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Impress vs. Inspire

“Lord I have sought you, and at last I have found You. Thanks for the state of Your Grace which has guided me.”  Mary Virginia Merrick

I watched a bit of the Academy Awards show this year, mainly for the fashions, and I was struck with how many people look up to actors and sports figures.  They not only look up to them but adore and admire them.  Everything from their fashion and style sense to their values and political views.  They inspire to be like them and take every opportunity to check out stories about their lives, photos, and tweets.  I was reminded about a recent homily of Monsignor Connolly’s, my parish’s retired pastor.  Monsignor commented that people who focus on celebrities are not inspired by them…they are impressed.  Celebrities have a great effect on our culture, setting trends and highlighting the cause du jour.  But these people do not feed the soul.  They do not inspire you to be a better person.  They simply impress, not inspire.  So I decided to take the time to think about what and who inspires me.  And it did not take me long to find inspiration in everyday life where God is always present.

We recently held our face to face National Board meeting at our offices in Maryland.  We have women from 11 different chapters, all with one common goal; to continue, and more importantly, enhance the support of National to the chapters so that they may advance the Christ Child mission.  We had several discussions and brainstorming sessions, but what struck me the most, what inspired me the most, was how proud each member was of their individual chapter.  We were all eager to share successes and instances of our fellow members who go above and beyond.  Yes, we are connected as National Board members, but even more so as members of this very unique national organization.

I’m inspired by the Summit, NJ program that we recently highlighted, where 4th graders at the Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child make blankets for layettes.  The fact that the students contribute to Summit’s layette program is inspiration enough, however, the teacher takes it to another level when she brings the blankets and children to the chapel to discuss who will be receiving those blankets and why.  The teacher highlights the Christ Child to each student while supporting and reinforcing our mission.

I am inspired by Baltimore’s summer reading program. “Stay Ahead! Soar Through Summer and Read!” was begun in 2013, recognizing the importance of continued reading during the summer break.  What started out as a used book distribution to 5 partner organizations has grown to a program that distributes over 3,085 books to 12 partner organizations along with a subprogram called “Book/Kindness Ambassadors” for middle school students, where a librarian from the county or city presents a program on “How to Read to A Child”.  Along the way, grants, book drives, donations, and volunteers were solicited and obtained.  Thank you Baltimore for your inspiration.  Identify a need and build on it each year.

I am inspired by the Sarasota, FL chapter’s Soap Closet project.  Member, Pat Maguire, presented the idea of donating dish detergent and laundry soap to families in poverty in 2016.  She proposed filling recycled plastic water bottles with the soaps.  She and her husband James worked the donations out of their home until health issues prevented her from continuing.  As time went on, current chapter President and NCCS Board member, Loretta Haugh’s husband David asked if someone had taken on the project. When the answer was no, he said without any hesitation, “I will do it.”  The project became known as ‘The Soap Closet” of the Christ Child Society of Sarasota and they distribute laundry soap bottles to needy mothers at Stillpoint House of Prayer, Bradenton, Florida.  Sometimes, it’s a small act that can inspire the most.

I am also inspired by the Tucson, AZ chapter’s new project that arose from a request from a local school’s principal. Mr. Bill, from San Xavier Mission School, asked if CCS Tucson could help him acquire a washer and dryer to help the children wash their clothes so they would feel good about themselves. Studies have shown that children and teens without clean clothes, skip school because of bullying, name-calling, and low self-esteem. Mr. Bill is using this to teach the children how to wash and dry clothes so they can take care of themselves while building their confidence and school attendance.  The president of the Tucson chapter reached out to the owner of a local appliance store for a good price and was surprised by his answer of “I can do better than that…I will donate a refurbished set, just tell me where to deliver it”.  We need to remember that inspiration, as well as need, comes in many different forms.

I could go on and on with many other chapter programs and local projects.   Each chapter is truly an inspiration to me and I am constantly reminded that our members truly live the mission that was begun by Mary Virginia Merrick over 130 years ago.

So…what inspires you?  I am sure that if you take the time, you will find inspiration in your local chapter programs and members.  Let us all remember that the Christ Child is present in everyday deeds and people and even small acts can be inspirational!

Carol Pickle
NCCS President