Category: Honoring Heroes

Happy Veterans Day to all of our American heroes both former and actively serving. Know that you are viewed as a hero and that I recognize you are not tied to the politics and debates. You act to protect and serve and do a damn fine job. I take my issues up with the politicians and provide you with 100% of my support.

This also goes out to my own family members and to my many close friends who are actively serving in the army, navy, and special forces (you know who you guys and gals are).



Yesterday was Halloween, so naturally I watched the Ghost Hunters marathon and live event on the Syfy channel (yes, I don’t like the name change either–it’s supposed to be Scifi!).While watching Jason, Grant, and the rest of the TAPS team I started thinking about the many ways they represent what it means to be a superhero (which made me love them even more).

TAPS Founders Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson

For those of you who don’t know the story, Ghost Hunters is a reality series that follows the investigations of The Atlantic Paranormal Society, or TAPS. Started by Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson, TAPS investigates paranormal claims for residences and businesses. Everything they do is pro bono–the families and businesses they help don’t pay for the service, but what they get in exchange is a piece of mind and a caring, levelheaded team that will conduct an unbiased empirical investigation of their property. They aren’t sensational in their approach–on the contrary–they often debunk claims, finding rational and physical reasons for certain experiences.

So why do I think TAPS can teach us a thing or two about being a superhero? Actually I have several reasons:

One-They found a way to help people by drawing on their own skills and experiences.

Jason and Grant both had their own personal paranormal experiences. This shared background–and the lack of help available to people in their situation–made them decide to start a service to help other normal, everyday people experiencing paranormal activity. Jay and Grant weren’t paranormal researchers by trade. In fact they are plumbers. That may not seem like a natural progression, but their knowledge of plumping and homes combined with their problem solving approach has allowed them to debunk many claims (and fix a few leaky faucets during investigations). Every team member they bring on comes with their own backgrounds and experiences, all which help add credibility to the team and enhance their investigations.

Two–They’re not in it for the money. 

TAPS Team Members Dave, Jason, Grant, Steve, and Kris

Real heroes don’t do it for fame or money, and neither does the TAPS team. Like I said earlier, all investigations are done free of charge. TAPS invests their own money (plus some donations) into state of the art equipment and covers all overhead including gas and their time. Because of their unique, level-headed, and caring approach TAPS earned interest from the Syfy channel and now they have a growing brand to associate with their service, but this wasn’t the goal for the team. They did it to help people.

Three–People come first.

Every member of TAPS demonstrates the value of people first. Whether it’s their client, team member, or their own families, TAPS only does what’s best for others.

Four–They started small.

Jason and Grant started small and local, keeping their efforts in line with their resources. As they gained support, equipment, team members, and other resources they started reaching out more. Even now they recognize their limitations, especially when it comes to meeting their personal obligations such as family, and operate within those boundaries. This way their mission is sustainable, which is important for the many people they have yet to help.

Five–They attract and train others.

Every superhero needs a prodigy. TAPS is always looking for other serious, kindhearted team members to join them in their mission to help others. They have teams stationed in other areas (including with Ghost Hunters International) and continue to grow. Attracting and training like-minded people helps further their mission and to extend their reach, without overextending individual members.

Six-They balance family, work, and their superhero endeavors.

Just like any superhero, TAPS members have regular lives that they also have to keep up with. Family, work, friends, and home all need to be balanced with the many people who need their help. Though it isn’t always perfect, TAPS manages to keep everything balanced and fulfills their superhero role without neglecting loved ones or other obligations.

Above all, TAPS has heart. They saw a need and found a way to help people, even if it was in an unconventional way. So in my mind, the Ghost Hunters are real life heroes and we can all learn something from them.

Superhero Pets

We’ve talked a great deal about the many ways people can be heroes, but we haven’t yet talked about how our four legged friends can also do amazing things for each other and their human counterparts. Many animals, dogs especially, have come to the aide of humans and other animals time and time again. They deserve our love and respect just as much as humans.  Here are a couple of videos to prove my point–animals can be heroes too–and many thanks to my friend David Daniel for reminding me about the first video.

After a committee composed of five persons reviewed this year’s nominees, they have finally announced that Chinese human rights activist Liu Xiaobo is the winner of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize.  Liu is currently serving an 11 year sentence for “inciting subversion of state power.” Liu was imprisoned in December of 2009 for his peaceful efforts to improve human rights in China. Liu learned of his award from his guards. Shortly after his wife was allowed to visit him in prison.

