"… but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." – Isaiah 41:30 (KJV)
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Saying Goodbye to a Year
and a Special Friend

As 2022 entered its final quarter, I bade farewell to one of my dearest friends.

Frances Nunnally, whom I’ve had the privilege of knowing for many years, closed her eyes for the last time on September 26, 2022, at the age of 101. I had the honor of attending her 100th birthday party, given by her wonderful daughter, Heidi Nunnally, on June 29, 2021. Heidi took care of her mother for years, seeing to her every need in an unlimited offering of love and devotion. I wrote about the party she gave Frances in an earlier newsletter.

A Holocaust survivor who grew up in Vienna, Austria, Frances lost her entire family in that scourge. Even so, I never saw a hint of bitterness in her face…maybe deep remorse…but never bitterness. She rose above those tragic events and, in fact, at her memorial service I said that she was the tiniest giant I’ve ever known. If she stretched, she wouldn’t have been five feet tall; however, she cast a shadow of dignity that dwarfed skyscrapers. Known for her letters to editors of numerous publications, she wrote words so poignant they buckled my knees.

Frances and Heidi Nunnally

I tried to visit Frances often and take her roses, one of our mutual loves. She always rewarded me with chocolate, another mutual love. Frances would write me thank you notes and often enclosed a tiny, cotton, flower-covered handkerchief in the envelope. The handkerchiefs were the kind my mother used to tuck inside my coat pocket when I was a child going to Sunday School. I never leave home now without one of Frances’ handkerchiefs, a reminder of her integrity and how privileged I was to know her.

This year seemed to leave without saying goodbye. I can scarcely believe that it’s time to start making mistakes when writing the new year on checks, something I usually do for two or three months.

In looking back on 2022, there was no mistake in recognizing the growing unrest and anti-Semitism that’s permeating our country at an alarming rate. The following was reported by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), published April 25, 2022:

  • Incidents reported in all 50 states, including a dramatic spike during Hamas-Israel conflict; Attacks against synagogues and JCCs increased 61 percent…Antisemitic incidents reached an all-time high in the United States in 2021, with a total of 2,717 incidents of assault, harassment and vandalism reported to the ADL. This represents the highest number of incidents on record since ADL began tracking antisemitic incidents in 1979 – an average of more than seven incidents per day and a 34 percent increase year over year.
  • ADL’s annual Audit of Antisemitic Incidents, issued today, found that antisemitic incidents reached a high watermark across virtually every category. Attacks against Jewish institutions, including Jewish community centers (JCCs) and synagogues, were up by 61 percent, incidents at K-12 schools increased 106 percent, and incidents on college campuses rose 21 percent.
  • Assaults – considered the most serious incident type because it involves person-on-person physical violence triggered by antisemitic animus – increased 167 percent, jumping to a total of 88 reports in 2021 from 33 in 2020. Incidents of harassment were up 43 percent, and acts of antisemitic vandalism rose 14 percent.

Those cringe-worthy figures underscore the need for continuing our work in schools and communities. Keeping that in mind, Chutzpah and Courage’s board of directors was able to sign off on a media kit detailing our work. The kit has been printed and is now being provided to principals and legislators as I make visits sharing the information available to schools through our Upstanders Project. I plan to continue promoting that work and our board members will do the same. I also plan to remain active in Rotary, another organization that works diligently to enhance world peace internationally.

In October, Susy Bickford, a fellow member of Brandermill Rotary, and I were roommates at a Rotary International conference in Maryland. While in the harbor, we visited a memorial site that honors those individuals from Maryland who lost their lives on 9-11-01 at the World Trade Center.

At the same site, there was also a tribute to Francis Scott Key who wrote a poem which was later set to music and became America’s national anthem in 1931. Originally titled “The Defence of Fort M'Henry,” Key wrote the poem after witnessing the bombardment of the fort by the British during the War of 1812. The U.S. flag still flying over Fort McHenry at daybreak was the inspiration for Key, as reflected in the now-famous words of the “Star-Spangled Banner.”

At the convention, it was inspiring to hear Maryland’s governor, Larry Hogan, share his unabashed love of the U.S. and encourage us to work together to support the longest historical democracy in the world. I was energized by the programs and especially the plans laid out by Jennifer Jones, the first woman to lead Rotary International in its 117-year history. Another interesting speaker was Dr. Makaziwe Mandela, Nelson Mandela’s daughter, who addressed challenges faced by young women throughout the world.

After meeting Governor Hogan and Mrs. Jones, I gave them copies of Izzy’s Fire and The Little Lion, as well as the new media kit. I also donated a copy of each book to be used as door prizes for the convention.

(L-R) Governor Larry Hogan and Barry Rasson, past president of Rotary International. Jennifer Jones, the first woman to serve as Rotary International’s president, was in demand for photos.
(L-R) Susy Bickford, Dr. Makaziwe Mandela and I shared a little time after her presentation.

