While part of me worries that I’m boring everyone with all these updates, the other part of me thinks that the experience is important enough to share.
It was such a rewarding day today and I hope you’ll give me a few minutes of your time for the recap. It’s pretty darn cool…and there was a wonderful cathartic surprise at the end of it all.
If you don’t know the history behind my Sweet Dreams Fund, check it out, it’s a good thing.
Basically, what I do is raise funds so we can purchase pillows, pillowcases, crayons, coloring books, and teddy bears. We then donate these “Goodnight Sleep Kits” to domestic violence shelters for when women and children arrive. I can’t imagine how difficult it is for these women to seek help, and the concept is to make their arrival, and their children’s arrival, a little less traumatic.
There are so many women and children who seek a safe haven because of fear, abuse, or worse, and it pains me to know that for every woman who bravely makes the decision to leave an abusive relationship, there are many others who are unable to do the same.
Today, a group of volunteers from Christian Brothers Academy in Syracuse, New York pitched in to assemble nearly 200 Goodnight Sleep Kits for area shelters. What started as a simple fundraiser blossomed into a generous outpouring of support and I’m so motivated to try and take this to the next level.
I thank everyone who graciously donated money, everyone who selflessly donated time, and everyone who extended their well wishes, kudos, and prayers along the way. I thank the pillow manufacturer who allowed me to pick up the pillows, rather than ship them, because today wouldn’t have happened otherwise. I thank the volunteers and directors at the shelters who devote and sacrifice so much to give women and children a safe escape, room to breathe, and the opportunity for a fresh start. And I thank all of you for supporting my mission by way of supporting my blog.
We arrived at the school this morning with two car loads of pillows, coloring books, crayons, teddy bears, and bags. The team of volunteers immediately went to work and set up stations to create an assembly line that would have made Henry Ford proud.
Four different shelters received Goodnight Sleep Kits, including the Salvation Army Emergency Shelter, the Dorothy Day House, the Vera House, and the YWCA. As silly as it may sound, it was actually pretty emotional to watch the shuttle vans fill up with the kits. Knowing that dozens upon dozens of women and children would find comfort in them was just so fulfilling.
One after another, the shuttles departed for area shelters, and each recipient was so thankful to all you. Particularly rewarding, but also depressing, was a tour we were given by one of the shelters. We saw small rooms, no larger than my dorm room in college, with rickety metal bunk beds that housed four women and sometimes a crib. We saw women who were either too shy, too embarrassed, or too scared to look up at us. We saw children, one only months old, playing in a safe but foreign environment. And we saw the housing numbers which indicated that more than 40 women sought shelter within their walls each and every night.
But we also saw the outreach that these women receive. We saw the kitchen, dining area, and playrooms where women in similar situations can interact and find strength in each other. We saw volunteers and employees doing their best to find permanent housing, job opportunities, and personal independence for all of the women in their care. And we saw just how important it is that these shelters continue to receive support from the community…in both cash and kind.
In the end, we delivered nearly 200 kits to four area shelters. We also set aside several dozen boxes of crayons, coloring books, and teddy bears for the students of CBA to take with them when they donate their time to local daycare centers and hospitals.
The Sweet Dreams Fund was born out of tragedy. When my wife’s aunt and her cousin Marci’s two children were thoughtlessly murdered at the hands of Marci’s abusive ex-husband, I felt compelled to do something, anything, to sprout something positive from something so evil. Today was another culmination of that commitment.
Seeing my wife and her father (who lost his sister that night) embrace with tears over what we all accomplished today was beyond touching. Even more powerful was getting word right in the middle of the Sweet Dreams assembly that her cousin Marci had just given birth to a little baby girl, who they named Ella Margaret.
Like I said, today was such a rewarding day, and it made every single mile traveled over the past three days worth every inch. My only regret? That I couldn’t do more. But, God willing, that will change.
Next week I’ll be introducing a brand new way for people to support the Sweet Dreams Fund. I hope you won’t tune me out. I promise to return to my regularly scheduled goofiness. It’s just important that I embrace the fact that this blog exists because of my commitment to this mission.
As I say in my header, I’m a ‘blabbermouth with a purpose.’
…is that purpose.
Thank you for enduring all of my updates, thank you for your support, and thank you for spreading the word.