Tag Archives: the rita effect

Humanitarian in Training: Part II

When I first committed myself to this journey, I was unsure what I was going to find along the way. I’m still kind of flailing around along the road, but that seems to be my modus operandi anyway. Now that I have a few volunteer hours under my belt, the subject has come up in conversation with a few friends and my family. I wondered whether I should even bring up the subject at all as I feared it would cheapen the experience or I would be touting my new found helping hands. I guess I thought I would immediately be turned into some altruistic, super hero philanthropist do-gooder once I started this. Admittedly, the first time I had to turn down dinner plans because I had a food pantry obligation it did feel pretty good. Perhaps altruism is one of those goals in life that even if you never achieve, is still worth reaching for.

When it comes to doing ‘good’ for others, particularly those that you have never met before, is it normal to wonder what the motivation is? I noticed after volunteering at one of the main locations for Community Food Bank of NJ that I was feeling guilty about it perhaps not being the right fit for me, as they only have individual volunteer dates once a month, and also I wished it was more of a personal experience. While everyone there is beyond lovely, it just felt like such a big place to start and most of the fellow volunteers were school children and their chaperons. I grappled with the thought that maybe it would be selfish to try to find different, smaller, food banks to better suit me, and within that thought I had to wonder what my motivation was. I know my original motivation was to keep the spirit of Rita alive, to let the world know that a light that untainted and bright could still rub off on even the most disparaging of introverts. My second motivation, upon really balancing the question between my head and my heart is that I really would like to be less pessimistic, to have some of the soft glow of the charitable rub off on me. Just writing in this style as opposed to my usual dark and brooding, creepy version of pastoral prose is a start (baby steps).

I remember when I first told my brother about my efforts his reaction was, “Oh man, I really have to start doing more things like that. I just want to get a whole bunch of toys and start giving them to kids!” I laughed, may have snorted, and told him “well, I’m not entirely sure parents would be ok with that sort of thing, unless… Here, put on this red coat! We need to find some reindeer! Do you think I can look elfin??” It was then that I realized, after seriously wondering how many baked goods, red felt and cotton balls I would need to prepare my brother for Santa-hood, that it was OK to talk about something positive, something that could rub off on someone else as equally positive. Most of us are good people, with varying layers of cynicism covering the good soil for which to plant the seed.

And so, I did find other opportunities to suit me through Jersey Cares. It really is a great tool for those in the NJ area to find activities and locations through a calendar of events that are all over the state. I’ve since volunteered at a shelter sorting cloths for some wonderful women and their children. To which I was also pleasantly surprised as to how generous some were with their donations of bags upon bags of brand new baby clothes and pajamas. I’ve also found a great food pantry/clothing deposit in East Brunswick that I really enjoy despite the miles being put on my trusty old car to get there. These are some great people there who are so friendly and energetic the time really flies. I met a woman named Lana, “like Lana Turner!” she told me with a saucy grin and a man named Paul who regaled me with stories of his racing old muscle cars back in the 60s while Lana and I sorted through bags of clothes and hung them up giggling. I think that’s what I needed, to drop my guard for once, not just concentrate solely on the tasks at hand, but to become open enough to take in the others around me. I started to feel a little lighter on my road, like I didn’t have to just get hours in to fulfill a quota of some sort in my head or convince myself I need to figure out my motivation. It doesn’t matter what the motivation is, was or will be, it’s just a start. A starting line that I imagine I will be at for quite some time but at the very least I’m finally on the track.


I Am No Hero

I work for Weight Watchers as a meeting leader and a receptionist. I lost 107 pounds on the program over the last two years and it has changed my life. So, I joined the team. Over the last few weeks, I had grown a little frustrated with some of the meetings and members. Those who can’t take accountability for their own actions, who blame the program changes for their lack of success or how they claim to “do everything right” yet continue to gain weight. It can be disheartening because, frankly, Weight Watchers doesn’t pay generously. I’d make more at a fast food joint or Dollar Tree. Today, I received a potent reminder of why I work there.

Last week, a member arrived. She was exceedingly overweight. Morbidly, so. She looked fairly young, probably upper 30’s or early 40’s, and she was very upset with herself. She was close to tears. She has had multiple back surgeries, has joint and leg problems and takes fistfuls of medications. She joined Weight Watchers twice before and lost a lot of weight, but could never keep it off. Her fiancée encouraged her to join. I give him a lot of credit; it’s difficult to put that across without hurting feelings of sounding shallow, but he said he loved her no matter what, and just that he wanted her to be happy, healthy and for their life together to be long. So, with great effort, she came in and joined for a third time. She came to my scale, we chatted for a minute and, filled with trepidation, she took a deep breath and stepped on.

The scale said 414.4 pounds.

