Wednesday, August 31, 2011

You're weird.

Yes, you, my friend, are a strange little duckling, as my father would say.

A recent survey uncovered that a mere 25% of the 2600 Americans surveyed feel some responsibility to improve the world they live in.  Think for a moment about your friends at the church, their activities and level of involvement.  It should be pretty clear that you are part of a very unusual group of people.  Does this statistic answer why there may not be as many Humanitarians on the honor roll as you may like?  It makes anyone who donates anything at all look like a superstar, huh?

This is a case where I think it's ok to be in the minority.  Can you imagine being in such a mental condition that you didn't actually think that you should do anything to improve the world?  If one were so spiritually blind as to be able to ignore any of the myriad non-optimum conditions on the planet that can be improved with effort, technology and energy, how else might that affect one's life?

Remember, if you begin to feel lonely, these words by Margaret Mead -

"Never believe that a few caring people can't change the world.  For, indeed, that's all who ever have."

Monday, August 29, 2011

Get out your #2 pencil

I thought it was time for a quiz.  I know you like the staff members at the St. Louis org.  Let's see how well you really know them.

1.  57% of the voting age population voted in the 2008 election.  What percentage of staff members who were eligible to vote went to the polls?

a.  40%
b.  57%
c.  74%
d.  97%

2.  38% of the voting age population voted in the 2010 election.  What percentage of staff members voted?

a.  13%
b.  36%
c.  50%
d.  66%

3.  55% of the US population has attended "some college" or has gotten a degree.  What percentage of staff members have at least "some college" or have gotten a sheepskin?

a.  24%
b.  33%
c.  54%
d.  66%

4.  20% of the US population smokes cigarettes.  What percentage of staff members of the St. Louis org smoke?

a.  8%
b.  16%
c.  24%
d.  40%

5.  The average length of time on a job in the US is currently 6 years.  What is the average tenure of the current St. Louis org staff member?

a.  2.5 years
b.  5 years
c.  6 years
d.  9 years


1.  The average tenure of the Executive Director of a non profit is 6.1 years.  How long has the current Executive Director held his position?

a.  Who's that?
b.  4 years
c.  8 years
d. 12 years


What is the date when the St. Louis Church of Scientology moved into its current building at 6901 Delmar?


1. D  97% of staff members voted in 2008.
2. D  66% of staff members voted in 2010.
3. D  66% of staff members have attended at least some college.
4. A  6% of staff members smoke cigarettes.
5. D  The average tenure of our current staff members is 9 years, with Robin and Carla topping the list at 34 and 31 years respectively.
The answer to the extra credit question is D, 12 years.  I just hit my 20 year anniversary as a staff member in June... Happy to be here :)
The answer to the extra extra credit question is October 31, 1997.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Pebbles in a pond

I feel revived. 

I received a little note in the mail today.

It was from one of the kindest people I know - and with it was a small donation to the Church.

The amazing thing about this little letter is that it came just as I was feeling a little worn down on the blog.

However, JoAnn was kind enough to mention a metaphor from a recent blog post.

JoAnn and her husband, Bill, are amazing people.  Two of their daughters are on staff at the St. Louis org, and are both among our more stable and productive staff members.  I believe this is the result of the strong work ethic that their parents provided as an example to them - both JoAnn and Bill work together as dentists in the same office - probably one of the few offices anywhere at which the receptionist must announce that the caller has reached "Doctors Kathrein office."

Further, they are leaders in our fundraising efforts, being double Humanitarians.

I also have to mention that they are avid motorcycle riders, and Bill has been honored with the "Iron Butt" award for his lengthy outings on a Harley.  (This may be self-assigned... you'll have to ask him)

This little letter and donation that arrived in the mail this morning meant much more to me than you may guess.  The intention behind the gift is meaningful.  It reminds me that we are in a reciprocal relationship - fundraisers and donors.  The fundraisers inspire donors, who in turn inspire the fundraisers, so that they can continue to do their job so that everyone wins.

