Sunday, November 22, 2009

With gift of kidney came committment to stewardship

P16FrankGerminaro2009For 61-year-old Frank Germinaro, principal of St. Mark Catholic School in Kenosha, life isn’t about having the perfect body, the most exotic vacations, or the most toys in the garage; it is about giving back and making things better for others.

As a teenager, the Kenosha native was into school, music and girls like everyone else. Unlike everyone else, he suffered with a lifetime of kidney problems that required him to begin dialysis in 1968, at age 19.
With his life in jeopardy, Germinaro spent hours every other day connected to a dialysis machine, filtering his blood through a tube. His parents, close friends and relatives worked with St. Catherine Hospital and the Kenosha Medical Society to create Kenosha’s first dialysis center.

Germinaro received the gift of a kidney from a 13-year-old girl who died of a brain tumor in March 1970.

“It has been 39 years and to date, I am the longest surviving patient from a cadaver kidney on record,” he said. “I feel that since I received this gift, I feel it is a stewardship or a responsibility for doing the best that I can in my life and to honor the sacrifice that her family made.”

Germinaro has sought to give back to honor his Italian roots, the National Kidney Foundation and a host of other organizations. This year, the Italian American Society of Kenosha recognized him for his success, and for bringing honor and

Frank John Germinaro

Age: 61
Occupation: Principal, St. Mark Elementary School, Kenosha
Parish: St. Mark, Kenosha
Book recently read: “Contact,” by Carl Sagan
Favorite movie: “Star Trek” series
Favorite quotation: Prayer sees the invisible, feeds the imagination and achieves the impossible.
(Submitted photo courtesy Frank Germinaro)
respect to his Italian heritage.

Germinaro has gone out of his way to make an impact in the Kenosha community, according to Italian American Society president, Steven Torcaso.

“We certainly felt he met all the criteria for what he has done for kids, music and as a principal and in all the lives he has touched,” said Torcaso. “Frank had a rocky start in life, he almost died from kidney disease, but he took that gift and didn’t squander it.”

Even a later diagnosis of prostate cancer, resulting in radiation, chemotherapy and hormone treatments refused to sideline him, Torcaso noted.

“He still speaks with patients and their families who deal with both kidney disease and prostate cancer,” he said.

While he attended orthopedic school, he is most recognized for his musical contributions. In 1972, he graduated from UW-Parkside in music education and earned his Master of Science in education supervision and administration from UW-Milwaukee in 1985.
From 1973 to 2003, Germinaro was employed with the Racine Unified School District as a music teacher, and in his last 15 years did stints of five years each as principal of Windpoint Elementary, Fine Arts Elementary and Gifford Elementary.

“Just 30 days after he retired, he was hired as principal of St. Mark School,” said Torcaso.
For 35 years, Germinaro was involved with the Kenosha Pops Band and served as musician, assistant conductor, conductor and musical director.

“He is now the conductor emeritus and helps in the concession stand,” Torcaso said. “When he was just 15, he started the first of many small bands that played for over 750 weddings and parties.”
In addition to his work as principal, he and his wife, Janet, serve in the music ministry at St. Mark Parish.

“Janet plays piano and I sing in the contemporary choir,” Germinaro said. “We also do weddings and funerals and sometimes I still get out and play my accordion at area nursing homes.”

After serving as chairman of the National Kidney Foundation’s Patient and Family Service Committee, he relinquished that position in 1996 when he became the chairman of Society’s Assets, a five-county home health care foundation. His efforts in the non-profit organization, which provides services for the Wisconsin Telecommunications and Relay System, hits close to home as deafness runs in Germinaro’s tightly knit family.

“I have four children – two are hearing impaired and one is deaf,” he said, and joked, “and then I have one more who can hear, but doesn’t listen. I do know some sign language, but it is a big debate among the family whether I do it well enough.”

Germinaro serves as a board member of Celebrazione Italiana, the Italian Business and Professional Association and the steering committee for St. Joseph Academy, and is active in the Italian American Society.

Locally and nationally, Germinaro has received awards chronicling his years of service and teaching. Most notable is the Outstanding Alumnus Award from UW-Parkside music department and the Distinguished Alumni Award from Kenosha Bradford School Alumni Association.
Germinaro considers it a privilege to help others.

“Helping others is probably one of the greatest things we can do as human beings,” he said. “It is a challenge to help others – even those we don’t like. After all, we are all here together. It is important for me to make things a little better for others and that’s how I try to live my Christian faith.”

