Through the past three years, from our days of sitting in a booth in IHOP ironing out mission statements and bylaws, to the very present day where we see growth and healing in our community every day, we have had numerous supporters. From our very first contest, which was simply an online voting contest, to our online fundraisers (where we had a very generous donor generously give $1000), to even now when we are being asked to speak and attend certain events, we’ve had people help us in their own ways. And we can’t thank these people enough. Without them, we’d have no way of maintaining anything we do. None of the members of AVFTI pull any salary whatsoever, and we don’t have a large chunk of money in the bank. But we have enough to do what we need to do to grow, and for that, we are immensely thankful.
But if anyone has ever read my story, you know that the way my mom handled my story is a huge part of why I am able to tell it today. And with it being mother’s day, I felt it no better a time to give a small tribute to her for that.
I grew up in a house with just my mom. I was her only child, and from the beginning, we were a team. Even though she had her struggles and we were on welfare and food stamps, we were never wanting. I always had incredible Christmases because of her. I was able to participate in every single extra-curricular activity and sport that I wanted to – and there were lots. And it’s all because she pulled together the money, somehow, to make sure I didn’t miss opportunities.
When a child tells you that they’re being sexually abused, or when a friend tells you they’ve been raped, the way you respond is one of the absolute most important things you may be faced with in that situation. At that moment, you will be helping craft what that person does from that point. It may sound like a big deal, and that’s because it is. But as big of a deal as it may be, that doesn’t mean it’s hard. It’s not hard to listen to someone, believe them, and validate them. And that’s all it takes. And that’s what she did. And it is because of her response that I was able to start this organization. It is because of her unwavering love and support that I was able to publicly tell my story, and help lead others to do the same. Without her, this organization wouldn’t be possible.
My mom is the most selfless person I know. I strive to be like her daily, and although I know I will always fall short of her grace, compassion, and love, her way of treating other people is a constance source of inspiration for me. And it is because of her that I am who I am.
A day for mothers isn’t enough. A simple blog post isn’t enough. Cards, flowers, brunches…none of it enough. I can’t repay my mom, and I know she didn’t do anything for me to be repaid. She did it out of love.
So although I could type for hours about the things she’s done for me, I won’t. I want to leave this as simple as I can. Thank you, mom, for all you’ve done for me and for the other people in your life. You’ve been a positive person to so many people. I love you, and I am so, so proud to call you mom.