***** FIRST: I want to start this post by saying that I am *simply* the President of the North Beaverton sister chapter of MOMS Club International. *THEY* are running an international fundraiser to build a Memorial Playground. As the President of our local MOMS Club chapter, I have created a new front page to our clubs website and a DONATION button for our chapter to help raise monies to be fully donated to the International MOMS Club fundraiser. I am *not* running a separate fundraiser. Our chapter is a registered non-profit 501(c) chapter of MOMS Club International.
OK... now that that is out of the way.......
When I first had The Boy I wanted to get everything right...mind you - is there really any such thing? Getting everything right?
MOMS Club International fundraiser to build The Sandy Hook Memorial Playground.
An MWAC is... I suppose a not very nice - but often totally accurate - term that some photographers use to describe the new 'mommy based' "studios" that started cropping up a few years ago. MWAC literally stands for: Mom With A Camera.
Usually, it's some well-meaning, nice lady who bought a nice camera when her children were first born and had a bit of skill and talent in the picture taking department... over time that hobby grew into a home-based "studio" of sorts and .... they usually have websites that say as much...." I've had a camera in my hands since I was three years old... I've always taken pictures... after my children were born....." blah blah blah.
*Some* of these MWAC studios are great - they do great work and grow into huge, successful business's who produce quality images. However.... as most of us photographers know: a lot of them close their doors nearly as fast they opened them under a cloud of angry clients and broken promises and crappy work that didn't live up to it's promise.
Just recently I was hired for a large job - and before hiring me I had to listen to the client list FOUR such MWAC style photography studios (all now defunct) who had screwed up their job year after year leaving a bad taste in their mouth for dealing with photographers in general... who can blame them?
In 17 years... I've had exactly four *angry* clients. One lady *wanted* photojournalistic photos of her large, extended family- outdoors. BUT, she could only hire me to cover said family on Christmas Eve when they were all in town - which meant it was pouring rain and pitch black outside (because I had to come at 3:00pm after she had baked her Christmas Turkey). I had brought a black backdrop and studio lights that I ended up setting up in her living room. She was supposed to pay me $135 in advance. She didn't. In the end, she ended up sending me a nasty email saying that they were nice "studio" portraits but they weren't "what she wanted' and for this they could have just "gone to Sears". This was *after* I spent six hours on CHRISTMAS EVE doing her job.... so I emailed her back and told her she was right and that next time she do exactly that: go to Sears. And... since she hadn't paid me a dime, I took her photos offline and refused to sell her or anyone in her family any copies.
That's what we call being "no-souped". I'll have to write a post about what being "no-souped" means... *all* of my clients understand what being no-souped means and... almost without exception, they don't want it to happen to them. lolol (and if it happens to one of their friends, they quickly call me to tell me their friend is a dumba$$ and please don't no-soup them, too).
The second lady was Baby Ava's Mom. I did the job, turned it around in four days and got out her birth announcement three days before Christmas. I drove 30 miles to meet her with her order two days before Christmas and let her know that her album would be done in the New Year. Her album was done and I emailed her and never heard back. NINE months later she sent me a nasty gram telling me she was contacting the Better Business Bureau to report me for failing to give her her product. Her dusty album was mailed to her certified and she was... no souped.
There are a few others who were no-souped for being crazy or rude or wanting things even *cheaper* than they are... which royally ticks me off. In short though.... while the list of clients who get annoyed because they feel they "waited too long" for their images is a loooooong one. The list of clients who don't come back or are genuinely pi$$ed with me is less than ten names long... which in 17 years of being a working photographer... that's pretty damn good.
Mostly... I'm cheap. I'm about 1/4 of the price of anyone in my area who does my style of work, and my work is consistent and GOOD. Families and clients get HUNDREDS of images - not just a handful. My clients are *good* to me - loyal and kind and .... many of them have touched my life in ways that are immeasurable... so I always try to be good to them.
But.. running a business is *hard* and for a lot of MWACs... it becomes too much and they fold up their doors and quit. Then the rest of us pay the price for that......
So, knowing that MWACs love to join Moms groups - I stayed clear of joining any. I don't like being lumped into things.... I lived in London - which meant I was *not* a tourist and therefore I REFUSED to do any touristy things. Period. I'm not an MWAC, so I was not going to join a Moms group which might give people the idea that I *was* an MWAC.
I kind of always regretted that decision.... but I can be stubborn about stupid things sometimes.
When The Boy was four we made friends with another family at our preschool and the Mom was on the board of the North Beaverton MOMS Club, after many months of dragging me to events - she convinced me to join. (IMPORTANT NOTE: they had had TWO MWACs join the club, hand out their business cards, get business to their studio and never show back up to club events... and both studios closed in record time.... sigh).
Anyhow.... I joined the club and quickly found our social calendar filling up with play dates and activities and Moms Nights Out. The coolest part of MOMS Club is that it's full of Moms from all different social and work backgrounds so there is a wonderful variety of friends to be made.
And make them I did.
Last year I became the President of our local chapter... but before you roll out the red carpet and the ticker tape parade, you should know it's a position no one else really wants... lolol. I revamped a few things, moved our newsletter to an online forum (kick a$$) and made a few other changes to our club meeting structure. I have an awesome board of ladies who work their tails off for the Club (Jenny B.... *cough cough*). Oh... and it's goes without saying that I'm the potty-mouthest President EVER of a MOMs Club... hahaha. I do things a little differently than *most* Presidents of any organization.. I'm pretty sure about that and yet... they keep me anyway.
