Always Ask for Help Available today! 

This morning, our book Always Ask for Help was approved for worldwide distribution! 

It is difficult to put into words what I have been going through over the last few months. Transcribing Arnie's story as he told it from archived audio recordings and then including my perspective and story required me to be brave. Asking for help from editors, thought leaders, media specialists, and trusted friends was humbling. I never predicted how publishing would require me to harness all my strength. Here's how to purchase Always Ask for Help!

Always Ask for Help is purposefully produced, encouraging readers to listen while they follow along in the text. All lines are left justified, photos captioned, no glossy pages, sans serif font, and page 100 is celebrated. Lesson plans for teachers can be found on our new website

All the Impact-full Things! In February, I travelled to Augusta University where I visited the Dr. Paulette P. Harris Literacy Center and spoke to pre-service teachers and the Augusta community. I continued to collect footage for our documentary by following a day in the life of Safety Harbor's, Charlie Taylor and presented to business leaders at the Rotary. On April 16th, I will lead a Mentoree workshop in Canada about Arnie. In June, I will speak in Oklahoma City at the Literacy Education Explosion '24 Conference. 

Yes, there is going to be a book signing in Safety Harbor...Date will be announced soon. 

Here's the Lesson: Yes, I am making a documentary film about Arnie - literacy - and why it matters today! And no, I do not know how it is going to unfold. What I do know is we are on a mission to shine a light in the darkness. To provide people with the help they need. To inspire teachers to notice the ones who fly under the radar and to know what to do when that happens! We make a difference with our hearts. Just like Arnie and I used to do back then. 

The ripple effect is my why. Now and always. 

I'm calling this podcast The Rainbow Connection!! October 14th and 15th started with our departure from Barrie, visit to Tim Horton's, and arrival at the Rainbow Bridge in Niagara Falls. We were met by the Chief Operating Officer of the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission, Stephanie Dafoe. We tour top secret areas of the Rainbow bridge and talked to wonderful employees who heard about Arnie and those who actually worked with Arnie. Next, we tour familiar streets with Arnie's son, Allan. We returned to the place where Arnie slept in a parked car and where he first met Barb. This podcast has some Arnie audio clips where he recounts what it was like for him in these places. Watch to the end to see the entire film crew go over the falls in a barrel. A sentence can sum up this trip, "I've got the footage!" 

We are calling this Movie Plus because the documentary is just one aspect of this evolving experiential resource!! This week, I successfully transcribed Arnie's entire story and will now take steps for online publishing the experience of this resource. I am excited to speak about the project for Innovative Educators  (visit the link to register and attend my presentation for free) and Augusta University in February. There is a buzz in the air and the new year will bring all our dreams to the surface. What a magical time this is. I am enjoying every minute of producing this film and I hope you will get onboard for this exciting ride. Please contact me if you have questions about being a part of this exciting project to change the education system! 

Journey Back in Time

Oct 13th

Resuming my podcasts about our trip north. October 13th included driving down familiar roads in Minesing with On the Road Again playing on the radio. Arnie and I used to play that every morning. I found a tiny snippet of a video from those drives and included it at the beginning of this podcast. During October 13th, we drove by my old house where Arnie stayed, walked through the leaves, and even toured my old classroom. 302 the room with a view - the place where Arnie and I first met. The classroom where I knew my life was going to change. It was also the place where I met a grade nine student, Stephanie so very long ago. What an amazing person she is and I was very fortunate to take this journey with her there.

Arnie's Book!

While we wait for the teaser (trailer), I have picked up Arnie's book again. Arnie recorded his audio book in 2007 and now I am transcribing and editing each of the 15 chapters into text form. 

Over the last few weeks on Sundays I get at least one call from Arnie's hometown of Cobalt. I look forward to this because no matter who it is from the family, they have a similar way of speaking (like Arnie) and their voices echo kindness, appreciation, and support for the project. As a teacher mentor of mine said way back when I entered the profession, "this is a marathon not a sprint!" 

I appreciate each of you for staying with me along the way!

Exciting Things are Happening! 