Thank you!

"What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal." - Albert Pike

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

How to say thanks?

photo by Paul Downey
"I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder."
                                     - G. K. Chesterton

Chesterton is right again.  I know that most of you don't donate to get a t-shirt, pen or plaque, but I also know that it makes a difference to have these items in use and of uniform appearance.  We will shortly be producing new items to give to those of you who make donations and who achieve honor statuses.

I'd like to receive comments from you regarding items that you would like to see as acknowledgements for your donations.  You can simply leave a comment to this blog.

T-shirt or hat?  Both?  Color?  Logo?

Would you wear a pin?  Bracelet?

Do you like pens?  What kind?

Jackets?  Other apparel? Jewelry?

Would it appeal to you to be taken to dinner with others who had donated to a similar level?

Other ideas?  As an example, Dallas produced belt buckles and 10 gallon hats as awards for donors.  What would be comparable here?  St. Louis Cardinals tickets?

What would you definitely think was cool?  What sorts of things would you not want to see given to yourself or other donors?

Finally, what represents St. Louis to you?  What represents the building project?

The more answers I get, the better... your input is valuable and will lead to getting the fundraising for the St. Louis org done sooner - something that I know we all want.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Carry on, Sherry

"Life is either a daring adventure or it is nothing.  To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable." - Helen Keller

I am fortunate to have a friend who lives life as though it were a daring adventure.  Despite confronting tremendous adversity over the years, she keeps her heart and her focus on helping others.  She's a Humanitarian, a Patron with Honors, passes out Way To Happiness and anti-drug literature to anyone who so much as glances in her direction, and isn't above calling politicians to task when she feels it will do some good.

She and her husband are staunch supporters of the church, and probably hold the record for consecutive attendance at fundraisers.

She is a true picture of "strength undefeatable," and considering that tomorrow is her birthday, I decided that today was a good day to pass on to her my admiration for her courage and for her insistent (yes, insistent) love and care for others.

Happy birthday, Sherry Ridenour!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Why me?

Everett pointed out last week in his comments on the blog concerning the question "Why now?" that "Why me?" is another frequently asked question in fundraising visits.  This is very true, and is usually the first question that has to be answered.

Knowing Everett as I do, I know that he isn't asking this question in the same way that Job asks God to explain the reasons for his trials.  Anyone who has donated their time and money to the degree that Everett has does not view charity as a trial.  This is, however, a valid question and one which I feel deserves an answer that is as honest and complete as I can muster.

In the Old Testament, there is the story of David and Goliath.

Goliath was a champion from the army which opposed David's tribe.  He was nine feet tall, was clothed in bronze armor and carried a huge spear while his shield-bearer walked in front.  For 40 days, he challenged the Israelites to produce any warrior who would fight him, and if he were to lose, he said that his entire tribe would become the subjects of the Israelites.

None of the trained warriors would take up his challenge.  David, who was a very young man with no fighting experience, heard Goliath's challenge while running a message to his brothers on the front.  He expressed indignation that no one else would stand up to fight Goliath, and volunteered to do it himself.  He believed that God would help him win the fight.  Despite taunts from his brothers and the expressed doubt of the Israelite leader, David donned warrior attire and prepared to do battle.  However, he found that he was unaccustomed to the armor and sword, so instead grabbed a few rocks and his shepherd's staff.

David beaned Goliath with a rock and cut off his head.

David took the tools that had been provided to him and used them to their best advantage to win against insurmountable odds.

Our modern-day Goliath is a huge beast.  He is 9 feet of solid ignorance, armored with the fog produced by drug addiction and his shield-bearer is world-wide illiteracy.  Shackled behind him are the 12 million people currently held in slavery and the 5 billion people living on less than 10 dollars per day.

Why me?  And you?

Because we have a rock.

Because we are willing to use what God gave us to try and bean Goliath in the head.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Why now?

"Why now?"

