The You Are Never Alone Foundation, Inc., a non-profit, Vermont-based grassroots organization, is on a mission-its mission is to foster caring and hope from one person to another.
Founder Salley Gibney of Dorset has visited several area schools, including-most recently-Poultney High School. She appeared in conjunction with Tracy Gallipo, PHS guidance counselor, along with teacher Dawn Sarli.
The three women shared the task of handing out Gibney's unique wooden "caring coins"; the coins depict two stick figures shaking hands. The wooden coins are attached to a miniature card; one side is so inscribed: "You are never alone" and the other side reads, "Wherever you are...However you feel...You are never alone..." Both "to" and "from" salutations are included to personalize the cards.
"The Caring Coin is a simple, tangible reminder of caring. It is a gift of hope. This little wooden coin somehow brings a feeling of comfort, belonging, hope," Gibney says on the foundation's website. "Perhaps it's the wood; the wood is warm and smooth and of the Earth. Perhaps it's the message, 'You are never alone'. The Caring Coin came in a dream. One night I had a dream. I was holding a coin, a wooden coin, the wood felt warm and smooth. Engraved on the coin was an angel and the message You are never alone. I could feel the angel and the words.
"When I woke up, I looked for the coin. When I couldn't find it, I realized that I had been dreaming. I sat on the side of my bed thinking about the coin and the message. I thought, 'What a wonderful message to share...' It wasn't until a while later that I realized the message was for me too. The next day, I tried to forget the dream. But the coin and the message kept coming into my mind. I knew in my heart that I must follow this dream. But where do I start?
"I asked an artist friend to draw a free flowing angel," she adds. "Then I tried to find someone who could craft the coins. It was important that you could feel the angel and the message. After many attempts and frustrations, I found the perfect person who could laser the angel and the message on the coins. These coins had a special energy about them... When I saw the calming effect the Caring Coins had for my mother with Alzheimer's Disease, I realized that there was something very special about these coins.
"I always carried Caring Coins in my pockets and had a supply in my car. As I continued to share them randomly, I was amazed how this little wooden coin meant different things to different people. The Caring Coins began to take on a life of their own; they began showing up in the darnedest places."
Gibney noted that when Hurricane Katrina struck, her foundation invited concerned citizens to sponsor Caring Coins for the mega-storm's survivors.
"It was then that I was inspired to draw the Me to You figures which became our logo for the You Are Never Alone Foundation and for the Me to You Caring Coins. Today, we share both the Angel Caring Coins and the Me to You Caring Coins. I continue to share the Caring Coins randomly today. Each time I share a Caring Coin a little magic happens. I see this magic in the eyes of those receiving the coin; I hear it in their voices. I feel the magic inside of me. I invite you to feel the magic, too," she notes.
As a special community service project, and working with Camp Johnson in Colchester (a military site associated with the Vermont National Guard) PHS faculty and students wrote thank you cards to the troops. Later, Gibney delivered the coins and cards to Camp Johnson for distribution to the troops. Gibney's goal is to distribute lots of caring coins, as part of a series of yellow-ribbon events, throughout Vermont.
This summer, 2,000 Vermont soldiers will be deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq. "Join us in sponsoring a caring coin for our troops," Gibney said.
Coins are available for sale on the foundation's website and donations are accepted that enable the organization to continue its sharing caring coins with others around the world, not just the military. Donations must be made payable to: You Are Never Alone Foundation, Inc., P.O. Box 523 Dorset, Vt. 05251.
For more details, contact Salley Gibney at 867-2492 or go online: www.YouAreNeverAloneFoundation,org.