Tag Archives: supportive

Member Spotlight: Tammy Saxon

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Roots:
I grew up in Houston and set roots in Austin after graduating from The University of Texas in 1988.

Family Life:
I’ve been married to my husband Chuck for 28 years, and our family of six includes our oldest son Chase who is a Junior at Texas Tech University, our son Grant who is a Freshman playing lacrosse at Stevenson University in Baltimore, MD, our youngest son Reid who is a 7th grader at Canyon Vista Middle School, and our big, sweet 11 year old Golden Retriever, Harvey.

Work Life:
I earned a Finance degree from UT and worked in the finance and accounting fields until I took an early retirement to raise our family.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned through my iGnite experience…
The most impactful lessons I have learned through iGnite are to encourage and support each other on and off the yoga mat, YOU can always make a positive impact in others’ lives, and to set your goals high because you can achieve new heights physically and emotionally every day.

I am most inspired by…
My mom is a huge inspirational influence to me because she is overflowing in generosity, strength, unconditional love, dignity and grace. She has shown me the importance of giving back and that strength and will power lead you to achieve. Her generosity shines brightly through the Golden Retriever rescue that she founded a few years ago where she has placed so many orphaned dogs into forever homes. I recently thanked my mom for building such a long table after sending her this quote that describes her so beautifully: When you have all that you need, build a longer table, not a higher fence.

Something people may not know about me…
I love, love, love polka dots and find them almost irresistible. They are happy, positive and uplifting, and they are represented in many items sprinkled throughout my home.

If I were an ice cream flavor, I would be…
Blue Bell Peppermint. Have I mentioned my love of polka dots?! Peppermint ice cream is a splash of spirited polka dots leaving a pop of confidence on your tongue preparing you to take on any challenges that your day holds. Everyone should start their day with a spoonful of Peppermint ice cream!


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Spreading Hope, Love and Joy to the Hopeless

Operation Spread Hope, Love & Joy, Part II

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Point to Ponder:
How do you view the homeless or those on the street asking for help?

iGnite Neissa

by Neissa Brown Springmann

Sadly, in Austin and in most cities it is common to see homeless, desperate or hopeless people standing at busy intersections asking for help. Despite being advised by law officials and professionals to not give them money, if I have cash, change or any unopened food I always give what I have. And, when I do not have anything to give I get embarrassed and avoid eye contact. Ugh! Definitely not a mature and or compassionate response! I realize that by giving money I could be enabling their pursuit of getting a job or supplying funds for their next possible drug fix, but I don’t know their life story or history so to judge seems wrong and unfair.

Shamefully, there was a time when I didn’t feel this way and my heart was filled with judgement. While I didn’t voice it, when I saw someone asking for help my thought was that they should have more pride and work ethic than to lazily ask for my hard earned money. After all, I grew up with limited financial resources yet managed to work my way through college and make it. Why can’t they? However, several years ago I attended a Caritas luncheon where the co-authors of the book, Same Kind of Different as Me¬†spoke. This experience changed my heart and perspective.

If you haven’t read the book, I encourage you to. Or if you wait until April 2016 it will be out in the theaters. In summary, through volunteering at a homeless meals program in Fort Worth, the co-authors Ron Hall (a wealthy Fort Worth art dealer) and Denver Moore (a literal modern-day hobo) developed a unique friendship. An intense bond was formed and both lives were changed– with Ron’s heart experiencing the greatest transformation. As a result of the book’s message and success, the two men traveled to speaking engagements, with Austin being one of them. Towards the end of the luncheon, Denver, the modern-day hobo and former prison inmate spoke. While he had no formal education, he understood life, the spiritual world, and had a connection with God like I had never seen or heard before. The room was silenced by his compassion, faith and wisdom and while I clung to every word he spoke, it was his advice on whether or not to give the homeless and hopeless money that I will never forget.

Having lived a life of homelessness, desperation and having people look down on him, Denver passionately urged the audience to bypass judgement towards the homeless, as we will never know what they have experienced in life and why they are in the situation they are in. Furthermore, he acknowledged that we’ve all been told not to give the homeless money, however he pleaded that we give what we can, and in doing so respectfully look them in their eyes and smile. Ultimately, he reminded us that we will never know if it will be our dollar, our smile or our words that will be the difference in their life.

After his sincere message, rather than look down on the homeless or beggars, I began to view them, their situation, and people in general with more compassion. I contemplated how I would want someone to treat me, my children, my family, and friends if we where homeless, desperate or falling on hopeless times. Or, if we were just in need of some help, support or encouragement. In doing so I realized how self-righteous and judgemental I had been. Then recently it was upon reading Matthew 26: 34 – 45, verses that I have listened to many times before, that I finally heard and realized how much more I can and need to do:

