Jennifer Williams is the Web editor for the Catholic Review.


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I like the "never give up philosophy." Gavin is a great example for today's youth.


Great to hear about the generous volunteer effort by Candace Gold. Have always enjoyed her on TV and it is nice to know she is so nice when she is off camera as well as on.



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Where are they now? – Gavin Floyd

I didn’t know it then, but back in 2001, I was interviewing teens who would move on to careers that put them in the spotlight. In addition to Candace Dold, who I featured in my most recent “Where are they now” blog post, I also had an opportunity to meet the talented Gavin Floyd.

Fourteen years ago, I described Floyd as a teenager with “boyish looks and a ready smile” who could heat up the filed as he “hurls a 93-mph fastball toward home plate.”

Others were well-aware of the Mount St. Joseph High School student’s pitching arm, and Floyd was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies that same year.

He went on to make his major league debut in 2004 with the Phillies, and his career took him to the Chicago White Sox, the Atlanta Braves, and most currently, the Cleveland Indians.

Now 32, Floyd is on the Indians’ 60-day disabled list after reinjuring himself during spring training

Maybe the mantra he shared with me as a Mount St. Joseph senior will hold true as he tries to battle his way back to the pitching mound.

Gavin Floyd in 2001, as a senior at Mount St. Joseph High School in Irvington.

“To never give up is pretty much my philosophy,” Floyd said, who recalled coming from a 0 to 8 deficit to beat Calvert Hall College High School with a score of 10-8 in a game during his sophomore year. “You know how the other team tries to taunt you? Well they can talk all they want because I don’t really pay attention to that.”

Floyd acknowledged that baseball is one of the toughest sports to play because the failure rate is so high.

“You probably experience failure every single day because you’re not going three for three every single time,” he said.

Longtime Mount St. Joseph coach Dave Norton said at that time, “If you want to make if professionally, you better love the game.”

The retired coach has a few players who love the game, including Catcher Steve Clevenger, ’04, who recently was on the roster for the Baltimore Orioles and was just optioned to Triple-A Norfolk, and Mark Teixeira, ’98, of the New York Yankees.

Good luck to them all this baseball season!


April 08, 2015 08:09
By Jennifer Williams

Where are they now? – Candace Dold

Since my career at the Catholic Review has now stretched past the 15-year-mark, I thought it might be fun to take a look back at some of the individuals I have interviewed and see where their life journey has taken them.

I wrote about Candace Dold a little more than 14 years ago. Then a 17-year-old senior at St. Timothy’s School in Stevenson and a parishioner of Our Lady of Grace in Parkton, Dold was running her own chapter of Happy Helpers for the Homeless. Each Sunday, she and fellow students would gather at her school where they would form an assembly line to prepare peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for individuals who are homeless. Then she and her crew of volunteers, including her mother, would gather at the corner of Fallsway and East Madison Street where they would serve the sandwiches and other food contributions. They also set out clothing on nearby picnic tables.

“When I’m there, I always have a smile on my face,” Dold said during her interview with me. “I realize that’s what they need.”

Dold spoke of one little girl, Victoria, who always “comes running up to me, and I always pick her up.”

Fast forward 14 years, and Dold is now a traffic and entertainment reporter for Fox 45 News and a mom.

Candace Dold (Image via Facebook)

While her career has blossomed, Dold has still held on to that same spirit of giving back she embraced as a teenager.

I ran into Dold March 19 at the Believe in Tomorrow Children’s Foundation Benefit and Auction in Hunt Valley. Dold served as the emcee for the event, which raises money for the foundation to continue its work providing hospital and respite housing services to critically ill children and their families.

Not only did Dold speak with great compassion about Believe in Tomorrow and her visits there, but I watched as two different little girls who benefited from the foundation threw their arms around Dold for a hug.

So where is Candace Dold now? Turns out her heart and her smile are in just the same place.

Candace Dold of Fox 45 News and Jamie Costello of ABC2 News share their talent March 19 during the Believe in Tomorrow Children's Foundation Benefit and Auction.

