[Photo not available due to putting people at risk for retaliation or unwanted exposure. Sad.]
What I laugh and learn is how easy it becomes for anyone to take something and run with it. The title of this blog brings to mind a few things for me. First, a woman named Pat, I think, was similar to a T.V. show based on a character that was named Pat. She was an androgynous comedy character that everyone seemed to be enamored with at the time. Second, it brings to mind a person I respect and has shared many times and treasures with me. Finally, it reminds me of a woman who inspired me even though I knew her for such a short time.
What will I write about? What will this blog actually contain?
Answer: A true story of a woman named Pat who inspired me even though I only knew her for such a short time.
Pat was a founder, if you will accept that title, of what is now known as The Zebra Coalition here in Central Florida. I met her briefly at a church I was attending. At the time The Zebra Coalition was just a project that she was working on. Here is what inspires me to support The Zebra Coalition now that it is completed.
I had the privilege of meeting Pat at breakfast after service one morning. Our interaction was brief, I asked her why she decided to write the Church newsletter each week. Her answer was: “Someone has to do it.” Plain and simple. No unwrapping required in that statement. Was what it was. I laughed and we shared a smile. Then I sat with Pat at a diversity development meeting. One of the many ways church goers can become involved in a project to serve the community. Being a large woman and very experienced it was easy to see how Pat would be found in a room from anyone attending a meeting. As we began discussing how things were progressing in diversity development, Pat chimed up with a statement (almost exact to) “There were only two people who showed up on Saturday to assist with the clean-up at The Zebra house.” This was my first meeting so I really didn’t have anything to say, although, I could tell there were a lot of mixed emotions at the table from that statement. Someone asked who they were and someone asked what time they were suppose to be there and when it was posted to the congregation. Someone else asked some questions about if so and so or so and so contacted her. There were statements based on what happened. Pat remained as steady as an arrow. Answering each question with a very direct answer. I sat quietly thinking there is some part of Pat that is in all of us. There was one other conversation between Pat and I before she passed away. It was a short interlude of exchanging where we had been and what life had given us as we were. Pat shared a few bits of her life and to this day I don’t know if she shared them with anyone else. I learned a fraction of Pat’s life story. Pieces that she was willing to share and statements that made me laugh and made an impression on me for life. Pat passed away a short time later. Before The Zebra Coalition was completed. It was her ‘pet’ project, yet she never got to see it finished. It came as a surprise to everyone I met at her funeral. Hearing people reflect on her life and their experience with her was moving. She was consistent about direct answers. There was no cover-up with Pat. She would tell you just how she felt. To a fault, in some peoples jokes. However, that was Pat they would all say laughing through the tears.
The Zebra coalition is open now. LGBT youth are welcomed to drop in and they are asked to fill out some questions. They are given support in ways that can be provided by who is available to them depending on needs. In addition, there is a place now where LGBT youth between a certain age can spend the day, get a ride, do their laundry, or even take a shower. These are important things for a community. This was the first LGBT youth location, it is a needed service. Typically when LGBT youth have a challenging time in life it is because they have been removed from a situation. They are in struggle and need support in basic care giving ways. The Zebra Coalition offers them a place to begin. A place to find something they may not have had before, an adult who says “It doesn’t matter who you are you deserve to have support.”
Pat didn’t get to see her project come to completion. Although somehow I think she probably hangs out there most of the time, lol. What I know in my heart is how come that project meant something to Pat. She shared with me her very direct answer when I asked her what was so important about The Zebra House. She said, “Someone has to do it.”
In memory of Pat I am more inspired by that statement and agree wholeheartedly that Pat was very clearly saying “Someone has to do it” and I take that challenge with me.
A woman named Pat gave me more reasons to do what has to be done.