NHTSA Federal Agency

Take Responsibility – It’s the Right Thing to Do – Man Up

A Look at David Friedman and how he dealt with the NHTSA Investigation

Admit your mistakes

David Friedman, the acting leader of the NHTSA is not in a very comfortable seat right now. He is faced with much criticism for what his agency didn’t take care of in time to prevent the many unfortunate deaths, aside from that he also shifted the blame to GM the car manufacturer.

General Motors has had ignition switch issues causing cars to veer off on the road and airbags not deploying properly for a number of years already. Many tragic deaths have occurred because of these flaws. It seems that the main federal safety agency (the NHTSA) responsible for ensuring that these matters are taken care of has not fulfilled its duties. Not only that, but the agency is shifting the blame to the government owned auto manufacturer (GM).

I’m not here to place judgment or to point fingers. What I will say is that one of the hardest things for a person to do is to say “I’m sorry”, “It was my mistake” and things like that. It is my belief and I’m sure many others’ as well, that when someone is able to so to speak “man up” and assume responsibility only gains respect. Even if he/she has to face certain consequences for their actions, people are likely to have a much more favorable look towards him/her and only respect and forgiveness is gained. Hillary Stout and Aaron M. Kessler shared in The New York Times that many members in Congress along with relatives of victims of these crashes expressed disbelief in how David Friedman dealt with the responsibility placed upon him. You can see these comments below

People, not deliveries When dealing with car deaths, we’re not dealing with some unhappy Amazon customers who have not received their package on time. We are dealing with human lives, grieving family, and friends; human beings that have and could have impacted our world in very positive ways.

Aside from all the safety measures drivers and passengers must take when riding in a car, the automakers along with safety agencies they have to answer up to have many safety issues to contend with as well. Yes, business is about making money, but it cannot under any circumstances come at the expense of human safety.

Whatever is going on in the news with GM and the NHTSA is unfortunate but hopefully will be corrected for the future. What  these companies and agencies can take for themselves and us for our own private lives is the ability to take safety seriously, for ourselves, other drivers and passengers (especially children), the elderly and every human being. Taking responsibility for a mistake, admitting to a wrongdoing and misdemeanor is not a fault rather something to take pride in. It shows that you are the human who is intended to be, the one who makes mistakes, commits wrongdoings and goes about fixing them and themselves.

See the video below which shows how admitting to mistakes is professional and something to be proud of.

Below are some interesting quotes from both members of The House and a relative of a victim.

“You want to obfuscate responsibility, rather than take responsibility,” Ms. McCaskill, a Missouri Democrat, said, her voice rising. “We’ve all said shame on G.M.” She added, “You’ve got to take some responsibility that this isn’t being handled correctly.”

“N.H.T.S.A. was actively trying to find the ball,” he (David Friedman) said. “G.M. was actively trying to hide the ball.”

“But Mr. Friedman declined a request from Senator Edward J. Markey, Democrat of Massachusetts, that he apologize to the public for the agency’s failure to act on thousands of driver complaints about stalling in Cobalts and other G.M. vehicles.”

“As Mr. Friedman continued to speak, Ms. Christian (birth mother of victim) said she could feel herself getting flushed and increasingly upset over the agency’s lack of remorse.”

Go back to where you were

picture of tornado

Weather safety during Autumn months – Keep your child safe

Tornado Season is Here. Safety Tips for Kids and Family

When I think about tornadoes, what comes to mind is watching The Wizard of Oz many years ago as a kid. A tornado rips poor Dorothy’s house out of the plains in Kansas and takes it to the Land of Oz.

The good news is that the tornado dumped her house on the wicked witch of the east (I guess there’s justice in the world). The only obstacle she faced now was taking care of the wicked witch of the west (quite a scary task).

The reality though, is that tornadoes really do happen in real life, with lots of damage and death. They don’t just occur on TV where Dorothy splashes water on the witch and everyone lives happily ever after.

It’s fall, and tornado watches have been announced, and thankfully false alarms.

