The last birthday I celebrated with my dad was spent at Ignite Seattle because I had submitted a speech idea on a whim and been selected to give a five-minute talk about my experiences working with refugees in Greece. It was typical of Big Jim to sacrifice his special day and put me in the spotlight. I was always humbled by the pride he had in me and the belief that he had in my work and ultimately, the only thing I can do with his legacy is put every ounce of love I wish I could give him into the communities I encounter in my profession as a nurse and aid worker.
Every person I encounter and context I enter is fueled by the love he left behind. My dad was an intimidatingly large man with an even bigger capacity to love and care for others. In many ways I did not realize the depth of his impact until after his passing and person after person reached out to me to tell me about the impact he had on their lives as a listening ear, a shoulder to lean on, and a reliable, constant presence in their times of need. He quietly went through the world weaving a vast network of love, and that is the most beautiful legacy I can imagine one could leave behind.
I think deep down, Big Jim always knew there would be a time where I would be out in the wide world without him to protect me, so he always invested in all of the work I have done knowing that the communities I cultivated would keep me safe. Indeed, since his passing, they have not only provided me with physical safety as we navigate modern displacement settings, but they have also provided me a space to seek emotional safety when the magnitude of the world is too much and I need a place to let my heart rest. No one can better understand the earth-shattering grief that comes with the sudden loss of your Northern Star than people who have been forced to flee their homes. They always know exactly how to take the weight of my grief off my shoulders for a while by handing me fresh bolani, a plate of maqluba, or a steaming cup of chai, and letting my soul pour from my chest. Even through differences in culture and languages, it seems as though broken hearts can always spot each other and in a strange way, always act as solace.
To honor my dad and to show my sincere thanks for the unlikely group of people who have stepped up to support me, I am launching a fundraiser to honor him in celebration of his birthday and In-Sight Collaborative's fourth birthday.
All proceeds from this fundraiser will go towards supporting The Brothers Campaign. The power of your dollar is broken down below:
- $1,000 pays for grocery cards for our entire assessment caseload in Turkey for one month. This will cover 33 brothers who are helping me collect information about the humanitarian situation here and in Greece
- $200 pays the monthly stipend of a translator that helps keep me safe when interacting with the community and helps translate vital material like health documents, legal documents, and other important information
- $40 will buy winter socks for our entire community
- $25 pays for food for a brother for one month
This is my heart and soul work and none of it would be possible without the influence of Big Jim. He always knew I would be doing this, and even on days where this job is so hard it feels like it's trying to kill me, I push forward because I know he's still got my back.
From me and from my beautiful community of brothers, we thank you sincerely for your contribution and love in honor of Jim.