May 2012

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They are the “good guys” – those men and women who work to keep us, our families and our communities’ safe, often putting their lives on the line in the process.  It can be a thankless job but today, we get to thank one of them.  

“Officer John G. Gurnsey is one of the good guys.”

We received this nomination from Josh Thompson who has known Officer John Gurnsey for 7+ years. I think Josh tells the story best in his nomination:

Officer Gurnsey has dedicated his life to law enforcement for over 25 years to the city of Indianapolis. In that time, Officer Gurnsey has worked for the Sheriff’s Department and with IMPD protecting our city through street patrols, serving as a Community liaison for Neighborhood Watch Associations, and in the courts. Officer Gurnsey has risked his life numerous times going to some of the worst and crime-ridden neighborhoods to exact drug busts, domestic violence calls, and prevent gang-related crimes in the city of Indianapolis. It takes great courage and dedication to strap on a bullet-proof vest everyday knowing that at any moment, on any call, he could face great danger; all to protect the citizens of Indianapolis. It isn’t uncommon to find Officer Gurnsey patrolling our streets and the Monon Trail talking with neighbors, bikers, and children; handing out stickers to children and unselfishly answering questions of citizens and providing tips for keeping their homes and neighborhoods safe.

In short, amidst the recent police stories that highlight corruption, indifference, and apathy among police officers, Officer Gurnsey is one of the good guys. This man has never pawned off his responsibility to his job, his neighborhood, or his city. He rarely, if ever, receives a thank you. Officer Gurnsey sees people as people – people who may be having a bad day, people who make a huge mistake and just need the proper intervention to get them back on the path of goodness.

I can recall a story he once told me of a young boy he found drinking in a city park. This young man had run away from home after a dispute with his grandmother and had been reported missing. Upon finding the young man, Officer Gurnsey obtained all of his information and contacted the man’s grandmother. Officer Gurnsey waited until back-up and the family arrived but spent that time truly connecting with the young man. What he found out was that the young man had a mental illness and was upset about having to take his medication. Officer Gurnsey talked to the young man about how everyone makes mistakes, that what may seem like controlling guardians were really people who love him and only want to see him succeed. As Officer Gurnsey put it, “Young man, bad things happen to good people. As hard as we may try, no one is a perfectly wrapped package. We all need someone to help us be who and what we want to be.” I don’t know of many officers who would take the time to relate with a person in trouble rather than just treat them like a criminal.

Because of this experience, Officer Gurnsey realized that many people he encounters may suffer from a mental illness and he sought to further his knowledge of mental illness by becoming a CIT officer (Crisis Intervention Trainer) and signed up for continuing education courses through National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) without prompting from his superiors—all so he could do his job that much better.

Recently, Officer Gurnsey had a no good, very bad day. His credit and debit card information was stolen and used in North Carolina. It took nearly a week to get the situation squared away. This man works tirelessly for the department while putting himself through school at IUPUI’s Master’s Program for criminal justice. He wants to be a teacher once he retires–again, dedicating his time and energy to his community.

Josh suggested to us that Officer Gurnsey could use a foot massage – hopefully giving him just a little bit of relief from being on his feet all day. So we took that advice and sent him a gift card for Foot Finesse.  Officer Gurnsey is grateful for the gift and looks forward to using it soon.

If you know of a person – civil servant or otherwise – who could use a little surprise gift, nominate them for a sussy from the Sussy Project today!

 

