Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Thoughts from the Ride...

Last weekend I had this thought. It was during the Ride-4-Love, an annual fundraiser put on by our fabulous 518 Network of churches, taskforces and student groups to raise funds and awareness for us. First, let me just say that upstate NY is a beautiful spot in this country. And last weekend it was spectacular. The air was crisp and cold. There were patches of leaves turning to bright fall colors but for the most part the land was still green from all the rain.

Over 100 riders gathered together, all raising funds and riding a few miles (either 10, 25, 50 or for the brave 75) to be active in fighting towards the end of child sex slavery and exploitation.

My fam and I drove up to put our efforts in the ride (hubby and I pictured above). We signed up to ride 25 miles which was a feat for us with our 22 month old hooked onto the back of my husband’s single speed bike. Around mile five I looked up to see a beautiful scene. It was still early in the course so the riders were pretty thick in number, working their way along together. I was riding along and a little kid passed me, and next his mother, and father…then a group of college students, a few riding a tandem bike…men, women, kids…young, old…all riding together. Each as they passed had their bikes and helmets and a bib with numbers. This was different from the tour de France in many obvious ways but the most striking was in the number…

We all wore one number… her number.


Each of us, not working for ourselves but for someone else… It was this beautiful picture as each rode by. I sat back on my bike and just took the moment in. We weren’t racing the clock. We weren’t keeping track of individual numbers but for a moment putting all that down to wear 146. Thoughts like, “I wonder if that boy riding knows that what he is doing now might actually enable another child in this world to ride free someday?” Or “does that mother know that right now she is looking after more than just her own children by giving of her time, resources and prayers?” As I peddled along I thought about those racing and advocating for freedom, and the children we serve. I wished for a moment we could all ride together…and prayed for a world where such could happen. A world where justice, grace and love ruled. A world that was free, truly free…

If you’ve ever heard Rob speak about what he thinks it will take to end this you might remember he says one of the key components we need is personal engagement. We need to allow the issue to personally affect us so that we will respond. We are often creatures that don’t engage until we see it, until it personally affects or offends us. He often says, “we usually don’t care too much about cancer, for example, until our son gets leukemia or our wife gets breast cancer and then we are off running marathons, raising money for the cancer society.” Last weekend I saw the opposite of that taking place. There were 100 people allowing an issue to affect them as they rode that morning. And there were hundreds more who sponsored the ride and allowed the issue to affect their pocketbooks. People coming together to raise their voices as if to say, “I want to let this affect me. I’m not ok if it doesn’t affect me. I am actively creating a world, fighting for a world, where we all are free.” We all rode that morning remembering and honoring a girl we’ll never meet, or even know her name… and yet somehow we all were choosing to personally engage.

I wanted to say thank you. Thank you to the 518 Network that have worked so hard over the years. Thank you to all our campus chapters, to our taskforces, to our supporting churches and friends. Thank you to Bethany, Matt, Karen, Marie, Shellie, Casey, Zach, Bert, Joel, Ed, Kristi…to all those who are leading the way, choosing to engage, the list could go on and on. Day in and day out, you work with us, think of us. Work for children, think and pray for children. That moment on my bike Saturday I said a silent prayer of thanksgiving and asked that this kind of Love will lead the way to a world where all are free!

So thank you, and lets keep trekking!

PS For those that were interested, Andrew, our events coordinator, is pictured above during his ride-4-love. You’ll be glad to know HE FINISHED the 75 mile ride!!! He was amazing and proudly wore her number the entire way…reaching a different level of being personally affected and engaged.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

The hardest part of raising a child is teaching them to ride bicycles.

The hardest part of raising a child is teaching them to ride bicycles. A shaky child on a bicycle for the first time needs both support and freedom. The realization that this is what the child will always need can hit hard. ~Sloan Wilson

I am Andrew, the Events Coordinator at Love146. I was somewhat hesitant to post this blog. I was, however, guided and encouraged by my wonderful friend Desirea Rodgers here at the Love146 office, from whom you regularly hear via these blogs. She convinced me that my personal take on the Ride4Love event was something I should share. So I bit the bullet and, despite lingering doubts, here I go.

Love146 is about to embark on the second annual "Ride4Love" on September 19th in Ballston Spa, NY. For me personally, as Events Coordinator for Love146 and in my capacity as a human being, this marks a few "firsts". This is my first blog for Love146 after almost 5 years of working here - where have I been?? This will also be my first ever aerobic activity with a duration of more than 15 minutes. It is my first bike ride event and most certainly the first time I have ever attempted to travel 75 miles under my own steam on the same day.

And here is another "first". I have the huge privilege to work at Love146. I am surrounded by dark stores and images of the most terrible situations that I can imagine, as the father of two young girls. But I am surrounded by hope, stories of restoration and the energy of Abolition. And I work to help fuel this, our programs, our funding and the momentum of the Movement, here at my desk and my computer. I work with phone calls, emails and meetings. I feel no physical discomfort or hardship. I want to engage at that level with the children we serve in some way, but it is difficult to feel any visceral pain in my cozy corner of the office. So, in my own small way, taking on that hilly 75 miles at 51 years old for the first time ever, with little time to train, promises me considerable discomfort and challenge.

My earlier hesitancy to post these thoughts is re-confirmed to me on reading back the last paragraph. It may sound like the effort is about me. About my needs. It may also read a little like my discomfort will somehow compare to that of the children we serve, but both these thoughts could not be further from the truth. I suppose what I want to feel is that I have an opportunity to work way outside of my comfort zone and spend the 6 hours in the seat contemplating the children, their restoration, their faces and their futures. And to feel something physical while doing it. Something I will remember well after the event that will leave some small mark on me. I hope so. It's not a perfect solution but for now it's all I have. So I'll take it.

So - that said, the ride takes us through the scenic countryside of Ballston Spa, NY. It will be a beautiful journey. There will be all levels of riders participating, from competition bikers to children. So please consider joining us. You could ride in the event yourself, or sponsor us while we grind our way up and down the hills of upstate NY. There will be a route for you (either 10, 25, 50 or 75 miles) and we would be honored to see you on your bike with us on September 19th! If you don't have your own set of wheels, there will be rental bikes available on the day of the ride.

You can join the ride by visiting www.ride4love.com and registering.

Or, if you would like to sponsor us and help us achieve our goal, please use this link - http://www.active.com/donate/ride4love-2009/AZsigmondpage

If you have any other questions regarding the Ride 4 Love, please contact Matthew Miller at matthew7@nycap.rr.com

We look forward to seeing you and joining efforts to bring support and freedom to the children we serve!

Andrew Zsigmond
Events Coordinator/Fundraising/Artist Coalition Manage

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Going home

“Home is a name, a word, it is a strong one; stronger than magician ever spoke, or spirit ever answered to, in the strongest conjuration.” –Charles Dickens
After 16 months in our safehome, another one of our girls went home to be reunited with her family last week.

Getting ready to fly home

Knowing what she has been through and how far she has come is mind-boggling. She came to our home like an angel with broken wings, and is leaving whole and empowered. She is ready to fly again.

Dr. Velazco, our Director of Aftercare asked her; “How will you remember the Love146 Safehome?” Her answer? “It’s where my life changed. It’s where a new angel was born and grew. This Home welcomes and heals the broken.”

At her homecoming, her Mother just held on to her and kept repeating; “My Baby, my baby. I’ve missed you so, my baby.”

In the words of Dr. Velazco to our girl upon leaving; “We’ll be monitoring your flight. Count on it.”

Wow, this reintegration process is so hard and beautiful all at the same time.

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