Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Clean...

My fondest birthday wish is that folks get out and volunteer in their communities. Yeah, it’s kind of corny but a bitch doesn’t need much for myself except to be among friends and family…and vodka and cran (wink). Whether through work or some other outlet, this bitch sincerely wishes that everyone experience the satisfaction of being a volunteer!

And on that note with extreme happiness at a birthday present a day early…

Clean…
This bitch started volunteering in the St. Louis community several years ago. Although my background is not in social work or mental health, this bitch found being a volunteer to be both rewarding and not all that hard. There were tons of resources and people to help me out and the young women at the shelter are amazing and inspiring too.

My first year volunteering at the shelter was the ultimate learning experience. The shelter houses 10 families of single teen moms and their chil’ren. Some of the moms had an unplanned pregnancy and some of them were pregnant as the result of rape. All of them were homeless and the shelter provided mental health counseling, transitional housing support and assistance with continuing education and job placement. Although a bitch tried to remain detached and just teach my classes, my ass quickly bonded with some of the young women.

One young lady in particular really worked her way into my heart. She was very shy and withdrawn, even with her 2 month old little girl. And, therefore, a bitch was challenged to make her feel at ease and get her excited about the various topics. Over time she began to get more vocal and engage in our various discussions. She was so bright and serious…a mother at 16 years old with so much responsibility on her shoulders.

One day we were chatting after class and a bitch shared with her how impressive her work was. She ducked her head and said that there was nothing impressive about her.

“You don’t know me. I’m not special at all. I’m not clean and I’ll never be clean again.”

A bitch asked her what she meant, careful to keep my voice even and my tone without judgment.

She then shared with me that she had been raped. She did not report the incident to police. Three months later she found out she was pregnant. A few weeks after that, her family booted her out of the house.

While struggling to remain calm, my ass also struggled against rage. No woman should have to endure what this young woman went through. A bitch talked to her about her dreams and hopes…her plans and fears…her insecurities and self doubt. She was seeing a counselor, working full time and studying for her GED.

With classes each week and sometimes on the weekend, a bitch saw this young woman a lot. When our classes came to an end, a bitch was thrilled to hear that she was moving into transitional housing with her baby. She had completed her GED and was now working full time. A bitch moved on to a new set of young mothers, but that young woman never left my mind or my heart.

So, this morning a bitch called the shelter to schedule my voter education classes. After some general conversation and serious scheduling, my contact shared that this young mother had called the shelter to inquire about me a few weeks ago. She wanted to know if 'that proper talking girl still taught those classes’. Just hearing that brought a smile to my face.

“How is she doing, by the way?”…my ass couldn’t help but ask.

“Oh, she’s having the darndest time!”... my contact stated.

Oh no! A bitch’s stomach dropped. Shit!

“She’s had to reschedule her second semester classes around work and is frustrated. But we told her that this might happen and it will all work out."

What? Second semester classes?

Yes, that young woman who touched my soul was trudging her way through college. She wants to be...will be...a social worker. And she wanted to know if a bitch still taught classes there because she was interested in dropping by and saying hello.

We hooked up on the phone a few minutes ago and a bitch hopes to see her next week and hear all about the perils of college (wink).

A bitch is sharing this story with her permission. She got a real kick out of my request and a bitch got a real kick out of hearing her laugh. She told me laughingly that she started out wanting to prove me wrong…that she wasn’t capable of the things a bitch kept telling her she was capable of…that she was somehow forever flawed. But then she started to enjoy the small successes, the feeling of achievement when she received her GED…the feeling of accomplishment when she paid her bills and cleaned her home. And she just wanted to let me know that she was happy…pissed at her new schedule at school, but happy. Her baby is a wild child, she said, with that quirky parental pride in her voice.

And this bitch can’t wait to see them both next week…its like knowing what my present is, but having to wait a week to unwrap it!

In my few years as a volunteer my ass has seen the good, the bad and the ugly. For every success story there is one of a continued struggle, and for every one of those there is the possibility of success, however it is defined.

