“Then they came for me…”


This post may be one of the most controversial posts that I have ever written. But here it goes…

This is a photograph of a poster I purchased at the  Holocaust Museum more than a decade ago.  “I didn’t speak up … and then they came for me”.

I interpret the words of  Pastor Martin Niemoller  as an important lesson. We need to be the voice for the voiceless.  We should never forget humanity and to help the less fortunate. For if we do… then what?

Yet, I am afraid that  many of us might have forgotten, as now we are filling our social media timelines, newspapers, magazines and on – air programming with comments that are often unkind words towards others or filled with vile protests. How can that be when the United States is a human tapestry full of cultural richness?  The majority of who are reading this blog can trace via Ancestry.com their roots to a place across the great oceans of this world.  And, while most of us were not refugees,  we are largely the decedents of immigrants who may have left their homelands due to oppression or in times of war.

Related: 2013 the US accepted 2/3 of the worlds’ refugees

I know that my ancestors arrived during what we may call  “different times”.   Before the 9/11 era. Before the Paris bombings a week ago.

However, the concern a parent has over the welfare of their child is a concept that is timeless.  The hunger of a child is just as upsetting and real in 2015 as it was in 1915.  A parent who loves their child will stop at nothing to protect them.  Mothers and fathers will persevere and risk great danger solely because they are motivated by love and a dream to find for their family a safe harbor where they can raise their family in peace.

So when the refugees from Syria arrive in California  I will show my support and greet my new neighbors. I will find a way to bring food and other supplies to help out these families that have traveled so far and experienced so much adversity.

My helping those from Syria also will not mean that I am turning my back on the needs of those who are already in my community. I promise you that.  In fact feel free to join our family as we help the FRIENDS MOVEMENT feed the homeless on Thanksgiving Day.

And if you wish – check out these websites that are ways to help refugees from all over the world be safe.


INTERNATIONAL RESCUE ORG  (providing help to those already in California)

Thank you for being a reader of my blog.  Happy Thanksgiving to all –





tikkun olam.jpg

Tikkun Olam – is a Hebrew phrase  literally meaning to “repair the world”.  Some people interpret these words to mean a call for “social justice”. And then there are others who feel certain that Tikkun Olam is a call to action – within ones’ own heart.

To me Tikkun Olam means that we need to stop and just breathe.  A time to reflect on what is good in this world and try to make better what is going wrong.  Time to help feed the hungry, give aid to a family in need or other small acts of kindness – within our own communities. Tikkun Olam means we give of our time – not just our money.

Tikkun Olam also means that we need to stop and listen.  Others don’t need to agree with our opinions, but we need to be respectful and listen to each other.  Without shouting. Without maliciousness. Without guns. Without war. Without hate.

Tikkun Olam is not a concept exclusive to Jews.  Others feel they can repair the world through acts of charity or #socialgood without placing on the deed(s) a religious connotation. That is fine. I get that.

And note,  I have yet to meet anyone who wants to make the world WORSE.  Don’t we all in our hearts want to improve the world?  Who would put a halt to efforts to improve medical advancements?  Who would end programs to try to end climate changes?Who would choose not to save lives when possible? Those who would be against offering help to improve our human condition are probably the same people who can’t see the value of practicing Tikkun Olam.

So ,while much of the world is rolling in to “holiday season” mode – let’s switch focus from discussions  about the kind of cup Starbucks is using and spend more time figuring out how we can fix a world gone topsy- turvy!



For more information about Tikkun Olam go here

This story made my heart hurt

Update: Gunner has been adopted. He was in foster care for less than a week.

The other day I came across a post on the Facebook page of the Westside German Shepherd Rescue that started with the title:

A photo of the saddest German Shepherd was attached with this story. It broke my heart.  And days later I still can’t shake it off. Here is why…

 When Gunner was turned in to the rescue yesterday, he didn’t know what he had done wrong. His tail was tucked between his legs even though volunteers were trying to cheer him up. The little boy in the family had little bags of treats for Gunner along with little handwritten notes. The poor child’s heart was breaking along with Gunner’s. It was difficult to look at either of them, the little boy’s face with tears streaming down his cheeks, and Gunner’s excruciatingly sad face.

We certainly weren’t feeling very charitable when we learned why Gunner was given up! His big “crime” that resulted in him losing his home was that he had gotten into the garbage and peed on the new couch! The dad would not listen to any suggestions, so for Gunner’s sake, we just wanted to get the paperwork done so we can find him a better home with someone who deserves a wonderful dog like him!Gunner is an incredible dog, he loves kids and is good with other dogs, although best to be with females. He has a face that will melt your heart, and we know he will find his home soon!!WWW.SHEPRESCUE.ORGJAO315PM

 What hurt my heart was not only that this wonderful dog was given away because of what seemed like  minor infractions, but that a father made one of the worst mistakes of his life… separating a boy from his dog.

