Helping Others Through a Great Idea- by Dina Bruun (guest blogger)

I have invited Dina Bruun to be my guest blogger today so she can help others with her idea that she submitted for the  Pepsi Refresh Everything campaign.  To read more and vote for Dina’s idea here is the link:

My mother used to say I was destined to save the world, and I believe, at the time, she added that I was doing it one boyfriend at a time.  (Yup, real winners – hey . . .  I did my best).

I am not so sure saving the world is quite within my reach, but attempting to solve a problem here and there may be worth a try.  The problem I decided to tackle was the blood supply shortage. It didn’t make sense to me that we should have a shortage, so I thought this was a good problem to try and fix. After all, when blood drives are held, blood is donated (and lives are saved).  So if you want more donations, hold more blood drives.  My idea: Create an organization which will increase the number of blood drives throughout the country.

I know I have pretty much sealed my fate with this one, by making sure I will never have a Lifetime movie made about me, since that was the entire story of how I came up with the idea.

So, here’s a bit of a twist (I should get at least a few creativity points). . .  I decided to focus on college kids.

When I was a freshman in college, a blood drive was held at my school.  It had a “MASH” theme (ok, for those much younger than me – an “army” theme).  I still remember it, the entire room was transformed, there were even videos of the TV. show to watch while you were resting, drinking your o.j. and eating your cookie. But the most memorable part, the crowning detail, was . . .  camouflage band aids!  Proof positive college students are the way to go –

And here is where the “Blood Drive Teams of America” idea begins to solidify.

This national organization will provide a steady and sustainable increase in the nation’s blood supply by organizing college chapters (Blood Drive Teams) throughout the country that are required to host at least three local blood drives a year. The chapters will be combined into regions which will provide various incentives, recognitions and contests.

So, even though its inception isn’t that inspiring, the “Blood Drive Teams of America” organization (unlike the losers I tried to save when I was a teenager), has potential to do great things and worth all the time I can devote to it to help it become a success.  Here’s to helping the world one idea at a time!

Why I Created Sign Language for Emergency Situations- ASL, English and Spanish

It has been about five weeks since the first run of my newest video- Sign Language for Emergency Situations -ASL, English and Spanish appeared at my front door.  I carefully opened the huge boxes and looked at the “zillion” copies that were all over my living room floor.  How funny, that this little DVD carried so much history with it… none which is reflected on the DVD itself or its’ cover.

You see, I first decided to create this DVD on a date that will be easy to remember- Sepember 11, 2001.  It was a date in which many families, including mine, were intimately impacted by the days’ events.  I had a brother and a cousin within sneezing distance of the World Trade Center that day.  I had other relatives and numerous friends who all had Manhattan addresses. I also knew that many deaf individuals resided in NYC and wondered how terrified were they on that fateful and tragic day when communication was minimum at best and fear was at an all time high.

That is the day I decided that I wanted to be part of the communication solution for those in the deaf community.  I know that my brother benefited from the use of a being able to ask questions of others that day as he walked the streets looking for a way to get home.  He was able to assist others with the information he received and be a benefactor of the generosity of total strangers.  He also can hear.

But, what about the people who were not able to communicate during all the flurry of madness.  Pencil and paper was not practical when there was so much happening and the need for safety was tantamount.  If only the emergency response workers knew simple signs such as –  EVACUATE, GO INDOORS,  ARE YOU HURT?,  WHO IS MISSING?,  WHAT IS YOUR NAME? EXPLOSION! DO YOU NEED HELP?

It took me  a long time to wrap my head around the events of 9/11.  But, then it came to me-  I need to develop a DVD to help people who speak two of the four most common languages in the United States get assistance during natural disasters, medical crisis or on a day that is unthinkable ! (Sorry I don’t speak Chinese, the third most common language).  So, with help from my friends, especially Karina Prizont Cowan, I developed Sign Language for Emergency Situations with ASL  and narration in   Spanish and English.  The entire DVD is signed and open captioned – for all to have access.   I queried people who were first responders, students and deaf friends to preview the DVD keeping in mind that the audience would be hearing.  Modifications were made to the video (yep it was a lot longer!).  We also decided to add the Sign Language for Emergency Situations mini-chart that accompanies the DVD as an enclosure.  The last piece was two super endorsements- Alison Rhodes the Safety Mom and Mackenzie Kelly of NORCAL Ambulance.

