Oglethorpe’s First Lady a Guest on the Martha Stewart Show

It’s not unusual to hear about people giving their time and fortune around December. For Betty Londergan (also known around OU as President Schall’s wife), giving has literally been an everyday thing for almost a year in 2010.

An author and active community member, Betty made local and national headlines with her “What Gives? 365” blog project, a year-long effort in which she donates $100 a day to a different organization or person doing good work in the community.  Each day she hits her blog to express why she thinks the cause is worthy of support and encouraging others to do the same.

Betty Londergan with Project Compassion founder Kaziah Hancock at an Oglethorpe University event. "What Gives? 365" gave $100 to Project Compassion in September.

Her blog garnered national attention in USA Today and Huffington Post and was featured in Whole Living magazine, and she appeared on the Martha Stewart Show in an episode that will spotlight charitable organizations, philanthropists, and giving.

By the end of 2010, Betty donated a grand total of $36,500—funded through a small inheritance she received from her father. On her blog, Betty reveals that her parents were incredible savers but also passionate givers and thinks that her mother would have approved. “Dorothy Mae would love that and say that it’s about time I stopped buying so many darn shoes and did something for others.”

After weathering some financial storms of her own, the old adage, ‘putting your money where your mouth is’ took on new meaning. “Giving away money is the absolute antidote to fear and insecurity about money,” Betty said in the Whole Living article. “Desire and clutching cause suffering—and when you let go, it’s a beautiful thing.”

Tune in to the Hallmark Channel on Wednesday, December 22, 2010 at 10:00 a.m. to see Betty chat with Martha Stewart!

Project Compassion Impacts Oglethorpe

Project Compassion founder Kaziah Hancock unveils a portrait of a fallen Columbus, Georgia soldier last night in Conant Performing Arts Center. Though she has personally painted more than 800 portraits, she rarely sees the reaction from families of her subjects.

In November 2010, at the Conant Center for the Performing Arts, Tony Bailey peered at an oil painting of his daughter and smiled.

Fighting back tears, he remarked, “it’s one of those things that—even though she sacrificed her life, I would not trade this moment for nothing else; …if I had to have this moment.”

Bailey, his wife, Phyllis, and daughter, Candace, came to Oglethorpe to witness the unveiling of a “hero portrait” of his daughter, U.S. Army Seargent Lakeshia Bailey.  It is one of over 2500 oil paintings of fallen soldiers by a Utah native Kaziah Hancock.  In 2003, Hancock founded Project Compassion, a nonprofit devoted to helping families heal by offering them handpainted oil-on-canvas likenesses of their loved ones.

"It really captures who she is...always smiling," remarked Tony Bailey, as he, his wife, Phyllis, and daughter, Candace, looked over the painting last night. He said that Lakeshia always smiled, even in her official military photo, and he felt that Kaziah captured that in the hero painting.

Before the unveiling, Hancock shared with the audience the motivation behind her project, which is made possible with the help of five other artists, and sponsored by generous donations from around the country.

“You want to know how I’ve survived painting over 800 portraits of soldiers?… It’s because God gave his very best.  And my heart is so full of gratitude for all that I have, guys.  I just want to give something back.”

At a young age, Hancock lost her father and after the first Utah casualty in the Iraq war, she sought out the family of the deceased to offer her condolences and a framed portrait of their son.

“When I heard of the first soldier, I was so affected…I remember my back just raised up against the base of my couch, and there were tears streaming from my eyes.  And after I began, some people would say, ‘Why gosh Kaziah—you can’t paint all of them.  There’s been almost 80!’  I say:  I’ll paint as many of them as I can, every year, until I get them all painted or expire trying.  It’s a celebration of a life, so that their memory won’t be lost.  And it’s to show people in a real form how beautiful that person was.”

Betty Londergan, wife of Oglethorpe University President Dr. Lawrence Schall, presents Kaziah Hancock with a donation on behalf of the Oglethorpe Women's Network.

Project Compassion Founder to Present Portrait to Georgia Soldier’s Family

Kaziah Hancock and other volunteer artists who work with Project Compassion have painted portraits for thousands of military families since 2003.  The video above documents her portrait presentation to the Panchot family of Northome, Minnesota.

Please join the Oglethorpe Women’s Network and OU Center for Civic Engagement tomorrow, November 9 at 4:00 pm at the Conant Performing Arts Center to meet Project Compassion founder and artist Kaziah Hancock.

U.S. Army Sergeant Lakeshia M. Bailey

During the program Kaziah will speak about the work of Project Compassion, a nonprofit dedicated to giving hand-painted portraits to the families of fallen U.S. soldiers. She will present a portrait of U.S. Army Sergeant Lakeshia M. Bailey to the fallen soldier’s family. 

Project Compassion founder and artist Kaziah Hancock

A native of Columbus, Ga., Sgt. Bailey died on March 8, 2010, north of Al Kut, Iraq of injuries sustained during a non-combat-related vehicle rollover. Sgt. Bailey was a heavy vehicle driver assigned to the 203rd Brigade Support Battalion, attached to the 1st Battalion, 10th Field Artillery Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division.

A professional artist, Kaziah was impacted by the loss of her father at a young age.  Upon reading about the first death of a soldier from her home state of Utah in the Iraq War, Hancock made a commitment to share and ease the grief of military families. Armed with brushes, paints and passion, she created Project Compassion.

More than 2,500 families around the country have received the healing presence of Hero Portraits, painted by Hancock and her group of volunteer artists. 

This unveiling is open to all and is a Petrel Point event.  A reception will follow in the Conant lobby.  For more information on the event, please contact Tamara Nash at 404-504-1976.