June 29, 2017 By Jack Jodell, American Dissident, N.M.P.
COUNTDOWN: As of today, a pitiful 1,302 days yet remain in this terrible administration’s term in office…
Those who have followed this blog for years know I have made it a point to focus on many of the problems our country faces as well as on those whom I believe have helped cause those problems, either through their actions or inaction. I have done so to draw attention to the numerous flaws we have here in America, in hopes that improvements will be made someday. I will continue doing so on a regular basis. As you know, annually near year’s end, I post a special December feature, which I call “Santa’s Bozo of the Year.” It highlights some of the fools and clowns in public life whose antics were so outlandish and / or devastating that they were deserving of ridicule. In a similar fashion each June, I take an opposite approach and do a positive feature, which portrays an individual of today or yesterday whose contributions to our country and / or humanity have been so spectacular, courageous, and/or noteworthy that they should be lauded near and far as good examples of what we as humans can achieve, if we only put our minds and hearts to it. After all, not everything going on in the world is doom and gloom! So here is the ninth installment of this annual mid-year feature I call the “Head and Heart Award.” Past recipients have been MOTHER TERESA, fellow bloggers GWEN BARRY and BURR DEMING, plus filmakers GERARD UNGERMAN and STACEY WEAR, ROBERT REICH, NICK HANAUER, VAN JONES, and KEITH OLBERMANN. Individuals featured here have used their head and heart to produce great things for humankind, and have shown themselves to be beacons of light in an often vast sea of darkness. These persons should serve as an inspiration to us ALL to actually DO something – to take a principled stand – using OUR heads and hearts on behalf of our fellow brothers and sisters, rather than simply sitting back complacently enjoying the relatively good life we have experienced here in the United States.
This year’s award goes to a very passionate and driven young woman named HEATHER SCHRECK. She is shown at right alongside FREE SPEECH TV show host and comedienne Stephanie Milller. As the former Pledge Drive and Special Events Manager for FREE SPEECH TV, I first became acquainted with Ms. Schreck a number of years ago. I had just completed my first of many subsequent donations to that independent TV network a day or so earlier, when I received a very pleasant thank-you phone call from her. She was perky, friendly, and authentic, and her sincerity and good nature made an immediate positive impression on me. I loved her genuineness and warmth, plus her obvious intelligence. She told me then, and in later brief conversations we had, that she was committed to working in non-profits like FSTV because the behavior of profit-driven, greed-obsessed corporations turned her off; she was far happier dealing in endeavors that actually helped people and would make a positive impact on their lives. Her four-plus year tenure at FREE SPEECH TV helped cement that ambition and ensured her commitment to positive activism.
During the late 1990s, Ms. Schreck had been working in Hollywood, as a Post Production Assistant for two years on the very popular TV series The Sopranos. Heather relates, “I had always wanted to work in Hollywood as a little girl, believing that that was a way to make a difference in this world. While I was working on The Sopranos in 1999, I was having a conversation with my co-worker Lynne on the issue of women’s rights. That conversation would forever change my life, as it led me to the country of Afghanistan. At the time the Taliban had been in power for a few years. Reading about it led me on a mission to learn more and try to understand [how] this was even possible. A few years later after talking to everyone I knew, and further educating myself I would discover the Revolutionary Association for the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA). They are the oldest feminist women’s organization in Afghanistan fighting for a secular democracy. RAWA was exactly the group I was looking for as far as supporting Afghanistan. They inspired me more than anything I had encountered at the time. The US-based non profit, Afghan Women’s Mission was the US contact for them, which led me to meeting and working with Sonali Kolhatkar.”
There in Hollywood, then, she first met progressive Pacifica Radio show host Sonali Kolhatkar, who, like Heather, eventually migrated to television at FREE SPEECH TV, and became a regular TV show host there. Sonali had been a long time activist in support of Afghan women’s rights. She turned Heather on to the great injustices women were experiencing there and so Heather also became involved. From 2002 – 2007, Heather worked with Sonali as the Community Relations Manager at Afghan Women’s Mission in Los Angeles. She also took part in and completed 3 Revlon Run Walks there to raise money to fight breast, ovarian, and uterine cancer, walked 60 miles for Breast Cancer, took to the streets against the war in Iraq and supported efforts at South Central Farms which was an urban farm and community garden located in an industrial area of south central Los Angeles which was considered one of the largest urban farms in the United States. Despite powerful protest and civil disobedience, with incredible community support, workers bulldozed the farm on July 5, 2006.
