A Moms Nightmare Becomes a Family’s Cause..

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We’ve covered all types of topics on One Unified Project since our inception in October of 2014: music, interesting occupations, sex, equal rights, veterans, businesses, and many more, including charities. I recently was at Parx enjoying some music by Stems and Seeds when suddenly, I noticed the band members wearing neckties that they didn’t have on before. I thought this was a new thing they were doing, being the fun band that they are. I asked Krista Doran (lead vocalist) what the story was and she introduced me to Melissa Gail. Melissa explained to me what the purpose was of the ugly ties and below, you’ll read what she told me. What I will tell you is that it did exactly what it was supposed to do…start a conversation about the organization she is involved with dealing with a topic horrific and, sadly, more common than we’d like to recognize. In this interview, you’ll learn about The Mama Bear Effect, why she got involved and how you can learn more about it. Sometimes, we don’t know who may be a victim, so please share this so it reaches those who may need to see it and be helped by it.
On this Mother’s Day, we want to thank Melissa for sharing her story with us and thank her son (and his good friend) for being brave enough to come forward and give others courage to do the same.

What is the name of the organization you’re involved with and what is your role?
The Mama Bear Effect, which is a 501(c) 3 non profit organization which, just last year, worked to get a nationally excepted and recognized ribbon of awareness.
The Campaign you were witness to was our TieOne.org where we ask folks to wear an ugly tie to encourage conversations about how ugly child abuse is. We started this last year to raise awareness during the month of April, which is national child abuse prevention month. My role, along with most of my immediate family members, is that of an advocate. We are the first in Pennsylvania.

 

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The [organization focuses on] the prevention of child sexual abuse through education. Our objectives are to raise awareness & encourage prevention methods since so many people are simply not aware as to how often children are being sexually abused. How to prevent it…this is one of our main goals. We believe that when people get involved, change can be made. Family by family. Community by community. We share concise awareness and prevention tips and encourage each person to take responsibility, not just for their own children, but for their community. The home page of the website says it best “We are about people caring, uniting, learning, and taking action to protect children. To prevent the sexual abuse of children we need to look within ourselves and acknowledge the strength that we have, take the time to educate ourselves, and be proactive and steadfast against sexual abusers.
It doesn’t take a complex mathematical equation or weapons of mass destruction, it takes people with big hearts and open eyes to stand up for these children when they need us most. Every single person can make a difference in the life of a child on their own, and we, as a people united, can make a difference in our society.”

When and why did you become involved?
In March of 2012, our youngest child revealed in school to some class mates that he was raped. One friend insisted that he tell an adult right then & there. He would not take NO for an answer. (Thank goodness for his ability to get our child to tell). This child, of roughly 13 years old, raised his hand in the middle of class, told the teacher that our child NEEDED to go to the counselor’s office and took him by the arm and walked with him to the office.
He couldn’t speak but managed to write what happened to him. We were called into school and from there we began to look for ways to address the situation. I stumbled across a Facebook post which lead me to the Mama Bear Effect website. I was, in what I called, Mama Bear Mode. So the site REALLY spoke to me.
As a mother, I needed to heal my child and family. As a mother, I also felt that I must save EVERY other parent from going through the pain I was experiencing. I believe that The Mama Bear Effect empowers me to do that.

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In what ways does Mama Bear help victims of abuse?
We have gathered cards with encouraging words to children who have, or were, in the process of testifying against their abusers. We have a section on the website called “Survivor Studio”. This is a blog dedicated to child survivors of sexual abuse that wish to share their stories through art, music, poetry and other creative outlets.
We work with other groups such as “Break The Cycle” (www.Breakthecyclejewelry.com). They put together comfort care packages (stuffed animals; coloring books; cool, hand made crayons; craft kits; etc) for children who have disclosed abuse. The founder of TMBE, Adrianne Simone has been a wealth of support to others, creating Facebook groups where we can all chat & bounce ideas off one another. [Something else] I could go on and on about.

