You Can Be Someone’s Sign

The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the grandest intention. ~Oscar Wilde

Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time, and always start with the person nearest you. ~Mother Teresa

I couldn’t help but cry a little bit as I read their stories.

Two women, on opposite sides of the world, who had decided to do something pretty simple: make signs.

But the signs they created weren’t for their front yards, or for some protest. They were for bridges. Specifically, for the walks up to their community’s “suicide” bridges…

…To give hope to those taking what might be their last few steps on earth.

Paige Hunter had herself made that walk, and had perched atop one of the bridges, and had almost jumped. She would have, but for two strangers, one of whom told her “You are worth so much more than this.”

Those simple words were enough to make her stop, turn around, gingerly step down from the ledge, and head home.

A few kind words from a stranger, said with love, at just the right moment – were enough to save her life.

Paige found those words powerful enough that the very next day she decided to share them with others who were suffering like she was. Maybe she could give other people in pain a reason to live. So she got some paper and string, and walked back to that same bridge where she had almost taken her life not 24 hours before.

She posted that simple message for all to see: You are worth so much more than this.

She continued handwriting messages – now in her own words – of support and love and hope on colorful paper, laminating them and tying them with yarn all along the bridge. Her project, Notes of Hope, has saved dozens of lives – probably more.

But those notes are also a reminder for everyone walking across the bridge of how fleeting life is, how important it is to support one another, and how easy it is to do just that – if we can only get out of our heads long enough to extend a hand.

Paige lives in the U.K. But all the way over on the other side of the world, Cassie Bond was inspired when she heard of Notes of Hope. Now she places similarly supportive signs on “Suicide Bridge” in Spokane, Washington.

These women have touched so many lives. Saved so many lives.

With homemade signs.

Made simply, at home, with markers and construction paper and tied up with twine.

When interviewers tried to get local officials to estimate how many lives Paige has saved with her project, they couldn’t really give a solid number – but said that in many circumstances people contemplating suicide are simply looking for a sign to keep going. And, when they see these messages literally telling them not to give up, that’s exactly what they need in that moment.

That’s it. Just … a sign.

That someone cares, that all is not lost, that they’re not invisible, or forgotten, or expendable.

Folks, it’s a rough world out there right now, and I don’t have all the answers. Sometimes I’m not even sure I know all of the questions.

But I do know that we each have so much to give the world. And sometimes it’s the most simple thing that can make the biggest difference. It doesn’t take a lot of money. It doesn’t have to take a lot of time. It doesn’t take a mission statement.

It just takes heart, and dedication, and hope.

In a society that gives social media points to the “biggest burn” and rewards caustic comments, we can each be a little softer now. A little more understanding. A little more kind.

And we can find ways, like these two women have, to reach out to strangers and give them a reason to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

We could all use that these days.

Be safe, be well.

Let’s get to work.

ACTIONS FOR THE WEEK OF JULY 19, 2021

TUESDAY: RED2BLUE ZOOM!

Red2Blue is a group of volunteers who support Democrats running for office by providing time, skills, and other resources. Right now, Red2Blue is focusing on activities that can be done while socially distancing: phone banking, text banking, postcarding, building campaign websites, delivering ballot applications and literature (in lieu of canvassing) – and fundraising for targeted races. They support Democratic candidates and campaigns at every level across the country, and are particularly focused on elections at the state and local levels.

Tonight, Red2Blue will host a conversation about VA’s 2021 elections, which will be the nation’s first statewide challenge to Democratic staying power since President Biden took office. To build momentum for 2022, and to advance civil rights, fair elections, jobs, affordable healthcare, quality education, and climate solutions as we end the Covid pandemic, we MUST hold and increase Democratic majorities in the statehouses. That work begins now in Virginia – and needs your help! Join the conversation to learn how you can help out in the VA races.

The Zoom meeting is from 7pm-8:30pm EST, and you can sign up here: https://www.mobilize.us/red2blueorg/event/400226/

Wednesday: Happy Birthday Little Lobbyists!

It’s Little Lobbyists’ 4th birthday! Little Lobbyists is a family-led organization that seeks to protect and expand the rights of children with complex medical needs and disabilities through advocacy, education, and outreach. If you’re not familiar with them, check out the Letter from the Trenches that founder Elena Hung wrote for us. Trust me, you’ll love it. And then help them celebrate by joining them to tell Congress that caregiving IS infrastructure! 