Tornadoes commonly occur during the spring and autumn seasons, particularly affecting the Midwest regions also known as Tornado Alley. Sometimes however, tornadoes can even hit the south like in Florida. Severe thunderstorms can play a big part and turn into tornadoes. Thunderstorms alone can be dangerous and treacherous for driving, pedestrians and children. If a thunderstorm materializes into a tornado the dangers just escalate dramatically. Consider thunderstorms as a tornado warning. I read from The NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) that on average tornadoes can kill up to 60 people a year. Those numbers can fluctuate though as they can be in the single digits or even in the hundreds.

Most important, is to prepare your family and yourself for the tornado. There are things to keep in mind before, during and after the twister passes.

It’s a good idea to have a backup generator and emergency lights just in case the power goes out. Extra lanterns and flashlights are very helpful as well. Keep some flares, food, blankets, and first aid materials as a precaution in your car to assist yourself or others if there is an emergency on the road.

Below is a set of three videos which has many helpful tips in preparing for tornadoes during all three stages; before, during, and after the tornado.

Additionally, cars can get flooded in these conditions and engines completely ruined. It would be a pity for many who drive through really flooded areas especially when they don’t have to and then their cars die. The expense and the danger are high. At Kars4Kids we received many vehicles that were flooded and ruined in Hurricane Sandy. Don’t brave the storm unnecessarily. If you see flooding ahead NOAA advises, “turn around don’t drown”.

There are those who love storm chasing. While I appreciate what they are doing both as a sport and as an aid for the rest of us, it is extremely dangerous. So unless you are from the more brave of us (unlike me), don’t go storm-chasing.

So get out there, make sure to drive carefully and only when you must. Children are the first priority in safety. If you have to keep them home, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Joan Rivers, Kars4Kids,

Can We Talk? – Say it as it is!

Joan Rivers – A Tribute

Joan Rivers – an icon in the world of truth. She said what she believed in. She did what she felt was right despite murmurs around her and she succeeded despite many obstacles. The world she grew up in was not as “woman friendly” as it is today. She related on NPR how she felt her mother was always disappointed with her for many of her childhood years, but she worked hard. She strove for the top, and succeeded. Through laughing at life, having a stark but funny perspective she was able to bring laughter and a sense of relief to those around her. When most people would have retired or given up she just tried harder; she existed on a different plain. As she expressed also on NPR, “I am so out of the loop. I am never honored. My career is hilarious to me. I am either under the radar or over the radar.” She was living in a different stratosphere where she just did what she needed; she did what it took to be successful.

In some ways some of this can seem sad. She wrote this book how she hates everyone. She was at times biting, wincingly on the mark, or harsh. However, with people like this there are no pretenses, no falseness; just the absolute truth. With such people you always know where you stand in the relationship, you can expect a certain amount of predictability and it’s hard to be insulted or hurt. She was just who she claimed to be. Take it or leave it. My uncle, Zvi Howard Rosenman said about her, “she was as real as anyone can get, she had guts to say things that no one else said, she was a delightful person, and a great friend. She brought lots of joy to many people.”

Below is just one recent example of her trademark, “say it as it is”.

We strive to raise children in today’s world to be the people they can be. Joan Rivers was an example of someone utilizing their every strength to accomplish. With her, there was a side which was fun and a side which was stark. Two sides of one truthful human being. She will be missed.

Will you donate a car or a drone this year?

Innovative Technology and our children

Amazon Drone, donate car, Amazon Prime

Ever think about how the world around you has changed dramatically in the last 25-30 years?

Compare that old Chevy you had back in the 80’s or the Toyota Camry in the early 90’s to what is on the market today. What amenities did they have compared to now? How did you conduct business with people from out of your town, state, or country?

I mean, think about how we do business today. Ecommerce, Amazon, eBay, all of our online shopping and banking. Heck, you can even deposit a check from your phone. Communication is not these clunky telephones with lots of wires both inside and outside your home. Wireless communication, texts, and instant messaging have transformed our whole way of communication with each other. Instead of waiting a few days for a letter to arrive, you got email, WhatsApp, etc. In the medical world we have fertility treatments, DNA testing, CT scans and MRIs. We have robots doing non-invasive surgery for us. It’s just amazing to think about. We have apps for so many things; education, shopping, reading, safety, and much more. Yes, I know I’m really hyped up about this topic but it’s truly fascinating to think about. And there’s so much more out there along with the potential. More information about innovations in technology.

