GIVING BACK: After Wayland resident Terry Wise lost her husband, Peter, to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in 1999, the 35-year-old widow spiraled into a clinical depression that culminated with an attempted suicide. Through psychotherapy, however, she uncovered the childhood roots of her depression, and ultimately overcame the cumulative trauma and loss.
The book Wise subsequently published about her experiences, “Waking Up: Climbing Through the Darkness,” resonated with so many readers that she gained “an accidental public speaking career,” she said. Time and again, however, she has been contacted by organizations that don’t have the funds to cover her travel expenses, never mind an honorarium or self-help books and other resources for audience members. To bridge this gap, she has established the Missing Peace Foundation Inc. in Wellesley.
Wise, who remarried in 2010, credits husband Chris Wilson with embracing her dream of creating the foundation to serve schools, hospices, mental health and medical professionals, and nonprofit organizations. Event organizers can apply for funding from the foundation to hire Wise. She and Wilson receive an annual salary of $1 each from the foundation, which prescreens a pool of speakers for addressing depression, suicide prevention, grief and bereavement, long-term care giving, and other mental and physical health issues.
Wise said she hopes the foundation will reach as many people as possible with two main messages: they aren’t alone in their suffering, and recovery is possible.
“I want to show people there are resources to help them, even when they don’t think there are,” Wise said. “This is my gift of giving.”
For more information, visit www.terrywise.com/foundation.
BIRTHDAY IN A BAG: For his 11th birthday two years ago, Josh Taylor of Holliston asked his friends to bring canned goods for the Holliston Pantry Shelf in lieu of gifts.
Now a seventh-grader, Josh has continued to make regular donations through the Robert H. Adams Middle School in Holliston, which brings items to the food pantry each month. So when it came time for him to select a project for his bar mitzvah last month, he naturally thought of the nonprofit organization.
Josh used his own money to purchase items for two dozen “birthday bags” for distribution to those who can’t afford to throw a party for family members. His parents and grandparents helped him assemble the items in the party kits, which include invitations, cups, napkins, plates, silverware, tablecloths, cake mix, frosting, a cake pan, candles, and streamers.
According to Amy Porter, a board member of the Holliston Pantry Shelf, the birthday bags are a “very festive addition” to the pantry’s services. While other students have made contributions, she said, Josh’s donation is the largest the pantry has received. Josh has said he wants to volunteer at the pantry when he is in high school.
Josh said he is glad others will be able to celebrate their birthdays with a party, and he hopes the recipients of the birthday bags “are happy with what is in there.” He added, “Everyone deserves to have a memorable day.”
AIDING SANDY VICTIMS: About two weeks after Hurricane Sandy tore through the Northeast, Andrea Bassett of Medford traveled with her church group to join Mormon Helping Hands in assisting those hit hardest in Rockaway, N.Y.
The experience was so powerful that the English teacher at Needham High worked with school administrators to extend the volunteer opportunity to her students.
Bassett and guidance counselor Mary Jane Walker of Milton recently led 11 students on a daylong service trip to Rockaway, which is part of the New York City borough of Queens. Arriving at 10 a.m., the group worked in three homes, packing residents’ belongings into a storage pod, cleaning and moving furniture, ripping up carpet, and demolishing walls harboring mold.
Bassett said the students gained deeper understanding and empathy by listening to residents describe their efforts to protect their homes from fire and flood waters. During their visit, they saw cars had been washed up on lawns, remnants of homes burned to the ground, and a fence with a thick line of dirt more than halfway up, indicating the high point of the flood waters.
Bassett said she is proud of the students, who contributed their own money for bus transportation, behaved respectfully, and did everything asked of them. They returned to Needham at 9 p.m. that evening.
“I hope the kids gained an appreciation for what they have,” Bassett said, “and an understanding that service to others is never wasted.”
HELPING HANDS: The residents of the Groves, a senior independent-living community in Lincoln, recently coordinated separate collection efforts for victims of Hurricane Sandy and US troops overseas.
For the Rockaway community in New York City, the seniors last month donated basic necessities such as batteries, blankets, canned goods, and bottled water. For their troop care package drive ending Dec. 6, they gathered instant drink packets, playing cards, books, moleskin, toiletries, and snack foods for donation to the Masonic Military Support Fund.
Amy Garcia, director of arts and leisure at the Groves, said the seniors hope the goods have provided comfort to members of both groups.
“Our residents enjoy giving back,” she said, noting many engage in regular volunteer service. “They have hearts of gold.”
DIRECT LINE TO HELP: The Framingham-based United Way of Tri-County recently partnered with the town’s school system to provide youth-focused, wallet-sized cards to remind teens that free, confidential help and referral services are only a phone call away.
Since the “Massachusetts 211’’ program’s inception in 2006, more than 200,000 people of all ages have dialed 211 within the state each year to obtain help with a wide range of issues, including depression, suicide prevention, substance abuse, difficulty paying food, rent and utility bills, and finding child care and after-school programs, senior services, and disaster aid.
Funding for the cards, which were distributed to middle and high school students on Dec. 4, was provided by the office of Middlesex District Attorney Gerry Leone.
For more information, visit www.mass211help.org.