Sunday, November 2, 2014

Day of Remembrance

Yesterday was all Soul's Day, a day of remembrance for many religions. It also happened to be the first chilly day we've experienced in VA Beach, and when it starts to get cold, I am always reminded of the importance of our project's mission: to offer some warmth for someone who needs it.

My mother continues to produce hats at an alarming rate. She completes two hats each morning, and this blows my mind.  Knitting hats helps her to keep Jeff's spirit alive in a very special way.  I am humbled by her efforts, her generosity and her grace.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Drop Off

135 hats and 12 scarves, tagged and ready to be handed out. My mom is heading to Philadelphia this week to deliver them to the needle exchange, where they will be handed out to the folks who use the needle exchange and its health services. Thanks to all who have helped with this round.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Happy Birthday, Jeff

Today would have been Jeff's 30th birthday, and he is much on my mind. It's a strange time of year for us all. Thanksgiving is a time of celebration and feeling grateful, while Jeff's birthday reminds us of his loss. It's getting easier on me to remember his smile and his kindness, and not be crippled by the grief of never being able to see him again. I am reminded of his sassy way and his easy laugh, and remembering our times together makes me grateful to have had them at all. My sassy daughter is ready to send up another birthday balloon this year, and has asked if we could attach a small piece of cake for Uncle Jeff this time. I like that his memory lives on in her spirit, and that we have the time together to honor his memory with this small gesture that means so much to her.

My mother plans to drop off the latest batch of hats during this week, and she has amassed quite a stash. This time around there are about 150 hats, with some donated socks and scarves. We discussed whether we should refocus our efforts on helping those devastated by Hurricane Sandy, but decided to stick with our demographic, as they are often overlooked, under-served, and just as in need of some warmth and attention.

We carry on Jeff's spirit with this project, and I take particular joy in knitting with the notion that each hat is essentially for my little brother. I know this would be something he would be proud of. While it may seem relatively insignificant in really helping an addict, a hat knit with our mother's love is a small symbol of hope, just like the balloon my daughter sends into the sky each year on Jeff's birthday.

Hoping this finds you safe and well.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Busy Hands

For those of you wondering how the Project is continuing to progress, we're pleased to report that it's been a productive winter. My mom's knitting group, which meets every Wednesday, has taken on the goal of the project like gang-busters. They focus on their own individual projects, but always contribute an impressive share of hats to be donated. This winter, they decided to donate their time and efforts to helping another charity as well, and still managed to contribute to the Project. Hats off, so to speak, to them.

In a touching tribute, my mom's best friend Mary Kay determined to knit and donate twenty-seven hats to Project Call Home, one for each year of Jeff's life. I cannot express the impact such kindness has on my mother.

Some of our readers have asked if they can send in other items, such as warm clothing or socks. Also, several have asked if it would be okay to donate gently used items, from thrift stores or Goodwill. Please know that whatever you donate, we will place in grateful hands.

My mom has made several trips to the needle exchange this winter to drop off the donations, and each time I imagine has to be hard on her. She is holding up beautifully through it all, and while she has dark days and deep grief, she is finding her way through the darkness and feeling joy again. I, too, feel Jeff's loss, and am able to remember the warmth and joy of him, even in times of missing him dearly. It strikes me that I am grateful for this project because it carries such a strong connection to Jeff for our family, and while he is gone, this project, while small and quiet, lives on in his memory. And that is a powerful thing. Thank you for your participation in it. We appreciate your time, thoughtfulness, and care.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Prevention Point Philadelphia

For those of you wondering where our donations are landing, check out Prevention Point Philadelphia's link here

Also, I apologize for continuing to call Prevention Point "Protection" Point in the blog.  I must have a mental block, but will be going back to correct it.  You can be certain, despite my confusion, that the hats are making their way to their proper homes.

