"I haven't taken classes or had any music theory. What I play is based on personal experiences, on what I feel. That's true of a lot of musicians around here. Memphis music comes straight from the heart."
Suavo J is a musician in three bands:
“Social isolation is a real problem for kids who have intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), whose bodies or minds work differently than most other people’s. It’s true that people with IDD might be bullied, but more often they’re just left out. Their same-age peers don’t think to include them. A lot of these kids have never been invited to birthday parties or sleepovers. No one asks them to come out and play. No one calls them to hang out. They’re just not on anyone’s radar. Every kid needs friends, disabled or not. Nobody wants to be with just mom and dad all the time.
“Best Buddies was founded to end the social isolation of people who struggle physically and intellectually. The program pairs people with IDD with typical peers and is often the first time the person with IDD has had a friend outside their family. There are Best Buddies chapters in 27 Memphis area schools (public & private, middle school through college) right now, and more are on the waiting list. Students who join the chapters understand that they are committing to a person and not just coming to meetings. Seeing relationships bloom between the people who are paired is a beautiful thing. The person with IDD is no longer isolated or excluded, and the typical peer discovers that this new person in his or her life has a lot to offer and is a person with abilities--- not just disabilities. They learn that we are all more alike than different and that everyone is worthy of and capable of friendship. The lives of both are enormously enriched.”
“People with IDD are just people and should have opportunities like everyone else. It’s not just a social issue; it’s a civil rights issue. Best Buddies of Memphis is beginning to expand the social pairing to adults and is also looking to start a job-training program for people with IDD. One such program was started in Nashville when someone donated $100,000. As we obtain more funding, we want to be able to offer that service here, where we talk to a company about hiring persons with IDD and then coach the new hires through learning the job so that they can support themselves as adults. Parents often worry about what will happen to their child when they’re gone. It’s a huge relief to them to know that their adult child can receive job training and earn an income. A business may think they’re doing a favor by hiring someone with IDD and then find out that person is the one who brightens up their workplace.
“To fund Best Buddies, we have an annual luncheon in the fall and a Friendship Walk in the spring, but our biggest event is the annual Gala and Casino Night. This year it will be held on November 14, 2015, at the Cadre Building downtown, which is a beautiful space. We’ll have entertainment, food, and casino-like games that people can play for fun---not for money. The money we raise comes from ticket sales, sponsorships, silent and live auctions, and donations. Those funds will help to expand the Best Buddies program here in Memphis. Information about the gala will be posted on the FB page soon. If readers have any questions, they can contact either of us by email."
From the Best Buddies material:
The IDD community that Best Buddies serves includes, but is not limited to, people with Down Syndrome, Austism, Fragile X, Williams Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, traumatic brain injury and other undiagnosed disabilities.
Best Buddies Tennessee (Memphis)
9700 Village Circle, Lakeland, TN 38002
Meredith Taylor, Development Coordinator & Program Manager
Casey Newcomb, Program Manager
Website (TN): http://www.bestbuddiestennessee.org
Website (International): http://bestbuddies.org
"We're wearing pink in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month---save the tatas!"
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month
For educational resources, to create an early detection plan, or to host a fundraiser to help provide mammograms for women in need, click HERE.
“We met one weekend when I went to visit my sister in college. I was 15 and he was 17, a college freshman. He drove over to see me three or four times after that, we wrote each other during the war, and we got engaged through the mail. He was discharged from the service on February 15, 1946, and we married a week later. I was 19 years old and he was 21. We hadn't been around each other all that much, but I think we adjusted pretty well. This coming February, we'll celebrate our 70th anniversary."
“What do you think has kept you together?”
“Our children and our respect for each other.”
“Seventy years is a long time. Did you ever consider divorce?”
(*laughs*) “No, but we thought about murder a time or two!”
“My mom doesn’t make a lot of money, but she provides for us and still finds a way to give us little extras - like candy - sometimes. When she gets home in the evening, we let her relax; she’s worked hard all day in the dental office. My sister and I have to do a lot of chores, but I figure Mom’s taken care of me for 14 years, so cleaning the house is the least I can do. All she really expects from me is to do well in school and to be a good son. I work with my granddad on the weekends to earn some money for myself, and I try to make good grades. I’m a freshman now, and keeping my GPA up is really important for getting into college.
“Every morning I give my mom a kiss and tell her I love her and to have a good day at work. The other day she said, ‘When are you going to grow out of this?’ and I said, ‘Probably never.’ (*smiles*) I know she doesn’t really want me to, and neither do I.”