Liu demonstrates that being hero does not require force or violence. His constant vigilance, activism, and now his imprisonment and Nobel award have helped bring world attention to the human rights issue rampant in China. He is an example for us to follow. We should never be afraid to stand up for what we belive in. We should also look for peaceful ways to stand up for ourselves and others. The world is full of enough violence. The Nobel Peace Prize lives on to remind us that peace is possible so long as people are actively pursuing it.

Congratulations Liu. We hope that soon you will enjoy your freedom, but even more we hope that you will see your efforts realized in a fair and just China.

Oftentimes, when we think of heroes we think of those famous people, the ones on national news who have done something outrageous and huge. Although its great to have such a wide reaching impact, the most powerful impact one can have is on their own home town.

Home town heroes, just like all heroes, come in many shapes and sizes, and like I’ve said a million times it doesn’t take much to do something heroic especially if its in your own back yard. All it takes is a local perspective, a sense of community, and a little time.

Here are a few ways to achieve hometown hero status:

  1. Buy local: Support local businesses and farmers by buying local instead of from the big box stores. Not only do you help keep unique businesses open and people employed, you also keep more money in the community. According to the 3/50 Project, for every $100 spent local, independently owned establishments $63 stays local compared to less than $43 spent at box stores.
  2. Vote: Local governments are incredibly receptive to constituent concerns and support, more so than at the state or national level. There are always coffee with the representatives, council meetings, and other opportunities to speak directly to candidates and representatives about your concerns. Of course the best way to have your voice heard is by voting.
  3. Volunteer: There are so many ways to support your community. It only takes a few hours a month to make a huge difference. You can tutor local kids, teach a class at the community center, organize a park clean up, or deliver meals to local families. The possibilities are endless, as is the impact.
  4. Throw a block party: National night out is coming soon. Strengthen your community and get to know your neighbors by throwing a block party. Exchange phone numbers and offer to watch out for each other’s property and kids. Not only will you feel safer, but you’ll also enjoy your home that much more.
  5. Become a weekend warrior: Weekend races and festivals are commonplace. Though a great way to get in little exercise and competition, many of the races you see are held to support a cause such as breast cancer or your local food bank. So get out of the house, get some exercise, make it a family event, and support a local cause.
  6. Donate: Local charities do so much for the community. When the economy slumps, these charities are often the hardest hit as their reserves are quickly depleted. Add a few extra cans of food to your groceries this month or send in a check to help out your local food bank or crisis center.

Of course, how you become a hometown hero is only limited by your creativity and abilities so don’t be afraid to think beyond this list. If we all take the time to do a little in our own communities, we can start a snowball effect that will reach far beyond our hometowns.

I would love to hear what you’re doing in your own community!  Share with me in the comments section.

It’s finally back to school across the country. Time to get lunches made and everyone out the door in time for the bus, time for homework and reading logs, and time for Friday night football games. Whether you have a child in school or not, it’s important to support local teachers. Underpaid, underfunded, and overworked, teachers can use all the help they can get.

It doesn’t take much to help a teacher. Here a few suggestions to get you started:

  1. Donate: Many teachers are responsible for purchasing additional supplies, books, and materials in their classroom. Donate money or materials for school projects, buy them a gift certificate, and when you place your child’s scholastic book order, buy an extra book or certificate for the classroom.
  2. Clean House: Have left over craft materials, magazines, books that are unused or already read, or excess supplies collecting dust at home? De-clutter and help out by sending those items to the classroom. They don’t have to be new to be appreciated.
  3. Volunteer: Time is one of the best gifts you can give. You can volunteer in your child’s classroom, in the library, on the playground, or a number of other ways. If time is a concern, just volunteer for special outings/events or stop by to read once a term. Not only will the teacher appreciate it, your child will also see that you value the teacher and education, and will learn to value the same in turn. If you have older kids who are too cool for parents, work with the booster club at games, run the snack stand, or help with coordinating fundraisers.
  4. Join the PTA: Help fund school wide events, chime in on important issues, and support positive administrative change by being apart of the PTA.
  5. Hop into the kitchen: I don’t know anyone who says no to free food. A sweet treat or a free lunch goes a long way in not only helping stretch a teacher’s budget, but also showing that you care and support them.
  6. Write a note: Verbalize your appreciation either with a card or a quick email. Don’t forget to drop a line to the administrators and tell them what a great job your teacher is doing. Everyone can use a little helping keeping the boss happy, teachers included.

Above all, communicate. Just saying thanks, asking what they need, and keeping that line of communication open goes a long way. So go be a hero to another hero today, and show you support our teachers!