Margaret Briller Posts
“It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” ― Mother Teresa
The holidays are the most wonderful time of the year that can also be the most horrible time of the year if gift-giving is part of the festivities.
Your spouse, friends, parents, in-laws, grandkids, neighbors — the gift-giving list goes on and on. Many of us don’t have a clue what to buy.
To find the perfect gift, you can always do the obvious: ask the person what they really want. Or you can use the following suggestions for inspiration, both practical and whimsical.
What are their interests?
Make a list of all the things that define the person. This should be a long list once you start thinking of their hobbies, interests or a wish list they may have shared. Then add something to every item, big or small, from obvious to off the wall. This will get you thinking creatively about some cool gift ideas you normally may not have thought about.
What do they need?
Everyone needs something. Think outside the box. If the person enjoys day trips, put together a survival kit with a beautiful water bottle, snack packs of cookies, nuts, pretzels or mints, or even a travel size toothbrush and toothpaste. Thinking of their lifestyle can offer lots of ideas and will help you reframe your usual view of that person.
Make them laugh.
Perhaps the person remembers assembling model kits or enjoying a special candy as a child. Search local vintage stores for their favorites. If they watched a popular television show or cartoon, search for memorabilia that brings back great memories and laughs.
“A great gift is one that brings a smile to both the person giving the gift and also to the person receiving the gift....
Career Change Takes the Cake — and Sells It
By Margaret Briller
Not everyone can imagine what’s beyond the horizon and make it a reality. Liz Rowan did and now enjoys the freedom and challenges of owning a business.
For much of her career, Rowan, 54, worked with a school system’s employees and students, helping manage their tech needs — database and equipment training for the staff, computer program lessons for the students.
In the back of her mind, Rowan knew she wanted to do something different — really different.
Rowan and her husband had talked for years about owning their own business, but the circumstances weren’t right for a change.
“Now, the timing seems to be right because our children are in their early 20s and moving into their own lives and getting less dependent on us,” Rowan says.
Hard Work, Sweet Success
“I wanted to do something that could use the skills I’ve accumulated through the years of working, being a parent, community member, etc.,” Rowan says. “Being my own boss and making the decisions for my business are important to me. I like having the freedom to be myself and to work as hard as I like and to see the results of that.”
In April, after months of planning and training, Rowan opened her store — a Nothing Bundt Cakes franchise — in Strongsville and never looked back.
She took a chance and embraced the freedom to make a change as an entrepreneur.
Assisting Rowan in growing her business is Dee Sweetnich, her bakery manager. Sweetnich helps her focus her energy on what’s most important at that moment when Rowan has 50 thoughts going through her mind.
“Dee has a different perspective on how things work, and that helps when I am looking at operational issues or how to handle guest service situations,” Rowan says....
The Sounds of Music
By Margaret Briller
Maybe you were a piano lesson dropout, or gave up the guitar after mastering a few chords. Or perhaps money was scarce — and time and attention were even scarcer.
These local music lovers put music lessons back on their bucket lists and are glad they did.
Going for It
Rick Brouman of Pepper Pike started guitar lessons at 63.
“I’ve wanted to play since I was a kid, but my mother always wanted me to play piano, so I played piano,” Brouman says.
“As time passed, life — working and raising a family — got in the way, so I had to put this hobby on the back burner. I’ve always loved the guitar, and the time seemed right, so here I am now.”
Brouman takes lessons from instructor John Rupert at the Sam Ash Music Store in Lyndhurst. He purchased a striking red PRS SE Custom 24 electric guitar.
“I’m a sucker for red,” Brouman says. “The bird inlays are a pretty cool option on many PRS models. But I didn’t want to make the investment without taking lessons from a qualified instructor. I’ve only had four lessons so far, and I’m still at the stage where I might struggle to find the correct placement of my fingers. But I have noticed that I can now pick up the guitar and play some chords reasonably well. I’m thrilled that I am starting to actually make sounds that resemble music, and I’m looking forward to getting better with time”
Having a flexible work schedule gives Brouman more time to pursue his dream. “I work from home so I can pick up the guitar and practice multiple times during the day, which I do.”
Berneice Dycks retired in 2012 from the registrar’s office at Case Western Reserve University....
Dogs, Veterans and a Match Made in Cleveland
When U.S. Army veteran Frank DeLorenzo learned there was a three-year wait to get a medically prescribed service dog from an out-of-state organization, he and his wife Jeniffer began doing research that became life-changing for many veterans.
With the help of dog trainers, they adopted a puppy and began working with her to become Frank’s service dog.
Frank’s position as the Army Wounded Warrior advocate at the Wade Park Veterans Administration campus in Cleveland led doctors and other veterans to ask about his service dog. The couple worked with other veterans to help train their dogs, and the organization grew from that need.
The DeLorenzos co-founded Wags 4 Warriors in 2011 to help veterans who have been affected by their combat experiences that challenge them every day. Service dogs help with anxiety or focus issues, giving the veteran a reminder of where he or she is and that all is calm.
The group is a nonprofit agency that accepts tax-deductible donations to help with the adoption, veterinary care, training and equipment expenses.
“We didn’t want to see families struggle the way we did,” Jen says. “We wanted to make sure that if there was something we could do to help a veteran, we would. We quickly realized there was a huge need here in Ohio. We wanted to help veterans without causing them any financial burden or strain.”
Wags is the only organization in Ohio that does this free of charge for veterans.
As of 2017, the program has helped rescue more than 350 dogs and warriors.
“Ninety percent of these canines are rescues from shelters,” Frank says. “We have had approximately 50 or more Vietnam veterans and another 50 or more ages 50-plus in the program.”
Recently the program moved into a new training facility in Broadview Heights....
There is a special joy that grandchildren bring to the family. In the 21st century, grandparents are finding themselves more involved with their school-aged grandchildren than any other generation as they take on roles as guests, volunteers, teacher aides and storytellers at local schools.
Dr. Carol Rosiak, principal of Goldwood Primary School in Rocky River, sees grandparents as a welcome addition to the classroom.
“We are very fortunate in our school to have strong parental involvement,” she says. “When grandparents also get involved in education, the children see how the whole family unit supports education. Grandparents who come into our school either to volunteer or to be part of special events show a genuine love and excitement for education and are so supportive of the teachers and staff.
“They share their appreciation for the educators and are very kind when they are in the building. This is witnessed by all and again positively impacts our school community,” Rosiak says.
GETTING INVOLVED — GRANDPARENT STYLE
To accommodate a variety of family situations, Goldwood Primary celebrates “Special Persons’ Day” because some children do not have grandparents.
“On this special day, the special person comes to school, the children sing songs and show their guests how technology in the classroom enhances educational opportunities with Smart Boards, iPads, specific software programming and other tools,” Rosiak explains. “Some do a craft with their special person or go to the book fair hosted by the PTA so their grandparents are able to take them to shop.”
Bob Whitaker, principal at Fort Island Primary School in Copley, sees many opportunities for grandparents to become active in their grandchildren’s schools.
“Our PTA sponsors two Grandparents Day breakfasts with over 250 participants each day,” he says. “We also have had a ‘Silver Readers’ program in collaboration with the local Copley seniors group....