Archives for April 2010
WASHINGTON – Just ahead of Tax Day, President Barack Obama is urging Americans to take advantage of tax credits for first-time homebuyers, college students and others.
Obama used his weekly radio and Internet address Saturday to promote some of the tax benefits in last year’s stimulus bill, saying they could save people hundreds or even thousands of dollars and were available to more than 100 million Americans. Even those who file before the April 15 deadline can amend their returns if there are savings they missed, Obama noted.
“No one I’ve met is looking for a handout. And that’s not what these tax cuts are,” Obama said. “Instead, they’re targeted relief to help middle-class families weather the storm, to jump-start our economy and to bring the fundamentals of the American dream — making an honest living, earning an education, owning a home and raising a family — back within reach for millions of Americans.”
Credits taxpayers may be eligible for include:
_Up to $8,000 for first-time homebuyers. The credit will be available through the end of April.
_Up to $2,500 for college expenses.
_Up to $1,500 for making energy-efficiency improvements to homes.
_For new vehicles purchased between Feb. 17-Dec. 31, 2009, the state and local taxes can be deducted.
_An expanded child tax credit providing $1,000 for each child under 17.
_The earned income tax credit now provides up to $5,657 to low-income families with at least three children.
Many workers have already received, through adjusted withholding in their paychecks, the “Making Work Pay” credit of as much as $800 for couples and $400 for individuals. For those who haven’t yet received the full amount due, they will get the additional money when they file.
Those who already have the full amount must claim the credit on their return. Due to an IRS glitch, however, some workers will owe money; in some cases, withholding tables gave people more than they should have received.
In their weekly address, Republicans accused Obama of raising taxes and expanding government too much with the health care bill and other initiatives.
Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., noted that taxes would rise Jan. 1, when President George W. Bush’s tax cuts expire.
“So, these are two Republican ideas: first, reining in Washington spending; second, keeping taxes at a manageable level. If we do these two things, private businesses and American families will be able to save, invest and plan for the future,” Kyl said.
Obama wants to extend Bush’s tax cuts, except for individuals making more than $200,000 a year and couples making $250,000.
As shared with Yolanda White
JoAnne Pollard-Williamson teaches at her Alma Mater, University School of Milwaukee. Third graders bear witness to her breadth and depth of knowledge. Surely, they don’t know it though. Her teenaged children describe as energetic, caring, persistent and mean.
“They “mean” that in the best way….I am strict but they know how much I love them,” Williamson said.
With much to manage, execute, learn and do; “Now” is the right time, for much, as she sees it.
Tell a little about what is exciting about you, to you.
I am having a great life with my family. You always think as a child that there is a “happily every after” but for most people, that doesn’t happen. I live a good life with my husband, Ronald and my two wonderful children Bennett (17) and Olivia (13). I have a great relationship with my parents. They still tell me when I am doing something “wrong” but that’s okay. I am also grateful for my siblings.
How did you begin teaching? Or when did you know you were a teacher?
Teaching was not my first career, but it should have been. I was the child that always took care of the little children and babies.
I worked six years in the medical field as a registered record administrator. My management skills were lacking back then and that career ended. I came to a time in my life that I needed to do something that I wanted to do instead of what others wanted me to do, so I went back to college and got my Kindergarten/First Grade Teaching certification and a Master’s Degree in professional development.
I started teaching in January 1990 at Trowbridge Elementary School of Discovery and Technology. My first semester was not the best. It was in a K4-5 classroom. They had lost their teacher and I was the replacement. Some of the kids were just not having it. I cried every night because I could not figure out what to do to get them to listen and learn. My first principal, Sallie Brown, was not thrilled with me at first. We grew on each other.
That summer I took a course called “Beyond Assertive Discipline” and that changed everything. I went into the next school year armed with many tools to get my job done effectively. Twenty years later, I still use many of the lessons that I learned in that class my first summer. My current principal, Caroyln Lengh, has been a great supporter of mine. She listens and lets me figure out the solution to my issues.
What exactly is unique about your teaching and classroom management style?
Now that I am teaching third grade, my sense of humor and sarcasm go a long way! The children in my class understand that I have expectations about their behavior and work. I love them and they know it. Everyday, at the end of the day, no matter what has happened, I hug; give a handshake or a high five, letting them know that the day is done. Tomorrow is a new day.
