When The Village Comes Together
It’s almost here. The day we’ve all been working towards and waiting for is almost here. In fact, it is already here. Those on the other side of the international date line are already linking up and posting their compassion posts for the 20th. It has begun. Since it is not the 20th for me yet, I am not signing up. That means I cannot share with you some of the wonderful posts that have begun to hit the interwebs. BUT. Tonight means I will be staying up late to put the finishing touches on my post so when midnight hits for me I will be able to join in all the fun.
For anyone who is participating but do not have access to Facebook here are the instructions to link your blog post to the rest of the group:
THE 1000 Voices For Compassion LINK UP IS LIVE!!!
Instructions for what to do now are here:
It will stay open until Noon GMT on February 21st. (That means it is open from It is now midnight on the 20 in the far east to midnight on the 20th in the far west of our world.)
Please all your Compassion blog posts to the link up.
If you are not familiar with linking up a blog post, follow these instructions:
• Go to one of the host blog posts.
• At the bottom of post you will see a blue button that says: “Click to view and add your links.”
• Click that button, and you will see a group of thumbnails. These are posts that people have already added to the link up. (On some blogs, these will show up below the post, rather than on a separate page.)
• Below that, on the left, is a blue button that says: “Add your link.” Click that, and you’ll see instructions for how to add your post to the link-up.
• There 3 boxes, one for url, one for post title and one for email (your email will not be seen.)
• Insert the url of your post and your email address. After you have inserted the url, click the title box, and your title will appear automatically.
• Images from your post or blog will also show up. Select one of them – it will then show up with the other thumbnails on the previous page.
• After this stage, you will get options to share the post on Twitter, Google and Facebook. Please remember to add #1000Speak when you share.
• Click the button to take you back to the link-up. Please read and share the posts immediately above and below you, and then as many others as you can!
Your hosts are:
Roshni AaMom http://www.indianamericanmom.com/
Kristi Rieger Campbell http://www.findingninee.com/
Crystal Cook http://www.theqwietmuse.com
Erin Fangboner https://chronicallysickmanicmother.wordpress.com/
Gene’o Gordon https://justgeneo.wordpress.com/
Jen St Germain Leeman http://driftwood-gardens.com/
Michelle Liew http://gettingliteral.com/
Lisa Listwa http://www.themeaningofme.com/
Pooja S Mulleth https://ilirianravings.wordpress.com/
Katie Paul http://head-heart-health.com/
Lizzi Rogers https://summat2thinkon.wordpress.com/
Yvonne Spence http://yvonnespence.com/
Leah Vidal https://littlemisswordy.wordpress.com/
T.A. Woods http://penpaperpad.com/
Now then. Today I want to show you what can happen when The Village comes together. It’s a personal story, and one that probably saved me from going over the edge after my dad passed away. But, you are going to need a little background information. As I have mentioned previously I went to a small school when I was in high school. The senior class had a little over 300 students. Most of us had grown up with each other from elementary school on. The elementary schools in this district ended at grade 5. Then for grade 6 we were bussed to one single school for ALL of the grade 6 students in the area. And that is where I met everyone (almost) that I graduated with. We all then went to Middle School (grade 7 and 8) and then high school (grade 9 through 12). I met Jerilyn in elementary school and Rhonda in junior high, but it was high school where I got to know Rhonda who is the main character for this story.
You see, Rhonda, like me, grew up poor. She had many struggles in her life to deal with. When I knew her in high school, she was the girl people ignored upon first sight or else made fun of. Rhonda was bullied. Sometimes to her face but a lot behind her back. Rhonda was overweight, didn’t have the “right” clothes, and was not pretty by whatever random standards boys required back then. I remember a day where I came upon her and she was crying because of something mean someone had said to her. She was heartbroken. I listened and I talked to her. I was very concerned that she might commit suicide so I tried to just be there for her. I didn’t know what else to do. And then I prayed that she’d show up in class the next day. She did and I was relieved. So here’s the most important thing about Rhonda that most people didn’t try to get to know then. Rhonda had a compassionate heart. She was always doing kind things for people, not to try and fit in, but because that was who she was. She was nice and kind and friendly, and all she wanted was to have friends. Don’t we all want that?
In time, Rhonda married and had a son who was the light of her life. But life didn’t get easier for Rhonda. She lost her father sometime around graduation or after (if I remember correctly). Then, her husband was diagnosed with cancer and fought it off and on. In August of 2013 he finally lost the battle, but that wasn’t the end of it for Rhonda. A week after her husband died, she lost her mother, too. Can you imagine that? Rhonda was left practically alone except for her son. Now, Rhonda does have some family but they were in no position to help her and her son. Rhonda didn’t have a job and so she had to go out and try to find a job. The only place she found was working at Sonic, a drive through fast food place. She could only get part-time hours and minimum wage but she worked and went in whenever they called her. But it wasn’t enough. She then began going through her home and selling items she owned, things like old VHS movies or DVD’s, unopened craft materials, and items she thought might have any value.
Now, another bit of information you need. Almost all of my graduating class is on Facebook and most of us have friended one another to be able to receive reunion updates, etc. Rhonda was on as well, and she would post mostly positive updates. Rhonda is not a negative person but every now and then defeat would settle on her. Those posts were so sad, because they were mostly words to the effect of “missing John today” (John=her husband; her son’s name is Johnny), or “trying not to be down today.” It was always something that made tears come to my eyes. By December she was trying her best to find another job so she could afford to give her son a Christmas present. By December, I had lost my dad and I was on the emotional edge anyway so every update from her made tears come to my eyes. But you know…it’s funny how the universe unfolds.