There are so many things happening that it is difficult to keep up. Requests for speaking engagements have started coming in. Literacy leaders from the US and Canada have asked for informative presentations about the documentary. The Arnie card was spotted on windows and countertops of local restaurants, and Janet Lee was named an esteemed speaker for the inspirational education company, Innovative Educators

Yesterday, a wonderful article by Laura Kepner was published in Creative Pinellas about our documentary.  

Also, here's some never before seen footage of Arnie that perfectly describes his memorial service we held. 

Fun Fact! 

Did you know that Arnie won the James Patterson 

Pageturner Award in 2007?

Always Ask for Help. 

I would like to announce an exciting change to our working title from FENIX to Always Ask for Help. By adopting Arnie's mantra as our new title, we send a message to the world. 

Help us to celebrate by sharing Arnie's mantra with everyone you meet!! 

Always Ask for Help is going to change the world!

Oct 12th - The Best day EVER! (Part 1)

Oct 12th - The Best day EVER! (Part 2)

Oct 11th - North Bay to Barrie

This happened.

SUCCESS - I have the footage! 

Great news! We returned from a whirlwind tour of Ontario locations on Monday, October 16th. We went from Niagara Falls to North Bay to Cobalt, through Barrie and back to Niagara Falls. Every single person we met had something to contribute to the film. Every one was touched by the story and our determination to continue on the path. I have the footage! 

I am working on a podcast of recollections. (on this page) Of course, I cannot tell you all the things that happened, but I will share gems only those who were a part of it might know. 

What's next! 

We have a professional film editor who is taking on the project in January 2024. In preparation for his work, I am labelling and archiving all Arnie footage I collected in 2007. If you are interested in getting onboard with us, reach out in response to this email. There are many ways for you to get onboard! 

A message to you from Arnie

Here is a clip that has never been heard before. 

A little gift to you for staying on this journey with us.

October 10th - Cobalt 

An Indescribable Experience

Day 3 of our trip was incredible and moving. It changed me and everyone involved. I can't tell you about everything that happened, but I can tell you a few of the moments. 

Remember - These podcasts are to help me remember the details to the trip. I hope you will enjoy my recollections. 

Also, please reach out to me if you are interested in getting on board to invest in our film! My teacher's pension went towards funding this trip and now to continue I need your help. 

You can email me at

or call 727-424-6258

October 9th - Canadian Thanksgiving - 

Day 2 of our trip from Niagara Falls to North Bay

These podcasts are to help me remember the details to the trip. I hope you will enjoy my recollections. 

Also, please reach out to me if you are interested in getting on board to invest in our film! My teacher's pension went towards funding this trip and now to continue I need your help. 

You can email me at

or call 727-424-6258

OCT 7 - 8 Each day I will upload a new podcast describing the days as they unfold. 

Our fabulous trip to Canada changed me. I cannot wait to tell you what happened.

Our trip to Canada!

I am very excited to share with you that we are leaving for Canada in 6 days! 

Packing all the special things. ​


We have a wonderful dream team of American and Canadian crew helping us get to each destination. This includes 2 Time Emmy Award winning Director, Sylvia Caminer and her dream team camera crew, Cobalt historian Maggie Wilson, Arnie's nephew Lee Mathers, and the Canadian FENIX team (Sheri Alexander, Stephanie Austin, Martha Baker, Russ Baker, Pat Elliott, and Melissa Jenson) 


We will start our journey crossing into Canada at the Rainbow Bridge, then to Niagara Falls, to North Bay, Cobalt, Barrie, and back to Niagara Falls! Along the way we are hoping to see all the beautiful colours of fall, the places we walked, the things we saw, and interview the people who were changed by the story. 


I have planned a few events to honor Arnie and the process of making our documentary. Please plan to join us if you can! 


We will place a plaque at Arnie's school bell in Cobalt on October 10th, Meet and present the making of FENIX at the Barrie Library on October 11th, and have a celebration of life for Arnie at the Spirit Catcher in Barrie at 6PM on October 12th. If you are in any of these places, please join us! We would love to hear your stories about Arnie. Bring your Arnie cards or we will have one for you when you arrive! 

