wouldn't you love it if . . .

teens had some compassion?

Well, here’s a story about some teens who really did manage to think about how they’d feel in someone else’s shoes.

An average teen who lives in Ravenscroft in the North Carolina Appalachian Mountains, Krissi Fajgenbaum has helped thousands of low-income teens to look and feel their best. She got the inspiration after watching a documentary about the poverty and unemployment in the nearby community of Robbinsville.

“In tenth grade I watched Diane Sawyer’s “20/20” documentary on children of the Appalachians and the poverty in which they live. I was devastated to learn that this kind of poverty exists right here in NC, only five hours away from where I live, and was compelled to start Teens 2 Teens,” says Fajgenbaum.

The organization takes donations of used clothing from teens. The clothes are sorted and cleaned by teens. The shop, called Krissi’s Kloset, is run by teens. “All teenagers have the same wants and needs no matter who they are or where they come from,” says Krissi. “Teens want to feel good about themselves. They want to feel self confident and they want to fit in. By offering teens in need gently used clothing, they can feel good about themselves at school and feel more confident and comfortable when they go on class trips and college visits.” And so, the teens in need are allowed to shop for free. That’s right, the clothes and shoes are FREE.

Krissi is now in college,  a freshman biomedical engineering major at UNC Chapel Hill and a Robertson Scholar – you might think she would be busy pledging a sorority, or trying out for teams or drama, or just studying hard. But, busy as she is, she still makes time to work with Teens 2 Teens, providing those in need with a sustainable way to receive clothing, shoes, and accessories that have been gently used by others. And, in July 2010, Teens 2 Teens partnered with Communities In Schools of North Carolina in an effort to reach and provide clothing to at risk teens in the Appalachians. Our first joint effort  is a shop for free boutique in Bryson City which is centrally located in the Appalachian Mountain Region of NC. This boutique, also called Krissi’s Kloset, will provide clothes and shoes to  needy teens in eight counties in the NC Appalachians.

As pointed out on the website, most high schools have a community service requirement. Also, most colleges look very favorably upon an effort that meets a local need but does not garner lots of attention. They’d rather see someone work to combat a problem that to get credit for the hours. Well, Krissi started out that way, but has not shunned the attention, and the increased donations that brings. She and Teens 2 Teens have been featured in People Magazine and Cary Magazine, on Good Morning America’s AmeriCAN segment, and as ABC 11 Person of the Week on her local station. Still, Krissi has not let her 15 minutes of fame go to her head. She urges others to

Start a chapter of Teens 2 Teens at your school. Small towns all over America have been hit especially hard by the poor economy. Unemployment is high which means many teens are going without basics such as jeans, sweaters,  coats, and shoes. Contact me to learn how to start a partnership with a school in need. I hope you will consider starting a chapter at your school




And according to the Donations page on the Teens 2 Teens website;

All donations are extremely appreciated and will go to needy students who desperately need them.  

 Please remember to include your name and address with your package so we can send you your tax-deduction form.

Please send your donations to:

Krissi’s Kloset

CIS of Swain County

100 Brendle Street

Bryson City, NC 28713

 or you can contact Krissi herself at krissi@teens2teens.net.

I encourage you all to donate, clothes, shoes, accessories, or money.  And to Krissi Fajgenbaum,

Rock on!


preteens knew what to do with themselves?

I can’t vouch for all of them, but here’s a story about one 12-year old who knows exactly what to do with her spare time!

You see, there are some very happy people in Rachel’s Village near Leogane, about 1 hour’s drive from Port-au-Prince, Haiti these days. Why? Because 12-year old Rachel Wheeler, for whom the village is named, raised over $250,000 to build 27 homes. Many of the new home owners are first time homeowners, indeed, first time home dwellers who had to be taught to fit a key into a lock! And Rachel’s not done yet. She says that she plans to build 20 more homes and a school. So, how did this all start?

A little over two years ago, just after the devastating 7.2 earthquake hit Haiti, Rachel attended a Chamber of Commerce meeting with her mom. She was just 9 at the time, and her mom wasn’t sure that she even understood the presentation. Except to have nightmares from the horrific images in the slide show. And then, Rachel stood up on a chair and said that she was going to help. And she got busy fast . . . Rachel collected funds by organizing bake sales, passing a donation can at homecoming games and selling homemade potholders at her Deerfield Beach, Fla. school, according to the Huffington Post. Not afraid to ask people she knew to donate, Rachel approached her parents’ friends and her church for help and got two large checks from Lighthouse Point Chamber of Commerce.

