I tell ya, folks. I am truly touched by the generosity of Cranfordites. Touched.
As I mentioned, for the past for years, I have been walking in the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s (AFSP) Out of the Darkness walks in New Brunswick. Until this year, I was on my former guitarist's team, Orpheus.
Every year, the walks got progressively better with the team growing in strength.
The first year, I didn’t raise any money. I also didn’t actually walk since I had just gotten out of the hospital – as I mentioned. So it was easy to move up from there.
The second year, I raised probably about $60 (I don’t remember exactly). It was my first year actually walking. I was at my heaviest weight (almost 400 pounds). It was very difficult physically and emotionally. But I did it! And I came out on top. It was only a 2-3 mile walk around the beautiful Bucchleuch Park. I felt like a champ. There weren’t many of us, but it was a hill we climbed.
Last year. Well, last year we really thrived. Team Orpheus was huge – probably 10 or more people. We had a little doggie walking with us, too. Some of the people made the team T-shirts with pictures of who we had lost. It was an amazing thing. We talked and walked and celebrated life. I more than doubled what I made for the AFSP the year before.
This year is a bitter-sweet story so far (and we still have four month until the walk). My former guitarist and I are no longer team mates for personal reasons. Therefore, I have made my own team. Team “J’aime La Vie.” It’s French for “I Love Life.” In the first hour of creating the team – thanks to the power of Facebook - I have seven people on my team. It consists of friends and family, including my two young nieces, my best friend, and my disabled sister. My sister has become very dedicated to “walking” this year. What’s really going to happen is we’re going to take turns pushing her in her wheelchair that she needs sometimes when walking is too much for her. On last year’s team Orpheus, that was done by a friend while her son pushed her for the same reasons.
Since I have taken over my own team, I have branched out and really took charge.
Clearly, I have contacted Cranford.Patch.com about broadcasting here. They requested I be a blogger about the walk and suicide issues. I also had an article posted on the Cranford Chronicle website.
The point of this walk is to raise awareness and to raise money to promote prevention. This is a horrible underfunded foundation when you compare it to other foundations (another topic for another day). So, I have tried really hard to raise money. I was inspired greatly by things like Relay for Life and Project Graduation that have donation jars in stores around town. So I did the same thing for this.
Now, some stores hide the can, not wanting anything to detract from their income (to remain unnamed as to not taint their reputation). However, one location has gone above and beyond. And I want to publically acknowledge them for their kindness and generosity: Joanie’s Café on North Union Avenue.
The jars have been out for a month, and the first two weeks, Joanie herself was putting a dollar a day in the jar. She is so excited for this cause and really rallying behind this. I went to pick up the jars' money on Monday and Wednesday. After Monday, I was pleased, but I hadn’t gone to Joanie’s yet since they’re closed on Mondays. Same reason I hadn’t picked up the can at the Porch.
So yesterday, I went to pick up the contents of Joanie’s can. I take off the lid, and my eyes go wide. FULL of money. Literally. There was a $5 bill sitting on the top!! I’m taking hand full after hand full of bills into my envelope (thinking meanwhile, that I need a bigger envelope). Joanie shouts across the counter “How did we do?” And much in my joy and surprise I start talking to her about how the can does the best there.
She proceeds to tell me how much she promotes it and how much she tries to get her patrons to donate. She then asks me when the walk is, and when I tell her Sept. 30, she says, “we have plenty of time” in her joyful, bubbly tone. PLENTY OF TIME! Meaning she plans on raising MORE!
In the past two weeks or so, Joanie’s, by themselves, raised about 17$. Bear in mind, that’s a dollar here, that’s a dollar there. That brought the total to $25.96 for round two collections. More than double the $11.42 of round one collections.
I am so touched by the generosity of the people of Cranford. Thank you so much! I am so amazed.
And please, go support Joanie’s Café for breakfast or lunch. Not only is the food great, but they’re really big-hearted. I work down the street from Joanie - have since high school - and once they opened up, I started going there. I have a Saturday and Sunday morning allegiance to them. They see me quite often. That's how it is in Cranford. The little guys help each other out. And in Cranford? We're all little guys.
To donate yourself: http://afsp.donordrive.participant.com/stoltechris
To join my team as a walker: http://afsp.donordrive.com/team/jaimelavie
To read the Chronicle article: http://www.nj.com/cranford/index.ssf/2012/04/cranford_woman_participates_in.html