All About Mitchell!

​​During our tour of schools, the Stewart Family Literacy Award was given to Simcoe County students and their families who were the most determined to succeed in literacy. The first recipient was 7th grader Mitchell Bannister and his family. I am excited to tell you, 16 years later - I found him! Here he is with his girlfriend Stephanie during a zoom call last week. He finished University and went on to work for the government at the SuperMax jail in his Ontario community. During our call, Mitchell remarked that meeting Arnie and receiving this award influenced his life. I know Arnie would be so proud of Mitchell and his successes in life! 

How many more students will we find?

Just 21 sleeps until Cobalt! 

More on this later! 

Are you ready to take this journey with us? 

The FENIX is rising!

Janet Lee

This is Mitchell receiving the Stewart Family Literacy Award in 2007.

Here is Mitchell and his girlfriend Stephanie today! 

Arnie's Back to School Story 

Did you know that Arnie's former Principal showed up at one of his presentations? 

Our FENIX documentary will include the experience none of us will ever forget! 

Arnie's Principal learning about our mission for literacy. Arnie's tears fell on the table as he explained our work to a man who once upon a time said Arnie would never amount to anything.

What Back to School Means

Today is the first day of school for students in Ontario. Back to school can be an exciting time for students and for teachers. Many lose sleep the night before out of anticipation for the day. As a teacher, I loved those butterflies in my stomach because it was a new beginning in my career and I believed anything could happen. I always had a new outfit to wear and my stomach was always full. For some students, the first day of school is not a good one. They have to wear clothes that are dirty. They might be hungry after getting all their brothers and sisters ready for school that morning. Maybe they dread the bully that waits for them or maybe they fear the learning itself - fearful they may be found out and singled out for their learning difficulties. Teachers, administrators, and staff, remember these students like Arnie. Notice the ones who are quiet and alone. Welcome them as the one they can turn to for help. It matters. 

Teachers - thank you for what you do! 

The Fenix is rising! 

Janet Lee

Sheldon reading to Arnie

Arnie and Sheldon

Arnie and I travelled to over 72 audiences during our 2 year tour of schools. Sheldon was a grade 5 student when he first met Arnie. Arnie had such an impact on Sheldon, he framed Arnie's photo and placed it beside his bed. Arnie was his hero. Every time we came close to Sheldon's school, we stopped in to check on Sheldon. During our visits, Sheldon read to Arnie and talked with him about life goals. Arnie gave Sheldon a pocket compass and said it would always point him in the right direction. We hope to find Sheldon again when we return to Canada this year. He's a grown up now and I wonder what the experience of knowing Arnie meant to him. 

The story of Arnie's Garden

Arnie’s Garden is a story about literacy. Arnie saw all students as flowers in the garden. Each one different. Each one beautiful. He saw himself as a weed in the middle of the garden. “Don’t pull me out and throw me away. Water me a little. Love me a little and I could grow to be a beautiful flower too.” A teacher named Mali Bickley in Bradford, Ontario had her students create art to go along with Arnie’s beautiful story. Arnie’s Garden illustrated by 6th grade students is ready for publishing. 

Listen to Arnie telling his story.  

The audio for this story was recorded only two weeks before Arnie passed away. 

He was always passionate even when he was so very ill.

News from Hollywood!

Good news about our film!

Did you know most documentaries are streamed these days. BUT… there are a still a few documentaries that go to cinemas including recently “It Ain’t Over” grossed almost $700K and created awareness for the low budget doc before it ends up streaming. There are many ways to approach our project including the educational market where public schools & libraries are still purchasing documentary films with solid curriculum attached. And guess who we have on our team that has already written curriculum for Canadian and American schools?  

Thank you for coming along on this journey with us!! 

The Fenix is rising! 

