Archive for  May 9th 2018

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WEST DES MOINES, Iowa  —  At about the same time each day, a mundane corner in West Des Moines turns unique.

The sound doesn’t fit the scene–it’s a sight that seems out of place. You can’t help but stop to ask. When you do, you meet Shaquille Phillips, and it all starts to make sense.

“When we drove past here to take my mother to work,” he says, “this spot reminded me of another spot where I used to drum in Chicago. So I was thinking, like, why not just drum right there while my mother works here?”

Phillips moved to Iowa a month ago to be closer to his mom. At the corner of 22nd and Kingman, he plays for fun, not for money. And while the reception has been mostly positive, not everyone has been Iowa nice.

“’Why don’t you try to get a real job?'” he recalls being asked more than once. “‘Why don’t you try to get a real drum?’ ‘What are you doing?’ A lot of people ask me that.”

He has a real job–at the Taco Bell behind him. And the drum? Well, it’s as real as it needs to be.

“Wendy’s (restaurant) has the best buckets,” he laughs. “The pickle buckets.”

In Phillips’ hometown, the Chicago Bucket Boys are street-level celebrities. Their bucket-playing art draws crowds–and dollars.

West Des Moines loves Chicago’s baseball and pizza–and now the city has a bit of its rhythm.

“Bass, mid-pitch, higher-pitch,” he points out, explaining the different sounds that emanate from the same bucket.

Sticks last about a month–the buckets, not nearly as long. He hopes to get ahold of some sheetrock buckets, as he says those are the best. But what he’s really hoping for is a bigger spotlight.

“I’m trying to make this open doors for me.”

Drake University offered him a chance to play at a basketball game next season, and he drummed outside the Relays last week and got a chance to see the Isiserettes.

“I stopped playing and I heard their drums, their snares,” he smiles. “Oh my God! I loved it! They’re good. They’re real good.”

He’s good, too–and he’s hoping it takes him somewhere.

“Like open up for Famous Dex or for Katy Perry or something…”

Why stop there?

“…or to go to California and to be in a movie…”

He’s a young man with elaborate dreams, a family guy with a special talent, and a happy new Iowan.

The things you learn when you stop to ask. And here you thought he was just a dude playing a bucket.

PELLA, Iowa  —  An innocent request at a Pella church in 1995 changed everything for Deb and Mike Schuring.

“The preacher’s daughter came up to us asked if we would consider getting into foster care,” said Deb.

Over 22 years later, Mike is now holding the family’s 100th foster child.

“Did we really have 100 babies? How did we? Did we do this for 22 years?” asked Deb.

The couple began doing newborn-only foster care after two children of their own were born. The decision was sparked from initial heartbreak of having two children born on May 9th in 1982 and May 9th in 1983 die within days of their birth because of lung issues.

“We believe we understand the hearts of those who had trouble starting their families,” Deb said.

Seeing those families’ joy is what kept the Schurings going all this time, but it takes the entire family.

“On day three of getting no sleep I can barely lift my arms, and I hear him (Mike) get up in the middle of the night with a newborn. He’s walking the halls and singing to the baby, and I don’t ask, he just does it,” said Deb.

The foster home community took a devastating hit when two former foster children, Natalie Finn of West Des Moines in 2016 and Sabrina Ray in 2017, died of malnourishment at the hands of their adoptive parents.

Deb said, “The norm is people whose hearts just really are committed to helping give these children a good start.”

The longest the Schurings have had a child is 11 months, but the bond created in their nursery can have lasting effects.

“We’ve had families come from out of state who have moved on to bring their child back to see where they started out. We get invited to graduations and birthday parties, and we receive lots of Christmas cards,” Deb said.

The family keeps pictures of all the children they’ve held in their arms–a photo album with memories of all 100 kids.  For the Schurings, giving back has given them so much more.

Deb said, “It has brought us abundant joy and it has been good for our children.”

The Schurings recently became grandparents, so they say it is time to scale back on the amount of foster parenting in order to be available to visit their grandchild in Clive whenever possible.