As a parent and psychologist – I know that this event will be a life defining moment for the young lad. And I have this terrible feeling that a parent that gives up on his dog this easily may also be infringing some kind of emotional pressure on his children that is beyond reason.  Yes, it is conjecture – but I can’t help but wonder.

Gunner will be adopted (and rumor is he has been already) and learn to love another family.  I hope he has another young boy to romp and play with and heal his heart.  But, for the young boy who showed more compassion in his acts of kindness than his parent, I know that this will be never forgotten.

I get that there are “two -sides to every story”.  People who I have met who work at dog rescues and shelters tell me this story is not unusual and sadly this scenario is repeated often.  Sigh.

What can we do?

First – Don’t buy or adopt a pet without understanding that there is a learning curve.  Dogs need to learn how to act within human parameters.  Humans need to learn that dogs are not people.  Educate yourself about dog needs, behaviors, different types of breeds, etc.

Secondly- Dogs need to be schooled and given care during their day. They need trainings, care and basic necessities. Just like what you get in a people classroom.  Seek out dog trainers, private dog walkers, etc.

Thirdly- Kids don’t forget. They may forgive. But they are making mental notes that will shape the rest of their lives from a very early age.  I wrote an article earlier about adopting a dog and when to know if your family is ready.  You can read it here.

Lastly – Recognize that life happens.  Families get displaced, people become ill, and dogs can bite. So, while this scenario broke my heart, there are a lot of reasons why people need to part from their furry family members that are (in my opinion) more understandable, although tough to digest.
If you are interested in the Shepherd Rescue where Gunner was surrendered to see if you are a match for many of the other dogs up for adoption – then please check out this link: http://www.sheprescue.org/
Saying a special prayer for kids and their dogs everywhere tonight.
Thanks for reading.
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Paying tribute to the Red Cross during the Asian World Film Festival


A teen with a rare blood type receives a transfusion. A shelter is opened for families who lost everything in a tornado. A parent learns CPR before the birth of their baby.  An earthquake hits Nepal a few years after another has devastated Japan. What do all of these scenarios have in common? The Red Cross .

I have seen firsthand the work of the Red Cross.  It was during Hurricane Agnes while I was living in a small town in Western New York. One day we had a beautiful village with several schools and a hospital. The day Agnes stalled over our village we were left with only half of the schools and lost much of the hospital as it collapsed in to the Genessee River. Who came to help those who watched their life savings float away? The local chapter of the Red Cross. As a young “tween” I was in awe as the dedicated volunteers assisted those who were displaced and in need of items that usually we take for granted – such as drinking water.

Photo credit: regionalnewsnetwork.blogspot.com

Jones Memorial Hospital in the aftermath of Hurricane Agnes.Photo credit: regionalnewsnetwork.blogspot.com

Related story: Red Cross- How they respond to disasters

Fast forward to just a couple of years ago when raging tornados tore apart areas surrounding Oklahoma City. Ironically, I was scheduled to speak in that area on disaster preparedness, but instead found myself in the center of a response and relief effort. Again, the Red Cross played a huge role in the helping families almost instanteounsly after the tornado dust had cleared. What many don’t know is that people who come in to shelters are out of their element and find it extremely challenging.  Much more is the case when the family is not English speaking, Deaf or has a family member with disabilities or challenges, such as Autism. Bravo to the Red Cross and other groups who provide assistance for recognizing the need for training their staff, including volunteers, to help people with access and functional needs.

Read about the Red Cross response in Oklahoma

Now let’s play a round of RED CROSS TRIVIA?

(Yes, I just made that up) 

♦ Did you know that the Red Cross has pre-made disaster preparedness kits that are available online or via retail stores such as Target? The reason is to make it easy for families to be prepared with the correct items needed for most disasters.

♦ Did you know that the Red Cross has created an app known as Safe and Well to let you alert and notify your families after a disaster, such as an earthquake or tornado, that you are OK and where you are located?

♦ Did you know that the Red Cross is made up of over 90% volunteers?

♦ Did you know that  the Red Cross responded to over 140 large disasters and thousands of smaller ones in the United States during 2013 alone?

♦ Did you know that your donation(s) is what helps sustain the Red Cross?

Related story: The international services the Red Cross provide

Time to Give Back!

Now it is time to give back and acknowledge the amazing work of the Red Cross during a very special cross-cultural event being held in Culver City the week of October 26, 2015 – The Asian World Film Festival. This melding of film and philanthropy is the culminatation of months of preparation. On November 1st a special event will be the  Global Change Gala being held  in Culver City. There internationally renowned actor and musician Miyavi, who hails  from Japan – will be one of the three honorees and performers of the evening dedicated to spotlighting the global works of the Red Cross.


