Community…pronounced…\kə-ˈmyü-nə-tē\ … the people with common interests living in a particular area; broadly: the area itself

This week, I have been struck by the profound sense of “Community.”

So, the backfill…

Nineteen years ago, my husband (Mr. Fannie), my two children and I found ourselves being uprooted from our not-quite-native-but-adopted state of Nevada and, after a quick correction of courses (from our home in Northwest Reno, when we got on HWY 395, we shoulda turned north when we turned south) through Arizona, found ourselves in Southern Oregon. Let me tell you, when I say, “We knew no one in Southern Oregon,” I mean, “We knew NO ONE in Southern Oregon!” This is the honest-to-God-truth, I had to list our REALTOR as an emergency contact for our children when I enrolled them in elementary school.

So, fast forward to today, September 2011. We have found a neighborhood, built a home, enrolled our children in elementary school, middle school, high school and college. We built careers, found a church and became involved in various volunteer efforts in the area in which we live. We became avid fans of The Black Tornado and, later, OSU Beavers. Of utmost importance, we learned the difference between the OSU Beavers and the U of O Ducks. We became part of a “community.” Who woulda thought? I used to make fun of Oregonians…all that organic-ness and whatnot.

And, this week, I could not be prouder of the area that I live in, the “community” I am a part of.

Before long, you may hear of one of our events, but probably not the other…

Several months ago, two young children, one by the name of Ethan and one by the name of Faith, were diagnosed with different forms of childhood cancer.

This is a picture of Faith, our community’s “Warrior Princess” bravely dancing as she fights off the enemy.

Both children were from bedroom communities (yes, indeed, “bedroom communities” exist in areas besides the Greater Los Angeles Area) of ours, one from Eagle Point, the other from Central Point.

A grass roots, organic, ground swell of support began for these two precious babies and their families. All of a sudden, there were fundraising jars, softball tournaments, T-shirts and bracelets, all supporting “Ethan and Faith.” The families were overwhelmed with the expense and the stress of traveling from one end of the state to the other in search of much-needed medical treatment for their children. But, the “community” rallied behind them; funds, prayers, support, you name it, we rallied. One of Faith’s wishes was to have 125,000 friends on her Facebook page.

Sadly, Ethan lost his battle in August. And, this week, on Monday, Faith, the Princess Warrior, lost hers. The community mourns. The day after Faith passed away, I was at Costco, doing my normal Costco thing. When it was my turn at the cash register, I noticed the cashier had an Ethan and Faith yellow shirt on and there were pastel balloons at her staion. I overheard her giving customers the opportunity to donate to Faith’s family in an effort to defray some of the medical expenses they face. I lost it. I don’t “know” Faith or her parents, but they are a part of our community. When it was my turn at the cash register, through my tears, I just pushed back my “cash back” from my debit card, shook my head when offered a Faith bracelet and, somehow, thanked the cashier for the role she played in our community.

And, tonight, this same community of people who mourned earlier in the week, had an opportunity to celebrate. Tonight we joined together and said, “Move that bus!”

For those of you who are fans of Exteme Makeover – Home Edition (EMHE), you know that ABC scours the country in search of a deserving family, one who desperately needs a home makeover. Well, last week, EMHE knocked on the door of our very own McPhail family. Yes indeed, right here in little ol’ Medford.

Let me tell you what little I know about the McPhail family; they are incredibly giving. Mr. McPhail has been the founder of the Sparrow Club here in Southern Oregon. The Sparrow Club is a non-profit organization whose mission it is to match terminally or seriously ill children with an “adopting” school. The school then raises funds and offers support to their adopted Sparrow. The McPhail family has made it their personal mission to spread the news, far and wide, of the Sparrow Club. They relocated to the Portland area to begin a Sparrow Club at the north end of our state. However, when two of their own three children were diagnosed with Autism, one severly, they moved back to Southern Oregon, an area where they had family, friends and a community that could help support them as they dealt with the challenges that were laid before them. The McPhails were nominated to be the recipient of an EMHE home.

I cannot begin to describe to you the way in which our community has risen to this rally call! The builders, the volunteers, the business owners and just “regular” community members have come together in an effort I have personally never witnessed before. Even the production team has remarked more then once, throughout the project, that they cannot believe the support that poured from this community. Because of the ovewhelming support on behalf of the volunteers, builders and business owners, they have been ahead of schedule throughout the project. In one week, the McPhails broken down, dilapidated home has been replaced by a refuge, a beautiful home from which they can continue their work on behalf of the Sparrow Club AND raise their three precious boys. Together, tonight, whether on the building site or from the comfort of our own homes as we watched our local news cut in for “this special report”, we cried tears of joy as we shouted out loud, “Bus driver, move that bus!”

Oh, and just so that you can connect the dots of this community circle, Faith was a  “Sparrow” adopted by Crater High School…

And, as a P.S., when Faith passed away on Monday, she had reached her dream, she had over 126,000 friends on Facebook. Not bad for a Warrior Princess from Central Point, Oregon.

The Rogue Valley, a community I am proud of, a place I call, “Home.”

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