The magic of books often lost on big screen

“Because I Said So” column for The Commercial Appeal

April 16, 2009

One of my kids’ favorite pastimes is watching movie trailers online. We rarely go to the theater because it costs $832 for a family of six to see a movie, yet my kids know exactly what is coming out and when. They can quote2 minutes and 37 seconds of any children’s movie on its way to the big screen.

Even 2-year-old Genevieve has become a fan of the cinematic CliffsNotes and has her own way of describing plots. “I want to see the one about the big man and the little boy” means she wants to see the trailer for Disney Pixar’s “Up” for the hundredth time.

The kids were spellbound recently as I pushed play and the opening scenes of “Where the Wild Things Are” unfolded before their eyes. The story of Max and his time as king of an unknown land inhabited by wild things came to life right there on my laptop … (read more)


Baptist Memorial Health Care uses only its people for work on its first Habitat for Humanity house

Corporate Giving story for The Commercial Appeal

April 10, 2009

Baptist Memorial Health Care Corp. has been working to build the largest house ever built in this area for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Memphis. Dedication for the five-bedroom home on Pershing in Binghamton is slated for May 13.

“This is probably a defining moment in my private and professional life as an opportunity to give back,” said Beverly Jordan, vice president and chief nursing officer for BMHCC. “You can see it in volunteers’ eyes and hear it in their voices that they’re grateful to be participating in this.”

BMHCC is the exclusive sponsor for this house, donating $60,000 to Habitat and covering all 480 shifts, at 41/2 hours per shift. This is its first building project for Habitat … (read more)


Enterprise Rent-A-Car program puts youths on strong path

Corporate Giving story for The Commercial Appeal

April 3, 2009

Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Memphis Inc. is hosting the Enterprise Rent-A-Car Leadership Academy for high school sophomores and juniors.

The six-session course, from Feb. 7 through May 16, is designed to help young adults reach their potential when they get jobs.

Enterprise ( supports BBBS ( on a national level, but, “West Tennessee wanted to do more and worked with BBBS to develop this program,” said Chris Anderson, Enterprise regional vice president. “We wanted to do something that was more structured.”… (read more)


Dad tries to teach kids to want less

“Because I Said So” column for The Commercial Appeal

April 2, 2009

I did two things last weekend: I sat in on a session of the Enterprise Leadership Academy focusing on finance at Big Brothers Big Sisters, and I visited the Costco on Germantown Parkway.

I’m here to tell you, the economy will be fine. I base this knowledge on the young people I saw absorbing what local professionals had to teach them about the basics of finance and budgeting at BBBS, and on the ravenous consumption of goods at Costco.

And on pure speculation … (read more)


A Place Called Hope

Feature story for Memphis Parent magazine on the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Memphis

April 2009

Vincent Borello is a living testament to what the Boys & Girls Clubs can do for kids. As a product of the East Utica Boys Club in upstate New York, he grew up in a rough, inner-city neighborhood. He candidly admits, if it hadn’t been for his Boy’s club, “I’d probably be dead or in jail.”

Instead, he was given control of that club at age 17, becoming the youngest unit director in the organization’s history, and never looked back. “I could have been a doctor and saved lives, but not as many as I save here.”

As president and CEO, Borello speaks passionately about the Boys & Girls Clubs and doesn’t consider what he does as work. With the six clubs he oversees in Memphis, “we give kids as much choice and opportunity as possible,” says Borello.

The choices for these children are plentiful from day to day: Play pool or read? Basketball or help from a mentor? Air hockey or cooking class? Other opportunities lie within each choice, namely helping kids improve in mind, body, and character … (read more)


Financial literacy: First Tennessee sponsors SWCC scholarship

Corporate Giving story for The Commercial Appeal

March 27, 2009

The First Horizon Foundation has given $15,000 to Southwest Tennessee Community College to establish the First Tennessee Business and Commerce Endowment Scholarship.

“The scholarship is primarily for students studying finance,” said Charles Burkett, president of banking for First Horizon National Corp., parent company of First Tennessee Bank.

First Tennessee, now in its 145th year, has previously supported efforts at Metropolitan Inter-Faith Association and the United Way, as well as education partnerships at University of Memphis, Christian Brothers University and Rhodes College.

Burkett says the new scholarship at Southwest acknowledges that, “Southwest trains a lot of our employees and customers, and it’s important that we give back.” … (read more)


Rock ‘N’ Soul Museum of Memphis gets grant to buy audio guides

Corporate Giving story for The Commercial Appeal

March 20, 2009

The Rock ‘N’ Soul Museum of Memphis has been awarded a $50,000 grant by the Assisi Foundation of Memphis to purchase audio guides for self-guided tours.

From the museum’s inception in 2000, it offered free audio guides to patrons, absorbing the cost of the usage fee — $1.15 per guide — it paid to Antenna Audio.

“With over 50,000 visitors per year, the fee was costing $65,000 out of pocket,” said John Doyle, executive director of Rock ‘N’ Soul … (read more)


Dinner time with kids a primitive experience

“Because I Said So” column for The Commercial Appeal

March 19, 2009

When I was an adolescent, my mother would look at me eating across the table and hope aloud that I would never order spaghetti on a date. At the time, I probably rolled my eyes and dismissed her concern as that of a square, or whatever we called our elders in the early 1980s.

At the time, too, I was fascinated by this impossible notion that I might actually one day have a date. The mere thought probably knocked the buttered bread from my hand to the floor, which I probably then retrieved and ate.

I know now just what horrors my mother saw back then as I sit down for dinner with a table full of my own children. What I witness there is nothing short of primitive … (read more)


My profession: Old-world produce business fits modern age

My Profession story for The Commercial Appeal

March 18, 2009

Mike Palazola is a peddler.

Despite his 55,000 square feet of mostly refrigerated warehouse space, the 30 trucks that bear his name, the three states he services and the 100 people he employs, Palazola is, at heart, a peddler of onions, apples, bananas and tomatoes.

M. Palazola Produce is a business based in the Old World that has adapted to the new world of corporations, virtual meetings and convenience.

Family is at the core of M. Palazola Produce, where three brothers work with their mother and a son-in-law. Inside the mammoth warehouse with its wood- and-glass offices, when Palazola introduces employees, he mentions where they went to high school … (read more)


Alphabet Appetite class spells fun ways for kids to learn about healthy diets

Feature story for the Lifestyle section of The Commercial Appeal

March 18, 2009

On the drive from our house in East Memphis to Downtown, we pass about 14 Taco Bells. My 2-year-old daughter, Genevieve, wants to stop at every one of them. Due to gestational cravings, she was born with a taste for the 99-cent menu.

This night, however, she and I are headed to the Hope and Healing Center at 1115 Union for a childhood nutrition class.

The nutrition education classes for children are available to a variety of age ranges and at times convenient to the workout schedule of their parents. The class we are attending is Alphabet Appetite, for children ages 2 to 5. The class is the brainchild of Laurie Holt, 23, who began working with Hope and Healing last April as an intern and was asked to develop the class in July. She has been teaching it ever since as a staff member … (read more)