Towards the end of last year..... when Yoga Girl decided she wanted to join my marital bed (but forgot to send me my invitation) - I was..... decimated. I was an emotional ruin. Lots of my friends rallied around me, holding me up... but the thing about belonging to an organization like MOMS Club is that *those* friends are.... organized. Without asking - I found myself getting meals delivered five nights a week for four weeks. MOMs coming by with offers of play dates, willing to take the kids to help me get time to process the devastation.
These women... these amazing friends were unfailing in their support and help. Coming over after the children had gone to bed to hold my hand while I cried.... bring me food and flowers and their unconditional love and support.
It was amazing. Truly. I only ever expected to join a few play groups and make a few friends... not discover a line-life of women who keep me tethered to them, to my life, to my children - while I emotionally started to tumble down that endless hole of emotional devastation.
MOMS Club is "ideally" for stay-at-home MOMs... so I wasn't sure how my new role of 'single Mom' would fit in. I wasn't sure if my marital circumstances would make some of them uncomfortable and cause them to turn away from me... if anything, they only reached out more. Amazing. Just... head shakingly amazing.
Then the sign thing happened and I wondered if International would be shocked... while they are nondenominational, they are a teeny, tiny bit conservative... I worried that my new-found internet status would cause them to ask me to step down as a chapter President. Instead.... International asked me to join *them* on the International level. Again... humbling and amazing.
Part of the reason I could pick myself up and keep going, even though the hits just kept on coming.... were my friends - Jenny B., Miss Chloe, Carrie, Kerrie, Cyndie, Natz, Miss Erin, Miss Sarah O and more..... every time I felt like the day was too long, too miserable.... too much... there they were.
Standing amidst the most catastrophic event of my own life to date, I couldn't help but still be filled with hope and love, not only for myself, but for my children. MOMS Club was, and still is, a huge part of my life and the children and my's collective healing.
So..... it goes without saying that Day Three, I'm grateful for Miss Chloe who talked me into joining. To all the wonderful ladies named above who befriended me and took care of me when I needed it the most - which helps me be a better me - which in turn.... helps me be a better Mother, which is the whole purpose of MOMS Club to begin with.
I was already writing Day Three for MOMS Club when International sent me an email letting me know that three of the children from the Sandy Hook tragedy were former MOMS Club members in Newtown, CT. I know a lot of our MOMs have had a hard time with these events and to know it's affecting Moms within an organization we all love just seems to make it a little more personal.
I was not at all surprised to find that MOMS Club International is already working with The Untied Way to rebuild or refurbish or build (depending on what they decide about using the current school/building a new one, etc) a Memorial Playground for the children at Sandy Hook. As always... in the face of devastation and catastrophe: MOMS Club whirls into action to do what they can.
I'm especially excited because I think when these kind of disasters happen - we all want to *do* something. We want to donate or help... but often, we don't know where to donate or how to make sure our money goes where we want it to. MOMS Club will be an active part of the Memorial Playground process with a member from the Newtown sister chapter being apart of the planning board. Every single penny of the monies raised will go towards the playground and if we raise more than we need, MOMS Club will find families or another Sandy Hook-based project to donate the remaining monies too. No one is taking a cut for "administrative" costs, etc.
If you read the blog, or have read the book, you know that I love love love playgrounds. I truly do not think there is a better, more blissful, peaceful sound than that of screaming, laughing, playing children. Truly. I have always sought to live right next to a playground so that every morning I can wake up to the sound of children playing.... so, for me, this kind of fundraiser is right up my alley.
I think that, as a country, we *all* want to do something. We all want to help... and while we can't answer for *why*this tragedy happened, we can be a positive part of the healing process for the children, families and siblings that are left behind. We can raise money to provide a place for them to run and laugh play: when they are ready. We can build them a place to house their smiles, their squeals of delight, their skinned knee's and their slip-slidding-butts.
*MY* personal catastrophe seems..... silly and rather insignificant in light of recent events. It's not about comparison *at all*... but for me, it is about perspective. On a personal note, while the depths of my pain doesn't even begin to go as deep and dark as that of the Mother's of Charlotte, Noah & Benjamin - it provides me a very small amount of comfort to know that the same people behind an organization that brought me hope during my hardest times.... is striving to be there for them now.
I have already donated so that I can be a small, teeny, tiny part of that Memorial Playground. I'm asking you to click on the link above and donate even just $1.00 to the MOMS Club International Memorial Playground fund.... and then you will have the comfort of knowing that in years to come, there are children smiling and playing in Newtown because you were kind enough to donate and help build an awesome playground for them.
Then.... we will *all* have something to be truly grateful for.
NOTE: The MOMS Club International site for donations keeps crashing from use... so being the savvy girl I am- and because my chapter is *also* a registered 501(c) - my chapter can accept donations and then pass those funds on to the MOMS Club International Sandy Hook Memorial Playground fund. We are an all volunteer board... so again: ever single penny (aside form paypal fees) will go STRAIGHT to the fund. You can donate at either our North Beaverton MOMs Club site, or the International site.
But.... if you donate through my site, then I'll know how much ya'll donated and I can thank you properly. :)