How is your son now and was his abuser ever caught and/convicted?
Our son is doing wonderful! He advocates for TMBE, speaks at events for NOVA and plans to ride with BACA next year to help children who have gone through similar things that he endured.
Our son’s abuser was punished, while not nearly long enough, he did serve time and that is a victory. Most children do not get that justice at all.
(To read more about Melissa’s son and what happened to the “man” that victimized him, please read this article seen in the Northeast Times: http://www.northeasttimes.com/search/?q=Rick+jastemski )

How can people get involved?
Visit the website (www.themamabeareffect.org) and look around, see what appeals to YOU. We did the Door Hanger Campaign back in 2013 and do it every April now.
Other ways to find TMBE:
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/mamabeareffect
Email: Info@themamabeareffect.org
Twitter: twitter.com/MamaBearEffect
Pinterest: pinterest.com/mamabeareffect/mama-bear-effect/
Mailing:
The Mama Bear Effect
PO BOX 190
Pinehurst, MA 01866

How has it made a difference in your life?
TMBE has been a God send. Providing positive support, educational materials, a circle of others who share in the desire to save whatever amount of children from this epidemic. It has empowered me to find my voice to speak out against child sexual abuse

The Beautiful Mothers of One Unified.

I used to write about moms- a lot. As a matter of fact, I made my living from sharing the (mostly) funny side of parenting for a very long time.

It seems like all the moms that I talked to or wrote about all those years had one thing in common; they were tired. Lack of sleep is a very ‘mommy’ thing. From cranky babies to carting teens around in mom’s taxi, they all seemed to be craving some more rest and relaxation. The number one most asked for Mother’s Day gift among all the moms I had met? Rest.

Sure there were a few women who wanted a nice piece of jewelry to one-up the other moms on the block, or a bouquet of pretty flowers to adorn the mantel. But flowers die, and who really cares what those other moms think anyway? But sleep, a few extra hours of shut-eye, or an afternoon where no one needs you to find a sock that’s gone missing or a project that was misplaced, that is truly the gift that keeps on giving. I’ll take that over a bottle of Chanel #5 any day. That and the handmade cards and school made art projects, or a cup of tea made by my oldest that I am likely to be gifted with this weekend.

Alas, every mom is an indiviual. One mom’s cup of tea is another moms shot of vodka. One mom may be hoping for a day of peace and serenity at the spa, while another might be planning a new tattoo as a reward for the “other” 364 days of mothering. (Hint: both are me!)
Just as every one of our kids is unique and special, remember that you moms may come in all different shapes and sizes too. Moms of one… moms of many… biological moms… step-moms… adoptive moms… moms to multiples… moms to kids with special needs… all of you are true heroes every day.

One thing that has always struck me as a mother is the power of the love I have for my children, and the knowing that, although they love you too- you may be their rock, their island, their world, it won’t be until they one day become parents themselves that they may begin to truly understand the power of a mother’s love.

This Sunday is Mother’s Day, and if there is one thing that I have come to find after all of these years, is that the most incredibly powerful and universal unifier there is, is motherhood! So, rock on amazing moms! Celebrate the uniqueness, the awesomeness, the power of you!

 

 

Happy Mother’s Day From The One Unified Project!

momsbannerToday is Mother’s Day! And if you are lucky enough to still have your mother with you, we hope you have the opportunity to share some magic moments with her today. For those of you who have lost that most special of people, may you find a way to honor and cherish the memory of her and her role in your life today and every day. And if you are a mother yourself, we hope you are lavished with gifts and blessings and that all your wishes come true today. Motherhood truly is a rollercoaster. The most difficult, exhausting, rewarding, fun, crazy, sad, happy, purposeful, joyous, frustrating, scary, hopeful, job you could ever have or will ever have.
A gigantic special thank you to those of our readers who shared photos of their own mothers for today’s post.
Happy Mother’s Day!
From The One Unified Project

Mom Collageclick to enlarge

‘Racing for the Cure’ to Honor Her Mother’s Memory.

We’re finishing out the week with the story of someone who spends today (Mother’s Day) every year honoring the memory of her mother and aunt. Happy Mother’s Day to all of you magical, magnificent moms!

HOW DO YOU SPEND MOTHER’S DAY EACH YEAR?
I do the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.

HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN PARTICIPATING IN THAT EVENT?
This is I think the 9th year. We started in 2006 when my mom was first diagnosed.

SO YOUR MOTHER HAD BREAST CANCER?
Yes. She was diagnosed in 2006. She underwent treatment for about 18 months. She was doing fairly well, and then in 2009 it came back. She passed away in June of 2010.

