Mad for…Adam

Kindness and courtesy are at the root of a positive customer service experience. (Shep Hyken)

Today, Tom and I did something we rarely do. We traveled over to the Oaklandon area. Getting there from here is really not that easy, even in the middle of the afternoon. I’m pretty sure most of the north side of Indy is virtually inaccessible at the moment, but I digress. The point is, we decided to go chat with our insurance agent, Adam Custer. It was time well spent.

Friendly and professional, Adam greeted us with a genuine smile and a firm handshake this afternoon. A Pendleton Heights grad who I think still lives in Pendleton, I know very little about him personally except that he’s married to a beautiful woman named Nanci, he has a gorgeous little blond haired daughter, and he’s at least ten years younger than yours truly. I chose to write about Adam today because one of my favorite things is encountering excellent customer service. I try to always acknowledge great service!!

Since we first met Adam and moved our auto and homeowners insurance to his company, he’s been absolutely outstanding. He’s accessible and responsive whenever I have questions, and he went way out of his way to thoughtfully help us three years ago when Tom had a serious accident coming home from Michigan. He was extremely well prepared for our appointment and incredibly attentive to our needs this afternoon. We made a few tweeks to our accounts and left feeling like we are well-represented. It was easy peasy because Adam is capable and experienced.

Here’s the thing. A good customer experience in this world of automated phone service and online everything doesn’t happen by accident. I always say that courteous treatment of others creates a walking billboard, and since I’ve been known to groan a little when I encounter poor service out there in this big bad world, today, I’m attempting to spread a little love for Adam Custer because he gets it right. So, if you need insurance and you live in the Indy area, give Adam at American Family a shout. You can probably email him at acuster@amfam.com and you’ll hear from him in short order. He’s a good human who knows how to treat his people.

Thank you, Adam, for what you do each day! The insurance business isn’t flashy, but it’s important work nevertheless. One finds that out quickly when life deals the unexpected and you need a kind person to help you navigate. We are grateful for you!

Mad for…Jeremy

Even if the forces of darkness appear to prevail, those who believe in God know that evil and death do no have the final say.

–St. (Pope) John Paul II

Jeremy Messer is a damn fine human being. He’s a plain-spoken, wise-cracking guy with a mischievous grin. He’s the husband to a beautiful woman named Beth who is pictured with him, above. His pride and joy are his two terrific kiddos, Jake and McKayla, and they are blessed beyond all telling to have a dad who loves them as much as this guy clearly does.

At first glance, Jeremy has been known to give off a bit of a tough guy, badass vibe. That would be fake news! This guy is a teddy bear with a big, gooey heart of gold. I first met him many years ago when he was helping to coach my son Drew’s little league baseball team. His son, Jacob, and my son Drew played baseball together. Sometimes we blame Jeremy for Drew’s weak sauce throwing motion, actually. The truth is, he was AMAZING with those Skiles Test boys back in the day. Since his wife, Beth, works with my husband at Somerset CPAs, we do keep tabs on the Messer family. Both Jeremy and Beth like smiling and sarcasm, and they laugh easily. What’s not to like?

Today, as I find myself remembering Sept. 11, 2001 and all that transpired that day, I find myself nostalgic and prayerful. Also, it feels right to thank Jeremy for what he does and the way he lives his life.

Jeremy Messer is a police officer. He’s an everyday hero.

Blessed are the peacekeepers, for they will be called children of God. (Matthew 5:9)

THANK YOU, JEREMY– THE THIEMES THINK YOU ARE A GIANT SCOOP OF AWESOME SAUCE!

My dear friends. I don’t usually ask for favors in this little column. However, today would be a great day for you to join me in my little gratitude crusade. Do me a favor? Be intentional today. Thank a police officer, fireman, first responder, chaplain, or another awesome human who selflessly serves the rest of us, keeping us safe from harm and helping at our weakest moments. These folks take risks to secure our safety and that of our fellow citizens. I am incredibly grateful for all of them and the noble, selfless work they do for the benefit of the rest of us. America is a great country because of men and women like Jeremy. #NeverForget

Mad for…Will

It’s not how much you do, but how much love you put into the doing that matters. -Mother Teresa

The Fecht clan used to live a few doors down from us and they had a pretty house which sat right on the corner of the street. Will and Julie Fecht have three smart, terrific kiddos. Their oldest son, Jacob, is the same age as my Drew, and I used to share Catholic school carpool duties with Julie. She and I talked quite a bit during those years, mostly about the logistics of schlepping our rug rats around. She’s a pediatrician and a lovely, articulate woman of faith.

