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Vision is a destination – a fixed point to which we focus all effort. Strategy is a route – an adaptable path to get us where we want to go.” Simon Sinek

 




The Founder's Letter

When the mountain climber was asked why he climbed the mountain he answered, "because it is there." That simplistic answer does not dig deep enough in my case.  At 85, I am grateful as I reflect upon my life. Old people do that when contemplating the inevitable ... dying. The blessings of life are not always apparent when we are young. The hopes and dreams we got from high school graduation speeches seldom turn into reality.  A good high school buddy died in a car accident barely two weeks after graduation day. Another Marine Corps pal was tortured and murdered in captivity in Viet Nam.  Cherished others have passed along the way. Essentially, for the rest of us, life goes on ... until it doesn't.

Years ago, a new building was named after a prominent educator in our town. His immortality lasted until his building was torn down a few years later. People who get remembered throughout time are Jesus Christ, Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great and Adam and Eve. Now, even George Washington and Abraham Lincoln are being cast aside in the history of the world along with those of other cultures. Sports Halls of Fame will go the way of gladiators of Rome.  Few will care. So, the concept of immortality is a fleeting one.  Ten thousand years from now no one but archaeologists will know about anything or anybody of the time in which we live. Even now, few have ever heard of Betsy Ross or Clara Barton or Rosa Parks or Thomas Edison if you can believe that. Perhaps someday, my best hope for immortality can be the answer to a trivia question. Who founded Bluebird Awards?

It is springtime in Ohio. I'd like to go fishing so why this effort knowing Bluebird Awards could become like many well-meaning non-profits struggling like fish caught in a net? I don't do it for money. Too late for any of that to be life-changing with time not on my side.  And certainly, Bluebird Awards will never bring fame, fortune or immortality worthy of the ages. I do Bluebird Awards for me. It is my way of "giving back." It makes me happy now and that is all that really counts. Right? A man can never enrich himself without enriching others first. Got to give to get in other words. In my case, early childhood conjures up memories easily relatable to present times. More about that follows this letter.

According to Dalai Lama, life, despite difficulties along the way, always has the potential for peace and happiness. We can realize that potential by living a kind and compassionate life. For life to be thoroughly meaningful for both oneself and for others requires "random acts of kindness." And that, my friends, is why I am starting Bluebird Awards... to make something positive happen for the good as a result of a world-wide pandemic. And that good is for children because children are our legacy. Having written that last sentence, I wanted to understand more and found this: "While few men can build legacies like the aforementioned, every father leaves the legacy of his children. It is your children who will carry your name and your lessons across generations (from your grandchildren and beyond)." So it follows. The happiness of my biological children is my happiness too which is not to suggest other children are unworthy of getting the most out of life too.

It is said, "We are all children of God." Logic therefore suggests children of others are my children too. Happiness is found when we make life-changing gestures to enrich the well-being of others.  That is the purpose of Bluebird Awards. Bluebird Awards makes me happy fully confident that when my time is up someone will be there to carry the torch. Our mission it too important for all our children for that not to be so.

My True Story below permits access to my inner self. I sense much of the story will be news to my kids. Hopefully my childhood (not complaining, my mom was great) provides a deeper insight about my vision for Bluebird Awards as well as how life brought me to this challenge.  In writing it, I not only gained a better understanding of self but realized how much extending Bluebird Awards beyond a monetary award can create a path to success for children of healthcare workers who lost loved ones to Covid-19.   

Kindest best wishes and be well,


Rod Miller
Rod Miller, Founder


P.S. Don't be bashful. Send me a message and follow our progress.

 
My True Story as a 4-year-old child
Why it took 81 years to learn how the life changes all of us over time.

 

Barely four years old, I vividly remember one day in considerable detail, and I'll be 85 years of age on March 3, 2021. That one day affected my entire life.

 

From Mt. Carmel Catholic Cemetery, Verona, Allegheny County, Pennsylvania archives, I found my dad's name, "MILLER, William G., Birth: 12/02/1900, Death: 03/08/1940." My dad passed away at 40 just five days after my 4th birthday.  My younger brother Bob was not yet three months-old and mom was a widow vowing never to remarry. She feared a stepdad would "beat her kids" though I don't remember my dad as ever being unkind. He must have loved her because he left her several debit life insurance policies. A few pennies every week bought small life insurance policies back then.  Social Security was newer than me by about seven months. Mom got $44 per month from the new Social Security folks. We managed to get by ... somehow.

On a windy, rainy, cold dreary day in March 1940, my dad was laid to rest. The family I knew then included two Catholic nuns and a missionary priest serving in Puerto Rico. I don't recall ever having met him. Sister Theophilla, Sister Theonella were dad's real-life sisters and Father Bernadine was a family friend. Other family members on dad's side were there none of whom I knew much about until much later in life until my oldest son and his spouse got interested in Ancestry.com. The Sisters were prominent Catholics, one being Mother Superior at Divine Providence Academy and the other a psychiatrist at Braddock General Hospital in Pittsburgh PA.