From their Facebook page: President Biden’s American Jobs Plan, the American Families Plan, and the recently introduced Better Care Better Jobs Act, present an historic opportunity to significantly improve the lives of our families and all Americans with complex medical needs and disabilities. By recognizing that caregiving is infrastructure, investing in home and community based services (HCBS), getting eligible people off of Medicaid waiting lists, making health care and education more accessible, supporting paid family and medical leave, revitalizing public spaces and transportation to improve accessibility, and SO much more, a brighter future is within our reach …… we just need Congress to pass it.

Unfortunately, there are those in Congress who don’t think the contributions of caregivers and the inclusion of people with complex medical needs and disabilities are important enough to be considered “infrastructure.” We need your help!

Here’s how you can participate:

1. Make a phone call: Our stories are powerful and your legislators need to hear from you. Next to visiting in person, a phone call is THE most impactful way to connect with your legislators. Call your federal legislators – Representatives AND Senators, and tell them why caregiving is critical for your family to survive and thrive. Let them know we NEED to pass the Better Care Better Jobs Act in order to get people with complex medical needs and disabilities – including kids – off of years-long Medicaid waitings lists and into the home and community based services and supports (HCBS) they need to thrive. To reach your legislator’s offices, call the Capitol switchboard at 202-224-3121. All you need is your zip code to be connected directly!

2. Share our Open Letter to Congress: Little Lobbyists recently joined 300+ organizations to send an open letter to congress supporting the inclusion of home and community based services and workforce recovery in the infrastructure plan. Read our letter and share it with your legislators by reading it to them over the phone, emailing it to them, or by sharing a link on social media and tagging them in your post! https://littlelobbyists.org/…/joint-statement-from…

3. Send your own letter: Visit our birthday webpage https://littlelobbyists.org/birthday to print out our coloring page and letter template and customize it to let your legislators know why we need them to pass the American Jobs Plan, the American Families Plan, and the Better Care Better Jobs Act, and tell them exactly what YOUR family needs to survive and thrive. This is a great activity to do with your kids – it’s never too soon to get involved in self-advocacy! Let us know how it went! Tell us about your phone call, share a photo of your coloring page, and share YOUR story with us!Printable template, additional links, and more can be found on our website at: https://littlelobbyists.org/birthday

Also Wednesday! Zoom Event With Adam Jentleson and Indivisible!

IndivisibleNOCO is proud to announce a Zoom event with Adam Jentleson, author of Kill Switch: The Rise of the Modern Senate, and Meagan Hatcher-Mays, Director of Democracy Policy with Indivisible National. Let’s hear directly from those who know how the current-day Senate works – and fails to work – and who are leading the charge to protect our democracy so we can move our country forward. 

Adam Jentleson is the Executive Director of Battle Born Collective and a former deputy chief of staff to Senator Harry Reid. A columnist for GQ and frequent political commentator on MSNBC, he lives in Takoma Park, Maryland.

We will then hear from Meagan Hatcher-Mays of Indivisible National about their plan to advance rules reform and progressive legislation. We will also discuss our strategy to pressure our Senators to reform the filibuster and use their influence to persuade other Senators that reform is necessary.

Here’s the link: https://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_HMLLYbruQGiKRufmFoHXZg

Thursday: Keep Hot Call Summer Going!

This week we marked one year since the passing of John Lewis. Also this week the Senate Rules Committee held its first Field Hearing in two decades – in Georgia, and dedicated to voting rights. (You should watch it, or read the testimony – which includes Sen. Warnock, who reminded us that “some people don’t want some people to vote”). Here’s the link to the hearing: https://www.rules.senate.gov/hearings/protecting-the-freedom-to-vote-recent-changes-to-georgia-voting-laws-and-the-need-for-basic-federal-standards-to-make-sure-all-americans-can-vote-in-the-way-that-works-best-for-them

Now, with that added inspiration, let’s once again get out our phones and support voting rights. You might remember Stacey Abrams’ Fair Fight #HotCallSummer? Well, after it drove *40,000* calls in just ONE month in support of the #ForThePeopleAct, they’ve decided to keep turning the heat up on Congress all summer long!

Keep calling your Senators at 888-453-3211 and demand they take action to pass the For the People Act and the John Lewis Voter Protection Act. If you use that 888 number, Fair Fight can count your call toward their goal. Use it!

WHEW! GO TEAM!

P.S.: Why don’t you make someone’s day and send this pep talk to a friend or two? I bet they need it.

If you’d like to sign up to get this pep talk and action list in your in-box each week, you can do that here. Welcome, friend!

P.P.S.: If you want to help support this work you can do so via Patreon at
https://www.patreon.com/smalldeedsdone or via paypal at https://www.paypal.me/smalldeeds
My deepest gratitude in advance.

Thank you for reading. Thank you for writing. I read and respond to every e-mail. (Really! I really do!) We’re in this together. Don’t you forget it.

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