Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Speech from the State of Robbinsville / Pay It Forward dinner

Home. Growing up my home was Roosevelt, a town of two square miles just east of here. Us Rooseveltians say if you drive through and blink you will miss it.

Home. When Adam and I married we settled in Lawrenceville, a house on Princeton Pike where we continue to raise our children, volunteer in our community, and have developed loving and deep friendships.

Home. Ten years ago, early in August, then assistant principal Janet Sinkewicz walked me into room b4 of Sharon School. The walls were bare and unpainted, the carpet desperately needed to be cleaned yet I was ecstatic because I knew I was home.

Home. Teaching hundreds of kids. How to read, how to add and subtract, how to ask questions, the importance of being kind. The pride and love you feel for these kids makes your heart swell and catches your breath.

Home. Sticky first grade hands reaching for yours. High fives in the halls. Waist high hugs in September turn into chest high hugs by June. Wiping tears, tying shoes, kneeling down for deep conversations, belly laughing.

Home. Reassuring parents that their kids will read, learn, write, make friends. Teaching the siblings - sometimes three or four! Feeling like you have become one of the family. Getting invited to birthday parties, communions, bnei mitzvahs, baseball games.

Home. Your co-workers become family - your soul family. Teachers and administrators, administrative assistants and custodians. The pride and love you feel for these people makes your heart swell and catches your breath. Celebrating together. Sometimes mourning together.

Home. You develop a debilitating disease. You get a diagnosis that rocks you and your family to its core. And you wonder how you will make it - through the year, month, week, and even the next day. And the soul family holds you up.

Home. Flowers and loving notes from past students. First grade drawings of me in hot pink wheelchairs. Notes from past parents. Visits from entire families that you have taught.

Home. Your soul family and the community you have become a part of reaches out in immeasurable ways. You get notes, and prayers and love. They let you cry and hold your hand.

Home. Robbinsville. There are fundraisers and donations. There is this reassurance that I am a part of this community and I will be taken care of. I am home.

Thank you to the entire community of Robbinsville. A special shout out to fellow Hightstown high school alum and Robbinsville mayor David Fried; Jodi Stephens, Joy Tozzi (pron Tazzi), Dino Colarocco, and Roger Fort. From Robbinsville schools - Janet Sinkewicz, Nicole Bootier, Kathie Foster, Steve Mayer (may his memory be a blessing), and my beasties.

I would never wish ALS on anyone. However, I hope you all have the experience of feeling the love that I have felt here in Robbinsville. For that I am truly blessed. Thank you.

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