Then I began to think how can I get my product to people who could it could benefit most.  Twitter, Facebook, friends and good old word of mouth were very effective.  Harris Communications- a large distributor of products for the deaf and hearing community who wish to learn ASL, etc.  hopped on board immediately.   I was so happy to receive many words of encouragement.  Hilary Bilbrey took my DVD to a safety conference and was so kind to give me feedback from the very people who I wanted to reach- emergency personnel!  Dozens of phone calls later I had talked to people from all over the country who wanted to know how to access the product, workshops and more.

Then the most interesting thing happened…. we sold out.  The emergency cards (which we ordered separately and as an enclosure to the DVD) sold out!  Then the DVD started to fly out the door- we have a few of those boxes left- but not too many.

So, on behalf of all those who helped make the tragedy of 9/11 to have a positive outcome via my little company, Signing Families ™-  I thank you.  And, to show that this is just not a business opportunity,  my company will continue to donate a portion of all proceeds to charitable organizations that help children and their families.

Also, note that great things happen when friends help friends-  Alison Rhodes, Hilary Bilbrey and myself will be joining together to be a “safety package”.  We want to help children, families, educators and organizations by providing services,  products and workshops.  If you are interested in learning more please contact me at

To contact Alison Rhodes about her consultations please go to

Hilary Bilbrey and her Brecker Bunny Series can be found at

Here is the trailer to the video that is now available:

What American Idols, My Dad and the “Education Jobs Fund” Addendum Have in Common?

This has been a crazy week!   The week was designated by HerInsight media- Toginet Radio as a celebration to former American Idol contestants.  Our time on and off the air with many of our guests was incredible.  But, juxtapose to the wonderful success stories of these talented artists  has been the need for Congress to pass this upcoming week the emergency funding to keep teachers, programs and safety measures in our public schools. So, as I write this post it has made me wonder what would have happened to  American Idols such as Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Adam Lambert,  Scott MacIntyre, David Cook, Fantasia Barrino,  Kris Allen or the many others who have competed for the top musical reality show awards if they weren’t mentored by a teacher, choir director or a parent and given opportunities within their educational settings to learn music?

My musical mentor was my Dad, the late Stan Masin.  In addition to being a professional musician he studied music education and then became a public school teacher.  He NEVER waivered his dedication to serving children in public schools even when times were tough in our country for educators.  He eventually moved out of the classroom and in to school administration, but always had a passion about keeping the performing arts in to the schools.  And as a School Superintendent in a small western New York community, he strived to have ALL students have an opportunity and desire to cross the stage come graduation day and not just the best and the brightest.   To help the cause of having high schoolers want to graduate he would try to establish relationships with the youngest  students, by eating lunch with first graders and children with special needs. He always said he preferred eating with a bunch of six- year olds than going out for “business lunches”.

Years later, people still  tell me that they appreciated  the efforts my Dad put forth to help serve the children and the community to which we lived.  And it has been 33 years since I crossed the stage and was handed my regents diploma by none other than the School Superintendent , my Dad.  So, this post is written for him and I hope exemplifies that teachers do make a difference – one child at a time.

So,  in honor of my Dad and all the parents who spent their days teaching children other than their own,  I am writing friends and continuing in my efforts to contact government officials to keep teachers employed, non-core subjects in our school curriculum, and our children safe.

Here is how we can all help to urge our elected officials to pass the Education Jobs Fund for emergency spending to preserve teachers, adjunct staff, programs and the safety of our children in our public schools.

And if you read this post to the end, then I am sure you would like to honor YOUR reading teacher by helping out TODAY!

If you TWEET be so kind as to let the NEA know you are there to help by using the hashtag  #EducationJobsFun

Tons of Students- but wait…. Where are the teachers?


