Mother Goose: A Homelessness Magnet

Perhaps it is my kindly and feathery bosom.

Perhaps it is my quick smile and hearty honk.

Perhaps it is true that Mother Goose is a magnet to homeless folk.

Whatever the reason, there is no doubt that Mother Goose is becoming quickly and intensely involved in the rescue and welfare of those people who need basic needs such as food and shelter, transportation and employment. This comes as somewhat of a surprise to this old goose who has always had more than her share of children to care for and not enough time in the day to complete her ever-expanding “to do” list.

One of my many part-time jobs is to help our veteran service members in the community to find jobs, counseling, stable housing, donated dental care, fitness programs, yoga classes, meals, VA benefits — whatever they need to help with reintegration. Often I find myself helping them to get through today and into tomorrow in one piece. Easter Seals actually has a rapidly growing program directed specifically at our veterans and military families, and I am most grateful to be able to play a small part in these great programs.

I am currently working with two veterans who are in the homeless category.

homelessveterans

Tonight I will begin to tell you about David, a Marine veteran who served in the late seventies/early eighties.

He speaks quietly, politely and with a great reverence for God. He studies his well-worn Bible in all of his spare minutes — I gave him a rubber band to hold it together better. He is a minister of Biblical truth, but I’ve never heard him raise his voice to a preaching decibel.

David originally came to our veteran program at Easter Seals for two reasons: to upgrade his military discharge status and to obtain help in drafting a resume. We welcomed him! Believe it or not, it is VERY difficult to find veterans who will admit that they need help with anything. It is not part of the military culture to ask for assistance from anyone except perhaps a brother in arms.

Most veterans have a form from the Veteran’s Administration called the DD214. It describes the circumstances of the service member’s exit from active duty. Most have an Honorable Discharge status. Unfortunately, some have a Dishonorable Discharge. There are many other types of categories for veterans, but I had never heard of David’s status before: The Good of the Service Discharge. I tell you, Mother Goose learns something new about military life every single day!

David enlisted in the Marines and left for boot camp. He graduated from this basic training and proceeded to move on to his next assignment where he would learn a “trade” within the ranks of the Marine Corps — it could be anything from infantry to engineering to truck repair or navigation. There are as many specialties within the Corps as there are in civilian life.

For reasons I don’t quite understand but having something to do with a woman in his life, David went AWOL from the Marine Corps. He disappeared for awhile, and then he turned himself in and apologized for leaving without leave. They were glad he came back — apparently they were actually quite forgiving and asked if he’d like to stay in active service. He made the decision that he didn’t want to be in the service anymore, and so they went through a process of mutually agreeing that it would be better for everyone if they just cancelled his contract and send him away. For the good of the service…

Have you ever heard of this before?

I know you’ll want to return to hear more about Brother David and how this former Marine became a homeless warrior for God. As usual, Mother Goose has got some really great stories to tell you…

Sailor Recruits Enjoy A Magical Thanksgiving

“Welcome aboard the USS Thanksgiving! At the helm today, we have Captain George who will be steering us into a magical port called Oak Park, Illinois — a place where they have TVs….computers….phones….and good food.”

The thirty-four sailor recruits cheered and ooooorah’d as we pulled out of Great Lakes Naval Training Center heading for a Thanksgiving Day to remember. Most of them had been told they would be picked up and taken to a community soup kitchen to serve dinner to poor homeless people — they had no idea that Mother Goose and Company had made other plans for them!

The day started at 7:30 a.m. at the garage of Mid-America Charter Lines in Elk Grove Village, IL. Mother Goose had been chosen as the hostess with the mostest for this most exciting day — of course, as a Navy Mom, Mother Goose is very familiar with young sailors and relished the idea of riding the tour bus to pick up the recruits at the boot camp so bright and earlie in the morning.

Mother Goose and Captain George Kousakis in front of the 46 passenger tour bus!

Mother Goose and Captain George Kousakis in front of the 46 passenger tour bus!