I’m sure we all have those moments when we rely on modern technology and then we end up wasting so much time and money because of technicalities. Technology definitely has its downside but ultimately this is what keeps the world running.

The kids of today are the innovators, creators, and inventors of tomorrow.

Many children and young adults don’t have access to quality education on their own. There are wonderful foundations, government funds and loans, and smaller charities that want to help youth reach their potential and realize their dreams. Put them all together and now there is a lot to choose from. A kid who wants to learn about some engineering or mechanics, but has a tough time getting into a program has options as well. Kars4Kids has programs aimed at preparing youth for their future.

I saw this fascinating video on cnn.com yesterday that got me thinking about this. This gentleman by the name of Chris Malloy is working on a hover bike which can potentially be used for search and rescue operations, agriculture needs, and disaster zones in the future.

Chris Malloy

These innovations we have today come from hard working people with vision. We never would have imagined these ideas in our lives on our own. In order for this to continue we must encourage our own children, our communities, and our friends to help build the future world.

Kars4Kids was an idea that was borne from creativity. Who would have thought of donating a car 30 years ago? People donated money, food, clothes, but cars? Recycling is a prime example of what interesting ideas the world comes up with. All of these ideas build new realities, helps our families, optimize communication, and protect safety and health.

Who knows, people donate cars to Kars4Kids, boats and jet skis, RVs and trailers, motorcycles and golf carts. Maybe one day people will donate drones, or hovering bikes developed by Chris Malloy.

Back to School Anxiety – Get Those School Supplies Ready

How School Supplies Can Help Transition Your Child Into the New School Year

school supplies Kars4Kids

                  School Supplies

It’s that time of year again; meeting the new teachers and classmates, orientation meetings, and school supply shopping trips.

For children this time of year can be exciting in anticipation of the new school year. It can also be a source of “back to school anxiety” among many children both young and old.

Dr. Ayelet Talmi goes through a number of common fears children can experience. Fear of strangers is a healthy fear in that we want children to be safe and careful who they interact with. Sometimes a child will be even afraid of people close in relationship to them. It can take them some time along with strong and healthy support for them to become comfortable and strong enough to get past it.

Fear of Separation is something that kids go through and with the help of the parent they can adjust to school, camp or anytime the parent has to take a brief leave of the child. Saying goodbye is a healthy thing, just slipping out can place the child in a vulnerable position possibly thinking where their parent is, will they ever return?

These are common fears children may experience when coming from their comfortable summer vacation and transitioning into the school year. Beginning of the school year anxiety is normal as well and must be worked out with the child. Frequently, activities like going together with Mom or Dad to meet the new teacher, see their new classroom and go to the store to purchase school supplies can be exciting and a source of comfort and empowerment for the child to work out any anxiety for the upcoming school year.

I was talking with my friend recently who thought of providing a service for school parents through which he’d get hold of all of the supply lists from various schools in the area and provide directly to the parents a package of everything that they need without going to Wal-Mart! His wife felt differently; as an educator herself she felt that this is part of the child’s school experience and should not be taken away from them. Some parents feel they cannot afford another set of notebooks etc. “why not use from last year”. In my humble opinion like my friend’s wife felt, buying new supplies can make all the difference in making the child’s school year a successful one. Coming the first day excited can help facilitate this year’s learning experience to be a very positive one. The child associates the new supplies with themselves. A new package of pens and pencils in a brand new case can be an expression of their character that they had a part in choosing and something new and fresh to be proud of. Child psychologist Dr. Diana Garcia, from Capital Psychological in Ottawa was interviewed recently by CTV in Montreal, Quebec and said, “The more ownership they can take… the more they’re going to buy into it.” I feel that children choosing their own school supplies are in the same category. Read more here:

There are parents who don’t have the ability to buy fresh supplies every year for their child. What can be done for these children so that their school year starts off with a bang, with a feeling of freshness, and a brand new start with confidence? This August 22nd, Kars4Kids held a backpack/school supply giveaway together with NY State Senator Gustavo Rivera who also reaches out to the Bronx community through Bronx CAN a health initiative providing resources for parents to start of their child’s year healthy. See video below of the event.

Schools, school districts, and parents along with any other shelters and resources for needy families can obtain these school supplies now by filling out this back to school online form.

