Archive for the ‘News’ Category

A Normal Life: A Sister’s Odyssey Through Brain Injury

book-cover-199x300In a recent podcast, we had a chance to speak with Lyrysa Smith, author of A Normal Life: A Sister’s Odyssey Through Brain Injury, a book she wrote to spread awareness about carbon monoxide. In February 1995 Lyrysa’s sister Molly and her husband were looking forward to a ski weekend when a faulty heater in their motel room took Molly’s husband’s life and left Molly in critical condition.

After a harrowing rescue, hyperbaric oxygen treatments, an extended time in a coma and lots of therapy, Molly and her caregivers continue to be challenged by the brain injury inflicted by carbon monoxide.

Please listen to the episode and be sure to share it to help us get the word out, especially as we enter into the winter season when many will be travelling. If you don’t yet own a travel CO alarm, please consider buying one for yourself and also for loved ones this holiday season.

Listen to the episode.

Visit Lyrysa’s website to get a free copy of Chapter 1 of her book

Read Lyrysa’s blog post: Help Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning.

Do you have a story about carbon monoxide? Tell us about it and we may contact you to be interviewed on a future podcast episode.

Let’s Make Some Noise About Carbon Monoxide!

Carbon Monoxide is a Silent Killer…

You can’t see it. You can’t smell it. You can’t taste it.

There are ways to stop it though!

It’s free and easy and will help us amplify our CO Awareness message this season.

Share your social media status update with us!
We’re using Thunderclap to make a big noise about this Silent Killer to kick off our Fall 2016 campaign. Just click this link to donate your social media status on one or more platforms on September 13, 2016. (You need to sign up before that date to participate.)

Here’s how it works:

Click here to learn about other ways to get involved.
Protect your home and those you love from carbon monoxide!
Please install a CO alarm if you do not already own one. If you own one, replace it if it is more than 5-7 years old. Check the batteries to make sure it is operating property. When in doubt, replace! Consider purchasing alarms for those who do not have one or donating to LOK so that we may provide alarms for those in need.

Progress to date:

Young Artist Expo Celebrates Local Talent

The weather was beautiful as guests drifted up the front walk of the Lubeznik Center for the Arts during the 3rd Annual LOK Young Artist Expo on June 3rd. Local poet musician, Edie Rene Miller, played her guitar and recited her poetry for the gathering crowd as they entered the gallery.

LOK staff Simpson O’Brien, Arlene Francis and Kathy Sipple and volunteers, Liz Brenel and Yo Halliar, assembled behind their welcome table in the entry, greeting guests, helping students acclimate and accepting gifts from donors.

Student ambassadors Charlie, Siobhan and Jayla, along with other young volunteers greeted guests at the door, providing them with the rundown on the night’s exciting activities. Jordan, a friend of one of the South Shore Dance Alliance dance troupe members arrived and asked, “how can I help?” His simple question was representative of the overall mood and energy of the event. The evening is a culmination of lots of orchestrated, hard work on the part of the artists, dancers, musicians as well as their teachers and parents, plus lots of help from interested others who are happy to pitch in to make the evening a success.

The art on display from Bloomington Boys & Girls Club and Northwest Indiana artists in the Nipsco gallery was as impressive and diverse as ever. Janet Bloch, Education Director at Lubeznik Center for the Arts, lovingly hang the artwork and prepare the gallery to be welcoming for visitors with special nametags for students artists and their parents and plenty of kid-friendly snacks.

Several young artists gamely agreed to give an impromptu video interview via Facebook live streaming video for new LOK volunteer, Yo Halliar. Yo was a brand new volunteer and new to streaming video as well, but she made it happen, allowing people who couldn’t attend to share in the excitement of the evening.

Returning artists Jack Boardman displayed several pieces including a Picasso-inspired self portrait and an embroidered piece. Origami artist Hayley Schuberth displayed several paper swans and

Drums signaled the approach of the 6:00 performing arts start time. Drummers and dancers in traditional African dress led visitors into Lubeznik’s main gallery for a highly energetic opening number, a traditional African welcome dance, chosen by South Shore Dance Alliance Artistic Director, Larry Brewer.

As the drumming faded, Lubezik Center’s Erika Hanner, welcomed visitors, joking “that has got to be the hardest act to follow, ever!” She thanked the parents for the part they played in getting kids to their practices and making arts a priority for their kids, even when it wasn’t easy to do. She also thanked LOK Wishing Tree Foundation for its role in the unique partnership both organizations enjoy.

Next music instructor Sara Miller and her four young violinists offered a few numbers. Charlie Brown, 15, followed with a violin solo. Charlie was the lone performer in attendance from Boys & Girls Club of Bloomington. Charlie was chosen as a student ambassador this year; he began in the award winning LOK Performing Arts Program at the age of 10 and has steadily progressed with much practice each year.

