What Is Your Legacy ?

by Al Smith

guest blog post by Bill Dorman

 

Do you ever get to a point in life where you feel totally comfortable, you have enough money in the bank and you are ready to just put life on cruise control?For 1% of the population, maybe so, for the rest of us regardless of how much planning has been done, you might wonder if it will be enough.

I will confess, 3 years ago I was cooking with gas. Being in commercial insurance sales I had built a nice book of business, the relationships were strong and I was ready to evolve more into a mentoring role for some of the new talent we were bringing on.

Guess what? Somebody moved my cheese; and not just my cheese but the cheese of just about every business we insured. To have your book of business (and income) cut in half in one year is a pretty sobering proposition. But you know what; I was one of the lucky ones. At least I was still pulling a paycheck, right?

But this isn’t about me

I do consider myself very fortunate and not only do I have my family, my health and my friends; I still have the opportunity to grow my business. It would be easy to use the economy as an excuse for lack of production, but this is when our customers need us most; to improve their bottom line.

I like the helping aspect of my job but still wanted to do more.

What do you C.A.R.E. about

During my business career I have sat on many a board and certainly my share of non-profits. I could see first hand what kind of impact these organizations had on people’s lives.

However, I knew there was more I could be doing. I was ready to roll up my sleeves and hopefully make a difference in someone’s life.

Through a local leadership program, I was introduced to Guardian ad Litem and was immediately intrigued. The program is a partnership of community advocates and professional staff providing a voice on behalf of abused and neglected children. As a volunteer GAL I am the voice in court for the safety of the kids I am assigned.

That sounds pretty easy

When the Guardian is assigned a ‘case’, these kids are already in the ‘system’ and something bad has occurred to get them there; usually through no fault of their own. During training we were told “whatever your frame of reference for normal is, throw it out the window” and that has certainly been the case.

When you hear some of these stories they can be jaw dropping because almost all of them involve sexual abuse and/or drugs. However, you have to be very careful not to pre-judge any situation and ultimately try to only ensure the kids are safe.

For instance, and this is not atypical, my current case involves a same-sex, mixed race relationship and the kids were removed because the two young boys had been ‘disciplined’ too severely.

The least bad of the choices is reunification, but the couple will have to do a case plan and we will have plenty of eyes on them to ensure the kids safety. The other choices are individual foster care or a group foster care setting.

Good stuff, huh?

Why do you do it?

I want to feel like I have made a difference and if I can have a positive influence on just one child’s life it will be worthwhile. Unfortunately it is sometimes hard to measure the impact because these kids are already so broken. Just because I show up probably is not going to change much for them.

I have had a couple of mini-success stories and it keeps me plugging away. This generation is our future and I would like to think there are NO throw away kids.

One thing I do know, just because you can have babies does not mean you should have babies. I see way too many uneducated mothers totally dependent on the abusive party that leaves them with very limited options.

Yes, it would be very easy to just ignore all of this because it certainly is not part of my social circle; and yes, it does get me way out of my comfort zone. I just feel I should be giving back in some way, because I have had it pretty easy compared to most of these kids.

Where do I sign up

I was hesitant when I first committed because I thought I would not have the time, but trust me, you can make the time so please don’t use this as an excuse not to volunteer.

Maybe this is not your gig, but there are plenty of opportunities in your community to make it a better place to live.

What about you, are you a giver or a taker? Are you ok with out of sight out of mind, or do you want to be part of the solution.

  

 Principal/owner @LanierUpshaw, Inc. FSU grad; Auburn dad; interested in people & relationships, who you want to be when you grow up. My themes will run from social media to life to community to corporate life. You can find Bill just about any day at billdorman.me.

 

 

{ 59 comments… read them below or add one }

Lori Gosselin November 17, 2011 at 8:22 am

Hi Bill (Hi Al!)
I’m so impressed with your volunteering. In addition to posting comments on 150 blogs and working a full-time, economy-challenged job, you volunteer! I’m in awe!
Years ago I worked at a daycare for children they were hoping to keep out of the system. It was an eye-opener and very challenging. I don’t know how you do it.
Thanks for this reminder of a beautiful way to C.A.R.E.
Lori
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Bill Dorman November 17, 2011 at 11:51 am

Sometimes you have to be careful not to over-commit with the volunteering, and there are certainly plenty of things to volunteer for; but the GAL program is one where I feel I can have an impact and see the results. I gladly find time to make this happen.

