Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Heidi and Tyler: new roommates; old friends - Q AND A

  Tyler Parker 

Q: What do you hope to learn from living with Heidi? A: I hope to learn what it takes to make a good relationship and then take it to the “I do everything for you” step without making it odd or embarrassing to both parties.

Q: Why do you want to become a Health Care Aide?

A: I want to become a health care aide because of Heidi. I see the world as a cruel place that we need to fix. This world is not ready for people to change how others see “CRIPS”. It’s a touchy subject that not everyone is comfortable with talking about because, as humans, we don't always see how we treat others well. when I'm out with my aunt I get questioning looks “why is that young women with that *crip*?” My answer to their looks is “She’s with me and I will protect her”. Not everyone gets just how strong my relationship with her is. My aunt has saved my life more than once. In junior high I was a mess but my aunt would not let me quit anything. She would take me for a day or for a week and I would get through it all. I never have had a relationship like I do with my aunt. She can make my awful days into good days and my good days in to amazing, awesome, beautiful days.

She pushes me to be the best I can. It’s because of her that I'm working so hard to get my diploma and also to become a healthcare aide. She makes everything better with her huge happy grin that she always has for me. When I was a little girl I met my aunt that has changed my world, turned it upside down and put it back together to make me smile; even when I thought I never would again. she is my influence that saves me from making my life worse and helps.

Heidi Janz

Q: How did you meet Tyler?

A: Tyler  is my ADOPTIVE niece – it’s the closest / most convenient shorthand identifier we could find for our rather complex connection. Here’s a Reader’s Digest version of how Tyler came into my life: Some 13 years ago, Tyler’s grandfather, Shafer Parker, became my pastor. I soon developed a close friendship with Shafer and his wife Jeanne – and over time, also with their eldest son (Tyler’s stepdad), Tyler’s mom, and their two kids: Tyler (then all of 5 years old), and Sean (then a newborn).
 Q. Why did she move in with you? 

A: Due to frequent relocations, Tyler has had to go to 2 high schools in the past 3 years. Faced with another move, she was frustrated and on the verge of quitting high school. Tyler’s goal is to become a Health Care Aide. But I felt strongly that it’s important for her future that she finish high school before going on to her HCA training. So, I offered to have her come live with me to finish high school and then go on to take her HCA training at Nightingale Academy. Her entire family thought it was a good idea, Tyler took me up on the offer, and here we are.
Q. What are you learning?

A: The importance of PRAYER!!!!!!!!!!  . How to negotiate multiple roles of surrogate mom, aunt, landlord, roommate, confidante, & counselor. (No wonder I’m so tired!) 3. How to establish rules and boundaries, while giving her the freedom she needs to make her own decisions as a young adult. (This is still VERY MUCH a work in  progress!!!)

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Walter Gretzky addresses year-round minor hockey

From what I’ve seen in recent summers, local hockey rinks are almost as busy as outdoor swimming pools. But is it a good idea for young hockey players to lace up skates and strap on the pads year round? Walter Gretzky says no.
“I’ve seen it,” says Walter, the father of Wayne. “When kids play hockey all year long they are tired in February.”

Walter thinks kids should play as many sports as they can so they can have different experiences. He gave an up close and personal example: Wayne loved baseball and could have made the major leagues. We all know he took a different path and made National Hockey League history.

It raises an interesting debate: would Wayne have been so dominate in the NHL if he only played hockey?

Walter made the observation last week when he was in Edmonton for The 2014 Alzheimer's Face Off luncheon. Retired Vancouver Province columnist Jim Taylor conducted a very entertaining question and answer session with the ever engaging Walter.

Twitter @camtait

Sunday, 13 April 2014

"Making the words work" — Jim Taylor

When Jim Taylor and John Short are sitting across from you at the dinner table, you’re in for a real treat. And, if you happen to be a newspaper reporter like me, listening to two veterans spin stories about their adventures is an unforgettable evening, laced with subtle lessons — just like how they write.

Jim wrote over 7,500 sports columns for newspapers including the Vancouver Sun, Vancouver Province and Calgary Sun. John wrote sports for the Globe and Mail, the Canadian Press, the Edmonton Journal and he is a colleague of mine at the Edmonton Sun.

Jim was in town Thursday to be part a charity event. A few weeks ago he suggested the three of us have dinner “and tell a few stories.”

I just listened. I may have been in the newspaper business for over 30 years, but, frankly, I felt like a journalism student taking his last class.

Jim and John met in the mid-1960’s, decades before the Internet. They relied on notepads and manual typewriters to write their stories and columns. But, more important: their reputation.

Jim gave a great example: he was writing a book with Wayne Gretzky, and several days before Gretzky was traded to Los Angeles, Jim had the story. But he had an agreement with Wayne: not to write anything in the newspaper he discovered while writing the book.

And he didn’t.

I have to wonder if that would have happened in today’s social media.

John says reporters and people they write about these days don’t share time together like they used to — over dinner, or over a cup of coffee. Building relationships are so very important in any business, especially the media.

Funny thing happened, too. Nobody’s cell phone went off once over dinner.

