Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Big Question

There is a question asked on every grant application which may be answered in different ways for different groups who have received funds for projects. That question is:  How do you know if you have successfully accomplished your project or mission?

This following short story is somewhat of a composite in order to protect the privacy of a family or individual. It is one story among many over the year.  THIS IS HOW WE MEASURE SUCCESS!

One night not so long ago ...

I received a call at 3 AM on a Friday morning from a UVA Social Worker in ER.  She said, "Please forgive me for calling so late or early, but there was no one else." I said, "Talk to me."      She continued, "We just received an infant, transferred by taxi for a critical situation. Mother and Father are with their child; however, they are not alone." I asked, "How many children are with them?"   She replied, "Four additional children, several are infants, and Ronald McDonald House is full and not open at this hour.  The family is exhausted, and we can't make arrangements for this number in the hospital. They have so little, and certainly can't afford a hotel room. I will access those full-day meal packets you provide in the Social Work cabinet so they have something to eat, but I really need a room for them."
I remember saying, "I need ten minutes, and I will get back to you."  I called our closest hotel partner, and the overnight clerk recognized me immediately.  After all, how many people call from 12-3 AM with some regularity?  The overnight desk clerk said, "Good morning, you keep some funny hours. I assume you need a room NOW."  After a quick "You betcha, just til normal check-out time, or perhaps you can stretch it until noon. The guest has a lot of babies with her, and needs a place for all to rest and recover. Can you check on a crib and secure a room with two beds?"  The desk clerk simply said, "Give me a name for the registration. Here is the reservation number. I'll check on the crib. Send them on over. Just e-mail the rest."  I blew kisses into the phone; she laughed and hung up.

I was back with the  ER social worker in less than 10 minutes. The family was placed in a taxi for transport to the hotel. An immediate temporary need was accomplished.

A Reflection:

By 3:45 AM, having sent an e-mail to the hotel and social worker documenting details for the record, I closed my notebook, and just sat and focused on all those photos of my grown children and their children.  Some situations allow for an outpouring of emotions. This was one such time.
I kept thinking about this indigent family, caught in an economic downturn, transported with all those kids with no one to assist them, a distance from home,  a critically ill child, and inadequate funds for lodging and food, until the next day or two to work out a plan for them. The social worker still had her work cut out for further assistance .. BUT FOR NOW ...AN IMMEDIATE SITUATION WAS COVERED... A PLACE TO REST AND SOMETHING TO EAT.  

A Final Note:

I wish this was a rare situation, but it's not.  The size family may be less; the hours may be earlier in the day; but the stress level for anyone coming to Charlottesville with a loved one in critical condition, and no one at home to assist, and no funds to cover the costs of lodging and food immediately upon arrival is why we are involved.

The only reason we are available 24/7 for those calls is because of a group of contributors, mostly small periodic donors, who know what is happening. The least able among us are growing in numbers, and the smallest tragedy can drag them over the edge.

If you would care to make a difference, click below to make a one-time donation, or set up a monthly donation for automatic withdrawal:

To ALL of you who provide us with food packets or hotel lodging funds, emergency prescription funds and infant car seat funds for NICU indigent parents ... thank you for allowing me to be able to react so quickly. I know when that phone rings at "funny hours" ... WE are ALL being successful!

Much love from all of us ...  T. Wade Clegg III, Elisheva Clegg & Sam McLawhorn