Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Habitat For Humanity Home Furnished by Donations Raised by Two Landmark Education Participants

A project by two interior designers, Suzanne Perrin and Denise Inskip-Seale, to beautifully decorate a Habitat for Humanity home totally from donated material, labor and furnishings. The project was developed while participating with Landmark Education. This video chronicles the development of this project as well as moving coverage of the day the family who helped build the house got to see it finished for the first time.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Womens Resource Fairs: Begun in the Landmark Self-Expression and Leaderhip Program

In 2002 Penny Beatty had an idea to create a resource fair that specifically addressed the needs and interests of women. 5 years and 25 events later, this project is still going strong.

From: Suburban Woman North Shore

The spirit of community was a key factor for many of us who
decided to be part of the fair four years ago, and remains of
great importance to those who participate As the committee
considered implications of recent world events, we could see the
impact in our communities and in our own lives. The request for
help, for clarity, for kindness, has never in our lifetime been so
forthcoming. In our discussions it became clear: here is ourchance to "think globally, act locally.

- Dena Eakles of Echo Valley Farm
Women’s Fair Advisory Board Chair

This Years Theme: Embracing
Reflecting this year’s theme of Embracing,the Womans Resource Fair strives to offer all women a central, credible source for finding enrichment. Embracing local and world cultures, the holistic resources and soothing, nurturing services and products
to help better women’s lives, the Fair promises to be an outstanding medley of interests for women and their families. Food service will be available for lunch and snacks by Whole Foods, both healthy and delicious. Spending the day will prove to be an experience to remember!

Presenting 50 experts offering information, products and services and 40 lectures and panels, participants will benefit from the following areas of specialties: Bodywork & Movement; Coaching; Education; Health & Wellness; Holistic Products;
Organic Home; Retreats & Counseling and Psyche & Lore. Providing the perfect venue to enjoy with friends, family, and co-workers, women can meet, bond, network and mostly, learn.

Featuring World Diversity
Attendees this year will have the opportunity to experience unique offerings of peoples’ traditions, ceremonies and cultures. From indigenous peoples’ prayerful ceremonies and the healing dance of Eastern cultures to the clarity of a formal Japanese tea ceremony, the fair’s programming will embrace the diversity within the community and throughout the world.

The Women’s Resource Fairs host 5 fairs in the Illinois and Wisconsin area including Evanston, Lake Geneva, Madison, Deerfield and Oak Park. Directed by an Advisory Circle of community leaders, the mission of the Women’s Resource Fairs are to give individual practitioners, non-profits and businesses who serve women, a greater opportunity to enrich the lives of all women through the collective presentation of their services, products and programs. General admission to the fair is $10 and includes access to all booths and educational lectures both days. Admission scholarships are available for women in need.
For more information
call (847) 328-8775 or visit

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Special Spectators- A Landmark Education Self-Expression and Leadership Project Begun in 2002

Special Spectators was a project created in 2002 by Blake Rockwell while he was a participant in the Landmark Self Expression and Leadership Program. Blake is a huge sports fan and got the idea to give seriously ill children a chance to attend College Sporting Events. In the 5 years since the project began, Special Spectators has grown to include 40 participating colleges and universities.

At each of the events, children with serious illnesses who would otherwise not be able to participate in sports or attend games, are treated to an all day event. The day includes special VIP seating, tours of the stadium and locker rooms, visits with the players and a visit to the field during half time in which the whole stadium cheers for them. As the project has grown it has been covered by various newspapers and television and radio stations. Recently it was covered by


'Create moments that take your breath away'

By Ivan Maisel

Blake Rockwell isn't sure of the exact day that he decided to change his life, and the lives of so many people around him. It may have been in the spring of 2002, when his wife became severely ill while pregnant and gave birth to their daughter 10 weeks prematurely. It may have been a few weeks earlier, when he lost his job with a New York investment bank swallowed up by a bigger firm.

But Rockwell knows for sure when he first began to realize that life is short -- Sept. 11, 2001. Three years later, the anniversary of the attacks falls on a Saturday. Rockwell appreciates the significance of that. He will be at Memorial Stadium in Norman, seeing to it that his Special Spectators have a day that they never forget.
Special Spectators
If you are interested in donating time and/or money to Special Spectators, visit the website,

Special Spectators is the name of the program that Rockwell began in the wake of Sept. 11. The spectators are patients at children's hospitals near college campuses. Rockwell arranges for the kids to go to college football games. The schools donate the tickets, and Rockwell sets up the quintessential Saturday experience: tailgate, cheerleaders, mascots, band.

On Saturday, patients from the Children's Hospital at OU Medical Center in Oklahoma City will tour the Switzer Center, go down on the field before the game to sit in the Sooner Schooner, then watch No. 2 Oklahoma play Houston.