I’M SO SORRY. HOW DID YOU BECOME INVOLVED WITH THIS EVENT AFTER YOUR MOM WAS DIAGNOSED?
My aunt actually had breast cancer as well. It wasn’t my mom’s sister. It was actually on my dad’s side. My dad’s first cousin, but we all called her an aunt. She had passed away in 2003. She was only 35 years old. It was a real blow to both of my parents, to the whole family really. She had become involved herself when she was undergoing treatment. It’s a name you hear all the time now, even if you don’t have cancer, or even know anyone who does. But back then it wasn’t quite so prevalent. She met a woman in treatment who was fundraising for her team and she told my aunt about it. I remember her telling the family that she wanted to participate and get a team together. Team Linda was the first team we ever had in the family. I wasn’t a physical part of it back then. The team had about 5 people on it.

CAN YOU TELL US WHAT IT IS EXACTLY, WHAT IT MEANS TO PARTICIPATE?
Well, Susan G. Komen is the largest breast cancer foundation in the country. It started in 1982 by Nancy Goodman. She was the younger sister of Susan Komen, who died of breast cancer in 1980 at the age of 36. There are so many efforts and events all over the country, but the Breast Cancer 3 Day and the Race for the Cure are probably the best known. The foundation has been under some scrutiny over the past few years, but pound for pound they still raise more money for research and patient support than anyone else. I do it because it makes me feel like I am honoring my mother’s memory, and her name.

SO WHAT ARE THE DETAILS OF THE EVENT?
It takes place every Mother’s Day. This year it is Sunday May 10th. It starts at Eakins Oval, right in front of the art museum (The Philadelphia Museum of Art). I think they’ve changed the route slightly but we run Kelly Dr. all the way down across Girard Ave. and back up MLK Dr. It’s a 5K run. There is also a walking version.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR TEAM?
Our team has grown! We’re up to about 30 participants now. It started as myself, my sister, my mom, my (other) aunt and her friend. After my mom passed, we added my dad, my uncle, a few of our neighbors, and some of her friends and co-workers. People have come in and out over the years. The core of us has always been there though. If it weren’t for this event, this day, I think Mother’s Day would be absolutely horrific for us all.

ARE YOU A MOM YOURSELF?
I am. I have 2 girls. My husband brings them to the race. They don’t participate yet. They watch mom. They charm strangers. They participate in kid’s stuff. Someday they’ll be walking or running along with us.

DO YOU WORRY AT ALL, HAVING LOST TWO FEMALE FAMILY MEMBERS TO THE DISEASE?
Naturally I worry more than the average person does, I’m sure. I must have more frequent mammograms and I live a very healthy lifestyle. They talk about all sorts of genetic factors involved. I worry more about my girls I think. But I try to never let it get the best of me. My mom would have hated that. She would have been furious knowing that her contracting this disease had caused me to live my life in fear or doubt. That is not how I want to honor her. I want to honor her by living, by doing everything that she would have wanted to do, her and my aunt, if they were still here.

GOOD LUCK ON THE RACE! HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!
Thank you! Happy Mother’s Day to you too!


Happy Mother’s Day!
From,
Michelle & Noelle

JFK Plaza Photo Courtesy of Nakashi and licensed under Creative Commons License 2.5 

How Important is a Mom’s Influence? A Poll

Remembering a Mother and the Lessons She Learned From Her

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When did you lose your mother?
“I lost my mom November 30, 2011.”

Were you close to your mom? What type of relationship did you have?
“When I was younger, I’d say we were oil and water. We did not get along. We fought constantly. But, once I became a mother myself, the relationship definitely changed. As both of us got older, all that stuff, that teenage crap, just went away. It was important because my mom became very sick for the last five, six years of her life. I’m glad that we had a chance to get rid of that and get to know each other a little better as women and mothers. I was very ate grateful that I had that opportunity because I know that some people don’t get it. A lot of people tend to think “well, this is just the relationship. This is how it’s gonna be.” You have to work on it. Because some day, they’re not gonna be there. You have to make your peace with people. It’s just not worth it. Why carry it around with you? It just weighs you down. If she had passed away and we didn’t resolve it, it would’ve been much worse, a lot harder. And regret would’ve been part of it. There’s enough with grief that you don’t need to throw regret on top of it.”

