Be Calm-this too will pass

To all my family and friends who are in a panic….please calm down.

March 21, 2020 The corona virus has killed 793 people in one day in Italy. In the United States California, New York, Illinois governors have ordered residents to remain in their homes except for essential employees and businesses. Most expect other States to do the same. Large population city mayors have issued similar directives.

Our economy is in havoc. The stock market has lost 35% in the past three weeks. People are being asked to work from home. Schools are shut down. Restaurants and bars closed. Many people who live from pay check to pay check are losing their jobs. These are tough times.  Yet, if we all do what we are being asked to do by limiting exposure to other people our country will survive. This major catastrophic ordeal will pass in two weeks, four weeks, two months, who knows when, but, be certain, it will pass.

Here’s a quick look at history…

While economic and market statistics are ever changing, history is the best guide we have to inform and educate ourselves during uncertain times.  Whether it is the Great Depression, World War II, Vietnam, the ‘70s malaise, the 1987 recession, the bursting tech bubble, catastrophic events such as the September 11 terrorist attacks, or the most recent housing foreclosure crisis and severe recession, media mania would have you believe that all is lost. When, in fact, in every case, we not only survived these catastrophic events we came out stronger and healthier as a nation despite them. We will prevail once again.

Consider this: In a December 1984 Time Magazine cover story, “Banking Takes a Beating” detailed the fallout from deregulation of banks.  “Bankers now face their most strenuous survival since the Great Depression,” wrote the authors.  “Because of poor management, overzealous lending and some bad luck, commercial bank profits have been battered.”  As Mark Twain once observed, “History does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme.”

Then came “The Crash” on October 19, 1987.  Time Magazine’s cover story was titled “Panic Grips the Globe.”  On Black Monday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged 22.6% in one day.  Within days of the crash, however, the Dow had recovered almost half its losses.  The year ended on a positive note, with an annual 2.3 percent return.

As for fundraising specifically, what happens in times of crisis?  Once again, let’s look at history.  Past trends help us understand what may occur the remainder in the future.

One important source for understanding the relationships among giving, the economy and crisis is The Chronicle of Philanthropy.  In a recent article, this respected publication highlights 13 major events that have had a serious impact on the economy since 1940.  All of these, it would appear, were more catastrophic than our present recession.  In each case, the U.S. stock market generally recovered within a year to eighteen months. While full recovery make take longer this time we are already on the mend.

This is a time to remind ourselves that we live in a land of enormous wealth and extraordinary opportunity. We can believe the newspaper headlines and television hype claiming that greed has crippled our economy. Or, you can look at the facts

  • our markets have not ceased to function;
  • our economy has not collapsed;
  • commerce still continues for all essential goods and services;
  • more than 90% of Americans are employed;
  • most companies are still operating aggressively; and
  • most non-profit organizations are continuing their fundraising plans
  • many non-profit organizations will exceed their goals this year

And, by the way, many more American will not get COVID-19 than those who will get it. Of those who do get the virus 97% will recover.

Philanthropist John Templeton, when asked about the economy, said “No one should feel so conceited as to know the answer.”  So, we will make no effort to predict the economic conditions for 2020 and beyond we do believe now is the time to strengthen our resolve, to be motivated by our purpose, and to be excited by the many important projects that we have the good fortune to be engaged.

PS

Volunteers are the only human beings on the face of the earth
who reflect this nation’s compassion, unselfish caring, patience
and just plain love for one another – Erma Bombeck

What don’t you spend some idol time thinking about what you have rather than what you have lost. Consider how you can help someone else who is far more unfortunate that you are. Use your talent and expertise to help someone other than yourself.

 

 

 

Dear Mom and Dad

January 10, 2009 White House Retreat

Dear Mom and Dad,

I am sitting in my room at White House Retreat on this cold, windy and cloudy day. I have been thinking about both of you since my arrival Thursday night.

The purpose of this letter is to tell you that I love you. We don’t say “I love you” very often or ever in the Shasserre family even though our love is implied through our actions. But, I do love you. And, I want you to hear those words and I want you to feel my embrace, no handshakes.

Let me share some memories. One story that I treasure is when I was four or five. Mom found me lying on the floor peeking under the back door. We were living on Lotus Avenue in Wellston. Mom asked what I was doing. I replied, ‘I’m seeing if it bees’ summer times out there”.