March 26, 2015 02:28
By Jennifer Williams

The Daily Difference - The story of my co-worker, John

Every day, random and not-so-random acts of kindness are taking place all around us. Take this morning for example. The restaurant Water for Chocolate on Lombard Street in Baltimore caught fire and as word spread on social media about Chef Sean Guy’s loss, neighbors rallied and have already raised more than $1,000 and have set up temporary housing and supplies for the well-liked business owner.

Inspired by gestures such as this, I thought it would be nice to periodically blog on the “The Daily Difference”– the difference one person or one group can make simply by being kind or reaching out or rallying around a cause.

I’ll start off with a simple story of my coworker John McNulty, who is an advertising account representative at the Catholic Review. John is part-time now, but he’s worked at the Review for more than 40 years. Unfortunately, John suffered a bad fall March 13 – Friday the 13th. He was going to retrieve the mail when he tripped over a piece of pavement sticking up and not only hit his head, but also injured his hip. Luckily, two juniors from Mercy High School in Baltimore were there to help!

John McNulty

Neighbor Holly Georgieff , who recognized John from the neighborhood, and her friend Taylor Rekus were walking Holly’s dog when they spotted John and asked if he needed help. Once they saw John was badly hurt and could not move, Holly ran to get her father, who called an ambulance. Meanwhile Holly and Taylor covered John with a blanket and propped a pillow under his head and Holly shared her cell phone so John could call his son. They waited with him until the ambulance came.

“I thought they were very nice,” said John, who is recovering at one on his son’s houses after having a partial hip replacement. “They came over and offered me their cell phones and asked me if they could get me anything. They cared about me, and rarely do you see that today, the compassion that they had. It was nice the fact that they were there and would have done anything to help.”

Those of us at the Catholic Review are glad they were there too, and wish John a speedy recovery!

Email me at or leave a comment if you have a story you would like me to share of someone making a difference.

March 20, 2015 04:02
By Jennifer Williams

Calvert Hall coach weighs in on “When the Game Stands Tall”

I am a Baltimore Ravens fan and play co-ed, two-hand touch football in Patterson Park, but when it came to reviewing the football-themed movie, “When the Game Stands Tall,” I thought it best to seek out a subject-matter expert.

Who better to evaluate a movie based on a De La Salle sports team than a coach at a De La Salle Christian Brothers school?

So back in June, I invited Calvert Hall College High School’s head football coach, Donald Davis, to attend a screening with me and give me his professional opinion of the film.

Coach Davis

 If anyone knows football, it’s Davis. In the early 90s he was a running back at Calvert Hall, and after graduating in 1996, he went on to play at Johns Hopkins. In 2001 he coached at the former Cardinal Gibbons School before taking over the reins at Calvert Hall in 2007.

The husband and father of five was voted Baltimore Ravens Coach of the Year in 2003 and Coach of the Year by the Baltimore Touchdown Club in 2006. 


Coach Donald Davis has been leading the Calvert Hall football team since 2007. (Courtesy Evan Zimmer)

See a video of Coach Davis talking about the annual Turkey Bowl game.

“When the Game Stands Tall,” which is presented by Tristar Pictures in association with Affirm Films and Mandalay Entertainment, is based on the record-setting 151-game winning streak (1992-2003) by the De La Salle Spartans out of Concord, Calif.

Jim Caviezel, best known for portraying Jesus Christ in the 2004 film The Passion of the Christ, plays the role of head coach Bob Ladouceur. While the streak is amazing, the film is about much more than wins and losses. The film looks at social issues, the work-life balance faced by coaches, friendships, family and more.

Without giving too much away, here’s a look at the movie and the reality of high school football through Coach Davis’ eyes:

Overall impression

I thought the message was a very good message. Obviously coaching at a Christian Brothers school, I have some familiarity with De La Salle High School, so I know the story somewhat. I liked learning the back story surrounding the program and I thought it was presented in such a way that it was interesting beyond the football.