Miyavi will be performing at the Asian World Film Festival Global Change Gala on November 1st

Learn how to get tickets and about the festival with this link.

In addition there has been a very special online auction with many one- of – a kind experiences being offered. Dine at favorite restaurants such as Spago or Nabu. Click FIJI off your bucket list of “must sees”. Or perhaps journey to Napa Valley and be treated to the best accomodatons and fine wines the region has to offer. There is something for most on this auction site set up by Charity Buzz. Bids are now open and rules are on the auction page.



To participate in the auction (and grab yourself or family member a fabulous gift) – click here

Let’s get social with the Red Cross and the Asian World Film Festival

Follow the Red Cross and Asian World Film Festival endeavors with these social media links:






and of course you can follow me as @LouiseASL

What lessons have we learned from Hurricane Katrina?

Hurricane earthquake disaster damage ruined house

It is hard to believe that ten years ago many of us were glued to our television  sets watching a hurricane develop  in the Atlantic Ocean and then slowly but surely find its’ way to the Gulf Coast.  It was named –  Hurricane Katrina.  While no doubt a horrific hurricane that caused millions if not billions in damages, it truly was the flooding from when the levees broke that made this hurricane written in to the history books.  Who can forget the television footage of reporters on boats making their way through what were the beautiful streets of New Orleans? How can people erase the images of people crying out for help?  So many sad memories of those who evacuated, lost everything or suffered trauma that to this day may be unspeakable. It was “Katrina” that cast a dark shadow on the United States’ ability to help their own people during a crisis.  For many, Katrina will forever be remembered as a “one-two- three punch” of a storm.  First the hurricane, then the flooding and then the failure for help to arrive when needed the most.

Related: Video playlist of Hurricane Katrina footage and history

There is no question that we did not prepare nor evacuate and assist those in need to the best of our collective abilities.  Families were shipped off to different locales including sending relatives to opposite sides of the country. I recall meeting families who had been uprooted and sent to the Washington DC- Baltimore area. They simply were in shock. They had nothing.  Our local neighbors and religious organizations offered them food, clothing, toys for the kids and just about anything else we could think of!  I often wondered what has happened to them ten years later.  Did they go home to New Orleans?

Then there were those who refused to leave their homes. Many because they wanted to “ride out the storm”. Yet a good number wouldn’t leave as they couldn’t handle leaving behind a family pet.  Others were unsure of how their elderly relatives or ones with special needs would be able to endure shelters- so they stayed.

And now looking back we now know that for some of these families these were fatal mistakes.

There must be some lessons we have learned since August of 2005? But, what are they?  How did we alter the way we prepare and respond to disasters since Katrina? 

I believe that emergency responders never again want to have what happened during and after Katrina be repeated.  Never again do we want people to feel helpless and hopeless.  As aforementioned, many people failed to evacuate because they couldn’t bring their pets to shelters or  provide for their safety.  Others failed to evacuate because they felt they were “safe” only to be in dire straits when the levees broke.  Lives could have been saved if pets, the elderly and better communication were all in place. Although we cannot undo the tragedies of 2005, we have learned from them.

Thankfully now many laws and initiatives have been instituted that are a direct result of Katrina.  One is regarding the care of animals during emergencies. In some areas, no longer do people need to make a choice. (Read how Congress changed animal care during disasters by clicking here).  People are now encouraged to plan ahead and have “back up plans” for their animals in the event of an emergency.

Communication also has improved as now videos in multiple languages, including American Sign Language (ASL),  have been made available for all to access important information about preparations needed for families to be safe in case of an emergency situation, how to ready for impending disasters, and what to expect from response and recovery.  Local community response teams (CERT) have grown and are now a wonderful grassroots effort to help our citizens be safe, including our most vulnerable members – seniors and those with disabilities.  I can’t rave enough about these amazing people who give beyond measure by engaging the most during a time when many would prefer to go away from a disaster.

Read the changes made with emergency management following “Katrina” – a FEMA Document.

It is amazing how many people are now more responsive to hurricane warnings. After all, Katrina was suppose to be a Category 1 storm that quickly gained momentum and strength.  One of the lessons that many have learned is to have a disaster preparedness kit.  Flashlights, batteries and crank radios are now common place in people’s homes and cars.  The Red Cross has put together a very useful website chocked full of disaster preparedness recommendations.

Remember to plan with your loved ones to prepare before a disaster happens! That is the lesson we ALL can take away from Katrina and apply in preparation for any other  disasters – natural and at the hands of man. As there is bound to be “something” in our future and at least we can be ready.

I am sure that many of you have many more suggestions.  As always, please feel free to comment.

Thanks for reading and may this hurricane season be kind and gentle and not as catastrophic as Katrina.



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