I have heard rumblings for a few months now about multiple states that were getting ready to do the unthinkable- cut the numbers of teachers within their school districts.  I kept thinking that could not be at all possible until I had a recent visit from a former neighbor who had relocated from the Mid-Atlantic region to a state in the deep south.  Her husband, “Jack”,  had been encouraged by people within the education community to leave behind his sales job and go back to school to become a math teacher.

Jack jumped at the chance of changing his career and helping high school students understand math successfully. This was his dream and he was assured that positions were plentiful, especially with high – risk students.  He was three years in to his studies when the floor dropped out from under him.  The initiatives that would have guaranteed him a job teaching math in a high school that was designated as “in need of support”  all the sudden was cutting teaching positions versus adding them, as was the plan.

How could  this be?  What happened to all the reasons that were clearly outlined  as to  why the state and school district needed to fund additional teaching positions, especially for schools that were “under – performing” or “with critical needs”?   Not only were all the newly trained teachers “on hold” as no new teaching positions would be available,  but many of the expected retiring teachers no longer could leave their current jobs due to the state of the economy.

Then I received a call from someone close to me, my niece.  She graduated a year ago, the top of her class at her university with two degrees- elementary education and Spanish. “Janie” had hopes that like our friend, she too would be able to work with children who were from inner city schools that were in grades K-6.  This magna cum laude could not find one job. It has been a year- no teaching job to be found in the public or private sector.  She took a low paying teaching assistants job and had to move back with her parents as her salary didn’t pay for rent let alone other expenses.

Janie still has the drive and desire to teach, but she has now joined the vast growing number of unemployed people holding full teacher certification who want to be in the classroom.  My family member did all the right things and now has all the wrong perceptions of what being a teacher is all about.  Instead of setting up a classroom and using the tools she has acquired over four years of intensive training, she is working at menial jobs for a very low salary.  She is considering leaving the field of teaching before she really got started.

Why have I written about my two connections with the state of affairs in the teaching world?  It is because I too am a proud educator who will not sit quietly as teaching staff is being reduced nationwide.  I will not be quiet about programs being cut that are often the very reason why children go to school.  We often maintain students in our schools because of the ancillary programs that are integrated with the core academics.  How many students will leave upon their 16th birthdays if they cannot participate in sports or the performing arts?  These are the programs that often hold kids in our schools!  How many students will lose their competitive edge for college when they don’t have a “well rounded high school  experience” reflected on their transcripts?  How can schools even think about terminating much of their foreign language programs when many of our schools are filled with bilingual- bicultural children?  (And don’t get me started about school districts that are cutting full classes of students wishing to take American Sign Language- ASL- which is the fourth most commonly used language in the U.S today!)

So, I ask my readers to do the following if you now have chosen not to sit quietly either.  First, read the facts for yourselves. The National Education Association (NEA) has long advocated for keeping teachers in the classrooms and even adding staff where needed.  They are a huge advocacy group for children and their families.  I have great admiration and respect for their platforms.  Here is a helpful link that provides information that I think you will find of value with understanding the current needs and why we all need to be proactive within the next few days: Then please go to this link to let your elected officials know exactly how you feel about this situation. I hope that you are as outraged as I am.  I hope that you will advocate for teachers, children and families everywhere in the U.S. by letting your representatives know that these individuals come first.

I don’t want to fathom an educational system where children are in classes that exceed the size of conventional wisdom.  I don’t want to think of special needs children without trained staff support within the classrooms.  I really don’t want to think that all the decades of research and observations that have told us what are the best practices for education will be tossed out the window because we are not following the common knowledge known to  every fifth grader –  It is the teachers and special school programs that make students well educated and happy.

To find your state officials please see this link: Please reach out to them asap.  The vote is imminent.

Please don’t sit quietly.  I hope you will share this information with others.  I look forward to reading your Tweets.  Feel free to add this hashtag  #EducationJobsFund to ones related to this cause, as I will-  Thank you!

And as I often do…. here are my opinions in sign language….

Why I Love Wednesdays!?!

I am one of the luckiest people I know as I get to wake up each day with a hubby that accepts my crazy career as a fun roller- coaster ride!  When we first met I just started as a School Psychologist at the Delaware School School for the Deaf and then ventured in to teaching and interpreting with American Sign Language (ASL) which then led to my developing my company Signing Families™ and ultimately landed me on Learning and Laughter with Louise!  WOW!

