Thursday, May 20, 2010

For Catholic teens, immigration reform equals justice

Christian Pacheco holds a sign and explains to a representative at Paul Ryan’s office in Racine what its like to be a student, keep good grades and still be subject of profiling despite being a productive member of the community. To his left is Mario Aranda. Both are juniors at St. Catherine High School, Racin. Pacheco and Aranda, and other members of YES (Youth Empowered in the Struggle) at Horlick, Park and St. Catherine high schools, along with Racine community members, gathered in front of Paul Ryan’s office Wednesday April 21. (Catholic Herald photo by Juan C. Medina)

Each day, whether it is in sweltering heat, monsoons, or subzero temperatures, immigrants work long hours as landscapers, maids, dishwashers, cooks, farmers, car detailers and dairy farmers. Their rates are reasonable because most are unable to get jobs doing anything else.

On April 21, approximately 40-50 Racine area teens championing for immigration reform assembled at U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan’s Racine office. The group rallied for rights of illegal immigrant workers, especially those working in the state’s dairy farms.

Ryan was not present for the rally, but in a prepared statement said he appreciated the group’s efforts and promised to support reforms that do not reward illegal behavior. He supports stronger border security, employee verification systems and enforceable guest worker programs.

“It is critical that we work toward improving our immigration system so needed workers and eligible people are allowed to receive visas in a timely manner or have their applications for citizenship be considered more efficiently,” he wrote.

According to Maria Morales, coordinator for Voces de la Frontera in Racine, Ryan needs to quell the tough talk and practice more humane efforts toward immigrants.

“Spending millions on border patrol and ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) is bleeding us dry,” she said. “He needs to show real leadership and support humane and fair immigration reform.”

The students, armed with approximately 600 milk cartons each signed by one of Ryan’s constituents to show support for reform, argued that without immigrant workers, Wisconsin would not be known as the Dairy State.

“We were marching around the block and holding our milk cartons and yelling out phrases that made people question what we were talking about,” said Christian Pacheco, a St. Catherine High School, Racine, junior, and member of Youth Empowered in the Struggle (YES). “We wanted to tell them that without immigrants we would have no milk because nearly half of the milk produced in Wisconsin is from immigrant labor and we are known as the Dairy State, so that should mean something.”

In a 2009 study from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, immigrant workers comprise 42 percent of all hired by the $26 billion dairy industry. Of those workers, nearly half are non-documented immigrants.

Rally organizers say these workers and other immigrants need reform, and are hoping that laws will change to give immigrants more rights, legal citizenship, the availability of drivers licenses and college options.

The youth noted that education, not deportation, is the key to reform. Many of the teens present were United States citizens, but, like their undocumented peers, they are frequent victims of racial profiling and slurs.

While Pacheco, a member of St. Patrick Parish, Racine, admitted that people often joke to him about deportation and his Hispanic heritage, he realizes that the ones who are more vocal don’t know what they are talking about since immigrant children merely followed their parents as they came to the United States to make a better life for their families.

“None of the children made the choice to come here; they are the innocent ones and are often treated as if they committed a crime,” said Pacheco. “If you are a teen or a 5-year-old kid, you don’t know what is going on – you are just trying to follow your parents, behave and do what they say. If we are trying to get our grades up and do something to better the world, there are people who are trying to take that away from you and I don’t think it is right.”

Two years ago, Mario Aranda, also a junior at St. Catherine High School, joined YES to share his voice about the plight of the immigrant worker. Although he is a natural born United States citizen, he has felt the sting of racial comments, but realizes that ignorance is a problem among all nationalities.

“I could be from Nigeria and people would tell me to go back to Nigeria,” he said. “I have just learned to ignore the comments, let them be and go on with my life.”

Going on with life is one of the primary reasons, Aranda, a member of St. Richard Parish, Racine, participated in the rally.

“I feel like Paul Ryan prefers that I work in the fields,” he said. “I am a U.S citizen, but people think that because I go to rallies that I am only concerned with myself. I want everyone else to have the same chance and equal opportunities as me. I don’t want to be picked over someone else for a job or college because I am a citizen and they aren’t. The way I look at it, if I stick up for them, maybe someday someone will stick up for me. I’m not trying to be a hero – but I do want to get a point across.”

Pacheco said Ryan should think of everyone in his district, as well as in the state, because he needs all of the people for a greater spot in government.

“We all contribute to his seat in Congress and you need the people to remain in office. I also think he is a strong candidate for the presidency one day, and I feel he should support the Hispanic population,” he said. “If he turns his back on us now, then we might turn our backs on him later on.”

As Catholics, Aranda and Pacheco believe that by demonstrating and vocalizing their feelings, they are standing up for the principles of the church and following the ways of Jesus.

“Everyone deserves a chance,” said Aranda, adding, “And Jesus would stand up for the weak.”