I am not the most creative teacher but my children have fun learning. I work in an environment where we are encouraged to try new things. I tried many things that don’t always work, but I learn how to do other things better.
What do you know now, that had you wished you’d known then?
How to laugh at myself. Life is serious, but not that serious.
Summarize your philosophy of life or living, in one sentence.
Laugh out aloud and laugh often!
When did you realize that you were on purpose?
I realized that when I knew that I was happy. I also knew when I got letters from my students, current and former, telling me how I affected their lives, and when I get hugs from former students.
Describe how you prepared for your career?
I received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Medical Record Administration from Clark College. I have a reading license and K-3 certification from Cardinal Stritch University. I also have a MEpD. from Cardinal Stritch University, with an emphasis on reading and language arts. My father always jokes, that it wasn’t until I was paying for my own degree did I get stellar grades! I tell my class all the time, that I was not the best math student when I was younger. I just kept working at it and getting help from teachers and tutors whenever necessary.
What discussions/topics do you find yourself avoiding, at parties or gatherings?
Education! I am passionate about what I do but some folks just want to bash teachers. I wonder where they think they would be without a teacher. I am also tired to hearing that “teachers have it made;” out by 3:00pm and summers off.
My first year I never left the building before 6 p.m. and I worked over the summer. Now I still stay late at school for many committee meetings but when I don’t have a meeting I try to get out by 4 p.m. I still take work home, much to the dismay of my husband.
I work one week out of the summer, teaching a graduate class through McPherson College Milwaukee Center. I am also available for tutoring in the summer.
For the last two years, my third grade colleagues and I have taken trips to help deepen the curriculum that we deliver to the children. Two years ago we went to Boston and Plymouth Plantation to get more information for the Pilgrim Simulation that we do in the fall. Last summer we went to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to get information about the Space unit that we teach in the winter. I know that I am always looking to make what I do better.
What has been the most exciting time of your life?
This time in my life because, I love my husband more than ever; I can have wonderful and intelligent conversations with my teenage children; I still have the opportunity to continue to learn from my parents and watch what they do for the community; and I am good friends with my siblings and their spouses.
Do you feel that you have to work “harder” than white professional women? How much harder do you feel that you have to work to “prove” yourself (if you do)? Or, why was it easier for you to find your niche in this city, because of the hue God gave you?
I feel sometimes I have to work harder. I am not sure why, but it just could be because I am so hard on myself. I love who God made me. Sure there are times when I would want to change this or that, but for the most part, it is all good.
What is Wisconsin missing? Or what does Wisconsin have that no other state is in possession of?
With the unemployment rate where it is, there should be an adult volunteer in every classroom, helping our children succeed. I also feel that there should be more parent centers; helping families (no matter what they look like) become better for the future.
If we could get every family to spent 10 -15 minutes a day, reading and talking to the children in their household, the difference would be far reaching. Books are free at the library. You can get books from other programs for free. It would increase the child’s vocabulary – increase the child’s attention span. That would be so great.
As an African-American leader, she is a mother – persistent, skilled, educated and alive. Too, she is a bit of a reluctant leader, who’d rather not bask in any light at all. The light, she’d rather be shone on her third graders, who understand they are being fueled by one of this communities finest. One who broadens the definition of community, owns the word family and takes pride in her husband – still.
JoAnne Pollard Williamson truly is someone worth getting to know.
As shared with Yolanda D. White
Four of every 10 people treated in a hospital for pain or other problems caused by sickle cell disease have to be readmitted for treatment again within 30 days, according to a new study published in the April 7 issue of JAMA. The study, the largest to date on the subject, also found that many sickle cell patients need emergency room care within 30 days of being discharged from a hospital. The study was conducted by researchers at the Medical College of Wisconsin; Children’s Research Institute at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin, both in Milwaukee; and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) .
Sickle cell disease, an inherited blood disorder, most commonly causes acute, severe, recurrent painful episodes due to blockage of blood vessels by sickled red blood cells. People with sickle cell disease are also at increased risk for stroke and chronic problems, such as kidney and lung disease. The disease affects millions of people worldwide, including approximately 90,000 people in the United States. African Americans are disproportionately affected.
