Friday, October 6, 2017

How do I begin to say thank you?


It's been such a long time since I've written. There are lots of reasons for that. As our area was just about recovered from the "Great Flood" of 2016, my parents' home flooded in my hometown 100 miles from Baton Rouge. At the ages of 90 and 81, you can imagine how hard it was to see your parents displaced. Late spring and summer was tough, but it brought the opportunity to spend time with and "love on" family. I'm blessed to be a school SLP and with much of summer off, I got the chance to be caretaker for family members (both human and furry), especially my mom who underwent a major surgery. Long story short, my parents are now back in their homes, there are brighter days ahead, and we've reached the one year anniversary of the "Great Flood" that displaced so many friends and co-workers. While some are still rebuilding their home. and we still have 4 schools yet to be completed, most are back home. Now as Louisianais finally breathing a sign of relief, our hearts are heavy as we see our Texan neighbors, Florida friends and others suffering from natural disasters.  

Like I said, I've avoided post this a long time just because there aren't enough word to properly express my gratitude. I've tried my best via social media, but a year later, it's time to share the joy and generosity that came in the midst of the flooding. 

As soon as my blogger friends heard the news of the flooding taking place in Louisiana, the prayers and well wishes started coming. I was taken aback when I received a package (which I now know would be the first of many) from an SLP friend in Colorado, Amy Kunstle, who owns and operates 3dSLP.  It actually came on the night right before our students returned to school (for the first time in 3 weeks) What perfect timing!


These 5 boxes were meticulously packed with such care and attention to detail. Each box had a book, toys or manipulatives, a lesson plan and more - ranging from construction themed to rock/gem themed and folktale themed. I handed them out to our SLPs and they swapped them throughout the year. What a gift! The planning was all done for them! 


 Soon packages came in droves. SO MANY packages! After being out of school (and literally under water) for 3 weeks, school resumed in makeshift class rooms on shared campuses. As you can imagine, SLPs were crammed into utility closets which was, for once, just fine because they had lost everything and had nothing to put in those closets. Two SLPs actually did therapy in the PTO closet full of Sam's warehouse quantities of juice, candy, chips and paper towels. 

Thank goodness for these boxes. 


Seriously. 


I quickly found myself doing NOTHING but unpacking boxes and distributing materials. 


I sorted and stacked then texted and emailed letting the SLPs know that the calvary had arrived. 
SLPs and friends of SLPs were sending their love in the form of crayons and Play-doh and smelly stickers.  Many of the school supplies came from the lovely Marilyn Vacel who is a loyal customer of my TpT store. Thank you so much, Marilyn. Your support did not go unnoticed. 


 The care packages came from places far and wide- like from Collette Tovee in Canada. Thank you, Collette! 


They came from native Louisianians who have moved away like Kari Fast who is currently practicing in Alaska.  Kari also sent us other SLP must haves...


Thank you, Kari XO


I delivered and the SLPs also came to pick up the treasures. Adele (pictured above) had only been able to recover her lunch box and a calendar from the flood waters at her school. The new supplies brought a sense of normalcy that was priceless.  Adele still isn't back in her school but she's currently in a temporary building waiting for her school to be rebuilt. 


Teresa Besson, just north of us in central Lousiana, sent her love in the form of rolling carts for these newly transient SLPs. 


Not having shelves or cabinets or a real space of their own, the carts brought smiles! Angela (pictured above) spent last school year on a makeshift campus situated near a swamp, complete with alligators on the roam! Angela has now moved back into her school building this August! Oh happy day!! She's sharing her speech space with Cheryl (shown below) who braved the gators, too! 


Cheryl lost about 28 years of speech materials in the flood, and her elderly parents lost everything in their home. Thank you to everyone who donated and helped Cheryl bounce back!

You did that! You donors who may be reading this! 

You sent the speechie essentials! Keep in mind, about 30% of the students of these SLPs were also displaced. They needed a little fun in their lives. Funny Bunny, Fisher-Price Little People and paint daubers will definitely help with that! Thanks to those of you who donated these. 


My sweet and sassy friend, Annie Doyle, sent Yeti Spaghetti (and much more) from New Hampshire. Thank you so much! Annie got to experience Louisiana firsthand (and alongside me) this summer when she attended the ASHA Connect Conference, and I got to hug her neck and drag her around the city! 


