CommunityFDL Main Blog

Pull Up A Chair…


(Photo of the Lakota sign via afiler.)

Every once in a while, something lands in my in-box that makes me want to immediately put up a post — sometimes because of anger or frustration or disgust, but all too rarely it is because of joy at the contents.  I got one of those e-mails as a follow-up to last week's Pull Up A Chair, and I had to share it with you guys.  This truly is a great example of how just a little bit of paying it forward can make such a huge difference in someone else's life.  And you guys helped to do this.  You really are an amazing bunch of human beings, and I am so proud to know and interact with you.

From Norman Bier:

You are saving Pretty Woman Bird House. You and your readers. Say it to yourself: I am saving this shelter.

Is "shelter" too abstract? Or does the present tense make the statement less powerful? Then try this one out:

I saved a woman this weekend. Say it out loud.

This is not hyperbole. Over the weekend, Georgia Little Shield (the program's director) received a call from a woman who needed to be evacuated. If this had happened on Thursday, the shelter would not have been able to do much more than take the call. But because of your efforts, Georgia was able to tell this woman: "Don't worry about the money — we have money coming. Just get out and come in."

Your support of the Pretty Bird Woman House made this possible. You saved a woman this weekend. Heady stuff.

Thank you for this. Thank you. Thank you on behalf of Jackie Brown Otter, who started this shelter in memory of her sister. Thank you on behalf of the staff and volunteers at Pretty Bird Woman House. And thank you on behalf of the women who are in need of the services that the shelter provides, whose names and stories you don't even know.

Although the effort to save this shelter originated at Daily Kos, other blogs and many readers have picked up this issue, publicized it and made it their own. Mainstream media often portrays "liberal blogs" as a monolithic entity marching in lockstep, but active members of the online progressive community know that we frequently disagree.

Given how heated some of those disagreements are, it's particularly impressive to see our community come together — and to see what we can accomplish when we're united.

This has been a communal effort:
–To save a shelter:
–To stem the tide of violence against women in the Standing Rock region.
–To take the first steps in addressing the horrors described in the Amnesty International report that sparked this effort.

It's been astounding to watch so many individuals and smaller communities come together in this effort. E Pluribus Unum, as it says on the dollars that have been pouring in.

Speaking of dollars, the effort to date has been amazing, but the work of saving and sustaining Pretty Bird Woman House is not yet complete. As I write this, our donation total stands at just over the 50% mark. This is impressive, but is still only half-way to our goal.

Reaching $25,000 is essential if the shelter is to remain open. Yet our real goal should not be a one-time cash infusion, no matter how large. Let's do the hard work to help the shelter become sustainable.

There are so many ways you can help. Please continue to spread the word about Pretty Bird Woman House and these specific needs that you and your readers can help with.


Essential in the short term. Donations can be made on-line
Pretty Bird Woman House
or sent via mail to:
Pretty Bird Woman House
P.O. Box 596
McLaughlin, SD 57642


If you live in South Dakota constituents and are interested in helping, we'd really like someone to contact the staffs of the SD congressional delegation to see if they can help on this issue. This community has been very supportive of Congresswoman Stephanie Herseth and Senator Johnson in the past, so we hope they might respond to this issue. Contact me for more details.

We can dream of the day that Pretty Bird Woman House and shelters like it choose to close their doors — not because they've run out of funding, but because there is no longer a need for their services. Until then, the work you're doing is exceptionally important.

Amen.  Look at what reaching out your hand in a small way, when aggregated together with thousands of other hands as well, can do.  You have helped to lift up another human being and give her an opportunity to find her own feet, on her own path, with less fear and more courage and safety and care.  You have helped to do this, and I thank for that — from the bottom of my heart.  In just a week, the shelter is halfway to its funding goal for the entire year.  Amazing.

Mr. ReddHedd figured out that if just half of our readers on a medium-traffic-level day donated just $25 each, then this shelter would raise enough funds to set up an endowment that would enable them to run for years without having to worry about capital for overhead and expenses. What a miracle that would be.

I am so grateful to Hilzoy at Obsidian Wings for e-mailing me about this shelter in the first place.  The number of blogs that have put up something on this one shelter, and raised awareness and funds for it, has been wonderful.  And, this is where I start to sound like I'm giving everyone a group hug and all, being able to share a good news story with you all — that is good news because of actions that you took?  That is the best part of writing on this blog.  So, thank you.

And this is just one — one shelter — out of so many all over this nation of ours who are not receiving the help they need to keep operating, and to keep saving the lives of women and families and battered partners. Maybe there is one in your own community that could use a helping hand — a volunteer to come over and help teach proper make-up, style, and interviewing skills to women who have never been in the workplace but desperately need a job. (I mention this because one of our local shelters had someone put on a workshop like this, and then spent an afternoon going through some donated professional clothing and doing practice interviews and it was very, very helpful for all the women at the shelter. And wonderful for their self-esteem that someone cared enough to walk them through a stressful situation like this. It's the little things, sometimes.)

Or maybe you have carpentry or plumbing or electrician skills and could put them to good use doing some repairs for a local group that helps the needy. Or some clothes that you aren't using, but that would be lovely on someone else who has so little.  Or taking an afternoon to go and read children's books to the kids at the shelter, so their moms can get a little time to themselves for an hour or two.  Or…well, you get the picture, and the possibilities are truly endless of help that they could use that costs only a little time and compassion.

But just look at what we have been able to help along in a week. You helped save a life this past week. How amazing is that? Let's talk about what else we can do to give someone a hand in our communities, because far too many people need one these days and far too often they are either ignored or passed over or lost in the shuffle.  And we all lose when that happens — especially if the person who needs the help is a small child, full of potential, but feeling empty and uncared for and without hope.  Let's talk about giving people a hand up, and about hope.  Pull up a chair…

PS — Bob Geiger has some excellent Saturday cartoons today.

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Christy Hardin Smith

Christy Hardin Smith

Christy is a "recovering" attorney, who earned her undergraduate degree at Smith College, in American Studies and Government, concentrating in American Foreign Policy. She then went on to graduate studies at the University of Pennsylvania in the field of political science and international relations/security studies, before attending law school at the College of Law at West Virginia University, where she was Associate Editor of the Law Review. Christy was a partner in her own firm for several years, where she practiced in a number of areas including criminal defense, child abuse and neglect representation, domestic law, civil litigation, and she was an attorney for a small municipality, before switching hats to become a state prosecutor. Christy has extensive trial experience, and has worked for years both in and out of the court system to improve the lives of at risk children.

Email: reddhedd AT firedoglake DOT com