Of the five Fechts, it was Will that I knew the least. I was aware that he liked roller-blading (because he often whizzed by the house wearing them) and hockey and I knew that he was a Wabash College grad– because his daughter Karen told me! He was always friendly, but we were just acquainted a little. It wasn’t until my father-in-law, Tom, got very ill that I discovered that Dr. Will Fecht is in fact a truly amazing doctor and compassionate human being.

Grandpa Tom has colon cancer. About 3 years ago, his cancer returned and his health seemed to be rapidly declining. He was barely getting off the couch, and his weight was very low. He had been in and out of the hospital, and we made sure that he was anointed by his pastor, Fr. Pat Click. I’m no medical professional, but it just felt to me like his condition was not being addressed with the urgency that seemed appropriate given his poor state of physical health. We couldn’t seem to get the attention of the needed specialist or surgeon in short order, and I was worried that by the time they got to him, it would be too late. I was wracking my brain trying to think how to get Tom Sr. the care he needed. Enter Dr. Will Fecht.

I text Will’s wife, Julie, and asked her to confirm for me that Will is in fact a gastroenterologist. I figured that even though my father-in-law’s situation wasn’t an exact match for Will’s typical patient, he might have some guidance he’d be willing to impart or know a colleague who could possibly assist. Will went way above and beyond. He saw the two of us in his office, and within short order, Grandpa Tom was admitted to St. Vincent’s Hospital where he had his remaining colon removed. I strongly believe Will Fecht was largely responsible for saving Tom’s life.

Grandpa Tom and his twin sister, Josephine, will celebrate their 80th birthday next month. He’s still doing well three years later and has had many opportunities to make memories with his children and grandchildren during that time. There have been Christmas mornings, school choir concerts, high school basketball, football, and baseball games with his grandsons. Granddaughter, Katie, played a lead part in the school play last year. My son, Drew, graduated from Guerin Catholic as valedictorian. Last weekend, Grandpa Tom went with my brother in law, Jerome, to see Purdue’s football team win their home opener. He took a road trip to St. Louis to see an Indy Car race recently with his nephew, Brian. There have been multiple Indy 500’s. I truly don’t believe that any of these terrific memories with Grandpa Tom would have been possible without the intervention at a crucial time of one Dr. Will Fecht. When we raise a glass and toast these two great souls on their big birthday event this October 27th down at Thieme and Wagner Brewing in Lafayette, I’ll be saying a prayer of thanksgiving to my old neighbor, Will Fecht.

THANK YOU, Will, for being a blessing to others through the work you do each day, and the compassion with which you do it! The Thieme family appreciates you!

Mad for…Tom

Be sure that you first preach by the way you live. -St. Charles Borromeo

A few years back, my oldest son, Nick, decided to join the high school football team for his senior year. He hadn’t had football pads on since the 7th grade. Nick played quite a few downs on the defensive line on a Guerin Catholic team that just barely got edged out in the sectionals by eventual state champion, Bishop Chatard. It was a fairly talented team that season and Nick called playing football for Coach Tom Dilley his “best high school experience.” In fact, he later said he regretted not playing football all four years.

Tom Dilley is the husband to a completely lovely woman named Anjanette and the dad to two high school aged girls, Sarah and Hannah. He’s also a teacher at Guerin Catholic. I can’t speak to the testimonial that the ladies in his life would give him, but I suspect based on his clear integrity and the quality of his character, that those are very blessed gals to have him in their lives.

We are smack dab in the middle of “Friday Night Lights” presently, and this made me think about Coach Dilley and what a positive impact he makes on so many young men. I’d characterize him as an old school sort of coach. He’s not afraid of a little volume, but also he has a very quick, dry wit. He reminds me not just a little of a college football coach I knew pretty well as a kid– Joe Tiller. Joe’s daughter, Julie, and I were friends so I spent quite a bit of time around him. Joe was a very funny but no nonsense, super competitive guy, just like Tom Dilley. Coach Dilley has great rapport with his guys and knows how to handle high schoolers and their shenanigans. In his program, a brotherhood is built. For young men, that experience of battling together for a common goal is such an incredible life lesson.

Two years after my son, Nick, played ball for Coach Dilley, my middle son Drew decided to do the same his senior year. Honestly, I never saw that coming. Football had never been his sport and he hadn’t played since maybe 5th grade CYO ball. However, Nick’s phenomenal experience definitely made an impact on Drew…as did the prodding of GC’s strength and conditioning coach. Drew is pictured above with myself and his Dad, along with Coach Dilley (at right) on senior night in October of 2017. Drew was the only true tight end on that squad so he was forced to learn quickly. His experience playing for Coach Dilley is something he wouldn’t trade for anything. Tom Dilley teaches young men about effort, energy, attitude, being coachable, and the importance of having a good work ethic. He’s a man of faith. These are values that build boys into strong young men.

