Monthly Archives: February 2010

BRESMA Update

Who’s that?  That’s my nephew on the evening he handed Jamie and Ali a check for $1,200.

He gets a HELL of an allowance.

Except not.  He is a second-grader and he’s been very aware of BRESMA since day one.  One day shortly after the orphans arrived in Pittsburgh, he asked his principal if he could collect loose change and give it to BRESMA, and the principal said yes and my nephew wrote a letter to the kids in the school to take home to their parents. That Friday morning he stood by a big blue box in the school hallway and collected $1,200 worth of coins and bills from his classmates.

I know. You don’t have to tell me.

So, I’ve been promising a BRESMA update for a day or so now, but as always, like Haiti, the situation is fluid and at times chaotic.

Here’s what’s happening now:

  • The children are now moved to a different orphanage and that means that they are no longer living in tents in the driveway.  They continue to be cared for and their health is improving, as it had already improved dramatically once Jamie and Ali showed up to care for them.
  • In the meantime, Jamie and Ali are continuing to fight the United States Department of State to get them to make an exception that would allow these children to be joined with the families they are matched with in Colorado, families that are waiting for them.  The children have permission from the Haitian government to leave the country and go to the United States.  It is the State Department that is saying “No.”
  • There have been 4 aftershocks in the last 48 hours so you can understand why Jamie and Ali want to get those kids to America where they can be sure they’re safe from crumbling buildings.
  • Gary Tuchman from CNN was at the orphanage and met with Jamie and Ali for over an hour the other day to get their story.
  • Currently Jamie and Ali are still in Haiti and are in a holding pattern waiting for updates. They will base their next move depending on what they hear.
  • If you’d like to do something now, you can continue to email and call the elected officials and let them know that you haven’t forgotten about these children and that neither should they.

So that’s where it’s at.  We’ll keep you posted and let you know as soon as we have a way for you to help, but for now, the children are better off than they were a week ago, thanks to Jamie and Ali, and that is a small victory itself.  However, it is their long-term prospects that Jamie and Ali continue to fight for.

So many of you took the time to call and write the politicians, and we can’t thank you enough for that.  You’re the best. All of you.

More soon!





The Parking Chair Wars heat up

I talked a bit about the Pittsburgh Parking chair over at the Pittsburgh Magazine blog, but let’s dig a little deeper here.

There are a few ways people look at the Pittsburgh Parking Chair:

1.  It’s acceptable in the winter when you’ve spent 3 hours digging your space out, but it’s kind of rude in the warmer months when you’ve done nothing to earn that space.

2.  It’s acceptable.  Always.  Respect the chair.  Always.  Or face street justice. [awkward kung fu moves]

3.  It’s never acceptable.  Ever.  It’s rude and illegal and I don’t care if you dug the space out for two hours.  If you leave, I can claim that space, even if it means I have to move your stupid chair.

Now, here at That’s Church we can agree to disagree, so I hope you agree to disagree with me if you’re a two or a three, because this girl right here?  I’m a one.  I understand it in the winter, but not so much in the summer.  In the winter, I kind of equate it to, let’s say you’re at the arts festival and you’ve secured your gyros and your spinach pies and your other artery-clogging foods, and you head over to find a table.  The only table you can find that is not being used is covered in trash and maybe some pigeon poop.  You take some time to pick everything up and wipe the table down, after which you head to the trash can to throw the crap away.  However, when you return, that table you just cleaned off is now occupied by a group of people and the food you left there to save your table has been moved and placed on the floor.  It might make you feel a little [awkward kung fu moves] don’t you think?

This week, it appears that a number three moved a parking space saver and left a note for a number one or a number two.

Here’s the note that the number three left:

Here’s her back windshield, likely street justice doled out by Mr. Super Pissed Off Number One or Two:

Here’s my opinion on this.

The windshield never should have been broken.  That was a bit TOO MUCH street justice.  If he feels that strongly about it, next time Mr. Number One or Two should just bury the car and force Miss Number Three to dig it out herself so she can see how much work went into it.

However, Miss Number Three might want to meet the kettle because her beef is that shoveled-out space-saving is RUDE, underlined RUDE, and therefore, she calls out this perceived rudeness via a rude, and let’s just call a bitchy spade a bitchy spade, bitchy note.

The moral of this post is this:  Don’t smash a windshield unless you’re rescuing a trapped baby or unless your golfer husband slept with a baker’s dozen of gross ho-bags.  Don’t leave rude notes when you decide, ill-advisedly, to move a parking chair. And finally, all pigeons must die. [expert lightsaber moves].

The end.





Quote of the day!

Here’s an article about Pittsburgh possibly hosting the Winter Classic at either PNC Park or Heinz Field in 2011, which, SQUEE!, however the best part of this link has nothing to do with that.

Pittsburgh Pirate Neil Walker, who used to be number 19 is now wearing number 18 since newly signed Church asked for number 19.  When asked if he objected to the number change, Walker said:

“Nah. Eighteen, 19, they look the same to the untrained eye.”

Putting aside the fact that Walker is incredibly cool and without ego about this, is he saying that one has to train their eye to differentiate between the 8 and the 9?

Challenge accepted.