Good to see you today; hope your week has gone well.
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Sabrina Bolin November 17, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Yes Bill! I second that comment from Lori – it’s very impressive you’re able to prioritize your time such that you can still squeeze in some “soul work”!

I have worked with volunteer organizations in the past but am not currently, and I always notice how much I miss it – thanks for the reminder of the importance it all plays when leaving a legacy!
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Bill Dorman November 18, 2011 at 8:12 am

I make the time because I think it’s worthwhile. There is certainly nothing glamorous about it, but if not me, then who?

Thanks for the kind words.
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Carolyn | The Wonder of Tech November 17, 2011 at 8:28 am

Wow, Bill, I’m so glad you are writing about your experiences as a GAL. I knew you were doing this and was very interested to learn more about it. It is truly wonderful all you do to help your kids. I imagine it must be very difficult for you to see these kids, how they have suffered and how they have been damaged by their backgrounds.

But you are making a real difference in their lives, giving them hope, showing them a role model. They may never have encountered someone like you, a stand-up guy with a strong sense of honor and character.

Thank you for investing in our future, Bill.

I would love to read about your success stories some day!
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Bill Dorman November 17, 2011 at 11:55 am

That was nice to say; sometimes these kids just need a consistent, positive presence in their lives. Unfortunately, once they are in the ‘system’ they might deal w/ 3-4 (or more) case managers, therapists, judges, etc and it can be overwhelming and confusing. If nothing else, I want them to think they can count on me to speak on their behalf.

It has been an eye-opener but I’m glad I finally signed up for it.

I guess you saw where I had been using my iPhone to respond on some; I truly am The Wonder of Tech………….:)
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Bill Dorman November 17, 2011 at 8:33 am

Hey, I know that guy….

I’m out of the office this am but will be back.

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Elena Patrice November 17, 2011 at 9:03 am

Helloooo Bill! So nice to see you at such a nice place!! YAY!!

You sleeper you! I’m a firm believer in “walking the talk” and you my friend, do so beautifully!! Just another reason to keep you on the pedestal I have you on!!

I strive very much to walk that talk daily, though it’s a challenge sometimes. We know my business name is pretty self-explanatory and wouldn’t have it any other way. We started off as just a website company, but that didn’t get me up and stir my passion. Giving back does. We give back to both small business and to charitable organizations.

Funny story, I moved to Tennessee in 1990 and lived there for 13 years. I thought that since I was in the “Volunteer State” that it was a requirement (I’m not kidding and I’m not blonde). It was actually part of the motivation to move there. I just thought “Man, those country folks, sure are good people and I want to be one of them.” So … volunteering has been in my blood and part of my tapestry for too many years to keep track of now. What’s interesting is that what I “think” is what I’m called or lead to do, is sometimes not the case and I end up in a totally different, unthought-of of environment. And you know where I’m lead to the majority of the time Bill?? (I know you’ll appreciate this!!) FOOD!! Yes, food!! I’ve been lead to feed the hungry for years and I can’t figure it out. I will say it’s been the biggest blessing of my life. I currently run a soup kitchen in Front Royal and assist with area food banks. Like your experiences, many interesting stories have come from being of service.

It’s a privilege to get to know more about you Bill and what a better place to share this than with the man and his movement, Al and C.A.R.E. … love it!! I’m going to have to just keep up on you so I see all this greatness in full fruition! You’re awesome!!

Peace & kindness to you and Al!!

Elena
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Bill Dorman November 17, 2011 at 12:03 pm

Wow, easy now; you might have me start believing all of the nice things you say about me.

I think it is great you are volunteering helping feed the hungry; in the land of abundance, NOBODY should have to go hungry. That is a very noble endeavor indeed. And yes, I appreciate food BTW………..:).

I always kid the people in the GAL office that I’m just doing it for the money……..of course, out of the whole ‘system’ I am the only one not getting paid. I see some really bad stuff and kids who are probably messed up beyond repair, but this is one endeavor that makes me feel good to serve.