The tears she was holding back before finally burst forth. She had never been that heavy in her life and hearing the number was crushing to her. All I could tell her was that she had taking the hardest steps: she came here, she walked in, she joined and she got the number. Now, she can move forward. The meeting leader and I talked with her for a while and she left.
This morning, I was near the store window when I saw her walking up. As she reached the midpoint between her car and the store, she began to slow down. We made eye contact and I waved. She waved back, took a deep breath, nodded and walked in. She was upset again. She was scared. She was not reaching her daily points target each day. We don’t recommend members staying below target because the body, when not eating enough, will slow the metabolism and inhibit weight loss. However, she was getting 65 points per day. To put that into perspective, the average female member gets about 30-33 points per day to eat. So, I made sure she knew that as long as she was satisfied and that she was getting the right nutrients, she shouldn’t worry about it. That made her feel a little better, but she was still scared she didn’t have a loss. With great courage and some encouragement, she stepped on the scale.

It read 400.0 pounds.

She lost 14.4 pounds.

In a single week.

She looked at me for a moment as it sank in, and, again, she burst into tears. However, these tears were the opposite of those from the week before. In the span of thirty seconds, I saw a transformation. A woman wracked with discouragement and fear, came in with no hope on her face. Half a minute later, that hope was given to her. It was as if Spring bloomed in the store. Color came back into her face and she pulled me into a hug. This is what she said:

“Oh my God, I owe you so much! You and Rachel [the leader] encouraged me and helped me do this. I feel like you gave me back my life!”

I felt my own tears welling up. This girl, a stranger the week before, was filling my heart with such joy. She single handedly reminded me why I do this. Not for the money, but because it was a way of giving back, a way of reaching out to people who, like me, battled their weight for decades and to help them attain their goals.

When you touch another person in such a way, the rewards are worth more than any cash award could possibly be. Being able to touch the lives of strangers, to inspire them to reach higher, to strive, to climb, to become so much more than they could have imagined, is indescribable. I was lucky to land in a place where I am to be able to do this. What motivated me to write this for the blog was a quote that ran through my head as the member left…

“Make no mistake — this is not about me. I am not a hero.”

I’m just a guy who, in some small way, is giving back.

Scott McIntyre

Growing Up with Rita: Part III – “Like Mother, Like Daughter”

I write a weekly newsletter. I have done this for the past seven years. My readers range in ages from 18 – 97. I write about life with Cathy. Rita was a big part of my writings. When she had the time, she would text snippets from her busy life. My readers loved her accounts. Her writing style was like Erma Bombeck.
I am sharing my newsletter dated May 9, 2015 with you. This was written 3 months before Rita was murdered.

Tomorrow is Mother’s Day. It has been a few years since both Sara and Abby and their families have been here to celebrate our motherhoods together. Also arriving will be Phoebe and Gino. This will be their first time together as puppy cousins Sniff, sniff, woof, and woof.
I imagine that when I write to you at this time next Saturday, I will have oodles of things to share with you. I can hardly wait!
Many of you continually ask me about my sister Rita. She is so busy with eight children, two adults and dogs, that she rarely finds time to text me or answer mine. I have bugged her for so long. I don’t know how she found the time but she wrote the most wonderful letter sharing how each of the children are doing in her witty, charming account. You will find it at the end of this letter in its entirety. If you are like me, you will read it more than once.
To understand Rita, you should know about our wonderful one-of-a-kind Mother. Her name is Nellie. She grew up in a large, poor family. Her compassion for children never waned. We would often come home from school to find a baby in Mom’s arms. She nurtured them for a short time until the parents could take over again. There was one little boy that we thought was going to be our little brother; however, that did not work out and we were all heartbroken. Our parents also raised their great niece.
Mom knew exactly what Rita and I needed. She was able to feed our hearts, souls and minds. We were very different in our personalities, but she knew how to nurture us into the caring adults we are today.
When Rita’s husband died and her grown daughter moved to New York City, it was no surprise to me that at the end of her education career, she would find a multi-rational family to raise. Boy is she good at it.”
Happy Mother’s Day Rita. Mom would be so proud of you, and so am I. Cathy

