Have you ever lost?

Luke?Have you ever lost something or someone that wasn’t really yours to begin with? It kind of aches and leaves a hole and you’re really not sure why.

August 30, I gave what people call “the gift of life,” through my Peripheral Blood Stem Cells (PBSC). I was excited that my cells could help fight someone else’s disease.

I found out this morning that Luke and I lost the fight.

Be the Match/National Bone Marrow Registry will not give you the name of your recipient until one year after the donation, but I needed a name. To be more personable and to make the situation more realistic for me, I began calling my recipient Luke (for the Leukemia that possessed him), to make him a person. Naming him made it much easier to fight for Luke and to give him my PBSC.

I understand the need for anonymity but it hurts to know that I can’t contact his family, send them a condolence card by name, or even learn the town where they live.

Do I have a right to grieve? It is a shame that this Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) could not have been a new beginning for Luke, this stranger in my life.

Still, it was still worth it and I would do it all over again.

If you aren’t a part of the National Marrow Donor Program, you should be. It’s easy to register, and saves thousands* of lives each year. I wish Luke had been one of them.

(And if you don’t feel comfortable joining the registry, join us to donate blood on October 27. I’ll be there.)

 

Read the whole story here:
How I Became a Stem Cell Donor
How I Became a Stem Cell Donor (part two)
Soon to Be Stem Cell Donor

It’s a New Year, Volunteer
!

*They currently need twice the donors they get. 10,000 people are on the bone marrow waitlist, and only 5,000 ever get the transplant.

Why the Jewish Federation’s Super Sunday Doesn’t Suck

button-supersundayAt the risk of losing whatever credibility I might have established for this blog’s attempt to walk the line between adhering to organizationally approved messaging and an authentic, opinionated voice engaged in a dialogue on the interwebs; I rise in defense of the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington’s Super Sunday. It takes place this Sunday (duh), February 22.

That’s right. I rise in defense of the annual ritual which many active and semi-active members of the Jewish community deride for combining the subtlety of a flim-flam phone solicitor with the charm of a maternal guilt trip. For many this day alone justifies the annual expense of caller i.d. For others, it is a chore dutifully awaited with the dread approximating that of a colonoscopy–somewhat uncomfortable, mildly humiliating, easily (natch) ridiculed, but ultimately good for you and your family.

And I’m here to say, “Get over it.”

Let’s deal with a few of the standard objections:

I don’t like being asked to give money to Israel.
However you feel about Israel and its government (if they have one yet), you’re not paying for F-16s or tear gas. Rather the money is distributed through partner agencies which include the Jewish Agency for Israel and is generally used for such devious purposes as aiding new immigrants, the poor and disadvantaged.  Although the reality is that a great deal of the money is used to support local agencies (including my employer) that probably have affected your life for the better at some point or another. If you got something against JCCs, Jewish day schools, summer camps, group homes for the disabled and hot nutrition programs for the elderly, then by all means hang up.

I don’t like giving money over the phone.
Fine you can give online. Do it soon enough and we won’t call you. Although I better not catch you ordering from a catalog over the phone or prepaying for that Chinese delivery.

I don’t like calling and asking strangers for money.
That’s fine, there are other ways to help. But, really, unless you have extreme phone-anxiety, that reason is a little bit of a cop-out. If you want a Jewish community you have to step up and help make it happen. When you make a call, succeed or fail, you’re helping to make it happen. There’s a script you can follow, and not everyone you call is going to be a jerk to you. In fact, on many calls I’ve made, there’s a tacit agreement that the caller and the called are to perform the ritual of asking for a pledge and then giving it in some increment of $18.  It is perfunctory, but oddly satisfying.

Come on, doesn’t the Red Cross or Amnesty International need the money more?
I bet you give your money somewhere. Okay. How well do they spend it? Do you give to the Red Cross? Human Rights Campaign? Amnesty International? Local public radio or tv? The Boys and Girls Club? According to Charity Navigator, an online watchdog of non-profit efficiency (or lack thereof), the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington has a higher overall rating than any of those (JFGW’s 65.84 vs. 49.2, 56.62, 47.3 and 50.87 and 48.98 respectively). Don’t even get me started on the Boy Scouts (bunch of degenerates).

Aren’t you trying a little too hard? Can there really be anything cool about Super Sunday?
I don’t know, is this girl cool? Finally, tell me this girl isn’t cool AND raising money for the Jewish community? [UPDATE: The embedding doesn’t work, but double click on the image or follow this link to YouTube. Believe me, it is worth it.]

See you Sunday.

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