GIVING BACK: After Wayland resident Terry Wise lost her husband, Peter Wise, to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in 1999, the 35-year-old widow spiraled into a clinical depression that culminated with a suicide attempt. 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 that she said she gained “an accidental public speaking career” as a result. 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 . in Wellesley.
Wise, who remarried in 2010, credits husband Chris Wilson with embracing her dream of creating the foundation serving schools, hospices, mental health and medical professionals, and nonprofit organizations. The foundation has on hand a pool of prescreened speakers who address depression, suicide prevention, grief and bereavement, long-term caregiving, and other mental and physical health issues. A grant provided by the BREAR Foundation of New York City covered start-up costs.
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 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. The seventh-grader 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 a member of their family. His parents and grandparents helped him assemble the items, including 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 contributed some in the past, she noted that Josh’s donation is the largest received to date.
Josh said he is glad others will be able to celebrate their birthday with a party, as he enjoys doing.
“I hope the people who get [the birthday bags] are happy with what is in there,” said Josh, who wants to work at the Holliston Pantry Shelf when he is in high school. “Everyone deserves to have a memorable day.”
SERVICE FOR 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 worked with administrators and others at Needham High School to extend the volunteer opportunity to students.
Bassett and guidance counselor Mary Jane Walker of Milton recently led 11 students on a day-long service trip to Rockaway, within the 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 taking down 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 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 where the flood waters had been.
Bassett said she is proud of the students, who contributed their own money for bus transportation, behaved respectfully, and did everything asked of them. The group 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, the seniors donated basic necessities such as batteries, blankets, canned goods, and bottled water last month. For their troop care package drive ending Dec. 6, they gathered instant drink packets, playing cards, books, moleskin, toiletries, and snack foods for 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 that many engage in regular volunteer service. “They have hearts of gold.”
FREE PHONE SUPPORT: The Framingham-based United Way of Tri-County recently partnered with the Framingham public schools to provide youth-focused, wallet-sized “Mass 2-1-1” cards to remind teens that free, confidential help and referral services are only a phone call away.
Since its inception in 2006, more than 200,000 people of all ages have dialed 211 within Massachusetts each year for help with issues including depression, suicide prevention, substance abuse, food, rent and utility bill assistance, child care and after-school programs, senior services, and disaster relief.
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 mass211help.org.