Their father has been talking to the older kids about being entrepreneurs and saving money. Chasity, who is now 12, took her first step toward financial independence by boxing up her outgrown clothes, listing them on Craig’s list, and selling them for $35. Not bad for a day’s work for a 12 year old.
Christian, 11, decided to do his monthly book report on a Bill Gates biography. He, like Bill Gates, has declared he will be a millionaire by the time he is 20. So he is selling his Xbox games for outrageous prices. (Don’t bother to give him gifts. He’ll sell them as soon as he get them.) Whey they have saved a tidy amount, they will try their luck at buying stock. We’ll see…the candy counter still has enormous appeal.
James is almost 9 and continues to move through life and the house at lightning speed. At first I thought his trail of clothes and school debris was forgetfulness or just plain laziness. But it might be that his clothes fly off as he whip around. Track and field is definitely in his future.
Christina is 8 and growing up fast. She can very capably get both baby boys into the tub, bathe them and get them ready for bed. She can be quite amazing. And clean house??? Like a professional. So it’s rather amusing that she can never remember what day it is or how to tell time.
Angelisha and Blessing are finishing kindergarten. I have never been able to spend much time in their classroom, but I know exactly what goes on there. Nearly every day the dolls are put in chairs ready for their lessons. Apparently a couple of them are little pistols as I hear their teachers say, “I can’t keep reading if you are going to talk.” Or, “Max, I’m going to have to ask you to leave the carpet.” They teach the dolls songs, sight words, and how to make letters. (Every ‘S’ I make is a curvy little snake.) I feel I have been to school with them.
General will be 2 next week and has emerged as dominant dog. He pretty much rules the house. Most families spring into action when they hear “The bus is leaving!” or, “There’s a fire in the oven!” At our house the call to arms is, “HE’S GOT A CRAYON!!” He is a budding artist and no matter how many huge pieces of paper we give him, he considers the walls his canvas. We have a program of Adopt a Wall. The older children have a section of wall for which they are responsible for graffiti removal. When they begin buying stock, it will probably be in Mr. Clean Erasers.
Genesis is now a happy robust 10 month old. Still toothless (not even a nub!). He gums French fries with the best of them. He gets his food via meals-on-wheels. His high chair is a baby walker, so in between bites, he cruises down the hall or backs into the living room. He hangs his arm over the side and looks over his shoulder like he is backing an 18 wheeler. It lengthens feeding time, but I get to grab a few bites while he is out an about.


Humanitarian in Training: Part I

This time of the year tends to be either a bright, sparkling time of magic or the most heart wrenchingly lonely time of the calendar year. Perhaps even a mixture of the two. All things tend to get magnified; love, loss, generosity, greed, gratitude, disappointment and all the aspects of human emotion and introspection in between are heightened. There’s something magnetic in the air that, for better or worse, grabs a stronghold of our thoughts and actions. Everything about this collision typically leads to excess fretting, which, in turn, leads to excessive indulgences and it seems to really be a sort of polarization of the human spirit.

It is true that this time of the year brings out both the absolute best, and sometimes the worst in all of us. So, within all this excess, anxiety and love, I now find myself trying to navigate this mission of selflessness. I’ve always considered myself a kind person to the people in my life that I cherish, and I know I would do for them whatever they asked, but admittedly, it takes me a very long time to warm up to people in general so strangers tend to stay strangers and I live my life in a very tightly closed circle. I’ve been inspired by this foundation’s namesake and creator, but also realize this is going to be a journey to try to make a difference while simultaneously fighting against 30 years of my natural inclinations. How can someone that finds human interaction so uncomfortable become more of a humanitarian?

So I’ve scoured the web and found different charities to sign up for – so wait, you mean I can’t just walk up to a food bank and say ‘put me to work, in the back?’ Oh, ok so away I go with the emails. There are phone numbers to call, but being me, despite trying to be this helpful soul, there’s always been something about speaking with people on the phone that makes my mouth go dry and my head go blank. I find myself falling back already into what is easiest, too anxious to directly contact anyone. So I wait, and in the mean time, I donate my singles to the charity jars next to the cash register, and I gathered up all my old clothes and I pack them into the clothing bins outside the super market. And I still wait, a part of me sort of hoping my emails won’t be returned because that may force me out of my comfort zone. Getting caught up in the hoopla of the holiday season, the thoughts of giving are with my family and friends again as opposed to strangers. Checking my emails I see all the deals from various stores’ lists I find myself on, but still no replies for my charitable efforts to begin.

And then there are the excuses, I could just call- but its so much easier to remain taciturn in my bubble, and I still have all this shopping to do… and then my shopping was done, and my work hours were not quite as hectic. Ok, so now I have a choice, to remain on the sidelines or get in the game (a surprisingly effective sports metaphor really). So, I called, I left a message and I received a call a few days later from a very nice woman named Traci Hendricks of the Community Food Banks of NJ and my visit was scheduled.

As I set out to Hillside, NJ I fought my nerves sparking and crackling at the newness of it all whilst my anxiety scratched at the back of my head ever so gently. Despite having one of the warmest winters on record for the east coast, as I headed out it began to sleet and I found myself having to remember not to complain as I dipped and dodged in between traffic by Newark airport. Remembering that at least I have a car, at least I have a warm coat and that these little inconveniences are no tragedy.