Janet Lee

The story of the FENIX

Many of you might not know the origin of the FENIX. I wanted to start a literacy foundation in Canada and mentioned to Arnie that he was the phoenix coming from the ashes of his past. When I asked Arnie to spell phoenix, he thought for a moment and slowly spelled out “FENIX” in block letters. This movement is finally rising and we’re looking forward to shooting the film soon and getting it out to the world! The timing of this documentary has never been better with so many platforms via the internet to reach potentially millions of viewers all around the world! 

News from Hollywood!

The city is quiet with most film & television productions shut down, but many people don’t realize SAG-AFTRA has NO jurisdiction over documentary films. There are two great benefits for our FENIX movie: #1 Any SAG member - even a major celebrity (that we’re seeking to include in our film for an intro or a voice-over) can work on documentary projects.  #2 Next year when our film should be finished and goes to market, because of the strike and production shut down (likely to last many months), there will be less “product’ (films) available which may likely create better distribution options and sales opportunities!

Here's your Weekly Arnie Movie Update!

This week, I'm dreaming of our next trip to Cobalt. In 2008, Arnie, Barb, and I made the journey to Cobalt, Ontario. Cobalt is where Arnie grew up. Arnie couldn't believe that I wanted to go to Cobalt. We met his brothers and sister, went underground in the silver mine, and found his school bell. It was a trip that taught me so much about this man who came from humble beginnings and is now going to change the world with his story. 

Yes, I am making the long journey back to Cobalt. This time I'll have an Emmy award winning Director and an amazing film crew with me! Want to help us get there? Contact Janet Lee.

Arnie talks about our trip to Cobalt.

Two reasons people are investing in documentaries in 2023

Reason # 1: People want the chance to make a nice ROI (if the film does well) and with the stock market & bond market simultaneously a little unpredictable, smart investors are diversifying their portfolios. Reason # 2: People want to make the largest impact possible, especially with an important social issue like literacy. New platforms are opening up all the time, including Twitter (starting an independent film division). Another social message documentary recently garnered 180 million views in one weekend - a world record for ANY film! And an amazing accomplishment for the low budget documentary film What is a Woman? Perhaps FENIX is next?  

Join me on the journey of making the Arnie documentary called FENIX. 

Here's your Weekly Arnie Movie Update!

The kickoff party was totally awesome!! We had over 60 people in attendance from the US and Canada! Sylvia and Scott remarked at how amazing and supportive our community is for Arnie!! Thank you to everyone who attended and for those who could not come, we know your heart was with us! 

Sylvia and I had a wonderful visit last week. We spent time going through footage of Arnie through the years and talking about how the movie can change the education system as we know it. I described how Arnie's mission is still alive in the world through work with Innovative Educators and iDesign. We really jived! We talked about the movie and how it can change the world. 

I keep pinching myself - but this is for real! It's really happening this time folks and I want you to be a part of it!!!

News from Scott in Hollywood! 

Once again, movies prove to be the Recession Proof industry!

For 100+ years movies have been “Recession Proof” and the reason is simple: The cost of a movie ticket has always been (and still is) inexpensive compared to other forms of entertainment: a dinner ($50 or more), a concert ($80 or more) or a day trip to a Disney theme park ($150). Streaming (how most people watch movies today) is even less expensive than a $15 movie ticket. A recent LBN-Examiner study* revealed how individuals are cutting their expenses and reinforced that streaming movies & music are the LAST two items people even consider cutting in a recession. For those individuals at the bottom of the attached chart who do cut their movie watching habits, the good news for indie filmmakers is the growing number of AVOD (advertised video on demand) platforms where consumers can watch movies for FREE while we as the filmmakers still get paid for every view!

*LBN-Examiner News 11/16/22

#1 Never Give Up

The following innovators are mentioned during this podcast: 

#2 Rounding Them Up

This podcast discusses all the people we need to round up and how those we have been able to contact have jumped right back on. It tells about how we don't know what will happen and it's the unknown that makes this so magical! 

FENIX #3 Always Ask For Help

This podcast discusses the Arnie card and how it has helped people have the courage to ask for what they need in life. I hope you will print one up as a reminder for yourself. 

FENIX #4 About the kickoff party

An imperfect podcast about what happening now.