After the violins, the music tempo changed to a decidedly uptempo beat with Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson/Bruno Mars. Even a little technical difficulty with the sound system could not distract the young dancers from delivering their best performance. They patiently waited, silent and in their positions, as the sound issue was corrected, then showed their stuff — some acrobatics and some old school break dancing moves and more.

The South Shore Dance Alliance returned to the floor after a costume change and performed an enchanting group number as well as a duet with student ambassadors, Sioban and Jayla. Siobhan, a graduating senior, went to the Alvin Ailey Summer intensive last summer, and the summer before she received a full scholarship from SSDA. Sophomore Jayla will attend the Alvin Ailey Summer Intensive in New York City this summer; last year she received a full scholarship from SSDA as well.

Kathy Sipple from LOK Wishing Tree Foundation offered brief closing remarks, thanking all for the part they played in the program’s success. “The foundation feels very good about offering scholarship funds to our arts partners. They take this seed money and grow it into something beautiful like what you saw tonight. They say it takes a village to raise a child, but what does it take to raise arts opportunities for youth? It takes a community. It takes you. We appreciate every bit of help, whether in the form of time, talent or treasure.”

Please consider making a donation and/or getting involved as a volunteer or artist mentor/sponsor. With your help, we can sustain these important programs for our youth.

LOK Gets a Chance to Keep Duneland Homes Safe from CO

Left – Nate Williams, Center – Simpson O’Brien, LOK Communications Director, Right John Jarga, Fire Chief

The Lindsey O’Brien Kesling Wishing Tree Foundation is donating 18 carbon monoxide alarms to be installed during this year’s National Rebuilding Work Day on Saturday, April 30th.

Rebuilding Together – Duneland is the local affiliate of the nation’s largest nonprofit volunteer organization Rebuilding Together, based in Washington, D.C. RTD’s mission is to improve the quality of life of people in the Duneland School District who are physically and/or financially struggling through the rehabilitation of their homes. RTD is on track for its most ambitious year ever, with 14 homes and 5 community projects that need help.

LOK Wishing Tree Foundation partners with First Alert, a leader in residential fire and carbon monoxide alarm devices, to provide free and discounted CO alarms to those in need. 18 alarms have been donated to Rebuilding Together – Duneland for this year’s National Rebuilding Work Day. Chesterton Fire Chief John Jarga will do the installs.

LOK founder Dot Kesling states, “When we learned of this effort to help families in need rehabilitate their homes, we wanted to ensure a carbon monoxide alarm was among the improvements made. It’s a small insurance policy to protect the lives of the homeowners, but one that is too often overlooked.”

Virginia, The Courage to Create

We are excited to announce a new partnership with established artists who want to help support educational and enrichment opportunities for young artists. Virginia Phillips is the inaugural artist helping to launch this program.

Philips is a long time friend of LOK Wishing Tree Founder, Dot Kesling. The two met through a mutual interest in interior design. Dot was taken with the movement, color, energy and emotion she saw in Virginia’s paintings. “The fit with our organization’s focus on youthful, creative energy was a natural fit,” said Kesling.

Virginia Phillips has generously donated use of three of her images by LOK. The images below will be available via our Society6 site on a variety of products such as iPhone cases, laptop cases, pillows, mugs and more. A portion of each sale will help fund arts opportunities for youth. If you have a request for an item not listed, please email us to make a request.

Her art is all the more remarkable since she continues to create it despite health setbacks due to multiple sclerosis and advancing age. A documentary called “Virgina, The Courage to Create” was released in 2015 on Lakeshore Public television, chronicling her story. The trailer is viewable below. Check local public television listings for replays.

Leap Into the Arts Event to Benefit LOK Partner, SSDA

ssda (1)Founded in 2007 by Kay Wuchner Marcus and Heidi Pollizotto, the Leap into the Arts gala has been a major fundraising event benefiting and showcasing youth vocal, dance, and orchestra organizations in Northwest Indiana.  Thanks to Kay and Heidi’s tireless efforts  and the many Leap volunteers, in the last seven years, the gala has raised over $100,000 for participants.

 This year’s participating groups, all 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations, include:

      South Shore Dance Alliance

      Northwest Indiana Symphony Youth Orchestra

“Leap” provides much needed funds for these outstanding nonprofit organizations, and the gala provides a wonderful venue to showcase these talented NW Indiana youth.

We look forward to seeing you February 26, 2016 at this exciting and worthwhile event!

Order tickets here.