Like Aranda and members of YES, Pacheco will continue to champion the rights of the immigrant children and adult workers.

“Most immigrants are here trying to make a living, working hard and not breaking the law,” he said. “Some people think they are here just to freeload, but if you look at the statistics, immigrants put in more than they get, and when people say they are here for the benefits, I think they need to check their numbers. I think our Catholic Church believes in justice and equality and I will always speak out for that.”

Mother, daughter cook up book of family treasures

With daughter Sherry Willems looking over her shoulder, Marianne Gavel holds a copy of the cookbook she compiled for her grandchildren. The book contains many treasured family recipes that reflect her Polish heritage. (Catholic Herald photo by Allen Fredrickson)

Marianne Gavel lifted her finger, delicately tracing her photo on the cover of ‘Nana’s Pennsylvania Cooking,’ the yearlong project she and her daughter Sherry Willems finished as a gift to her three grandchildren.

“I can’t believe this is really me,” the 93-year-old member of St. Mark the Evangelist Parish, Kenosha, said smiling, “I was so young back then.”

Picking up Gavel’s cookbook, is not simply a shoebox full of cookery prescriptions, but a piece of history and a story of love between a mother and daughter.

Last January, Gavel moved to an assisted living facility for four months. After she broke a bone in her neck in a fall, she was unable to walk and relocated to St. Joseph’s Home for the Aged in Kenosha. For a woman who was proud of her independence, the move left her depressed and angry.

Willems, an only child, wrestled with the guilt of placing her mother in a residence where she could get the care she desperately needed, despite her mother’s obvious unhappiness.

“I didn’t know what to do to help her and I went home crying to my husband Clete every night,” said Willems. “I knew that she always loved to cook and was so proud of all the compliments she received from her friends and family. So I thought that by working on a cookbook with her, it might lift her spirits and be a wonderful gift for my children, Rebecca, 34, Clete, 30 and Allison, 25.”

Gavel grew up in Mahanoy City, Pa., and spent her youth helping her parents, Richard and Vilai Skrypkun, run their small confection stand in Lakewood Park, meeting such stars as Betty Grable, Sylvia Sidney, Jackie Cooper and Lauren Bacall. A combination of Hollywood and Coney Island, Lakewood Park attracted movie stars to its Kenley Playhouse, big bands such as Tommy Dorsey and Artie Shaw, and even a few Gypsies.

“The Gypsies are the ones who taught me how to swim,” said Gavel. “They had a tent next door to my parents’ stand and I played with the Gypsy girls all the time. I swam in high school and throughout my whole life.”
Spaghetti Sauce
(Jeanie Campo from Al Capone)

1 package neck bones
3 or 4 large cans whole peeled tomatoes
1 small can tomato paste
Add to taste:
Optional:  1-2 tablespoons Hot Gardinera for spicy flavor

Brown neck bones in olive oil and garlic; take the bones out and add tomato paste to oil; cook 5 minutes. Puree canned tomatoes in blender, then add to sauce.
Add the neck bones back in the sauce. Add one can of water and spices (don’t add too much basil, it is too strong).Feeds a household.

(I received this recipe from my nephew Charlie Skrypkun, who received it from Jeanie Campo, a friend of the family. Jeanie’s husband, Jimmy Campo, grew up with Al Capone.)

While the confection stand carried mostly picnic fare, such as hot dogs and hamburgers, Gavel learned to appreciate the art of cooking from working at Scrips, her parents’ restaurant and café.

“People came from all over to get my mom’s deviled crabs, borscht, pierogi and pancakes,” she said. “I always loved cooking, even as a little girl, but best of all, I loved being near my mom making the food.”

Throughout her 57-year marriage to Joseph, nicknamed Sam, Gavin worked as a licensed practical nurse, cared for her daughter, and enjoyed preparing and collecting recipes that reflected her Polish heritage. Her collection holds a few surprises too, such as Al Capone’s famous spaghetti sauce, another recipe that made it into her 83-page cookbook.

“My brother, Joe, was a doctor, and one of his closest friends was an Italian, Jimmy Campo, who lived a couple of doors away from Al Capone,” said Gavin. “Jimmy knew Capone really well, and they used to go over there for spaghetti. Later Jimmy gave the recipe to my brother who passed it on to his son, Charlie. It is one of our favorites; it’s wonderful.”

With a huge box of recipes and four trunks of photos, Gavin and Willems painstakingly weeded through recipes and photos that would make it into the book. Each wrinkled recipe and faded photograph provided a memory and a healing balm for the mother- daughter duo.

Bringing an old laptop to the nursing home, Willems wrote her mother’s anecdotes about the recipes, their origins, and for what occasion they were used.

“Where there was space in the book, I would put her comments about when she would make it,” said Willems. “The deviled crabs recipe was the Friday special at Scrip’s café, located in the middle of coal country in Pennsylvania. People would line up to eat her crab cakes.”