Summer was always special. I remember whiffle ball games with Terry O’Rourke and others played in the backyard on Overland Drive, And, that led to my first little league team, the Lager Cubs, with games played at Legion Field. I remember my first hit was a triple. It would have been a homerun except I missed third base and had to go back to tag up.

I remember making a Missouri All-Star team and playing against the Illinois team at Busch Stadium one year. I got to bat once and was hit by a pitch. Our second base was located at the edge of a Major League pitching mound, so I must have been eight or nine years old.

I can remember so many summer baseball games and practices played at Legion Park, Iveland grade school, and of course ABC park.

But, do you know what I remember most? I remember Dad….you were my coach. And, Mom, you were always in the stands—watching–my one-person fan club.

Do you remember my broken nose? Ron Hunt (NY Mets) was a high school player umping our game played at Iveland field. I was playing second base, covering first because of a bunt. Jerry Wasser, our pitcher, fielded the bunt and threw the ball low to first. The ball bounced directly to my nose. Busted it in seven places. Dad took me to the hospital and then went home to sleep. But, Mom came back to spend the night at my bedside to give me pre-surgery courage.

One of my favorite ABC park stories goes back to when Dad would take me to a field in St. Ann’s to survey the grounds before ABC park was built. It was he, Mel Schaeffer, Gene Lager, Jack Clark, Bill O’Connell and a handful of other men who were responsible for the Athletic Boys and Girls Club. They volunteered their time on weekends and then, after long difficult hours at work during the week they worked to design the fields, build concrete dugouts, put up lighting poles, fencing and concession stands.

And, one of my proudest childhood memories was seeing my Dad, selected to climb the fire engine ladder to install the light bulbs on the first ABC fields to offer night time baseball.

Dad, did anyone ever thank you for volunteering so many hours of your spare time, and working so hard to help build that stadium so that we kids could play ball? I want to thank you now for all of those efforts so that Tom, Randy, Tim and I could play ball. And, Judi could enjoy her role as bat-girl for your Wrangler teams.

Mom, I want to thank you for washing my uniforms, fixing my meals, and driving me wherever I needed to go so I could play baseball. A game I still love today.

I have another childhood memory that may surprise you. I remember, the two of you, Ted and Betty Shasserre, mapped out bus route for All Souls grade school. It was the two of you who started the bus system for all the kids at All Souls. You also managed the communications process, took all of the phone calls, and handled all of the complaints.

Probably you were never adequately thanked for this generosity. After working long hours as a carpenter, Dad found time, and you with three or four kids underfoot in those days, found time to make this bus system a priority. Thank you.

As I look back on the past, from grade school to high school, from college days to my time in the Army, and from my early days as an adult until now I will always recall you were at my side. Just as you are now there for your grandchildren’s and great-grandchildren’s sporting events and rodeo’s, you were there for all of your children when they needed you most.

I remember summer vacations to Pikes Peak, Garden of the Gods, and Seven Falls in Colorado. I remember the trip to Des Moines, Iowa climbing the Capital staircase to the top. And, I remember the Wisconsin Dells and Bagnell Dam trips. I won’t forget Trout fishing at Bennett Springs. I think all of your six kids have fond memories of those times. I don’t know if any of us said “thank you” so I’ll do it now, knowing that each of us loved to be with you at moments like these.

So, Mom and Dad, now that you have reached the golden years I hope that you can look at your life with a sense of satisfaction and gratitude. In your lifetime together as husband and wife you have accomplished some amazing things. You have provided food and clothing, a comfortable home, a Catholic education, and a lifetime of caring, nurturing, and teaching for your children. You have passed along your values of honesty and generosity to your children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Please take some joy and satisfaction in knowing that you are great parents – your life matters. Your legacy will live beyond you. You will never be forgotten. You are loved today and will always be loved. Thanks for every good memory.

Love, Dan

 

Post Script: Mom, Betty, died January 17, 2010. Dad died October 5, 2018. They never received this letter. It has remained in my handwritten journal until today.

My hope, now, is that my Shasserre siblings and all of the grandchildren and great grandchildren that bare our name will never forget to embrace each other with loving hugs and we will tell our children and grandchildren that we love them.

