Days to Go, Say Hi to Sven!

This posting every day thing is no joke. Here goes. Just briefly: training continues, for the most part - I biked to work a few days this week and tomorrow I'm doing the Bronx 10 Mile, assuming I wake up in 5 hours. Wish me luck.


Today's profile is Sven, my dormmate during Freshman year, a fellow Econ major (okay fine, not fellow, I was an Econ concentrator), an awesome new recent reconnection (thanks, Facebook!), and an overall great person. I'm looking forward to learning even more about Sven, but here's a start!

MC: Diaspora's mission is to empower families and individuals, starting with young people. What's one of your favorite childhood (or teenage) memories?

ST:  Hmm...so, the road on which I grew up in small-town Germany had like a dirt patch in front of a set of garages, and we used to play in the mud after it rained. Earthworms would come out of the ground after it rained, and we would build them some houses to live in. Try as we might, they never took to the houses we built them, which didn't stop us from trying again the next time it rained.

MC: No matter how many times I finish a marathon, it still seems a bit implausible. What advice would you give to someone tackling a difficult and seemingly insurmountable goal?

ST: Hmm. Maybe it's easier to try it if it does indeed seem impossible; after all, you can't help but fail? Kinda takes the edge off.

MC: What is a cause that you feel passionately about? (Feel free to promote a particular organization or organizations.)

ST: Lots of. But I'll reference Habitat for Humanity in particular, because I go there a lot. So I guess that means I'm passionate about them. Habitat's real accessible, meaning the bar for participation is low, because all you really do is swing the hammer or something. Also, there is ostensibly a tangible benefit that is created for someone else. I say ostensibly because, shh, don't tell anyone, but they can get the house up without your showing up, after all, so really, you go there to exercise a certain "muscle" of your own, not to benefit anyone else. But shhh... that's a secret. (It's okay to quote that, I'm being... is it facetious?)

Anyway, my theory is that that then leads to other things.

MC: An interesting theory, Sven. And definitely interesting stories. Thank you for sharing with me, and for your support!  As always, you can go here to join me and Sven in supporting Diaspora.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

With 39 Days to Go, Let's Meet Miraida!

The glamorous Miraida.

As I mentioned, this year I want to put the focus on Diaspora's programs, clients, staff, and donors rather than just my run. Today's Diaspora profile is of Miraida, a PhD candidate at Rutgers University’s School of Communication and Information, a Diaspora donor for almost as long as me, and one of my best friends.  I'll let her speak for herself!

MC: Diaspora's mission is to empower families and individuals to maximize their ability to succeed through culturally sensitive health promotion, family support services and advocacy. What's one of your favorite childhood memories from a time when you felt particularly powerful?

MM:  If being a teenager counts as childhood, I'd say my favorite memory of feeling powerful as a kid was the first time I flew an airplane. I had decided I wanted to become a pilot, so I enrolled in flight school and got an afterschool job to pay for gas for the plane.  I got my student's pilot license and for about 2 years, flew all over northern NJ and parts of upstate New York. I even landed in Poughkeepsie once.  Their airport has a control tower, so I had to radio in for permission to land and everything. It was the best.  I need to take that up again.

MC: No matter how many times I finish a marathon, it still seems a bit implausible. What advice would you give to someone tackling a difficult and seemingly insurmountable goal?

MM:  Don't think about the end--take it one mile at a time. And drink lots of water.

MC: What is a cause that you feel passionately about?

MM:  I feel passionate about supporting the arts in our community and making sure everyone has access to the arts.  To support this, I'm on the board of En Foco, an organization that supports minority artists and helps make art available to everyone by exhibiting in public places.

MC: THANK YOU MIRAIDA! Click here to join me and Miraida as supporters of Diaspora's work.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

40 Days to Go!

Me and Beth
(thanks for letting me use the pic, B!)
I've started this blog to feature supporters of Diaspora Community Services, but also to chronicle my progress towards the Marathon. This year's race is also a part of my commitment to live a healthier life and take better care of myself, so I'll post about that too.

Finishing a marathon is something I've done many times before. The real challenge going to be writing a post every day! 




Sasha (picture courtesy of
Diaspora Community Services)
Today's Diaspora profile is of Sasha, a dedicated student and volunteer in Diaspora's Safe Teens Acting Responsibly (STAR) Program. Read Sasha's story on Diaspora's site by clicking here and join my campaign for Diaspora by clicking here.