Despite the fact that I interact with very enlightened people, I am asked that question frequently.  The person asking is usually very interested to hear the response.  Why does it matter whether a donation is made today as opposed to tomorrow, this month instead of next?  After all, maybe the [stock market, credit card bills, new baby, political situation] will be [better, worse, happier, more stable] given a little bit more time.

It actually causes me a bit of pain to answer it.  I'm not a guy that is big on high pressure and sales techniques.  I would be more at ease in a monastery than on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

I have found two very competent answers to that question.  The first is from Ralph Waldo Emerson, who says,

"You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late."

I like this because it leaves the reader to decide in what way it will be "too late."  Is it because the kindness is no longer needed or because one is no longer able to provide it?

The other answer comes from the book, Born to Raise, in which the author Jerold Panas says, 

"Many of us think of sin as being an act against God or our fellow man.  There can be more to it than that.  Sin can also be the failure to reach your full potential.  Not attempting the great leap.  You must reach beyond your grasp, seek the full limits of the possible, then go beyond.  Sin is not working at your highest potential.  The unlived life.  Standing by the sidelines, watching."

It definitely matters that we take every opportunity to achieve our goals.  To do otherwise is to waste our God-given potential.  If we fail to take those opportunities as they arise, we may not get another chance.

I look forward to seeing you tonight at our fundraiser - I know we'll all have a great time!

Friday, August 19, 2011


As I made a deposit at the bank today, the teller, looking slightly haggard, asked if I was happy it was almost the weekend.  I smiled and nodded for the sake of politeness, but it did cause me to recall that not everyone has a job that they love.  

Being in charge of our church's fundraising program gives me an opportunity every day to talk to amazing people who share a singular passion to improve the lives of others.  Each person that gives is a friend, and in fact, I've found there is no better way to discover new friends than to talk with others about this project.  One could say with accuracy that the faster we discover our friends, the faster we will have a brand-new building.

I have another reason to love this job.  I get to study and read as part of it.  Not only do I get to be inspired by my "public," but I get to be inspired by the works of many who have come before me and who have dedicated their lives to helping people help people.

That being said, I'd like to quote from a book I've recently finished.  With this information alone, anyone could become a competent fundraiser and moreover, they could lead a life in which opportunity never passes them by.  I also suspect that anyone who properly applies this data would never have marital or familial difficulty to speak of.

This passage addresses a key component to fundraising - the ability to listen.  It was penned by Jerold Panas in his book, Born to Raise.  See if you can read this passage and not be inspired.

"To be a good listener, you really have to work at it.  The prospect must have confidence in you as an individual.  You have to earn this.  You convince them that you are truly interested in them and their concerns.  You can't fake it.  If you don't have a concern and a love for people, and you don't really believe in the mission of your institution - you won't be able to fake it.  And you won't be convincing to them.  To really listen, you share your ideas, and more importantly, you get the prospect to share his or her ideas. Find answers to their questions and their problems.  Give the prospect a real opportunity to talk about what is on his or her mind....

"If you listen, you will find the man, and indeed, you will find his idea and his dream.  If you listen carefully and intently, you will discover his passions.  You will untangle every riddle, unlock every door.  Listening gets the gift.  Listening is the poetry of fundraising."

The poetry of fundraising... isn't that awesome?  Every time I read that, it makes me want to go out and talk to some more inspirational people.

Your homework assignment this weekend is to apply the above passage in an interpersonal relationship.  Heart and soul... listen intently and wholly.  Let me know how it goes.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

You might say she's a dreamer

"All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible."
                                                                                                      - T. E. Lawrence

Who wants to be called a dreamer, these days?  They can have a bad name.  We are coached to be "realistic" and "pragmatic." 

The problem is that we can be lead to believe that someone who is a dreamer is chasing mental will o' the wisps - that they drift mentally from one goal to another, not having the mental fortitude to make their dreams a reality.

A dreamer is a special kind of person. They have the ability to disagree built into their mental and spiritual fabric - a key survival trait as a spiritual being.