Mrs. Tait joined us and I’m glad she got a glimpse of newspaper reporting years ago.

“I have never heard you so quiet over dinner in the 19 years we’ve been married,” she said.

And that made me wonder if, perhaps, I don’t listen enough.

Twitter @camtait

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Remembering a volunteer's volunteer

By Sharan Sandhu

 Bernie Karcher
A cheerful average height man with military-cut hair walks-in vigilantly across the South East Police Station, bringing smiles on everyone’s face. Left and right, he tosses good-natured greetings with a mysterious smile, acknowledging volunteers and police officers by their names. His  memory borders on uncanny. He heads for yet another volunteer opportunity: his thoughts are focused improving the overall quality of life of fellow Albertans, and the community as a whole.

He moves quickly — so fast that people have come to think of him as a blur: the vague outline of a loose black jacket, accented by a splash of small hair showing few grey streaks. His jacket is draped loosely across his shoulder as if he’s daring the world to grab hold and try to slow him down. 

This was Bernie Karcher.
….Bernie on the right

Bernie had the ability to make people crave to do volunteer work with him. The enthusiasm and support he gave to every volunteer made them find the work fun. As President of Mill Woods Community Patrol Bernie communicated with all  volunteers and treated them with respect, and encouraged them when needed. Bernie tried to get the best out of his team of volunteers by being understanding them and inspiring them.

He made you feel as if you were involved in a very important enterprise, where discipline was the priority and things are going well. He was a great volunteer leader. If you ever patrolled with him, you saw some of the finest traits of him, like his observations, his enthusiasm, his confidence and his witty comments. Bernie Karcher was quick but not hasty, committed but not rigid, analytical but did not over-analyze and he was thoughtful, but is not obsessive. The people who knew him from many years say that he could smell the problems in the community when he was patrolling, and that was the reason that he spent good time attending courts.

Among all the action, Bernie sat with his Blackberry/laptop or iPad with his small glasses sitting on his nose and then went about his work. He updated  the volunteer status, looked at new volunteer applications, studied newly introduced laws and legislations to be introduced and so much more.  He could easily multi-task. But the amazing thing is that Bernie occasionally threw comments into all the conversations that are happening around him. It always amazed me that he could concentrate intently on his volunteer work, professional work and still know what was going on with his family.

Bernie was very well aware of his professional, personal and volunteer responsibilities and amazingly he keep a perfect balance. He was available wherever he was required, and he showed up for everything because he just wanted to be there to show that it mattered. That’s why he was a terrific human being: he understood the importance of being there, of being having a presence, and of showing up.
The best thing about Bernie Karcher was that being the head of Mill Woods Community Patrol, he did not command excellence; he built excellence. In his words, excellence is “being all you can be” within the bounds of doing what is right for the organization.

Bernie was a recipient of many awards, including the 2009 Harry Hole Community Policing and the Good Neighbours Award. On May 10, 2013, another feather was attached to his cap — the 22nd Annual Crime Prevention Award for 2013 for Mill Woods Community Patrol in the category of Police-Community Collaboration.
In my opinion  Bernie  was a true role model for every volunteer to make Alberta an exemplary place to live in.
This is the person that was: the person who died on March 27th.

He touched many people through his volunteer efforts with MWCP, Operation Red Nose, the Edmonton Indy, the MS Bike Tour, Santas Anonymous, the Progress Club, World Triathalon, the Mill Woods Presidents’ Council, Mill Woods Canada Day celebrations. Bernie constantly made the extra effort to reach out and make a difference in somebody’s life. His cool-headed and positive approach to every situation struck a chord with thousands of people he interacted with, along with me. His irreverent sense of humor and love for helping people of any background will ensure that he will never be forgotten. 

Rest in Peace, Bernie Karcher.
…Bernie in the blue shirt

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We're back blogging with a new name: TAIT ON 8

Ah, what the hell: I’ll have a Coke.
It’s been a while since I’ve posted a blog. In fact, thelast was way back in the fall when I was mad at Coca-Cola. But we can’t stay mad at something forever, right? So I’m going to fire up the blog again because there’s so much to share.
I March 20 joined the Edmonton Sun as a columnist. Tait on 8 is the name and we sharing good news in the Edmonton area. The response has been overwhelming. And we have so many great stories to write that, unfortunately, we can’t get them in two columns in the Sun and Edmonton Examiner. So we’re going to use my blog to help out.

Like, Wednesday. Mill Woods Community patrol acting president Sharan Shandon sent an email about Bernie Karcher.
Shandon says Bernie was a dedicated volunteer and was very well known throughout the community. Sharan wrote a very nice piece about his friend Bernie and we’re going to post it, including pictures, tonight or first thing Wednesday.
So I really want to hear from you about good things going on in your life.

It’s funny, isn’t it? We’ve all heard people say “whenever you’re going through a rough period call me — I’m always here to listen”? And that’s great.

But when your life is on fire, when things are going great, when you’ve reached one of your dreams, I would like to know.
Please share.

Twitter @camtait.

(Please visit Challenge Insurance where I work as a special projects advisor.)