Alright all you "yes" sayers..... the following is all about what you've raised your hands and hearts for regarding all things Black Rock related. If you've chosen to swim in the deep end of the pool with us, read on. I'm gonna get really real with ya (and myself too....) cuz this whole, "helping others" thing is way harder than I expected. (And way better, too, but isn't that the way it always is? The hard stuff is where the real good stuff lies.)
Black Rock Giving Back
Black Rock Giving Back
I'm gonna kind of work from the top down, meaning address each of the plates we have spinning in the air right now in order of most recent. And before I get all up in this, I'd like to say that Black Rock is evolving the way I hoped it would. It's a place that brings people (you people, me people, and hopefully soon all kinds of other people we haven't met yet) and allows them to find a way to serve and give. It's why we don't limit BR to one particular sector of need. All of our hearts beat a little different when it comes to what pulls on them and speeds them up. Mine personally aches for just about anyone who has been neglected, judged as "bad" or "not good enough", but I know some of you have stronger pulls toward certain things than others. And that's okay. More than okay.
Item 1: Black Rock in the Park:
Here's the full report: Yesterday was once again completely heart-wrenching and beautiful. We are learning quickly how to meet the needs of our homeless friends. What those needs are, what we need in order to provide them, etc. I can tell you this, tho: They want connection more than socks and skivvies.
Yes. They drank coffee and ate a biscuit. And yes, they gratefully scooped up the clothing we brought along with us. But they desperately wanted someone to listen to their stories. There are reasons for why they're on the streets, some of which I can't exactly wrap my brain around. But I'm learning that I don't have to understand in order to care.
Their top needs:
Women's undies (all sizes, including "big" sizes)
Men's pants and shorts
Hats (mostly baseball caps)
Have I mentioned socks???
I'll add to this list, bicycles. If you have one or see one for sale, snatch it up and hang on to it till I come a callin' for it. Sooner than later, I'll probably rent a storage unit. Sheesh, you'd think we need to move into a much bigger space. Oh wait, we're gonna! ;)
I asked lots of questions yesterday that further relieved my need to be judgey or say things like, "Just go get a job", "You can go stay at the shelters", "It's your own fault you're on the streets", etc.
Ya'll. It's just not that simple. It's not. And if you don't believe me, go ask them yourselves. You'll see. Yes, many of them lie and/or are high and/or have major mental health issues. But many of them really did end up there because life fucked them real bad from the time they were born.
We should help them. I'm gonna.
Item 2: The NW Classen Knights Softball Team
Typing that made my heart go BOOM. I cannot waaaait to get all up in this one. I have a lot of info on this, but I'm gonna keep it simple-ish for now.
The most pressing things in the immediate:
August 5th: We are gonna throw them a party. It's a day that the whole team will come together (both J.V. and Varsity) along with any alumni that can make it. I am not positive about an actual game that day... she (Coach George) might have said they play but I can't remember). Anyhoo, we need to plan to serve around 60 people. Heather Heimbach (who has the biggest heart on earth) has decided Qdoba will take care of this. GAH. What a blessing and relief.
BUT. We need sugary goodness. Who would like to either bake some things or buy some things that say, "The Knights are the shit!"? Who can get some balloons and other paper goods? Who can be there that day? (Time will be determined asap).
The next two pressing dates are August 7 and 8. They play around 4 pm.... and meals will need to be provided both days at around 1:45 pm. I know many of you have regular hour jobs but a lot of us have flexible afternoon schedules. I can and will plan to be there both of those days but would love some company. Angela Garbacz Tompkins can you team up with Briar and see if we can get meals donated for these first two games? I'd guess enough to feed 30.
The softball season runs through the end of September. I anticipate we'll be hella busy for six weeks and then it's done. I don't know what that looks like, on the other side of their season, but I hope we get to know these sweet girls like family and can stay in their lives.
Item 3: FD Moon Classroom Needs (IN ORDER OF IMPORTANCE, THIS IS NUMBER ONE THIS WEEK.... SUPPLIES ARE NEEDED LIKE NOOOOOW)
I hope this grows into something real big and real beautiful, but for now, we are gonna start with one little class full of precious babes.
Here's what: This whole school is mostly full of some of OKC's most impoverished. They show up but have basically NO school supplies. The teachers are paid exactly CRAP and yet still end up spending money they don't have to make sure their students can actually learn. Please keep in mind most of these teachers live below the poverty line themselves. I really cannot imagine how they do it. This school needs our help SO BAD. It's actually listed as one of the worst schools in America.
No. Just no. Let's get them off that list, one class at a time.
I think it would be easiest if I ask you for money for this one. I have a school supplies list but would prefer to just gather dollars and have Briar place one big Amazon order. Time is of the essence here. The tinies come back to school on August 1.
One small issue: I can no longer accept cash app payments for BR. If you'd like to donate, I need a check made out to Black Rock OR cash, in an envelope with your name and the amount written on it. I know that's a pain in the ass, but now that we are an official non-profit (GULP), I have to account for every penny in and out.
So, money. We need it like yesterday. And every little dollar helps so if you can only give five of them, they'll be greatly appreciated.
Note: I'll have something set up soon so that you can donate via an app of some kind.
I foresee the need and opportunity to go love on these babies in real life, too. The teacher we are working with will welcome readers, paper staplers, and just over-all shower uppers. UGH. I cannot deal. So freaking precious.
Lastly, Item 4: Positive Tomorrows.
Ya'll. Do you know what you did?????????? You fed homeless kids. Just let that soak in. Like, from the crown of your head down your face into your heart. You did that. Those littles went home every weekend with ESSENTIALS. They had bellies full of PBnJ and other goodness when they went to sleep on Friday evenings all the way till Sundays, and it's because of YOU. I'm so freaking proud of that for us. Look what small things done together can do?
I'm not one hundred percent sure where we go from here with PT. Val and I are in talks now about resuming the snack program and will let you know asap. I adore that school. If they continue to need our help, they will have it.
Note: The reason BR took over the task of sending food "home" (I use that term loosely) with the PT kids is because the Food Bank takes the summer off from that task (which I find odd.... last I checked, homelessness and hunger don't ever take time off) but whatever. The fact that BR could cover that need is a humbling, beautiful thing.
Whew. I think that about covers it.
One last thing.
This is about me.
I'm so tired right now. And I'm not gonna lie: My stress level is through the roof. But I'm okay. I need to say something about that tho.
What you have in me is someone who is super transparent. I tell you where I'm at. I tell you when I feel shitty and all the other things. That's just who I am. For the most part, I do not approach life in any kind of cautious, careful way. But here's what I need from you in that vein:
The things I'm doing.... I do them because I MUST. (The Rilke quote comes to mind....,"Ask yourself if you must. And if the answer is yes, then throw your entire being into the thing." )
That is who I am. It's how I live and how I function best. I can assure you I'm doing everything I can to delegate tasks, but there are many countless things that I have to do myself. I need to be able to tell you I don't feel good without you all suggesting that's my own fault or that I brought whatever little crisis I'm having on myself. Maybe just lemme say it sometimes and you love me though it instead of offering solutions. I'm always okay. I promise you that.
I want this life. I was born for this stuff, but it doesn't mean it will always be easy. A life of purpose isn't all rainbows and cupcakes. It's exhausting.
But it's real good.
I love you all. Thank you for being the backbone of Black Rock. We couldn't do any of this without every single one of you.