How has losing her affected you?
“Like I said, she was sick for a very long time. As a matter of fact, for the last two years of her life she was bed ridden. She had emphysema, lung cancer and moderate dementia. She had her good days and bad days with her dementia. So, when she first died, as sad as this sounds, it was almost a relief because I knew she wasn’t suffering anymore. And that was exactly how she wants the end of her life NOT to be. She said, “if I get like THAT” meaning stuck in bed, “shoot me”. That’s what she used to tell me. When she had first been told she needed to be on bed rest, cause she just couldn’t walk, she couldn’t breathe. So she looked at me and I said “No! I’m not going to shoot you!” She laughed. So at first it was a little bit of a relief. That week after she died, you’re just so busy, constantly going, getting things ready and you just want to honor that person by making sure that everything’s done the way they wanted it. And I wanted to help to make sure that my dad was ok. It hits you more, I’d say, like two weeks later. All of the sudden, we hit the holidays. My mother died right before the holidays. I’m out there and I’m doing things and I would look at something and say “Oh, maybe my mom would like that”, and it dawns on me that she’s not there anymore. It’s this hole that’s never going to be filled again. You get better but there are times you just sit there and go “wow, I just really wish she was here to be with me”. Sometimes, even when you’re an adult, you need your cheerleader, and that’s your mom. Even when we were oil and water, I always knew she had my back. I’ve had some difficulties lately and not having that voice is really hard. You always know that your parents are there to do the best for you. And sometimes when you go through hard stuff, it’s like you’re 5 all over again and you need your mom and she’s not there. But then I think if she was here, she’d be really sick, so she’s in a better place. So it’s for the best.”

What did you learn from your mom that you believe will last you through your lifetime band has helped you with raising your own daughter and son?
“I think because my mother and I, when I was younger, had such a rough relationship, I was determined I wouldn’t have that with my daughter. And it hasn’t. My daughter and I are extremely close and get along. I think the other part of it is, and even my brother will say he was the favorite child, is that I try to be very fair when it comes to my children. I try to treat them the same. And I think that one thing I learned from my mother is that that’s a job that you never get rid of. You will always have to be in their corner. Even if sometimes you’re fighting with them. As an adult I look back and I feel that she did the best that she could and she did what she believed, as a mother, was right. I may not have agreed with it when I was younger, and some things she was very right on, but I always felt like she was doing it out of love. I never thought she was doing it to spite me. I know some people have that relationship with their children and I don’t understand that. I feel that my kids know that I’m in their corner. There is nothing in this world that you can do that will make me completely hate you. I may fight with you and disagree with you, but I will always love you. And that was a message she always got across and I hope I got that across to my kids. I really do.”

What would you want people to remember about her?
“She was a good person. My mother was very lady like and quiet. Which is not me by any stretch of the imagination. She was always kind. Even if she didn’t like somebody, she would never be cruel. She never gossiped about people, which was a big thing. She’d been through a lot in her life and she was a lot stronger than we even realized. Sometimes you look at someone’s life through a child’s eyes and it’s one way and when you look back and you see what they endured, what you find out later as an adult, you find out how strong somebody can be. We went through unemployment and a lot of money issues in our house and my mom always tried to hold it together. My brother and I never wanted for anything. We always had food. We always had clothes. We had proms. We had extras, not much, but we had them. Because my parents both sacrificed to make sure that we had that. And I think that’s something that I still do. Sometimes I think we do that too much. I wonder if we’re harming or helping. Ya know?

I think the one message that my mother would want to get out is to quit smoking. Honest to God, that’s what she would want people to know. Because she told us in one of her more lucid moments that she wished she had quit. You think that you’re gonna be in your 70’s before it affects you and then there you are in your 70’s and you’re really sick. She said “I’m so glad you don’t smoke. Tell people not to smoke.” She really wound up paying for it in the end. That was a big message for her and I’m glad I got that out. I used to smoke so I don’t like to be one of those preachy ex-smokers cause I know how hard it is to quit. It’s not easy. My mom would tell you to not even bother.”

Calling all Moms: Take Today’s Survey