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Mother’s Day 2012 has come and gone. But a mother’s love is not nearly as fleeting. In fact, from what I’ve heard and witnessed, motherhood is a pretty incredible job. Rewarding, fulfilling, and 100% satisfying. The one thing motherhood isn’t, is easy. Especially when it seems like the odds are stacked against you. And this sussy nomination made the hardships of motherhood all the more clear.
A month ago, we received a nomination for a woman named Shelbie from her friend and co-worker, Alok. Shelbie is a 19 year-old dental assistant. Growing up, she lived a life far from sheltered. Surrounded by temptation and instability, she had reason after reason to give up. But giving up was the one thing she never did. Once becoming a mother at age 17, her life changed drastically for the better. She continually beat the odds by doing whatever it took to better herself: taking night classes, taking out loans, and working multiple jobs at an early age. Her goal was to not fail despite the environment within which she grew up.
Shelbie is clearly an inspiration to Alok. And it’s very clear why. After an hour drive into the office where she works, she is one of the first to arrive and one of the last to leave. She is always willing to pick up extraneous tasks and does so with a smile on her face. She is constantly pushing herself to be a better person, for the sole reason of providing a better life for her daughter, Nora.
Like many single moms, Shelbie’s financial situation is less than optimal. So there are many times when Shelbie goes without so Nora can go with. For these reasons and more, Shelbie’s nomination was a no brainer. As Alok stated so perfectly, she needs to be recognized. She needs to know that what she is doing for her daughter is awesome. And thankfully TSP was in the perfect position to bring her awesomeness to her attention.
It was decided that what Shelbie could benefit most from was a gas card, as those hour drives to and from work are heavy on the pockets. So we reached out to her, allowing her to read the touching letter/ nomination from Alok. Then her sussy was sent out. However, due to unknown circumstances, the sussy was not recieved. So we sent another. And as it turned out, both of the cards arrived within days of each other. We assumed it was the universe telling her that not only did she deserve this sussy, but that she really needed it. Turns out her car was acting up around the same time she received both cards in the mail. Talk about perfect timing.
Shelbie expressed her gratitude through Alok, who couldn’t have been more grateful to TSP for making his friend smile. And we were absolutely honored to be able to recognize such a motivated and selfless woman. A mother determined to make a wonderful life for the little lady she’s raising. A true inspiration.
Shelbie, rock on, girl :) We are proud of you!
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Know someone who deserves a sussy? We want to hear from you. Please email your nomination to info@thesussyproject.com

If you have good neighbors, you know how valuable they can be.  Keeping an eye on your house, watering flowers when you’re away, bringing some soup when you’re sick.  Good neighbors are priceless.  So, when Lauren emailed us about her neighbor Betty we jumped on the opportunity to let Betty know how much she’s appreciated.


In her nomination Lauren says that since they day they moved in Betty has been ‘kind and welcoming.’  Recognizing how tough it would be to move into a new house at five months pregnant, Betty immediately introduced herself and even offered to take Lauren to her doctors appointments!  Lauren says “It was so reassuring to know there was someone I could count on just a few doors down.”.  Once her daughter was born, Lauren says, Betty comes to visit and always brings hand me down toys for baby Lucy.  ”She is just a great source of comfort to me and although I haven’t had any emergency reason to call upon here, I know she is there.”

To let Betty know how much her kindness means to Lauren we (hand delivered!) lilies to Betty’s door.  She was delighted by the gesture and told us that we “made her day”.  ”That Lauren,” says Betty, “she’s a sweet one.”  Obviously the feeling is mutual.
Here is Lauren’s nomination:
I would like to nominate my neighbor, Betty Thomas. Since we moved in to our house last year, she has been kind and welcoming. I was about 5 months pregnant and very overwhelmed by the move. When she noticed I worked from home, she came over and introduced herself. We realized they were also from louisville, my husband’s hometown. Since she and her husbamd are retired and home most of the time, she said if there is anything I can do let me know. She knew my husband worked downtown so she even offered to take me to the doctor or hospital if I needed her. It was so reassuring to know there was someone I could count on just a few doors down. When my daughter Lucy was born, she called the hospital to congratulate me.
Since then, she has called and come to visit numerous times, she has also given me lots of great hand me down toys and things that were her granddaughters. She is just a great source of comfort to me and although I haven’t had any emergency reason to call upon her, I know she is there. What a great neighbor!
The reason I think she is do deserving right now is that I did ask a huge favor of her, to let our dogs out for a few days while we go on our first beach vacation for Memorial Day with our baby daughter, and my family, and she said yes. I truly appreciate her and although i do bake things and try to hive her little treats now and again she deserves a nice Sussy from the Suddy squad. I will continue to thank her & offer her baked goods, but her support means do much more to me!!
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We are always taking nominations and rarely turn people away! Please nominate someone today. Email: info@thesussyproject.com

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The summer concert season is just around the corner, and it’s always a favorite time of year.  However, what would life be like if we couldn’t enjoy live music whenever we wanted?  When we received the following nomination from Stephanie, we of course wanted to help Patrick get to a live concert.

