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Friday, November 23, 2012

My Two Worlds Meet {Thanksgiving}

Funny how you find things that really hit home. This article made me beyond proud. For years I have been a part of a wonderful community at Father Ryan High School. This Thanksgiving was going to be extra special for them, Although my children were never part of the band, we supported our school and routed for them. We also had friends whose children were involved. So naturally, when we heard our little high school was going to march in the Macy's day parade, we were thrilled. Being from New Jersey I have always hoped they would get to go. The parade holds a special place in my heart.

Father Ryan High School, my children both graduated from there, Many happy memories. It wasn't easy putting my children through private school. It was a hardship at times. My hope is that they learned more than what was written in books.

Both my children were very involved in service. My son lead projects collecting for families at Christmas and work at the shelter. My daughter received her Gold Award, the presidential award and the Charlie Green Scholarship for service. Though these are special, nothing is as important as the gift of giving and the gift of learning. Learning that there is more to life.The hours and hands on service that mean so much to the people that need us. That was the most important thing learned.

So I turned on the television yesterday and gleamed as they marched and played. At first I was upset because I couldn't see there faces but then I realized that it didn't matter because they were representing all of the students. It was a proud moment. I had heard that their uniforms were constructed from all of the uniforms worn over the years.
UPDATE: They won accolades for their uniform in Entertainment Weekly!
Then this morning I saw this article from The Tennessean. This is what Thanksgiving is all about!

FAR ROCKAWAY, N.Y. — Evidence of Hurricane Sandy’s toll on Queens was apparent the moment Father Ryan High School’s band members stepped off their two buses.
    They were parked in front of a boarded-up house, its damage marked with an insurance adjuster’s spray paint.
    Far Rockaway, a community about an hour outside Manhattan, had its problems before the devastation. Children stare down from sixth-story apartments with bars on the windows. The New York Times examined the housing crisis’ disproportionate effect here after residents abandoned their houses, unable to pay their mortgages.
    But after Sandy left remaining residents’ homes flooded and wind-damaged, and they sat two weeks without power in the freezing cold, things were even worse.
    It’s why many of them cried at the sound of a small band from Nashville — one that just had marched two miles in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade — coming down their streets.
    “It shows that people actually care,” said Mariam Karim, watching the band’s performance at Brian Piccolo Middle School. “It gives us hope that other people are willing and able to help.”
    Her home about 20 minutes away was less affected by Sandy, which struck New York on Oct. 29, but her father found himself with no electricity and a sick infant who needed a working nebulizer. They crowded in together for more than a week but were back in Far Rockaway for a 20-person Thanksgiving dinner, the power restored and much for which to be thankful.
    The one-band parade in Far Rockaway was the result of Father Ryan High School asking Macy’s for a charitable opportunity while in New York and Grace interdenominational church ( ) in Manhattan asking for a band.
    David Whitehead, Grace’s pastor, said he was pumping water out of Far Rockaway basements with other church volunteers when he thought of it.
    “I felt like this community was the hardest hit, the lowest income, and these were people really in need,” he said.
    A volunteer with another group’s cleanup effort, Stephanie Ellis-Gibbs said she would have been in Nashville for Thanksgiving had it not been for Hurricane Sandy. Her relatives live in Mississippi and Tennessee and chose to gather at a Nashville cousin’s house.
    But after sitting a week without power in Queens Village — huddling with her family in the living room and closing off the rest of the house — she couldn’t face a long trip. Ellis-Gibbs, her husband and their four children decided to spend Thanksgiving volunteering to help people who suffered even more than they did.
    “The kids recognized the band and said, ‘These are the people from the Macy’s parade,’” she said. “They have to be exhausted. To see so many people coming in to volunteer and then see some from as far away as Nashville — it’s invigorating.”
    The band members had been up since 1:30 a.m., and the drive from Manhattan to Far Rockaway was long, even with an NYPD escort. Still, their movements and music were precise as they marched down Central Avenue playing “Super Bass,” “Gangnam Style” and “Call Me Maybe” for residents who cried, clapped and danced, many of them walking along behind once the band had passed.
    “The parades were completely different, but both were just as powerful,” said Sean Carroll, a Father Ryan junior who plays the trumpet. “Macy’s was once in a lifetime. This one — you could see how important it was to people.
    “You could see it on their faces.”
    Happy to see that there are good reasons for sacrifices made. Proud of our school!
    Hope you had a meaningful holiday!


Robin at The Primitive Hutch said...

Awesome post Deneen!
Kudos to all the students that got to represent their school and all their hard work!
Prim Blessings

Sue@Uniquely Chic said...

So nice...I'm a Jersey girl and I loved reading this. It is so sad to see so many people going through a rough time. Awesome for the band to proudly do the parade!