Oklahoma is one of 22 I-A schools that will host Special Spectators this season. A forest is burnt to the ground, and out of the ashes rise a few shoots. Three years later, Rockwell still thinks about the forest.

"Every time there's a beautiful fall day, one of those days when you can really smell the fall in the air," Rockwell says from his home in the Lincoln Park neighborhood in Chicago. "You realize that summer is over. You no longer have to suffer the heat and humidity. A gorgeous morning. That's when I think about it."

Rockwell is 37, a Michigan boy, born in Grand Rapids, raised in Midland. His father Harold was active in Michigan State alumni affairs. Rockwell cheered for Michigan. Something about being tired of losing in the 1970s.

His sense of humor is sharp, his laugh quick. Rockwell went to Albion College, and is quick to ply you with details of their 1994 Division III championship. You don't even have to ask.

He describes himself on that Manhattan morning as the chaser in us all. Chasing what, Rockwell isn't quite sure. But he was chasing.

"I had been active in volunteering at Children's Memorial Hospital when we lived in Chicago," Rockwell says. "I got carried away with my own career and things I was doing to advance my career. There was a bit of a void in my life. There was some passion missing."

He remembers the regular Tuesday morning meeting and the tone in Karyn's voice when she interrupted it by cell phone.

"She yelled, 'What's going on?' Rockwell says. "I thought she had discovered my mistresses. I didn't have any but I thought she had found out I did."

The images of that day remain with him, the images he saw on television, and the numbness and panic he saw around him. When your wife works two blocks away, and you can't find her, you don't forget that pit in your stomach. The attacks ended nearly 3,000 lives, and disrupted countless others. Rockwell came away from them with the early onset of midlife crisis. He wanted to know what he was chasing, and why.

"Karyn said to me, 'Think about what you love to do,'" Rockwell says. "You love kids and the children's hospital and sports.' I am a college football nut. By the time August rolls around, I'm saying, 'Honey, I'll see you in early January.' One of the things I learned from volunteering is how much the kids loved sports. They didn't have the experience in sports. Their experience was from TV, or through a video game.

"The atmosphere around a college football game is unique, and so much fun," Rockwell says. "Why not bring the kids to college football games?"

A few months later, Rockwell lost his job. Karyn became "very, very sick" in giving birth to Lauren, who remained in the hospital for eight weeks. She came home wearing a heart and respiratory monitor. Rockwell understood that he didn't want to leave Lauren in someone else's care. He also realized that New York was a long way from the Midwest, where his family and Karyn's family lived.

They moved back to Chicago. Between naps, diaper changes and jars of food, Rockwell began calling I-A schools. In 2002, two schools agreed to serve as hosts. Central Florida and Arizona had plenty of good seats available. Last year, nine schools participated. This year, there are 22, among them teams that have no trouble selling tickets: Georgia, Florida, Oklahoma.

Some schools give only 10 tickets. Some schools give 200. The word has spread among the close-knit world of athletic directors: Special Spectators is a good program. Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione is wary of falling for every warm and fuzzy request that crosses his desk. But once his department determines the request is legitimate, Oklahoma tries to grant it.

"If we can't do some of these things, what are we about?" Castiglione asks. "It speaks to our values."

That's where Rockwell came in. He found a sponsor, Levy Cares, the non-profit foundation of Levy Restaurants, the Chicago company that moved stadium food beyond the soggy hot dog. Rockwell has become savvy enough in NCAA-speak that he refers to schools as "member institutions." He is a stay-at-home dad, and he has become the favorite uncle of dozens of sick children around the country.

"I have a little saying I tell myself every day," Rockwell says. "Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take. It's the moments that take your breath away. That's what you're trying to do. Create moments that take your breath away.

"Yesterday's history," he adds. "Tomorrow's a mystery. Today is a gift. Live life to the fullest. What are you going to do with that gift? I wasn't always like that. But I am now."

Out of the ashes of Sept. 11, shoots have begun to rise.

Ivan Maisel is a senior writer for He can be reached at

For more information or to bring Special Spectators to your school or Alma Mater visit:

Monday, May 14, 2007

Mothers for Mothers: A Project Created in the Landmark Self-Expression and Leadership Program

Group offering help to mothers

Volunteers assist by tackling tasks

From: Sun Sentinal South Florida
By Laura Burdick-Sherman

Mothers need as much help they can get as far as Joelle Smith is concerned.

And that's her vision for a newly created organization, Mothers For Mothers.

"Every mother needs assistance with watching their kids; either they can't afford it or don't know who to ask," said Smith, of Sunrise. She and her husband, Daryl, have three children younger than 6.

She said she came up with the idea while on maternity leave from her position as drama teacher at Ramblewood Middle School in Coral Springs.

With time on her hands and motivation to do something meaningful, Smith participated in a self expression and leadership class at the Landmark Forum in Dania Beach.

