Wade in the Water
Well, I’m doing it. I’ve been asked repeatedly since the forecast started calling for Hurricane Harvey to arrive, “Who should I give to?” It’s like election time when people ask me who should I vote for. My goodness I think give and vote. Both matter. Give. Vote. We have these negative stories overwhelming us so we discourage people from doing both. Stop it. That’s where I am this morning. We don’t need more excuses not to give. Or vote.
So here’s the deal. Do your homework. Do what you care about. This is a disaster. It will go on not for hours or days. Not for weeks or months. It will go on for years. People’s lives and livelihoods were destroyed. Did you know they’ll still owe those car payments? They’ll still owe those mortgages. Unless they had federal flood insurance and they haven’t had three claims already. That’s another matter and we’re not talking about that right now. We’re talking about charity.
So remember if you care about babies and you want to give to diaper banks, think about the fact that the diaper bank place was likely destroyed too and if you only want to provide diapers that’s hard if you’re funding the diaper place that was destroyed. Fund a diaper place nearby that’s working to get diapers there. If you love animals and you want to give to a sanctuary or a humane society or a shelter, know they too have to rebuild as well as care for animals and their staff and and and…
There’s so much to do. It can be overwhelming. But your choice is to give. It’s amazing if you google fundraisers for Hurricane Harvey, you can find numerous stars doing their own fundraising including country music stars, movie stars, pop culture stars and athletes and it doesn’t even say where it goes and the totals are in the millions. There are GoFundMe’s to help individuals who have been impacted without directed stories and GoFundMe is very careful about making sure the stories are true. There’s a guy in California who was impacted by Hurricane Katrina who has started a GoFundMe and it’s in the thousands and is going to help “those” impacted by Harvey. Accountability matters. I’m not saying any of these are or aren’t legitimate. We worry about long term sustainability of organizational infrastructure and grassroots organizing and wonder who’s better at what. Recovery works best when it is local. And local is local. But guess what, we’re local. We’re United Way of Jackson County, locally incorporated, and locally governed. It’s true for groups with names like YMCA, American Red Cross, Salvation Army, and Humane Society too. Know what their relationship is to the larger national or international group. Ours is we’re a member. We pay 1% in dues for the brand, for federal lobbying, for philanthropic research and to be part of people do great things all over the world. Check out United Way of Mumbai sometime.
So what’s the bottom line? The bottom line for me is I don’t need an excuse not to do a good thing ever. I don’t need a reason either. It’s okay to share kindness. It’s okay to show up for others in the world, in our country, in our state and in our own communities. Wade in the water, in the smoke (for Southern Oregon) and even our folks who need help year round. Show up. Vote. Give.
Wade in the Water
Saturday, I drove to Cave Junction to talk with a leadership group from Rogue Credit Union and some youth they were coaching during the day. They were having fun too. I was asked to talk about what inspired me or made me strong. I went with what made me feel strong. They were an inspiring group. They gave their Saturday to leadership and what a worthy pursuit.
I thought a lot about broken roads on the drive out there. I’m not sure why but I did and I wondered whose life hasn’t traveled a broken road. Mine has. Hasn’t yours? I haven’t really met anyone who’s life hasn’t had broken roads. I thought about people who have lost people on roads. I have. And I thought about people who’ve just been lost on roads, walking with all their belongings. I realized I haven’t met anyone who traveled a somewhat straight line from here to there. Thank goodness. I’m pretty sure that’s what life detours are about – saving us from going from here to there in a straight line. Think of the things and people we’d miss.
As I was driving, an oncoming car was similar to that of an old love. I wouldn’t trade the hurt for not having had the experience. I wouldn’t trade the loss of places I’ve lived for new places I’ve moved to. I wouldn’t trade the loss of prior jobs for not having new ones. I’d never have moved here or had this remarkable job or done this amazing work with our community. I’m one of the lucky ones.
Some people aren’t so lucky with broken roads. Some don’t come with built in bridges or resilience. Some don’t come with those moments that unite them to the next place or people or jobs or loved ones. It is part of our work and as we move into our campaign that begins in earnest this week, I hope you Live United with us. Build bridges. Build connections. Be part of the solution. Be part of connecting someone who needs help with someone who can. It’s what we do. It’s the United Way.
