This post was originally posted on my grad school blog, but I wanted to feature it here on Mother’s Day as a shout out to my mom, Melinda Bloom.
When I started this class on Leadership I used my own mom as an example of a leader. My mom is a generous person, particularly with her time. She gets to know her neighbors and is always ready with advice, something to loan, or to offer a favor. When we were growing up my mom would recruit my sister and me to shovel the elderly neighbor’s driveway. As the snow began to melt we would go around to the storm drains and clear the snow so that puddles wouldn’t back up and create unsafe roadways. As a stay at home mom, or a domestic goddess as she would put it, my mom volunteered at our schools and at programs that we were involved in.
My mom at Ronald McDonald House
In addition to giving her own time, my mom is a “network weaver”. She knows someone for every need. At the Ronald McDonald House where she now volunteers, she is always recruiting uncles, ex-step-uncles, my dad, friends, and anyone else she can think of to meet the needs of the house. When her brother came to visit from Washington State, she asked him to meet her at the Ronald McDonald House and when he arrived he got “Tom Sawyered” into fixing the sink! My mom is an essential piece in a healthy vital community. There are some arguments that tie the growth of nonprofits and professional volunteer managers to the decline of people like my mom and the communities they represent. There are movements within the formal volunteer sector to do what is called “neighboring” where nonprofits and community organizers actually try to introduce neighbors, assess the assets that exist within a neighborhood, and connect people and resources so that neighbors can work together to address their own problems and fill the gaps.
Thanks Mom, for showing me how to be a great neighbor and volunteer leader!
Today is the day that my sister Nora and I celebrate every year. For Nora, it is the day that 25 years ago, as a 4 year old, she got the bone marrow transplant that saved her life. For me, it is the day that 25 years ago I was able to provide the life saving marrow.
Nora and author on our recent trip to Disney
I am 27 years old today – doing the math, that means I was only 2 years old when I became a bone marrow donor. Obviously it was not my decision and I do not even have any memory of it. However, if I was given the choice today, I would say yes without hesitation.
As Nora says every year on this day, there were so many people and organizations that contributed to her survival. Thank you to everyone who supported our family, supported cancer research, and who made our lives as they are today possible. Without you, I would not have a healthy, talented, funny, and vibrant older sister. I also would not be on the path I am today, so grateful for the blessings we’ve had and so eager to give back.
Below are a list of organizations that have contributed to our family’s health and happiness and are continuing to make life possible for families affected by cancer. Please consider supporting these organizations in any way that you can.
Nora and I on a family vacation several years ago
Mom, sister (Nora), and Sharon at Ronald McDonald House
This Christmas I was reminded at how blessed Jay and I are and how grateful we are to be so blessed. We are finishing up on a great year of accomplishments and good fortune. Yesterday, Christmas Eve, my mom invited my sister Nora and I to join her at the Ronald McDonald House. She volunteers there every Friday. Nora and I met my mom there, working our way through the daily chores list unloading the dishwasher, cleaning, and straightening. We also had time to chat over coffee since the house was pretty empty for the holiday weekend.
Ronald McDonald Houses are located near hospitals all over the world and provide a place for families to stay when they have a child undergoing treatment for a serious illness. My sister, who was diagnosed with cancer at her 6 month check up, stayed in the Ronald McDonald House in Baltimore as a toddler when she was getting a bone marrow transplant (from me) at Johns Hopkins. Our family was very grateful for this home away from home at such a stressful time.
The Ronald McDonald House in Falls Church is connected with Fairfax Hospital which has a well renowned NICU and therefore a lot of the families who stay at the house are there because they have newborns who were born prematurely or who have life-threatening illnesses. Today, in the wee hours of the morning, my cousin gave birth to a beautiful healthy baby boy. We are so grateful. So blessed.
Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays.