ABC’s of Assessment

Anyone who has ever taken a First Aid Course has learned that when you come across a person in need of medical assistance, you perform an initial evaluation. The medical field gave it the cute mnemonic, the “ABC’s of assessment”. A is for airway, B is for breathing, and C is for circulation. These three priorities are imperative for a patient to survive. Each component needs to be addressed, in that exact order, for the next one to be effective.

783 million people do not have access to clean and safe water. That is 1 in 9 people world wide.”-World Health Organization/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Program for Water Supply and Sanitation.

When first responders arrive at an emergency scene and are outnumbered by the amount of patients involved, they perform something called triage. Triage is the process of sorting patients to determine the order of treatment based on the severity of their medical condition. A very rudimentary breakdown of the process can be viewed as 3 separate categories of patients. People who are most likely to live, no matter what treatment they receive, people who are likely to die, no matter what treatment they receive, and people who would receive the most benefit from treatment, possibly making the difference between life and death.

“Waterborne diseases, carried by unsafe water, have killed more people than all wars and other diseases combined.”-Living Water, International.

I’ve been asked “Why Water?” Why not raise funds for Lupus since that is what affects me or why not help fund cancer research since that is what took my Dad, aunts, cousins and numerous friends? I mean, water security issues aren’t even an issue for us.

“Water-related diseases cause 2.2 million deaths a year; every day, diarrhea takes the lives of 2,000 children in Africa—more than any other single cause of death. Safe water, a toilet, and clean hands could prevent 90% of these deaths.”-Living Water, International.

We’ve donated to the Cancer Society, have sponsored friends for cancer fundraisers and will continue to do so. Cancer not only devastates the lives of those diagnosed but for their families and friends as well. I’ve witnessed the evils of my father undergoing chemotherapy and succumbing to the horrendous disease within one year when I was a teenager. It sucks and I want it GONE.

The water crisis is the #1 global risk based on impact to society (as a measure of devastation).”-World Economic Forum, January 2015.

Lupus, although not fun is not a universally fatal disease. Majority of patients who work closely with their doctor, adhere to treatments, and maintain a healthy lifestyle of diet and exercise have very good chances of surviving. 80-90% of people with lupus can expect to live a normal life span when detected early enough and acted upon. It does vary in intensity and degree and my heart breaks for those who experience severe symptoms, even more so for those who lose their lives to it. Fortunately, that is a low percentage of those diagnosed. Though there is no cure, there is a big difference in living an altered life due to a disease as opposed to dying from it.

Nearly 1 out of every 5 deaths under the age of 5 worldwide is due to a water-related disease.-WHO/UNICEF. “Why children are still dying and what can be done.”

There are so many worthy charities out there and for that I am grateful. But where do you start? Where should your efforts go when you don’t feel like you can even make a dent in any one issue? Many people have a tendency to freeze at this point. You feel overwhelmed and the situation feels useless, so instead of making a decision to move in any one direction, you don’t make any decision at all.

“Women and children spend 125 million hours each day collecting water. This time is spent not working, caring for family members or attending school.” World Health Organization and UNICEF Joint Monitoring Program (JMP). (2015)

So what happens when an overwhelming desire to help is surrounded by overwhelming need?
You assess. You triage.
Then you go to where you can make the biggest impact.

“Universal access to safe water and sanitation would result in $18.5 billion in economic benefits each year from deaths avoided alone.”-World Health Organization. (2012). Global costs and benefits of drinking-water supply and sanitation interventions to reach the MDG target and universal coverage.

Water is not only vital for health issues, but for hunger, education, poverty, and for the economy. Just like the ABC’s of assessment, each component needs to be addressed, in that order, for the next one to be effective.

443 million school days are lost each year due to water-related diseases.”-United Nations Development Program. “Human Development Report

Safe water and improved sanitation causes the standard of health to skyrocket faster than anything else. ⇒Access to water leads to food security.  Food is finally able to be grown, hunger is reduced. ⇒Time lost to sickness and gathering water is reduced and children return to class, stay in school and get an education. ⇒Educated people have a better chance of lifting themselves out of poverty. ⇒Self-sufficient households are less affected by conflict, famine or inadequate government services and contribute to the economy.

According to the World Health Organization, for every $1 invested in water and sanitation, there is an economic return of between $3 and $34!

It’s a positive domino effect, but you have to start with that first, critical piece.  Otherwise the effort you make on the next component won’t be effective.

You guys, about 2,200 children died yesterday due to lack of clean water.  Another 2,2oo will die today.  Another 2,200 tomorrow.  The thought of that makes me frantic.  We can’t raise our funds fast enough.

I’ve been acutely aware of my water usage lately. We always try to be conscious of it and conserve but it’s just sooo easy to take something as simple as water at the touch of a faucet for granted when you’ve had access to it your whole life. We have precise control over the temperature of gallons of water when we shower everyday. I use it to cook, clean, water my plants, and never give a second thought to its source or safety.

I cannot accept that everyone doesn’t have access to this simple yet basic need for life and it sickens me to think that the water currently in my toilet is cleaner than the water that so many people are drinking. So for this motherload of a fundraising effort, we are choosing water.  

Unintentional Ripple Effects


My favorite paying job by far was when I worked at Discovery Place Museum in Charlotte back in the early ’00’s. Not only did I adore the work that I did, but I was surrounded with colleagues who were fun, full of life, rich characters that became life long friends. I miss working with those individuals still to this day. One of my best friends there was Michael. Michael is highly intelligent, quick-witted, incredibly articulate and so very humble. We worked in the Education Department with a handful of other fantastic individuals. You’ve hit the coworker jackpot when you click with your coworkers so well that it not only makes work more enjoyable, but you actually choose to spend time outside of work together socially.

I distinctly remember the restaurant we were at when I finally heard about Michael’s travels. It would change the course of my life but I didn’t know it yet. We got around to the subject of places you’ve been. In 2001, my subject matter on that topic was in short supply. Michael however, had done what so many people dream of doing. In 1995 when he was 26 years old, he had quit his job, liquidated most of his possessions and spent the next 3 years traveling the world. I sat in amazement (I’m sure my mouth was open and eyes wide in wonderment the whole time) as I listened to all the exotic places he went, things he did, and foods he ate. I soaked it all up like a dry sponge and lived every story vicariously through him. One stop on his travels struck a chord with me. He was recalling his time in Tanzania when he climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro.

Me: “Wait, you climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro?!?! You can even do that?”

Michael: (Laughing) “Yes, you can absolutely do that.”

Me: “That is awesome! I want to do that!”

Just like dropping a stone into water, Michael’s story rippled out, unintentionally influencing others around him.

Back in 2009, Journey Church where we attended was offering a mission trip to Uganda. The church I grew up in didn’t participate in mission trips and I had never known anyone that had gone before who wasn’t a priest or pastor, or outside of a youth trip. I had this vision of what a “missionary” looked like in my head and it certainly wasn’t anyone I knew. Those were self-sacrificing people who didn’t have families or worldly possessions without a thing to lose right? It didn’t even strike me as an option to go.

Melissa was one of our very talented vocalists on the worship team who had a ridiculously cute, and I mean right out of a catalog, picture perfect, young family. She felt called to go and signed up. She had four kids! Two daughters and two sons who were only 12, 11, 7 and 6 years old at the time. Her husband worked full-time. How was she going to manage that?

That wasn’t all she did. If her story would have stopped there for me, it wouldn’t have had the same impact. For months leading up to her departure, Melissa journaled about her trip and posted it for all to see. She wrote about her feelings of excitement, insecurity, how grateful she was, how scared she was, concerns for her family, finances, etc. She asked for prayers, she prayed for support, all the while professing how she knew God would provide. Melissa opened up and made herself vulnerable, to many of us who didn’t even know her well. She allowed others a peak inside her private world to show how God was working through her. And I was in awe.
How absolutely courageous of her to be so transparent, sharing both her positive AND negative thoughts and emotions. That was the first time I figured out it was normal to be scared about a big decision like that. My thought process instinctively told me you shouldn’t have a shadow of a doubt about going, in order to actually go. Melissa turned that perspective right on it’s head. Missionaries weren’t young mothers, leaving their families and homes behind who had concerns about the trip! That certainly wasn’t something I should do.

That’s when I heard the first whisper say “Why not you?” The ripple Melissa sent out into the world through social media reached me in the privacy of my own home where it would start to swell and shape my future.

Michael is a very modest guy. No one could ever accuse him of bragging and he wasn’t trying to impress anyone when he shared his story of his travels. In fact I had already been friends with him quite some time before I stumbled upon that gem of knowledge.

He had no way of knowing that telling me about a mountain he climbed half way around the world back in 1996 could ever possibly result in HUNDREDS of children and families getting access to CLEAN WATER.

Melissa wasn’t trying to convince the world she was holier than thou or to garner admiration for all the goods things she was about to do. She just poured her heart and prayers into her writing regarding her trip.

She had no idea that the simple act of her sharing her feelings about that trip would result in IMPROVED SANITATION for HUNDREDS of people years later, on a totally separate mission trip she wouldn’t even be on!

Your stories have ripple effects like water. Don’t ever underestimate the power of your story or how it can inspire someone else. You may never even know what course changes you are making in someone’s life when you decide to open up, and SHARE. You would be amazed at the incredible reach your ripple effects can have.

I have no idea if anything will ever come of me sharing my story, but I’m not naive enough anymore to think anything won’t. I’ve witnessed first hand how God works through others. How seemingly insignificant things can impact someone. How it can take years for an idea to develop because the courage 2 individuals had to share part of their stories.

So here is my promise to all of you. I promise to be genuine and honest. I can’t however promise to always be grammatically correct. I will start sentences with ‘And’ and other conjunctions or whatever it is you’re not supposed to start sentences with and end them with prepositions galore (I can feel my 8th grade English teacher whipping out his red pen now). However, it won’t matter because my goal isn’t to present perfection. My goal is to be authentic sending out ripples from the stories of both the good and the bad because I know just as much can be birthed from either. I hope you will too.

So go.  Cast your ripples into the world.

The Perfect Hat-Trick


Sometimes you have to go knocking down doors looking for opportunity, and other times it appears in your inbox wrapped up as the perfect hat-trick wearing a bow.

It was mid August when the email from Compassion International entitled “It’s the adventure of a lifetime in Tanzania!” arrived.  First, let it be noted that I am HORRIBLE about reading my email and prove even more deplorable when it comes to answering.  Sometimes days go by before I realize I have not checked it.  I can hear you all saying “I wish I could go days without checking my email!”  That is just one of the many perks of early retirement. I know, I am incredibly blessed.  So it was divine intervention that I happened to read my email this particular morning.

It read…

Dear Holly,

Do you live for adventure? Do you even know what my title is? I am The DIRECTOR of Adventuring!

And for bringing hope?  Um yes, I happen to be a big fan of hope and try to spread it often.  I Love Hope!  Faith, Love and Hope, it’s my mantra.  I am hopelessly hopeful.

Then I’ve got just the challenge for you.  Please join me on a once in a lifetime trip to Tanzania!  There are only 15 spots available-so be sure to sign up today! This is a unique opportunity to experience things you never imagined…and bring more joy than you’ve ever imagined to children in need.  I hope to see you there!

Looming overhead of this text was a majestic shot of a snow capped mountain surrounded by just the right amount of translucent, wispy clouds in front of a perfect blue sky with the words “Compassion Cause Trek KILIMANJARO CHALLENGE”.


Climbing Mount Kilimanjaro has been on my bucket list since 2001 when I first learned it was even a thing, like a real life activity that the powers that be allow you to do. *First Score!

After reading further I learned that if we had a sponsor child in Tanzania we would get to meet them in person and spend an entire day together.  Enter Emmanuel, our Compassion Sponsor child.  We would get to meet Emmanuel in the flesh!  He would no longer be just a picture of a serious little boy sans smile, sporting pants too small for him standing in a dirt patch.  He would become more to us than just letters from a child half way around the world trying to tell us about a life we couldn’t possibly comprehend from the comforts of our home in the very privileged United States of America.  We get to meet him, and hug him and have him see our smiles and our excitement to meet him.  He will learn that he is important enough to us to make the long trek from where we live to meet him in his home country.  When we chose Emmanuel years ago, we specifically chose a child from Tanzania with the incredibly far fetched dream that if we ever were able to go visit, we would be able to climb our mountain as well.  What a grand trip that would be!  *Second Score! 

The trek is part mission trip working on projects at a Compassion assisted Child Development Center, part raising awareness about sponsoring a child through Compassion International, and part raising funds for CLEAN WATER by getting sponsors to climb Mt. Kili.  Access to clean water for all has been a cause our family has been passionate about for a number of years.  We donate annually to clean water initiatives around the globe and this Cause Trek will directly benefit HUNDREDS of children and families right there at Kilimanjaro!  *Third Score!  

*The Perfect Hat-Trick.  It’s a done deal.  Signed, Sealed and Delivered.

Sometimes in life the stars perfectly align so it is impossible to deny an opportunity was meant to be.  I love those times I can say “Huh, I see what you did there God.  I like it!”  There have been so many other factors leading up to this trip for years that I can’t wait to share them all with you.

This opportunity is not short on challenges however.  Did I mention I have Systemic Lupus Erythematosus that causes joint pain and fatigue that caused my early retirement?  Yeah, I take prescription pain killers and need to take naps almost everyday.  Does that sound like a good candidate to go scale the world’s highest freestanding mountain to you?  Or did I mention that the entire trip + fundraising amount we pledged to raise as a family totals $30,000?! (Gulp) I know that may be pocket change to some, but to us that is a scary, huge amount. What in the world did we commit to?

Remember that part about Hope?  Yes, we have hope.  We are hopelessly hopeful.  It is going to be the adventure of a lifetime in Tanzania.

You are all invited to join us in this adventure!