Of all the things a bitch could have been given for my birthday a day early, hearing that one of my first sorta-students was living…participating…surviving and so much more just made my fucking year!

Clean.

35 comments:

Crystal-Lynn said...

What a great post. I'm glad she let you share her story with us. Your sorta-student sounds very special indeed.

Maidink said...

Dammit, Shark! You got me crying in work!

It's those stories which tells me there is hope still alive out there in this world.

I may not know her, but please tell that young lady I am damn proud of her!

Homer said...

ABB- you are an inspiration.

CanEragon said...

You are one very noble lady who has heart and gives of herself freely. I think that's what makes you who you are. That you make a difference in the world is the greatest accomplishment you can give to the world. That you affect change in others where change was once impossible will be your legacy of your life.

I admire you and I guess that's what makes you special, you are honorable and noble.

Jeremy

Damon Z said...

Great post, it's very inspirational. I fully agree with you volunteering is the way to go. Problems can be more effectively treated if they are dealt with at the community level. Waiting for changes from Washington simply does not pay :).

EverydaySuperGoddess said...

Fantastic. Thanks for that.

J said...

Wow, ABB...you brought a tear to my eye with that story. I'm so proud of that young woman, for working her way through all of the shit that the world has dumped on her. Thanks to you for helping her see that she is not dirty, has not made irredemable mistakes in her life, can get past the horror of the crime committed against her, can/will be a success in life. You, and people like you, ROCK. She will 'pay it forward' as well.

And, of course, Happy Birthday. :)

BZZZT said...

In case I don't get to tell you tomorrow: Hope you have a fabulously wonderful and amazingly Happy & Blessed Birthday. Thanks for your incredibly personal, honest, insightful thoughts and reflections.

Happy B-Day from your bud at
Buzzzed


PS: An interesting (to me anyway) little tidbit of an astrological - intersection - footnote - of - a - sort ... my mom's b-day is today, and my ex's late mom's b-day would have tomorrow on your day. Just interesting is all I'm saying....

BZZZT said...

OH! P.P.S.

I'll be toasting atcha with bourbon & cran!!

;-)

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday, ABB! You are a powerful force of positive energy in this world.

SuperB

cats said...

that brought tears to my eyes and made me remember some of the hard cases that i've worked on. hard because they were kids the world had already made up their mind on... easy, because i fell in love with each of them. i often wonder about them, especially one boy who the other kids called "bad eric" b/c he was (seemingly) irredeemable. he was a crack baby and all the things that come with it, one step away from foster care and always in trouble whether or not he had done something wrong. but i told eric over and over again that i loved him and saw him thrive. but i don't know whatever happened to him. is he even still alive?

the fact is that i know that i gave him a special gift while i worked with him and that he gave me an even greater gift by letting me be a part of his life even if just for a few months.

what a joy that you were a part of this young woman's life; for both of you and us too!

Dixie said...

Fabulous, fabulous story. The sort of story that needs to be told to everyone.

Happy birthday!

Ancrene Wiseass said...

That was just beautiful, ABB.

nostradumass said...

wow. just wow.
happy birthday abb!

Elle said...

read this. didn't comment at first because i wanted to say something about how inspirational and wonderful and amazing you are. but, alas, no time to pen a eloquent tribute, so:
this story-beautiful
what you did/do-beautiful
you, my angry, wonderful, brilliant sista-beautiful
happy early birthday, ABB

Uncivil said...

Abb

Loved the post. Just have a question on one sentence you made.

"She wanted to know if 'that proper talking girl still taught those classes’."

Does this mean you leave the trashy talking at home when you teach class?

I have nothing against your trashy talk here on your blog as it is what makes it so real. Just wondering how it would be in your classroom is all?

Gosh.....can ya tell I'm a calm white dude? LOL!!!!!

Later!!!!!!!!!!!!

bitchphd said...