One of the most important initiatives of Rotary International is to eradicate polio through their program named PolioPlus. As a polio survivor who was never supposed to walk again, that program holds special significance to me. World Polio Day is recognized by many organizations around the world each year, particularly Rotary International.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation matches funds on a 2-to-1 basis raised by local Rotary clubs. Through a special event arranged by Gary Hinshaw, owner of Putt-Putt Fun Center in Midlothian, I was able to orchestrate Brandermill Rotary’s First Annual Putt-Putt for PolioPlus. Our players were able to raise $355. With the Gates Foundation match, it became $1,065.

Top: First Brandermill Rotary arrivals to play putt-putt
Bottom Left: Hail! Hail! The gang’s all here!
Bottom Right: Bill Girvin scores the first hole-in-one

Western Henrico Rotary Club later asked me to show Saving Sara as a fundraiser for PolioPlus. That club raised $500 during their regular weekly meeting. With the Gates match, it became $1,500. Colleen Bonadonna, who chairs PolioPlus for Rotary’s 7600 District, spoke of the importance of continuing our plan for eradication of the crippling disease at a later meeting of Western Henrico and posed for a photograph as well.

(L-R) Colleen Bonadonna, chair for PolioPlus for Rotary District 7600, Al Dorin, assistant governor for Area 3 of District 7600, and Dinesh Nayak, president of Western Henrico Rotary Club posed with me following Colleen’s presentation. The club had raised $1,500 for PolioPlus earlier by showing Saving Sara.

In November, I attended the annual Kristallnacht ceremony at the Emek Sholom Holocaust Memorial Cemetery and listened again to the reverent service dedicated to the memories of those who were lost to the Holocaust but have no resting place.

I also recently attended the annual meeting of the Virginia Holocaust Museum where I heard an address by keynote speaker Alec R. Hosterman, Ph.D., a communications professor at Longwood University. The audience was spellbound as he spoke about his experience of taking photographs during the Charlottesville riot known as “Unite the Right,” which resulted in the death of Heather Heyer and numerous others being injured on August 12, 2017. Following his presentation, Dr. Hosterman gave a personal tour of the numerous poignant photographs he took. His display titled, “There’s Just Us,” was on exhibit at the VHM July through December.

Dr. Alec R. Hosterman, communications professor at Longwood University, was the keynote speaker for the annual meeting of the Virginia Holocaust Museum. He spoke on attending the "Unite the Right" demonstration in Charlottesville and the photos he took during the riot that disrupted from it on August 12, 2017.

I’d like to close this final newsletter of the year by thanking you for all your encouragement and support. Your donations to allow us to continue this important work. There is no way to calculate the effect your support has had in a child’s life, but I know that many students have been touched through our Upstanders Project, and through the dedication of our wonderful teachers who always go the extra mile. With your help, I continue to meet with school principals and librarians to spread the word of our Upstanders Project, and I have several follow-up appointments in 2023.

I draw strength from all of you and pray that each of you will find a new year filled with good health and as much love as your heart can hold. I want to share a quote that I refer to when I hit a rough spot and especially when I’ve been disappointed in someone or if I feel I haven’t lived up to my potential. I trust that it will be a comfort and a guide to you in the coming year.

People are often unreliable, illogical, and self-centered; forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives; be kind anyway. If you are successful, you will win some false friends and true enemies; succeed anyway. If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you; be honest and frank anyway. What you spend your years building, someone may destroy overnight; build it anyway. The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; do good anyway. Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough; give the world the best you’ve got anyway. You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and God. It never was between you and them anyway. ~ Mother Teresa

Recommended Reading
The Nazi Titanic: The Incredible Untold Story of a Doomed Ship in World War II by Robert P. Watson. I seldom recommend a book I haven’t read, however, I’m making an exception this time, since there is no doubt I’ll read this book soon. I’m suggesting it based on having listened to an hour-long presentation given by the author, Dr. Robert P. Watson, the Distinguished Professor of American History at Lynn University. He spoke about his book, The Nazi Titanic (published in 2016) during a zoom program, hosted by Classrooms Without Borders. I was hooked from the very first sentence. Watson told of the miraculous way he was able to uncover the decades-long secret story…through a daughter of Holocaust survivors... and how exposing it documented the largest death toll of friendly fire ever reported.
Upcoming Events
I will participate in a program for authors at Powhatan Public Library on January 21 from 10 a.m. - noon. Let your friends know so they can stop by and say hello.

I have been accepted as a presenter at the Virginia Council for Social Studies 2023 Conference planned for March 24/25, 2023 in Richmond. It’s the first in-person conference held by this organization in two years. I will be presenting “An Inquiry Into the Bravery of Upstanders,” the program that Chutzpah and Courage has helped develop and is currently being taught at Swift Creek Middle School in Chesterfield County.

Dr. Lynne Bland, secondary social studies curriculum specialist for Chesterfield County Public Schools, who was part of the team that developed the Upstanders Project, will also be assisting me to answer questions that teachers may have following the presentation. I plan to show Saving Sara as well.  
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December 29, 2022
Copyright © 2022 Nancy Wright Beasley, All rights reserved.

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