I have been following the Sussy Project since the beginning and this is a WONDERFUL thing you all are doing. I just received an email from a dear friend who works as a social worker at  local nursing homes in the Bloomington-Normal, IL area. Her co-worker and herself are trying to raise enough money to help out one of their residents who is an avid lover of live music. He was in a terrible car accident in his early 20’s that left him a paraplegic. He cared for himself for years but 8 years ago had to move into a nursing home for full time care. He has limited resources and funds, but is dreaming of seeing a live show. I would love to see a gas card donated to Leslie, my friend, and her co-worker Amy to help get Patrick to a live show and rock out :) .

Here is the link to the Facebook site that they just recently started: https://www.facebook.com/HelpPatrickRockOut

We reached out to Patrick via email, and sent a gas card his way.  We received the sweetest and most inspiring response from Patrick:

I appreciate Stefanie’s SUSSY nomination very much. What would my odd’s be. To qualify TO DRIVE MY SIERRA [3 MPH top speed in the or a MARATHON. I’M NOT AFRAIDE OF LIFE. I have Para-sailed over LAKE GENEVA, WI, BUNJI JUMPED DROVE MY SCOOTER ON Greatlakes Union Grove dragstrip. WE only LIVE ONCE. And I believe my second disabled meaning. Is to show the WORLD. That having a DISABILITY DOESN’T MEAN QUIT. IT’S MADE ME TRY HARDER. RESEARCH KEEPS PROVING THE HUMAN BRAIN IS CAPPABLE OF DOING ASTOUNDING FEATS. THE POWER OF THOUGHT. PATIENCE IS THE KEY. THERE IS SO-MUCH OF THE HUMAN BRAIN THAT IS UNTOUCH TERRITORY.

THANKS for the SUSSY NOMINATION. AND. I hope you’ll consider me for a WARM RACE.

SINCERELY; Pat A Rack or Patrick N Fallos

Patrick

When we read his response, we all had tears in our eyes. What an amazing man. What an inspiration. We could all take a lesson from Patrick’s attitude towards adversity.

You can help too. Go to his Facebook page and donate to the cause.

We are excited to follow Patrick as he goes on his live music adventure.  Be sure to check back for an update!

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Who do you know that deserves to be surprised by kindness? Please email us at info@thesussyproject.com

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On Friday, Adam must have heard our cries for Mother’s Day nominations. Because he sent in the following about his mama, Marsha:

Although there are many stories that I could tell to support my nomination, there is a stretch of time in our lives that would prove to be some of the hardest times that any mother should ever go through, but my mom Marsha Becker did.

In August 2001, I was riding my brother’s motorcycle through our home town of Upland Indiana, when a driver not seeing me on the road turned left into my lane.  With little time to react, I hit the car head on. Luckily the helmet I was wearing saved my life, however I lay on the street with two broken arms and a dislocated knee.  Over the next 6 weeks, through countless surgeries and doctor visits, my mother was always by my side.  To this day, I have no clue how much time she spent in hospital waiting rooms,  sitting by my bed or dealing with the paperwork that followed, all the time these visits were well over an hour away from her house.   Even though I was over 20 years old, I found myself in a wheel chair living at my parents house for a semester of college.   My mom had to take care of me as though I was still an infant.  I couldn’t feed myself, due to having two full arm casts.  I couldn’t walk due to a full leg cast.  I couldn’t even push myself in the wheelchair I was in.  Yet through all of it she was there, every step (pun intended) of the way.

It was exactly one year after, to the day when my mother’s next great challenge would happen.  I was currently living in Texas, on the anniversary of my accident.  I remember her telling me “Now don’t go do anything crazy today.”  Unfortunately, it was not me that fateful day that was doing something crazy.  I received a call from my mom at 4am the next morning telling me that my brother Christopher, her son had passed away from a fall while rock climbing in Austria.   The next several weeks were the hardest times that our family has ever been through, and will likely ever go through.  But my mom was strong, caring, and loving as always.

My mom has been there for the hard times and she has been there during the good.  My wedding, the birth of her grandson Christopher (we call him Topher, named after his uncle) and the birth of her granddaughter (Grace).  My mom doesn’t like going over a week without seeing her grandchildren, and finds excuses to make the drive down to come see them nearly every week.

So this mother’s day, on behalf of myself and my brother  I would love to have my mother receive the sussy that she so deserves.  I love you mom.

If Marsha isn’t someone you don’t want to run and hug, then I fear you must not have a heart. Because she sounds like not just an incredible mom, but also an incredible woman. Nicole Witt, member of the Sussy Squad, reached out to Marsha and told her about the nomination via email. We also sent a bouquet of flowers for Marsha to receive. According to Adam, she was just thrilled.

