Everyday feels like a birthday when you’re telling someone else how much you appreciate them. I learned long ago that paying it forward is worth more than anything material, and recognizing someone’s hard work is (almost always) worth a million bucks. Since giving is, as they say, better than receiving, I started a tradition in my Wilton Patch column three years ago of bestowing an award that I created — the “MOMMY.”
I tied it to my birthday, which happens to fall just around the end of ‘Awards Season’ (the Oscars, the Golden Globes, the Grammys and others). I guess you could say it’s an attempt more independent than even the Independent Spirit Awards.
Since that tradition started in 2011, I have been having fun with it each year, and just made my third annual local bestowal of MOMMYs.
Since this year’s birthday was a big one for me (45!), I thought how better to mark the occasion than to expand the reach of the MOMMYs. Who knows, maybe next year it will go national, but for now, as the column runs on a few dozen local Patch sites in the Connecticut and New York region, I’ll hopefully spark a new tradition regionally as well.
A little background on the ground rules: since they’re my MOMMY awards, they are entirely my choices. They reflect neither the picks of any Patch staff, writers, editors or family. The MOMMYs are given entirely at my discretion, with no lobbying, campaigning, panels of judges or the like. Yes, they reflect my sensibilities, beliefs and political leanings, but that’s what goes along with writing an opinion column.
Sadly, there are no prizes, just recognition. But the bright side is there is no red carpet, paparazzi, gowns and makeup, or disappointed nominees who didn’t win.
So without further ado, let’s inaugurate this new tradition by opening the envelope and saying, “The Regional MOMMY Awards go to...”
March for Change
The events of Dec. 14, 2012, were devastating — for the families of the 20 sweet children and the six brave adults who were murdered by a madman using weapons of death. The town of Newtown reeled from the unfathomable madness of a few minutes that left it irreparably and irrevocably changed. Connecticut and a nation mourned for the 26 innocents lost and our collective innocence that seemed forever darkened.
In the wake of tragedy, individuals mobilized to make sense of the senseless and to affect some sort of resulting change. Shortly after the shootings, two Fairfield County mothers started a private dialogue about what they could do to change the public conversation about gun laws and gun violence. That meeting sparked a movement.
Like a groundswell, residents from all over Connecticut responded with the same desire to make change happen on a legislative level. They organized town-by-town to write and call their representatives and to organize a grassroots effort to raise awareness about the toll of easy, unfettered access to guns.
On the two month anniversary of the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary school, to let Connecticut lawmakers know that the conversation would not go away. The leaders of March for Change, and the tens of thousands of other individuals who committed themselves to support the cause, have duly earned my first Regional MOMMY award.
Compassion in and for Newtown
One by one, family by family, town by town, and all over the world, arms reached out to the community of Newtown to offer support, love and healing. Fairfield County kids baked cookies for Newtown’s first responders; funeral directors from around Connecticut pitched in to help the town’s one funeral home; the New York Knicks brought their entire organization for a day to lift the spirits of Sandy Hook schoolchildren; thousands of snowflakes were sent to decorate the new Sandy Hook school — itself something given to the town by neighboring Monroe; Newtown families tried to help one another as best as they could.
So many more countless examples of kindness for the people of Newtown have occurred since Dec. 14. Millions of caring hearts and hands pitched in to try and help everyone touched by the tragedy. This purity of goodness — while it can never undo the enormous pain left behind by evil — is the reflection of humanity that will ultimately triumph and shine a way out of the darkness.
A group arose out of the oft-used phrase in the days following the shooting rampage: “We Are Newtown.” That spirit of human kindness deserves recognition.
Hurricane Sandy Relief
This region is not unfamiliar with weather-related inconvenience; when we moved to Connecticut, we had to get up to speed pretty quickly on generators, power outages, ice dams and the like. Other residents living in coastal neighborhoods have experienced frequent flooding and damage that they deal with like the hearty New Englanders we’re known as.
But last year’s Hurricane Sandy was devastation like no other. The damage caused by falling trees, tidal swells, power outages and fire was unprecedented in recent memory. But once again, the human heart showed its capacity for compassion for others, and in this region we were without doubt a community motivated to help our fellow man.
Clothing and food drives; donation of time and supplies; offers to open up showers and beds to local neighbors were matched by a local dry cleaner who cleaned the uniforms of Breezy Point, NY, firefighters for free.
Displays like these offered hope following the storm. While there are still communities that have yet to dig out fully after the destruction that lingers, it’s the promise offered by the community that will carry all of us forward, and deserves praise.
Like many of you I do a lot of my work, and spend quite a lot of leisure time, online. (This is a column written for an online publication, after all.)
One of the local groups I follow online is ctmomsonline.com. One part billboard, one part online local news source, one part activist advocacy, one part digital coffee klatch, this resource like many others has capitalized on the way people connect electronically to make a difference.
I discovered them as part of their effort to help the March for Change organization — they helped arrange bus transportation for hundreds of people to Hartford and back on the day of the rally. But they also help with the small, but very important, stuff.
One day on their Facebook page they posted something on behalf of a social case worker out of Bridgeport who was trying to help a client — teenaged, pregnant and single — get much needed baby gear before she gave birth. They listed the items she needed: a stroller, a crib, and baby clothes, among others.
We happen to have had a crib just waiting for such a day. I quickly commented on the post, ct-moms connected me with the social worker, and within a week or two, that social worker (shout out to Olga S.) showed up at my house to collect the crib.
By the way, Olga was there on her day off, not earning pay, but doing something kind for someone out of the goodness of her heart.
Those kinds of connections — digital, social, and individual — are worthy of MOMMY recognition.