Monday, June 29, 2009

Generosity Knows No Borders--Building Schools in Afghanistan

 Since returning to West Virginia to launch WV LIVING, I've met some amazing people doing extraordinary things.  One of those people is Parween Mascari, an attorney at Jackson & Kelley in Morgantown. I swear Parween must have super powers--not only is she one of the state's leading attorneys (just look in her car--boxes of briefs are stacked to the ceiling), she co-founded Generation Morgantown, serves on numerous boards and committees--and is the mother of four children.  Parween is also an Afghan-American born in Parkersburg. She jokingly calls herself a "halfghan."  And she is one of the proudest and vocal West Virginians I know!

Parween recently met with some Afghan judges and lawyers in D.C., who spoke about the need for chairs in Afghan schools. Chairs.  The schools have no chairs so the children stand the entire day, making learning difficult. How can a child concentrate on learning when her legs are tired and aching? And even more amazing is the fact that these schools are open air schools held under trees, which makes it difficult in even the best circumstances, but impossible in inclement weather. 

Parween was so moved by the experience that in response she created a company called Sultan's Daughters, and she has been selling beautiful pashmina shawls to benefit the construction and furnishing of schools in Afghanistan through the Nooristan Foundation. She has already raised enough money to build 20% of a school in a village called Pagisam. This past Friday, she held a fundraiser in conjunction with Generation Morgantown at Cafe Bacchus and raised $2,200 to further her efforts. Add VideoIt only takes $16,000 USD to get a school up and running!

I am never more proud to be a West Virginian than when I'm in the company of good people doing great things. Because it isn't easy. Inertia is a powerful thing. There are so many demands on our time, it is easy to say, "I wish I could..."  It is a different story to say, "I will do." For those of you who read the magazine, you know that my favorite quote is from Ghandi--"Be the change you wish to see in the world." And my friend Parween exemplifies that. It makes me so proud when I meet "Do-ers" that I want to scream from the top of a mountain, "LOOK at what West Virginians are doing!  We are changing the WORLD!" 

To help Parween build schools in Afghanistan, please visit please visit or email

Saturday, June 27, 2009

46th Mountain State Art & Craft Fair

The 46th Annual Mountain State Art & Craft Fair is one of the most highly anticipated art and craft fairs in the state.  More than 130 of Appalachia's finest artists and craftspeople will be selling their products during the this three-day event beginning July 2, 2009 at Cedar Lakes Conference Center near Ripley. The food alone is worth making the trip--roasted corn, buckwheat cakes, beans and cornbread, BBQ, homemade ice cream and kettle corn will make your stomach sing!  So bring the family and enjoy the festivities, mouth-watering food, and demonstrations.  And while you are there stop by the WV LIVING booth!  We will be in the building with the quilt exhibit!   Admission prices: Adults, $6; Children (6-12), $2; Children (under 6) free.  For more information, visit

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Charming town of Kingwood, WV

I just visited Kingwood, WV! What a great little town! I've uncovered wonderful little treasures, like the charming old Westbrook Esso Station and cute gift shops like Calico Cat and Robyn's Nest. Make sure you grab a bite to eat at Monroe's--and save room for dessert! I enjoyed myself so much that I'm heading back today with my family to participate in the buckwheat cake breakfast feed at the firehouse/community center, which is held the second Sunday of every month. I'm told that practically the entire town comes--one of the reasons I just LOVE small towns! You don't need to wait until the Buckwheat Festival (although you should definitely attend) to plan a visit--it is a beautiful drive.