By Carole Stephens
It’s funny how things happen. At 10:30 at night on December 15, my phone rang. Anyone who’s a parent of a child of any age knows that the mere ringing at that hour means trouble. Quite the contrary – whew! – it was Sarah Pirtle, from CMN, urging me to action in the wake of the horrific tragedy in Newtown.
“We have to do something, all over the country,” she said. “Here’s the chorus to a song I’ve written just now.” And Sarah sang a lovely song to me. “You weren’t in bed, were you?” she asked. Of course not, I fibbed.
Then I went back to bed. Slept 4 hours. Yep, that puts me awake in the wee hours, mind racing. What if I went ahead and did the annual Christmas Concert I’d decided not to do this year due to a death in the family, and being vocally exhausted? Sarah said we needed to give families a chance to get together and sing in community.
How? When? Who? I couldn’t sleep, so I figured I’d accomplish something. I went to put some things away in the basement. There was the collection box I always put out at my Annual Christmas Concert; we used it at this year’s CMN conference in Zion, IL, for Silver Saver Donations. Something was moving inside – jingling, actually. It was two pennies! Magic Pennies? My two cents? I thought: IT’S A SIGN!
I emailed some local CMN members, my church and the families who come to my classes. I put something on Facebook, asking, “If I do a free concert, would you come?”
Well, to make an involved story short, Christy Burich (a local CMN friend who recorded a holiday CD, including the song “Six White Boomers” which she sang in our Round Robin at the Zion conference) and Clarence Goodman (my trusty accompanist) jumped onboard. CMN Board member Susan Salidor offered to make a handout of where folks could donate money to anti-violence and pro-mental health causes, and the South Church opened its doors for us!
On Saturday, December 22, about 20 families came together to dance, jingle bells, throw puffy “Miss Carole” snowballs and sing Susan’s song, “Peace in My Fingers.” It was a wonderful event. A little boy named Max, age 3, said to his mother later that day, “Miss Carole is really good at singing. I feel full of Christmas!” Max made my day.
Not quite end of story. I’d just heard from other CMN friends via the e-list: Wiley Rankin reminded me that he’d done a triathlon to raise money for CMN, and I hadn’t yet acknowledged that. Anna Stange wrote about using my Snowball Freeze Fight in her concerts, and said she’d make a donation to CMN every time she did the song. And there was the matter of the two cents in the box.
So I just went to the CMN website to make just one more donation for this year, for Wiley, for Anna, for CMN and all the families we all touch each year. It’s not just dollars, though – it’s dollars and two cents. Thank you whoever threw them into the box in Zion!
Got any more?
“Miss Carole” Stephens is a former Board member of CMN who lives in Chicago.