So why do I pinch myself these days, especially on Wednesdays?  I guess you can say because I never , ever, ever thought that the people whose talents I admired for years are the very people I now get to interview on Wednesday mornings.    So, each Wednesday I pinch myself first thing in the morning as I know that my day will be filled  with chatting about topics such as education, literacy, the entertainment industry, special causes (eg.,,, ,for example) and so much more!  My favorite part of this incredible journey is that I am able to bring quality guests to listeners each week who then share their amazing stories, invaluable educational information all while laughing and  enjoying a cup of coffee with me!

Do I have a favorite interview?  Honestly- no.  But, I do have favorite moments and today’s interview with American Idols previous contestants-  John Stevens  and Scott MacIntyre had some of those!  John brought tears to my eyes while he discussed his love of Frank Sinatra.  My parents use to dance around the house to the songs of Sinatra and many other great singers of this era.  You can’t replace those memories. In addition,  John sang on American Idol one of my favorites (As Time Goes By) by a top 5 movie in my book- CASABLANCA! John is still very young and his amazing voice will no doubt continue to open many doors for him! Bravo to John!

On the other hand,  Scott had me laughing when he answered the following question-  “If you could have a group of  friends join you for a meal at your fave- Wolfgang Puck’s– who would be included?(Scott mentioned that he liked that this question was never one asked to him during an interview so he took a few moments to answer.)  Here was his answer…. Scott immediately said Jack Black with a quick addition of Ben Stiller (never has met either).  Then he added Bruce Hornsby (because of the many comparisons made of Scott and Bruce since Idol days).  Followed by  Billy Joel (admires his career and loves his music, which he has played during AI and on the tour).  After a few more minutes (and I truly thought he would round out this fraternity with with Elton John)  he shouted out….. FERGIE (from the Black Eyed  Peas!)  LOVED IT!!  He did comment that a goal of his is to attend a live concert with  Billy Joel and Elton John singing together.  This top scholar turned musical artist will no doubt have that opportunity during his soaring career!

Scott wanted to share that he is involved with the Idol Gives Back program and the finale that will air next week- so please check it out on FOX.  John has many irons in the fire, including his involvement with the Beantown Swing Orchestra.

It is moments like this mornings interviews and others that I may blog about later that are the reasons why I LOVE WEDNESDAYS!!  Feel free to share your favorite day stories below and why

On another note- for future shows I am looking for the following:

1.  What would be your essential college or back to high school products?  (for an August show)


2.  If YOU could invite 4-6 people to join YOU for a meal or a cup of coffee who would they be?  Send me an email at .  Best answers will be read on air (maybe by YOU) and/or blogged.

Thanks for reading!


Please visit these sites, YouTube, etc.

Scott's new DVD can be purchased at or on Twitter @ScottDMacintyre  (please check out his amazing album- HEARTSTRINGS !  My fave cut off the album is VALENTINE!!)


John Stevens on FACEBOOK or

John Stevens

Of course go to for more info.

Here come the videos:

CRUEL IS NOT COOL!   (Love this phrase coined by Annie Fox!)

Please help many experts, parents and children stop bullying in our schools and neighborhoods!  Kudos to Annie Fox,  Sue Scheff, Alison Rhodes, Hilary Bilbrey, Jaylen Arnold and Dash Mihok (, Jeni Stepanek, D-Pan, and countless others for helping champion for peace among all and stop bullying!
Here are some great videos and links!  Comments welcome below. Please join in this important discussion!!

Video Blogs for Deaf/ ASL users

Hello and welcome to
I work within the deaf and special education community. I also (ironically) have a radio program. But, guess what- I believe in equal access so I transcribe and/or VLOG my radio shows. Catch them here on WORDPRESS starting this week and every week after. The show airs LIVE WEd. 9 a.m. EST show (to listen go to and I will VLOG shortly after.

Feel free to get my weekly email reminders too.
If you sign a VLOG, let me know….. Family friendly only, please!
So- learm some sign language and have fun!

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