So good to see you as it is always a pleasure. I hope your week is going well.
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Al Smith November 17, 2011 at 12:19 pm

Thanks Elena. You are too kind. Especially to Bill. ha ! Always appreciate your continued support and encouragement. It means a lot. Thanks.

Take CARE.

Al

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Elena Patrice November 17, 2011 at 12:34 pm

:)
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Kaarina Dillabough November 17, 2011 at 9:13 am

Bill, this is quite a post! Thanks for sharing another side of you with us.

I’ve always believed in paying it forward and giving back. I can’t recall a time that I wasn’t volunteering for something. Most recently, I spent ten years as the volunteer Trainer for hockey and lacrosse teams, and I certainly got to interact and impact the lives of young men during those years. I’ve also provided work opportunities for people that others wouldn’t give a chance to, and I’ve seen them blossom and grow.

Out of sight is not out of mind, and I will always want to be part of the solution. Great post: warms my heart. Cheers! Kaarina
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Bill Dorman November 17, 2011 at 12:08 pm

Hey Kaarina; and sometimes it’s the little things we do, the way we might touch someone’s life, that has the biggest impact. Sometimes it is only acknowledging someone and letting them know you think they are important too; they matter.

I appreciate the kind words and good to see you today; I hope your week is going well.
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Riley Harrison November 17, 2011 at 9:47 am

Hi Bill,
I’m a big believer in giving back and have been involved in mentoring incarcerated multiple offenders for several years. What has caught my eye recently is the number of kids in dead end jobs (e.g. fast food restaurants) that have no future and don’t know how to navigate and progress in our current society. I am thinking of taking one or two of these kids under my wing and see if I can make a difference. Kathy (my wife) thinks that reading is the key to the success of young kids and travels the country lecturing teachers and librarians on strategies to get kids interested in reading. I think she is on to something. Kids are the future.
Riley

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Bill Dorman November 17, 2011 at 12:12 pm

And take it a step further Riley, some of these kids can’t get a job so they are dealing drugs and breaking into our houses.

I think it is an excellent idea to serve as a mentor; it might just be the tipping point to make a positive difference in someone’s life.

Yes, yes, yes on the reading. If you can read you have the whole world at your finger tips. I volunteered for a Men’s Read program last year and I had 5 fifth graders in my group. It was to encourage them to read and it was cool for men to read. I had a blast with it.

Early education is so, so vital for many reasons.

Good to see you and thanks for sharing your story.
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Erica Allison November 17, 2011 at 10:25 am

Bill,
I LOVE to hear these stories from you – give us more!

I so enjoy volunteering, but most enjoy it when I’m with kids. I recently volunteered for my son’s cross country team thru the Y. They had 2 official coaches and I could see that due to the varying levels of the kids, we’d have some stragglers on the trails. I offered to run with them (partly to get a miniscule amount of exercise myself and to do something fun with my son). What I gained from the experience was AMAZING. These kids taught me that you don’t have to compete to have fun; that you don’t have to have special gear; that you just show up, do your best, and cheer each other on. Many of the kids would show up in jeans and running shoes they’d purchased from the local flea market – but nobody cared and they all rocked. Such acceptance in that little group; it taught me a lot.

Again, thanks for sharing, Bill. And for CARING. ;)
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Bill Dorman November 17, 2011 at 12:15 pm

Yay, you have a Y story to tell; I’m also on the board of the local YMCA so I love to hear great Y stories.

If you get your family involved it is even more impactful and your kids will probably make memories that will lead them to volunteer as adults.

Thanks for sharing this, what a great example. Also, thanks for the kind words and stopping by Al’s today; always good to see you.
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Adrienne November 17, 2011 at 10:52 am

Hi Bill and Al,

Now I knew you were one cool guy Bill but now I’m really impressed. I always knew under that quirky exterior and awesome sense of humor that there was a genuine caring soul in there. What a wonderful organization to give your time to. Volunteering can be so rewarding in so many ways.

I admit not giving as much of my time as I should but I do volunteer in programs at MD Anderson when they need test subjects so to speak. I feel that in some small way I’m giving back although I know I could do so much more. Guess you already know why fighting cancer is so important to me.