It’s been a hard week here and on the other side of our country. I’m not sure I was going to blog but I sat glued to the television yesterday because it was too smoky to do the Medford Food Project for me yesterday due to my asthma. That was a bad alternate choice. It was devastating to watch what was happening in Charlottesville. Sometimes, we can sit in large towns, small towns, our own little communities and think that would never happen here. Well, you know what. It can. And it doesn’t matter. It happens in our country. It is a time for leadership in all shapes, all sizes, all grades, all workplaces, all faith communities, all community gatherings, and all grocery stores. You get it. It’s okay to say hate won’t happen here. And in fact, it’s time. I noticed many people quoted John F. Kennedy, who was actually quoting Dante, when he said, “The hottest places in hell are reserved for those, who in times of great moral crisis, maintain their neutrality.” I don’t care who you quote. It’s time to speak to truth to power in our community, in your community, in your social network. Hate can’t happen here because we, yes WE, won’t have it. Please pick your favorite hashtag, quote, whatever, however it is you share and share it. Share on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, at your dinner table, with the kids who live in your street, with the older folks who live on your street. Talk to each other. We can do better. Let’s do it.
I can’t stop thinking about it. It’s one of those days. I have the kind of job where I can get mine handed to me regularly. It just sneaks in and sometimes is gentle and pulls at my heart. It reminds me to be careful. It sneaks up sometimes and it’s a little like a perspective whack with Styrofoam or something that squeaks loudly and says “Hello, are you paying attention here?” Sometimes, it’s hideously loud and, well, I don’t need alliteration for it, I hope.
Last night in my community news broke of the death of a homeless man. This man suffered from profound mental illness. Many people knew that. He wasn’t very welcome many places. I volunteered one summer at the Ashland Emergency Food Bank and was so surprised when he came in one of the mornings and the volunteer welcomed him and offered him anything. There wasn’t much he’d eat or could travel with. He had a small can opener and he took only two cans of food. They were his choices and off he went. I even remarked that day it was one of the few places John was welcome. It stuck with me.
Seven years ago, there was a terrible fire in our community and 11 houses were burned. The fire moved fast and jumped the freeway. Lives were forever changed. John was tried and found not guilty. There were lots of theories for why. That’s not what my blog is about. There were lots of stories written and there will be more now.
Last night though I received texts from a few folks saying that news broke John had died. Some people asked if I would attend a public gathering remembering him. Some sent links to articles. Some just wanted me to know. I read the stories and before reading the comments, I felt that gentle, sneaking up feeling. I read a comment or two and I felt the Styrofoam coming in for my head. My judgment came in on both sides. I’m just being honest here. I wondered who would be relieved John was gone and thankful that peace may find him now. Some were. I hope peace for him now. His life wasn’t easy for sure. And I wondered about those making those other comments on social media, like the one I read that read, “see ya.”
I know it’s human to have all these feelings and more. And I know we do this work together. That’s why we’re called UNITED…Way. We are united in this work. We don’t do it alone, not any of it. Thank you. And there’s always a Way. I’m grateful. Mental health remains a very tough issue in our communities. Just last week, Oregon achieved yet another worst in the country score on mental health. That race to bottom thing, we’ve got to stop winning. Let’s do this.
I’ve been thinking about all the rambling I’ve done so far this year and I keep landing at this children’s song, “There’s a Hole in the Bucket.” Be glad I haven’t been thinking about small worlds. Enough said. Anyway, the lyrics following my rambling this week. So you can sing about my meanderings for far too long! Enjoy.
Poor Liza and Poor Henry with the hole in their bucket. And still we expect them to be successful and end with the ever popular answer after 10 problems, we fall back on use your head. I think we might do this in my field of work too. I remember being on my learning journey for our Breaking the Cycle of Poverty project years ago and seeing a list of 12 things, the single mother of twins had to do that day, including AA, NA, Al-Anon, parenting and more, ending with get a job. How in the world was that going to happen? Use her head. I don’t think so. I think she used her head to get through her day with twins, attend meetings and ultimately she got a job that gave her promotions. There were still lots of holes in her bucket.
I think about what would happen to me if my house burned down. (Please don’t.) What would I do? I’d have plenty of places to go. There’d be a giant hole in my bucket though.
My fascination in life has always been what do you know, who taught you and when did you learn. I was talking about success last night with an amazing college student I know. She was relating a story that success meant money and a job to someone she admires. I thought success meant happy. She talked about needing an adulting class. I immediately thought there’d be holes in the bucket. Because someone who was taught by someone at some point would be sharing what they know. And that teacher may think success means happy or secure or wealthy or ok. And then what. I leave you with this song to sing and thoughts about where do you see holes in our bucket.
United Way is about ready to do our once every two years applications review, site visits, panel training and decision-making. If you’re interested, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to have you, even if you sing this song…
There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza,
There’s a hole in the bucket, dear Liza, a hole.