School is about hard work to produce, to learn and to apply skills in our everyday life. We want to cushion the anxiety on both children and their parents by helping out even just a bit. These children are our future generation of new doctors, lawyers, congressmen and senators, public servants and helpers for society both socially and economically. This is our pride and this is our motto at Kars4Kids.

More great resources on Back to School Anxiety include:

http://today.uconn.edu/blog/2014/08/coping-with-back-to-school-anxiety/

http://www.parentfurther.com/blog/back-to-school-anxiety

http://www.empoweringparents.com/Reduce-Back-to-School-Anxiety-for-Young-Children.php#

Some Thoughts About Donating a Car

A Customer Service Rep Shares Some Experiences

So many people that call me up at Kars4Kids to donate their vehicles aren’t just going through the motions of getting rid of and donating their cars. For many what goes through their minds is the good deed, tax deduction or vacation voucher. But for others and there are many like those, when they choose to donate their car, they frequently are very sentimentally attached to their car and are giving away something that is a part of themselves. Check out these two tweets.

Hard to donate a car Donating a car is hard

Taking good care of your car requires maintenance, foresight and devotion. It’s almost like a real relationship. You can kind of develop this emotional bond with your automobile. You take care of it; it in turn takes you where you need to go. Many people say with great pride, Ayy, that’s my ‘87 Oldsmobile. She’s served me very well all these years, taking me to work, funerals, sad occasions, family vacations and other nostalgic places. People have their traditional car maintenance reserved for over the weekend. They tinker and probe to make sure their car is in tip top shape. They wash it with care and then it sparkles in the sunlight.

There are all of these well known tips to making sure your car lives out its full lifetime.

• Read the user manual. They built it; they know best.

• Take it for oil changes periodically; although there are those that claim that today’s oil requires much less changing than previously. Oil today can extend from between 5-10k miles. Much different than what everyone says to get that 3k checkup. Oil has stronger properties these days. In any case, take good care of your car regardless.

• I’ve previously mentioned some of these tips in regard to saving on gasoline. Don’t gun the engine, let your car ease into the drive, try not to drive very fast and overuse the brakes.

• Check the filters, and fluids regularly along with getting your wheel rotations and other tips as well.

It’s interesting, but like I mentioned people actually develop a relationship with their mode of transportation.

Take a look at a tweet we discovered recently.

Kars for Kids cute image

I thought of 2 things here when I saw the tweet. There’s the same car with the same couple many years later. Now, I don’t know if this image was doctored or photoshopped in any way. My point is, cars need care – relationships need care. If your car is precious to you, you really can develop those sentimental feelings to it. People have a really hard time parting with their car.

Relationships whether with our friends, colleagues and especially those most near and dear to us; ourselves, spouses, parents, siblings and children need lots of oil changes, maintenance, reading the user guide well, care and devotion. I recently read an article on the 4 personalities necessary for building a business from Lolly Daskal. A business needs vision and accountability from its leader. It requires the one who actually makes sure things get done. It receives constructive critique from someone she calls the devil’s advocate and most importantly has an advocate, a mentor, someone who serves as an objective resource to help you thrive and grow; someone who will be there for you in the good times and in those rough moments. To be successful and to ensure things last,those are the relationships we need; whether it be a car, a business, your colleague, boss, or most importantly your children, your spouse and yourself.

So go ahead, take care of your car, get its full value before calling me at Kars4Kids or your local dealer; but more importantly, take care of yourself and those closest to you.

Laughter is the Best Medicine – A Tribute to Robin Williams

Robin Williams singing Kars4Kids jingle

Laughter. That’s what the late comedian Robin Williams is synonymous for. As his wife Susan Schneider said in her tribute for him “This morning, I lost my husband and best friend, while the world lost one of its most beloved artists and beautiful human beings… As he is remembered, it is our hope the focus will not be on Robin’s death, but on the countless moments of joy and laughter he gave to millions”

What Susan his wife expressed I find to be beautiful & on the mark. He brought lots and lots of laughter and joy to millions of people. Now that is no small feat. We live in a world with lots of pain, loss & disappointment. Artists, whether painting on canvas, architects, interior designers, musicians, comedians and countless others all have something very unique in common. They have the ability to bring out the beauty from the everyday life, from the mundane, and from the usually overlooked.

