08 April 2013

If you're able to donate...please donate.

I am participating in The MISS Foundation’s 3rd Annual Kindness Walk & Safety Fair on May 19, 2013. As part of that effort, I am also raising money, and my goal is $500.00. That goal may increase, depending on how many generous friends I have. ;-)

I know, I talk a lot lately about MISS. But, I guess, if you can’t use your own blog to promote your own causes, then what’s the use of having a blog, right? Here’s the thing: MISS doesn’t get much support, and the reason for that is probably pretty simple. Our cause is a sad one, and by giving money, our donors are contributing to ongoing support of bereaved parents and advocacy for issues relevant to child death, but not to a potential cure. St. Jude’s appeals to your heart by showing you photos of adorable bald babies who are suffering through the horrors of cancer treatment; you want to help the adorable bald babies beat cancer, so you give money. March of Dimes and child advocacy centers and dozens of other organizations use the same technique; pick up any one of their brochures, and you’ll see groups of happy, healthy kids who have benefitted from their services. They have success stories, and they use them to make more success stories. It’s a great method, and we’d use it if we could. But, we can’t.

You can’t help the babies that make MISS necessary, and none of us are mean enough to show you pictures of the babies that make MISS necessary. Dead babies make us necessary. We don’t have success stories because no parent ever successfully recovers from a child’s death. If children never died, MISS wouldn’t exist, and believe me when I tell you that Dr. Jo (our founder) would be thrilled to find herself jobless tomorrow if someone could invent a miraculous cure for dead babies.

Here’s the good part, though. MISS doesn’t discriminate. We help every parent who comes to us, searching for the smallest speck of light in the blanket of darkness that is losing a child. No matter what caused the death – stillbirth, car accident, cancer, some other congenital defect, homicide, suicide, tragic accident, whatever. No matter the age of the child at the time of death – infants, toddlers, children, teenagers, adults. Parents and families who come to us get help. End of story.

MISS doesn’t stop there, though. In fact, when I first talked with MISS’s CEO, Barry Kluger, about why I wanted to become a part of the Executive Board, I told him I love that MISS isn’t just about hand-holding and crying and grief. The hand-holding is vital, and it’s the heartbeat of the organization, but it’s not ALL of the organization. MISS is about activism. Dr. Jo is perhaps the loudest voice speaking up against a change to the DSM5 that would medicalise grief. Barry has co-written an amendment to the FMLA that would extend its protections to employees following the loss of a child. These are professionals, y’all – smart, smart people who teach me daily, not only about grief, but also about intricacies of psychiatry, medicine, chemistry, and yes, even the law. I learn from them, but much more importantly, others in positions to effect change look to them and learn from them and model them.

Where does your money go? Or perhaps more importantly, where doesn’t it go? Salaries. Save one part-time administrative employee whose salary is paid by a generous donor, MISS operates entirely on the considerable devotion of its volunteers. Our volunteer pool is primarily comprised of bereaved parents; they come to MISS for help, and after they get help, they give it back. Parents are offered a number of counseling sessions gratis, after which they pay a very nominal amount to continue services; that nominal amount goes directly to the counselors. In terms of overhead expenses, MISS has one office, for which rent and related costs must be paid; that office is small and used both for individual counseling sessions and group meetings. When MISS representatives travel – either to advocate on behalf of the organization or to participate in training seminars – they pay their own expenses. Donations go directly to supporting the mission statement of the organization itself, and not into the pockets of its representatives.

So, now that I’ve said that, I am going to ask you for money. For as little or as much as you want to give. We will appreciate every single dollar, and we won’t waste a penny, I promise you.


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