There were a lot of very emotional pieces read for Listen To Your Mother - NYC. Some happy emotions and some more wrenching. Since we only heard each other's pieces about three times those emotions stayed fresh for the listeners. My place in the line-up stayed firm throughout, as did the place of the woman who read before me.
That woman was Barbara Patrick. She is a quilter, mother, and gun regulation advocate from Newtown, CT. You can imagine what her piece was like. Every time I heard it the essay broke me open. The day of the show was no different. I could have shut myself down if I'd wanted but that wouldn't have served me as a performer or a human being so I did my best to work with the emotions she brought up. The bit that gets me every time is where she talks about the hard questions she fields from her kids now, post-shooting. They're all good questions but the last one guts me every time I think about it. "Do you think they were scared before they died, mom?"
That's exactly what I wonder, too. Kids crammed in a bathroom with a teacher trying to keep them both calm and quiet. A teacher making a game of stashing her students in cupboards to keep them out of sight so she could face the gunman alone. An adult's hand reaching out of a classroom and yanking a student inside. I think they were probably terrified though I hope not.
Some of you may know that Our Misti started a new job last week. I can't find where she gives us her official title but she is, in essence, a regional director for the Girl Scouts of Western Oklahoma. It is a job tailor-made to her skills and by every account she had a thrilling and exhausting week getting acclimated and meeting girls and preparing to change the world one scout at a time.
Last night via social media Misti, and other friends in Oklahoma City, kept the rest of us apprised of the horrible situation unfolding in their area. I sat in front of my computer and watched live streaming video of children wandering around the flattened carcass of their elementary school. While I did that Misti told me that's her region. Those are her kids. When we heard of children being sent to triage along a human chain, the seven children found dead, the ones whose teacher lay on top of them to shield them from debris are, to some extent, her kids now. Though her position is not exclusively interfacing with scouts she will, no doubt, field Barbara's soul-clutching question many times in the near future. "Do you think they were scared before they died, Miss?"
I am, of course, supremely grateful that Misti and all our friends in that area are safe. I am also glad that this particular region of scouts has my friend on their side. They could not wish for a better advocate, someone willing to use all the tools at her disposal to help them heal as quickly and cleanly as possible. As I watch my friends both near and far scrabble for something to do to aid in the recovery I am also grateful for the steady stream of notifications I've been getting about how we can contribute in meaningful ways.
After Sandy hit the New York area we were given a close and all too personal look at how the Red Cross distributes what our donations provide. If you're still considering promoting the Red Cross as a viable aid agency for donations I suggest you ask local business owner Allison Robicelli before you hit send on that donation text. Be prepared for salty language. Here are a few local charities I've done a small amount of research on and feel comfortable endorsing. I honestly believe these organizations will be getting aid to families immediately and during the long rebuilding process.
- Team Rubicon sends US military veterans to disaster-stricken areas for help in recovery and rebuilding efforts. They were of vital assistance after Sandy and they provide a money back guarantee on your donation.
- Some NY-based food businesses (spearheaded by Ms. Robicelli and including our friends at Spoonable Caramel) are partnering with Team Rubicon to raise money. You can donate through them here.
- The Occupy movement has found their niche in disaster recovery. Their principles dovetail nicely into peer support and team building to keep assistance flowing.
- Comedienne Elayne Boosler is a tireless animal advocate. She suggests donating to the Oklahoma Humane Society if you want to help animals and families with animals.
- Listen To Your Mother - OKC chose Infant Crisis Services, Inc. as the local charity they would support in this their inaugural year. The Center is now taking donations of goods and money and turning that around into supplies for families caring for very young children while they rebuild. Babies don't stop eating or eliminating just because the house got blown away.
- And, last but not least, the Girl Scouts of Western Oklahoma have a lot of work to do. Misti will let us know in more detail what's needed. Today is, for them, about accounting for the whereabouts of their scouts, tallying the needs of those families, and making a plan for supporting them. You can donate here or wait to see about other initiatives.
I know that many of you have been helping with this effort already. Thank you. Please stay safe, wherever you are.