Carolyn Hendrickson worked in the insurance field prior to feeling the calling to help people. “It wasn’t an overnight thing, the feeling came on slightly at first but it slowly became a powerful force that I could not ignore. I wanted to help people and introduce them to Our Lord, Jesus Christ,” said Carolyn. That was 17 years ago. Carolyn started doing her research. She went through her options thinking at first that she could not help people without leaving the country and participating in mission work through the church. However, that was not an option that was compatible with her personal life. She then discovered the Rescue Mission.
The Rescue Mission of Syracuse is a not-for-profit organization that has served the homeless and poor in the love of Christ since 1887. “I found the Rescue Mission to be a great opportunity. It offered the perfect combination of being able to help others while feeding my need to help people, all right here in my hometown,” said Carolyn.
Carolyn has now been with the Rescue Mission for 16 years. Her primary job is Chief Development Officer. This in itself is a very demanding job requiring 40-50 hours a week on average. These long hours do not slow Carolyn down though, she still finds time to go out and visit with the guest of the Rescue Mission on a daily basis. “Carolyn is an amazing women, she never seizes to amaze me. Her schedule is always changing and non-stop yet she still takes the ten minutes she has free to go chat with the guest,” said Gina a co-worker.
Carolyn also makes it a point to visit prior guest of the Rescue Mission every weekend. “Carolyn is an exquisite lady, she knows what she’s doing, she waited until I was ready to introduce me to Our Lord Jesus Christ, and even then she didn’t force religion upon me. Instead she let me move at my pace. I now have conversations with my “higher power” everyday,” said Dawn Richardson, a former guest of the Rescue Mission. Carolyn connected with Dawn over 10 years ago and she still visits her on a regular basis.
When asked to describe Carolyn, Alan Thornton, the Chief Executive Office of the Rescue Mission responded, “She’s fantastic. She works her tail off in the office. She is the last one in the office on many occasions, yet she never tires. She connects with each guest, even knows most by name and often continues the connections long after the guest’s get back on their feet and leave the mission. She’s amazing.” In response Carolyn nonchalantly responded, “God made me this way. This is my mission.”
Its 8 o’clock on a Monday morning, the smell of fresh coffee and bacon fill the air in the McCoy household. Tara McCoy sits at the table enjoying breakfast with her three sons Xavier, 11, Tucker, 7, and Gunner, 4. Unlike most parents who have to rush in the morning to get the kids on the school bus and themselves to work, this serene moment is the daily scene at the McCoy household.
For Tara McCoy though, this moment is the calm before the storm. Her days are packed full with task ranging from cooking, cleaning, doing laundry and her favorite of all homeschooling her three boys.
Tara herself was homeschooled from the 6th grade through her high school graduation. Together Tara and her husband Jesse decided that homeschooling was the best path to instill good religious and moral beliefs in their three boys. Above all Tara wanted the day-to-day interaction with her children. “I still have moments when I’d like to run away, however I wouldn’t change a thing, I love getting to spend every day with my children,” said Tara.
The boys are no different from the average grade school child. Tara and Jesse have made every effort to make sure they get the same knowledge and social interaction that the children obtain in a public school environment.
“If I was given the chance to go to a school or be homeschooled I would choose homeschooling because I think I get a better education than what my friends get and I get to spend a lot of time with my family that other kids don't get to,” said Xavier.
Religion is very prominent in the McCoy household. Both Tara and her husband Jesse were raised in homes abundant with religion; their father’s were both pastors. Coincidently they were both also raised Baptist and met each other in Hyles-Anderson Bible College. The three boys are being raised in a very similar manner. Every morning begins with a daily-devotion and a morning prayer; religion is built into a lot of their school lessons, a prayer at dinner, and another at bedtime. They are also very active in Northern Baptist Church, Liverpool, NY. All three boys attend a weekly church program called AWANA (Approved Workman are not Ashamed) weekly and the whole family spends every Sunday morning in church.
The McCoy household is overflowing with love, and they are unique in many ways, however homeschooling is not one. About 1.5 billion children in the U.S. are homeschooled. Almost 40 percent of children homeschooled are homeschooled because their parents desire to provide religious and moral instruction.
David Ray first discovered his interest in politics during the 2004 election. This new found interest drove him to change his major and upon graduating from the University of the Ozarks in 2007 he joined the realm of politics. He has since worked on numerous campaigns including Arnold Schwarzenegger’s California Governor race, Ken Cuccinelli’s Virginia Attorney General's race, and Todd P’Pool’s Kentucky Attorney General's race.
At the mere age of 26, David has made great strides in this career. As of January, 2012 he assumed the position of Congresswoman Buerkle’s campaign manger. Upon his selection he vigorously led a team of eight individuals on a campaign that received national attention. “This group of individuals were great to work with,” said David, "I am so grateful to have a good team around to support me, it makes you feel like you don't have to do everything yourself.”
Together the team has traveled throughout New York State’s 24th Congressional District participating in numerous public relations events promoting Congresswoman Buerkle. Although, these events may seem like the most important portion of a campaign, it’s the behind the scenes actions that can make the greatest difference.
“My favorite moment of the campaign was getting the requisite number of signatures for us to qualify for the Independence Party line on the ballot. That was a huge effort that required weeks and weeks of work and was very difficult. However, it was certainly rewarding when we won the endorsement and qualified for that ballot line,” said David. This achievement permitted Congresswomen Buerkle to have her name on the ballot twice, a method referred to as “fusion voting.” This method could make a huge difference in a close race.
“Although David Ray is the campaign manager one would not know this just by being in the office, he does not boss people around but rather he leads them,” said Bob Murfit, a regular volunteer at the campaign office, “David is constantly in the action whether it be stamping flyers, participating in a phone bank or out knocking on doors.”
Throughout the campaign David’s average workweek was Monday thru Saturday with workdays lasting from 10-15 hours. “This is not an easy job, there are long hours and a lot of stress” said David. “However, I feel like I'm making a difference in the direction of the country and that makes it all worth it.”
As the votes came in on election night the mood became very somber at the Republican Party election night headquarters. “We gave it our all,” said David. “We left nothing on the table. We will continue to hope for the best and possibly learn from the worst but either way we will continue forward.”
Dylan Firenze is an 8-year-old who on his best day still faces more difficulties than the typical person does on a bad day. Dylan suffers from Tourette Syndrome, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, Attention deficit-hyperactivity disorder and Sensory Processing Disorder. Dylan has an older brother and a younger sister who both suffer from many of the same conditions that he was born with. His father Jim and older brother David, 18 both work for National Tourette Syndrome Association.
Upon first glance one would not know that Dylan is any different from his friends. His parents Jim and Kristine Firenze do not allowed Dylan any leniencies; instead they look for solutions and ways to improve his quality of life.
“Up to a year ago we could not even get Dylan to ride the bus to school, we would eventually drive him ourselves out of desperation,” Jim said. Instead of using medication to subdue Dylan’s medical diagnoses his parents chose to go with another method – Martial Arts.
Since joining Five Star Martial Arts Dylan’s anxiety has decreased and his confidence has improved. Over the last year his conditions have improved to the point where he now has little issues boarding the school bus. While there is a slim chance that Dylan will ever be free of the disorders that have developed within him there are many steps that his parents have taken to improve his conditions via a non-prescription method.