Yesterday I was 53. And birthdays, at this age, for me, aren’t a big deal. Every year, since Carol died, I’ve had a party to celebrate life, and so I focus on that instead. How to celebrate life, and getting one year older when Carol doesn’t get to do that.
This year, I wasn’t having a big party. I’m going to spend time in Dunedin, instead, with people I have loved for a long time, and some I’ve loved for a short time. And to be loved, I think, is enough of a celebration isn’t it? But no, I had to up the ante……
Let’s go back a few days. I was contacted by a woman whose car had broken down. She’s a woman who’s integral to the running of the refuge, and she’s also a single mum, and let’s face it, social workers aren’t paid what they’re worth. Working in a refuge with women who’ve lived in violence means you save lives, metaphorically and literally, on a daily basis – but you’re doing it for love, not the money. Let’s be honest.
Part of her being able to do her job is having a car. Carting women and kids to and fro, whipping women away from volatile situations, picking up women from the police, or hospitals….you get my drift. She was enormously reluctant to ask, I could tell. And I could also tell that she was asking but she didn’t think we could help her in a huge way. But she was also asking because she knows that The Aunties can make miracles happen.
So she asked. And I thought, quickly, as I’ve learned to do when processing a request: is it doable? How? And how much help can we provide realistically? So I gave her a figure, and said that’s about as much as we can do. And that was ok with her.
On further discussion, it transpired that actually, the car wasn’t worth fixing. And so, maybe, we could help get her a decent deposit on a car. I knew just the person who would sell her one. A woman of worth and integrity, who knows cars very well, who’s lived in violence herself, been a single mum, and she knows the score. I hooked them up, and I hatched a plan. If we could get $800, then that was going to be a really good start. I wasn’t terribly sure that that would happen, but I thought I’d give it a good go.
A couple of days before my birthday, I just thought it was worth using the fact that it was my birthday to give this fundraising a really good bloody go. I passed it by some besties, who told me to go for it. I thought it was cheeky, and perhaps may look a bit disingenous, but you don’t get anything unless you try. So I did.
I tweeted that instead of birthday wishes, or maybe alongside, people pop $5 in the givealittle. I also put a post on my personal FB page, and The Aunties one. I think a few people caught onto it, and I RTed myself a couple of times. As you do.
And off it went. By 10am there was $2000. By 2pm, there was over $4000, and by this morning, there was $5000.
Yesterday, I did alot of crying, and gasping and saying to myself: YOU ARE KIDDING ME. I said thank you one thousand times over.
And today? Today I am 53 years and one day old, and my heart is like a 21 year olds.
I’ve been pretty lucky in this job. I’ve had a bit of recognition, I’ve got a lot of support, and there’s a really rock solid group of core Aunties who hold me up. But I’ve never seen anything like what happened yesterday.
So: I say this, and mean it.
The Aunties core values are about sustained support, and bringing joy and dignity to all people, but particularly those who have lived in violence. We meet need, with love, where it arises. There are many and varied ways this happens. But none of it happens without the use of social media, and none of it happens without you – the people who heed the requests I make on behalf of other people. and you give. You give. With love. That’s the bottom line. If you give anything in this world, for it to be meaningful, and purposeful, it has to be given with love.
And I am enormously grateful for all the love you gave yesterday.
Once again, I thank you. On behalf of a woman who needed a bit of help with a car, and now she’s getting a new one. On behalf of the women who staff the refuge, and all need to be mobile so they can do their job. On behalf of the women who live in the refuge, and need the staff to be mobile so that they can be safe.
Meeting needs with aroha. Getting it done.