When I arrived, I was the first person there and as I waited for the others to arrive, I soon had to bat away hopes that I may be the only one there due to the weather. Soon I was joined by the other volunteers, mostly consisting of a school group and parents and we were sent to our task. The building was huge and incredibly well organized and our group leader was a high energy, open hearted man named Omar. I got the impression, almost immediately, that he was another one of those truly warm hearted people that you feel happy to have come across in the world. With a playlist prepared and a lively atmosphere around us, he put us all to work making boxes and packing up plastic bags. Time flew by on our little assembly line and it was really great to see the look on some of the parents’ faces as they watched their children put in great work with no complaints, and these were teenagers!

At the end of our time Omar gathered us all before we left for a great little speech to remind us of what we have and how grateful we need to continue to be because you truly never know if you may find yourself on the opposite side of the spectrum. You could tell how much he really cared about his work there and that this was far from a canned speech. He felt every word he spoke and as I was I nodding and smiling to his words, I scanned the group and I noticed something I could scarcely believe, within his captive audience, not one person was glancing at there phones. Now that, in this age, is enough to inspire any pessimistic observer to become a humanitarian in training.



A Legacy Most Worthy

I didn’t want to take down the Christmas tree this year. I cringed at the thought of removing the lights from the house, the wreath from the door, and the inflatable Tigger with the giant candy cane from the center of the lawn. I hated the idea of replacing the cheer and warmth of the season with the steely cold of a grey January.

My family was never religious. When I was growing up, we went the Santa Claus route rather than a spiritual one. While we generally have a nice time every year, usually for me Christmas is a bit of a chore. The shopping, or more accurately, finding the money to afford gifts, contributes to a lot of holiday stress. The travel back and forth on Christmas Day makes it the least relaxing holiday on the calendar. One year, we didn’t even decorate. We just didn’t have it in us. Yet, all that did was make it even more depressing.

Two thousand fourteen was a tough year for us. A very dear friend, Alessandra, died suddenly of a stroke at the age of 42, leaving behind her husband, Carl, whom I’ve known since grade school, and two young boys. Mere weeks later, I lost my job. One hit after another made it difficult for me to embrace the coming Christmas season. I focused on the negative. The house was barely decorated and the tree was hastily put up with only days to spare. By December 27, it was all gone. The house showed no signs of Christmas. It was as if it never happened.

January of 2015 was no improvement. Kevin Brown, the first real friend I made in the theater a few years earlier, succumbed to cancer. He was just a few years older than me. His death affected me more than I anticipated and it was the first loss of the year to chip away at my outlook on life. Kevin possessed a hugely positive spirit. He loved life, people, and the craft of acting. He was a fantastic performer and an all around great human being. He found joy in what he did and didn’t consider himself above a particular role or play. After he died, I altered my approach to each role I took. I tried to find the joy in every part. It was my small way of celebrating his life which, in turn, began to enrich my own.

In March, I was hired by Weight Watchers. As a successful member, I qualified for employment and was fast-tracked into their meeting Leader training. For the first time, I found myself in a profession where I could give back to people — to inspire and encourage them to reach their goals, to be part of helping them feel better about themselves, and achieve things they thought impossible. The pay was a mere fraction of what I used to earn, but it opened me up to a wider variety of people. It pulled me out of my own self-imposed exile.

As most everyone reading this knows, Rita was murdered in August. I’ve written before how I felt when it happened, but her death had an impact that took a little longer to manifest. Yes, it opened my eyes to the plight of a city that normally escaped my notice and the nightmarish life of the children she devoted her life to helping. What I didn’t expect was that her loss helped me enjoy Christmas again.

You see, Christmas is not about faith for me. It’s not even about the Pagan origins of the tree, the Winter Solstice, or some fat guy shimmying down my chimney. This year it finally sunk in. Christmas is about love. It’s about the love of family and the time you have together. It’s about the love between friends and the bond you share. It’s about recognizing what you have, even in the face of loss. It’s about loving your time and spending it on things that fulfill you. It’s about finding even the smallest happiness in the darkest of times.

This Christmas I was happier and more enthusiastic. I put up the tree earlier than usual. I was on the roof stringing lights and hanging them all over the yard. I enjoyed friends on Christmas eve and family on the day.

On the 26th, the post-holiday blues began to set in. The end was here, but I was in denial. Finally, a week and a half into January, I knew it all had to come down. Unlike previous years, I wasn’t eager. I wanted to hold onto the season. Sure, I don’t personally need December to appreciate the people in my life, but the world is a different place around Christmas.

