I am humbled and I am honored to be the first recipient of the Julie Franz Peeler “Do it for the Children” Volunteer Award. Thank you to Pat Craven and the Center for Cyber Safety & Education and (ISC)2 for selecting me for this wonderful honor! I remember meeting Julie in person for the first time at the 2nd (ISC)2 Security Congress event in Philadelphia back in 2012. Prior to meeting, we had talked several times on the phone about the program and my activity of volunteering for the Safe & Secure Online program.
Over the years, we had many more conversations on the phone and in person at the Security Congress, and we discovered that we had a lot more in common that our own desires to “help the children”. We had both worked in the Arts industry. She had worked for United Arts group, and I was working for the Orlando Opera Company as a Technical Theater program coordinator. We always felt that we had met before at one of the Opera events, but we just didn’t know it. We would have several conversations about our enjoyment of Opera and how much Julie loved to sing. As for me, I couldn’t carry a tune, even if I had a forklift.
Working for Siemens, my business trips took me over to Germany from time to time, and so our conversations expanded to include German culture, food and things to see in Germany. I had to take many additional trips to various cities in Germany, and Julie’s tips always helped out! Our other connection, most importantly to both of us, is that we were cancer survivors. Julie’s returned a few years ago, which led her to miss the 4th (ISC)2 Security Congress, but thankfully, she was well enough to return for the 5th Security Congress in Anaheim. It was great to see her then and little did I know it would be the last time I would see her in person. After that, we kept in touch over the phone or through Facebook. When her cancer returned, she beat it back. Unfortunately, it returned in early 2016, and she fought a lengthy battle that took Julie away from us, from me. Julie was an incredible person. She was very private in general, but she was so well-loved by her friends and family. I remember her always when I give a Safe & Secure Online presentation to students, teachers, parents or those who are life-experienced (seniors).
For me, being a volunteer involves donating time, talent and treasure. Ruth Bader Ginsburg said, “You will get satisfaction out of doing something to give back to the community that you never get in any other way.” I learned very early in life from my mother that volunteering was an action that can give both the person receiving the support and the person delivering it great satisfaction and happiness! For me, the satisfaction of volunteering is extremely rewarding. I feel that if I can help one child, adult, senior be that much safer online, then I have done my job, and that satisfaction gives me the drive to continue. For years, I have had the pleasure of working with several schools and delivering the Safe & Secure Online program, all thanks to my wife. She was a school teacher and made that first step, which can be the hardest, so much easier. It was at her school where I delivered my first Safe & Secure Online session to her fifth-grade class. While I was nervous giving the presentation, the students seemed to enjoy it and asked lots of questions. I realized I wanted to do as many of these as I could. The information, the videos, and the lessons that were available were ones that the students could easily remember. I have said several times over the years that if I ever won the lottery and became financially stable, I would devote my time volunteering to visiting schools, youth groups or anyone else that would want to learn about being Safe & Secure Online.
“Volunteers do not necessarily have the time; they just have the heart.” — Elizabeth Andrew
My mother, Anne, my wife, Eileen, and my dear, opera-loving, friend, Julie, have helped me be a better person and volunteer. I am confident that Julie would be extremely happy with the rejuvenated program, and she would praise it teaming up with Garfield as a great way for elementary students to learn about privacy, posting online and cyberbullying and many more topics to come! I will miss my conversations with Julie and of course seeing her at the (ISC)2 Security Congress holding a large bowl and asking for donations from the attendees, with the message “Do it for the Children.” Godspeed, Julie Franz, love James, your Southeast Lead Volunteer.
Well deserved Jim! Julie would be very proud to see you as the first recepient of an award with her name.
Please continue this great work to Children and Seniors!