During a week like this, when bombs filled with shrapnel explode at the finish line of the iconic Boston Marathon, our federal government fails to represent the people they were elected to serve, an explosion levels a town in Texas, letters laced with ricin are delivered to Senate offices and the White House, and an entire metropolitan area – and our nation – is terrorized, we must, as Mr. Rogers suggests, find the helpers.
“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.'” — Fred Rogers
At six and four years old, my kids are still young enough to be shielded from the news (#gratefulmama). I don’t have to tell them about bad people and scary things that happen in the world, and I don’t have to explain to them how to look for helpers (yet). But, believe me, I’m still searching for them. I’m searching for them because I need to see them.
Thankfully, I’ve found a bunch.
Like Team Newtown Strong, a group of parents from Newtown who ran the 26.2-mile Boston Marathon to honor the 26 victims of the Sandy Hook massacre last December.
Like the courageous volunteers, first responders, police, doctors and nurses, and concerned citizens who ran toward the blasts to help victims.
Like the marathon runners who ran straight from the finish line to nearby hospitals to donate blood.
Like the generous Bostonians who gave money, clothing, food, and shelter to cold, hungry, lost, and stranded runners.
Like Newtown father, Mark Barden, who lost his seven-year-old son, Daniel, at Sandy Hook and vowed on the White House lawn to keep fighting for common sense gun control because, in his own words, “we will always be here because we have no other choice.”
Like Gabby Giffords for whom speaking is difficult but made her feelings crystal clear when she wrote in the New York Times, “I’m furious.”
Like the first responders and volunteer fire fighters who raced into the fire in West, Texas.
As a blogger, I spend a lot of time reading other blogs. I just happened to discover a new one recently called Chasing Rainbows where author Kate Leong writes about her journey to raise her children, including one with special needs. A week ago, just when I started reading her (beautifully written) blog, her five-year-old with special needs, Gavin, died. I hadn’t even read enough to know what his disabilities were, but in the end, a series of seizures and cardiac arrest took his young life.
Like Kate Leong who asked her readers to honor her son’s life by doing one simple thing – to help someone in need.
Like little Gavin who in death has already save a life with his kidney donation.
On Friday, I attended the Women’s Fund’s Annual Power of the Purse Luncheon.
The Women’s Fund is Miami-Dade’s only organization directing all its energy toward creating equal opportunity, access, and influence for women and girls. Leadership development, reproductive justice, economic security, and freedom from violence are just a few of the issues in which the Women’s Fund invests. In a place like Miami, where the community is diverse and the socio-economic, ethnic, and gender disparities are enormous, an organization like the Women’s Fund, quite simply, saves lives.
Their luncheon brings together more than a thousand people each year and celebrates an entire community of women and men who make a difference in the lives of women and girls. While madness unfolded in Boston on Friday, I sat in a ballroom in Miami bursting at the seams with helpers.
And purses (#shopaholicmama). Oh, the purses! A silent auction, including to-die-for bags and purses, has become a hallmark of the luncheon.
There were tons of other silent auction items, too, including this one, which had my name all over it!
Alas, there were no owls to bid on (but I’m not angry or anything).
The Purse is definitely a powerful catalyst for change. For me, though, the real power is the People.
One of the speakers at the luncheon was a teenage girl who beat the odds and broke the cycle of poverty, abuse, and teen pregnancy that swallows girls whole in her neighborhood. Another was a woman who fought her way back to freedom and economic independence after a sexual assault in the military led her to addiction, crime, and incarceration.
Yeah, as it turns out, finding helpers was easy.
Like the two courageous women at the luncheon who became helpers by merely giving voice to their stories.
Like the hundreds (thousands?) of Bostonians who took to the streets on Friday night to cheer for the police.
Like the stranger at Blue Martini in Fort Lauderdale who bought a round of drinks for everyone at the bar, including perfect strangers, because he wanted to remind people that even in the midst of great suffering, we must remember to experience joy and live life to the fullest.
Like my six-year-old son who gave his ice cream money to a friend at school who forgot to bring his own (#proudmama).
But what about now? Now that the mayhem is over, the adrenaline has receded, and regular television programming has resumed, will it be as easy to find the helpers? Will we even be looking?
At Friday night’s press conference after the second Marathon bombing suspect was finally apprehended, I was struck by something said by Col. Timothy Alben of the Massachusetts State Police. He said, “We’re exhausted.”
Exhausted, indeed. But let’s keep looking for helpers, okay? And let’s keep helping.
For Krystle Campbell, Lu Lingzi, Martin Richard, and Sean Collier. For their families. For the injured in Boston. For the victims and their families in Newtown. For West, Texas. For Gavin. For women and girls. For our kids. For each other.
Did you look for the helpers this week?