It has been a weird week at work for me. We sent out the spring issue of our newsletter by surface mail last Friday and emailed our online version on Monday. By the middle of this week, thousands of RFC community members had received it. My Executive Director’s report in the newsletter entitled “Goodbye” began: “This is my last report as Executive Director of the Rosenberg Fund for Children. When our next newsletter is published in September, Jenn Meeropol, my daughter, will be filling this position.” [Read the full report here.]
Maybe I should have expected them, but I admit to being more than a bit overwhelmed by the many heartfelt responses this has generated from people thanking me for creating and developing the RFC. When you keep a regular schedule following a set annual cycle of activities for almost 23 years, the work can become routine to you, even as it inspires others. I don’t want to belittle the RFC’s achievements, but they have been based, for the most part, on the collective efforts of thousands of you. I’m thankful for the comments, but it has been a group effort by the RFC staff, board and community of supporters.
While the responses to my “Goodbye” report have been varied, one thread runs through the majority, as this person summed up: “you have given others the opportunity to settle… our own childhood issues related to political work.”
This comment and others like it got me thinking about a critical observation an old friend made about my initial proposal to gain backers for the RFC in 1989. I’d asked him to review a draft of what I’d written because he’d been my writing instructor in college and had served time later as a political prisoner. He commented that some people reading this might react that I’d never gotten over my childhood.
At first I was taken aback, but then it occurred to me that I didn’t think anyone ever “got over” their childhood. In fact, I even rejected the concept that anyone’s childhood is something to “get over.” All of our experiences are and should remain a part of us. They should not, in fact they cannot, be put in a box and detached from who we are if we are to function as positive and productive human beings. What we make of our experience, childhood or otherwise, is who we become.
I think one of the key reasons the RFC is successful is that it is a project that sprang out of childhood experiences that were not only my own, but also shared by thousands of children whose progressive parents were attacked or threatened during the McCarthy period. The RFC harnessed these profound feelings to serve the needs of children in similar situations today.
Now, I realize that the RFC is something I would never even have thought of if I’d gotten over my childhood. I’m so glad I didn’t.
To receive a notification whenever there is a new post to Out on a Limb Together, subscribe now.