“Little children will lead us and teach us how to do things,” Robin Mahfood, President and CEO for Food For The Poor, told the news outlet. “It is amazing. She is a tremendous girl.”

And Rachel isa tremendous girl. She wants to build a school for the 250 students who lost theirs in the earthquake. “I want to build a school because they need education to make their lives better so they can learn and teach their own children how to have a better life,” Rachel told Food for the Poor. You might think that she’d take a break, having already passed the  halfway mark in her fundraising efforts for building the school, but she’s determined not to quit too soon. She wants the kids to go to school so that they can improve their lives. “I don’t believe I can snap my fingers and change Haiti overnight,” she told NBC. “I know I have to work at it.” And so, she does. To help Rachel reach her goal, please go to http://support.foodforthepoor.org/site/TR?pg=fund&fr_id=2091&pxfid=4112

 Rock on, Rachel!

kids could fly as high as their dreams?

You guessed it! They can! At least, in Tucson, Phoenix,  North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Vermont, Kansas, Missouri, Massachusetts and Florida.

A non-profit 501(c)3 organization called Wright Flight,Inc.  was started in Tucson, Arizona, by a retired Air Force Reserve fighter pilot called Robin Stoddard. Stoddard said that he had noticed that planes have a profound effect on kids. He decided to use that fact to make a difference in their lives. He developped a flight training program and materials for kids. Then he found other volunteers to help teach the kids to fly. Next, he put out the word that any kid who wanted to do it badly enough could learn to fly for free.

Well, that “free” really caught the attention of kids and parents alike. And while the parents truly don’t pay anything for the flying lessons, the kids do.  They have to keep their grades up in school and they must volunteer in the community. Once they have met their hours requirement, they turn in copies of their report cards and get a teacher to recommend them.

You may wonder how I know all this . . . well, my grandson, who has just signed up for the program, told me. For him, this was a no-brainer decision to fulfill his dream of flying. He comes from a middle class family whose income stretches well for the family, but would not allow flying lessons at $129.95 a session. (And that’s the low end in Tucson.) So, he knew it wouldn’t happen unless he made it happen. And so, he found Wright Flight and got the ball rolling.

But, most of the Wright Flight kids are not so self-motivated and don’t have my grandson’s self-esteem and self-direction. That’s exactly why Robin Stoddard started the program. As of 2011, approximately  10,500  successful students have graduated Wright Flight Training –over 750  in the Tucson area during this school year! Stoddard keeps 21 pilot-instructors and over two dozen volunteers working so that those successful kids can have their flight lessons and time.

Wright Flight, Inc. was selected to receive the 2011 Outstanding Achievement in Public Benefit Award by the National Aeronautic Association. On September 15th, Stoddard received the award on the steps at the US Capitol building.  “While it’s certainly a mark of distinction for the organization,” Stoddard said, “this award really honors our sponsors, volunteers and the countless children who have not only raised their grades, but experienced the profound challenges of flight. The emotional response that we get from every child that takes off in a Wright Flight airplane is a weekly reminder that we are doing the work we set out to do. “

Rock on!

teenagers could find something useful to do? part 2

I saw a headline just briefly as I clicked past the news feed. By the time I got back, the link was gone. But, I went to the laregest search engine and wrote in what I thought the headline said, “High School Students Build A Farmer’s Market In A Food Desert.” Turns out I have a pretty darn good memory, because that exact headline appeared and I read the whole story this time.

The folks in Bertie County, North Carolina are apparently just like the rest of us – “largely obese .” I would not have intended, and do not intend, the pun! Anyhow, it’s an agricultural county, which you would think means that they have access to lots of high quality, farm-fresh produce. Except they don’t. Because Bertie County grows tobacco, cotton, peanuts, and soy that are sent away. So, two teachers,  Emily Pilloton and  Matthew Miller led a class of high school students in designing and building a  farmer’s market . Their program is called Studio H, which the website describes as:

  a different kind of classroom. Studio H is a public high school “design/build” curriculum that sparks rural community development through real-world, built projects. Over the course of one calendar year, students earn high school and college credit, and are paid a summer wage to build the community project they have spent the year designing and prototyping. We design, build, and transform.

