Monday, February 27, 2012

Intergenerational Support in Japan

Img0017Yahoo.jpgMarch 11, 2012 will mark the one year anniversary of Japan’s earthquake and tsunami that ravaged the Tohoku coastal region. Despite the destruction and loss the Japanese people have not surrendered their “Samurai Spirit”. The natural disaster has strengthened their solidarity and sense of community; neighbors selflessly support one another, an essential piece in furthering their recovery. 

I had the opportunity to interview Sachi, our office assistant who was living in Japan when the earthquake struck; I inquired about her most memorable news stories following the tragedy. Sachi recalled watching a news broadcast of a particular relief effort where miso soup and rice were being served to survivors.  There was a young boy who stood in the extensive relief line to receive his portion of miso soup and rice. After being served he re-entered the long line; the relief workers quickly recognized him and told him that he already had his turn. He replied that the first time he entered the line was for his grandmother who was too frail to stand in the line and now he wanted his own portion. 

For Sachi this story highlighted the region’s intergenerational strength, interdependence and respect. She beamed with pride when explaining the collectivist culture of Japan where multigenerational families are common place and each generation is supportive and receptive to the next. Following Sachi’s lead, please share your own personal stories depicting intergenerational support and resilience. 

Image: WebsterWoman


By Que Spencer

Friday, February 24, 2012

Generations United’s 2012 Oscar Picks

This Sunday millions of people will tune in to watch the 84th annual Academy Awards. While there are dozens of films that deserve mention, Generations United wanted to highlight two of our Oscar picks this year that highlight the strong bond of families coming together during tough times.

Best Picture: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

This best picture nominee sheds light on the importance of relationships and family during life’s toughest times. The film’s lead character, Oskar, a nine year old boy who loses his father on 9/11, spends a year searching for someone that might know the answer to a question about his father. Oskar enlists the help of his grandfather in the search, and a strong bond is forged, despite the fact that they recently met. Along the way, Oskar meets hundreds of people who have their own story to tell, all filled with struggles and triumphs. Though Oskar’s search does not turn out the way he imagined, he develops a deeper understanding of himself, his family, and the moments that can change your life.


Best Documentary Feature: The Undefeated

Brown spends weekends with his sister and grandmother, Rachel Hayes, 27, and Ethel Hayes, 67, in their North Memphis home.

This Oscar nominated documentary focuses its story on several members of a Memphis inner-city football team and chronicle the tough season they face. All of the players come from backgrounds filled with hardships, but one finds his way out with the help of his coach, sponsor, and his grandmother. At age seven, after the death of his mother, O.C. Brown moved in with his grandmother. His grandmother, Ethel Hayes, also raised his two younger sisters and a niece in a tiny house in the poorest part of town. Tough times would not stop Ethel Hayes from believing that her grandson could be a successful and upstanding young man. When his grades began to slip Ms. Hayes threatened to take away the thing O.C. loved the most, football. O.C. grades began to improve with the help of a tutor and encouragement from his family, and he was able to stay on the football team and was immediately noticed by recruiters. O.C. Brown went on to sign with Southern Miss and plans to get a degree in education and become a coach to help at risk youth.


What are your picks for the Oscars?


Image: Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc

Image: The Commercial Appeal; Memphis, TN

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

My Grandmother’s Ravioli

imageRunning the risk of becoming Generations United’s pop culture blogger, I just had to share another great thing I learned via Twitter.  The Cooking Channel just launched a new show called My Grandmother’s Ravioli starring Mo Rocca. For those who don’t know Mo, he is a writer, journalist, and comedian. He currently is a correspondent for “CBS Sunday Morning,” panelist on NPR’s game show “Wait Wait…Don't Tell Me!” and among other things, former contributor to “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.”

I love Mo and he is quickly earning star status here at Generations United. First, Mo does a wonderful story on multigenerational households for “CBS This Morning” in January.  Next we hear about his new show where he learns to cook from grandmas and grandpas which aired this past Sunday. 

The idea for the show came from his own personal experiences. Every Sunday, his grandmother made homemade ravioli for the family dinner and he deeply regrets never learning her recipes before she passed away. He also proclaims that he is a terrible cook and decided who better to learn from then other people’s grandparents. 

I was able to see the first episode Sunday night and it was charming. I recommend you check it out.

During this show, Mo visits two families – first Mila a Filipina grandmother who shares her paella recipe and her husband who shares his Romanian sausage recipe, and then Pops, an Italian grandfather who just started cooking after his wife passed away. Mo’s rapport with the grandma and grandpas is wonderful to see, as is the passion these remarkable individuals have for sharing their recipes and cooking for their extended families. My husband was even inspired to try the sausage recipe – I’ll be sure to share the results! The highlight of the show for me was the culmination of these cooking classes - the family meal. It was wonderful to see Mo share a family meal with the grandparents, their children and grandchildren and to celebrate the multigenerational family.