How do you find the time! Successful businessman, blog owner and impressive blog commenter. I truly am in awe!

Thanks for sharing with us just what it takes to C.A.R.E.!

~Adrienne
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Bill Dorman November 17, 2011 at 12:20 pm

Too cool for school, huh? I will admit that now as empty-nesters I have a lot more time on my hands. I’m the type of person that needs to be doing something, so I would prefer to do something positive that can have an impact. I will also admit there is a selfish motive and this is, it does make me feel good.

We probably all think we could do a little bit more, but even a little bit is a move in the positive direction.

So good to see you and thanks for stopping by; I hope your week has been well.
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Al Smith November 17, 2011 at 1:03 pm

Thanks for stopping by Adrienne. Your support means a lot.

Al

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Betsy Cross November 17, 2011 at 11:40 am

Good job, Bill! Of course I always want to save the world. And I have my own to hold together. My contributions are in a smile, or a conversation at the bus stop or wherever it comes up. You never know when what you say is the thing that makes a bad day tolerable.
I’ve always wanted to do foster care. But I know my heart would break giving them back. I’d end up with 100 kids! That’s fine, but I don’t think that’s how the system works!
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Bill Dorman November 17, 2011 at 12:24 pm

Foster care is a funny animal but can be a very noble endeavor indeed. Some do it to make a difference, but some do it just for the money and you can tell the difference between the two.

I have to see my ‘family’ this afternoon; the 3 children were just removed from foster care after a 6 month stay to be reunified with their mother. I can see where it would be tough as a foster parent to just give them up. But I think we know it is toughest on the kids. Kids are pretty resilient, but it does have to have an effect on them.

Don’t you have enough kids anyway……………:).

Thanks for stopping by Betsy; always a pleasure.
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Jack @ TheJackB November 17, 2011 at 12:10 pm

People sometimes think that giving back means giving money to a cause. That is only partially true- what you do is more important.

Time is invaluable and to give that to someone or something bigger than ourselves is worth praising.
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Bill Dorman November 17, 2011 at 12:26 pm

Out of sight, out of mind; lets just throw some money at it. Money is good and it is needed, but somebody has to get in there and do the dirty work. I feel with the GAL program I can do some good in some small way; I’m glad I got involved.

Thanks for the kind words and so good to see you.
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Al Smith November 17, 2011 at 12:15 pm

Hey Bill. Thanks so much for this inspiring post. I appreciate you taking the time to share with us. Really appreciate the reminder that we are not “too busy” to help or volunteer. I have some ideas on raising money for a local non-profit recovery center, that caters to the homeless and downtrodden. (spelling?) Perhaps selling CARE t-shirts to help with toys for their kids. ? Not sure yet. Website is http://www.theextension.org Great place.

Thanks again for this Bill. and talking about legacy. Great food for thought.

Al

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Bill Dorman November 17, 2011 at 12:29 pm

There is never a shortage of worthy causes to affiliate with. I just felt w/ the GAL program you have to be ‘all in’ and the one on one interaction is where I could have the biggest impact. I find it very worthwhile and make sure I find the time to be effective at it.

Thanks for including me in your lineup; as you can probably tell I’m not one to go out seeking guest post opportunities so it is always an adventure when I actually put one together.
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Bell November 17, 2011 at 12:39 pm

Bill, it must be sobering to deal with these kids. Not only that, but I’d call it “a real challenge.”

I totally agree with your proposition, “Just because you have babies, that doesn’t mean you should.”
Education makes such a vast difference in a person’s life. But sometimes a little nudge in the right direction works marvels. I think you’re giving quite a few kids that little nudge they need. It must be difficult sometimes. That’s what makes it admirable. Bravo.
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Al Smith November 17, 2011 at 1:04 pm

Thanks for stopping by Bell. Love me some Bill Murray. That post and videos were great. Appreciate your support and great comment.

Take CARE.

