“Look for the helpers” is a quote that is often attributed to Fred Rogers. It circulates via meme every so often on Facebook, usually in response to news that is hard to bear. We’ve always loved that quote and even incorporated it into the curriculum for our Family Learning Program.
And while it is true that Mr. Rogers spoke these words, he didn’t say them first. His mother did.
“Look for the helpers” was what Fred Roger’s mother would tell him when something tragic happened. It was her way of seeding hope for her son when things felt impossibly sad and hard. And that lesson stuck, shaping young Fred’s worldview which he later shared with the world.
The meaning of this quote has deepened as our We Stories experience has grown. You see, we tap into the very same power of parents to shape hope and possibility for the future. And, as our community has grown and activated, our families’ lives have become exponentially more helper-ful. Even just a few years ago this sentiment felt like more of a platitude. The helpers we spoke of didn’t people our lives, they were just the someones somewhere who did something when needed.
Today we need to look no further than the person sitting next to us to find those engaged in the fight for justice and racial equity in St. Louis. You are now among the helpers we point to in our own families with our own children. You are now among the helpers that others in our region look to. Together we have become helpers. And in doing so have fundamentally shifted not just our own self-perceptions and but also our sense of what’s possible when many more people pitch in.
As you know we are focusing on the theme of #ItAddsUp through the end of the year. This theme lends itself well to the many layers of our work.
Our We Stories work adds up, allowing small habit changes to pave the way for lasting and important change in ourselves and our families.
Our We Stories community adds up, creating power and connection and new opportunity in places historically silent or passive on issues of race and racism.
Your support of We Stories adds up, offering a region a chance for true change and transformation.
As part of this campaign about a dozen of you have submitted video clips of your #ItAddsUp story. One community member shared that. “If people like me can change their behavior… then we can create a better world, a better region for our kids, together.”
We feel the same way.
Despite how trying and difficult and scary these times are we don’t have to look far to find hope or helpers because WE SEE YOU. And when we make this plain to our children we have the confidence that we, like Fred Rogers mother, are seeding hope, activism, and civic responsibility that will continue to grow and add up overtime; seeds that will bloom again and again across a new generation of helpers.
In this season of gratitude, we want to express our deep and sincere appreciation for YOU and the work you are doing...from reading this blog post, to commenting online, to talking with your children, to sharing with your neighbors, to asking questions that need to be asked, for amplifying voices and initiatives that deserve to be heard, for adding your feet, hearts, hands, and resources to the movement. Together you are helping to transform the landscape of St. Louis into one that is more hopeful and helper-ful. And it matters.
* See that fun picture above? Envelope art made by our participating families is arriving in mailboxes this week! Every letter includes a stamped image created especially for We Stories by our board member, Kristin Moomey. If you aren't on our mailing list yet, sign up here.
** In anticipation of Giving Tuesday, November 27, we will be sharing #ItAddsUp stories on Facebook and Instagram. You don’t have to wait to add your support - you can make your year-end donation today. Thanks to the generosity of several donors, all gifts made between now and December 31st will be match dollar for dollar up to $10,000!