I enjoyed the community this year — the feeling of mutual celebration. Instead of dragging me down, it gave me a boost all because of those who lived by example and whose deaths put the punctuation on the sentences. How they lived their lives truly inspired me to do better, reach farther, and be more. To be less insular and more understanding. Perhaps if I can be better, I can in a small way start to fill in the holes created by their losses.

It’s strange when I think about it. When my own parents died, I mourned and moved on, but didn’t make any major changes. Yet, the deaths of two people who were not major players in my life shined a light on something I didn’t see without them.

That, my friends, is a legacy most worthy.

Scott McIntyre

“Looking ahead” from our President

Dear Friends,

I am Rita Langworthy’s daughter – her only child.

Six months ago, had you asked me who or what I was, my answer would have been much different. But today, there is no other answer. I am Rita Langworthy’s daughter. No other answer fully encompasses who I am. However, those five powerful words most certainly do, and it is an answer that bears great responsibility.

It is my honor and privilege to be the acting first President of this organization and I am most grateful to my fellow Board of Directors as we stand together, having accepted the incredible opportunity to make a positive impact on children, which Rita provided.

During the inception of The Rita Langworthy Foundation, someone said I had “lofty goals.” They did not know me well, but have quickly come to witness that just as Rita was, I am a woman of action. Rita laid the foundation of this organization simply by living every day of her life as a selfless example of love and true generosity. It is our job to nurture and grow the seeds she planted.

Very few companies can offer promises of guaranteed success. In fact, I can’t think of a single financial wizard who wouldn’t scoff at such a claim. However, failure cannot exist within this organization. We have built a solid business structure with conservative annual anticipated growth; and whether we disperse only the designated minimum grantee award or we far exceed those giving goals each year, this Foundation has been designed for success.

This is just the beginning. The Rita Langworthy Foundation is on a path to become a powerhouse of giving. This new year brings with it incredible opportunity for us to grow together and spread “The Rita Effect” far and wide. Here are just a few of the highlights of the year ahead:

Every child, no matter the circumstances into which they are born, deserves a chance to not just survive, but to flourish. Rita’s bright smile and joyful laugh will live on in every child we are able to help. Her indelible spirit and soul cannot ever be stolen from the world.

With love and hope for a bright future,
Lin Randolph
The Rita Langworthy Foundation

Rita Langworthy Foundation

Year-end Letter from our Treasurer


It still seems surreal to me why I find myself writing this letter to all of you. While the events of this past year have sped by quickly, August 10th still seems unfathomable. A pillar in my life, an example of selfless strength, my mentor, a woman I so admired had her life senselessly snuffed out. I replay the day before in my head over and over. As I bounded down the stairs with a handful of children, taking them to their parents, my eyes were met by the familiar gleam and smile of sweet Rita. I quickly told her I had a bag full of books and movies in my office for her from our retiring pastor and would meet her there. I never did. She was let into my office by a friend as I was whisked away by the cries of my then four-month old son. Rita loved my little one and was so pleased that my husband and I had become parents. She, even in all of her busyness, still made a tremendous effort to bring us a meal and meet our new addition shortly after he was born. I will forever regret not making it back to my office that day. I could go on and on about how incredible Rita was, but now we must shift focus to how incredible Rita is. Her life well-lived did not end, she still lives on through all of us. She impacted those around her so deeply that now we all have been left with a powerful charge, to continue to shine her light to those in need.

Today, I am incredibly thankful for The Rita Langworthy Foundation. It was a true honor to have been asked to serve on the Board of Directors of this wonderful organization. Things came together quickly and were official much faster than I had ever witnessed. That was Rita’s doing. Never one to wait around and figure out who was going to meet a need or solve a problem, she took care of it.

In the short time The Rita Langworthy Foundation has existed, we have cultivated a strong donor base. People who loved Rita, family, friends, and many people who had never met her. Her powerful story of love and servant-hood has touched many. Now it is our turn to continue her legacy of compassion and the power of a strong education. Where you are born should not determine the trajectory of your life. Rita knew and lived that each day. Thank you! Thank you for continuing to bear the torch. As we continue to share Rita’s story, we hope you do too. We cannot continue Rita’s legacy without you. Your gifts of time, service and money will continue to create a lasting impact on the lives of many. Educators, students, and children will all continue to feel the warm embrace of support from Rita.

As we delve into a new year, may our hearts take hope that out of darkness Rita’s light still shines. Please consider becoming a monthly donor, making a donation in memoriam or honor of someone, or making a one-time donation to help sustain the good work The Rita Langworthy Foundation is doing.

Rita never wanted to take up anyone’s time or be a burden in any way, so I will wrap this up. If any of us can live our lives with a fraction of the goodness Rita lived hers, good will prevail.