Al

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Stan Faryna November 17, 2011 at 1:10 pm

You do good things, Bill. And you deserve all the kudos here! I can only hope and pray that people reading your words here will be inspired by your example and start doing something good today. And yes, I did pray just now for your story to have impact NOW on the hearts and consciences of everyone who reads and comments here.
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Bill Dorman November 17, 2011 at 2:29 pm

Hey John, it is a challenge primarily because it’s hard to tell if you are making a difference. Once these kids get to a certain age, they are so broken and prone to do things that keep them in trouble. You talk with them and encourage them, but then they go right back to doing bad things. Sometimes to themselves, sometimes to others, or sometimes it’s just property they are messing up.

You just have to keep trying however, because I truly feel there are no throw-away kids.

Education is huge; at least with education you have more opportunities. If someone can show belief in this kids, maybe that is the tipping point to help them to a better life.

Thanks for the support and stopping by; hope your day has gone well.
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Bill Dorman November 17, 2011 at 2:30 pm

Thanks for the thoughts, prayers and kind words; always welcomed. Hopefully it does provide incentive for others as well.

Thanks for stopping by.
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Nancy Davis November 17, 2011 at 1:56 pm

Bill,

You know when we started to talk about your work with this you just glowed. It came right from you. That is such a wonderful gift to those kids. So much is needed and so few actually do something. I think that is really wonderful, and I am sure you are having an impact on these lives even if you do not see it right away.

I do not formally volunteer, but i have had many young women in my house talking about wanting to leave an abuser, and I talk to them about getting out. There are so many other things to do than just donate money. I donate clothing, and toys to a nearby shelter. We have to get out of the “out of sight out of mind” attitude that is so pervasive.

I agree that just because you are able to have kids does not mean you should have kids.

Really great post Bill!
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Bill Dorman November 17, 2011 at 2:34 pm

Thanks for the kind words, Nancy. Time or treasure and sometimes it’s only time we have to give. I have found by getting involved instead of just sending money in; I am a lot more passionate about what I’m trying to do.

Whereas, you have the little one that needs your attention; mine have moved out so I do have time available to volunteer. However, it sounds like you are doing great things talking to others about helping themselves to get out of abusive situations. Keep up the good work because I think you have a calling in this area.

Thanks for stopping by and commenting, much appreciated my friend.
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Craig McBreen November 17, 2011 at 6:20 pm

Bill Dorman, How do you do it all? Commenting extraordinaire, blogger, commercial insurance sales, chamber of commerce (and who knows how many other orgs you’re a member of) and speaking gigs, and volunteering. Should I go on? ;) You fit it all in, and you manage to maintain a sense of humor through it all. You, Sir are a better man than I.

I do a lot of pro-bono design work. In fact one of my client is Foster Promise, people engaged in the positive transformation of foster care. So a really good cause. Beyond that, I’ve volunteered in my community, but my wife does way more, especially for seniors. So I could do more. I think we all could.

Anyway, what you’re doing is impressive and really something. It’s a great way to give, and it is sad that there are so many neglected and abused children in this world. I honestly wish more government funding went to children’s causes and education in this country. They are our future after all. What a great org to donate your time to.

Wonderful post and you are an inspiration.

Great to see you at Al’s place. He’s a heck of a guy too :)
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Bill Dorman November 17, 2011 at 8:50 pm

One thing I know is there is a lot of money thrown at this but there never seems to be enough for the individual kids. The ‘system’ is pretty bureaucratic and a lot of the services are just a band aid and does not address the root cause of the problems. I don’t have a solution but I do know there are a lot of areas that could be done more efficiently and effectively.

Anyway, there is still a need for the kids to have a ‘voice’ and that is what I am there for.

I’m not a good ‘idle’ hands person so it’s good I stay pre-occupied with good, worthwhile things. I enjoy being a servant leader.

Good to see you Craig and I appreciate the kind words and support.
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Ryan November 17, 2011 at 9:10 pm

Hi Bill,
This post has imbued a drive to reexamine myself, my motives and my plans. It’s great that you want to perpetuate and influence others for good. Some things I have done in the past has been getting involved with the special Olympics, working with visually impaired children and adults, and mentally and physically disabled. I now only want to get MORE involved. I have always felt a deep reward to give more than I take.
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Bill Dorman November 18, 2011 at 8:16 am

Yay, that sounds like great work too. Everybody is busy, it’s just a matter of how your prioritize your time.