As a parent of sports loving boys who have tried many sports over time, I noticed something important about Tom Dilley at the awards banquets both of the years we were involved in the GCHS football program. He made sure that a coach on his staff had something affirming to say about EVERY SINGLE BOY in the program in front of the entire room of players and parents. It was powerful! At a moment when many coaches spend a lengthy amount of time talking about their own coaching history or the success of the program, Coach Dilley was more interested in highlighting the work ethic and character of each young man on his teams. It spoke loudly to me of the kind of man he is, and was a clear example of how he was able to effectively and positively impact my sons and many others in such a short amount of time.

THANK YOU, TOM DILLEY for all the hours you put in for the benefit of young people each day. Coaches like you make all the difference!

“A good coach can change a game, a great coach can change a life.” John Wooden

Mad for…Jenny

Intense love does not measure, it just gives. St. (Mother) Teresa of Calcutta

From afar, I spotted an old acquaintance today named Jenny Hubbard. Jenny is the mother of three who is pictured above with her husband, Dan, and her kiddos in this slightly dated photo. She’s a beautiful woman with a bright and compassionate countenance.

I met Jenny at St. Louis de Montfort Catholic School where her children and mine were enrolled, but I got to know her a bit better through the CRHP experience. If you’re Catholic and you haven’t gone on one of these “Christ Renews His Parish” retreats, you really are missing out. They are a wonderful way to really connect with others in your parish on a more personal and spiritual level. Jenny impressed me as a truly genuine and kind soul during our time together, and I’ve always had great respect for her since that experience.

Jenny has a gentle and caring spirit and she smiles easily. She has spent a lot of her energy and time over the past several years helping pregnant women from our community to have healthier pregnancies, become better parents, and take steps towards self-sufficiency at the Women’s Care Center in Indianapolis. The pregnancy resource center is the largest, most successful such center in America and they support and educate women facing unplanned pregnancies. It’s beautiful work which certainly has Jesus smiling down on all who are involved. In fact, if you want to know more or you’d like to help, visit www.supportwomenscarecenter.org for more information!

Start by doing what’s necessary, then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible. (St. Francis of Assisi)

I am long overdue to thank Jenny for the stunning example of selflessness she shows us all by the way she has lived her life. Just like St. Francis instructs, Jenny just seemed to put one foot in front of the other, trusting in providence, and before I knew it, she was off to the races doing amazing work every single day. I don’t know Jenny as well as I’d like, but from my perch over here on Randolph Crescent Drive, she’s been a very solid wife, mother, friend, and amazing pro-life advocate with a good portion of her life. You, Mrs. Hubbard, are the real deal and I am inspired by your energetic and positive spirit! Keep doing you, Jenny, because you are an extra large scoop of fantastic!

Mad for…Colin

If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself. (Abraham Lincoln)

Above (L to R): Jak Kolb, Cole Metzger, Ty Harrington, Colin Hussey, Zach Thieme

Tom and I took a creative, winding drive to the south side of Indy this morning to watch the Guerin Catholic boys tennis team take on conference rival, Roncalli. It’s not so easy to get there from here with a big portion of the interstate closed for construction. When we arrived, we noticed that one of GC’s best players, Ty Harrington, was taking his jersey off and giving it to a teammate, Colin Hussey. Hmmm. We weren’t sure what was going on.

Colin had made the trip with the team after asking Coach Sciaudone if he could ride along to cheer on the guys. You see, he wasn’t in the lineup for today– at least not originally. However, sometimes life throws curve balls, and in this case a bright yellow one literally struck sophomore Ty Harrington squarely in his left eye during warmups. A trainer was called and Ty was not cleared to play. This left GC in a bit of a predicament at #1 doubles. Enter, Colin Hussey.

Hussey is a sunny, wise-cracking senior who is new to the sport of tennis. He’s the oldest of three Hussey children and has a brother, Devin, and a sister, Shalyn. I’m told Colin is a big Mets fan, and that he enjoys rap music, and playing golf. He’s a parishioner at Holy Spirit at Geist Parish. Colin also knows how to treat younger guys, like my freshman son, Zach, for whom Colin has been incredibly welcoming and encouraging. He smiles a lot. Colin had never previously played in a varsity match, but this morning, Cole Metzger was now in need of a partner.