Initially, Willems planned to scan a few pictures, comments and recipes onto copy paper and staple the booklets together for her children, but Clete said putting the project into an actual book would be more memorable.

Using an online photo company, Willems created the cookbook and presented it to Gavin and the grandchildren at Christmas.

“Everyone was so surprised, and my children all cried,” said Willems. “They loved it. It’s important for my children, too, now they know her history better than ever, especially in these days when everyone lives all over the place. It’s so good to have this family connection to show them their roots.”

More than a diversion, they realized that the cookbook changed Gavin’s outlook on life at St. Joseph and the relationships of those who care for her. Now that she is more at ease in her surroundings, she has become more outgoing and will attend Mass, rosary or pray in the perpetual adoration chapel when she is feeling well. On days that she is not able to attend Mass, one of the Carmelite sisters will bring her holy Communion.

“She is no longer just a person in a wheelchair,” said Willems. “She has a history and this project made it a lot easier for them to get to know her. She is more comfortable here now, too. She feels much more a part of St. Joseph’s – this is really her home now.”

A beaming Gavin agreed. “I felt so lost for a long time, but didn’t want to be a burden. I have the best daughter in the world, and when she did this cookbook, it made me feel like a celebrity.”

Guild tallies more than 450,000 volunteer hours

Some 172 guests attend “A Fashionable Affair,” a spring luncheon presented by the St. Camillus Women’s Guild at San Camillo, Saturday, April 17. The event included a “Traveling Trunk Show,” a tribute to the wives of former United States presidents’ wives, hosted by Goodwill Industries. Funds raised at the spring luncheon and at a holiday boutique held in November help purchase large items such as a Wii system for the residents. (Catholic Herald photo by James Pearson)

If volunteerism is a measure, then the 65 members of the St. Camillus Women’s Guild have made the nation a kinder and gentler place. Since 1956, the staff at St. Camillus Skilled Nursing, Assisted Living, and Retirement Living Home, Wauwatosa, has relied on the dedication of volunteers who donate time, energy and caring to make the lives better for St. Camillus residents.

They have logged more than 450,000 hours with twice-yearly fundraisers, games, holiday cookie deliveries, daily mail delivery, floral arrangements for new residents and by staffing the in-house thrift shop.

This year, the 172 guests of the guild’s 12th annual luncheon were treated to a fashion “Travelin’ Trunk Show” hosted by Goodwill Industries. The popular program was one of four offered by Goodwill, and served as a tribute to the wives of former United States presidents, explained Kathie Jensen, membership chairman and fundraiser coordinator.

“The show was really something,” she said. “We had to book it two years ahead of time. They started with Martha Washington and went all the way to Laura Bush. We had a combination fashion show and history lesson. It was wonderful.”

Funds raised from the annual luncheon go toward large items for the residents, such as a Wii system and games, wheel chairs, electric beds, Broda reclining chairs, pressure alternating mattresses and portable pulse oximeters.

“The most popular thing we do is to host bingo games for the residents three times a month, or four times when there are five Wednesdays in the month,” said Jensen. “They totally love the bingo and love the money we give out for prizes. Depending on the game, winners get 50 cents or a dollar if they win, and it is a lot of fun for everyone.”

Each November, the guild hosts a holiday boutique sale held at San Camillo. This yearly event is free and open to the public, and features craft items made by guild members, chance items, miscellaneous gift items, collectibles and homemade baked goods.

Whether it is a simple rendition of “Happy Birthday” for a resident celebrating his or her big day, a game, craft or light conversation, every effort is done with love and compassion.

“We try to recognize the residents and sing to them to keep their minds going, and to keep them active and physical; our efforts are a very important part of the campus,” said Jensen.

Members range in age from 55 to 98-year-old Gladyce Watry, the oldest active member and historian of the women’s guild.
(Catholic Herald photo by James Pearson)

“She has been a member since the beginning and has been the president for three terms and held a spot in all offices,” said Jensen.

Most volunteers give up one or two days per week to help where needed, and despite its designation as a women’s guild, some of the members are men.

“Yes, we do have some male members in our group,” admitted Jensen, adding, “And they round out our wonderful group of dedicated volunteers. We also have some members who live in the San de Camillo Independent Living residence – and that is really helpful for us, too, because they are so close by and are able to deliver mail and staff the resale shop.”

Each June, a check is presented to St. Camillus administrator Rick Johnson to purchase extra items for the residence. Additionally, new members who have volunteered 20 hours are invested into the guild and presented with aqua smocks with a red cross logo.

“Then to continue being an active member, volunteers agree to give 50 hours per year – we record those hours to continue to be recognized as a non-profit organization,” said Jensen. “We also have some patron members who will pay dues, but don’t need to turn in hours.”

While St. Camillus staff and residents benefit from the generosity of the volunteers, Jensen said that guild members receive much more in return.

