Let me start with an apology.
I've never shared anything purely personal on this blog before and I'm feeling a little weird about it. But I've decided to take the plunge because these last 6 months have been a dark and difficult time for me and I'm starting to care less and less about what's appropriate and more about what's right. And about what makes a difference during the short time we have on this planet. And about the stories that as, my good friend John Schumachermight say (when quoting Kate DiCamillo) connect us. So... I'm sorry if you've come here looking for ideas to power up your PLN or make your school library even more amazing. You won't find those things in this post. But I hope you'll read on anyway. I promise to return to our regularly scheduled program soon.
In the meantime, let me tell you about my friend William.
I've known William Kline for almost 25 years now. I don't remember the first time we met, but I do remember the shared love for Seinfeld, Radiohead and Peeps that made us fast friends in college. Although we haven't lived near each other since graduating as shiny, wet behind the ears, ready to conquer the world (if not our student loans), English teachers in 1997, we've kept in sporadic touch over the years: the occasional text, email, phone call, random dinners whenever one or the other of us are in town and even some old school letters, back in the day. (An aside: William was actually the first person to ever send me an email through our university's intranet system. I still have it. For whatever reason it felt like a significant moment, so I printed it on the campus library's massive dot matrix printer on super wide green and white spooled paper. Go figure). Whenever we connect, the conversation is easy and I find myself grateful for our friendship for many reasons, not the least of which being that I never would have become a school librarian had he not gone there first and encouraged me to also take the plunge.
I bring all of this up because now my friend, who has given so much to me, to our profession and to countless public school children, is in need. I won't attempt to tell William's story here because, frankly, he does a much better job of it on his own blog, where he is is chronicling his family's journey with mental illness. But I will say this:
I love the way William writes. I love the honesty in his posts. I love that he is stepping way outside of his comfort zone to share this incredibly personal story with the world. He's doing this not simply because it's cathartic or because others may gain a deeper understanding of mental illness from what he shares or because still others may feel a little less alone when they read his words. He is doing this because caring for a mentally ill child costs a tremendous amount of money. Money that William (a school librarian) and his wife Melanie (a classroom teacher) simply do not have.
Which is why I'm writing this post.
Now, in their time of need, William is reaching out to the world (to me and to you) through his blog, and more significantly, through this fundraiser, for help. If I could, I would fund this entire campaign without thinking twice. But I cannot. So I'm sharing their story with everyone reading my words because William and Melanie are beautiful people with two beautiful children, who find themselves in the terrible position of having to rely on the kindness of strangers to help them provide appropriate care for their son.
Plus, William is one of us. He's a brilliant, dedicated school librarian in Wake County NC whose ideas, passion and sense of humor have both influenced and inspired me. I'm proud he is my friend and thankful that he serves young people as a high school librarian. So... I'm sharing his story with you in the hopes that you'll do the following:
Help if you can. No donation is too small. It's cliche, but every little bit helps.
Share their story with others. This journey is not a sprint. It's a marathon. And they will need sustained support for some time to come. This will only happen if more people know about their story.
Again, I know this isn't the reason you came to this blog. And maybe this post will keep you from coming back. But if there's one thing I've learned to be true about our community, the network of school librarians from around the world that I've come to rely on, it's that we're always there for each other. I hope this proves true now. Thank you.
Update: As of this update, William and Melanie have managed to raise a little over $11,000 through this campaign. This is amazing and wonderful and, sadly, not nearly enough. I've since learned that the $50,000 they are trying to raise is really just a fraction of what they will need to provide care for their son, Ethan, over the next few years. Please help if you can. And please continue to share their story. Thank you.