High rates of rehospitalization within 30 days of a previous hospital stay, an indicator of poor-quality post hospital outpatient care for a number of diseases, has only recently gained interest related to sickle cell care. The study showed high rates of rehospitalizations at 30 days, and also at 14 days, which may be a more accepted marker of care quality in sickle cell disease.
“It was important for us to draw attention to the high rate of acute care utilization for people with sickle cell disease. Armed with this knowledge we can focus attention on the need for improved care for those with sickle cell disease” said lead author David C. Brousseau, M.D., M.S., associate professor of pediatrics (section of emergency medicine) at the Medical College of Wisconsin. He also practices at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin as a pediatric emergency specialist.
“This study is important because it provides benchmark data to evaluate the quality of outpatient management of sickle cell disease symptoms,” said AHRQ’s Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D.
The study found that one in three sickle cell disease patients was rehospitalized within 30 days, a rate roughly 1.5 times greater than that of diabetes patients, twice that of heart failure patients, and nearly 10 times greater than the rate for pediatric asthma patients. Moreover, two-thirds of the patients rehospitalized within 30 days were re-admitted within 14 days of their previous hospital discharge, suggesting that interventions to prevent rehospitalizations need to happen during or soon after the hospitalization.
When the researchers analyzed acute care use by age, they found that 18- to- 30 year-olds had over three and a half acute care encounters — rehospitalizations or treat-and release emergency department visits–per year, a rate markedly higher than the two visits per year from children 10-17 years old. Regardless of age, the patients with Medicaid or other type of public insurance used acute care for sickle cell related reasons more than privately insured and uninsured patients. Publicly insured 18-to-30 year-old patients had the highest rate – nearly five encounters per year.
This same age group also had the highest rate of hospital readmissions within 30 days or 14 days of their previous hospitalization, 41 percent and 28 percent respectively, and the highest rate of emergency department visits within the same time frame, 20 percent and 14 percent respectively.
The study was based on 21,112 sickle cell disease patients in eight states – Arizona, California, Florida, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York, South Carolina and Tennessee – who were hospitalized or treated and released from hospital emergency departments in 2005 and 2006. The state databases are part of the AHRQ-administered Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project.
For details see “Acute Care Utilization and Rehospitalization for Sickle Cell Disease” by Dr. Brousseau, Pamela Owens, Ph.D.,; Andrew L. Mosso, M.S., Analyst,; Julie A. Panepinto, M.D., MSPH, and Claudia A. Steiner, M.D. MPH.
Slow job recovery revealed in today’s report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reinforces the need for legislation that funds direct job creation and training for the chronically unemployed, National Urban League President and CEO Marc H. Morial said.
“The economy remains weak and we’re clearly in a jobless recovery,” Morial said. “Private job creation is stuck in neutral, with little clue on where and when a surge in job creation might begin.
While the overall unemployment rate of 9.7% remained unchanged in March, black unemployment rose from 15.8% to 16.5%. Most of the increase is due to the rise in black male unemployment — 19% from 17.8%. Unemployment among black women rose to 12.4% from 12.1%.
“There are people ready & willing to work, but no jobs are available for them,” Morial said. “The demand for labor is not rising fast enough to absorb the large number of people looking for work. There are still 15 million unemployed people and the ranks of the long-term unemployed continue to rise as well.”
Morial reiterated the need for federal legislation that funds direct job creation, such as the pending “Local Jobs for America Act” introduced by California Rep. George Miller, and training programs for youth and the chronically unemployed, such as Illinois Rep. Bobby Rush’s “Employing Youth for the American Dream Act.”
In addition to funding direct job creation through public employers and expansion of job training programs, the National Urban League’s Plan for Job Creation calls for the creation of Green Empowerment Zones, offering incentives for renewable energy employers to locate in high-unemployment areas, expansion of the Small Business Administration’s Community Express Loan Program, and increased funding to hire housing counselors nationwide.