“The smiles and hugs we receive are so rewarding,” she said. “We feel needed by being able to help others less fortunate and really enjoy making the residents feel important and loved.”

Monday, May 17, 2010

MACCW celebrates 90th anniversary

Written by Karen Mahoney, Special to your Catholic Herald

Wednesday, 12 May 2010 12:18

The Milwaukee Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women gather each year for annual conventions, including this one at Mother of Good Counsel, Milwaukee in 1995. MACCW will celebrate its 90th anniversary as an organization Wednesday, May 19. (Catholic Herald file photo by James Pearson)In March 1920, the bishops of the United States, recognizing the value of the service laywomen were providing to the church and its members, established the National Council of Catholic Women as a lay department of the Welfare Conference in Washington, D.C. The bishops hoped to strengthen the women’s efforts by giving them a common voice, an instrument for united action, to ensure proper Catholic representation in national committees and movements, and to stimulate the work of existing Catholic organizations to greater service.

On Dec. 8 of that year, Archbishop Sebastian G. Messmer and three delegates organized the Milwaukee Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women, only the second federation formed under the umbrella of the national organization.

The MACCW council comprises parish and inter-parish societies and serves the poor, elderly and forgotten. Additionally, the organization advocates at state and national levels on concerns such as pro-life issues, social justice, breast cancer awareness and other health issues. Group members support each other in various circumstances of their lives, and join in prayer and worship to build the Catholic faith.

Members will gather Wednesday, May 19, at St. Joseph Center for its annual convention and to commemorate its 90th anniversary. Janine Geske, professor of law at Marquette University, will speak on the convention’s theme, “Women of Faith, Calling you by Name.”

Mass will be celebrated by Bishop William P. Callahan, and MACCW chaplain Fr. Dominic Roscioli of Kenosha. As chaplain and moderator, Fr. Roscioli said it’s exciting to associate with a group of multi-generational women dedicated to prayer and service.

“The women range in age from their 40s to their 90s and feel a wonderful sense of urgency to become women alive in Jesus Christ,” he said. “They are hoping to encourage younger people to be involved and realize that in these times it is difficult, because a lot of younger people are chasing around after their kids. When I was growing up, there were the Catholic women’s societies and it was a different way of thinking, and a different lifestyle – but these are women who have weathered many storms in the church; and I think they are feeling a lot of hope, fun and a sense of prayer looking to bring what was started in the past to a vibrant future. I think they can attract new members – be strong and be a voice for Catholic women everywhere.”

The National Council of Catholic Women consists of more than 4,000 affiliated Catholic women’s organizations throughout the United States, representing hundreds of thousands of Catholic women, according to province director Rita Macewicz. Milwaukee Archdiocesan Council of Catholic Women 90th annual


Mass celebrated by Bishop William P. Callahan and chaplain Fr. Dominic Roscioli

Speaker: Janine Geske

Wednesday, May 19

St. Joseph Center

1501 S. Layton Blvd.


(414) 281-8694

Cost: $25

Send reservations

to Carol July

5645 S. 29th St.

Milwaukee, WI 53221

Convention includes:

Breakfast, Mass, entertainment and buffet lunch

“We think of the organization in four rings,” explained Macewicz, a member of St. Jude Parish, Beloit. “The outer ring consists of the local councils of Catholic women, the second ring makes up subdivisions such as the districts or vicariates. From there, are the five dioceses in Wisconsin, and then in the center is the national board. I am the liaison between all of them.”

After MACCW president Marlene Henkes, a member of St. Gregory the Great Parish, Milwaukee, earned her master’s degree in nursing, she looked for an outlet to use her talents and education, and wanted to surround herself with others who displayed proactive Christian conduct. Becoming part of the Council of Catholic Women nurtured her desire to help others.

“Our 20-member board meets four times a year,” she said. “In addition, we have an annual day of reflection at Holy Hill in October, which last year drew 135 participants.”

Co-historian Marjorie Zarnik, member of District 16 MACCW, began attending the national conventions in 1957 and remembers donating money and baby clothing to Catholic Charities and Milwaukee Birthright.

The 91-year old served as former vice president, president, on the district and state board, as well chair of several committees during her 53 years as a member of MACCW.

“I joined the group to learn new ideas, to conduct a meeting correctly, to meet intelligent, leadership type women, to be familiar with the officers and chairmen for information and advice, and to learn more about the archdiocese from the dedicated priest moderators,” said Zarnik. “In the early years, I was often the only delegate from my parish, St. Charles Borromeo, to attend the MACCW and district meetings, and back then, only a few members attended the conventions.”

Katherine Niggemann of Blessed Sacrament Parish, Milwaukee, was drawn to the MACCW in the 1950s by the opportunities for charitable works and spiritual activities that promoted the Christian women’s values of raising children in a Catholic home and sending them to Catholic schools.

