The Change that Matters – blog by Angel Thomas, CSVANW Office Coordinator
Nearly one year ago my heart broke for one of our babies…much like yours did.
We all received the Amber Alert on our phones in the middle of night—a missing girl, her description, the last place she was seen, what she was wearing, her age, her name—Ashlynne Mike. That alert woke me up, but like so many of us, I placed my phone on the nightstand and fell back asleep. The next morning while I got ready for work I said a little prayer and moved through the motions of my daily routine. But as that day unfolded we learned what happened to our little one.
It broke me. I cried every single time I heard her name. I mourned for a child I had never met before because she was mine, too. I saw my daughter every time I closed my eyes. I pictured Ashlynne playing in the dirt after school—I saw my little one playing in the sand, too. I imagined Ashylnne talking to a seemingly harmless neighbor—I saw my baby talking to him, too. I envisioned little Ashlynne trusting in a world that had never harmed her before—and every single time I closed my eyes…I saw my Olivia, too.
I was so shaken to my core.
Mine is the same little girl who believes in this world—who sees the good in every single person she meets because she trusts what I have created for her. Who would hurt her? I sat my daughter down in the days that followed so that I could warn her about the dangers in being a trusting little girl. I played scenarios for her and asked her what she would do.
Her answers struck fear in my heart.
I asked, “If someone offered you a kitten if you got into their car- what would you do?”
She answered, “I would just go see it momma, don’t worry, I wouldn’t bring it home”.
I nearly leaped across the sofa and held her tighter than I had ever held her before. I knew her weakness was kittens. Maybe some stranger would guess that, too. I realized very quickly she could be gone just as fast as Ashlynne. I scrambled to make sense of her innocence and the evil that lingers in the world. My role as her mother became so tiny in keeping her safe. I cried, again.
Our communities needed healing after this tear in our fabric.
A few days later, my daughter and I attended the Community Gathering hosted by CSVANW last May to begin our healing process. As Olivia changed into her yellow dress, Ashylnne’s favorite color and now an ode to her memory, I asked her what we should offer the family as a token of our condolences. When she walked out of her bedroom she held a little plastic sandwich bag with her entire piggy bank’s worth of change. Less than ten dollars.
My little one gave all she had to a family she might not ever know.
My daughter may not have fully known it at the time- but that night, she became a part of a movement. A movement to end violence against our children.
Helping our community in their time of need is one way we at CSVANW are helping to break the cycles of violence against our women and children. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and we are sponsoring and supporting events in our communities across our region that aim to bring awareness to the statistics that plague our homes.
We invite you to donate and become a part of our social change movement through our “High Five, Give Five” initiative. It’s simple: give $5 bucks, and the next time we see you, we’ll give you a high 5.
This is healing.
This is community.
This is the change that matters.
For more information about donating, please visit our donate page