Wishing you all the best in 2016,
Angie Beauvais Field
The Rita Langworthy Foundation

Rita Langworthy Foundation

Change starts with us…

This is to be almost a form of journaling, but not based solely on my fears, worries, or inner secrets, but hopefully of a change. My first thoughts when I committed to writing this were admittedly selfish ones; “I’m so rusty, what if it’s awful? Writing is my own solitary, therapeutic respite not often opened to visitors. Are there too many cobwebs for company?” Then I pondered, “How can any words really live up to the light that Rita Langworthy carried within her?” After which, I realized, no words really can, only actions can. I had the pleasure of meeting, before her untimely death, what I can only describe as a vision of inner warmth in a world often too frigid and bitter to fathom it. Rita Langworthy was the type of person whose inner light shone through a room like a lighthouse through fog and made everyone around her feel like they were better versions of themselves by proxy. Originally, I remember hearing about her charity and her sense of humor throughout the years of working and later maintaining a wonderful friendship with her daughter Lin. I remember being captivated, those 10 plus years ago, by them and by this person who seemed to be, and who most certainly was, the antithesis of all the selfish inner inclinations that seem to drive our nature. She was, and is now in many ways still, an amazing angel of refuge to so many that loved her, and will continue to be this to so many more through the reach of her daughter Lin and this organization.

I know that poverty in our country is an issue. A massive, often ignored issue that we may even see on a daily basis but choose to ignore like that pesky broken spring in the mattress we roll away from in hazy sleep. In fairness, it seems almost futile to try to wrap a hand around these things that are so beyond our command, take hold of them and try. I’ve read the articles, often interspersed between the latest organic food trend, and Kardashian beauty tips. The situation is becoming worse, worse than the Great Depression. But, again I’m human, so I push it to the back of my mind, meanwhile worrying about my own financial, mental, superficial problems. Modern man has evolved at an astounding pace, so astounding, in fact that we may have given up small bits of our humanity in the leap. When we have food, shelter, and warmth, we have become more and more unhappy with the lack of frivolous “essentials” as opposed to the basic human needs. Essentially, we’re unhappy due to boredom. But what if we really didn’t have these essentials? Shelter, food, safe water to drink, or even a safe place to lay our heads at night; truly, I wouldn’t even begin to know what that feels like. I’ve always had a roof over my head and food to keep me satiated. Compared to the millions of children that are struggling just to survive, it all seems incredibly trivial really. There are huddled masses of these children but only a handful of people that find themselves called to wrap them up in just enough light and warmth so that they can bloom.

I’ve been inspired by this wonderful woman and her daughter’s will to continue her Mother’s ever reaching grace. It is never too late to try to make a difference in the world.

So, back to the action part — I would like to document my journey within this column. I’ll be signing up for various food banks and as many volunteer organizations as I can fit into my timeline in an attempt to hold on to at least a fraction of the good that Rita gave to this world. I’ve become so cynical that the smallest gesture of humanity throws me back on my heels a bit. But what if we all gave that little glimpse when we could? More than just giving our change into the charity jar at the cash register, what would that add up to? A step above, albeit a small one at first, it could add up to real humanity — real reach. I soon realized in researching where I could sign up to volunteer, that I should have done so years ago. These sites require around 2-3 hours of a commitment a week and there really is no excuse not to. Though I may never live up to an angel, I can see no reason I can’t offer some small sentiment of refuge.




Compassion, not pain & destruction.

Has there ever been a time when mankind wasn’t causing pain and destruction? It’s all over the news and social media. It’s on television and in our streets. Violence, terrorism, hatred, prejudice, selfishness and despair. It takes a sudden act of violence to shake us out of our complacency. Most recently, the terror attacks in Paris have brought out the rage. It’s a righteous rage. We should be angry and devastated at the senseless brutality. The sad part is that this rage doesn’t last.

This is what happens…

We live our lives concerned with our own issues and problems, trying to make life work for us. We are vaguely aware of events across the globe, coming up for air long enough to be shocked at another hostage beheading, or we’ll cock an ear at the news of a suicide bomber striking a dilapidated desert village. Then, out of nowhere, somewhere “civilized” is attacked. Paris is targeted and over 120 people are killed. Suddenly, everyone is awake and demands action. Security levels skyrocket and everyone is a suspect. For now. Until it passes. Then, after a fairly short time, after a few reports of prevented planned bombings, or some other media blast takes our attention, we go back to our lives. We go back to ignoring the death and suffering and hatred until it touches us or our favorite tourist spots again.

We, as a species, are inherently selfish and protective. We look after our own. We may complain about conditions, we may even be moved by the plight of the oppressed and homeless, but we don’t dwell on it. We step over the person sleeping in the street. We change the channel when we see reports of far off lands being decimated and enslaved. It’s not confined to foreign lands, either. How many of us are truly aware of the suffering and killing in our own country? Beyond your own town, how concerned are you?