“When I became a member, I was eager to help this group become recognized as a leading organization in the archdiocese,” she said. “Through the annual retreats and conventions, women of the archdiocese were able to extend their personal help to strengthen the outreach from this group to their own church and community.”

In addition to service work, several members such as Beverly Subel of St. Leonard Parish, Muskego, joined in 2000 to network their parish Christian Mothers organization with the MACCW.

“I noticed the closeness of the MACCW members and their concern for each other,” she said. “By attending the MACCW meetings, their conventions and district days of reflection, I found a group of women who think much the same way as I do and can find ways to enhance my faith with the programs they support.”

Former president and vice president, Audrey Shanahan, member of Mary Queen of Heaven Parish, West Allis, joined MACCW while a member of the parish Christian women’s organization.

“There would be a report at each meeting about the events of MACCW, and after attending the spring dinner at St. Matthias Parish in 2000, I joined the group,” she said. “I served as vice president for a year and then president for two years. I met some very wonderful women who I consider my friends, and I am very proud of MACCW."

5 choirs, professional orchestra to present ‘Totally Yours’

Written by Karen Mahoney, Special to your Catholic Herald

Wednesday, 12 May 2010 12:38

Among the choir members practicing at Mother of Good Counsel Church, Milwaukee, on Wednesday, May 5 are Cathy Walcheske, left, a church member, and Sarah Schwab, a guest member of the choir. The choirs, along with a professional orchestra, will perform “Totally Yours,” on May 21. (Catholic Herald photos by Ernie Mastroianni)When Mark Konewko was looking for employment, he prayed to the Blessed Mother that she would lead him to a job in his field of music. At the same time, Mother of Good Counsel Parish was looking for a ­new music director. The minute Konewko walked through the doors, he was attracted by the openness of the church, the grounds and the light surrounding the church.

“It was later that I realized that it was the hand of Mary that led me to the church,” said Konewko, Mother of Good Counsel music director, “It has been a very interesting and inspiring move. I am very happy here.”

Working under the leadership of Salvatorian Fr. Robert Marsicek, Konewko wanted to perform a major musical endeavor to reflect the priest’s enthusiasm for the parish.

Friday, May 21, 7 p.m.   

“Totally Yours” Concert

Mother of Good Counsel Parish

6924 W. Lisbon Ave.


(414) 442-7600

The concert is free and open to the public.

Freewill donations will be accepted.

A reception will follow the concert.

All donations for the MGC Church Music

program can be sent to: 6924 W. Lisbon Ave., Milwaukee, WI 53210

Make checks payable to MGC and in the memo line write, “church music program.”

“He exudes creativity, compassion and genuine excitement in the parish,” said Konewko. “His energy is what prompted me to even think of doing a concert at MGC.”

On Friday May 21, the Mother of Good Counsel adult choir, children’s choir, youth choir and bell choir will combine voices with a professional orchestra to perform “Totally Yours,” a concert dedicated to Konewko’s love of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The concert will begin with a sing-a-long of the Lourdes hymn, better known as “Immaculate Mary.” The choir will then perform “Totus Tuus,” an a cappella piece by Henryk Górecki. According to Konewko, the selection is an important piece for humanity.

“It is an outcry to Mary pleading intercession and committing humanity to give all to Mary,” he said. “In fact, the title of the concert, “Totally Yours” is a translation of the title of this piece.”

Górecki was born Dec. 6, 1933, in the village of Czernica in Poland’s coal mining belt. He is the premier internationally recognized figure in the Polish avant-garde.

“Totus Tuus’ was first performed on June 14, 1987, by the Choir of the Warsaw Academy of Catholic Theology at the High Mass celebrated by Pope John Paul II in Victory Square, Warsaw,” Konewko said. “It was written in honor to His Holiness Pope John Paul II’s third pilgrimage to his homeland.”

Following “Totus Tuus,” the choir will perform “Benedicite,” composed by Andrew Carter. The piece is an 11-movement work inspired by the new Benedicite carvings in the restored south transept vault of York Minister.

Production of a concert such as ‘Totally Yours’ is expensive, but with the help of the choir, several fundraisers covered the cost of the rights to the music, as well as costs for the orchestra.

“The choir prepared a bread sale, a pasta dinner and solicited funds,” said Konewko. “They have raised significant money with some very generous donors from the parish.”

Aside from finances, melding voices from a 40-member adult choir, 30 children and youth, bell ringers and a 25-piece orchestra was challenging, but the overall talent of each of the groups and willingness to work together has produced a massive sound sure to astound the audience, he said.

