ORIGINAL POST 1/20/18
Right after the New Year, Jocelyn Goldblatt, Cissy White, and I discussed Jocelyn’s capstone project for her Master’s Thesis. The screening and panel discussion of the documentary Resilience was her brain child and the cornerstone of her project. But it would also doubly duty as the launch event for the new ACES Connection chapter in Keene, NH (Monadnock Thrives). During the discussion, I boldly announced that we would be lucky to get 30 people in the audience. And I was speaking from experience.
Last spring, as part of the ConVal Substance Abuse Task Force’s effort to inform the community about ACES and childhood trauma, we sponsored a mini film festival. We showed Paper Tigers and Resilience. We had about 25 people at the Paper Tigers screening and roughly 30 at Resilience. And truthfully, the attendees were the same dedicated folk that showed up to all our public events. They were those of us in the trenches, doing the work and some of us with the lived experience too. But most all of us were already “trauma-informed.”
Thankfully, my assertion of poor turnout has proven DEAD WRONG. Not even two weeks ago, Jocelyn created the Facebook event. We circulated it online and in the first day, had 30 registrations for the event. In eleven days and with no formal media attention (despite efforts), we have over 300 people express interest in attending and we have maxed out registrations for our current venue.
We intend to accommodate as many people as we can to participate in this big conversation. This is a conversation bursting at the seams to be had. NH ranks among the worst in the country for its opioid epidemic and insufficient mental health services.
Too many of my friends, former colleagues, former students have commented to me over the last six months that they had no idea the scope of these problems until the problem came knocking at their door – literally.
Through tears of frustration, anger and hurt, I would listen and nod my head in agreement. I would say, “I know. I got tired of fighting for change behind a cinder block, windowless office where what I did to compensate for inadequacies was not seen nor heard.”
But the exhaustion I felt and at times, cynicism with my community, is thawing quickly with just this one event. I knew that the trauma-informed movement was starting to spread in NH, but this event seems to be accelerating that sweep and it’s so friggin’ heartening.
This morning, Jocelyn and I launched a GoFundMe campaign to support moving our venue to the local community theater (where it belongs). We need to raise $2000.00. I have been texting friends, sharing the campaign on people’s facebook pages, asking everyone to help us spread the word.
In less than three hours, we have raised over $400.00 and just 15 minutes ago, a community partner of mine and friend, Lee Ann Clark, facebook messaged me to pledge $500 of support from her group, Be The Change Task Force at Monadnock Community Hospital.
My chest warmed, my heart eased, my excitement grew. “This is going to happen; we are making this happen – together” was ticker taping through my head.
I am uncertain at this point the future direction of Monadnock Thrives, but I am more hopeful than I have EVER been about the power of love and community in the Monadnock Region of NH. That alone is priceless.
UPDATE ON 1/21/18
After I wrote the original blog post yesterday, I decided I needed to extract myself from the frenzy we were creating online and let the universe do its thing.
“What will be, will be” and I recognized that I needed to regulate my stress response (though its positive stress) – so I took my dog Maple for a hike on a snow covered, sunny, mildly 40 degree day in NH.
When I completed the hike, I pulled my phone from my hip pack to check the gofundme campaign. It’s at $525.00. A smile spreads across my face. The last three donations have been from personal connections. I notice that 90% of the donations are coming from people I know personally.
My heart swells again. I feel this upward surge in the back of my head and realize my eyes are filling with tears. Tears and warmth of utter gratitude. I feel so loved. Who would have guessed that a gofundme campaign could make me feel so loved?
Another hour later I am chatting with neighbors and friends at a local cornhole tournament, when I received an email message from Emily Hawkins, the president of SDE (Staff Development for Educators). I have done a little work for SDE, a professional development company, but mostly I think they aren’t quite sure what to do with this “trauma-informed schools” thing.
She says she read the blog I posted on the ACES Connection about the gofundme campaign and she was inspired to help. She is committing $500.00 from SDE in corporate sponsorship.
I lose my SH*&. Right there in the middle of a group of people – my husband included – the tears flood the corner of my eyes. I turn away; I don’t want anyone to see me cry.
And the love keeps flowing. Jocelyn and I are texting back and forth all day. Another $500 is pledged by her husband’s grandmother. One of my son’s best friend’s mom pledges $10.00. I receive another email from a local organization – Monadnock Voices for Prevention – saying we can count on them for $500.00 worth of support.
That weekend night at 8:30pm, I receive an email message from a Superintendent in NH wondering if we can do in her community what we are accomplishing in the Monadnock Region.
The train has left the station. We are on our way to spreading this movement across the state of NH.
In less than 24 hours, we do it. We accomplish our goal! We set out to raise $2000.00 to pay for the venue. We raised $880.00 from individuals and $1500.00 in sponsorship from local organizations and businesses.
Jocelyn texts me, “What is happening right now?” I reply, “momentum.” She replies, “it’s friggin’ magical; it feels so good.” Yes it does…yes.it.does.
UPDATE ON 1/22/18 at 6:56 am EST
The gofundme campaign has been shared 96 times and we have raised over $2065.00 from individuals. That may not seem like a lot, but in rural NH, it is. I live in a town with 1654 people. Literally.
I text Jocelyn at 6:40 am, “the last three of the four donations are from my friends.” She replies, “Molly and Laura are my friends and SIL. So almost all donations are from our personal connections.”
I feel my heart thump again and the warmth rising behind my eyes. I am so touched. Every time I see a familiar name on the gofundme feed, I am overwhelmed with a weight that suddenly spreads in my chest – a full heart.
Now that we have the money, we have a lot of work ahead. This morning Jocelyn and I plan to zoom meet at 8:30 am to design the strategy for packing the house – filling The Colonial Theater in Keene, NH to capacity. We intend to facilitate a dialogue about ACES, childhood trauma, and ways we can strengthen resiliency in our part of the state.
Eventbrite indicates we have 113 reserved seats. We have 930 seats to fill. We want to commit another 817 people to having this conversation.
We have a long way to go but I have never felt more confident that with our connections, we WILL make this happen. Stay tuned; the once only imagined is gettin’ real in the Southwestern Region of NH.