On His right, he will say; (Jesus) Come here, you beloved, you people whom My Father has blessed. Claim your inheritance, the Kingdom prepared for you from the beginning of creation. You shall be richly rewarded, for when I was hungry, you fed Me. And when I was thirsty, you gave Me something to drink; I was alone as a stranger, and you welcomed Me into your homes and into your lives; I was naked, and you gave Me clothes to wear; I was sick, and you tended to My needs; I was in prison, and you comforted Me.
Even then the righteous will not have achieved perfect understanding and will not recall these things.
Righteous: Master, when did we find You hungry and give You food? When did we find You thirsty and slake Your thirst? When did we find You a stranger and welcome You in, or find you naked and clothe You? When did we find You sick and nurse You to health? When did we visit You when You were in prison?
Jesus: I tell you this: whenever you saw a brother or sister hungry or cold, whatever you did to the least of these, so you did to Me.
And then He will turn to those on His left hand.
Jesus: Get away from Me, for I was starving, and you left Me with no food. I was dry and thirsty, you left Me to struggle with nothing to drink. When I was alone as a stranger, you turned away from Me. When I was pitifully naked, you left Me unclothed. When I was sick, you gave Me no care. When I was in prison, you did not comfort Me.
Unrighteous: Master, when did we see You hungry and thirsty? When did we see You friendless or homeless or excluded? When did we see you without clothes? When did we see You sick or in jail? When did we see You in distress and fail to respond?
Jesus: I tell you this: whenever you saw a brother hungry or cold, when you saw a sister weak and without friends, when you saw the least of these and ignored their suffering, so you ignored Me.

Despite your faith or belief, the idea that we should treat others as we would want to be treated says it all. And, we have all been given a conscious that guides us and gives us valuable information, which is why I am unable to make eye contact when someone is asking for help and I don’t have anything to give them. I know it’s not right or respectful to not show someone respect and give them the dignity they deserve by simply looking in their eye and exchanging a smile.

As a result, several months ago I began creating baggies of crackers, rice crispy treats, and breakfast bars. And, as of last week I added our printable ‘iGnite spread hope love and joy’ note cards. I keep the bags in my car so that I can have them with me at all times and it truly has made a difference! Therefore, as we continue to focus on spreading hope, love and joy, I hope you will consider doing the same and making care packages that you can hand out when needed. While the person you give the goodie bag and smile to will appreciate your generosity, I promise that your heart will be the one filled with hope, love and joy.

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Goodie Bag Basket

Action Item:
Create goodies bags and fill them with helpful items and the printable iGnite note cards. Keep them in your car and with a smile and eye contact, hand them to the homeless, hopeless or someone in need.

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Member Spotlight: Amanda Schmidt

iGnite - Amanda SchmidtRoots:
I was born in Chicago but became a Texan at the age of 2 when my Dad took a teaching position in Dallas with the business school at SMU. I grew up in Dallas and graduated from Highland Park High School and then from Smith College in Northampton, MA in 1986, after which I worked in Spain for a year. I landed in Austin for law school at UT in 1987 and have lived here ever since.

Basic family stats:
I am married to Dick Schmidt, and we have 3 daughters: Samantha (sophomore at Northwestern University), Sophie (senior at Westlake High School) and Lucy (freshman at St. Stephen’s).

Current/Previous Occupation:
After law school, I got to clerk for Justice John Powers on the Austin Court of Appeals for a fantastic year after which I practiced commercial litigation for ten years, mostly at the firm Clark, Thomas here in Austin. After trying to practice a litigation practice with mom responsibilities and feeling like I wasn’t doing well at either thing, I retired when our third child, Lucy, was born. For the last 15 years I have worked as mom and participated in a variety of volunteer jobs through schools and philanthropies.

Biggest lesson learned through iGnite experience:
I have learned a lot of life lessons from many of the dear women I have gotten to know in iGnite. I’d say the most important lesson I’ve learned is to surround yourself with positive people who support you and don’t waste your precious time with people who drag you down.

Who inspires me the most and why:
My mother is a terrific role model to me and my biggest inspiration. If asked this question ten years ago, I would have picked someone more illustrious like Amelia Earhart for following her dreams and breaking accepted norms for women, but in the last few years I have come to realize what I should have known all along: my own mother lived her life the way I hope to live mine. She was a wonderful and supportive friend to many people, and she maintained an extremely positive outlook on life, living it to the fullest, even after losing her lifelong partner (my Dad) and her youngest daughter in the course of 15 months.

In my free time, I like to:
Other than work out with iGnite, I love to read, see movies, travel (especially to snow-covered mountains) and just hang out with my family.

If I were an ice cream flavor, I would be:
Chocolate because it brings so much enjoyment to so many people; chocolate is a real mood booster!

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Member Spotlight: Jenni Thurow

iGnite - Jenni ThurowRoots:
I am originally from Bryant, Arkansas (a small town outside of Little Rock), where I lived for 26 years. I moved to Austin when my husband, Trevor, and I got married 4 years ago.

Family Life:
My husband Trevor has lived in Austin a few years longer than I have. He has a business in East Austin building and designing furniture.

Current/Previous occupation:
I was introduced to iGnite over three years ago when I was a personal trainer at Mecca Gym and Spa. Rae Hill and Delaine Teeple–2 wonderful women I met as a result of working at Mecca–encouraged me to attend an iGnite event, and I have been hooked since. For the last year and a half I have been working as a pharmaceutical rep.

Biggest lesson learned through your iGnite experience:
iGnite has taught me to face my fears and overcome them. All of the great changes in my life since moving to Austin have been as a result of facing my fears. It is so much easier with a supportive group of women surrounding you and cheering you on.

Who inspires me the most:
My friend Lucinda who lives in Arkansas. She has been my mentor and role model since high school. She has overcome so many difficulties while continuing to trust in God for everything.

In my free time I like to:
Currently in my free time I am training for/running in sprint distance triathlons.

Who is your celebrity look alike?
I have had several people say I look like Anna Kendrick.

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