“The talent that I am working with is unbounded,” said Konewko. “The children’s choir from the parish, along with some of the school children, sounds fabulous. Mrs. Regina Shaw (school principal) has graciously allowed me to work with the children in the school preparing them for the concert. They have a fresh sound – the mixed choir of boys and girls with the youth choir do justice to the three solo pieces that they sing. The bell choir can play just about anything. They are remarkably talented. The adult choir is dedicated to making good music; they work very hard and are so welcoming that the choir has doubled for this concert

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Before They Take the Wheel

This photo of Julie Scallon, Anne’s daughter, was taken in March 2009 and first appeared in the premier Spring/Summer 2009 Before The Wheel newsletter, with the directive, “Always plan ahead for cell phone calls with your car at a full stop parked at a safe location.” (Submitted photo courtesy Anne Scallon)

Teens and cars have always been a dynamic combination: perpetual freedom-seekers charging around in freedom-bestowing machines.
With such volatility on the fast-moving streets, stuff can happen. Just ask any insurance company.
The latest trend in the chronicle of teens behind the wheel is texting while driving, that is, kids sending and receiving text messages via cell phone while they are rolling down the road, radios blaring.
Although her daughter Julie easily passed her driver’s test in 2008, Anne Scallon, a member of St. John Vianney Parish in Brookfield, was apprehensive about handing over the car keys.
“She had done three times the required 30 hours of practice driving before she took her test,” Scallon said, “But I still noticed that she didn’t have very good peripheral vision and the skill of predicting what other drivers may do in different situations.”
Teens take risks while driving
While few studies on the frequency of teens texting while driving have been done, a 2007 study conducted by AAA and Seventeen magazine found that 61 percent of teens admitted to risky driving habits. Among those 61 percent, 46 percent admitted to texting while driving.
Knowing the pressures on teens to text, speed, and participate in risky driving behavior, Scallon searched for additional information to help her daughter develop better technical and decision-making skills. After scouring the Internet, library and area bookstores, she came up empty.
“I was surprised that it was difficult to find information for parents on exactly what steps the parents should take to safely guide their teen through the first year of driving,” she said. “I did find a lot of good information online about what times of the day and week are the most risky and what situations are the most risky. There are many sites that emphasize the statistics of teen driving fatalities and tips to help teens avoid engaging in drinking and driving, distracted behaviors, speeding and allowing too many passengers, etc. I had a good idea what she should not do, but I didn’t know exactly what she should do.”
After months of research to develop a program for her daughter, Scallon, a writer and publisher, reached out to other parents who she assumed were feeling similar apprehension about putting their teens behind the wheel of the family car. Utilizing her media background, she developed a free newsletter and Web site to provide information on multiple programs available in the state.
Step by step program for parents
“I also decided to develop a step-by-step program for parents to phase privileges for their new teen driver which is the Earned Privileges program,” she said. “Both the Earned Privileges PDF and the Before the Wheel newsletter can be downloaded for free from my Before the Wheel Web site.”
The phased privilege program assists parents in setting clear guidelines to assist teens in making wise decisions regarding driving.  Each phase begins with communication between parent and teen on specific driving scenarios and includes a “Just Drive” contract with expectations and restrictions for both the young driver and the parents.
The first phase is designed for the first few months after receiving his or her driver’s license and limits him or her to:
Anne Scallon
? Driving to and from school, work, sports or school activities;
? Driving to and from malls, theaters and restaurants that are within 10 miles from home;
? Taking roads with frequent stop signs or traffic lights that regulate traffic flow;
? Driving one weekend night with one passenger and follow all curfew rules;
? Driving to and from friends’ homes on familiar routes.

? Absolute sobriety, not a drop of alcohol;
? Cell phone use limited to parked car in parking lot, coffee shop or fast food restaurant;
? All occupants must wear seat belts;
? Driver must stay within speed limit at all times.

If the teen abides by the rules and shows responsibility and respect for his or her driving privileges, additional access to the vehicle might be allowed on evenings and weekends during the second phase.
Phase 2 involves ‘what if’ scenarios

For more information about Anne Scallon's Before The Wheel newsletter and the Earned Privileges program, visit her Web site.