We arrived at the base in plenty of time and with just a little bit of run-around, we loaded up the recruits. The U.S. Navy has implemented the Adopt-A-Sailor program for the recruits who can’t get home for the holidays. Organizations can apply to adopt as many recruits as they can accommodate, and if the application is accepted, you get to pick up your sailors for the day! It’s such a GREAT program! Look at their smiling faces!

Onboard the USS Thanksgiving...

Onboard the USS Thanksgiving…

We arrived in our magical port where the computers, phones, TV and food were warmed up and ready for them. The sailors politely lined up to remove their coats, scarves, gloves, and covers (hats) and then politely asked where the computers and phones were. AND THEN THEY STARTED SMILING AND DIDN’T STOP SMILING FOR THE NEXT EIGHT HOURS!!!

In boot camp (also referred to as basic training), the recruits are completely unplugged. There are no TVs, no radios or music, no computers, no phones, no internet — nothing but marching and training and discipline and eating their meals in five minutes. They learn new names for things — the bathroom is now the “head”, hats are now “covers”, time is now measured in 24-hour segments, they are known by their last names only and there is no hugging.

So Mother Goose hugged them all day long.

These sailors immediately found their way to Facebook, their emails, their favorite online games and surprised their moms and dads (and in some cases, their wives!) with phone calls. Most of the guys and gals had not heard the voices of their families since they left their hometowns for boot camp five or six weeks earlier! Imagine the tears on the cheeks of the moms all across the country as they heard the voices of their young sailors…

"Thank you, Ma'am.  Is this Heaven?"

“Thank you, Ma’am. Is this Heaven?”

Checking in with family across the country.

Checking in with family across the country.

This is Edward -- he's from Puerto Rico and not especially liking the Chicago winters...

This is Edward — he’s from Puerto Rico and not especially liking the Chicago winters…

Ms Melvina, her caterer friend Kimberly chatting it up with some happy recruits.

Ms Melvina, her caterer friend Kimberly chatting it up with some happy recruits.

Besides the young recruits, our amazing team at Easter Seals also invited the veterans in our community who participate in our programs and services. It was a wonderful mix of young and old, squids and old salts, volunteers from all walks of life serving turkeys and the fixin’s donated and cooked by so many gracious helpers. It was a team effort and those are the best kinds of efforts according to this goose.

Dear Erin cooked a turkey and connected us with the amazing bus!

Dear Erin cooked a turkey and connected us with the amazing bus!

Retired Army Drill Sergeant Daniel, his wife and son Ethan served all day long.  They are the owners of an amazing online biz, Gruntstyle.com.  GREAT place to go on Cyber Monday for some VERY cool and patriotic American apparel.

Retired Army Drill Sergeant Daniel, his wife and son Ethan served all day long. They are the owners of an amazing online biz, Gruntstyle.com. GREAT place to go on Cyber Monday for some VERY cool and patriotic American apparel.

So many smiles...

So many smiles…

IMG_0536

The food line was amazing!  Seven turkeys, two hams and a partridge in a pear tree!

The food line was amazing! Seven turkeys, two hams and a partridge in a pear tree!

Our dinner with the recruits and veterans had a full agenda, including the Presentation of Colors by the Oak Park Police Department, poetry reading by Ms Josie Pierce of the American Women of Oak Park and Austin, presentations of roses to veterans and live music by a really talented musician named Ernie.

Ernie sang with passion and style about America and love of country, love of God.

Ernie sang with passion and style about America and love of country, love of God.

And then it was time to climb back aboard the USS Thanksgiving and head back to the base…hugs and tears all around. As Mother Goose climbed onto the bus, the sailors started singing at the top of their lungs!

“Anchors Aweigh, my boys, Anchors Aweigh. Farewell to foreign shores, We sail at break of day-ay-ay-ay. Through our last night on shore, Drink to the foam, Until we meet once more. Here’s wishing you a happy voyage home.