You tell that young woman that her story is inspiring--and cleansing--for a whole bunch of strangers who have maybe not had nearly as much shit to deal with as she does but who still get down once in a while, okay? And that we are all behind her. And that if she ever shows up in one of my classes I'll lay out the red carpet for her, b/c she's the kind of student I like best.

And have a happy birthday.

Ellen said...

That is beautiful - and it sounds like she is more than surviving - she is thriving. What a great b'day gift! I spent years teaching and I can tell "battle stories" with the rest but it's the victories like the one you just got to see that made it worthwhile.

Anonymous said...

I am inspired and I am forever grateful for you sharing that story. I have struggled with volunteering...rather to do it...not do it, will I be appreciated or taken advantage of. I feel like an ass for thinking these thoughts because God has given us all a gift and not sharing it or at least contributing is a waste and just bad karma waiting to happen.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY AND MANY MANY MORE!!

Diggs

Jodie said...

You made me cry. Happy birthday, and may many other wonderful things like this happen in your life.

CP said...

Absolutely inspiring, ABB. In absolute awe of your resolve and compassion. A Princess continues to bask in the glow of an Angry Black Bitch. I suspect she isn't nearly as angry as she likes the world to believe. *wink*

Adoringly,
CP.

Jae said...

Happy Bday. What a bitch. What a blog.

kate.d. said...

great post. i work for an agency that provides housing and services for homeless youth, so i know what you mean when you say that for every success story, there's also one of continuing struggle and disappointment. that can generate a sadness and fatigue that is hard to shake. but in the end, what else can we do but try to get the success stories to start outweighing the struggles, in whatever little way that we can?

thanks for sharing.

Absolut Billy said...

Its a shame more ppl dont realize that as cliche as it sounds, every little bit counts. Can you imagine what could be accomplished if say just 1/3 of STL volunteered 5 hours a MONTH to something. 5 MILLION hours woudlbe dedicated to any number of things, and that WOULD make a huge impact.

bourgeoisblahblah said...

At first reading, I love you, a bitch! Don't you just live for those moments like the one when you discovered she was doing well and in college? That's enough to light up a life for years. :)

nvr4money said...

Wonderful story! I know it's not about you but this is more evidence that you are an incredible person. Stay you!

Lex said...

My first visit here, and what a wonderful story. "Happy Birthday!" seems superfluous, but have a good one anyway.

storm_indigo said...

You are one bad-assed ABB! Again, I am impressed. It is beautiful knowing that you have touched someone as much as they have touched you. Let the young lady know that there are more people, like you, who believe that she can and will accomplish her dreams. Sometimes just knowing that you have someone elst to take care of is a profound motivator.
Peace.

Redcane said...

I just came over from Bitch PhD and I'm crying with happiness. This is a wonderful story and you know, every person can make a difference if we would just get out of our own way. We just stay so wrapped up in our shit that we really deprive someone of the little bit extra we have to give.
Thanks and a very Happy Birthday to you. And tell the woman that there is one more out here pulling for her to succeed

Nancy in NYC said...

Sniff!!!!

Carol Crews said...

I just clicked over to you from Bitch Ph.D. and read this post and cried sitting in a coffee shop in Chicago. Your story, your actions and your writing totally moved me. Thank you for the inspiration.

Anonymous said...

Now, dudette, THAT'S what I call fucking PRO-LIFE:-)! Thank you, thank you, and thank you, and have a blessed birthday:-)!

CanuckRob said...

Came here from the other Bitch an dI am glad i did. What a great post and have a great birthday.

Sue Woo said...

Hi Bitch!

I am just catching up on your blog because I am in South Louisiana doing-guess what? Volunteer work! Please tell your friend that social work is hard, you never feel like it's all done (because it isn't) but it is a rewarding career. I'll email you with my contact info in case I can help her with advice. That SW school in St Lou is fantabulous.

Happy Birthday!

emily said...

Gawd, that's beautiful. Thanks for sharing. I feel the same way about former students I have (from a tough inner city high school) who are making it through college by sheer force of will alone. Have you read Push by Sapphire? This post reminded me of that book. It makes ya feel.