A really sweet and always incredibly wise friend reminded me of this poignant Fred Rogers comment today. He was once quoted as saying, ‘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.” To this day, especially in times of “disaster,” I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.’
Fred’s mom was right.
While it can feel easier during a disaster such as the one we’re presently faced with to fall into a place of sadness, I was so touched to hear Laurie and Lynn asking today how they could find a way to thank all of those ‘helpers’ that have gone so far above and beyond what anyone could have ever hoped for or imagined in the wake of their incredible loss.
Wait. I stopped myself after our meeting this afternoon and realized just how impressed I was that these two women, in the aftermath of this undeniable tragedy, could be in a gratitude mindset; how showing appreciation was one of the very first topics for discussion. But truly, it is because of those ‘helpers’ that we can’t help but see all of the good that can overcome this darkness. We can’t help but focus on the love that’s spreading like wildfire in our little Kalamazoo and beyond.
And because I love my hashtags to infinity and beyond, I was thinking back to a post I’d made on the IG after I’d heard the terrible news. I used #lovewins. It’s common. And, I believe it. What followed this week was a Kalamazoo-centric hashtag that now embodies this outpouring of support. Isn’t it funny how quickly a hashtag becomes like, a real thing? I believe in #kzoolove now as well. I’m seeing it lived out every.single.day. right now. And I’m so thankful.
It’s impossible to relay all the stories of the sheer number of ‘helpers’ I’ve been witness to this week but I received a hug from the precious superintendent of Mattawan Schools last night (she told me her name is Robin) when she caught me in tears after I caught a glimpse of Tyler’s car. It was a small gesture, but she had no idea how hard I’ve been working to keep it together. After all, I’m a professional! (Name that rom com). But, I was in tears. Out in the open. And her gentle hug and reassurance that it was, in fact, okay to cry, was exactly what I needed.
I’ve had a number of people reach out and just give me love (thank you, my dear friends!) and express that they would love also to support the Smith family (and the others impacted by this tragedy) so I wanted to take the opportunity to share how you can become a ‘helper’ as well. #kzoolove is so very strong because it’s not limited to Kalamazoo.
I shared the other day that I am an employee at VML, a marketing agency, and this company has been nothing short of amazing over the past few days. From folks reaching out all across our North American network of offices to the CEO calling me to see how Laurie was doing (p.s. I’m not sure if it’s appropriate but when he asked if I had a minute I responded with, ‘can i even say no to the CEO?’ thank goodness for (nervous) laughter.), VML has gained a ton of respect from this chick. And interestingly, I was clicking around their website a bit ago and found it 100% appropriate that one of the universal truths they recite is the human need to connect with one another. I’d say they’re #winning on that front this week. So.much.connecting.
In another amazing display of kindness, VML has set up a fund specifically for the Smith family. It is not a tax-deductible donation, but it will be tax-free for Laurie and Emily (her daughter) so if you feel inclined in any way, we would so appreciate your support. You can donate here: https://kzoolove.vmlconnect.com
Regardless of how you feel you can best help, when you feel that tug, heed it. Because, as this Jesus girl also believes, sharing this love is like just giving a little piece of Jesus out to the world and if we’re able to do that? Well, then, He’s #winning, too. This is the kind of religion I can subscribe to, as a matter of fact:
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. -James 1:27
If you’re looking for even more ways to help, there are a number of people who were impacted by this tragedy. I found a few links supporting donations to the victims in the event you are able and could so kindly give. And thank you, from all of Kalamazoo. #lovewins
Abigail Kopf: https://www.gofundme.com/exqv3qyc?rcid=0f419d7adb7011e5a674bc764e049a64
‘Help Now!’ sponsored by the Battle Creek Community Foundation: http://www.bccfoundation.org/HelpNow
Smith Family: https://www.gofundme.com/ubqed2j8
Tiana Carruthers: https://www.gofundme.com/pzqvabv8