Stories of Giving & Thanks
This is the inspirational story of how our Seeds for Change coordinator Tafe Sup Bergo got involved in our community:
I was volunteering in my son’s first grade class in October 2009, helping students with reading. I completely fell in love with one of his classmates; an adorable little girl, with long straight hair and the most genuine smile. We were reading words off the bulletin board. We got to the word, ‘many’.
“What does that mean?” Audrey asked.
“It means, like, a lot,” I told her.
“My mom doesn’t have a lot of money,” she replied.
I shrugged it off and told her, “It’s hard to make money.”
“Yes, I know. My mom said we might get our power turned back on next week.”
My heart completely sank. I contacted the school social worker and told her about my conversation with Audrey. The social worker told me she could not give out any personal information about the family, but she confirmed that they absolutely could not make ends meet. All I knew was that Audrey’s mom was a single mother with six children. I had no idea how to contact them or what to do to help, but I felt I had to do something.
I went to Sam’s Club and bought double of everything on my list, knowing that somehow I would be able to get it to them. I sent out an e-mail to friends asking for money, food, and clothing to be sent to the school for Audrey’s family. My phone rang and my son spoke with Sarah, an acquaintance of mine, who had been forwarded the e-mail. She spoke of a kind woman, who had six children with her, at our school fun night. She was explaining that her own 4 year old daughter was crying because she wanted cotton candy and they were out. The woman handed her one of their bags and said, “Your daughter can have this. We have enough to share and we don’t have many friends here.” She was sure it was her and named Audrey as one of her children. From there, I was able to put the pieces together and called Audrey’s mom. I told her I had some things for her and that my son was in Audrey’s class. She was a bit reluctant but she agreed to meet me in the school parking lot, provided she could get her truck started. When I arrived at the school, I saw a beat up truck with a young woman inside. I knew it was her as she had tears running down her cheeks as I did. I unloaded my trunk load of items, everything from brownies to toilet paper. There were not many words exchanged as we were both very emotional.
The e-mail responses started rolling in. It was overwhelming. Numerous individuals sent in donations and the school PTO pledged their help. We were able to get Audrey’s family’s electricity turned back on and help them with other bills. There was enough money to help a number of other families at the school as well. Some pretty amazing things happened just by spreading the word. I had an anonymous phone call that a Lincoln R.A.K. (Random Acts of Kindness) group wanted to donate $250 because they were forwarded the e-mail. St. Elizabeth Hospital adopted Audrey’s family for the holidays and local churches adopted six other families in need at our school for the holidays.
I would like to share a thank you that I received from Audrey’s mother:
I LOVE our school, its PTA and all the other wonderful people connected with them who seem to love my children as much as I do. They have been one of the most amazing things to happen to my family!! Just picked up a bunch of presents for my kiddos and gift cards for our family!
Tafe, something tells me you were a fantastic person long before we ever had the pleasure of meeting my dear :) You and your family were just what we needed in more ways than you will know. I had begun to lose faith in humanity, and u came along and showed me that the right people do still exhist and i thank you so much for that. I love you. You are an amazing person. I am so grateful for you and all that you have done for my family, and all that you continue to do for others. You inspire so many, you are beautiful inside and out, and you surround yourself with… other people who are the same. When i grow up i want to be just like you lol. Thank you for loving my kiddo’s. Sometimes it makes me sad that they dont have my extended family in their life, and then im reminded that they have better. They have people like you who CHOOSE to be a blessing in their life, and i couldnt love you more for it. I love going to this school and realising that the people there love my kids as much as i do and always take care of them, and me when i need it. I love being able to include you all in my “reasons”.... Ive always said everything happens for a reason, i just didnt know what it was… Every pain ive gone thru is now coming to its counterpart of happiness… Thank you for being part of that.
Our school continues to help its families in need with winter clothing, dinners for families with medical issues, assistance with utilities, groceries, getting presents under the trees on Christmas morning, and any other needs that come along. Audrey’s mother and I remain close friends today. I have been honored to be part of such an amazing outpouring of kindness and am incredibly thankful to everyone who pulled together to help. It has been a life-altering experience for me and many others involved. By sending a simple e-mail to people who were connected to Audrey’s small world, even though they likely didn’t know her or her family, we were able to make a huge difference in this family’s life. This experience was incredibly inspiring and motivated me to try to help other families in need. Please join me. If you can’t donate now, please tell your friends about Seeds for Change. This is what the program is all about, spreading the seeds out there and watching beautiful things grow. Thank you for your time.
Tafe Sup Bergo