This month we turn our attention to the issue of self-esteem. So many people have grown up wounded and hurt and are searching for a sense of self-esteem. Failures, past hurts, rejections, challenges, and criticisms from others have caused all of us at one time or another to doubt ourselves. This doubt leaves many with deep feelings of inferiority and a sense of inadequacy and many question their value and significance to God, the church, their families and to society. Those with low self-esteem allow other’s desires to take preference over theirs. The result includes inner criticism — that nagging, annoying voice of disapproval inside that causes one to stumble at every challenge. On the other hand, self-esteem increases your confidence. Building healthy self-esteem can help to improve one’s relationships, happiness, and personal performance whether at home or in church.
A twelve-step process has been developed by David E. Carlson entitled Counseling and Self-Esteem* which is designed to help people build their self-esteem. Due to space restrictions, I will only introduce 8 of the 12 steps in this two-part series.
1. Acknowledge The Problems Low Self-Esteem Produces. Low self-esteem develops because of what others say to us, how others look at us, what others feel toward us, and how others act toward us. These responses shape our own views, feelings, and behavior toward ourselves. Some of the common problems of low self-esteem are guilt, over-sensitivity to criticism, shyness, blaming others, embarrassment, etc. While this is not an exhaustive list, keep in mind that all people with low self-esteem do not necessarily exhibit them all.
2. Believe that Loving Yourself Is Acceptable to God. Self-love is not selfishness; self-affirmation is not self-conceit; self worth is not self-worship; self-awareness is not self-absorption; humility is not humiliation; putting off one’s sinful self is not putting oneself down; self-denial is not self-degradation; and unworthiness is not worthlessness. Self-love is the result of surrendering one’s narcissism (“I am the center of my world”) and accepting oneself as a reflection of God’s image. A biblical basis for believing that loving yourself is acceptable to God is found in Matthew 22:39 “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
3. Believe God Chooses to Need You. Does God need people? God chooses to use people to be part of his redemption plan. Although this may sound heretical, because God is self-sufficient, yet he has chosen to involve humans in the process of making Himself known to the world. This is not only exciting but also awesome. We are the physical representations of God to the world. When they see us, they see the place where God dwells. This is a sobering thought especially when we consider that what we say and do reflects the God who lives in us. Yet this truth gives all of us who believe in Him significance. Affirmation that God chooses humans to do his redemptive work is found in the Sermon on the Mount: “Ye are the salt of the earth…You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:13, 14). Accepting oneself as part of God’s redemptive plan is a crucial step in the process of developing a healthy self-esteem.
*David E. Carlson, Counseling and Self-Esteem, Vol. 13, (Word, Inc., 1988).
Next Month: Building Healthy Self-Esteem (Part 2)
The writer does not assume responsibility in any way for readers’ efforts to apply or utilize information or recommendations made in these articles, as they may not be necessarily appropriate for every situation to which they may refer. Rather, the objective is strictly informative and educational. If you would like to contact Rev. Lester, write to her c/o Fellowship of Love M.B.C. at P.O. Box 121, Brookfield, WI. 53008.
EURweb.com – Israel Houghton has taken worship music to another level. For years he has led thousands of people in praising God through song, especially as worship leader at Lakewood Church pastored by Joel and Victoria Osteen. He has written or co-written 11 of CCLI’s Top 500 favorite songs, including “You are Good,” “I Am a Friend of God,” and “Say So,” to name a few.
Israel says that thematically, the earlier albums he did with New Breed were about the church and what God is doing. The most recent albums they have done focus more on social and global concerns. Israel strongly believes that people who consider themselves worshippers have a heart for social justice. The song, “The Power of One” is the song they wrote specifically around that thought for this new album with the same name.
Israel was asked to write a song for a main stream artist. His dear friend and fellow worship artist Ricardo Sanchez was at his house and they were working on the project for the mainstream artist. The only criteria for the song was that it would be a socially conscious kind of song. Israel started with a 1970s, activist guitar vibe and the first thing that came to Israel’s mind was the first line of the song, “What if it all depended on me…” Then Ricardo came up with what Israel thinks is the best line of the song, “Don’t hang around/Stand up or sit down.” Israel felt that they had the makings of a provocative song, because it makes the listener have to do something and take responsibility. The song came together, they recorded a demo of it, and it provided the feel for the whole album.
The music of Israel and New Breed is in demand for everything from film soundtracks to commercial jingles. Anywhere the message can be disseminated, Israel will bring it. Ultimately, the purpose of the brilliant new music on A Deeper Level is to light a fire under church people to rise to a higher purpose.
