Monday, August 25, 2008

Back with a Whole New Story!

I last wrote in this blog on February 13, 2008 which, coincidentally, was my husband's 43rd birthday. At that time I had decided that if Oprah wanted to know about iCREATE and the Texas Legacy Arts Incubator, I was better served by stepping away from the keyboard and showing the world what it was all about. Since that time, quite a bit has happened. iCREATE will be part of the STELLAR campus in Manor Texas, I've gotten married and I have a new story to tell. And, yes, I still want to be on Oprah to tell it!

Let me begin by telling you that my husband, Keith Hogan, is a remarkable man. He is 43 and has Spinal Muscular Atrophy. He's outlived his doctor's predictions by about 30 years at this point. His form of the disease is Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type 2. And, his film tells a lot of the story.

He entered South Austin Hospital with pneumonia on February 18th and, due to his inability to use his hands or legs, there was somebody with him 24/7 to be sure his needs were fully covered. Any night that I didn't stay with him, his mother did. For the most part he received excellent care from caring staff. There were some notable exceptions, but that's to be expected I suppose.

Keith did not return home until May 27th bringing new accessories: a trache, a ventilator and the need for 24/7 personal care attendants. This automatically doubled our PCA expense to almost $9000/month. We attempted to get help from the state of Texas, but don't meet the poverty level necessary for Medicaid and are not wealthy enough to continue paying out of pocket.

This is where the real work became clear and where our new story begins. The story I want to share with Oprah and the world is about the shameful, unarticulated public policy of impoverishing and marginalizing people with disabilities. To deny access to all the things that make life worth living so that a person might receive moderate support from an uncaring authority is patently un-American. There is no life, no liberty and no pursuit of happiness. We provide more support to visitors to our shores than natural-born productive citizens whose only limitations are physical.

At the present time many potentially productive members of society are being warehoused in nursing homes which are funded by Federal dollars, little of which is spent on quality patient care. This can be changed by the Community Choice Act which is based on the concept that the funding follows the patient, thereby empowering the individual. We are in an election year and have two Presidential candidates who have come down on opposite sides of this issue. Senator Barack Obama is for the Community Choice Act; Senator John McCain is against it.

With her early endorsement, Oprah Winfrey brought Senator Obama to the forefront of the American political scene. Keith and I are grateful for that for many reasons, including the fact that Senator Obama has shown by his actions that he is committed to creating opportunity for all citizens whether they can raise their own hands in support or need assistance.

This is the story we want to tell Oprah.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Okay, It's Really Over....

I am not renewing my website for all kinds of reasons, mostly because my work with iCREATE is really picking up steam and I figure Oprah will hear all about me soon enough!


Monday, December 31, 2007

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

John Breen, a computer programmer, developed the Internet game FreeRice to teach vocabulary and help fight hunger. is quickly becoming all the rage for school children as well as immigrants learning English.

Breen said the idea came to him one day in his kitchen in Indiana. He was sitting with his two teenage sons, preparing the older for the SAT.

"The younger one made a mockery of the situation. He kept saying, 'he doesn't know this word, he doesn't know that word,'" Breen said. "So I decided to do something on the computer to help my son learn vocabulary words."

What Breen came up with was a word game that he thought others might like to play on the Internet. He was already operating the Web site Poverty to inform people about hunger. So, he merged the two, and was born.

Here's how it works: Contestants are offered four definitions for a word; by clicking on the right definition, a donation of 20 grains of rice is made to the U.N. World Food Programme. The U.N. distributes the rice worldwide.

English teacher Michael Hughes puts the Web site up on a large interactive screen and uses the game to warm up his classes at Alice Deal Middle School in Washington, D.C.

Hughes' class raised 280 grains of Rice during a short session.

While that's hardly enough for a daily ration for a starving child abroad, it still adds up, said World Food Programme spokeswoman Jennifer Parmelee.

" is up to more than 8.2 billion grains of rice, which is one heck of a lot of rice and more than enough to feed 325,000 people for the day," Parmelee said.

The Web site earns money from advertising and gives cash to the Word Food Programme. Some $100,000 has already gone to buy rice to feed survivors of a recent cyclone in Bangladesh.

Parmelee said the Web site offers a greater gift – the gift of awareness about world hunger. In just two months, has driven the most Internet traffic to the World Food Programme site.

"We are all kind of dazzled by the power of a great idea — an idea that seemed to have come completely out of left field," she said.

Breen said he has hired a dictionary company to put some more words in the game, which adjusts as you are playing to different levels from zero to 50.

"I myself can't get much above level 45, and it is rare to get above level 48. But there are some people who cruise right up to level 50. So for them we are going to add some super, really ultra, tough words," Breen said.

And, he said, his son's vocabulary "has improved markedly."

Breen said e-mails are coming in from around the world from people trying to learn English to teachers and college students. He wants them to take away something more than just a few new words.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Please help me with the Intuit/Jump Start Contest!

Please click HERE to vote.

Here's my story:

On April 17, 2002, in a meeting at the Texas Commission on the Arts was asked what was missing in the Austin cultural arts landscape. I promptly answered, "an architectural artisan school." And from that simple exchange a 5-1/2 year mission was born. My concept, the Texas Legacy Arts Incubator (TLAI), is an architectural artisan-based economic development model designed to incubate micro-enterprise in Texas (to start!). It is a far-reaching enterprise that will increase the kind and number of people who participate in the economic development of the larger community while improving the educational opportunities overall. In addition to the economic value TLAI will provide to the community, we will bring a wide variety of educational opportunities with the architectural artisan tradecrafts education and apprenticeship programs, which will be taught by well-known masters. The programs are primarily targeted at at-risk youth and historically disadvantaged populations. The TLAI will provide opportunities for cultural preservation, micro-business growth and development and workforce training. The first level of the TLAI architectural artisan tradecrafts training and apprenticeships will include: Stonework, metalwork, glassmaking, mosaic tile and food arts. These disciplines will teach critical path thinking & prepare participants for a sustainable life. Fast forward to now. The research is done, the land is secured, the relationships have been built & the support is in place to make this dream real. The monetary prize from this contest would allow me to more deeply focus on my role in taking this project from idea to reality.

Friday, December 07, 2007

A Message from Keith Hogan

I am writing to ask you for your help to bring Tariq Baig to justice.

My name is Keith Hogan and I'm a 42 year-old man, with a physical disability. I was born with a form of Muscular Dystrophy known as Spinal Muscular Atrophy, Type II, which makes it difficult for me to move on my own. The fact of the matter is that I cannot use my hands, arms or legs, so I need assistance to do everything. To accomplish this, I employ Personal Care Attendants (PCAs) to assist me in all of my daily activities. Late last year, I hired Tariq Baig as a Personal Care Attendant.

Due to my inability to use my hands and write, I have a stamp of my signature, which I use as my legal signature. Recently, I learned that Tariq Baig had taken several checks and stamped my signature to them without my knowledge or consent. He also attempted to commit identity theft. I reported him to the Austin Police Department and he was arrested & released on bail. Afterwards another warrant was issued and in fact there are now three outstanding warrants for his arrest: a felony in Austin, a felony in El Paso and a misdemeanor in El Paso.

I cannot stand the thought of Tariq Baig taking advantage of other people living with circumstances similar to mine. Any help you can offer will be greatly appreciated. Please spread the word, he must be caught!

Thank you.


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

New Charges Against TARIQ BAIG!

We just got word that a felony charge against Tariq Baig has been issued in El Paso! He must be found before he commits these crimes again. You can learn more about the charges here, just enter "Baig, Tariq" into the Name box.