I thought the football scenes were decent. To some degree, cinematography, when I think of Christian movies that are sports related, may not be the best. I think this (When the Game Stands Tall) is probably better, if not the best, in terms of the camera work and the realistic expressions. I didn’t think the acting was good. There were some recognizable actors, which is cool, and usually, that’s the case.

On the reality of the religious aspect

We pray before we play. We pray before meals, we always pray. That was realistic – the scenes in the classroom and having those sorts of discussions.

On the reality of the challenging situations faced by the players

Do our players face challenging situations? More than you could ever believe! Sometimes at least the perception is that only kids from difficult socioeconomic backgrounds have social issues, but if you look at the players in this movie, their issues are friends, support and an overly involved father who was living through his son. The boy who appears to have everything, mom, dad, faith-based, middle class family - in a lot of ways you would look at that kid as a “have,” and yet in some respects he was a “have not”.

On the work-life balance Coach Ladouceur faced

I coach in a difficult situation with high expectations. There are some difficulties the kids have to suffer, but I’ve tried to include my kids in everything I do. I took my kids on a summer tour - for two thirds of the journey I took my high school age son and my 8-year-old daughter. As a coach, you are under particularly demanding circumstances - your family has to understand the dynamic. I’ve tried to do the best I can.

On the way the players in the movie opened up. Does that really happen?

On the last day of practice day before Thanksgiving, I have a very short practice. Then I allow my seniors to go out to the 50 and share with each other - only players, no coaches, and only seniors. I’ve seen guys come in the locker room with tears. While that’s happening, I take the rest of the team, and tell them, “Before you know it, this is going to be you. You’re going to be out there.”

 I remind them what I want them to do the next day is play for those guys. Most will not play football in college, so this is the last time they’ll play. So I remind the underclassmen to go out there and play for those guys.

This movie is based on a winning streak. What do numbers mean to you?

The year we won the championship, we ranked 15th in country the day we played Gilman. At the banquet that year it would have been easy to talk about how we won. I talked about numbers for this team because the only numbers people think about are points and rank, but I talked about guys in the National Honor Society and how many hours of service they did and all those numbers that mattered to me. I’m not sure those things resonated with families the way they did with me. I know that later on, when my guys come back, I can see that the way you begin to wire them begins to matter after they’re gone.

 Hopefully this gives you some good food for thought before you see the film. Comment here after you see the movie and let us know your thoughts. For a review of the movie, click here.




August 22, 2014 11:48
By Jennifer Williams

Thumbs up for Pope Francis

You often hear from business experts and successful people that image is everything and attitude matters.

Pope Francis, the world’s 266th pontiff, may not lead a Fortune 500 company, but the former Buenos Aires prelate is in the business of building up the Catholic Church and spreading the Gospel message.

It’s estimated that roughly one in six people around the world have no religious affiliation. Yet somehow, people are paying attention to Pope Francis. He has been dubbed “the people’s pope,” and Time Magazine named him its person of the year.

Leaders say this faithful Jesuit pope carries the same message and adherence to church teaching as his predecessors, so why is he different? What has he done to make people stop and pay attention – to thrust the Catholic Church into a positive limelight?

The 77-year-old pope certainly has some eloquent analogies that can roll off his tongue in Spanish, Italian, Portuquese, French, German, Ukrainian or Latin. But prose alone won’t land you on the cover of a magazine.

By now we have probably seen hundreds of photos of the faithful leader kissing the heads of babies, reaching out to touch those who are sick and showing his humility by washing the feet of inmates or driving off in a Ford Focus.

Pope Francis waves from a Ford Focus car as he leaves a Marian prayer service near the Spanish Steps in Rome Dec. 8, 2013, the feast of the Immaculate Conception. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

While these are all meaningful, there’s something else the pope has been doing that I think perfectly depicts his simplicity, his efforts to reach out to everyone, his positive outlook and his showing that he is one of us and he is with us.

It’s the thumbs up.