Then mend it, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry,
Then mend it, dear Henry, dear Henry, mend it.
With what shall I mend it, dear Liza, dear Liza?
With what shall I mend it, dear Liza, with what?
With a straw, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry,
With a straw, dear Henry, dear Henry, with a straw.
The straw is too long, dear Liza, dear Liza,
The straw is too long, dear Liza, too long,
Then cut it, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry,
Then cut it, dear Henry, dear Henry, cut it.
With what shall I cut it, dear Liza, dear Liza?
With what shall I cut it, dear Liza, with what?
With a knife, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry,
With a knife, dear Henry, dear Henry, with an knife.
The knife is too dull, dear Liza, dear Liza,
The knife is too dull, dear Liza, too dull.
Then sharpen it, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry
Then sharpen it, dear Henry, dear Henry, sharpen it.
On what shall I sharpen it, dear Liza, dear Liza?
On what shall I sharpen it, dear Liza, on what?
On a stone, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry,
On a stone, dear Henry, dear Henry, a stone.
The stone is too dry, dear Liza, dear Liza,
The stone is too dry, dear Liza, too dry.
Well wet it, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry,
Well wet it, dear Henry, dear Henry, wet it.
With what shall I wet it, dear Liza, dear Liza?
With what shall I wet it, dear Liza, with what?
Try water, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry,
Try water, dear Henry, dear Henry, water.
In what shall I fetch it, dear Liza, dear Liza?
In what shall I fetch it, dear Liza, in what?
In a bucket, dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry,
In a bucket, dear Henry, dear Henry, a bucket.
There’s a hole in my bucket, dear Liza, dear Liza,
There’s a hole in my bucket, dear Liza, a hole.
Use your head, then! dear Henry, dear Henry, dear Henry,
Use your head, then! dear Henry, dear Henry, use your head!
I can’t stop thinking about losing sight. This week, my mom was diagnosed with macular degeneration. She loves to read. She never has attached to technology so I think of ways to share her love of reading with the loss over time of her sight. Maybe she’ll like audio books but I really don’t know. If you have advice, throw it my way. I’m open to all ideas.
And as usual when my mind wanders, it comes to our work. And I think how easy it is to “lose sight” of or not know or forget or disagree about what the point of our work is. I’ve gotten very refined about my work this year and it’s only mid-February. I know it’s to not contribute to further wreckage in people’s lives. Today I heard a sermon that for me that was about my work. It was naming that sometimes when we help people we use a language of the courts or criminal justice, sometimes we use a language of medicine and sometimes people of faith use a religious language for the wreckage in people’s lives. For me, I’d like less to talk about what the wreckage is and more about what is our job as community. What do we need to do to be of service? To actually help? And what language do we use to help. Does it matter? It might because not naming the help might create more wreckage.
I remember years ago participating in a women’s group. We were doing a storytelling exercise about our own lives and one of participants shared that her father was blind. She shared stories of growing up with someone who couldn’t see. All I got from her story and what I still remember today was wow the vision he gave her led her to a life of such purpose. Still today, she does important work in Southern Oregon to really help people.
So this is my own ask for you to help me not lose sight of our work. With me? Sure hope so because we need you. Here’s to vision, with or without sight.
Some days I’m more hopeful than others. How about you? Some days you do need to see Winnie the Pooh animated dancing to just take a deep breath. Here’s the link — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iOeT6LBLkMU
I’ve been thinking a lot about wreckage. I often thought of it in terms of cars (my mother died in a wreck when I was 2 1/2.) or ships or airplanes. I haven’t often thought of it in people’s lives. We all have a bit of wreckage in our lives I think. It may look like a bad day to some and it may look like a bad life. We’ve been helping people in a particular situation right now and it’s the first time in 21 years that I’ve had pushback about the people we help. Well, guess what….if we didn’t help people with wreckage in their lives, what are we doing all day? United Way is safe harbor to help people in need. You give. You know you did a good thing. And people are helped. You don’t have to know them. I know this can sound like a rant. It’s not. It’s just saying that we help people every day who have some wreckage. It can be longer term; it can be shorter term. It can be an episode or chronic. And sometimes it is only because of their birth that they need help. A 5-month old burned out of a building isn’t a bad person. When does that shift? Even in the midst of all this, I remain hopeful for a brighter future in our community. People heal. Wounds heal, some take a lot of time. And yet, there is a chance always. I believe opportunity is limited for some people. I believe potential is unlimited for all of us. That’s why I’m always hopeful. This day, this week, this year, I’m going with hope. Come along. Cheerio,
Hi there. Now that the new website is here, I’m committed to rambling at least once a week. Are you interested in rambling on my blog? Let me know. Seriously. I’m open to guest blogs for things you care about. It’s been a long two weeks here. Almost two weeks ago, our town had an incomprehensible tragedy. A 12-year old boy stabbed his mother to death and wounded his sister. My fear for my community, or maybe me, was that there’d be normalizing. I’m proud to say so many I know immediately worried about the boy. There is a long ride ahead for the father and sister and all the members of the family. We live in a small community. There is great love for this family and their journey. It is that incredible reminder that love and sorrow live side by side in our hearts. Great love and great sorrow can be held simultaneously.