Sentez enjoys singing, dancing, drawing, and acting. He's had roles in Hattiloo Theater productions and will play the role of Mr. Tumnus in his school's production of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe this fall.
“I ran my first half-marathon when I was 12, my second when I was 13, and I’m planning on doing my third in March. As part of the school's Cross Country team, I run and work out every day, Monday through Friday, and sometimes on the weekends. That won’t end when varsity season is over. I’ll still be running to keep myself in shape and because I enjoy it. When I’m alone and running just for fun, it keeps everything off my mind, off my grades, off any problems I might be dealing with. But when I’m in a race, all I’m thinking about is beating the other guy. That’s where I keep my focus; I know the finish line is ahead, and the faster I run, the sooner I’ll get there. When the race is over and I’ve done well, I don’t care if I’m so tired I’m about to puke, I still feel good.”
“I was born in Thailand as the daughter of missionaries, but my dad is on sabbatical, so we’re here until December. We used to come back to the States every couple of summers, but never for more than two months at a time. Thailand is home to me. It has a natural, exotic beauty and I really miss my group of friends there, but Memphis is beautiful too. Everyone has been welcoming and inclusive from day one. I’ve found a good group of friends here, and I know I’ll miss them when we go. One thing I’m enjoying about Memphis is the weather. Thailand is hot almost all year round, so this is different for me. This will be the first fall I’ve ever experienced, the first time I’ve ever seen the leaves change colors.”
"I was in the fifth grade when I first started feeling badly about myself. A boy told me I was fat and needed liposuction; other kids told me I wasn't pretty or worth anything. As I got older, my view of myself led me to make poor choices and get into some really unhealthy relationships. I had my first boyfriend when I was a senior in college, and it was not good. He was emotionally abusive, but I longed so much to fit in and to feel pretty and to have a boyfriend; I sacrificed a lot of myself to keep his interest.
"One thing I'd always dreamed of doing was working with teenage girls, but he told me I'd never be able to, that I wouldn't be good at it. Finally, one of my girlfriends took me aside and said, 'You deserve better than this.' She helped me gather the strength to leave him. My parents and friends prayed for me, helped me, and encouraged me whenever I was tempted to go back. I moved to Memphis a year ago, and now I work full-time with teenage girls through Memphis Athletic Ministries. I love it, and I love these girls. I want them to know how special and valuable they are and that they don't need to lean on boys for their self-worth. There's a Bible verse from Psalm 139 that says we are fearfully and wonderfully made. That's something that I tell my girls almost every day."
Kayce brought seven teenage girls from Memphis Athletic Ministries to a performance by Playback Memphis, an improvisational theater group.
"Sometimes people are so accustomed to fighting, they don't even realize they're living in a domestic violence situation. It's become the norm for them. Anytime we get a domestic violence call, we see poor communication between the people involved. The abuser is basically saying, 'You're not good enough. I'm going to put my hands on you.' They don't know how to work out their differences verbally. Most of the domestic violence calls we get come between 5 p.m. and the next morning, and that's a problem in itself. When we arrest an abuser---a man, for instance---and he says to take the woman out of the house because he's the homeowner, we can't always find a place for her in the middle of the night. I might make 10 or 15 calls and not find anywhere for her to go. Shelters tell me, 'We're full. We don't have any room.' What am I supposed to do? I can't just put her out on the street. It's a heartbreaking situation. I've been a police officer for 12 years, and I can't tell you how many times I've paid for hotel rooms for the night for women and families who had no place to go. And I'm not the only one. There are a whole lot of other police officers who do the same thing. We don't have enough shelters in Memphis for victims of domestic violence. Too many people are being abused; too many people are suffering. The community needs to put its foot down and say 'No more!' This needs to stop."
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month
Officer Willard Tate was a panelist on the Memphis Public Library & information Center's NO MORE forum to end domestic violence.
From the Shelby County District Attorney WEBSITE:
A three-year study of Domestic Violence statistics reported to Tennessee Bureau of Investigation showed decreasing trends in the incidents of domestic violence reported between 2010-2012. That is good news, but domestic violence still represents over half of the total number of assaults occurring here in Memphis and Shelby County.
- are current or former spouses;
- live together or have lived together;
- are dating, have dated or have a sexual relationship or had a sexual relationship
- are related by blood or adoption
- are related or were formerly related by marriage
Officer Willard Tate, Jr., Memphis Police Department, Community Outreach Program
"At school, I get straight A's in my subjects and straight E's in conduct. I think I might be a chef when I grow up because I cook with my mom. My favorite thing to cook is pancakes, but I also know how to make bread, ravioli, blackberry cobbler, and sandwiches."