If you look at Catholic News Service photos since the pope celebrated his inaugural Mass nearly a year ago, there are a minimum of a dozen pictures of the pope giving a thumbs up.

And it’s not just any thumbs up. It’s a wholehearted, all out gesture, accompanied by a broad smile and wide eyes. Sometimes – it’s even a double thumbs up.

He did it before his March 19, 2013 inaugural Mass.

Pope Francis gives a thumbs up as he makes his way around St. Peter's Square before his Mass of inauguration March 19, 2013 at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Marcin Mazur, Bishops' Conference of England and Wales)

He did it after celebrating Palm Sunday Mass.

Pope Francis gives a thumbs up as he leaves St. Peter's Square after celebrating Palm Sunday Mass at the Vatican March 24. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) 

He’s done it at his general audiences and he even did it as he met with patients, family and staff at St. Francis of Assisi Hospital in Rio de Janeiro in July.

Pope Francis gives a thumbs up as he meets with patients, family and staff at St. Francis of Assisi Hospital in Rio de Janeiro July 24, 2013. The pope addressed a group of recovering drug addicts offering them a message of compassion and hope as well as a call to self-determination. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

He’s done it for young people in Italy and most recently at the Vatican Jan. 29.

Pope Francis gives two thumbs up as he leaves his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican June 12, 2013. (CNS photo/Paul Haring) 

Pope Francis gives the thumbs up during his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Jan. 29. (CNS photo/Tony Gentile, Reuters)

Image and attitude do matter – and when you’re humble and down-to-earth enough to offer an enthusiastic thumbs up time and time again, I think that positive outlook resonates with people. The gesture is simple, but in a world with school shootings, riots, wars, typhoons, etc., it’s a simple and genuine sign of hope.





February 28, 2014 05:04
By Jennifer Williams

How judging a dog show taught me some new tricks

Sometimes your career can carry you into unexpected territory. That’s what happened to me Oct. 25 when I served as a judge for the Oak Crest Canine Cup III as the Oak Crest retirement community in Parkville.

Although I have a love for our canine friends, I don’t actually own a dog, and I suspect it was my blog on the death of my cat and getting back on track after the loss that inspired Public Affairs Manager Jeff Getek to invite me to this warm and fuzzy opportunity.

My fellow esteemed judges, Gary Hibbs, executive director of Oak Crest, and Danielle Singley, home team program manager for the Baltimore Department of Aging, and I used a four-paw scoring system in the contest, with four paws being the highest mark.

As I returned to the office after this less than two-hour event, it occurred to me that I give “four paws” to shaking things up at work. Here are the “tricks” I learned from judging a dog show.

  • 1.       It’s fun. It was so enjoyable to get out of the office on a beautiful morning and to see the joy of the employees and senior residents as they interacted with their dogs.
  • 2.       It’s a wonderful networking opportunity. In addition to my fellow judges, I also met Chris Giesler, sales director at Erickson, and several lovely residents of Oak Crest.
  • 3.       It’s refreshing and energizing to try new opportunities. The room was filled with so much laughter as we judged for best-dressed, best kiss, best trick and best in show. Watching dogs such as “Raven” flip a dog treat from his nose to his mouth was so lighthearted, it made me momentarily forget about any stress or pressure in my life.
  • 4.       An opportunity such as a judging a dog show really reminds you of the simpler things in life. The connection between a human and his or her pet is so basic – filled with love, commitment and trust. Knowing some dogs such as a poodle, “Suzie,” also serve as therapy dogs for the senior residents is humbling and touching. “This little doggie can really put a smile on their faces,” said her owner, Flo Trimble.
  • 5.       Witnessing the enthusiasm in that room affected my mood and even followed me back to the workplace as I continued my day. It’s even still present today, as I write this blog post.
Catherine Cohen and her dog, "Zoey," won for Best Kiss in the Oak Crest Canine Cup III Oct. 25. 

