It seems that out of the ashes of tragedy the greatest stories ever told are born. It is odd that tragedy, with such a negative definition tied to its existence, can be a seed of inspiration. There must be something about complete brokenness that inspires new growth, because when tragedy visits, you have two choices: heal or succumb to the bitterness. Thus, the story of community begins.
The heat and long hours of summer instills in us a passion of freedom. School is out, vacations are planned, and outdoor living becomes commonplace. Yet with every summer, a fall is surly to follow and then comes the words children dread to hear, and adults (all but teachers) rejoice in hearing…Back to School. It amazes me how in just a few short months of freedom and heated days, a body can change so drastically. Clothes that fit your children perfectly in May now look more like the gift of an older brother/sister, or they have met a horrific accident causing shrinkage unreal. Therefore, the fret of a new wardrobe slow fades the joy of the words Back to School for parents. We all can say it doesn’t matter about what you wear, just be you. In a perfect world, that is stellar advice, but journey back to your own youth, you wanted to fit in, and we all wanted the latest trends. Today, it is no different. With great love for the community and that thought in mind, Michael’s Mission Back to School Sale was born.
I didn’t get to help at those first few sales on Paint Rock Road where the entire Jones family lugged, sorted, and prepared clothing so parents could purchase a wardrobe their children could walk in their school on that first day with pride. I know the love that was the driving force at those first sales is the same stitch of love that hemmed the big sale this past Saturday. No one who worked those first sales, or even I after working the events the last several years, would envision what would transpire for this sale. An annual event, standing in one of the largest Boys & Girls Club in the region, brimming over with organizations doing what they do best: displaying their gifts and passion, and caring for the people of Scott County. From Dr. Caleb Thompson and his talented team—cleaning and cleaning teeth, with at times as long as an hour and half wait, to our Sheriff’s Dept. offering fingerprinting kits to almost a thousand children. Kathy and Katie with ALQI, floated about the building spreading kindness like the angels of love they are, and so many people gave their precious day off to work hard and unite for one cause, to take that fret from a parent’s mind and grant children with an opportunity to walk into a new school year strutting their stuff. What flowed like honey to a community of participants, birthed from one family, took flight with a coalition, which defined the very essence of the day: A coalition coming together to each shine in their field.
While most of the community only identifies STAND as a drug testing facility, Saturday at the Back to School Sale with almost 1900 individuals served, STAND got to do what it was created to do, be a shield and resource to a community in need by threading all sections of an umbrella of vibrancies together. Trent Coffey is rarely recognized for his daily heroics to this county. Why? Because he would say, this is simply what I have been hired to do, and that statement was echoed from every successful organization in that place on Saturday.
I have often heard the question posed to the Jones family, do you think Michael’s life had to be taken to form Michael’s Mission which has been a foundation of hope for Scott County? John, Vickie, and Michael’s brother Bill Jones, who are all heroic givers in their own special field, would undoubtedly all answer, NO, but I take liberty to convey that they would agree. The ashes of brokenness that losing a son and a brother left, certainly defined their path, and the Jones family chose a path of healing, and healing it has been for an entire county. Somehow on Saturday, the success of a path that stirred so far from bitterness seemed to fade the scar of tragedy just a little more. For from tragedy came inspiration, and from inspiration came greatness, greatness that reaches far past clean teeth and new clothes. On Saturday, a community came together to form an umbrella of protection to shield those exposed to the rain, and challenged them to take pride in their being. Most importantly, the community gave them fabric and instructions to stitch their own shield of hope in the shape of an umbrella, and in that umbrella somehow remind them that even in their tragedies, they have the strength to choose the path of healing instead the narrow road of a bitter existence.
Well played Scott County…well played!