Tag Archives: Gabrielle Giffords

MISS was there

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In the days following the Jan. 8 shooting  in Tucson, the MISS Foundation mobilized a team of volunteers to provide support for the local community.

The Phoenix-based organization, created by Joanne Cacciatore, Ph.D., was the subject of our January article by Mary Ann Bashaw and the first in a series of stories we have committed to publish this year on “Finding Purpose in Grief.” The foundation’s mission is to provide immediate and ongoing support to grieving families. And on the day that Tucson memorialized young Christina Taylor Green, the whole community felt like her family.

Kathy Sandler, the organization’s executive director, sent me some of the photos taken that day and a copy of the email she sent around to volunteers and members. In her words:

The Tucson/Phoenix Outreach team met at a local coffee shop prior to boarding the shuttle bus to the drop off point. We had a natural chemistry. In our 90 minutes together, we discussed the possible crisis intervention or emotional first aid that we would be providing to a community in shock, disbelief and sadness. We were busy assembling Kindness Cards in Christina’s honor and attaching them to the In Mourning Bands…. We were eager to chaperone the bereaved, to be present. I don’t think the day turned out how we anticipated, though, as we didn’t minister to but a few. However…

WE were there…
On the road that would carry Christina-Taylor Green’s hearse
WE were there…
To see the wall of human angels adorned in white sheets
Protecting the sacred path to the mourning place
WE were there…
Reporters, note pads, cameras, media trucks, satellite dishes
WE were there….
“Stop the Hate” the graffiti begged
WE were there…
9/11 Memorial Flag strewn high above
WE were there…
Watched the solemn procession
Strangers, neighbors, friends and family
WE were there….
The walk of a mother with a broken heart
WE were there…
The strong arms of a father, embracing his shattered family
WE were there…
To witness a brother, a pallbearer
WE were there…
To be reminded of the familiar pain as if it were yesterday
WE were there…
The day you said goodbye to your child
WE were there…
And then we went 10 days later to A Day of Healing for Tucson’s Children
WE were there
The littles were sad, scared and yet filled with hope
WE were there
Moms desperate to help their kids cope
WE were there
WE were there
University Medical Center and the sea of love
WE were there
Please know that ALL of YOUR children were with US when
WE were there

Kathy Sandler, on behalf of the MISS Outreach Team

Tucson Chapter Outreach Team members: Audra White, Bunnie Firestone, Tracy McAdams, and Mary Avenetti.

Phoenix Chapter Outreach Team members: Michele Newton, Robin Kennedy, Judy Haines, Melissa Flint, Kathy McNichol, Lauren Wyatt, Bianca Mera, Kristen Fournier, Emily Sandler and Kathy Sandler.


Putting boundaries on “reader engagement”

When we started providing online content in a blog format that allowed reader comment, we had to decide how quickly we wanted that feedback to appear.

Most news media entities allow comments to post immediately. The advantages of instant gratification and a “real time” dialog are important when the conversation is evolving with a real-time crisis or controversy. The disadvantages, however, are significant.

When you allow readers free access to voice their opinions about what you write, you’re giving people a platform to spread everything from (much-appreciated) thoughtful perspectives and interpretations to outrageous, uninformed and mean-spirited opinions. And you’re giving them a sizeable audience they wouldn’t have on their own.

As a company devoted to providing resources and support to parents, we didn’t feel the need to compromise appropriateness for speed. Comments on our blogs must be approved by the writer, or me as the editor, before they appear live on our site.

Never was I more grateful for that decision than yesterday, when I posted a brief blog linking to two articles I thought exemplified extraordinary writing under the deadline pressure of continuously unfolding events in Tucson. I wasn’t making any kind of political comment; I was complimenting remarkable writing.

A comment I saw in response this morning was completely inappropriate. “Vitriolic,” as Pima County Sheriff Clarence W. Dupnik  might call it. Certainly ill-informed.

Thankfully, no one saw it but me.

Child development experts will tell you that out-of-control children crave boundaries. Out-of-control adults need them, too.

Great writing about a terrible day

When finding the will to do my own writing is difficult, I seek inspiration in the exceptional writing of others.

In the aftermath of violence in Tucson last weekend, two stories stand out in my mind — one for its exquisite pacing and ability to bring readers into the moment; the other for expressing simply but eloquently the confusion and agony of a grieving family. To write with this depth of insight and precision under the pressure of a daily deadline is nothing short of extraordinary.

From Bloody Scene to E.R., Life-Saving Choices in Tucson – by By Denise Grady and Jennifer Medina of the New York Times.