The rain must have paused so, unbelievably, someone decided it was a good idea to re-open the casket for one last look I presume. Already distraught, it took one look at my father's dead body for me to lose it screaming, "I want to be with my dad. " I struggled to get free. One of the nuns held me back as I tried to jump into the partially lowered casket.  Standing between the two, the other sister tried to console me as I bawled my eyes out.  That is the last time I recall having cried. I have welled up a time or two since but no tears. I sense bad happenings affect our ability to express emotion long term. 

Most everything else about that day and its aftermath has long been forgotten. Buried bad memories are possibly best left out of mind but a traumatic event glues itself to our soul for a lifetime. Maybe for the good. Maybe not. There's no question the toll had been taken only to be re-visited from time to time and always touching some part of my being.

Now, as I revisit bygone days, I understand how deeply that painful experience affected me.  Deeply internalized emotions must be what keeps me on the calm side in what would ordinarily be stressful situations for most people. I don't get rattled easily and crying is 'unmanly' according to some and probably applies to the way I think. Years ago, General Norman Swartzkopf was quoted, "Frankly, any man that doesn't cry scares me a little bit. I don't think I would like a man who was incapable of enough emotion to get tears in his eyes every now and then." 

The good general had significant combat experience as a Marine Corps combat veteran of Korea and Viet Nam era wars, I was fortunate not to have lived through those horrible enemy encounters. Marines who were there passed along their war stories making me grateful for having missed out on all the action. Of course, traumatized military refuse to talk about their experiences. And there are those who must have cried shamelessly. Yes, I have welled up and not cried but thankful I was never exposed to such brutality. 

Maybe the Good Lord felt that cemetery experience was a lifetime worth of enough. Devastating life experiences have eluded me since age 4. For that I am grateful and hope my story did not come across as a pity party. Its empathy, not for me but for children whose lives, like mine, have been altered forever because a pandemic visited their generation and took a parent away.

Now what does all that have to do with Medical Workers Scholarship Fund and why I am obsessed with its mission?  Well, it has EVERYTHING to do with who I am and why I am passionate about Bluebird Awards. Having survived a traumatic childhood event, it awakened my compassion for children. It gave me the capacity to understand the feelings of children we seek to serve. One act of simple kindness can change a child's life. Over the years I've come to understand the meaning of GRATITUDE, COMPASSION and GENEROSITY. It is time to repay the goodness others gave to me.

 

 

 

 

 

As I was building this website, I searched for pictures to illustrate thoughts as I wrote descriptions.  The above picture of a casket took me back to age four as a toddler on that funeral day in March,1940.  Then, once again, I got to thinking about funerals when I found the above picture. It hit me. Sadly, traditional funerals where it seemed everybody hugged someone as a comforting gesture, is gone for the time being. Social distancing is stigmatizing. Covid-19 causes loved ones to die only to get buried or reduced to ashes without family and friends hugging nearby. Other victims never got the chance to say goodbye such as a doctor friend of mine. Paying last respects at distances lacks those whispered kind words of sympathy adding another layer of grief on families. And then, there are children of all ages still shocked, grieving and worrying what the future holds.

Growing up without a father is challenging for any child. I did it. I understand. Though they may not have known it I still think of two father figures who guided me when I needed it. The loss of a mother is likely to be equally as bad if not worse.  Sometimes both parents are gone. Thank God for those taking on mother and father roles for children missing a parent, or two. They are unsung heroes. Supporting Bluebird Awards is one way any compassionate person can be a hero.

In times like this, most people find parting with money to be difficult finding excuses for not giving. Many people would like to help this and other worthy causes but talk themselves out of it once they hear a story about a crooked 'charity' or one whose executives take down exorbitant salaries, live high, buy expensive cars, mansions and travelling by private jet.  Father Time will not permit me to enjoy such luxuries, nor do I harbor such desires. Food, clothing and shelter is all I need. Besides, I am a fanatic believer in karma, so I pretty much behave myself.

Civilized societies find ways to help those who need a bit of good fortune. Much of the world is populated by good people who are grateful, compassionate and generous. If you managed to get to this page and read this far, I've got to believe you are one of them. 

People need to understand how years of hurt held inside by children influences their behavior throughout life. I think pent up anger contributed to last summer's violence in cities across our country. Understanding pain felt by children everywhere gives meaning to the Bluebird Awards slogan I find to my liking -- Let Them Smile. True happiness comes when we are grateful for what we do have, understand the meaning of compassion and generously share with others less fortunate.

Normally I am pretty much a laidback guy valuing privacy. Opening up here is comforting.  I am telling it now hoping to touch the hearts of those facing what I and many others without parent (s) internalized for many years. For those blessed with no traumatic life events, hopefully this writing will unlock your inner beauty as well as your pocketbooks as we raise funds to deliver payment to vendors as Bluebird Awards.

