Mary Schmitt’s Award for Community Spirit

mary and me april 18

Mary Schmitt, our daughter who is studying business at The Catholic University of America, received an award at CUA’s 2018 Cardinal Leadership Celebration dinner on April 18. What a great time I had applauding her accomplishment and meeting many of her fellow students and friends, who are grateful for her spirited contributions to campus life!

Please go to my Facebook page at wgschmitt and see the video I made of the award presentation. She received the Martha Comiskey Memorial Award in recognition of her “devotion to the University, ability and willingness to motivate [her] fellow students and unwavering commitment to the University’s goals.” My favorite part of the remarks made by Office of Campus Activities assistant director Emily Scanlon: “Everybody needs a Schmitty in their life.”

Eileen and I are so glad to have that Schmitty in our life! Mary inspires me with her ability to reflect, and contribute to, the best spirit of communities where all-around excellence is pursued for the sake of the individual, God and others. As she accepted the award, my mind flashed back to earlier days of her sharing this blessing. As a graduate of St. Joseph Grade School in South Bend, she received the Fanelli Award recognizing the gift. I knew good things were in store.

When you check out my social media to share in my joy, please consider following me on Facebook. I’m trying to do things–media outreach consulting, freelance writing, radio and podcast hosting, public speaking and lots of musical performances–that communicate my gratitude to God and wonderful friends! Please also check out the mary.schmitt.94 page on Facebook and Mary’s LinkedIn profile (maryschmitt19) too! That profile is her next step toward encountering new communities and making them even better by her presence.

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Moms, a Mission & an Alabama Anchor

Thanks to Devon Walsh, award-winning anchor for WKRG TV in Mobile, Alabama. I appreciated your receptivity to the story of hope that my colleagues and I with the Good Counsel network of maternity homes figured you would want to tell!

I invite all my friends to take a look at this uplifting report Ms. Walsh, a University of Notre Dame graduate, recently produced for her viewers throughout the region stretching from Mobile to the Florida panhandle.

The home, called Good Counsel Mary’s Shelter Gulf Coast, is the only place of its kind in the region where expectant moms who have been homeless–and too often victims of domestic violence or drug abuse–can take up residence and prepare not only for childbirth but for a career. Thanks to lots of people standing by to help as part of a welcoming community with other moms and kids, this home can be their turning point toward a sustainable, independent family life after a baby has come along.

It’s my privilege to help spread the word about Good Counsel’s long-standing mission to media folks and others. Good Counsel was co-founded many years ago by my friend from Long Island, Christopher Bell. Keep up the great work of meeting these needs, Chris. And, Devon, it was a pleasure reaching out to you, and we’re grateful for your news reporting that’s bound to help lots of other families.

I invite you to learn more about the Chris Bell’s organization at goodcounselhomes.org. May women in need, especially those in the Diocese of Mobile and the Diocese of Pensacola-Tallahassee, continue to receive help and hope from skilled and caring folks who believe that where there’s life, there’s hope.

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You’ve Got to Hear–and Savor–This Song

You’ve got to hear this great new Christian worship song … an anthem of trust in God ‘s abundant mercy, making its national TV debut on the vigil of Divine Mercy Sunday. (Huckabee might not have known that detail.) .

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Thanks, Ken Hallenius & Facebook Live

hallenius facebook     Thank you, Ken Hallenius, for mentioning me in your Facebook Live video this evening!

Friends, please visit wgschmitt on Facebook to see this latest broadcast by Ken, a great gentleman, scholar and source of abundant insights you can find on the radio, in podcasts, on websites and more.

In Point #4 of Ken’s report on the joy of media–and the media of joy–you’ll hear his kind and generous comments regarding the podcast he and I have produced. It’s called “EncounterPoints.” See the previous post on this blog to find out more about this project that brought us much joy. Give it a try. We hope it will edify you and others on the subject of evangelization.

 

 

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Oh My Podcast! We’re E-vangelizing!

 

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Today brings the debut of a podcast whose development has been a highlight of my communications career. Please check out the first episode in the initial nine-part series, titled “Got Joy?” Before you do that, let me thank my podcasting partner par excellence, Ken Hallenius. He’s an experienced, perspicacious and joyful co-host, and he also created the logo you see above.

The podcast is called EncounterPoints, and my point here is to recommend that you consider developing a podcast yourself, especially if it brings about encounters with good folks like Ken who see communications as a kind of vocation, a chance to apply one’s talents to do good in the world. Or at least consider browsing around the world of podcasts for topics and ideas that can make a positive difference in your own world.