Almost two weeks into December of 2013, a Wednesday, I was in my kitchen mopping the floor thinking about an update Rhonda had put up that morning. She had made cookies for her son’s class party and had put up a picture of them. As I was mopping I began thinking about her. I thought “I want to do something nice for her…just for her. She needs something good.” And I began planning right then and there to take her to a spa and have a full day for her, hair, makeup, nails…the works. That would be my Christmas present to myself. Then, I heard a ding on my computer because I had left my Facebook page open while waiting for a response from someone else. But it wasn’t who I was expecting. It was Jerilyn. (Bet you thought I forgotten her.) Jerilyn had sent a group message to several people and I was included. She brought up how she had been reading Rhonda’s posts for a long time and how it was breaking her heart that Rhonda just needed a little help. All Jerilyn asked was for all of us to pray for Rhonda who had applied for a job. All Jerilyn wanted was a prayer chain. What happened next blew everyone away.
Someone knew someone at the place Rhonda had applied to and said they would call and put in a good word for her. Someone else then mentioned how they might have some clothes for Johnny. Another person said they would do something else…and then on and on it went. More people joined in and more. All of us from the same class who grew up with Rhonda. Even better, people were talking about the things they remember about her. People who I know Rhonda never thought knew her name. You think getting a thousand bloggers joined up to write about compassion in two weeks was a big thing? We had about 100 people, if not more, getting clothes, money, plans to fix up the place she lived, a small mini-vacation, and a surprise party to present Rhonda and Johnny with everything in DAYS. Classmates from OUT OF STATE came in just for the party or sent gift cards, money, whatever they could… in days! In the end, Rhonda did get a spa day, but not from me because it so happened someone else got to it before I could. Instead, my family gave her a new tv to replace an old tube tv she had. Everything was done without her knowledge.
And then the big reveal came. We all met at a restaurant near her and the look on her face when she saw classmates she hadn’t seen in years and the Christmas tree and the presents…she was overwhelmed. I think tears poured freely down a lot of our faces, and even some of the men who were there had tears in their eyes. It was a HUGE THING. And throughout the evening other classmates would show up. All for one person who needed to know people cared about her and her son. Rhonda did not get the job she had applied for but she did get a better job and is now able to care for her son properly. HOPE was the gift we all really gave Rhonda that night in the compassion we showed her. And it is hope that has seen her through ever since. I read her updates still and she has some occassional hard days (don’t we all), but the majority are so full of sunshine and happiness. She loves meeting up with the people who made a difference in her life, though not all of us are able to meet up with her. Still, there is almost always someone who is available.
And THAT, my friends, is The Village.
I talked to Jerilyn recently and asked her to write a little something about that experience since it was her request that sparked the flame of compassion. Here is what she had to say:
“I always knew I went to high school and grew up with some very special people, but what happened in December of 2013 solidified that for me. I have a very sweet friend who I have known much of my life but as most of us know, once we get older and “life” happens we don’t see and talk to them very often. She has struggled most of her life. She had difficulty in school with bullying, academics, not having the nicest clothes, car, etc. She lost her dad shortly after we graduated from high school and her mom a few years later. As Facebook took off, I was able to follow her and what was going on in her life. Sadly, she was still struggling. I would read posts about what was going on and think about her but that was about the extent of it. She had a very sweet boy who she posted pics of and was so proud of. Her husband had cancer, and as I would see the struggles they were going through, it was just heartbreaking. When she would post things, one of the things that always struck me was she never asked for help, never was overly negative (like I would’ve been) about the things that were going on.
Then one day, she posted that he (her husband) had passed away. So she was a single mom, no parents to help her out, and was working at Sonic. She would post things like “I will be mowing yards for extra money. I don’t have a weed eater. Please let me know if your yard needs to be mowed,” and ” I will be at Olive Garden tonight if anyone wants to meet me.” One day she posted she was trying to get a better job and posted a place she had applied to. For some unknown reason, something just struck me, and I realized I knew someone who’s dad worked at this place and was pretty high up. I contacted her and told her the story and just asked that she talk to her dad. All Rhonda needed was a break. All she wanted was to better her life for herself and her son. I decided I would reach out to some people who I went to high school with and ask for prayers for her. What happened next…I don’t even know how to describe in words. A Facebook message to about 20 people turned into one of the most amazing things I’ve ever been a part of. We ended up paying for her rent, car payment, clothes and toys for Christmas for her son, clothes and massage for her, money and a weekend trip to Great Wolf Lodge. We had a party for her at a local restaurant and surprised her. So many people I have not seen in years showed up and it was one of the most touching things I’ve ever witnessed. She was completely overwhelmed, and I was so proud of everyone involved. It was a wonderful thing to be a part of.”
THIS is The Village in action. THIS is the power of compassion.
One of the things Jerilyn mentioned to me is that at the next Class Reunion Meeting she would like to propose that our class “adopts” a family in need every year and work to help that family. What a brilliant idea and why haven’t we thought of it before? Because it wasn’t time. NOW is the time. Now when we CAN do something and have proven it to ourselves.
What I didn’t mention to Jerilyn (or have talked a lot about since it’s just in the idea phase) is that if I am ever able I want to start an organization called Hand-Up, because not everyone needs a ‘hand-out”, just a “hand-up”, something to just give them the push they need to start anew. Something to get them over the bump when they can’t do it by themselves. This is my dream, the ONE big goal I have at the top of my list. Because I have been there. And this idea of mine, this as yet unrealized dream, came because of Jerilyn and Rhonda.
What are you doing in your Village to spread compassion? What CAN you do in your Village to spark a flame? I guarantee you…it doesn’t take much to light that fuse. I DARE you to do better!
This is your Call To Compassion.
Your video for the day…may it light a new fire in your heart.