A dreamer who can also confront the physical universe work required to turn their dreams into reality is a person to be cherished.

You may not guess it by looking at her, but Winnie is such a person as I just described.  As both a Humanitarian and as a staff member, day in and day out she does the hammer-and-pound work required to not only maintain our current building, but she is the expert regarding our new building as well.  Equally adept at choosing roses for the garden and bossing around contractors, she has proven her willingness to take every action necessary to make her dream - an ideal church in St. Louis -  a reality.

Friday, August 5, 2011

What do you get when you cross a boy scout with a veterinarian?

I get an opportunity to learn something every time I talk to a donor.

I remember waiting to visit with one of my parishioners in Kennett, Missouri in the waiting room of his vet clinic.  As I sat contemplating the flea collars and graphic representations of what heart worms do to dogs, I was struck by the electronic sign above his reception desk.  It cycled through the same messages every few minutes - only one or two were about animals.  The other messages alternated between an ad for Dianetics, an update on the Kiwanis, the local Boy Scout troop, a music group and a fundraiser for CASA, a group which provides help to foster children.

I was intrigued by the fact that one guy could have this many things going on, in addition to running a successful business - in one small town.  It seemed that he was actively working on every major form of effective help he could get his hands on.

When I got a chance to sit down with him, I asked him to describe his impetus for being so actively involved in the community.  Most people would be satisfied to donate - as he had - or possibly be involved in a group.  However, here was a man who did several - and this didn't count his old-timey band or his flea circus.

After being asked about this,  he shrugged and said, "I was brought up with an ideal - from him to whom much is given, much is required."

He didn't really explain the concept further, and it's taken me a while to be able to grasp it fully.  

It goes without saying that we live in the richest country in the world.  Much of the planet lives on dollars per day.  If only due to this, it behooves us to do all we can to help mankind with the resources we have available.  This, my parishioner had done - he was a Patron with Honors to the IAS and a Humanitarian for the St. Louis Ideal org building project, and had made numerous donations over the years.

The above quote is from the New Testament.  After thinking about it, I saw that my parishioner had also applied this datum to the spiritual dimension and  to his level of participation in the projects of living as well.  

There are many people who cannot donate their time to helping others.  They aren't spiritually capable of doing it.  By this, I mean that perhaps they are too shy to be involved in a group, their IQ is too low to solve the problems of others, or perhaps they can't even read.  

If those of us who can apply our skills to help others don't do it, our skills will atrophy.  Our abilities will lessen to the degree that we become unwilling to use them.  The finest way to use what we have is in the pursuit of help.

Thank you, Everett, for all that you have done and will do in the future, and for living a life of active and valuable philanthropy.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Happy to be "here"

Type the words, "Living now," into google and you will get 1.57 billion results in .86 seconds.

The ability to live in the moment is a very desirable ability.  It is the subject of freqent advice in the Western world, in addition to being one of the goals of the practices of Buddhism.  A school of Hinduism teaches that, "nirvana is located in the space between two thoughts."  In addition to these venerable traditions, there are 1.57 billion other advices and methodologies available regarding this subject at the click of a mouse.

Part of the difficulty with the internet is that there is no evaluation of importances.  We have no shortage of data available to us - what we lack at times is a filter.

One of the students at our church wrote a success story this week that illustrates the benefit of being able to live in the moment.  She and her partner completed their course within a few hundred hours.  While this may seem like quite a bit of time to achieve the ability to be fully present, it is incomparably short when viewed against other practices, and the success itself is worth any amount of time to achieve.

"My whole life, I've always felt kind of 'out of it.'  I actually thought it was just part of who I was.  I was that spacey girl or the introverted one, etc... This course really handled that for me.  I find myself looking at people and finding them interesting.  I find the environment that I live in very interesting, and my life is interesting.  I spent many years feeling sad and regretful about things that happened in the past.  Now, I'm just focused on what's happening right now - the friends I have now, my house now, my dogs now, my husband now, my job now.  I've spent most of my life thinking about the past.  I am now able to live my life right here and now - and it is very enjoyable."

