Photo courtesy of Red


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I know that you’ve been involved with Make-A-Wish for decades, and it’s an amazing organization, but I’m not sure why you made such a big deal about the recent Texas Gulf Coast & Louisiana chapter ’s dedication of its building. I appreciate that you were part of the planning group, but with all due respect, it’s just a building.

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I don’t expect you to remember that it all started in 1980 when Tommy Austin wanted to do something special for a young boy, Chris Greicius, who was battling leukemia and wanted to be a policeman. That wish became a reality and the start of The Make-A-Wish Foundation.


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That story has always inspired me as it makes you realize the difference that just one person can make. But the building wasn’t named after Chris or Tommy, so I’m still confused.

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You just said it yourself. Because one person CAN make a difference. The building is now officially named after Teresa “Teri” Andrepont because when she was hired as President and CEO, our chapter was a fledging organization – not only struggling financially, but its future was uncertain. Fast forward 29 years to when Teri retired, and we were one of the most successful chapters in the nation, maybe the world.

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Wow, talk about a dedication being made because of one individual’s incredible dedication. Pun intended! But it helps that Make-A-Wish is such a well-known and highly respected charity, although I realize that might not have been the case when she started. Regardless, it gave her the opportunity to have a wonderful career.

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I joined the Board not long after she was hired and have been involved ever since. This was not a career for Teri – but a passion and personal commitment. She was more than a leader; she was a visionary. She not only saw the power of a wish, but also how Make-A-Wish could be an important part of the community. And, it was contagious.

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I’ve always wondered where your passion for Make-A-Wish came from.

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It may have started at a golf tournament benefitting Make-A-Wish, but it was Teri’s passion and unwavering dedication that made us all want to do everything we could to support her.

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OK, I know it’s an understatement to say you have a strong personality, but I can’t help but wonder if there were ever times you disagreed with Teri or wanted to suggest different ways of doing things.

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I never have a shortage of ideas or suggestions. Or even questions. What I always respected about Teri is she would hear me out (and vice versa), and I knew she always did what she genuinely felt was best for the chapter. But, as you have heard me say many times, there are many roads that will take you to your final destination.

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Oh yes, I have. And clearly, your and Teri’s goal was the same … to make the chapter as successful as possible and to grant as many wishes as possible.

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Exactly. At first, it meant getting the chapter out of debt. I will never forget the Board meeting when Teri was concerned that she could not meet payroll. And, we only had a few employees. I remember that every time I look at our financials, and although we are on solid footing, it is important to remember our humble beginnings and what it took to get here.


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Looking at the chapter now, it’s hard even to imagine things were ever that dire.


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I know. But, that is because of Teri. And, it did not happen overnight. As we grew, so did our need for more office space. We started in a small donated office in the west part of Houston, and later we bought a small home we called “the cottage” near the Medical Center. When we outgrew that, Teri found our current building, which was once an Ethan Allen furniture store.


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I love the layout of that building and walking through it. Each different area tells stories of hope and joy, especially the “Bald is beautiful” wall. But I can’t imagine how you decide which wishes to feature. There must be thousands of them.


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We are quickly approaching 10,000 wishes, of which 8,261 were granted under Teri’s leadership. But, there are 250 wishes that truly impress me.


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Seriously? You keep track of that?


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No. When we started working on the building dedication, I learned something new about Teri. During the 29 years she was our CEO and President, Teri and her husband, Jim, volunteered to grant 250 wishes.


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So, that’s on top of everything else she did?! I think that says it all.


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And, explains why the building is dedicated to her. So, do you still think it is just a building?

P.S. – Watch the video in honor of the building dedication and decide for yourself ...

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It’s #GivingTuesday, and although it’s always a good time to think of others, remember all the people who are continuing to deal with the aftermath of natural disasters long after the headlines have been forgotten.

And even though Black believes charitable giving can be “secretive”, she also knows there’s science proving helping others is good for you. (Warning: she likes to recommend the book “Wonder Drug: 7 Scientifically Proven Ways That Serving Others Is the Best Medicine for Yourself.“)

P.S. – Wherever you may choose to donate, beware of potential scammers. So, if in doubt – check them out! (Black likes GuideStar and Charity Navigator.)



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I know today’s Giving Tuesday, but what I always find so amazing is how you treat every day as “Giving Tuesday."


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What makes you say that? I do not donate to an organization or charity every day.


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You’re always so literal. I meant that the spirit of “giving to others”, whether donating or providing support in some way, seems to be part of your daily life.


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I think you are exaggerating.
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Photo courtesy of Red’s eldest daughter, Natasha


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At the risk of asking you a warm and fuzzy question, have you thought about what you’re most thankful for this Thanksgiving?


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Yes.


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I should’ve guessed that you’d take the question literally. Could you expand on that a little, or at least give me a hint?
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When Red was a child, toilets represented more than a place to go when, well, you had to go. Much to Black’s amusement, Red saw cleaning them as a reward. (Really! Check out Red's post below.) But neither of us realized that billions of people don’t have access to toilets. And if it weren’t for today being World Toilet Day, we never would have known the magnitude of the associated health and safety issues – or the connection between sanitation and groundwater.

RED: What can I tell you? When I was a kid, one of my all-time favorite things to do was … clean the toilet. Yes, you read that correctly. And it wasn’t because I was a germophobe or a clean freak. I just loved being able to sit on the floor, using as much Bon Ami (I’ve no idea why I remember the brand) cleaning powder as I wanted. And the best part? All those bubbles!

It kept me entertained for hours. Not to mention, my mom was thrilled because it kept me “contained” and out of her hair. So much so that if I was very good and behaved myself, she might even give me “special permission” to clean the toilet in my parent’s bathroom. Of course, Black, being five years older and understanding the situation, found it all extremely amusing. Even now, decades later, she still gives me grief about it,

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