In my research for this blog, I found this terrific promo for the show on “CBS This Morning.” I just love hearing Charlie Rose, Gayle King, Erica Hill, and Mo talk about the importance of intergenerational connections! 

Even better, Mo is looking for who he should learn from next.  If you know a grandma or grandpa who should be on Mo’s show just tell him why on the show’s blog.


Photo courtesy of The Food Network/Cooking Channel

Friday, February 17, 2012

Cranes United

Sachi continues to amaze all of us at Generations United with her beautiful, intergenerational origami!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Jimmy Fallon #mygrandmaiscool

Last night on the train home I read a tweet from Jimmy Fallon, host of NBC's Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.  Jimmy regularly plays the hashtag game on Twitter, where he asks his 4.9 million followers to share something funny and for everyone to use the same hashtag when they tweet it (If you aren't familiar with Twitter and hashtags read here). There is a chance that he will share the best tweets on his show.  (Full disclosure - I love Jimmy Fallon and find him and his show to be very funny.) 

Last night's game was #mygrandmaiscool (my grandma is cool). Being who I am and working where I do, I was thrilled.  My grandmas ARE cool and I know so many grandmas who are raising their grandchildren, volunteering with young people, advocating on behalf of children, and doing much more, who ARE VERY cool. But  I was also a little dissappointed when I saw Jimmy wanted people to share funny or weird stories about their grandmas. It was the weird that bothered me.

Jimmy shared the following positive and funny tweet about his grandma.  Good for Jimmy, his grandma sounds like she's a lot of fun. 

jimmy fallon (@jimmyfallon)
2/15/12 5:52 PM
My grandma made hot cocoa for all my friends after sledding, and then moonwalked. #mygrandmaiscool

I was so excited to see what folks would say.  I read through hundreds of tweets last night about people's grandmas. There were some that were heartfelt, touching, and inspirational but many, many, many more were immature, offensive, and downright ageist.  I was not so excited anymore. I know, it is the Internet, what was I to expect.

I did expect more from Jimmy (have I mentioned I absolutely love him). So on behalf of Generations United, I sent a tweet to Jimmy and asked him why he needed to make Grandmas the butt of the joke? Why couldn't he just celebrate the funny and fantastic things our Grandmas do for us?  I don't expect a response, but I felt better saying it.

Everyone at Generations United knows that grandmas are cool. We see it everyday and in so many different ways. And if you are reading this blog, you probably think so too.  Would you take a minute and share the remarkable, wonderful, fantastic, and funny things your grandmas do?  And if you happen to be on Twitter, could you tweet it and tag it #mygrandmaiscool?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Grandfamilies and the 2012 Grammy Awards

At this year’s Grammy Awards, we once again take the time to celebrate the best of the music industry. Though there are many terrific artists and musicians that deserve mention, Generations United wanted to highlight two individuals that have risen to great heights from humble beginnings; humble beginnings which involved growing up in grandfamilies.

LL Cool JLL Cool J prayed to God: "Heavenly Father, we thank you for sharing our sister Whitney with us."

LL Cool J, an award winning rapper, actor, and entrepreneur, was this year’s Grammy Awards host. His story of success starts with living with his grandmother at the age of three in Queens, New York. LL Cool J attributes much of his success to his grandmother’s strong and stable presence in his life. At age 11 LL’s grandmother gave him DJ equipment to stop him from riding motorcycles, and he began to write his own songs; the beginning of what would be a successful career in the entertainment industry.

Before his grandmother passed away she requested he produce an album she would enjoy listening to, and he made it his mission. He even wrote a song in honor of his grandmother thanking her for taking him in and raising him as her own. Below are lyrics taken from her song “Big Mama Unconditional Love.”

A toast to a woman that raised a man
In popular demand all across the land
You're my lawyer, my teacher, my doctor, my friend
My mother, my father, you with me 'til the end
I love you, I mean that from the bottom of my heart
That's the reason why my record's #1 on the charts
I'm a tell it like it is, I love you forever
Dead or alive, we'll always be together
Big Mama I love you


Kirk FranklinKirk Franklin Holds Best Gospel Album Grammys at the 54th annual Grammy Awards at the Staples Center in Los Angeles

Kirk Franklin is an internationally known gospel musician. He has been recognized for transforming traditional gospel sound to incorporate hip beats and delivery to inspire traditional and urban gospel congregations alike. Born in Fort Worth, Texas, to a teenage mother, he never knew his father and was adopted at the age of three by the only mother he ever really knew--his great-aunt Gertrude.

At an early age, Gertrude took special interest in assisting Franklin to develop his interest in music. She and her young nephew would collect recycling cans and newspapers and use that money to fund his piano lessons beginning at age four.  Her commitment to helping him find his passion has resulted in Franklin receiving numerous awards as an accomplished musician. Adding to his accomplishments, Franklin now can include the two Grammy’s he received at the 54th Annual Grammy Awards for Best Gospel Song and Best Gospel Album. There’s no doubt that great-aunt Gertrude was in his mind as he took home these honored awards. "She taught me everything. She taught me how to respect people and respect myself, and that's something I'll never forget."