To quote Porky Pig, "That's all folks." That is, all about me. All-in-all, my life has been blessed. I am grateful.

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On that dreary day 81 years ago, I was fortunate to have been surrounded by family and friends who took us to live with them for a time.  Many children are not that fortunate.

Isaac Newton, the great mathematician's third law states that for every action (force) in nature there is an equal and opposite reaction. It works the same way with karma.

 

Whatever one puts into life is what that person gets out of life. My most significant childhood experience was negative. Bluebird Awards are a positive. Its success improves lives of children ... worldwide.

 

   Paving the way towards good karma post pandemic 

Funny things happen as one contemplates meeting the reality of one's own demise at some unknown day. For me, that day is in the not-too-distant future. With most of my life in miles gone by, my rear view mirror becomes a way to reflect and fill out the scorecard of life. Having regrets of which there are a few is sad but inspiring as well.  All water over the dam as mom used to say. True enough, but lessons learned enable us to grow then fade away with grace.  I particularly like this admonition, "When you stop getting better, you stop being good."  Fitting because we aim to help kids get better as they grow up.

As I see it, life is like a funnel. We pour all of life's experiences into it at the wide end top. Out of the narrow bottom of the funnel pops out that one thing which gives special meaning to one's entire existence. The great pandemic of 2020 found me spending two months in a VA hospital following a six hour major surgery repairing an aortic aneurysm. A rock and a hard place best describes how it feels deciding to be one of the first elective surgeries on one hand and a raging pandemic on the other. 

 

Each day I encountered doctors, nurses and other essential hospital staff. Laying on my back day after day after major surgery in a VA hospital with a deadly virus lurking everywhere was sobering.  Every time a VA worker thanked me for my service, I was humbled to be in the presence of really courageous heroes fighting a faceless enemy not knowing where the virus will pop up next. GREAT VA surgeons, physicians, nurses and staff by the way.

 

With plenty of think time in the hospital followed by rehab duty, I began connecting the dots which led me to the need for this idea for a Medical Workers Scholarship Fund.  Everyone in life has a calling. This happens to be mine. President Harry Truman famously said it best:

Look, I have no visions of fame and fortune. Those are long gone, largely because of time ... time it takes for Bluebird Awards to grow into its future and a compressed mortality table suggesting on average, I have six years left. Maybe ten?  While my time is short, life goes on for children whose parent(s) were just plain unlucky. Truly, I care not who gets the credit. One day, someone will take Bluebird Awards and make into a respected worldwide charity. My job is to take an idea and move it into reality.

All of us can make huge life-altering differences for children of deceased medical workers and first responders. Those kids deserve a helping hand. As a "senior citizen living on a fixed income" I've managed to put aside the first $2,500 needed to fund the first Bluebird Award to be given sometime during this 2022 year. We are looking for that special candidate and will report about it on this website.

 

Help us along if you can. And if you feel a calling to achieve something great in life, send me a message.

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Starting the Medical Workers Scholarship Fund is like building a stone wall.  A wall just doesn't happen ... it is built one rock at a time. So why would an 85 year-old man take on a huge challenge like Bluebird Awards?  I did it because I see a worldwide mental health need that will outlive my lifetime. Covid-19 is producing millions of parentless children worldwide. Over 5 million so far. The negative effects will continue for generations to come. My contribution is laying the groundwork for the wall.  Your contribution is adding your own stone ... big or small. Consider volunteering and making a donation.

Consider this heartbreaking story about another 4-year old boy:  4-year-old boy loses both parents to coronavirus 102 days apart

Anyone who cannot feel compassion for this youngster is heartless.

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Nov. 18, 2020 -- Raiden Gonzalez’ father, Adam, died in June, People magazine reported., and his mother, Mariah, died Oct. 5, just hours after falling ill, the child’s grandmother told NBC News.

Adan Gonzalez was a 33-year-old truck driver, who apparently contracted COVID-19 from a sick co-worker. The mother, Mariah, 29, was a teacher. Her COVID-19 positive test came back after her death, ABC11 reported.

"Contact was very, very limited,” Mariah Gonzalez’ uncle, Harry Wagner, told the local ABC affiliate. “Mariah was just an emotional wreck. If she was lucky she would be able to talk to the charge nurse once a day. At the very end when the nurses thought there may not be a recovery, she was allowed to FaceTime with him," said Mariah's uncle, Harry Wagner.

“He misses his mom since he was a mama’s boy,” the grandmother, Rozie Salinas, told NBC. “Just this morning he told me that he wishes he had his mom back.”

“I just told him that they’re now angels watching over us and protecting us,” Salinas, who has become Raiden’s caregiver, said.

The family has started a GoFundMe page to cover funeral and memorial costs.

 

Memories of heroes florish long after flowers have withered.

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