It seems that people will always find a way to kill, whether it’s other people, animals or our natural resources. We’ve been doing it for centuries. We kill, hurt and persecute. We consume and discard. Take away the weapons and we’ll fashion new. Silence the voices and we’ll find another way to make a point. We will punish a whole group for the benefit of a single agenda. We’re a fragmented, hateful society, too wrapped up in dogma, judgment and our own interests to see the plight of others except in times of tragedy. Every individual thing of beauty mankind creates is negated by every act of hate and violence. I really feel that if we stop caring about symbols, status and what divides us and start focusing more on the living, the breathing what makes us a single community, we’ll have a chance.

Of course, everything I write here is more a reflection on me than the rest of the world, isn’t it? Am I actually looking at the population in general or am I really turning the lens inward? I’m really describing myself, and my overall apathy to the world at large. What it takes, really, is for the violence to hit close to home. To impact someone I love, to wound a person I hold dear. That violence is why this foundation exists.

I consider myself lucky for having met Rita. It was only a short time, but we did chat for a while at her daughter’s birthday get together. She was funny, happy, very sharp and very young for her years. The love she held for Lin was palpable. Seeing the two of them together was like witnessing a physical manifestation of joy. Nobody can ever tell me the love between an adopted parent and her child is any less intense or real than any biological connection. I’ve seen it firsthand.

When I learned of Rita’s murder, I was heartbroken; for Lin having to lose her mum in such a cruel fashion and for the world, for everyone she touched. A spirit like hers should not be stolen away. Nobody has the right to take such a thing. Yet it happened. The violence hit home. Flint, Michigan became a real place to me and many others who never gave the city more than a passing thought, if that. It shook me out of my complacency. It made me think of who else was being victimized, killed and forgotten.

Thanks to Lin and The Rita Langworthy Foundation, her spirit lives on in the work and in Lin herself. The message and example Rita put forward in life will live on well after her death. And maybe, just maybe, we’ll have taken a step back from the hatred and the self fixation and the complacency. Maybe we can make compassion our default instead of ignorance, distrust and hate. Don’t let it take something like this to happen to you.


Scott McIntyre

First Thanksgiving without Mum…

Thanksgiving means a great many different things to folks here in the USA. For some, it’s about football. Others, it’s being surrounded by family. For most, it’s about the food. But for me, I need the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade to make it feel like the holiday.

I don’t know why exactly. Anyone who knows me, knows I’m all about food! So why would a gal who’s not a fan of marching bands and rarely recognizes any of the pop music entertainers atop the floats be so fixated on the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade? I suppose it’s always been the magic and pageantry of it all. Or perhaps it is because the parade has always been the one constant in an ever-changing holiday for me.

As a young child, our family would gather at my grandparents’ tiny home in Findlay, OH. Mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, cousins, grandparents, great-grandparents and anyone that happened to be alone on that day would celebrate together. The enormous turkey would be stuffed with oyster dressing and put into the oven the night before to roast on the lowest of settings. To this day, I’ve never tasted a more tender, sweet piece of turkey than what my grandmother, Nellie, made in that tiny stove of hers. She would hand-peel steaming hot boiled potatoes (a method I never fully understood the justification of until I was much older) just as the sun was rising for her secret recipe potato salad. Every palate would be sated. She had candied yams with marshmallows, mashed potatoes and gravy, ham, turkey, multiple types of stuffing, and the list went on and on ending with a stack, yes, an eyeball high stack of pies! We’d watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade on television followed by a full day of football. We’d laugh and play and make plans for our Christmas gathering.

As the years passed, the family Thanksgiving in Findlay, OH, slowly shrunk in attendance. Grandchildren and cousins got married, moved away, had children, and began hosting their own holiday gatherings. Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade 2012My husband and I hosted his family in our home many years ago. A while back, I volunteered at a soup kitchen. Others, I’ve spent with friends and loved ones. In fact! One year some of my dearest friends — family really — gifted me a ticket to sit with them in the marquee section of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. That’s right! There we sat, in full view of anyone watching the parade on TV. Mum caught glimpses of us and it was like she was right there, too.

But the most recent years, I’ve spent the morning working, only to come home and make Thanksgiving dinner for my pug, Lenny, and I. Mum asked me what I was doing for the holiday every year and she would be furious if no one had invited Lenny and I to their celebration. Her “mother bear” protective nature never failed to make me smile. As my aunt said to me three weeks ago, “You never have to doubt her love for you. Not many have a Mom’s love like you did.” No matter where the two of us were on Thanksgiving day, we always spoke on the telephone — if only for a few minutes.