"The course teaches how to live your possibilities out of life," she said. "We had to create a community project to help us learn how to live a better life, and I came up with an organization."

Using her life as inspiration, Smith's idea for the group is to help mothers with the numerous tasks of motherhood.

"I said I want to support and assist other mothers, and just by talking with people, I realized if we all take a stand and do one thing for someone else, it can happen," she said.

After several more leadership classes and with the help from Pediatric Associates in Sunrise and neighbors and mothers at the Little Gym in Plantation, Smith has garnered a team of 50 volunteer helpers.

The group has already helped Marie Gonzalez, 60, of Lauderhill, who is now taking care of four grandchildren between 1 and 6 years old.

"It's a big help. I had a lot of problems with school for the oldest because I was always late to take him to school. I'm slow and not well myself, by the time I get the four ready, I'm late. Now, someone takes him to school, and the teacher is happy. They offered me to do laundry. They sent me lunch, and give me stuff for the kids," she said.

Another recipient is a single mother with two young children -- one of whom requires monthly surgeries. A volunteer helps with meals and baby sitters, Smith said.

"Our biggest hurdle is getting us out there as a source for mothers because they're very resistant even though they need it. Mothers want to do it all," Smith said.

Smith has a supply of baby formula, diapers, laundry detergent, microwaves, and baby furniture, cribs, dressers and a stream of eager volunteers. She's looking for mothers who need help.

For more information about Mothers For Mothers, call 954-465-5413.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Self-Expression and Leadership Program Participant Laura Fiori Creates A Reading Project For Kids That Helps Build A Kitchen At A School In Mexico

Kids Hit the Books to Build A Kitchen

From WCAV- Alexandria Virginia

Elementary school students at Greer and Stony Point are hitting the books to help poor students in rural Mexico build a kitchen at their school.

The second graders have read 2,000 books. They hope people and businesses will donate $5 for each book read. They want to raise $10,000 to build a kitchen for a poor school in rural Mexico.

The Read A Book - Build A Kitchen Program gets kids reading and inspires them to help other kids in need.

“This opportunity to connect with Mexico and give back something was truly a meaningful event for every student,” said Greer Elementary Assistant Principal Lisa Molinaro.

“It makes me feel good because they are finally going to have a chance to feel good as us,” said second grader Caleb Bow.

“I am glad that they can have a great kitchen, and I wish they can have a yummy food,” said second grader Mariko Ogino.

The students are still at work raising money. To make a donation and for more information about the program, go to

Donations are tax deductible.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Landmark Education Graduate Jennifer Kramer Raises Money for Special Olympics Each Year By Taking an Icy Plunge

Really big chill: Polar Plunge's top fund-raiser has warm heart

From: the Chicago Sun-Times
by Rummana Hussain

On Sunday morning, Jennifer Kramer will throw on a Dopey costume and run into the frigid waters of Lake Michigan.

Some of her girlfriends, dressed as the remaining Seven Dwarfs, will follow close behind.

"We tried to recruit a male Snow White but that didn't work out," joked Kramer, who's on target to be the biggest individual fund- raiser in the annual Chicago Polar Plunge, benefitting Special Olympics Chicago, for a second straight year.

As of Thursday, Kramer had collected $4,700 -- a record amount any single participant has raised in the Polar Plunge's seven-year history.

Kramer also set a record last year, bringing in $4,474.

"It's so not about winning," Kramer, 36, said of raising the most cash. "But then again, how great is it to instill the competitiveness for the Special Olympics?"

Kramer, a native of Wauconda, grew up in a family that stressed charity and often delivers clothing, toys, books, and school supplies to a Mexican orphanage.

She first became interested in the Polar Plunge five years ago when she met Maureen Dillon, a former Special Olympics swimmer and basketball player with Down syndrome.

"I've always been profoundly interested in helping the less fortunate, especially children with special needs. [Meeting Dillon] cemented what I had felt all along," said Kramer, a sports development director with the Mayor's Office of Special Events, one of the many Polar Plunge partners.

Kramer, of Old Town, wore street clothes at her first Polar Plunge. But each year since, she, like hundreds of others gathered at the North Avenue Beach festivities, changes into a costume before dipping into the bone-chilling waves that feel "like millions of needles piercing your skin."

She's donned snow fairy and gladiator outfits in the past.

Kramer's contributions alone, officials said, are enough to cover costs of smaller Special Olympics competitions.

"She's very spirited and very generous," said Susan Nicholl, Dillon's sister and executive director of Special Children's Charities, the fund-raising organization for Special Olympics Chicago. "We're so lucky to have her."

From the Again this year, Jennifer Kramer was our top fundraiser collecting a very impressive $7886.47! Jennifer (on the left) and her friends dressed as the 7 Dwarves and added great energy to the day's festivities!

Visit Chicago Polar Plunge