Friday, February 26th 6-10pm
Halls of St. George, Schererville, Indiana

2-8-2016 10-13-23 AM

3rd Annual Young Artist Expo Date Announced

Save the date! Friday, June 3, 2016 from 5-8pm

The Third Annual Lindsey O’Brien Kesling Wishing Tree Foundation Young Artist Expo will be held on Friday, June 3rd from 5-8pm at the Lubeznik Center for the Arts in Michigan City. The expo will be a family-friendly, multimedia showcase of lively youth visual and performing arts that will include participants from each of the LOK Wishing Tree Foundation’s three partnering arts organizations: the South Shore Dance Alliance, the Lubeznik Center for the Arts and the Boys and Girls Club of Bloomington.

“Showcasing these kids’ talents—and the fruits of our labors—has been a dream of mine since the beginning, and we are pleased to continue this tradition after a very successful first year.” said LOK Founder, Dot Kesling. “The kids energy last year was amazing! They are so excited to share the results of their hard work and commitment.”

A Different Kind of Charlie Brown Christmas Story: A Young Musician Gives Back

We were thrilled to receive this update from one of the talented young musicians we have had the pleasure to work with. It touches our hearts that someone who has benefited from one aspect of our mission — supporting young artists — is giving back in such a heartfelt way by supporting the other part of our work, saving lives by informing the public about the dangers of accidental carbon monoxide poisoning.

Here’s the letter we received from Charlie Brown, age 15:

I am very pleased to share what the LOK Wishing Tree Foundation has done for me. Dot Kesling is an amazing person; touching anyone’s heart.

I worked three (carbon monoxide awareness) events with Dot at the wonderful Boys and Girls Club of Bloomington. She took me under her wing and showed me what’s going on. She asked me what I wanted to work and she was very surprised to hear I wanted to work the front door. I’ve gotten a lot of signatures over the years to help the cause. Dot told me that her loving daughter, also a Big Sister at the Boys and Girls Club, died from an invisible gas called “Carbon Monoxide.” I was very sad to hear that. A parent should never have to endure the sadness or emptiness of losing a child. I decided it was my duty to help the cause and make sure no one else loses anyone from this deadly gas. I learned people skills, cooperation and communication.

I feel good just knowing that I’m trying to help save lives. I have a great deal of love for Dot–I consider her family. She is truly one of a kind. I’m pleased to go into the Boys and Girls Club every year and hear people say, “I already have a Carbon Monoxide alarm.” I’ve also seen CO alarm information in many different places; one for example, is the BMV manual and textbook in driving school. The word is getting out there and Dot Kesling is responsible for doing so. She is doing something that people need and we are ever so close to making it a law in Indiana; even after that we won’t be done. We might go to all states because this needs to happen and I’m very happy to be apart of this amazing organization.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Charlie Brown
Bloomington, Indiana

More about carbon monoxide

To learn more about what we are doing to promote CO awareness and how you can help, click here.

Learn more about Charlie!

We are very proud of Charlie’s accomplishments in music as well. To read more about Charlie and the story about how he acquired a second hand violin a few years ago, click here. To see and hear a video from Charlie (almost 3 years ago), view it here:

Charlie Brown


Counting Our Blessings

At the time of this writing Thanksgiving weekend continues into Saturday, memories of meals shared around tables with loved ones a few days ago leads us to remember many other things we are thankful for.

LOK has been busy this year, participating and assisting with a number of different CO awareness events. We greatly appreciate the support of all who made this possible:

  • Many fire houses who hosted events
  • Dozens of new volunteers who staffed events
  • Hundreds of people who signed our online CO petition
  • Several cities who dedicated specific CO awareness days, including LaPorte, Indiana.
  • First Alert, who matched our purchase of CO detectors with free detectors and made additional detectors available at a discount.
  • Journalists who helped to get our message out. We value the messages you help us create and document them on our website’s Media Mentions section.
  • The Unity Foundation of LaPorte County who awarded us a grant for $2500 which will allow us to extend our outreach beyond what our budgeted amount would have allowed.

Thank you, our donors and supporters, for your ongoing financial support and for your willingness to help us spread the word about this important initiative!

LOK Recognized with Outstanding Philantropist Award

Development Director Dionne Lovstad-Jones and Communications Director Kathy Sipple accompanied Dot Kesling to Sand Creek Country Club last week to accept LOK’s Outstanding Philanthropist Award, presented by the the Northwest Indiana Chapter of American Fundraising Professionals. LOK is honored to receive recognition for our work, if only to better promote our mission and shine a brighter light on the causes we care about so passionately: protecting people from the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning and promoting arts opportunities for youth.
Janet Bloch, Education Director at Lubeznik Center for the Arts, one of our arts partners, submitted the nomination and was also on hand to introduce Dot and to help celebrate the success. We thank Lubeznik Center for their strong support, AFP for hosting the event and also the Unity Foundation, our fiscal sponsor and partner in so many important ways.
Enjoy the photos and this short video clip from Dot’s acceptance.