Father calls daughter killed in Tucson “his princess” by Jamie Rose of the Arizona Republic.

Taking comfort in small things that make a difference

In a week consumed by tragedy and despair, we hang on to every scrap of hope. Stories of heroic efforts, a community coming together in shared loss, a congresswoman who was shot point blank in the front of the head now breathing on her own.

We want to believe, in the midst of our shock and confusion, that something meaningful will come of this. That people who promote extreme attitudes, rhetoric and divisiveness will reconsider what they say. That the rest of us will stop rewarding them with our time, our attention and our ratings.

It makes me wonder why we have allowed ourselves to become so fascinated by ugliness and negativity. When did we become so addicted to gossip, criticism and extremism? Are our own lives so boring, so unrewarding, so lacking in creative challenges that we must find relief in the false sense of security that comes with arrogance and superiority? Do we really believe it’s better to fight each other than it is to collaborate? Are we really more comfortable blaming others for our problems instead of digging deep inside ourselves to correct them?

I got news this week of progress that is taking place in the village of Soddo, Ethiopia, which I visited last summer with adoptive parents Brian and Keri deGuzman. The emails provided much-needed perspective in this week of disbelief and pain.

The nursery at the new orphanage facility in Soddo.

The children at the orphanage I visited have successfully been relocated to a new, albeit temporary, home. (The original orphanage lost its lease this month, when its landlord decided there was more money to be had converting his property to a bed-and-breakfast.) The new facility is smaller but adequate and the staff has been working hard to help 30 small children adjust to their new surroundings. Orphanage Director Stephne Bowers and her staff are filled with hope. The new location is within view of the entrance to a property that will soon be developed into a permanent home for these, and future, abandoned children.

Building self-sufficiency, one chicken at a time.

There was also word of a new project created to help impoverished members of the local community reclaim self-sufficiency. Children’s Cross Connection, a non-governmental organization working in collaboration with the Ethiopian government’s Department of Women, Child & Youth Affairs, gave each of seven widows eight chickens, which they will raise and breed to create small businesses of their own.

A community social worker will visit the women to offer guidance and observe the chickens’ health and care. In a month or two, each of the women will “pay” for their business by returning a healthy adult chicken back to CCC so the project can continue to help other women.

We can’t prevent ugliness in the world, but we can control how much of it we allow to enter our lives. I am not listening to radio commentators this week. I am looking at pictures that show me how powerful some tiny, hopeful steps in the right direction can be.

Photos courtesy of Stephne Bowers.

A community immersed in grief

I spent my lunch hour yesterday corresponding with parents who have lost children.

A mother whose infant daughter was stillborn. A father who lost his son shortly following an emergency (and premature) Cesearean delivery that became necessary when his wife was involved in a horrible car accident. A mother whose 11-year-old son died of an “intercerebral hemorrhage” of unknown cause. And a mother who lost her 18-year-old son during a robbery, when he was shot and killed. He just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was senselessly murdered, just like bright, brown-eyed Christina Green of Tucson.

A lot of bereaved parents wrote to us after they saw Mary Ann Bashaw’s January article, “Finding Purpose in Grief:  The MISS Foundation Offers a Light at the End of Life’s Darkest Tunnel.” Many of their letters will be published in our February issue. I can’t think of a better tribute to the victims of Saturday’s tragedy in Tucson, when 20 people, including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, were shot and six were killed, including 9-year-old Christina, who was there with a family friend who knew the young student council member would be inspired by the presence of a role model.

The parents who wrote thanked us for “breaking the silence” on what one parent termed “a tender subject.” For some of these families, their terrible losses occurred years ago. And yet their grief is always there, always part of them. So they know all too well what will soon befall the loved ones grieving small Christina.

For now, the community has rallied; the media is attentive. The family’s shock and the outpouring of support blunts the real blow that will occur in the years that loom ahead, when each day requires them to wake up and miss their daughter all over again.

Christina’s memorial service will be held at noon Thursday at St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church in Tucson. Many, many people will be there, most of them dressed in white to show their support.

I hope that many of them will still be there in the weeks and months to come, providing support, talking about Christina, sharing their love and comforting this family for as long as it takes. Which really means forever.

Resources for grieving parents

MISS Foundation
A Phoenix-based organization that provides crisis support and long-term aid to families after the death of a child at any age, from any cause. Also active in legislative and advocacy issues, community engagement, volunteerism and education.

Parents Of Murdered Children Valley of the Sun Chapter
Offers support for persons who survive the violent death of someone close as they seek to recover.