You’ll hear Ken and me sharing a mix of scholarly and sprightly banter about topics related to the idea of evangelization–helping to spread good news based in faith and reason that we hope will contribute to the common good in American society. If you listen to several of the weekly episodes that will be appearing at EncounterPoints.com,

I hope you’ll conclude that we’re casting–or podcasting–a wide net that ponders various aspects of constructive communication and everyday conversation while avoiding any trace of proselytizing. We’re just expressing some of the values that made us who we are — while also unleashing the similar senses of humor that made us think, “We’ve gotta give this a try.” Your comments are welcome!

 

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Proposing a Toast to Toastmasters

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Give some thought to joining your local Toastmasters International club. Toastmasters is one of those great organizations where professional development, personal enrichment, fellowship and fun intersect. Its 16,400 clubs in 141 countries stand as reminders of the importance of good communication among all people–on the global, national, regional and local levels.

Do you wonder sometimes where folks from all walks of life and backgrounds can go to converse comfortably and effectively with each other? Can we still build communities of face-to-face discussion of diverse ideas, on a panoply of topics, in a relaxed, supportive atmosphere where there are still rules respecting personal dignity, propriety, group effectiveness, clarity, conciseness and the validity and vitality of words?

Toastmasters continues to nurture this miraculous mix. I happily can vouch for the organization, with more than six months of membership in a local South Bend branch called the Tuesday Night Toastmasters Club and my recent introduction to the broader organization through a multi-club speaking competition for “Area 12” in northwest Indiana. So far, I’ve presented four of the ten talks that constitute every member’s initial journey toward competence as a public speaker at the local club level. I volunteered to do an additional talk in the “tall tale” category, and my club entered me in the related area-wide challenge. There, I found further proof that Toastmasters attracts a great group of people who value oral communication because they value the solidarity and hope it nurtures.

Members also value the fact that each speech they deliver sharpens their skills and self-confidence in sharing insights, making them better contributors to the public discourse rather than mere spectators or passive consumers of information. However, we also do strive to become better consumers; the majority of our time in any meeting is spent listening to others in a structured, interactive way. Indeed, we critique each other’s presentations so we pay attention, we cultivate constructive dialogue and we affirm each other on a shared mission.

You can see our Tuesday Night Toastmasters Club facebook page and check out Toastmasters International. My thanks go to my local mentors who are pictured above,  flanking me as the second-place winner and Damon Jones, from the TLC ToastMasters Ivy Tech club in Gary, IN. He earned his first-place honors with style. My South Bend colleagues are long-time members Dennis Njuguna, our club’s vice president for education (at left), and Bart Timm, club president and a regional leader  (at right). Thanks to fellow member–actually, Fellow Toastmaster, as we call ourselves–Tyson Smith, who took the photo above at the Saint Joseph County Public Library on February 26. As they say, please Like us on Facebook! And visit one of our Tuesday evening meetings to become just as encouraged as I have been.

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Who Put the “Lent” in Valentine?

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Happy Valentine’s Day to you! Please accept a gift that has no calories but still has a lot of energy in at least two different forms–my excitement about a little book I produced to make people smile about the deeper meanings of this holiday, and the bona fides behind the quotes used in the book to elevate it above the usual level of Valentine greeting.

Please let me know if you’d like a copy of Heartfelt Gifts to You, to Share: On Valentine’s Day, There’s More to Say. You’ll find that I took the featured quotes from the Bible, where there are many verses that use the word “heart.” After reading many of those verses and doing some research and reflection regarding them, in addition to research about Saint Valentine, a martyr and  the patron saint of love, I wanted to share some thoughts with friends about our appreciation for this day….

Especially for this holiday when it happens to coincide with Ash Wednesday, the solemn start of Lent!  The theme of the book wound up being love as a mixture of joy and self-donation–a purposeful, action-oriented love that secular celebrations may downplay even as the Church highlights the “big picture” of humility, penitence and transformation that can really prove heart-warming over the course of 40 days.

This mini-book became my way to “christen” the current phase of my communications career, which is represented here at OnWord.net. I hope my collaborations with good folks like you can contribute to the common good in creative ways embodying faith and reason. That will happen as we all share our respective gifts with others, including the gifts described in the Bible, with Jesus Christ as their hallmark.

My heartfelt thanks go out to all the people, like you, who bring grace into my life, into our lives–even when it’s not so easy, when the world isn’t only roses and chocolates. Most importantly, I’m sharing my gratitude with my wife Eileen, who is truly my Valentine.

If you would like a free copy of this pocket-size greeting, please email me at billgerards@gmail.com. Its celebration of solidarity in a journey toward perfected love is suitable to share on any day of the year. But Valentine’s Day is a happy day for launching this initiative–particularly in 2018, with its clear connection to Lent. We’ve all got a date with destiny!

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