You Have the Power to Donate the Gift of Life

Gwen Pegram and Andre BraggPlease register to Become an Organ, Eye, or Tissue Donor?

Today is Andre and my 11th Anniversary. We are bound together by my kidney.

Eleven years ago, I participated in a pilot program (Living Kidney Donor) through the Washington Regional Transplant Community. This program allows an individual to donate a kidney to the pool of waiting patients who are anonymous. The list holds the names of thousands of patients awaiting a kidney. Prior to this pilot program, a patient had only two choices: a kidney donation with a blood-type match relative or await a kidney from a stranger’s loved one who is brain dead/on life support.

I was honored to meet my recipient and quite surprised to learn that my 50-year-old kidney went to a 13-year-old boy. Andre and I are both doing well and I have no regrets.

If you need a really great story to get you inspired to “register to donate,” please read this very touching and humbling story of paying it forward, which was posted in The New York Times a year ago, February 18, 2012.

Please tweet or email me. I’m happy to share my experience with anyone who wants more information on becoming a living organ donor.

©Photograph copyright.
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Posted by on February 22, 2013 in Health, People


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Become the Interviewer in Your Job Search

Job-Interview-jpg-V2Make the decision that you will not stress out or over think your next job interview. Keep in mind that the interview process is a two-way street — a win-win situation for both you and the prospective employer. Realize that once you’re invited to interview for the position, you have crossed the employer’s threshold of phase one. Know that you were selected because you represented yourself as experienced, skilled, and qualified for the advertised position.

Nailing phase two is up to you. This is where the transformation begins. You must become the interviewer. Mentally switching places — changing from interviewee to interviewer — means being adequately prepared, having confidence in your abilities, and keeping your eyes on the prize. There might have been hundreds of resumes and applications for this one position. More than likely, the search was narrowed to three finalists, which included you. Now is not the time to do the proverbial war dance. Now is the time to ratchet up your research of the employer and do due diligence on every aspect of the organization, its board if there’s one, and its leadership/executive staff. You cannot duplicate similar mistakes as in past interviews, in which you were not successful in getting a job offer. You must do more than reread online advice or listen to your coach dictating how to present yourself. You must compartmentalize all the instructions given about what to say and what not to ask during the job interview. Know that the do’s and don’ts of interview preparation are only reference points. Harness your heightened level of anxiety to quash unnecessary nervousness.

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Posted by on February 21, 2013 in Employment, People


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Alleged Crimes: Murder, Conspirary, and Corruption — The Christopher Dorner and LAPD Saga

When the story of Christopher Dorner’s manifesto came to light, my initial reaction was total recall of two similar tales of corruption in a police department — one fictional and the other nonfiction. The first recollection was The Negotiator, a fictional movie in 1998 starring Samuel Jackson and Kevin Spacey about corruption in the Chicago PD. Jackson (Lt. Roman), a hostage negotiator, was framed for murdering his partner and embezzling money from the PD’s pension fund. The only way Roman believed he could prove his innocence was to take hostages, and demand an expert hostage negotiator Spacey (Lt. Sapien) to find out who was conspiring to kill him to shut him up before he was killed by fellow police officers.
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Posted by on February 11, 2013 in People


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Loving the “Miss”

In days long gone, the title Miss was used to denote an unmarried woman. If one was introduced as Miss Grant, with no first  name, it applied to the oldest daughter in the household. If introduced as Miss Karen Grant, it applied to any female siblings. This formality informed every one of the pecking order for the unmarried females in the home. Today, however, it’s rare to even hear the title Miss spoken. So imagine my surprise the first time I heard a 20-something address me as Miss Gwen. This simple endearment was a pleasant affirmation that I had arrived. I didn’t feel old. I didn’t feel weird. I just felt respected.

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Posted by on February 8, 2013 in People


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Black History Month: Ode to My Foster Parents

There are many charitable African Americans who fall under the radar that should be honored during Black History Month. I take this opportunity to give special thanks and a real huge shout-out for my foster parents.

In order to understand the gift of a second chance for a child is to first understand the altruistic role of a foster parent. A foster parent is an adult guardian who steps in and temporarily shares his/her home with a child who’s in an emergency predicament. This occurs when a child’s biological parents either abandon their child or create an environment that’s not safe for the child.

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Posted by on February 7, 2013 in People


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Black History Month — Blind Tom: Slave, Autistic Savant, Musical Prodigy

TheBalladOfBlindTomA little over a year ago, I was researching the history of my hometown, Warrenton, VA, when I came across this article about Blind Tom. Black History Month is a befitting time to share the story of this extraordinary man who was born blind and autistic, but came to share with the world his phenomenal recall and musical genius.

Thomas Greene Wiggins was born into slavery in 1849 and sold at auction a year later with his parents and two brothers to the Bethune plantation in Columbus, GA. Since Tom was blind, he was thrown into the sale as a freebie. Tom’s only sign of understanding anything was his interest in sounds and the ability to mimic them. According to Barbara Schmidt, she wrote in Archangels Unaware that General Bethune told Tom’s mother that her son had as much intelligence as the family dog and began teaching Tom animal commands like “sit” and “stand.” One day before Tom was six years old, he astounded the family by reproducing the sequence of chords from memory exactly as he had heard the Bethunes’ musically talented children play them.
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Posted by on February 4, 2013 in Education/Learning, History, People


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My Morning Joe with Jay

2-1-2013 293Everyone should experience the pleasure of having an exhilarating discussion with an elder. Over the last five years at my residence, Metropolitan of Lorton, I have been honored to have deep discussions and inspirational conversations with Jay and his wife Caroline. What makes these conversations so enlightening are that the elders are in their 80s, sharp as a tack, witty as anyone you’ll ever meet, and white. I bring up race because I’m black, 60, and nothing is off-limits to talk about; probably because we respect each others’ viewpoints, no matter the topic. Read more


Posted by on February 3, 2013 in Health, People