Our nanny, who watches our almost 4-year-old-son (he's still 3, why can't I just say that he's 3?!) has a daughter who is an SEIT (Special Education Itinerant Teacher). The last time I heard the word Itinerant it was followed by the word Farmer. I know that she - I’ll call her Wren - goes from school to school and sometimes home to home teaching kids with developmental needs. This website states it all clearer: http://www.vclc.org/special-education-itinerant-teacher.html.
I am writing about her today because she (along with her family) is probably the most truly kind individual I know. She places herself second and always puts service to others first. Taking care of her parents, these children with special needs, families at her temple and the homeless is what defines her. Wren never discusses her charity, brags about it or pushes anyone else to do what she does. She just spreads kindness, love, warmth and gives her time, energy and brain power to do it all, selflessly.
She has collected supplies in our building for Hurricane Sandy victims and made sure they got to where they needed those items most. The sin of that collection was sorting through food items and throwing away bags and bags (perhaps more than half of what was received) thanks to expiration dates from 2009, 2010…when people donate food to shelters and places of worship, this seems to be a prevalent issue. They clean up their pantries of dusty aluminum cans and boxes thinking that they can be useful to others. The poor or newly-displaced, thanks to the Hurricane, for e.g., are not immune to expired food items. If the donator can’t eat it anymore, neither can another human being. It was wasteful and depressing but a lesson learned.
Wren recently organized a Halloween Party for our Co-op which brought all of us together for the first time in the 9 years I’ve lived here. We met other people with children that we didn’t even know existed. Everyone was happy to participate thanks to her simple idea.
Every weekend, Wren serves food and gives out clothing at a men’s shelter in NYC, rain or shine, along with some like-minded folks who have served that shelter for 14 years! I was blessed to join her the other day and saw how simple and efficient the process was. It’s a well-oiled machine after so many years of bringing homemade pasta dishes, rice and beans, mashed and roasted potatoes, mixed greens and vegetables, salads, bread and even dessert. Campers probably already know this, but they make single-pot stove tops that light with a can of fuel on the side in 2-seconds to heat up large pots of love to warm the hearts and bellies of those living in less-than-ideal conditions. My heart went out to the folks saying, “Thank you,” at each spoon ladling protein and nutrition onto their plates but I still couldn’t help commenting to one person, who said, “No thank you, don’t want too many carbs,” when the woman to my right offered him pasta, that he needed a mixture of things to break down his food as he had 3 other types of starch on his plate – noodles, rice, mashed potatoes and he was going to the cake next. Nothing green was on his plate – it was a sea of white and yellow. I prayed that he wouldn’t develop diabetes from our offerings and wondered if it’s possible to ask those good enough to make massive amounts of food for strangers to make more vegetables and less pasta. What gall I had for thinking that! I hadn’t made a thing; I just stood there for 90 minutes (only) and extended my arm to give a roasted potato. “Roasted potato? Do you want more?” No one took more than they could handle and everyone said please and thank you. They mostly averted their eyes and looked embarrassed, tired, hungry, miserable or defeated. A few did look at us with a smile and personality. What strength and conviction they showed in the face of humility. And my friend did everything in stride, without saying a lot (typical for her) and did as she was told with a smile.
Wren has become a friend and a great caregiver to our son. When she is home with her mother or in between appointments, we know that K. is getting special treatment. He’s reading, working on writing letters, doing puzzles, being creative, silly and free. Her forwarded photos with wonderful remarks of what our son said at that time are cherished mementos.
I am a very sarcastic person, which can provide great humor or quite the opposite. Because of the latter, I’ve tried to curb my penchant for sarcastic comments so that I can be more kind. My friend, and I’m grateful to call her friend, is not at all sarcastic. I find this rare in someone of Generation X. My mother and her friends fall into that category – they just don’t catch on to the snarky comments because they are kinder, gentler and perhaps less egotistical than I am. This young woman exemplifies a lifestyle that is not just about giving to others but about making everything about others. It’s never about herself.
She even forwarded me a link to Karen Salmansohn’s quest for kindness bloggers, which means that she not only thinks I’m a worthy blogger, but that I may know something about or maybe even BE…kind. Could that be? With her as my daily reminder, it just may happen.
Karen Salmansohn is on a mission to stop the trend of bullying and make kindness trendy. You can find out more about her mission on Karen’s Happy Kid’s page on her site www.notsalmon.com Plus, you can join Karen’s Kindness mission by becoming a Kindness Rockstar Ambassador – just click here: http://bit.ly/RSEwjZ
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