So I encourage you, every so often, shake things up at work. Whether you go volunteer in the community, take some time to work a trade show, switch roles with someone at work, or even go to a different zip code for a working lunch, step outside the box every so often.

To close, I’ll leave you with this video of German shepherd “Zoey,” also a volunteer dog, and her owner, Catherine.

Cuteness alert*** The pair won for best kiss.



October 28, 2013 02:19
By Jennifer Williams

In a slump? Get back on track

Anyone can fall into a slump. Personal life issues, struggles with a career, or in my case, saying goodbye to a longtime pet, can cause this sudden sadness and lack of energy and motivation.

Working out, particularly running, is my thing. But for five days I did nothing. And that nothing came with a heavy topping of pizza and ice cream.

So, how did I snap myself out of this spiral of gloom?

Well watching the movie “Eat Pray Love” (more than once I might add) as I nestled myself into the sofa, did teach me something. During Liz’s (played by Julia Roberts) travels to India she befriends Robert, who tells her “You’re going to have to learn to select your thoughts the same way you select your clothes every day.”

I do respect the power of positive thinking and an “attitude of gratitude.” But even those uplifting thoughts weren’t propelling me from my spot on the couch when I got home from work.

Then yesterday I received an email pitch from the public affairs manager at Oak Crest, a retirement community in Parkville, that did change my outlook.

In this email, Jeff Getek pitched a story about residents who were being honored for their particular commitment and dedication to fitness. One resident, 89-year-old Sid George, was recognized for completing 3,042 workouts. (Six other residents were also honored for more than 2,000 workouts.) As soon as I read that email, I knew I was going to the gym. If Sid George could do it, so could I.

Sid George during his early morning workout at the Oak Crest fitness center.
(Courtesy Jeff Getek)

Turns out Sid really is quite serious about fitness. He works out for 90 minutes, four times a week, beginning at 6 a.m. He served in the United States Marine Corps in both World War II and the Korean War, so staying in shape has been part of his life for a long time. Thanks for the inspiration, Sid!

Life isn’t always a bed of roses. Here are some tips for when you find yourself in a little slump.

1.       Exercise. The president of Sony TV wakes up at 4 a.m. to do Pilates. Not feeling that level of motivation? Try taking a 10-minute walk with a co-worker. It will get you away from your desk and boost your spirits.

2.      Spend time with family, close friends and neighbors. These people are your support system. They will offer the cards, kind words, jokes, dinner and laughter that will get you moving again.

3.      Pray. As Mahatma Gandhi says, “Prayer is not an old woman's idle amusement. Properly understood and applied, it is the most potent instrument of action.”

4.      Think positive thoughts. In baseball, it is recommended that to get yourself out of a slump, you need to visualize yourself hitting the ball. So clear your head of any negativity and envision yourself doing positive things. You can't always control what happens to you in life, but you can control how you react. Try to stay positive.

5.      Think of others. Take the focus off yourself and think about helping someone in need, cleaning up a local park or even just offering a listening ear to a friend. Giving to others has a funny way of making you feel good. 

What is your inspiration when you hit a rut?

August 15, 2013 07:10
By Jennifer Williams

A cat’s funeral and chocolate lava cake

I woke up Tuesday, Aug. 6 with a sense of dread. I’d spent the night before pouring my heart out to my sick cat, Payton, telling him what a loyal and wonderful cat he had been.

I know he’s a cat, but just in case he understood, I wanted him to know what he’d meant to me in the last 11.5 years of my life.

He’d been suffering from severe arthritis, significant weight loss and senility, and a neighbor confirmed what I already knew – it was time.

So on this particular morning, after a night intermingled with my tears and Payton’s purring (yes he still purred through it all), I stood in front of my closet and pondered, “What do you wear to a cat’s funeral?”

Payton and his sister Phoebe were a gift to me – two tiny, adorable orange tabby bundles of joy that I fell in love with on the spot. Turns out they were the kind of gift that kept on giving – from the laughter they brought as curious kittens to the loyalty they demonstrated by running to my front glass door each evening as I returned from work.