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Getting a dream job

Yesterday, I saw someone cry tears of joy because they got a job.

Were they unemployed for a lengthy period?  Had the poor state of the economy made work impossible to find?

No.  On the contrary, this person has had a successful home business for several years and helps her husband with a successful business of his own.

Did they receive a huge raise, big benefits and a "golden parachute?"

Nope.  Neither big money nor power will be forthcoming, yet this person stated that she was the happiest she'd ever been.

Apparently "money" and "power" are not synonyms for "freedom" and "happiness."

So much effort is exerted to try and convince us that our happiness will derive from our freedom to purchase things we want, as quickly as we decide we want them.  Maybe this concept requires that degree of effort because it is false.  As Dostoevsky points out in The Brothers Karamazov, freedom to acquire material things instantly isn't actually freedom, but a new kind of slavery.  He says of this conviction, "And therefore the idea of serving mankind, of the brotherhood and oneness of people, is fading more and more in the world, and indeed the idea now even meets with mockery, for how can one drop one's habits, where will this slave go now that he is so accustomed to satisfying the innumerable needs he himself has invented?  He is isolated, and what does he care for the whole?  They have succeeded in amassing more and more things, but have less and less joy."

Cathie Lograsso is now living her dream of providing effective help to others as a Scientology staff member.  When she realized that she had arrived and could now fulfill her purpose, she said that she experienced tremendous relief.  She's now arrived in Florida to complete her training as a Case Supervisor so that she can help the St. Louis org expand quickly and better service others.  We are so happy to have her on the team and look forward to working with her in the years to come!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Discovering rhinoceros

"It is one thing to describe an interview with a gorgon or griffin, a creature who does not exist.  It is another thing to discover that the rhinoceros does exist and then take pleasure in the fact that he looks as if he didn't."   - G.K. Chesterton

In daily life, we are confronted with various people - some friendly, others not so much. We watch the news and see that some people are, in fact, quite horrible.  Adding to our disillusionment is the fact that most people we encounter on the street don't quite look like the people who sell things to us during commercial breaks.  They aren't quite up to that "ideal" appearance.

Fundraising and volunteering give us an opportunity to see people as they really are.  They are not the mythical creatures peddled to us on the television.  They are neither the siren of the commercial, nor are they the minotaur of the nightly news.

However, we do find a lot of dreamers.  We find people with vision and ability and a willingness to create something for the good of others.  On the outside, they look like the same people that we viewed with a fishy eye at Starbucks when they cut in front of us in line.  In fact, they are the same people - however, we only get a chance to meet them fully when working together on a project we love.

The joy in fundraising is the opportunity to be inspired daily through the people we meet at work.  This week, Phyllis Hanicke donated so that she could complete her next status on the Honor Roll.  She is a long-time St. Louis Scientologist.  In fact, she was working with the subject before there was an organization in the area... and before there was a "Scientology." She gave so that the staff could have a nice place to work.  I had no idea that was her reason for giving.  Isn't that great?  Once again, I have met someone "new" who was standing beside us the whole time.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Humanitarian Haiku

Humanitarians make excellent poetic subjects because they are amazing people.  They create a vision in their heads and then do what it takes to make those visions manifest.  Like poets, they start with disparate pieces of livingness and from that, form something greater than the parts.

I am not a poet.

However, I have created several haiku using a few of the St. Louis Humanitarians as subjects to demonstrate (poorly) the art form of Japanese poetry and to announce this week's contest.

Submit your haiku by email, phone, fax or text to me by Friday.  The subject matter should be charity, goodwill, the new building, etc.  Prizes will be awarded.

The Ridenours,
     Humanitarians both;
surprised by a hat.

A man with tuba
    starts an audience singing

His wife
     must look on
        as he demonstrates
          his moves;

She looks so happy.
   She's living her dream of a
busy retirement.

Given a future -
 her parents want her to thrive,
the world sane at last.

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