Marsha and Adam - Mother's Day

Then today, Marsha emailed Nicole back to describe her Sussy experience.

I will admit Adam sometimes (& often) surprises me; like nominating me for The Sussy Project.

What is a mother to do when she sees her son lying in the middle of the road after being hit head-on by a car?  Help, obviously.  Although his accident was ‘the worst’ he had had growing up, it wasn’t the only one.  He didn’t make it through high school unscathed.  And through them all he had a wonderful attitude.  I must admit I believe it was easier for me take care of him than it was for him to endure the pain.  He should have dropped out of classes for one semester but did not, he persevered through the pain and missed classes.  No mother likes to see their son suffer.  And of course, no mother should endure the pain of losing a son, just as no brother should.  Life does go on.   Adam and I have a deep love and respect for each other.  We were both art majors and therefore both have ‘critical’ minds.  We like to critique.

I have high praise for my son, Adam, just as I have high praise for my husband, Dick, who perseveres right along with us.  And Dick also puts up with Adam’s and my adventures.  He needs an award too.

Thank you for The Sussy Project.  Great idea.

What a great family. We are honored to introduce them to you. And we hope everyone out there made their moms feel special yesterday.

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We want to keep handing out smiles.

Nominate someone for a Sussy today! info@thesussyproject.com

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When you think of a mom you think of strength and love – devotion to family.  A mother is the glue that holds a family together.  They never are too hurt or ask for comforting, they comfort everyone else.  When we received the nomination of Ann from her niece, Andrea, we knew Ann was an amazing mom and wife who deserved to be honored for Mother’s Day.

I would like to nominate my Aunt, Ann Adinamis-Impicciche.  On April 23, Ann lost her husband, Alan (52), to Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia.  Ann is the mother to two wonderful children, Michael (14) and Maria (16).

Alan battled leukemia for the first time three years ago, but after many long months went into remission.  Alan’s leukemia came back last fall and again Alan went through chemotherapy.  Ann, worked tirelessly as a working mom (a Child Psychiatrist), pseudo-single parent, and nurse to her husband for four long months.  At the end of March, Alan went into the hospital where he remained until he died in April.  Ann served as Alan’s tireless advocate during that time, but still managed to make sure her children were loved and cared for.

With Mother’s Day nearing, Ann is trying so hard to deal with the pain of losing her husband while also trying to comfort her children who have lost their father.

We sent Ann an arrangement of roses.  She wrote the following to express her appreciation for the flowers as well as her love of Andrea, her niece.

I just received a beautiful arrangement of colorful roses from the Sussy Project.  Thank you- this was a wonderful surprise and definitely brightened my day.  I am very touched by Andrea’s nomination.  She has been incredibly strong and supportive of our entire family through Alan’s illness and after his passing.  We are so proud of her commitment to train and run a half ironman to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in memory of her uncle Alan.  Your gift of flowers brought tears to my eyes as my husband Alan always sent me flowers on Mother’s Day.  My children and I miss him terribly but we are comforted by the kindness and support of so many people.  Thank you again for the lovely flowers and for brightening my day.

We are thrilled to brighten Ann’s day and continue a tradition Alan started by honoring his devoted wife on Mother’s Day.

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Nominate someone who deserves to be surprised by kindness by emailing us: info@thesussyproject.com

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When we received a Sussy nomination from 16-year old Kylee Crabtree, our hearts sunk. She was nominating her good friend, Quinn Hoover’s, parents. Quinn was killed in a car accident on March 18, 2012.

Here is what Kylee wrote us:

My name is Kylee Crabtree and I’m a sixteen year old who lives in a small town located in Maryland. I am emailing you because I know two people, a married couple, who are the perfect candidates to receive one of your ‘projects’. Tom and Sonja Hoover have gone through absolute Hell and back in the past three weeks. On March 18, 2012, their oldest son, Quinn, passed away in an auto accident. Quinn was a dear friend of mine and honestly, he was perfect. He did well in school, he was amazing on the soccer field, he was just a small step away from becoming an Eagle Scout, and he was always, always, always kind to those around him. At only seventeen, he had traveled the world and helped so many people. Quinn had already been accepted into the college of his choice and was ready to hit the ground running.