Scallon advises parents to remain in communication with their teens during this phase, especially regarding possible scenarios such as what to do if passengers refuse to wear seat belts, drag racing, alcohol, arriving later than curfew and inclement weather.
“Discussing the ‘What if’ scenarios helps your teen to become a better decision maker,” said Scallon. “Your teen must have an alternative plan in place before getting behind the wheel or getting in a vehicle as a passenger of another teen.”
Phase 3 is 6-9 months after license
The third phase begins six to nine months after the teen receives his or her driver’s license and is the perfect time for the young driver to take a defensive driving course to hone his or her skills. It is also a good time to review the “Just Drive” driving contract to determine if your teen is ready for full privileges after he or she has completed a defensive driving class.
While Scallon believes that school-based driver education programs are thorough, there is a gap in the system that occurs the day the teenager receives his or her license.
“There are no specific instructions provided for the parents or teens other than the graduated driver’s license restrictions and penalties,” she said. “Very few teens are ready for full driving privileges the day they receive their license. The Before the Wheel program provides the opportunity for the parent to voluntarily sponsor their teen for an additional year so the parent can phase privileges and provide the teen with the opportunity to earn the next level of privileges.”
Scallon compares her preparedness program to that of a summer camp or workshop before joining sports teams in school.
“When your child makes the team, does the coach say, ‘Congratulations, practice on your own and I will see you in three weeks before our first game’? No, the coach says, ‘Congratulations, now the work really begins. We will practice three days a week at this time and work on these skills, and you must be on time, and you must work hard, etc. … we want you to develop technical and decision making skills so we can win at this level and you can work up to the next level.’ We need to do the same thing with our new teen driver.”
Parents often ‘clueless’ about risky behavior
At 17 and a half, Julie has not had an accident, and Scallon hopes that by following the Earned Privileges Program that her daughter will remain accident free.
“So many of her friends have already had accidents,” she admitted. “Julie is a good driver and I am hoping that her defensive driving lessons will pay off in the long run.”
While she had not developed her Earned Privileges Plan when her son, now 22, was learning to drive, his behavior was instrumental in the research for her daughter when she went through driver education.
“He had some risky behavior that we didn’t know about until he got a ticket for driving over 90 miles an hour on I-94. It was then that I realized how naive I was about his driving. I figured he was a football player and just would know what to do,” said Scallon. “I was in complete shock when I learned how fast he was going. It never crossed my mind that he would drive like that.”
After additional research and speaking with other parents of young drivers, Scallon realized that most parents of teens who die or are injured in auto accidents are also clueless as to their teens’ driving behavior. Her efforts have grabbed the attention of parents and driver education teachers throughout the state.
Defensive driving class could save lives
Denise (last name withheld) of Hartland, welcomed the opportunity to participate in the program after nearly losing her son in an auto accident when he was just 16.
“I wish I would have had this newsletter and known about the defensive driving class when my son was 16. He was in a dangerous accident when he tried to make a turn on black ice. Fortunately, he was OK, but the car was totaled,” she said. “He did eventually take the defensive driving class and I had my daughter take it as soon as she received her license.”
Already a hit in school driver education programs and private driving schools, Scallon presented her program, “Before the Wheel, Safe Teen Driving Program,” at the Wisconsin Driver and Traffic Safety Education Association Annual Conference Saturday, April 17, in Stevens Point. The conference was attended by Wisconsin public school driver education instructors and Wisconsin private driver education school instructors and owners.
Scallon’s newsletter is distributed in libraries, dental offices, pediatrician offices, driving schools, insurance companies, schools and in many more locations. Information on receiving the newsletter, as well as additional safe driving information, can be found on her Web site.

John XXIII Educational Center

Laura Pallazolla, right, works with Yessenia Benitez at the John XXIII Educational Center, Racine, April 21. The center, housed at St. Patrick Church, Racine, opened in fall and offers programs to middle and high school students. (Catholic Herald photo by Juan C. Medina)

It has always been about the children, and when San Juan Diego Middle School shuttered its doors last June due to lack of funds, founders and benefactors hoped they could continue their mission to help ensure successful futures for the children in the area.
After the school closed, Fr. Ricardo Martin, former pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Racine, expressed concern for the welfare of the San Juan Diego students and wanted to find a way to help students who might academically fall through the cracks, according to Br. Michael Kadow, a LaSallian Christian Brother.
After consultation with archdiocesan officials, Fr. Martin was given approval to open the John XXIII Educational center to fill the void left by the closing of San Juan Diego Middle School.
The center’s goal was to expand on programs offered by the school and create additional ones to serve the needs of the community, said Br. Kadow.
“The need is tremendous here; we are working with an age group of students who are most at risk of falling behind, dropping out of school, or not staying focused,” he said. “Middle school is a crucial time and by providing services, and working with schools and families, we hope to do what we can to help them set goals and become successful.”
The center, which opened last September, offers after-school activities, mentored study halls, and academic support for high school students, specifically earmarked for graduates of San Juan Diego. Additionally, GED test assistance, home visitations, English as a Second Language, and vocational workshops will be offered.
Since the center opened, community response has been enormous, said Shirley Heck, director of the center.
“Wonderful things have been happening here that have far exceeded all of our expectations,” she said. “We now have supervised study halls, mentoring and tutoring from 3:30-5:30 p.m., and 7-8:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. We started the year with 45 students and now we have 141 middle and high school students.”

