Honoring a 9/11 Hero

12 09 2009

Stephen Siller, beloved husband and father of five, was a firefighter from Squad 1, Park Slope Brooklyn. On 9/11, he was off-duty, and on his way to golf with his 3 older brothers.

When Stephen heard on his scanner that the World Trade Center had been hit, he turned his vehicle around and headed towards the site. When his truck was prohibited from entering the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, typically of him, he raced on foot towards the site with his gear strapped to his back.

He was last seen alive on West and Liberty Streets where he, more than likely, went looking for his Squad, all of whom perished.

There will be a race to commemorate his efforts in NYC on Sept 27th. Today there was one in Wake Forest, NC. The only town that was permitted to do the same in honor of this hero. WFFD dressed in full turnout and ran 5k through town, under the railroad tunnel, ending at the water tower.

















Below are Stephen Siller’s brother and sister giving Jonathan Mestas the award for the first firefighter to complete the race.




Ethiopia: a journey of love

31 08 2009

So for those of you who know me (melissa),  you know I come from a very *lively* family. Yeah, we’re loud, we eat a lot, we talk with our hands, we speak spangliharic…but we our family is full of love. For those of you who know my family recently, you know that six years ago my parents first adopted my brothers Jeremiah and James. Two years ago, they added Josiah, Keziah and Keren to the household. And all along the way there have been others who were not legally adopted, but were “adopted” in love. Solomon Bekele is one of those boys. My parents met him in November 2007 at Kolfe Boys Orphanage in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. He stood out to my mom immediately, and she got his email address and began mothering a young man through email, letters and care packages. This boy was orphaned, and entered the orphanage at the age of ten with no living family.

Long story short, my mom went out to Addis to be there with Solomon for his graduation and help him transition out of orphanage life into living with a family we came into contact with through their son, who was studying here this past year. Our cousin George went along to video/photograph the trip. I can’t wait to see the footage! Solomon was the first boy from Kolfe to be accepted into Infonet College, and he not only graduated as a top scorer in his marketing division, but he succeeded as valedictorian for the entire school! Read my mom’s blog for the latest. It’s a tearjerker post. Amazing.
Check out this slideshow my sister made from their first trip.
View this montage created at One True Media
The Kolfe Orphanage, Ethiopia

He’s a Fireman.

21 06 2009

My brother started as an Explorer with the WF Police Dept when he was in high school… but some people ( including my mama) convinced him to try the WF Fire Dept Junior Volunteer Program. He reluctantly did. And fell in love. After three years of volunteering, Jonathan entered a grueling Recruit Academy with the Wake Forest Fire Department in January and just graduated with an average of 95 (correct me if I am wrong.) Friday night we were fortunate enough to make it to his graduation and hear the chiefs and captains sing the praises of the nine graduates. I was hoping we would make it, and since Cana arrived early, we did! Our Uncle Chuck and cousin Gary, also Firefighters, drove all Thursday night from Florida to be here for this special ceremony. Jonathan was so honored and the three have a new bond. Jonathan will be stationed on the Ladder truck starting next week. IMG_6725x

Jonathan, we can’t picture you doing anything else as your main career. We are so proud of your accomplishments!


group shot





BJ and Capt. Driver

Ladder 1x

three guys

IMG_6727Grandma and her firefighting boys.

All That I Can Say…

15 10 2008

Today is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, as I learned from my friend and photographer Casey’s blog. Her post today brought tears to my eyes. Check it out HERE. Casey and Dan have been in my prayers a lot lately, as they grieve the loss of their son, Asher… Casey gives some great insight into the heart of a grieving mother and how to comfort a family experiencing loss.

One of my personal struggles this year has been the thought of losing a child, especially now that I have one. And it seems I know so many who, within the last year, have experienced this kind of loss–whether by miscarriage, infant death, or the death of a child. I am moved by their openness, their honesty, and their faith. I am constantly reminded of the hope we have in Christ through them and their hope. This song, posted by Angie on her blog, Bring the Rain, really expresses the emotions I have felt for our family and friends: All that I can Say.

When a family knows that the baby they’re carrying is not going to live, there are many photographers who go to the hospitals and photograph their lone moments meeting each other. To share glances and cuddles and tears. I cry every time I see one of these posts. Hard. I probably would call it sobbing.

Anyway, if anyone in the area knows of someone in this situation, I would be happy to donate my photography to capture their only moments together in this life. I would love to honor your choice to carry your baby for as long as they would live and would cherish the opportunity to give you photographs of your little one to treasure.

Please pray for those who are experiencing this loss today. Mom, Naunie, Casey, Kerry, and then Mary Beth, Will & Familia Ruiz… you are all especially in my prayers today.