Can You Help Nap Ford Elementary?

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Before we go any further, the answer to the question above is YES. I recently heard about Nap Ford Elementary. I am ashamed to say that while I’d heard of the school, I did not know the story behind it. Since I tell stories, I always find this to be important. Well, I've made up for lost time and now, I want to tell you a little story of my own.

Last week I received a flyer asking me to Party with a Purpose (don’t you love that?). I haven’t partied in a while (I think maybe BlogHer was the last time). But I read this flyer and it made me want to run out and dance, drink & hang out with my friends while at the same time hug the people putting this together.clip_image002

I’m a firm believer of “It Takes a Village” and if this isn’t the poster child for that saying, I don’t know what is.

Nap Ford is a classic example of what can happen when a community comes together for the purpose of helping kids.  In a school where 98% of the student body lives at or below poverty level how else can you explain it going from an “F” school to an “A” school in JUST ONE YEAR?

How did they do it? With help!

It took the help of devoted teachers, staff and parents who knew that the students of Nap Ford were capable of achieving greatness.  The school needed to improve needed help and no option was off the table.  The school day was extended by an hour which offered students tutoring opportunities in Science, Technology and Math. Teachers volunteered to teach on Saturday and parents became more involved.  The entire community could feel that something great was happening. The school was able to accomplish what many felt couldn’t be done going from one of the lowest ranking schools in the state to one of the top performers. 

Some may say that this was a fluke but, if you’re from the same frame of thinking that I am, you know that this was accomplished because of intent and purpose. And because of people like you and me doing the work in the community. So when I’m asked to help this school because they can’t do it alone, I’m moved to action.

And yes, they are having a party to raise the funds but guess what? If you are not local, you can send in your donation and lend a helping hand. If you are a business and want to be a sponsor, have no fear! There’s room for you too because we all know that local businesses are a big part of local communities.

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I know that I am buying a ticket to this event because it’s important for me to support my community. Will you help? Let’s keep the momentum from last year going and see the true heights that these kids can reach!

Let’s support these teachers, parents and students. I believe every child deserves a quality education despite their circumstances. Don’t you?

To purchase tickets for the fundraiser, get details about sponsorship packages or to make a donation, please visit HelpNapFord.com.

Can you spare $10 to change the life of a child for generations to come?

It Takes a Village

Disclosure: this post was sponsored by my broken heart as I think of what could’ve happened if a community hadn’t stepped forth to help these kids out.

It Takes a Village: Trayvon Martin

Can you imagine?

Your baby boy goes out to the store and you never see him again? You let him go because, what can happen? Can you possibly imagine having to be afraid that something will happen to your child because of the color of his skin? The hoodie over his head?

You know what it's like because you've experienced the undercurrents of racism. But, it's 2012. It's not like we're back 60 years even if we are in the south.  What will you tell your baby about this world he lives in? How will that conversation go with your child?

Baby, one day, someone might want to beat you senseless because of your hue? They might draw a gun and take you away from me. I know I tell you all the time that you are beautiful but, not everyone sees it that way.

Can you imagine?

...Your baby walks out and you never see him alive again ...Your precious baby boy (because let's face it, that's what he was to his mami) is gunned down for no reason other than a perceived threat by someone who has a history of vigilante behavior ...Your sweet child that you carried in your womb and nurtured with all of the love that only a mother can feel is gone. Lying on a cold slab in the city morgue ...Having no good and reasonable answer for why you are burying your child instead of the other way around? ...No consequences for the man that took your baby boy's life. Not after the statements were taken. Not after the calls were heard

Can you? Sit with that for a second. Because someone doesn't have to imagine it. Someone is living it.

And the reason I'm writing this today is because while you may think this doesn't apply to you, this could have been my child. And if I claim to believe that it takes a village to raise a child, Trayvon was mine. He belonged to each and every one of us. Each mami that can go home and hug her girlchild, each papi that can tuck in at his big boy tonight.

And if it takes a village to raise a child, you must understand that only a mother can bury one and that it takes a nation to speak for one.

Can you imagine? I urge all of my readers to sign this petition.

But above and beyond that? I pray that this outrage that we are feeling about this injustice does not wane. And that we can remember this case (among the others) when it comes time for us to truly speak for ourselves. That we choose to get up and vote so that all of the little boys and girls that did not get a chance to can be spoken for.

Because it takes a village and if I am blessed with having a baby boy one day, I don't want to think that he'll come into a world where this could happen to him. Can you imagine?

Finding a Little Christmas Magic

I've fallen off the editorial calendar wagon. It's okay, the grief counselor said not to commit to anything during this first holiday season without mami so, I'm cutting myself some slack and you should too! I'm taking a break from my nervous breakdown earlier today after finding that one of the awesome closet systems I purchased was missing some parts.  A few puffs into a paper bag after looking at the mounds of clothes, bags and boxes that I'd taken out of the closet and voila! I was good as new.  But, I digress.