Friday, November 20, 2009

Rest in peace my friend

Zachary born 5/30/03-died 11/20/09

The best dog ever-I loved you so much

Thursday, November 19, 2009

We will truly miss you Zachary

Dog Heaven

When dogs go to heaven, They don't need wings
Because God knows that Dogs love running best.
He gives them fields. Fields and fields and fields.
When a dog first arrives in heaven, he just runs.
Dog heaven has clear, wide lakes
Filled with geese who honk and flap
And tease. The dogs love this.
They run beside the water and bark
And bark and God watches them
From behind a tree and smiles.

There are children.
Of course.
Angel children.
God knows that dogs love children more than
Anything else in the world, so he fills Dog
Heaven with plenty of them. There are children
On bikes and children on sleds. There are
Children throwing red rubber balls and children
Pulling kites through the clouds. The dogs
Are there, and the children love them dearly.

And, oh,
The dog biscuits.
Biscuits and biscuits
As far as the eye can see.
God has a sense of humor, so He makes His
Biscuits in funny shapes for His dogs. There
are kitty-cat biscuits and squirrel biscuits.
Ice-cream biscuits and ham-sandwich biscuits.
Every angel who passes by
Has a bicsuit for a dog.

And, of course, all God's dogs
Sit when the angels say "sit."
Every dog becomes a good
Dog in Dog Heaven.

God turns
Clouds inside out to
Make fluffy beds for the dogs
In Dog Heaven, and when they
Are tired from running and
Barking and eating ham-
Sandwich biscuits,
The dogs find a cloud
bed for sleeping.
They turn around and
Around in the cloud.
.. until it feels just right,
and then they curl up
and they sleep.
God watches over
Each one of them
And there are no bad dreams.

Dogs in Dog Heaven
Have almost always
Belonged to somebody
On Earth and, of course,
The dogs remember this.
Heaven is full of memories.
So sometimes an angel will walk a dog
Back to Earth for a little visit and quietly,
Invisibly, the dog will sniff about his old
Backyard, will investigate the cat next
Door, will follow the child to school, will
Sit on the front porch and wait for the mail.

When he is satisfied
That all is well, the dog
Will return to Heaven with the angel.
It is where dogs belong,
Near God who made them.

The dogs in Dog Heaven who
Had no real homes on Earth
Are given one in Heaven.
The homes have yards and porches and there are
Couches to lie on and tables to sit under
While angels eat their dinners.

There are special bowls
With the dogs' names on them.
And each dog is petted and reminded
How good he is, all day long.
Dogs in Dog Heaven may stay as long as
They like and this can mean forever.
They will be there when old friends show
Up. They will be there at the door.
Angel dogs.

by Cynthia Rylant

Hoping not to say goobye to Zachary

Our beloved Bichon Frise is terribly ill--early diagnosis points to lymphoma, but we are praying it is lyme disease instead. If it is lymphoma, we have no other choice but to put him to sleep and it will break our hearts. Zachary is only 6 years old and until now, very healthy and active. He has been the bright spot in our lives, the constant companion and the ball of fur I cry into in my darkest of days.

I am asking for the intercession of St. Francis of Assisi to bless our little guy, to send out our dear Lord's healing powers on his poor body.

Here are some pictures taken yesterday--and we are hoping for many more years with him, but that is up to God.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Reaching out to Forgotten Veterans

Reaching out to forgotten veterans
Siblings honor memory of their father –
and provide simple necessities to Veterans Home residents

Karen Mahoney

They are Persian Gulf War veterans and fathers fighting to

stay sober. They served in Vietnam, some fought in
the Gulf War, some in 
Bosnia and Iraq- and some are woman. 
All are someone's children, parents, brothers or sisters,
or friends and all have given their lives for the freedoms
many Americans take for granted.

Each night, more than 275,000 veterans will sleep under

bridges, in alleys and abandoned buildings because
they have no home. 
They are this nation's forgotten heroes 
- men and women who once proudly served in a military uniform.

Living in Cottage 16 at the Union Grove Veterans Home 
on a transient basis are approximately 40 displaced veterans 
trying to get their lives on track. Thanks to the efforts of
siblings Steve Good,Dawn Clough and Judy Good-Alexander, 
the veterans are getting some of the respect they deeply deserve.

After 80-year-old Evan Good, a Navy veteran 

who served during World War II passed away in Boland Hall 
at the Veterans Home in October 2008, his children
couldn't stay away.