Photos courtesy UPI Photo/Jayne Kamin-Oncea and WENN

Intergenerational Origami

In 2006 we had a delightful office assistant, Sachi, at Generations United. She left us to go back to Japan but following the earthquake she returned to US to marry and live in Ohio. Sachi is back working for us for a few weeks. When she isn't helping with our database, she's sharing her many talents with our staff. Here she is showing our intern Que the art of Origami. A wonderful intergenerational activity! Great to have you back Sachi, if only for a short while!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Generations United Responds to Obama’s FY2013 Budget Request

Looking to “build an economy to last,” President Obama has released his proposed budget for FY 2013. Many of its provisions won’t come as a surprise: the President began laying the groundwork for his budget with his economic speech in Kansas in December and again during the State of the Union Address in January. The budget simply serves as the plan to put his aspirations into action.

After a preliminary review, Generations United’s Policy Team by and large gives the budget a thumbs up, cautioning that it does contain some cuts to social service programs. Here’s a brief summary of the major provisions that affect children, youth and older adults.

  • The President’s budget provided important increases in Early Education Investments and Community Supports through increased funding for Head Start and Early Head Start and for an early learning challenge focus within the Race to the Top program. Generations United supports the continued integration of early childhood programs and the increased investment in these programs.
  • The budget continues to fund our nation’s Commitment to Programs Serving Vulnerable Populations through important programs such as Woman, Infants, and Children (WIC) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Unfortunately the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) was not given sufficient priority in a time of rising home energy costs and stressed family budgets.
  • The budget takes important steps toward College Affordability and Tax Relief efforts by increasing the maximum Pell Grant award and making expansions of several tax credits permanent.
  • The budget proposes a modest increase to continue the Support for Volunteerism, for important programs like Senior Corps, that does great work engaging seniors to serve children and at-risk youth in our communities.
  • The FY13 budget provides funding to continue the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which provides critical health care coverage and support for our youngest and oldest generations.
  • The President’s 2013 budget also includes a commitment to strengthen Social Security. Generations United urges the Administration to continue their commitment to this issue and pledge not to cut Social Security.

Generations United will continue to work with Members of Congress and the Administration on improving/supporting these and other critical programs for children and older adults in order to strengthen our country and support an economy built to last. 

Sign up here to receive Generations United’s Policy Alert on the President’s FY2013 budget on Thursday.

Friday, February 10, 2012

What Would You Do?

whatwouldyoudo_abcHi All,

Colleen, here, Communications Coordinator for Generations United. This is only my second foray into blog-writing. But I wanted to share with you something that happened this morning on my way to work.  

Most days I ride the bus to my subway stop and the entire trip is pretty uneventful. This morning, though, at one bus stop, a young Hispanic male came aboard pushing a middle-aged man with cerebral palsy in a wheelchair.  In broken English, he asked the bus driver to help secure the man’s wheelchair, then hurried off to wait for his own bus to arrive. Meanwhile, our bus driver immediately cleared space for the man in the wheelchair and made certain he was safely in place before driving on.

At my stop, as I was alighting from the bus, I heard the man in the wheel chair ask the bus driver for help getting off. I continued on to a nearby Metro elevator, but glanced back to see if the man was doing okay on his own. I noticed he was pushing himself backward with his feet and that he was moving precariously close to the edge of the curb. Suddenly, the wheelchair tipped over and into the street, leaving the young man lying dazed in oncoming traffic.

Out of 11 able-bodied people standing at the elevator, three of us responded.  No one else moved; they just stood there watching.

With some difficulty, the two young women and I managed to get the young man upright and in his wheelchair. After making sure he was okay, we walked back to the elevator. The others had already disappeared into the Metro station.

The experience left me dumb-founded and reflecting on a TV show I recently came across: “Primetime: What Would You Do?”  The show sets up every-day scenarios that reflect on how people act and what they decide to do. The show uses actors to play out a normal everyday scene and then tapes the occurrence with hidden cameras to examine how passersby react to everyday dilemmas that test their character and values. But this instance wasn’t an act, it was the real deal. I couldn’t help wondering why so many people would stand around or walk by, rather than help, as another human being could be seriously injured. 

The experience also made me think about those who did come forward: the anonymous young passenger who helped the man board the bus; the busy, middle-aged bus driver who made sure the man’s wheelchair was secured; the two twenty-somethings and me (a baby boomer), who made sure he was okay.  Small acts of kindness by several strangers, but it left a big impression.

The common denominator wasn’t age, or gender, or ethnic background, or even self-interest; it was our humanity.   Any thoughts?


Photo courtesy ABC’s What Would You Do?

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Great Intergenerational Super Bowl Commercial

During this year's Super Bowl we spotted a terrific and funny commercial with an intergenerational theme.  Check out this great video of a grandmother and her grandchild rallying together for a joint cause....eating Doritos!