 

5 1/2 Months, 22 weeks, Reflections

It’s over!!!. From February through July 14, 2018, a total of 22 weeks, we traveled from Maine to California, up the coast to Washington and then to Vancouver, Island and home again via Colorado. Here are some reflections…

  1. Fifty-years is a long, long time to be married. Sandy and I are fortunate. We actually love each other after all these years.  We have loved each other as 21 year-old newlyweds. We loved each other when we had four children under the age of five. We loved each other when we had six children in private Catholic schools and colleges that we couldn’t afford. We loved each other when we had no money, when we had no jobs, when we borrowed to make the house payments. We loved each other through our more successful years. And, we still love each other even after spending 12,600 miles in a car together as we traveled the country for 5 1/2 months. A happy marriage, it seems to me, is like a long ride on the road—there is a steady rhythm and harmony of being on the road together. We know that storms and bumps will come and go. Yet, we have a calm confidence knowing we are in this together until the journey ends. When we stop on the journey to look backward or forward we see beauty and wonderment. This trip is a lot like our life together. We are forever grateful because Wherever we look we see far more roses than thorns.
  2. When I was a young man early in my work career, I expressed no desire to retire. I loved my work (most of the time). When I got to this age I wanted enough money saved that we could afford to retire even if I had no specific intention. Now that I am age 72 and have no wages coming in from employment I have found a way to vacation for nearly six months in very nice accommodations at an affordable price. How did we do that? Here is the secret. You have to have really good friends and family who live in nice places like Blue Hill, Maine, Las Vegas, Nevada, San Diego, San Marcos, Dana Point,Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, California, Portland, Oregon, Seattle and Anacortes, Washington. It also helps to have a son-in-law who owns an island resort and he chooses to put you up for free. So, bottom line, I guess we can afford to retire under these very favorable conditions. Thanks to friends and family who made this journey possible.
  3. Sandy and I have traveled to all 50 states and on this trip we have spent considerable time in many. We never tire of seeing this beautiful country. Places we recently visited like Schoodic Point or Acadia in Maine, Flagstaff, Arizona, the Grand Canyon area, San Diego, Dana Point, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, California, the Redwoods, the Oregon coast on Highway 101, Orca Island, Guemes Island, Ellenburgh, Washington, Mazama and Winthrop, Washington, Wenatchee National Forest, Chuckanut Highway to the Fairhaven District of Bellingham, Washington, Mount Baker, Washington, Mount Hood, Oregon, the drive through Oregon, Idaho, Utah and Colorado could be revisited without ever tiring of the beauty. God created a beautiful world. Enjoy it.
  4. The past six months has been spent in self-indulgence. We moved from one beautiful setting with luxury living to the next acknowledging our good fortune, being grateful at times, but for the most part just living it up like we deserved it. On occasion people who struggle entered my consciousness, family, friends and acquaintances who have significant challenges occupied my thoughts for the day. My daily readings or dreaming’s forced me to remember my life is not over. My thoughts reminded me, there is still time to contribute. Easy street is not panacea. Challenges lead to greater satisfaction. One of my daily reading posed this question– “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, what are you doing for others?”Martin Luther King, Jr.
  5. 5. So, now we are settled back in Saint Louis and begin to regain our routine.  Sandy is working out at the YWCA three mornings every week. She then volunteers at the Daughter of Charity food and clothing distribution center in North County. And, she returned to daily Mass at Saint Mary;s Chapel. 

I am finding a routine–Golf once or twice per week with Tom and Gerry. Mass at St. Mary’s with Sandy a few times per week. Occasionally, I have a meeting for the YouthBridge Board commitment, for NIFTY, or for Camp Jump Start. I haven’t decided how much I will work for the remainder of this year. But, I have not retired.

6, The family gathering in Breckenridge, Colorado was such a wonderful thing. It was so great to see the family inter-action, friendly comrade, warn embraces, genuine love for each other. It was so entertaining to watch how the younger kids played together and how the older teens showed patience and chipped in to help parents. We had five days together but it leaves us with a lifetime of fond memories and photo’s galore. Thanks to all for making this happen.

7. There is one significant thing that Sandy and I have learned these past six months of travel is — no matter where you live or no matter where you are traveling, your daily thoughts are always about the well-being of your family and friends. We miss them when we are on the road. We can’t get enough of them when we are part of their daily lives.

We will always miss those that we can’t see daily or those that we don’t talk to for weeks or for months. But they remain in our thoughts and prayers. We love them all.