Monday, June 29, 2009

Generosity Knows No Borders--Building Schools in Afghanistan

Since returning home 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 Kelly 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 or email

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

WV LIVING Celebrates West Virginia's Birthday at the Nation's Capitol

WV LIVING celebrated West Virginia's birthday at the nation's capitol with the West Virginia State Society.  Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito, Congressmen Rahall and First Lady Gayle Manchin attended the event, which  included a Taste of West Virginia, provided by the likes of the talented Chef Dale Hawkins and The Crazy Baker, Hall Hitzer. The WV  Division of Tourism, The Greenbrier, Chesapeake Energy, WV Department of Agriculture, WV State Parks, WV Professional Rafting Organization, and WV LIVING sponsored the reception. For more information on the WV State Society, please visit