Tomorrow, April 4th would have been Charlie’s Carnival. The weather is forecasted to be absolutely divine. The mounds of t-shirts Michael and I poured over are sitting in boxes, the prizes for the carnival games, sand buckets, shovels and chalk are all waiting to be unwrapped and used by the families that come to celebrate Charlie and the work of his Foundation. Postponing Charlie’s Carnival is upsetting for so many reasons. The carnival has always been nestled between two very emotional dates for our family, Charlie’s Birthday, March 22nd and the day he died, April 14th. The carnival is for us both a time of remembrance and hope. But the gravity of COVID-19 supersedes any sadness we feel. Families are being torn apart by illness and loss and the effects will be felt for months to come.
I’ve been asked by many people, how will Charlie’s Heart Foundation respond to COVID-19? When are you going to write about it? What are your thoughts? Unfortunately, I don’t have the answers to that yet. It’s in my nature to jump and react. And since the inception of CHF, I have discovered that it is my Achille’s heel. When our school district announced it would close due to COVID-19, I was determined to get food to the children whose only consistent meals likely came from their school’s cafeteria. So I set out on a quest, volunteering to pack bags, deliver meals to vulnerable families. Shortly after starting my plight, our district decided to keep several schools serving high poverty children opened for breakfast and lunch pickups. While my desire to help was well-founded, I should have researched, asked and waited to allow those working on the front lines to tell me how I could help.
Sometimes, while “wait and see” is not the comfortable option for response, it can be the best and most methodical. It’s something I have learned, but far from mastered. Letting people do their job best, to figure out where the gaps are is such an important precursor to getting the gaps filled. Then we can offer to help fill in where help is actually needed, not where “we think” it’s needed. And it is much more effective than coming up with an entirely new plan.
Having to postpone Charlie’s Carnival was not a decision I wanted to make. In fact, the week prior to us making the call, I put my inner toddler foot down and literally said “No!” But it was necessary. And now it is necessary for us to “wait and see” to determine how the nonprofits we support might need our help with their COVID response in the future. Our response, when needed, must be timely and impactful, not burdensome. And while I want to tantrum because I hate the “wait” and sometimes I believe I can “see” better than anyone else, I will try my best not to… but no pinky promises:)