One day at a time to reach goal
Thursday, October 17, 2013
For most of us, summer marks the beginning of long lazy days and carefree vacations. My summer began on a different note this year. I was hired under a federal grant to teach a Job Readiness Program that focuses on helping unemployed people improve their soft skills and begin to acquire new hard skills. My first official day happened to coincide with my children’s last of week of school.
Although I have a master’s degree in business education, I had never actually taught in a classroom full time. This was a tremendous opportunity for me, and although the timing was less than stellar, I dove into my new role with enthusiastic excitement. My primary focus is to motivate these folks and give them a renewed sense of hope. We explore business etiquette, communication skills, self esteem, conflict resolution, problem solving, resume writing and interview skills. My position is challenging for sure, but the rewards are plentiful and altruistic; I am driven by my desire to help others and to share my passion for reclaiming life.
As I delved into my new job, I continued to write bi-weekly for the Cabinet; and looming directly above me was the kick-off of my fundraising efforts for Jaiden’s Angel sixth annual Golf Tournament. It is truly amazing to me when I stop to consider that Jaiden has been gone from our lives for nearly six years. In the early dark days, I never imagined it would be possible for me to survive even one month without her. And yet, time churns forward despite my anguished pleas for it to stand still.
I faced the sweet scent of summer under a blanket of stress and growing responsibilities. I juggled child care, soccer camps, sponsor request letters, camping trips, landscape projects, and curricula creation like hot potatoes. I balanced family activities with class time by micro-managing every moment of every day. I morphed into my role by greeting each new dawn with a brilliant and powerful thought… “Today is the first day of the rest of my life!”
I carried this message into my classroom; effectively motivating my students by exemplifying my own passionate beliefs. The days were long and arduous, complete with stumbling blocks and a period of adjustment. I stole scattered moments to write letters and emails to sponsors and potential raffle donors in the early pre-dawn mornings, and late night stillness.
I collected silent auction and raffle items in my cluttered basement, ordered golf balls and goody bags online, and kept diligently searching for new golfers every spare second I could find. One pervasive thought kept me going – I simply knew that Jaiden would bring it all together in the end.
As the days fleeced by, suddenly it was early September and the children were off again to start a brand new school year. I managed to go into work late on the first day so I could take my ritual photos of the kids boarding the bus. I worked relentlessly the first three weeks of September so I could take off the full week of the actual tournament.
By mid-September we only had 60 registered golfers, and I almost began to panic. Then, I felt that strange sense of calm seep over me, like a gentle presence whispering into my soul. I kept plugging away; one more post on our Facebook page, one more flier hung at the local grocery store, one more phone call to an old friend, one more email to a group of long-time supporters. I took great care to design each of the 18 placards from our amazing sponsors. There were local businesses, philanthropic foundations, family placards and generous individual donors that needed to be honored. I invite you to visit our Facebook site to view those heartfelt placards, and encourage you to frequent those businesses whose philanthropic outreach positively impacts us all in this great community we share.
In the midst of teaching, running a household of five active children, planning the tournament and writing, I continued to process applications from local families in need. Each time I receive a new testimonial, I am thankful once again for the amazing legacy of love that my beautiful daughter has forged.
It happened suddenly as it always does; I awoke to realize the day come to gather together on the beautiful grounds of Stonebridge to honor Jaiden. This is the first year we did not hold the tournament on her actual birthday, a blessing and a curse at the same time. At first, I could not bear the thought of facing that day alone. I needed the support of all our volunteers, family, friends, supporters and golfers to simply hold me up. This year it finally felt OK to keep that day just for us. As I stood on the steps of the clubhouse and publicly thanked our 100 golfers for being there, I silently thanked Jaiden as well.
I am forever grateful to our long term supports, our new donors, the golfers, volunteers, and local businesses throughout the community that so generously donate items, services and support. I am deeply touched by everyone who mentions my daughter’s name, recognizes her birthday, and enables us to continue her mission of making a positive difference, one family at a time.
The purpose of the golf tournament has always been to raise funds that allow us to keep helping families facing tragic child accidents, catastrophic child illness and the unbearable loss of a child. But this is certainly not the only purpose; rather, it is a gentle and constant reminder to Always Remember to Never Forget.