On his way home on that horrible early-morning, Quinn fell asleep behind the wheel. He fought hard to stay alive, but at 3:49 PM, he was declared brain dead. Quinn became a hero that week, because he donated his organs to save the lives of others. Three women got another chance at life, thanks to Quinn’s donation. Tom and Sonja are more proud of their son for all of his accomplishments than I feel I can explain. He has touched so many people, but his parents are the cause of it all. They raised a truly wonderful young man.

Quinn Hoover - 17 years old

No parent deserves to lose their child, and no little brother deserves to lose his best friend. After Quinn’s death, the Hoover family made it a point to check on everyone else. I have spent a good deal of time at their home, and Sonja always asks how others are doing. She is so selfless and strong, as is Tom, that I just want to show them how phenomenal they are, how fantastic they are, and how inspirational they are. In all honesty, they’re my role models. When I am older, I hope to be as giving and nurturing as they are. I hope to have the strength and compassion that they posses.

In addition to everything, they have started The Quinn Hoover Legacy Scholarship Foundation. The community has held fundraisers to aide the fund, and so many people have been kind enough to donate. Shirts designed in Quinn’s honor have been sold as well as raffles created. I know that the Hoover’s are elated at the turn out, but I know that it has to be hard for them, constantly staying in the moment.

Their new ‘motto’, I guess I could say,  is “Take a stand, leave a legacy”, which of course is for Quinn, but even so… they have taken a stand, and they have left a legacy. Not only through their son, but through themselves. Now I feel as though it is my turn to take a stand and leave a legacy. Please, help me show them that they are not alone in this and that so many people are here for them. Help me show them that although Quinn is gone, his legacy still lives on. I am aware that you probably have an excessive amount of emails pouring in every day, but I promise you… there is nobody on this Earth who deserves this project right now, more than Tom and Sonja. Please help me give them a small glimmer of inspiration to them.

Kylee is quite the 16 year old young woman. And it’s impossible not to feel her pain through her words. She clearly loved Quinn tremendously. She gave us some great ideas for the Sussy and we settled on a turtle figurine that reflected their Native American heritage. We sent it to Tom and Sonja with a message of support and love and mourning.

Throughout the entire process, I kept in touch with Kylee. She shared pictures of Quinn with me. And told me more about him. I feel like I knew him too. And she kept in touch with the Hoovers. They showed her the turtle and were absolutely thrilled.

She wrote this: “I went to The Hoover’s last night for a visit, and they had showed me the turtle! It was so beautiful and just absolutely perfect. Both Tom and Sonja were very excited about the meaning behind it, and the gift in general. Thank you so much for making this happen.”

She also felt strongly that Quinn would love it too. “Not only because it’s a turtle, but because, well, did you see the little color ‘stone’ on the very top of the turtle’s back? The burgundy and teal? Those were Quinn’s Native American colors that he wore when he danced. Every single thing about that little figurine screams Quinn.”

Since being introduced to Quinn and his story, I have been following his Remembering Quinn Facebook page. I have read every article I can on the crash. He was such a smart, ambitious kid with so much life. It’s so heartbreaking to know that his family and friends lost him at such a young age. I hope that when you read this, you share his story as much as possible. Let us honor his memory and support his family.

And then after sharing this story? Nominate someone you know for a Sussy. Pay it forward. Make someone smile. We’ll help. :)

Email us at: info@thesussyproject.com

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My heart is so heavy writing this. I am sure most of you heard but yesterday, sweet little 5-month old Avery passed away. You can read her father’s post here.

I fell in love with Avery when Janice Walters nominated her for The Sussy Project. I read every post and in just the past three weeks, I and over 500,000 other people have followed Avery and her bucket list. How her parents could put aside their sadness and work tirelessly to create such a full and joyous life for this little girl is beyond comprehension. They are truly incredible. I can’t understand why this disease exists. Or why Avery had to get it. Or why her lung collapsed yesterday.

I doubt she ever got to play with the Barbie we sent her nor watch “The Polar Express” nor get her mani/pedi. But she and her wonderful family have inspired so many people.

As I sit here with tears streaming down my face thinking about that tiny baby and that raging disease and her amazing parents, I know there is a big lesson in this story.

We all must live. We all must love. We should take every single opportunity to experience what this world has to offer.

So hug those kids of yours. Tell someone you love them. Be thoughtful and spontaneous. Go after the unthinkable. Life is too fragile not to. Avery – a 5 month old – taught us that.

Rest in peace precious girl.

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