For more information:

John XXIII Educational Center c/o St. Patrick Parish
1100 Erie St.
Racine, WI 53402

(262) 632-8808
In addition to various outreach programs such as the MACK Center for non-traditional students dealing with anger issues, approximately 65 community mentors volunteer their time each week to mentor the students. With the approval of parents, center officials monitor student report cards and provide individual guidance and instruction to best suit each student.
“It amazes me that these students are in school all day and come to us with enthusiasm and love the fact that they are getting help with their homework,” said Heck.  “The students’ grades have improved in so many cases and I think it’s because we can provide the individual assistance that teachers don’t have in their schedules.”
Former students and San Juan Diego graduates received initial invitations to join the center. As funding allows, registration includes students from Racine’s two primarily Hispanic parishes, St. Patrick and Cristo Rey.
When San Juan Diego closed, 125 students were displaced, said Br. Kadow. In addition to inviting those students to the center, coordinators reached into the neighborhoods in Racine to attract a more diverse group to include all people of faith or no faith.
Appealing to a diverse group seems to follow one of the missions of Blessed Pope John XXIII, who once said, “We do not wash over our differences, but we have learned the truth that there is more that unites us than divides us.”
Additionally, families utilizing the center will also be able to take advantage of other services already offered by the parish, such as parish nursing and services provided by Catholic Charities, which is located in the gymnasium.
“This is a great resource to the school and parish and we hope to collaborate with them for counseling services and bring in other agencies to provide services for migrants, and hope to not only collaborate with families and schools, but other agencies, as well as eventually some adult education,” said Br. Kadow.
The center is unique in that through the former San Juan Diego School, John XXIII has established links with all high schools in the Racine area and will not be duplicating any after- school programs, but creating its own learning and support atmosphere.
“We had great relationships with the high schools and know the counselors, teachers and administrators,” said Br. Kadow, adding, “We hope to work with a broad range of people of all faiths, races and reach out to anyone of any age who needs or wants our assistance.”
Family fees for the program are $25 per semester to defray the costs, however, no one will be turned away due to financial hardships.
“We will have scholarships and funds to help when needed,” said Br. Kadow. “We are going to support the center with our parish, St. Patrick, and hopefully funds through the Faith in our Future Campaign. We are also relying on former benefactors of the schools, foundations, and hopefully support from Racine Unified to help keep the center operational.”
The center is not a source of catechetical instruction, stressed Br. Kadow, who emphasized that its role is to enhance the work of the schools and parishes, not to take over.
“Parishes have their own religious education program and they work very well,” he said. “We will enhance catechesis by service and example and that sort of thing, but no (religious education) classes will be offered.”
In addition to Br. Kadow, Heck and founder of San Juan Diego Middle School, Mike Frontier, several members of the Lasallian religious community volunteer at the center.
Heck explained that the center operates under a four-pronged support program developed with the assistance of Fr. Martin before he left to study in Washington D.C.
The first is a middle school program under the direction of Br. Kadow. In addition to educational assistance, students communicate with Lasallian volunteers who guide and help with social and behavior problems.
The high school program, under the direction of Frontier and Marisol Alvarez-Salazar, assists students with career planning and college selection, as well as field trips to visit various colleges. This includes preparing students for college entrance exams and methods to increase grade point averages.
The third prong surrounds family education as center officials believe that working with parents will help students succeed in the home, school and community. A variety of community agencies and charities present workshops and speakers to strengthen the family bond.
The community-building proponent offers courses for parents, mentors and tutors, as well as for the entire community. Courses, such as yoga, Zumba, Spanish as a Second Language, reading, health and nutrition, focus on social and health needs of all members of the Racine community.
A Saturday morning Girl Talk course offers pre-teen and teenage girls the opportunity to ask questions that might be uncomfortable in a familial setting. The group builds camaraderie by field trips to museums and other activities to help girls feel secure about themselves.
“This course really works at building self-confidence and self-esteem, and we do get into talking about sexual issues,” said Heck. “We have a weekly challenges list that the girls write and keep track of, and we respond to them. It’s going very well and we have between 14-20 girls here every Saturday for a couple of hours. They are all learning how to make difficult decisions based upon their values.”
Without the backing of St. Patrick Parish and several community agencies and companies, John XXIII Center would not be successful, Heck said.
“We have had such wonderful support from the community and especially from the parish,” she said. “We have received financial support as well as the use of the physical facilities and the people in the parish are also quite excited about the work we are doing. They always come up and say how happy they are that we are providing the wonderful opportunities for students as well as their parents.”
According to Br. Kadow, an estimated $250,000 per year is needed to run the John XXIII Center in the former school. He encourages those interested in volunteering their time or offering monetary support to contact him through St. Patrick Parish.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Mother's Day Declaration

To my five Precious Children, Kelly, Sean, Ryan, Molly and Erin: Here is my Mothers' Day declaration ~ I wanted you. Before you were born, I loved you. When you were born, I saw your face and I knew that I was in love. Before you were an hour old, I knew I would die for you. To this day, I will. This is the miracle of life. I love you all more than my own life and always will, no matter what.

And to my mom, Bonnie Rose Pieh--I miss you every single day of my life. I have never had a day that I have not thought about you and wished you were here --thank you for all your sacrifices for me while I was growing up and I wish we had more years together.