Friday, August 23, 2013

Rotary, Charlie's House and the Value of Nonprofit Outreach

The speaker at my Rotary club this morning was Jenny Horn, a woman whose son was killed at age 2 when a child – sized dresser toppled over on him. I will admit that my inner curmudgeon had a slight eye roll when I saw childproofing on the list of upcoming speaker topics. "Oh, come on," my inner curmudgeon whispered, "you can't wrap the world in padding, and, besides, I grew up in a world of asphalt playgrounds and lawn darts. And I made it."

But then you meet Jenny Horn and she is showing you pictures of Charlie, her dead child who would be alive today if the dresser had been installed with an ingeniously simple and inexpensive furniture strap and your curmudgeon shuts up, ashamed of himself. And then the nurse from Children's Mercy talks about how easy it is for a crawling child to topple a table lamp with a tug on a cord and be struck, shocked, and or burned. And then you learn more people ages 1–44 die from injuries than from any other cause, including cancer, HIV, or the flu, and even my inner curmudgeon is thinking about what could happen if we have grandchildren, or our friends bring their precious bundles over for a visit.
I think I might spend some time over the next few weekends reinstalling some of those cabinet latches that disappeared after my children grew out of their toddler years. I will keep my eyes open for some safety gates to block off stairs, and anchoring systems for our dressers and bookshelves would be a simple enough project. 

And that, my friends, is the power of effective outreach by a nonprofit. There is no way that inner curmudgeon of mine would have allowed me to "waste my time" reading a pamphlet about child safety, since I have no children in the house anymore. I would not have visited the website, or watched their excellent YouTube videos. But, when I saw that young lady tear up for her lost child right in front of me, it got my attention, and got my imagination thinking about how something awful could happen if I don't take some easy steps soon.

Obligatory Tangentially Related Joke:  Two guys are sitting in a bar, and one says to the other, "I read the other day that during mating season, a pair of lions mates up to 40 times per day."  The other guy takes a long drink of his beer and sighs miserably.  "What's wrong, Joe?", the lion expert asks.  "I just joined Rotary."

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