Spring to Action

Hello there, friends.  It's been a long time since our last post, and it is with apologies that I write now.  Many of you have continued to send along your hats and your generous donations of time and money, and for that, we here at Project Call Home are infinitely touched and grateful.  For those of you who have been wondering where your contributions have landed, you'll be pleased to know that the hats and socks have been delivered on several occasions to Prevention Point, where they were distributed to many folks in need of some warmth and love.  I cannot emphasize enough how much such a seemingly small gesture resonates for someone living on the streets during a long, cold winter.

Here at the Project, we've had our own version of a long, cold winter, and I am grateful that the Spring has come.  I haven't wanted to use this blog as an airing out of my emotions for the loss of my brother, so I've stayed resolutely mum throughout the winter months, as he hasn't been far from my thoughts.  In truth, making sense of my inability to make sense of Jeff's death has been baffling, heart-wrenching, and bleak.  It's been a devastating truth to understand that his light in the world is gone forever.

It shouldn't be that alarming to understand this about losing a sibling, but when you are in a relationship with a loved one who suffers an addiction, all bets are off on what constitutes a "normal" relationship.  In our case, the estrangement I had hoped was temporary never became resolved because Jeff passed away before we could make our peace.  Someone very wise once wrote that forgiveness is about letting go of any hope that your past could have been different.  In my case, I am learning to let go of the hope that my future with Jeff could have been different.  Our time together was imperfect, messy, and full of holes in communication, time spent together, and understanding.

But through it all, the love I feel for him remains, and that is what sustains me through these dark days, weeks and months.  It's what makes me want to reach out to him, even in a way where I can't reach him anymore, but maybe can help to reach someone just like him, someone who might need a little kindness and some compassion.  And this is what you are helping to accomplish.  Every hat helps.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


I've been avoiding this post for a few days because I thought it would be a hard one.  This past Thursday, the 25th, which happened to be Thanksgiving, would have been Jeff's 28th birthday, and I don't think anyone of us knew how we were going to feel that day.  I was hosting some family and friends for dinner, and was able to stay pretty busy throughout the day.  I heard from my siblings and my mom and we were all holding together fairly well, I'd say.  It was strangely coincidental that Jeff's 28th birthday fell on Thanksgiving day, as he happened to be born on Thanksgiving, as well.  Jim and I can recall with great clarity that Thanksgiving meal, dry turkey and all, when Casey and Katie were so little and Phil was racing around trying to find a place where we could eat the holiday meal.  I remember our dad's crazy happy smile that day, and how excited I was to have another little brother.

I woke up this year on Thanksgiving day on the heels of a dream in which I dreamed that my 2 year old had passed away.  I spent the whole dream chasing after her, imagining her to be just around the corner from me, and I was unable to get my hands on her, and to hug her close to me.  In the dream, she was the youngest of my five kids.  In real life, I only have 3 children; my mom has 5.  It took me a few minutes upon waking to understand how deeply heartbreaking it must be for her each day she wakes up to realize that her child is gone.  And it made me want to get my hands on my children and keep them close.

After Jeff passed away, a good friend gave me a great piece of advice in saying, "Sometimes people are meant to deliver the message, and sometimes, they are the message."  I often think of this bit of wisdom, and understand that the loss of Jeff is a strong exercise is practicing Thanksgiving on a daily scale--to pay attention to our blessings each day and recognize that having each other is what life is all about.

Jeff's niece, my magical and slightly sassy 5 year old daughter, came up with a great way to honor Jeff for his birthday.  She said, "Why don't we get a balloon and write happy birthday Uncle Jeff and then send it up to heaven?"  I put her in charge of going with her grandmother to the store while I was making Thanksgiving dinner, and she came home with a colorful birthday balloon.  Later that night, after our guests went home, she and I stood outside our front steps and sent a message with that balloon up to Jeff, telling him that we miss him and love him.  As her little fingers let it go, I watched the balloon rise up into the night and wished him peace and love.

Sending peace and love to you, too.  And great thanks that you are part of this project.