Offensive Winter Driving

Working on a BRESMA update for you, in the meantime, you can bloop-bloop-bloop down for a Make Room for Kids update and a Penguins post or you can head over to Pittsburgh Magazine to read about how I’m scared of driving in PRECIPITATION!, most especially WINTER! PRECIPITATION!

[blood-curdling scream]





Making rooms for kids.

(source)

Last Friday, my butler Mike and I were guests of the Mario Lemieux Foundation and the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation to tour the hospital and talk about Make Room for Kids, and I wanted to just sort of share with you why we were there, what we saw, and what we decided to do with that there $14,000 of money you gave us.

We’re going to Vegas.

I kid.

Now, I don’t want you to think that we took your money and then nothing happened.  I have been going back and forth with Mike and the Foundation for months as they worked with the hospital to determine how best to use the money to bring gaming to the children.

On our visit, they showed us Matt’s Media Room which was funded by a mother who lost her young son to cancer.

They showed us the Lemieux Sibling Center.  Toys for every age. Air hockey table, of course, above which hangs a Stanley Cup Fathead autographed by various Penguins.  A gaming section with couches, a TV, and a Wii.  I even spotted a Rock Band guitar.

Finally, they showed us Austin’s Playroom, named after Mario and Nathalie’s son.  It is a beautifully decorated, bright, sunshiny room with computers, toys, a huge fish tank, portable Wii and more.

We were standing in that playroom, talking in a circle, when a young boy, perhaps 6 or 7 years old with blond messy hair, walked through our little group of people.  He was wearing pajama pants and his hospital gown was gaping open at the back.  He was hunched over, possibly from pain, and was walking slowly. So slowly.  He hobbled through our circle and we parted to let him out the other side where he made his way to a cabinet and opened it up to reveal just about every board game you can imagine.

The conversation of our circle picked back up as the child chose his game and slowly and silently shuffled away, but, like, my heart turned around in my chest and watched this little boy, even though my back was to him as he sat down at a table to play the game.

This is how it was for about ten minutes.  I was involved in the conversation taking place before me, but there was a whole separate part of me that was completely aware of and focused on this child behind me.  I can’t explain it.  I watched him without seeing him and I just wanted to hug that little kid and every little kid I saw.

But I’ve digressed.

There were floors and rooms discussed; however, when it came down to it, the children who are the sickest and who have the most lengthy stays at Children’s are usually not able to get out of their rooms to enjoy the playrooms already established throughout the building for the more mobile, less at-risk children.

What we have decided to do is focus on bringing gaming to the sickest of the kids.  The room-confined children.  The children who sometimes have to be isolated from other patients.  The children with the longest hospital stays.

Matt’s mother did this for the oncology floor, and after speaking with the foundation staff and the hospital staff, Mike and I agreed that we thought you would like to use your money to bring gaming to the transplant floor.  Floor 7. And this being Pittsburgh, the home of Thomas Starzl, AKA The Father of Modern Transplantation, it seems appropriate.

Right now, children who have transplants at Children’s have at their disposal a TV with cable and on-demand movies.  There are a few laptops they can use, but those laptops are for the entire hospital and that means they have to wait for them to become available.  Same goes for the portable gaming.  They have to wait.  This is why Matt’s mother outfitted the oncology floor.  Matt was in the hospital for over 100 days before he died, and he was continually waiting for a Wii to become available. She didn’t want any children to ever have to wait.

I don’t either.

Transplant children have pre-transplant stays, transplant stays, and post-transplant stays.  They are isolated at times while their bodies accept their new organs.  When we were in the sibling room, the employees were wiping down each individual marker with a disinfecting wipe.  You can see how seriously they take the spread of germs in that hospital and you can see why some patients cannot take advantage of the common rooms for play.

What we are going to do is this:  Purchase a game console for every transplant room, either XBox 360s or Playstation 3s because they also play DVDs (and even Blu-Ray, in the case of the PS3) that they may have brought from home.  In addition, we will purchase 10 handheld gaming devices, likely DSs or PSPs.  We will also purchase 6 to 8 Toshiba Toughbooks for the transplant patients to use to play online games, surf the net, or check their emails.

All of this will be dedicated to the transplant floor only.  That means no more waiting and that means these children who cannot leave their beds or rooms can still enjoy some downtime gaming while they’re alone or bored.  We’ll also supply that floor with a huge pool of games for both the in-room consoles and the handhelds.  So every child who comes to the hospital for a transplant can game on their in-room TV, or on a handheld, or on a laptop that won’t break even if they drop it.

Does that sound good to you guys?

We’re still “Making Room for Kids,” we’re just making 24 rooms for specific kids. For now.  I’m thinking to do the fundraiser again this Christmas so that we can start outfitting more of the hospital this way, since they seem to be pretty well taken care of when it comes to common play areas, but not so much when it comes to in-room entertainment.

I know we originally said one room.  One big room.  But why give the hospital something it doesn’t need as much, not when what the kids want the most is something to do in their rooms?

More details will be finalized in the coming weeks, including what exact gaming systems we will purchase and if you can donate games, etc.  I’ll keep you posted.

Now were going to go after these items and we’re going to go after deep discounts so that we can afford it all.  If however we come up a bit short … [big grin].

I LOVE YOU GUYS!