“Boy and Girl,” as I affectionately dubbed them, offered purrs, headbutts and snuggles when I was almost engaged, but wasn’t, and the six heartbreaking months that followed. They were there when I left the county and transitioned to the city about seven years ago – a solid source of comfort in my otherwise changing life. They’ve been there for all the laughter that has ensued from hanging out with the neighbors and soaked up the sun with me on gorgeous spring days on my back patio. They’ve left plenty of hairballs yet shared a multitude of purrs.

Payton was particularly clever … having discovered that if he opened up my jewelry box using his claws, then snagged a necklace and dropped it on the floor, I was bound to finally get up and feed him his breakfast. Either that or he’d stand on his hind legs and slam my bedroom door shut and then look at me with that “Well now you need to get up and let me out look.”

Everything felt empty after I said goodbye. I looked at the tattered blue collar that no longer held my cat, the empty carrier in the back seat of the car – and I cried for the loss of my friend. As tears plopped onto the yellow skirt I chose to wear, I reminded myself that I wanted to be happy for the life he lived and the joy he brought to me.

I got home and discovered a card from neighbors in the mailbox. Others came over to talk to me about the day. On Facebook, people offered kind and supportive messages. Another neighbor made dinner, even offering a chocolate lava cake with raspberries for dessert. As I finished that chocolate cake and went home to snuggle with Phoebe, I realized that while days such as this are never easy, and my life was a little bit empty, it was also very full.

August 07, 2013 09:12
By Jennifer Williams

It’s not all about you

A former co-worker and I had a running joke. When one of us complained about stuff or spoke of being really excited about something, the other would lean over and chime in, “Umm, it’s not all about you.”

Even though we were kidding around, the truth is that life is definitely not about any one person.

I’ve been so inspired lately by friends giving back to the community. A big group of friends participated in or donated to the March of Dimes March for Babies this past weekend, a friend ran the half marathon for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital April 27 and another is running to raise money for ALS research at Johns Hopkins this weekend.

Today, my friend Leigh organized a small group of us to volunteer to serve breakfast at the Ronald McDonald House in Baltimore. I’ve always admired Leigh’s sense of enthusiasm and her leadership when it comes to rallying, organizing and giving back. We brought our assigned breakfast food and came in and prepared sausage, scrambled eggs, pancakes, biscuits and gravy and pastries … all with a sense of camaraderie.

Every person who ate was so courteous and thankful, and we were particularly charmed by one young man, Zeq, whose story you can find on his Facebook page.

As we were standing in the kitchen, another friend commented that your problems suddenly don’t seem so significant when you hear about the situations some people are facing, such as trying to raise $15,000 for a therapy dog so your child can attend school.

I’m often in awe of people who dedicate so much of their time to volunteering, and I hope to follow in the footsteps of people like Leigh, who always seem to do so with such boundless energy.

It reminds me of a quote from one of my favorite books, “tuesdays with Morrie.”

“So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they’re busy doing things they think are important. This is because they’re chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning.” – Mitch Albom

So as you go through this week and those to come, try to do something to give back. And remember that it's not all about you.

May 03, 2013 09:46
By Jennifer Williams

Why your attitude at work is everything

I’ve read inspirational blogs or articles from life coaches that say when it comes to success - just as important as talent, smarts and having the right people in your corner - is attitude.

Positive people put forth a more attractive energy and according to research, seem to stay healthier, have better relationships and do well in their careers.

What I like about this approach is that it applies to all levels of people and all arenas of work. Whether you’re a sanitation worker or a CEO, your attitude can contribute to the level of success you enjoy in your career. The level of energy and enthusiasm you put into your work can directly impact your own career and also inspire those around you.

If you’re looking for a little motivation/inspiration to help your attitude, check out this story by Dave Kerpen, chairman of Likeable Media and see how he transformed a seemingly mundane job into one worthy of celebrity status.

April 30, 2013 02:00
By Jennifer Williams

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