Personally, I think it’s important to give back as much as you can and not always be a taker or indifferent to it all. We can’t solve all the problems, but when you can get one on one with these people, this is where you can have an impact; one person at a time.

Thanks for dropping by and including your thoughts.
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Wes Towers@Graphic Design Melbourne November 18, 2011 at 2:46 am

Hi, Bill.

I am glad I followed you here. I always appreciate and admire people who volunteer for causes such as the one you are a part of. I am a firm believer of helping out myself.

Just recently, I spent a week doing missionary work in Legaspi City, Philippines with my church and it was very fulfilling. Being with the participants of our out-reach mission allowed me to see a different view on life. In a way, helping others will also result in our helping ourselves become better persons. That is what’s so good about volunteering for worthwhile causes.

Thank you also for leading me here. Looks to me like Al is a pretty cool guy to know.
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Barbara Klein November 18, 2011 at 4:28 am

Bill, thank you!
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Bill Dorman November 18, 2011 at 8:18 am

Hey BK, I even wrote this w/ my bloomers on. It was quite exhilarating…….:).

I’m handing you the baton to take over for Friday.
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Anna November 18, 2011 at 6:17 am

Really touching and nice written. It is obvious that it is very personal but you made me think about a lot of stuff now…especially who do I C.A.R.E about..
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Bill Dorman November 18, 2011 at 8:19 am

Once I got in, I got all in and it is something I can talk passionately about. Hopefully it will allow you to think of some opportunities to give back.

Thanks for the kind words; I’m always a sucker for those…………:)
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Claudia November 18, 2011 at 4:01 pm

Wow, Bill…I don’t know where to begin. I think it was Elena that said that you “walk the talk” and she is absolutely right. You come across as this humble kind of guy who doesn’t necessarily want to be the center of attention…as a result you have this delightful sense of slightly self deprecating humor to deflect attention from yourself. The really interesting thing is that the more we learn about you, the more that we are realizing that you SHOULD be acknowledged and put into the center of attention because you are an amazing role model….not just for these lucky children of GAL who are given an opportunity to see what compassionate and ethical behavior looks like, but for us adults as well. I am getting embarrassed playing the “I just don’t have any time” card as an excuse for not doing really important things…like volunteering. Your walking the talk makes you more credible and more powerful as a mentor/role model than you probably know. Thank you for sharing yet another side to your unassuming persona…I am glad to “know” you here in the blogosphere and I love this story here on Al’s place. You should be very proud of yourself! You are truly one of the good guys!
Claudia
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Bill Dorman November 19, 2011 at 7:48 am

Aw shucks ma’am, that was some pretty nice stuff you said.

This I do know, the more outward thinking I can do the more happy and content I can be in my life; not always ‘wanting’ for things. Also, the more outward thinking I do I seem to be rewarded many times over in many different ways.

I am by no means perfect, but I do try to set a good example especially when I am working with youths because they are so impressionable. It’s never the wrong time to do the right thing, huh?

So good to see you Claudia and hope your are done banging nails; have a great weekend.
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Kim Davies November 19, 2011 at 12:20 am

Hi, Bill.

Now, this is why I and a whole lot of other people online love you. Not only are you the humorous guy who usually goes around commenting on people’s blogs and making them know you care, you also find time to be a guardian angel to kids who need you more than we do online. You are a guy with a golden heart and I am very honored to have you as my friend.

I don’t do as much as you do, but my high school classmates and I do our gift-giving activities during Christmas. Because I am a bit sick right now, I haven’t been to our meetings lately for this year’s activity, but I will be there on the day itself as long as I am not bleeding or having contractions or anything along those lines. :)

Glad to have caught up with you again, Bill and here in Al’s home at that.
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Bill Dorman November 19, 2011 at 7:51 am

So good to see you Kim, I hope you are doing well/better; I know it probably has been a struggle for you.

So, everybody loves Billy, huh? I try to be a likable guy, I think it’s a good recipe for friendships if people like hanging around with you. It’s just who I am, I don’t think I could be anybody else………..:).

Thanks for the support and kind words; take care of yourself.
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