"We had made some really close friends with other residents 

after our dad's stroke seven months before he passed,"
said Steve."My sisters kept coming to bring personal care items,
clothing, blankets - whatever they could bring. They often
brought in homemade treats for the residents and staff, 
but because the veterans where our dad was were on 
restricted diets, we were introduced to the residents 

of Cottage 16."

Perhaps it is because they never ask for anything,

yet offered themselves as the ultimate sacrifice, 
that the family decided to go a step further to provide them
with a special dinner. On Nov. 4, Steve's company,
Spring Green Lawn Care in Union Grove hosted a dinner
at the Veterans Home to honor the veterans from past wars.

"We provided homemade pork loin, chickens, potato salad,

coleslaw, breads and desserts," said Steve, choking back
tears. "Dad was a good man and he was always there to help,
but never expected anything in return - even after serving
our country, he never asked. We did this to honor his legacy
and give these veterans a boost at the end of this trying year.
We don't do any of 
this for ourselves and we don't want any recognition - 
we are just doing it for them."

In addition, the family sisters hosted a chili supper in

October and are busy collecting coats, blankets, pillows 
and toiletries to provide the veterans with a bit of much needed
comfort during our cold Wisconsin winters. According to
Judy, their efforts,  now known as the
"Good Friends of Cottage 16" began by
expressing her anger at a government who 
she said chooses to provide more benefits
to illegal immigrants and prisoners than
for those who shed their blood so all Americans can walk free.

"I began writing e-mails to everyone, and my husband, 

who is a 25-year veteran told me that I was taking the light 
off the need and putting it on the problem. He was
right and I decided to do something," she said. 
"One time when I dropped
my dad's clothes off to the veterans, I asked them,
'What can I do for you?'"

A stunned Judy learned that the homeless residents

needed simple items like shaving cream, razors,
toothbrushes,toothpaste, pillows, blankets, hats and mittens.
She and her
sister began visiting rummage sales, thrift stores, grocery 
stores to purchase supplies and spread the word. 
She e-mailed large and small corporations begging for help - 
but no one seemed to be listening.

"I felt like a small whisper in the middle of a 

hurricane and came up with rejections all the time.
I am just really sad to know that so few people care about
anyone else," she said."And then one day, I got an e-mail
from Steve and it still chokes
me up today. He said he had been reading my e-mails and 
wanted to help. It really hit me emotionally that my brother
was there and was listening and being a hero. He paid his 
employees for a day off to put on this dinner - he has truly
touched my heart."

Determined to stay united, the Good Friends of

Cottage 16 are determined to continue their mission
to bring awareness
to the many faces of homeless veterans and
to find ways to help.

Government figures show that former 

members of the United States
military comprise less than 13 percent of the
American adult population,
yet veterans account for roughly 33 percent of the
nation's homeless 
population. Many struggle with Post Traumatic
Stress Disorder, separation from families and friends 
during extended periods of 
time, limited applicability of their military
training in the civilian
workforce, or service connected disabilities.

Compounding the difficulty of homeless 

veterans is the widely accepted belief that the Veterans
Administration takes care of all
veterans in need. The fact is, according
to its own data, the VA, in
conjunction with all other federal 
programs reach fewer than 20 
percent of the homeless veterans in this country.

"It is hard for me to believe these brave

men and women who were willing to die for us,
are not even able to look
into the mirror and do something as simple
as shave or brush 
their teeth. Something is terribly
wrong," Judy said. "We need to let them know
that they are not forgotten."

The whisper seems to be growing louder as the 

Kiwanis Club of Southeast Wisconsin 
has aligned with the Good Friends of Cottage 16,
and will be hosting a fundraiser
in February to aid the veterans. 
At the Nov. 4 dinner, Harold Enger, 
director of education from the corporate
office of Spring-Green in
Plainfield, Ill., presented a check, warm clothing,
and personal care
items to the Veterans home.

"See what can happen with one little voice

that speaks to
another voice," said Judy. 
"You gain power and that is how 
you gain a voice and how you get empowered.
We couldn't do any of this without the people
who have stepped up to help."


‘They Stood for Us – Now Stand for Them’

A Veterans Day ceremony is Wednesday, Nov. 11, at 11 a.m. Maurer Hall at the Wisconsin Veterans Home, Union Grove. Veterans and their families and the public are invited to attend.

The keynote speaker will be Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary John A. Scocos.