“Like the song ‘Say So’ states,” Israel concludes, “We’re not here to salt the salt and light the light. We’re here to get out to where there is darkness and no flavor – where people need the strength that we, as Christians, have access to and possess.”
Given that this is the Easter Season, Christian parents might like to check out this new Bible specifically designed with African-American children in mind. This edition of the Good Book is basically the complete King James Version, but augmented by Cheryl and Wade Hudson to make it more appealing to African-American youngsters and teenagers.
For instance, Adam and Eve are brown-skinned in the illustrations. This only makes sense since the oldest human fossils unearthed by archeologists were found in Africa. Another bright-colored drawing features what appears to be Harriet Tubman leading a few fugitive slaves to safety via the Underground Railroad. A hint that it’s Harriet is that her skirt is fashioned out of a Canadian flag, and Canada was the final station on her perilous trek along the freedom trail.
Tubman technically wasn’t in the Bible, obviously, so her inclusion might strike some as a bit of an anachronism. However, she was deeply religious, and the page with her picture also contains the uplifting lyrics to the Gospel spiritual “Wade in the Water.”
In addition, a number of other influential black Christians are quoted here, everyone from Archbishop Desmond Tutu to Jesse Owens to George Washington Carver to Rosa Parks to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to President Barack Obama.
Given that the scriptures can get very dull (Ever try to read the whole Bible?), is it blasphemous to break them up with pearls of wisdom from more recent role models? Even the 10 Commandments enjoy a bit of an overhaul, with the archaic-sounding “Thou shalt not steal” being transformed into plain English as “You may not take and keep anything that doesn’t belong to you.”
Can I get an “Amen!” for the Hudsons for crafting a culturally relevant interpretation of the Bible in order to encourage the up-and-coming generation of African-American youth to establish a meaningful relationship with Jesus Christ and the Church.
Marvin Sapp has raised the bar and broken records with “Here I Am,” his anticipated follow up to 2007’s “Thirsty.”
Not only debuting atop the Gospel Albums chart, Sapp’s “Here I Am” debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart in the company of mainstream acts including Ludacris, Lady Antebellum and Raheem Devaughn.
With 76,000 copies moved in its first week of release, “Here I Am” is not just Sapp’s best debut but the highest charting Gospel album in the 54-year existence of the Billboard 200.
Up until last week, no gospel album had reached higher than No. 3 – a rank that was met by Kirk Franklin & God’s Property with their 1997 album “The Nu Nation Project.”
By Greta Schulz
I was recently conducting training over lunch with a group of professionals who are all successful in their careers. We discussed the importance of asking good questions during a meeting with a prospect. That way, you’re able to learn exactly what the prospect is looking for before you present your recommendations.
As we talked, one of the men in the room — who brings in a lot of new business — shared this story.
A Chinese buyer was looking to do business on the East Coast of the United States, and a company had been asked to make a presentation on how the buyer could accomplish that goal. The company’s team decided its strategy would be to emphasize its global presence. The team worked on a detailed and elaborate presentation.
After making its presentation to a group of people who had flown in from China, the group learned it was not being awarded the account.
The reason: The Chinese buyer was looking for a company that had a good understanding of the U.S. East Coast market.
The company that lost the account had a great understanding of that market. But it chose the wrong angle for its presentation. It assumed it knew what the buyer was looking for, without asking first.
It’s amazing how often that happens. Somewhere along the way, we are taught to focus on our knowledge of our company’s product or service. Either our training has guided us in that direction or we’ve had a few clients who told us one particular aspect of our company’s product or service is the chief reason they bought from us.
Granted, it is important to understand your company’s product in detail. But the reason why that’s important is so you can ask really good questions of prospects, to determine if they view those product traits as important. They may not.
The moral of the story: You need to know what questions you should be asking prospects so you can customize your recommendations regarding their needs.
Sometimes the best thing we have going for us is all of our experience and knowledge of our product and service.
But that knowledge and experience is often the worst thing we have going for us because we assume we know why people buy.
We all know what happens when we assume. There are a number of questions you should be asking to dig deeper into the real reason someone will choose you over the competition.
Or you can spend a lot of time working on a presentation and hoping you’ve made the correct assumptions.
Which approach do you want to take?
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