Yes, Robin publicly acknowledged his struggles with depression & substance abuse; however, we find that many comedians are depressed and eventually decide to commit suicide. Very unfortunate, but what would be underlying this depression? After all, they are the ones who have that great sense of humor, the ability to make others laugh, bring joy to millions, have a new and almost optimistic view of life, and are constantly surrounded by admirers.

There are many, both in the laymen’s & medical/research worlds who feel that laughter is the best medicine. Melinda Smith, MA & Jeanne Segal, Ph.D. explain that there are numerous psychological & physiological benefits to laughter.

• Laughter helps dissolve stressful situations, decrease anxiety, anger, & sadness. It also helps you shift perspectives. When you laugh it can relax you and in a more calm state of mind you can view situations more objectively.
• Laughter is usually common with more than one person. This can create nice social settings and less feeling alone. Friendships can be developed easier.
• Be able to laugh at yourself and life. It can help keep things in perspective. We all mess up. We’re human beings and judging ourselves does not help. Laughter helps ease those judgments.
• According to the Mayo Clinic laughter enhances intake of oxygen which is great for blood flow which also increases the endorphin amount released from your brain. Endorphins are a natural “happy” drug comparable to opiates & morphine.

Dr. Gil Greengross Ph.D. has done research on why people actually become comedians. Is it possible that something from their childhood promted their career choice? Previous research indicates that significant stress from the home can be a factor. Some of these pressures can include dad who was not satisfied with their child’s accomplishments and other reasons for feeling inadequate in their father’s eyes. For female comedians it was frequently their mother who placed similar pressure & displeasure with their daughter’s falling short of her expectations. Becoming a comedian was not as popular a career in parents’ eyes back then, but the child saw this as an opportunity to show & prove their value. This career choice was a method to kind of escape and use humor as a coping mechanism to block out the feelings of pain & anxiety. Dr. Greengross feels that today’s younger generation of comedians can be analyzed differently. He conducted a research with questionnaires filled out by 2 groups of students some who became comedians or were becoming comedians & other students. In his findings he did not see much of an influence from peer or parent experiences which led some to become part of the more humorous club.

It’s a hard thing to pinpoint what exactly leads comedians to depression but I along with some of my colleagues have some theories. One of the theories was that people of the arts can be on a different frequency than the rest of humanity. They are so creative; they think about everything in a way that most people cannot relate to. Sure, people who watch the TV shows, the stand-up routines, and the movies laugh and enjoy, but they cannot fathom how this comic actually does what he does; how he thinks of these brilliant ideas. I would venture to say and add to this that when someone is so smart in their own way it can be really lonely and even depressing.

Another theory we came up with is that yes laughter is a good medicine. Doing something that relaxes you; whether a game of tennis or shooting some hoops, listening to music, watching a movie or comedy show can all be healthy and encouraged outlets. The wise mind is able to do these and know that it’s for a specific period of time and set boundaries for themselves. They are in pain and yet they want to be happy & positive. I would say that unfortunately comedians may sometimes get so caught up with life and forget vital skills of combining their emotions with rational and logical thinking to help bring them to a good place. They’ll still be in pain; we all are from different experiences, but anyone not only comedians need to have a dialectic thought process that helps them cope. It’s a lifelong journey.

Robin Williams will always be remembered for his laugh & smile, for his ability to put others at ease and help people get on their feet. He was the energetic and fun actor as the voice of Alladin, Peter Pan, the maniacal DJ in Good Morning Vietnam and last but not least his role in Good Will Hunting. The lesson for us is to remember that laughter is the best medicine. But just like any medicine needs a prescription and used in moderation we too need to view comedy, letting our hair down and other forms of outlets to be within measure.

There are a number of resources for those suffering from depression including Laughter Yoga for Depression. For those who have suicidal thoughts, they can contact The Suicide Prevention Center Hotline at 877-7-CRISIS or visit their website here. Additionally, there is The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline available at 800-273-8255 or visit their website here.

To end off, please enjoy the video below where Robin was a featured character in “Don’t Worry Be Happy”; a motto to remember him for.