I’ve had many meetings about what the potential changes will be in the world of health care. Will we remember that being housed is actually helpful in being healthy? Or will we cover health matters. Some of you saw my Facebook post commenting on Senator Susan Collins comments about how Medicare and Medicaid cover amputation of limbs for diabetics but not community health workers to monitor their blood sugar. Thank goodness we’re talking about real things and somewhat easy fixes. Community health workers didn’t exist in this nomenclature too many years ago. I hope they are deeply embedded enough now to be permanent. They are incredible people.
Where and how do we advocate for change in positive ways. We do it the same ways. We contact our city councils, our mayors, our county commissioners, our State legislators and our U.S. Congressmen.
I’ve been thinking a lot about fences. We’ve done Day of Caring fences many times. Often the fences are built at group homes so that residents can go outside. A simple fix with a dramatic impact. Now I’ve been wondering in most cases are fences built to keep us in or keep others out. Make your own conclusions.
Today I had an amazing conversation. I saw a person I respect deeply who had gather her family to say goodbye due to a bad cancer diagnosis. Unexpectedly for their family, she was given five or six more years. So they celebrated. I can’t get it out of my mind. Is that fence to keep you in or to let you out? I don’t have a timeline. No one’s given me one. What have you been given? Cheerio,
January 10, 2017 from 10:00 am to 11:30 am Jackson County Health and Human Services Building, 140 S Holly, Parkview Room 2188, Medford
Larry Masterman, CEM for the city of Medford, narrates archival footage from 1989 6.9 Loma Prieta earthquake near San Francisco, providing some insight into what can be expected in a large event. When it struck Larry was on duty in the city as an EMT
Here’s the end of the year blog. I’ve been thinking about it a lot. I’ve been stalling publishing the blog on the soon to be out of here old website and loading them into the soon to be new website. Can’t wait. I’m sure that’s true for some of you.
As I’ve been thinking about this, I thought about this year. I don’t know too many folks desperately happy for this year to end and while we don’t want to wish away time, it seems somewhat universal this year can end. And as always, there’s anticipation with the new. So get ready…
We can’t enter it though without appreciating who you are, how you are and what you bring to our world. My challenge for you this coming year is to let go of 2016, really let go, and choose what is yours to do in 2017. I hope you’ll share what that might be. I’m going to be focused on people in need. That’s not new for United Way and yet it is going to be honed this coming year. You can help! If you’re interested in education, join the Big Idea movement! Let’s get the Class of 2020 graduated and I mean the whole class! It’s okay to aspire to 100%. Join us! If you’re interested in health, join us in maximizing wellness. There are children to protect, mental health concerns for all ages, and connecting people in need to people who can help. If you’re interested in income stability, become a VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) volunteer! You can help schedule, prepare taxes, and be a greeter. There’s plenty to do. And finally, if you’re interested in transportation, help us remove barriers to work, to school, and to needed appointments. We have a place for you and if you’re interested in something that moves you that’s different – do it! Now’s a good time.
Back to appreciated. Do you know good ole Webster’s says there are three definitions. For me, this end of year blog, deals with all of them. The first one is the recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something. Let me be clear, I appreciated your efforts this year. United Way is the great organization we are because of the contributions of more than 1700 volunteers who serve on committees, councils, Day of Caring, campaign, you name it. Thank you. The second definition is full understanding of a situation. I think we get it. We did good this year, so others could do well. And there’s much more to do. You are important to our ability to do our work. Stay involved. Stay connected. Engage others in your community passion. And finally, the every cheesy, end of year appeal. Appreciated also means an increase in monetary value. Finally we have a standing brokerage account and can accept your appreciated stocks. Today, tomorrow, it’s okay to call your broker and have them give shares of appreciate stock to United Way of Jackson County’s account.
Please share in our appreciation. Tell people you love, you love them. Tell people you care about what you care about. Tell people you appreciate that you appreciate them. On to 2017….cheerio,