Have I told you that I love the holidays?  From preparing for Thanksgiving to planning for the new year.  Always have. This time seems magical to me in so many different ways.  Last year, though, mami went in to the hospital on Christmas Eve as I made my way out of town. I'm still working to get over the guilt of that. I turned around and came right back but, the thought that I was not present on her very last Christmas day here on earth is hard to swallow.  Needless to say, I've been on a roller coaster of emotions over the last few weeks.  If you know me, I want to apologize in advance for not being myself.  I hope you understand.  If you don't well, then there are bigger problems to resolve like, how can I get you out of my contact list.

Mami loved Christmas.  She was a giver and I learned that little talent from her.  I love giving.  And this year it has been especially hard because as much as I want to pick something up for this person or that, I can't.  I got a couple of things for the frog princess and the monkey king and that's about it.  The rest of whatever "extra" cash I had has gone to my Bags of Blessings for Babies. I make each and every bag hoping that the person NOT getting a gift from me this year will understand that I've invested in a cause that's near and dear to my heart.  I aim to make these bags in mami's honor.  She loved children.  One day soon, I'll tell you about one of my earliest memories of giving.  In each one, she was very much present.

This week, I told my dad about my Christmas project and expressed how disappointed I was that I didn't think to start this earlier and how I'd love to be able to do more than the 12 bags that I plan on putting together with the help of a few of you who have donated.  And then it happened. The Christmas magic that I have fallen in love with over and over again.

I received a Tweet from Olive Garden:

It didn't refer back to any of my previous Tweets and at first I was slightly suspicious but, I contacted them.  Long story short, they wanted to help with my cause.  And I was shocked.  Speechless even.  I haven't really been able to put words to this until now.  An answered prayer.  Olive Garden wants to help me!  They are giving me a $500 Target gift card! What do you say to that?  Um, YES PLEASE!  I'm praying the card gets here in time for me to take advantage of the totally awesome Target sale that's going on.  They have the majority of the items that I need (snap tees, onesies, towels, blankets) on sale as a buy one, get one 50% off.  If that sale holds, I think I can put together 40 additional bags for these babies (I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I took away the one and carried the three during that little bit of remedial math I was forced to engage in).

Thank you does not seem to be enough!  Not just for the mamis and babies that will receive a special package on a most special day when perhaps hope has been lost and they are wondering what will come next.  But for reminding me that in spite of everything that's going on, in spite of the rough year I have had, God still smiles down on me.  That people care about others.  That I'm on the right track as I continue to help others in spite of my circumstances.  And that there's still Christmas magic in my midst.

Have you had anything this week remind you of the magic of Christmas?

Christmas Project: Bag of Blessings for Babies

Wednesday found me at the most magical place in the world.  The frog princess and I had a fabulous time but, yesterday, I had all kinds of thoughts and feelings that continued to circle in my head. You see, more than ever, I realized on Wednesday how blessed I was.  My baby girl turned 2 and she was happy.  She had food to eat, clothes on her back and a warm place to call home.  Those thoughts led me to think about a bunch of other people that might not have that during this time.  And that led me to think about the babies that I want so desperately to help out.

Yesterday I wracked my brain trying to figure out how I would accomplish the gigantic task of putting together welcome packets for new babies born in the Dominican Republic.  My childbirth class teacher/doula/now midwifery student is heading there in January and it coincided with my deep need to help babies in my country of birth.  I feel as if God has put this on my heart and I must follow through.  Partly because of my need to always have a project during this time but I think partly because it would be a wonderful way to honor mami during her favorite holiday.  But how do I do it?

After feeling very deflated late yesterday I had a thought: I can't do it alone. If I was still working, this wouldn't be a problem, I could swing this on my own.  But, here again is another lesson.  God saying "hey, didn't you say it takes a village?".  The whisper in my ear said: do what you do, write.  So here I am, asking my village for help. I was told that anywhere from 8-15 babies are delivered each day.  Terri will be there for 10 days.  So on average that will be 120 babies (um, I don't do math so I just figured 12 babies a day and ran with that)!  I want these new moms to find hope in their new child and so more than just items that they need, I'd like to think these things will bring with them a sense that things are going to be okay. Isn't that what so many of us look for in our time of need? A reminder that we are being watched over and that someone cares?

I want to share with you my dream list for these babies in hopes that you can either purchase some of those items and send them to me so that I can ship overseas or perhaps just head on over to PayPal and give a small donation towards the goods. Look in my sidebar and you'll see the widget!

Items for the babies: Snap on t-shirts Onesies Towel Blanket Cloth diapers (at least 3) Soap Lotion Socks

Items for mamis: Sanitary napkins (Glad Rags is going to give us a good price since it's going to a good cause) Soap Bible (in Spanish for mami) Undies (I'm thinking the Kendall Seamless Knit Pants - aka Sexy Seamless - like the ones I got after having the baby. You probably know which ones I'm talking about if you've birthed lately ;-)

I feel crazy asking you guys to help.  I feel even crazier thinking that I can do this but, this has been something that's grown in my heart over the last few weeks and I want to at least try to help!  If you are in healthcare and can provide some of the Labor and Delivery items, head on over to the blog where Terri listed the items the hospital requested (to give you an idea, they sometimes have to wash and reuse disposable gloves and their collection devices for sutures and needles is an old milk jug taped to the bed).

I pray you can help. Merry Christmas.