North Carolina is facing a crisis. Our childhood hunger rates hover around 1 in 3 or 1 in 4, depending on the county. That’s higher than the national average. There are amazing people and organizations in the trenches of government making sense of policy and legislation to ensure we leverage every penny of funding available. There are those fighting to ensure the funding doesn’t get cut. And there are teachers and non-profits working tirelessly to get meals into the hands (well, mouths) of students in our community. I support and applaud their efforts.
I want to draw attention to one nimble little organization helping feed hungry kids at my neighborhood elementary school, the Cecilia Rawlins Fund. This scrappy organization started with a group of moms, as so many great things do. After many forks in the road, dead ends, and road blocks, we persisted. Now the CRF provides Backpack Buddies to about 30 kids a week and pays one-time rent and utility bills for families in financial crisis. Our little non-profit is making a big difference.


I asked my sons to share their impressions of the Cecilia Rawlins Fund. They have been entrenched in this as volunteers and as peers of kids who benefit from the Backpack Buddies program. As we enter into the holiday season and this day of giving thanks, I hope my sons’ words inspire you to make a donation of any amount.


Bird – age 14, loves basketball, traveling, and reading:

“Backpack Buddies helps many children in my community. My mom, along with other parents, started this at my elementary school about six years ago. It provides meals every Friday and before holidays so children will have something to eat over the weekend and breaks. Every other Friday my mom and I deliver the Backpack Buddies to all the classrooms. The kids that receive them rush to the door and are so happy to receive the food. It makes me proud of my mom’s accomplishments and my own giving back. My mom also recently started Backpack Buddies at my middle school. Many of the kids that get them have their only meal at school and don’t have dinner. Most people (myself included) take having three meals a day for granted. My mom makes a home cooked meal every morning and night but many kids only have school lunches and breakfast and maybe no servings of fruits or vegetables the whole day. My outlook on my community has changed a lot since I have started doing Backpack Buddies. Now I see that many kids are very happy from something as small (as we see it) as food.”

Deal – age 12, loves putzing, building, magic, and math:

“One reason we do Backpack Buddies is to help those in need. Also I just love the feeling of helping others. The Cecilia Rawlins Fund started this at my school. Many kids rely on this food over the weekend because they might only get food from school. It also makes me realize how much easier my life is than so many other people’s. I could never imagine what their life is like because I am always fed well. I learned not to take food for granted because I see what other kids have to go through without food. Many kids at my school need unhealthy school food for their meals. Backpack Buddies gives kids healthier options for food and easy to make food for kids who are alone after school. I learn not to be upset when we have food I don’t like because some kids don’t even have food. I also learned to respect other kids when it comes to what they eat because I never know if that’s all they have to eat. I like it because I get that feeling of helping someone with my own time. I also learned helping others is a lot more important than do my stuff for fun after school I can do that stuff after dinner or at other times.”




Thoughts & Prayers Are Trite

by Ilinap on November 6, 2017

I scope out exits everywhere I go now. I peek under seats to gauge the space beneath. I look for columns and other such things to duck behind if need be. I consider where I can hide and shield my sons.

For ages I’ve kept this to myself, fearing I’d look like a paranoid crazy woman. But I’m confessing it here now, for such is the world we live in. Perhaps I have become paranoid, but I like to think of it as prepared.

I had active shooter training in a job I held recently. The trainer saw my cubicle and actually ascertained if I could safely hop into the bottom file drawer in case I was cornered by an active shooter. I guess that’s an added benefit of being small. I actually thought the trainer was joking until he glumly told me it would be my only option since there was no exit anywhere near my desk. That training left me feeling uncomfortable and worried. And yes, I suppose a bit paranoid too. Is this our reality now, America?

I can’t even write about the time there was a code red at my sons’ school when an active shooter was on the run in our neighborhood. He had shot and killed his ex-wife just moments before, steps away from where I had been walking the dog. Too close to home, and I cannot begin to articulate the heartache I felt that day.

Yet here we are again, America. The tired din of “thoughts and prayers” echo from the halls of Congress. It’s a trite phrase for a meaningless sentiment. We hear it all too often, and it’s followed by crickets as lawmakers bow to the NRA shrine. I thought Sandy Hook was our national low, but it turns out that children shot and killed in church beats that. Half the victims in Texas were children. Neither school nor church is safe, America. Let that sink in.

We travel all over the world as a family. Many people ask us if we feel unsafe as we go on a tiger safari in India or walk the streets of London without a map. Our answer is always the same…we live in America, a place where gun violence takes lives everyday. If we were to be afraid of walking the streets, it would likely be in our own homeland. And truth be told, sometimes I am scared. I confess that large crowds make me feel uncomfortable. I worry about all the typical things that mothers of teenage boys the world over worry about, but gun violence is an added stress, especially with brown sons in the age of Trump.

Thoughts and prayers aren’t getting us anywhere. It’s time for action and policy.



Write to Those Doing the Right Thing

October 23, 2017

Tweet I’ve spent my entire life writing to legislators, companies, and movie stars. I had written to President Jimmy Carter, Hamburger Helper, and Lucille Ball before I turned 12. Decades later, I continue to write letters. I even taught a segment in my public relations class about advocacy and the role of social good in […]

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It’s Time to Stop Being Surprised by Harassment

October 15, 2017

Tweet “Me too.” It’s a thing happening on Facebook right now. Women are simply uttering the words “me too” to illustrate just how many of us have faced harassment in the workplace. My feed is filled with this. I have never in my life had a job where I was not sexually harassed. The gravest […]

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Happy 14th Birthday, Bird

August 29, 2017

Tweet Dear Bird, You know I’m the sentimental type, right? My heart usurps my brain, for better or worse. You might not realize this yet, but you and I share the same constitution. I see so much of myself in you, the good bits and the not-so-good bits. We are both smarter than the average […]

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The Promise of Darkness, Eclipse 2017

August 21, 2017

Tweet  We’ve been a nation shrouded in darkness since November 9, yet today we welcomed the darkness as we eagerly awaited the total solar eclipse. In a paradoxical twist, it was the promise of darkness that breathed an airy lightness into our country. Today was a remarkable day. We rallied around a scientific event, celebrating […]

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“What did you do to make the world better?” – Support Backpack Buddies Mediathon

July 18, 2017

Tweet“We know that a peaceful world cannot long exist, one-third rich and two-thirds hungry.” — Jimmy Carter   It is criminal that we have hungry children in our community. These aren’t far away kids whose faces you’ll never see (as if that mattered). I’m talking about children who sit next to your children and mine […]

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I’m a Flag Waving Liberal

July 3, 2017

Tweet The republican president is not my America. My America is open and diverse and welcoming. My America celebrates its freedom rather than squashes it. My America lifts others up, not puts them down.  My America doesn’t make me feel ashamed. Independence Day has long been my favorite holiday. There’s no pressure and stress of […]

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He’s 12.

June 22, 2017

Tweet If he had a theme song, it would be You Are the Sunshine of My Life. He was born sunnyside up, after all. This sweet child of mine is tender hearted and funny. He’s also pensive and thoughtful; I can almost see gears clicking in his head as he unravels how things work. His […]

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Time to Slow Down

June 5, 2017

Tweet Instant gratification is the culprit of all societal ailments. Patience has disappeared from a long list of diminishing virtues. Every click, push, turn, and touch makes things beep, buzz, hum, and go. I don’t even need a key to start my car. Hell, even my drawers and cabinets are “self-closing” so they shut with […]

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