Blue of the Mighty Deep; Gold of God’s Sun Let these colors be till all of time be done, done, done, On seven seas we learn Navy’s stern call: Faith, Courage, Service true, with Honor, Over Honor, Over All.”

When we arrived at the base, thirty four sailors filed out of the bus with thankful hearts and happy faces. Each and every one of them gave Mother Goose a GREAT BIG HUG and said “thank you” and “happy Thanksgiving” and “God bless you”. Mother Goose smiled…

A Little Whinny Goes a Long Way

Last weekend, Mother Goose joined with other military family service providers in Palatine, Illinois to celebrate military families and host a resource fair. We had representatives from many, many noble organizations including the VA, Adler School of Professional Psychology, Blue Star Mothers, The Soldiers’ Project, Helping Hospitalized Veterans and Salute Inc.

Pam and Heather, friends of Mother Goose and military families

Pam and Heather, friends of Mother Goose and military families

Besides the exhibit tables, there were guest speakers and prize giveaways. There was a special room for the kiddos with a mobile tech lab to make Father’s Day cards. There were treats and snacks and Culver’s ice cream for all.

Raffle drawings every hour!  Photo courtesy of Joyce Carrasco!

Raffle drawings every hour! Photo courtesy of Joyce Carrasco!

But the happiest moments came immediately after we heard a shrill whinny at the door of the American Legion hall. All heads turned towards the door. And there she was!

Lunar is one of five miniature therapy ponies who graced our doors and floors.

Lunar is one of five miniature therapy ponies who graced our doors and floors.

Mane in Heaven is a non-profit organization whose mission is to bring these little ponies out to work as therapy animals. Can it even get any cuter than this? The smiling handlers brought in each of the ponies, one by one for the children and the adults to pet and praise. Readers, I can’t tell you how many smiles blossomed in that room the moment each pony crossed the threshold and into the exhibit hall! They were the sweetest and cutest little creatures this goose has ever smiled at, and I’m not even exaggerating this time.

How adorable!  Photo courtesy of Joyce Carrasco.  Thanks Joyce!

How adorable! Photo courtesy of Joyce Carrasco. Thanks Joyce!

And then the grand finale where all five of the little ponies were joyfully led into the hall all at the same time. And then a sudden hush…and we all wondered…and then the handlers hurriedly led the ponies back outside to their trailer. And then another group of handlers rushed into the American Legion hall with scoopers, cleaning product and plenty of paper towels.

We smiled and then we heard a final whinny from the ponies as they rode off into the sunset…

Help a Real Live Veteran TODAY

(Originally posted over at that OTHER Mother Goose Blog: mothergoosesalutes.wordpress.com)

So many friends of Mother Goose want to make a difference in the world. Here’s a HUGE way to help! A friend of mine, Richard Casper, is working with another disabled veteran, Jesse, to make a music video to go along with the song they wrote recently in Nashville with the amazing country band, Blackjack Billy.

Who doesn’t love a good old fashioned country song written by a veteran of the Iraq war? Who WOULDN’T want to see this go to the next level and get some national exposure? Who’s heart isn’t breaking for all of the brave disabled veterans out there?

Friends and loyal readers, here is a link to the crowd-funding site where they are raising up some bucks to help get the video together for Jesse’s song, “Til It Feels Like Home”. I believe that with all of us working together, we’ll make this dream a reality for these guys.

http://igg.me/p/music-video-for-a-disabled-veteran/x/3648667

And here’s a video clip of Blackjack Billy singing the song.

Just imagine how this song could help vets all around the world! Let’s get behind this project, OK?

Feel free to hit that “share” button and God bless you!

Remember Richard Casper?

Many of my lovable and loyal readers will remember the four-part series I wrote in February about Marine veteran Richard Casper — his adventures, his mishaps, the injuries he suffered as a result of being hit FOUR time by IEDs in Iraq, his return home and his eventual healing through arts and music.