Ashley Rossi, my friend from Dallas, sent so many all prepped materials from her TpT store (and much more!) Thanks, Ashley. I actually saw these being used in therapy just last week! Ashley is now fully committed to supporting Texas SLPs affected by Hurricane Harvey. 

If you're reading this now like to know how to help them, please comment on this blog post and I can get that information to you. 


The notes that came along with some of the donations were like icing on the cake. 
Tamatha Cauckwell Fishler or "Tami." also donated in spades. Thank you, friend. 

It seemed like Amazon gift cards came in bulk!! Amazing! 

Thank you Felice Clark, Jamie Kronenberger, and Mary Cooper (of Tennessee).  Mary has a son at LSU here in Baton Rouge, and she heard the stories of the flooding firsthand from her son, Taylor. This summer I got to meet her, give her a big down home hug and show her the sights in NOLA! 


Elizabeth Weathesrby shipped us stacks and stacks of bound items from her store as well as gift cards and her no-print products. Thank you so much, Elizabeth.  

 Erin Dunkle sent us a whole CD of no print products, stellar social skills products and so much more. Thanks, my friend. 


Every week or so I got a big box full of AAC materials (as well as apps) from Susan Berkowitz who actually went to grad school here in Lousiana at Tulane. Her products and all the other goodness she crammed in boxes were so appreciated. Thank you, Susan. 


Susan also scored us 4 of the most amazing interactive bluetooth plush toys from BlueBee Pals!  The displaced SLPs are still enjoying their precious BlueBee Pals! If you haven't seen these, you must go check them out!  


Susan wasn't the only one spending a small fortune on shipping.  
This giant box below came from Lyndsey Zurawski in Florida; she was determined to get these donated items to us.  Unfortunately, she recently rode out Hurricane Irma. Now our prayers are with YOU and your community.  Thank you so much, Lyndsey. 


The bunny game below is one of my absolute favorite therapy games. 
They came all the way from Long Island, NY courtesy of my dear friend Jessica Schulman along with lots of other loot!  And look! SMELLY MARKERS!  
SMELLY MARKERS!  = smiles! 


All of this (and more) arrived from Jamie Kronenberger. Jamie, if you read this, please connect with me. I'd love to know more about you and thank you for your generosity. 


Fellow blogger, Sarah Stevens, sent tons of materials donated by a group of TpT sellers (I wish I had a list of them). Sarah prepped and assembled them all herself and made sure we received them all. 
Thank you truly, Sarah. I hope to thank you in person one day! 


Thanks to everyone above! Thanks, Amy Beth (Speechasaurus) for contributing to this bundle of fun! It contained all of this goodness (above) and so much more...


YES, stickers ARE important, Sarah :)) This made me smile from ear to ear! 


And the stickers and office supplies kept coming. It was much better then Christmas. 

Being that I drove a VW bug at the time, I couldn't even keep up with the deliveries anymore. 
I asked them to come shopping. How fun is that?! 


Jeri has been in our district 13 years. I've had the pleasure of seeing her do therapy, and she is excellent (and lots of fun). She's also a bit obsessed with TpT so she was in hog heaven getting all of the fun donations. Right after the flood, she and I cleaned out a storage closet in the school she was sent to, and together we turned it into a therapy room. I distinctly remember her saying, "I don't even have smelly stickers." She does now :) and she's currently in a temporary building near her school that's being rebuilt.  

Speaking of hogs, Kristin Immike, another Texan neighbor went hog wild sending us therapy materials. I'm not kidding, the packages from her just kept coming. 


Thank you Kristin. I sincerely can't wait to meet you in person. 

Another beyond generous donor (also from Texas) was Mandi Schaumburg. I seriously considered contacting Mandi and Kristin to tell them they had done enough.... because the cards and boxes just kept coming.  It wasn't surprising to me that these same Texas SLPs (and others) have been spearheading Hurricane Harvey relief for affected SLPs in Texas. 

Such giving spirits! 


Thank you for the prayers and so much more, Mandi.

How about this fun Frozen donation (among others) from Karrie Molina? You made lots of little girls happy, Karrie. So did my darling Texan friend, Laura Deeken (whom I've got to hang out with twice during the last year), and blogger friend, Linda.  Thank y'all so very much! Laura is also currently involved in Hurrican Harvey relief. Small acts of kindness change lives! 