Scocos recently returned from his second tour of duty in Iraq.

Speaking also will be Brigadier General Dominic Cariello, the assistant adjutant general for readiness and training for the Wisconsin Army National Guard.

Veterans from their respective service branches will post the service flags. .

For more information about the Veterans Day ceremony in Union Grove, call (262) 878-6700.

For information on Veterans Day, go to For information on other veterans programs and services, visit or call 1-800-WIS-VETS (1-800-947-8387).

Biblical thoughts on suffering

 1 Peter 1:6-7 - "Be glad about this, even though it may now be necessary for you to be sad for a while because of the many kinds of trials you suffer.  Their purpose is to prove that your faith is genuine.  Even gold, which can be destroyed, is tested by fire; and so your faith, which is much more precious that gold, must also be tested, so that it may endure. "

Romans 5:2-5 - "He has brought us by faith into this experience of God's grace, in which we now live.  And so we boast of the hope we have of sharing God's glory! We also boast of our troubles, because we know that trouble produces endurance, endurance brings God's approval, and his approval creates hope.  This hope does not disappoint us, for God has poured out his love into our hearts by means of the Holy Spirit, who is God's gift to us."

11:35 - "Jesus wept."

Friday, November 6, 2009

"He drew a circle that shut me out--
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout.
But love and I had the wit to win,
We drew a circle that took him in!"

Edwin Markham

"Defeat may serve as well as victory
To shake the soul and let the glory out.
When the great oak is straining in the wind,
The boughs drink in new beauty, and the trunk
Sends down a deeper root on the windward side.
Only the soul that knows the mighty grief
Can know the mighty rapture. Sorrows come
To stretch out spaces in the heart for joy."

Edwin Markham

The Spider and the Fly-an ode to all the spiders in my life

The Spider and the Fly
Mary Howitt

Will you walk into my parlour?" said the Spider to the Fly,
'Tis the prettiest little parlour that ever you did spy;
The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,
And I've a many curious things to shew when you are there."
Oh no, no," said the little Fly, "to ask me is in vain,
For who goes up your winding stair can ne'er come down again."

"I'm sure you must be weary, dear, with soaring up so high;
Will you rest upon my little bed?" said the Spider to the Fly.
"There are pretty curtains drawn around; the sheets are fine and thin,
And if you like to rest awhile, I'll snugly tuck you in!"
Oh no, no," said the little Fly, "for I've often heard it said,
They never, never wake again, who sleep upon your bed!"

Said the cunning Spider to the Fly, " Dear friend what can I do,
To prove the warm affection I 've always felt for you?
I have within my pantry, good store of all that's nice;
I'm sure you're very welcome -- will you please to take a slice?"
"Oh no, no," said the little Fly, "kind Sir, that cannot be,
I've heard what's in your pantry, and I do not wish to see!"

"Sweet creature!" said the Spider, "you're witty and you're wise,
How handsome are your gauzy wings, how brilliant are your eyes!
I've a little looking-glass upon my parlour shelf,
If you'll step in one moment, dear, you shall behold yourself."
"I thank you, gentle sir," she said, "for what you 're pleased to say,
And bidding you good morning now, I'll call another day."

The Spider turned him round about, and went into his den,
For well he knew the silly Fly would soon come back again:
So he wove a subtle web, in a little corner sly,
And set his table ready, to dine upon the Fly.
Then he came out to his door again, and merrily did sing,
"Come hither, hither, pretty Fly, with the pearl and silver wing;
Your robes are green and purple -- there's a crest upon your head;
Your eyes are like the diamond bright, but mine are dull as lead!"

Alas, alas! how very soon this silly little Fly,
Hearing his wily, flattering words, came slowly flitting by;
With buzzing wings she hung aloft, then near and nearer drew,
Thinking only of her brilliant eyes, and green and purple hue --
Thinking only of her crested head -- poor foolish thing! At last,
Up jumped the cunning Spider, and fiercely held her fast.
He dragged her up his winding stair, into his dismal den,
Within his little parlour -- but she ne'er came out again!

And now dear little children, who may this story read,
To idle, silly flattering words, I pray you ne'er give heed:
Unto an evil counsellor, close heart and ear and eye,
And take a lesson from this tale, of the Spider and the Fly.

The Spider and the Fly
Mary Howitt 

Learning to Forgive

Mark 11:25
And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.

Luke 6:35-38;42
But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you." ... How can you say to your brother, 'Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,' when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.