Well, Richard is moving forward with his vision to help fellow injured veterans. Here’s a link to a blog beautifully written by Tiffany Schertz, wife of a brave Marine vet who lost his leg in Iraq and was badly burned by a suicide bomber there. Richard took her husband Jesse down to Nashville to write a country song with the band Blackjack Billy. Mother Goose could never have covered this follow-up story better than Tiffany who is a brave wife and mom herself.

http://amarineslove.blogspot.com/2013/05/a-few-weeks-ago-jesse-took-trip-to.html

Please read her story, and share the video of Richard singing Jesse’s song. We have to help one another and this is a great way to spread the word that our brave veterans aren’t just sick and injured — they have HOPE and great GIFTS to share with the rest of us.

God bless you today for caring about our servicemen and women!

A Blatant Plug for the New Blog

Many of my most faithful readers have asked, “Where are you, Mother Goose? We miss your daily stories about people you know and places you go.”

And I do apologize for my seemingly absent stories, but I must tell you about the most exciting experience I’ve had in a long time! I met yesterday with a young man AND an older gentleman. Now before you get your undies in a bunch, please hear me out…

This was an interview I was conducting of a young U.S. Marine veteran who is now an accomplished and exhibited artist in the Chicagoland area. I am currently telling his story for all to hear over at that other Mother Goose blog, Mother Goose Salutes.

Of course, I am not one who likes to toot her own horn, per se. Or honk her own praises…

But this is such a great story about such an amazing man that I just have to invite you over there to read it. Here’s just a snippet from the story:

“I’m actually thankful for getting blown up in Iraq four times. I’m actually happier now being an artist rather than getting the business management degree I always thought I’d get.”

(Maybe you need to stop and read that quote again…)

Marine veteran and artist, Richard Casper at The Corner Bakery.

Marine veteran and artist, Richard Casper at The Corner Bakery.

Please consider this an open invitation to follow The Ballad of Richard Casper, a real life American hero with a vision to help other disabled veterans — perhaps to even save the lives of some of our returning troops who suffer from Traumatic Brain Injuries and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Love, Mother Goose

Grampa was a U.S. Sailor

Laurence Leslie Frame, our grampa, served in the United States Navy from 1943 until the close of the war in 1945. I do not know how or why he chose to be a sailor, but given that he was thirty-five years of age at the time, and married with four children, I would quickly believe the family reports that he was drafted into service.

Grampa and Gramma Frame

After basic training at Great Lakes Naval Station just north of Chicago, he was shipped out to the South Pacific theater of battle where the U.S. was battling the Japanese. Generally speaking, the South Pacific strategy was to capture islands and island chains from Hawaii across to Guam and the Phillipines, essentially chasing Japan out of its extensive bases. According to Wikipedia, “On February 1, 1944, Kwajalein was the target of the most concentrated bombardment of the Pacific War. Thirty-six thousand shells from naval ships and ground artillery on a nearby islet struck Kwajalein. American B-24 Liberator bombers aerially bombarded the island, adding to the destruction.” Kwajalein is part of the Republic of Marshall Islands which include the Bikini Atoll which of course is where tiny little bathing suits were invented and nuclear bombs were tested.

Grampa was a part of Operation Flintlock which was the D Day Invasion of Kwajalein. His duty was in the repair of LVT’s which are the amphibious assault vehicles of WWII. They were also called “Water Buffalo” and were extremely important to the beach landings of the war. And they experienced frequent breakdowns, so Grampa’s mechanical skills were vitally important.

Grampa returned home to Nimrod, Minnesota after the war was over. He worked as a carpenter in the growing community and then opened the first gas station in town, a Skelly service station which Grampa owned and operated until the early 1970’s when he retired. He passed away in 1973 and was buried with military honors in the Nimrod Cemetery. I can still hear the 21 Gun Salute and the bugle playing Taps.

Here’s to war heroes and veterans from all of the wars that we’ve fought to defend freedom! God bless America, and God bless all of our veterans.

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