So, in this case, the students combined their design and building skills with the solution to a community problem: no access to fresh grown fruits and vegetables. The idea for the farmer’s market pavilion came from both the students and the local community. “It was something the town wanted,” explains Pilloton. The pavilion is the third project from Studio H students, and their first large-scale project.

And, because the idea came from the students and their community, the teachers noticed that the kids were more dedicated to the project. When asked about plans for next year, Emily Pilloton said that she wants the idea to come from the students, so that they can “find something that they’re going to be passionate about.”

Teenagers who would otherwise be bored all summer, high school and college credits, wages, a farmer’s market and dedication.

Rock on!

Sportsmanlike conduct still existed?

Especially today, after reading about a high school football player in Ohio who sent the entire opposing team to the doctor for tetanus shots after a game in which he didn’t even play! I was so discouraged over this story, and then I ran across another story that made me take heart.

It seems that some teens do know the meaning of sportsmanship and sportsmanlike conduct. Hooray!   
Here’s what happened:
Josh Ripley, from Andover High in Minnesota, picked up an injured competitor and ran back to the starting line to deliver the boy to his coach before returning to his junior varsity cross country 2-mile race (the Applejack Invite ). It seems that Lakeville South runner Mark Paulauskas had hurt himself. Other runners simply kept going, focused on the competition. But, Josh heard the scream and saw Mark holding his bloody ankle; and then he made a decision. He picked up Mark and carried him  a quarter mile back to his coach! And, it’s a really good thing he did bacuase when Mark got to the emergency room, doctors realized he had been accidentally spiked by another runner’s shoe during the race. His injury required 20 stitches and a walking boot to keep the wounded area from opening up.

And Josh is just like most of the heroes we meet in everyday life. “I didn’t think about my race, I knew I needed to stop and help him,” he said in a press release from his school district . “It was something I would expect my other teammates to do. I’m nothing special; I was just in the right place at the right time.” He’s nothing special? I wish!

Here’s what happened next:

First, his cross country coach, Scott Clark, was incredulous when he heard that Ripley was carrying another runner back to the starting line.”Then Josh comes jogging into view carrying a runner,” Clark said. “I noticed the blood on the runner’s ankle as Josh handed him off to one of the coaches from Lakeville. Josh was tired and you could tell his focus was off as he started back on the course.” After dropping Mark Paulauskas off with his coaches, Josh Ripley went back and finished the race!

Not surprisingly, Josh will be honored for this incident at a school board meeting next week.  Here’s the story from WCCO-TV in Minnesota.

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Hey Josh, Rock on!

video gamers did something useful?

Well, they have and here’s the proof!


A group of video gamers have cracked the code on a monomeric protease enzyme that has baffled scientists for years. It’s an enzyme that helps build the AIDS virus, among others. Scientists have been trying to determine the structure of the enzyme in labs and with computer simulation programs for more than a decade.

So, how did they do it? By playing a game called Foldit, which was developed at the University of Washington in 2008. When the game players decided to divide into teams and tackle this enzyme, it took them just 3 weeks to solve it.

And you thought your kid would never do anything good with video games.

Rock on!

all teenagers could find things to do on their own

I once knew a cute little Jewish kid who loved being around the synagogue and seemed to just eat up lessons on things ethical and moral. He was short, but he loved basketball. And he worked hard toward the day of his bar mitzvah. I knew him as a teacher and tutor and I really enjoyed working with him. He was well mannered and easygoing, a genuinely friendly kid. By the time I moved away from Santa Rosa, Ca., he was no longer a kid, but a young man.

Well, just the other day, his mom sent me a link to show me what he’s been up to since we last met. While I was pleasantly surprised, I didn’t learn anything new about him except the specifics of his activities. The qualities I’d always admired were still there, and they’d grown! Just like Gabe Ferrick himself. And so, without ado, I will present the links to show you, too, why he’s the subject of this “good things” blog today.  http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=news%2Fabc7_salutes&id=8329603





I don’t know about you, but I’m going to encourage the youngsters in my life to follow in Gabe’s footsteps for the cause of their choice!  Oh, one more thing. I am so proud of this guy that I’m beside myself. What an honor to have been his teacher!

Peace to you.