Even into the winter and spring, boxes arrived. The secretary and janitor seemed to be getting annoyed with me at this point (ha!). I would just stand there with my mouth wide open and my heart too big for my chest. 



The gift cards and packages and well wishes and prayers kept coming from everywhere. 
Rachel (from New Hampshire), Shanda and Manda (twins from Minnesota), Kim (from North Carolina),  Amy Roberts (a cherished blog reader from Alabama), Amy Robertson, Nanette Cote (from Illinois), Emily (fellow Louisianian), and Martha (generous donor) and made sure we did not feel forgotten. Thank you all! 

Thanks, too, to the Caddo Parish SLPs who showered us with Office Depot gift cards and my fellow blogger and friend, Kelly Hungaski, who coordinated donations that resulted in hundreds of dollars of Amazon gift cards! 

Hallie Sherman from New York, whom I had the pleasure of meeting this summer, sent Moustache Smash, Crocodile Dentist, Yeti Spaghetii and smelly stickers down south to us! My one regret regarding ASHA Connect was not remembering to personally thank you in person, Hallie (because we were having to much fun!) Please accept my thanks now. 


Even the ultimate.....Pop Up Pirate....came to fill the therapy rooms with fun again! 


Then look at the love that came from Oregon state.... from my sweet friend Pam Dahm.^^^^^^
  She sent us oodles of her awesome TpT loot as well as...


 Melissa and Doug toys and Fisher-Price Little People. 


What SLP wouldn't love THAT?  I got to have some fun in with Pam this summer at ASHA Connect.  Thank you, Pam, for everything. 

Another cool thing that happened at ASHA Connect was that I got to meet Sarah and Lisa from SLP Toolkit! They amazingly donated 10 SLP Toolkit subscriptions to our district! Thanks again, ladies! 


Blogger Natalie Synders also mailed goodies of her own as well as a flash drive full of handy documents and activities for our SLPs. Of course, all of these are still being put to good use! My sincerest thanks to you, Natalie.  


Can you believe this? It just kept coming. 


Please click on their names to pay their sites a visit. 


Just when I would think the donations were done for good, my South Carolinian friends, Danielle Cullick and Amy Haselden, kept the goodness coming. Once again, our custodian lugged a giant box from Danielle up to me on the third floor of our building.  Thanks to you both. 


and my friend, Sparklle SLP of Ohio, (whom I got to make memories with this past July in New Orleans) sent supplies and this sweet note that I keep and treasure. 


Anyway, the moral of this blog post is that every note, card, box, package, prayer, email, text etc. meant to world to us here. Truthfully, it meant the world to me personally because it's my job to make sure our district SLPs are "okay" and supported. I couldn't have made them "okay" without you. 

YOU made them feel like they had what they needed for their kids. 
YOU made them feel like things were somewhat normal even though they definitely weren't. 
YOU made them feel like someone cared about their plight. 
YOU made them feel good about doing therapy under some really tough circumstances. 
Thank YOU ALL!  

With all the strive that the 2016-17 school year brought, our school system stands strong. Our score system performed so well (despite the flooding) that we are now the second highest ranked school system parish in the state of Louisiana. If you'd like to, please watch this documentary created 1 year post flood by clicking HERE. {Guaranteed to warm your heart}

Please, please, PLEASE if I missed your name, contact me! 
Amidst the frenzy of hauling boxes, unpacking, sorting and stacking, I may have mislabeled an item or missed a name.  I'd be devastated if anyone is left out. 

Thank you also to these other lovely donors who don't have website to link to (to my knowledge):

Roni Fruge (my sister)
Wendy Scronce, teacher
Becky Gaussiran (former APSB deaf educator)
Rachel Gerber, SLP
Jamie Kronenberger, SLP
Kari Fast, SLP
Randi Tascione, SLP
Martha Stilwell, SLP
Kimberly Pineda, SLP
Marilyn Vacel, SLP
Murray Brownsberg, SLP
Sherry Boudreaux, SLP
Amy Roberts, SLP
Karen Murray, SLP
Heather Hammock, SLP
Alicia Fox, SLP
Stacey Roth, SLP
Amy Robinson, SLP

To all I have listed and those I may have unintentionally missed...







2 comments:

  1. it is so sad to hear of the destreuction that the natural calamaties make. i am glad to see that everything is recovering fast. you are so amazing

    ReplyDelete

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