So this year, when friends reached out to me and invited Lenny and I into their families’ homes for the holiday, I should have been elated. But I declined every invitation as I simply could not predict my emotional state and it wouldn’t be right for me to accept and then cancel at the last minute. Lenny and I are an incredibly lucky pair as our friends graciously understood and altered their invitations to, “How about this…you can ACCEPT at the last minute, okay?” Mum would be thrilled that we had received such warm and lovely invitations. She would NOT have been happy with me for declining.

Whether my thinking is sound or not still bears to reason, but I decided a few days ago that Lenny and I would spend Thanksgiving together…at home…alone. We, or rather I, need to truly absorb and feel her absence. And I need to be able to laugh, cry and scream, in whatever succession it happens.

2015-11-25 13.59.23I’ve planned the perfect “Mum” meal — FreshDirect Thanksgiving Turkey Dinner, Pillsbury Crescent Rolls and a pint of vanilla ice cream which we will put on top of a slice of warm pecan pie in our RLF mug. For those of you who truly knew her, you’re probably giggling at this menu. For those of you who know me (a professional chef/baker) but are just getting to know her, she had an insatiable sweet-tooth and two of her most memorable food quotes are: “I’d eat crap if it were wrapped in a Crescent Roll” and “the perfect house is one without a kitchen.”

I know my friends and family will be only a phone call or text away so Lenny and I won’t “really” be alone. The kid and I will curl up with a plate full of hot crescent rolls in the morning and and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade will march on.


Lin Randolph

What a beautiful dream…


This morning I woke at 3:39AM.

3 months. 1 week. 4 days.

My beautiful mum’s life came to a harrowing end at 3:14AM. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

For the first time that I can remember, I dreamed of her. Or rather, she appeared in a dream.

I woke smiling with a strange sense of peace that I also don’t remember ever experiencing before. And then I remembered. I remembered her face. Her silent, calming presence. Afraid I wouldn’t be able to remember the details of my dream, I laid as still as possible and concentrated — replaying the dream in my head over and over again. I was torn between wanting to go back to sleep in hopes of seeing her again and rushing to my computer to record the dream so I wouldn’t forget.

I drifted back to sleep.

Six hours later, I still remember. We were in a nondescript school cafeteria full of those long communal tables with fixed benches. The cacophony of children’s voices and clatter surrounded us. We sat at the end of one of the tables in a far corner so we could scan the entire room, and yet everything but five women was blurred out. The lens wasn’t focused on anyone or anything else.

My second cousin, Patty, sat just to my left in a folding chair pulled up to the end of the table. Two more women sat to my right — mum’s best friend from college, Bonnie, and a kindergarten teacher who worked under mum’s direction, Pam. Mum sat quietly across the table from me. Or rather, she floated. But, I’ll come back to that in a bit.

baccarat-purple-lucky-butterfly-2103586We were discussing how we would honor her as she wasn’t much for public acknowledgement or accolades. Bonnie mentioned there being inexpensive purple plastic butterflies at Home Goods. I scoffed and informed the group that I had spent the morning in the vault of Baccarat and had emerged with a stunning purple crystal butterfly with which to award her. Patty laughed and said, “Of course you did!” (I have always been known as the “snob” of the family.)

And then I launched into excitedly telling the ladies that everyone — student and staff member alike — would write a note of tribute to her and we would compile them by classroom in a book to present to her at the award ceremony. She would never object to that kind of tribute, I told the ladies.

And then I looked up and realized there she sat directly in front of me, in her hand-me-down chartreuse dupioni silk blouse whose ruffles reflected her joyful spirit and simple black slacks. She was as perfect and beautiful as when I last saw her in April. She was silent and I sent her away from the secret planning with, “Geez, Ma! Get outta here!” She rose, turned, and then disappeared.

The next thing I remember is Patty and I standing, still surrounded by the same cacophony and blurry images. I told her, “We have to do this. This is gonna work. She won’t object to this.” We hugged. And I woke.

When I initially reflected on my dream in the wee hours of this morning, my heart hurt because I had sent her away. Why had I sent her away? And then I realized, her image hadn’t been the same solid 3-dimensions of Patty, Bonnie, Pam and I. And yet she had also not been a part of the blurry, unfocused masses either. She had been something completely different. There was a kind of translucency to her and her movements were light and fluid. She had arrived, listened and then departed, in silence. The smile and feeling of peace I initially awoke with at 3:39AM returned and has not left me since.

Take from the recounting of my dream what you will. I choose to believe that the shiny new Jaguar parked in front of my building and her visiting me in my dream last night is her way of telling me that she approves. This foundation is exactly what she wants and she is watching over it, and us, making sure we stay the course.

While we cannot present her with a book full of personal tributes, I invite you to write your message anyway. I know she’ll be reading them.



Lin Randolph