Late in 2007, a writer’s strike hit Hollywood, so Heather returned to her family and where she attended high school in Colorado. After a rough start to her new path several years later, she began canvassing for Denver’s rape crisis center, the Rape Awareness and Assistance Program (RAAP) now called The Blue Bench. She spent an incredible 5 days a week, working 4-5 hours each night raising money door to door for rape and sexual assault survivors – a very personal issue for her. While canvassing for RAAP, she volunteered as the event coordinator for a V-Day production in 2011 benefiting the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
In 2012, Heather’s life would forever change as she applied for and received the position of Fundraising Events Manager for the Open Media Foundation. Here she met a passionate activist by the name of Jason McKain, and an immediate bond developed between them. As Heather recalls, “He was kind, funny, fierce in activism and incredibly passionate about making a difference. At the time he was also working at Free Speech TV and shortly after we had completed the event we were working on at OMF, he moved to Free Speech TV full time promising to bring me on board when he could. Several months later he did…” Heather started there part time and eventually moved into the Pledge Drive position. She recalls, “Through a belief in cultivation and rebuilding relationships with FSTV donors, FSTV’s revenue would begin to climb and become more sustainable. The average amount of donors that would come in through pledge drives began to grow and the organization today is stronger than it ever has been due to especially his efforts.” Heather adds, “He believed in YOU and in every adventure you wanted to take for yourself. SO RARE in today’s world where you believe in the individual and their dreams and how to make them happen. I miss him and he will forever be my brother.”
Regrettably, the activist community in Denver as well as the staff at Free Speech TV received a horrific shock when it was revealed that Jason McKain had suddenly and very unexpectedly drowned while fly-fishing in a Rocky Mountain stream in June of 2015, sadly leaving behind a grieving wife and a young son and a young daughter. Heather, like all who knew the man, was completely devastated at the loss. The two had accomplished a great deal working in tandem, and Jason had served as an encouraging and inspiring mentor for her. She is grateful for all he did for her and for so many others, and she will never forget him…
McKain’s tragic loss has not slowed Heather down one bit, and she is steadfastly carrying on his example of activism and service to others. For example, she has walked 60 miles for Breast Cancer and has just completed doing the Giving Project through the Chinook Fund.
Hrather states, “The Giving Project is an innovative new model for funding social change, building community, and leadership development. It brings together a multiracial, cross-class group of people who are passionate about social change and interested in building their skills in fundraising, grant making, and community building. Participants work together to raise and grant money to organizations that build power for social change in Colorado. Now with the Trump Administration, I was looking at something tangible I could do and to get back to connecting within being with the community and the building of it…21 of us made a 6 month commitment going through racial injustice training, economic injustice training, the history of social justice and philanthropy, grant making and fundraising training, and fundraised on our own. We collectively raised $79,700 and granted 19 organizations on issues such as police brutality, economic injustice, food justice, breaking the school to prison pipeline, immigrant justice, disability justice and many more. I recently joined their Program Committee to stay active as I was truly moved and inspired by all that the Chinook Fund does for social justice grassroots change! THEY prove that local grassroots activism is where TRUE change lies!! It WAS and had been the best decision I ever made and once again, a simple conversation with a friend, Debra Brown, led me to this. You never know where a simple conversation can lead you!” She recently joined their Program Committee to stay active , as she was truly moved and inspired by all that the Chinook Fund does for social justice and grassroots change.
Last, but definitely not least, Heather has been a vegetarian for the past 19 years and has just turned vegan to support her passion and commitment to animals and against the factory farm industry.
This truly remarkable lady has spent nearly her entire adult life selflessly helping others around her – even including animals! As such, she is more than deserving of this year’s Head and Heart Award! I sincerely hope I will have the opportunity to someday meet this lovely lady face to face, as her spirit is uplifting and personally inspiring to this blogger! Hats off to Heather Schreck!
NOW is the time to come to the aid of completely non-commercial, independent media by giving a pledge of support to FREE SPEECH TV! Go to their website at http://www.freespeech.org/ and see what you’ve been missing. Please consider becoming a member, as I have, by calling in a pledge TOLL FREE to 1-877-378-8669 – ANY amount wull be greatly appreciated in their current Summer Pledge Drive. Support a strong, Trump-free media TODAY! Thank you! 🙂
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