In high school tennis, there are 5 matches that each count for one point. There are 3 singles matches and two doubles matches. The contest was tied up at 2-2 with GC wins at both #2 singles and #2 doubles on the board. Metzger and Hussey were still on the court playing at #1 doubles against the Rebels. The Golden Eagles needed a win to seal the victory– and the Metzger/Hussey team was able to come through for the team! It was a cool moment and a sports success I know Colin will long remember. The truth is, so will I!

Today, Colin was the epitome of sportsmanship. He showed up early on a Saturday morning to take a long ride on a school bus across town to be a cheerleader for others. When he was needed, he stepped up. It felt providential to me that those two boys at #1 doubles were the ones who were able to secure the victory despite the circumstances. I hated the morning for Ty. However, Ty Harrington really is a fantastic player with a great smile and terrific attitude who will be back, I predict, by the next match.

When everyone is in it together in team sports, when it’s about something bigger than one player, when a selfless, supportive kid like Colin is successful, it’s good for the team as a whole! For me, today was one of those moments in time that remind me what I love about sports. When character and integrity are called forth and young people rise to the occasion, then THAT is what a team is all about– and it glorifies the Lord!

Colin, thanks for reminding us all today what sportsmanship and character are all about! I think all of us down at Roncalli were thrilled to see you get the varsity W!! CONGRATULATIONS AND GO, GOLDEN EAGLES!

“If you can be great teammates, you have a chance to be a great team.” (Diana Taurasi)

Mad for…Grace

Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you. (St. Augustine)

I found myself inside a CVS store this morning where it turns out I waited in vain for a prescription refill that wasn’t to be. While I waited, I overheard a frustrated mom of teenagers talking about her experience with the high school guidance counselor assigned to her son. Two things became immediately clear to me as she shared her utter disgust with the gal next to her. First, this woman’s children do not attend Guerin Catholic High School, nor has she had the pleasure of meeting a guidance counselor like Grace Pratt.

The third Thieme boy is now beginning his high school journey at GCHS. Just like Nick and Drew before him, Zach Thieme was assigned the intelligent and highly capable Mrs. Pratt to guide him through the process at Guerin Catholic and on to whatever adventure awaits him afterward. As I listened to a stranger grumble about the inattentiveness and lack of courtesy she has been experiencing with her child’s counselor, I thought, “Give thanks to the Lord…” for our fantastic experience. Sometimes, we take for granted the beautiful people God places on our journey.

Grace does something from the first moment she encounters a new student that I have always appreciated. While being respectful of everyone in the room, she focuses and directs all her questions to the student– not the parent. It sets a tone that in the minds of my sons ordered their brain to the concept that it’s THEIR education and THEIR responsibility to achieve both academically and socially. Yes, Mom and Dad want to help, and for sure they have teachers and a great counselor to guide them– but it’s time to take charge and set goals.

Grace has a sharp mind and a sarcastic quick wit. She’s kind, compassionate, and is a beautiful woman of faith. I don’t know her husband or children, but based on how she treats the rest of us in her path, I feel quite confident that they are all incredibly blessed to have her in their lives. It’s been seven years since my oldest son first started at Guerin Catholic, and in that time, I am not at all certain I have properly thanked Grace for her patience and professionalism. She needs them a lot in her line of work with squirrely teenagers.

When my oldest son was a either a junior or senior, he struggled that particular fall to get his schedule sorted out. He called me several times, looking for my advice about should I take the honors class or should I not…. and I was at the hospital in Lafayette where my Dad was quite ill. Frankly, I didn’t care. I wanted him to have the classes he needed to graduate but I was much more concerned about the attentiveness of the doctor in charge of Dad than Nick’s history class. “Talk to Mrs. Pratt and just FIGURE IT OUT, Nick Fred!” I’m pretty sure he changed his mind twice that first week of classes, and Grace probably wanted to throw her arms up. I needed him to navigate without me, and I knew full well that Grace Pratt would make sure it was solved. She did. Nick acknowledged he was “super annoying” to deal with, but he also said that Mrs. Pratt was helpful and accommodating. I was relieved and grateful to know a terrific human was there for us during that crazy time. She was equally helpful throughout the college search and application process for both Nick and Drew. Therefore, I was incredibly pleased that we lucked out and she’s still there at GC to take care of the Z-man.

Thank you for all you do each day, Grace. The quote I chose above? That’s what I think you inspire the students in your care to do each day! I am long overdue to let you know how much we at the Thieme house respect and appreciate you!!