Super Dad

Super Dad

Super Dad

The first time I set foot in Montana, I was 24 years old. I drove from the Midwest in a Ford station wagon with all of my belongings – windows down and Neil Young blaring on the stereo – heading to the Bitterroot for an internship that would have me living in a camper in someone’s yard. And – because of that sketchy arrangement – I was accompanied on my great road trip to the West by my dad. He made it seem like he was just up for an adventure, but he was quite prepared to scoop me up and take me home if the Bitterroot turned out to be a spooky backwater and the internship turned out to be forced labor on a ranch. So we had our grand adventure. We christened my Big Sky dreams by throwing snowballs at the top of Beartooth Pass, and I settled into that camper knowing I was loved and could always go home.

My dad’s super power has always been spotting me, sometimes invisibly, so he could catch me from any little or giant fall. Now that I’m a parent, I marvel even more at this incredible skill. I watch my husband and my daughter climb trees to look at birds’ nests, or amble down the trail, pockets loaded with the special rocks they have found, and I know there are many, many more amazing dad super powers out there in this world. They are important to celebrate, because these dad super powers really can create a Mega-force Positive Protector Super Shield for our kids and our community.

Take, for example, the amazing dad super power called Role-modeling – kids who grow up around this super power know they deserve to be treated well in their relationships, when they see their parents respecting each other, kids actually feel they are more accepted and respected. Or, the astonishing super power called Spending Time with Your Kids. This power abounds in the Bitterroot – and we’re lucky for it, because being involved in kids’ lives is a great way to help them grow up healthy and happy! What about the truly remarkable super power Listening? or the inter-galactic super power Showing Affection?

I have seen inspirational Super Dad powers at work at SAFE. Countless dads call the crisis line with concerns about their daughters’ and sons’ relationships, commonly it’s dads who stand by their daughters in asking for orders of protection, many grandpas are active caregivers of their grandchildren. I see those powers in our staff and board members who are dads, in our incredibly dedicated crisis line volunteers who are dads, in caring teachers who want their students to have healthy relationships and father many children beyond their own. I see those powers in the 100 Good Men donors, whose names are listed on a poster in the hallway. The truth is: Dads are super important in helping stop domestic and sexual violence in our community. These are real superheroes, with powers far more meaningful than leaping tall buildings in a single bound.

So, come celebrate Super Dads with SAFE and the Ravalli County Coalition this Saturday, June 14 at the Hamilton Farmer’s Market. We’ll have games and Father’s Day crafts – it’s a great (free!) way to spend some time with the kids and hone your super powers. Happy Father’s Day and THANK YOU!

We’ll Scootch Over, there’s room.

We’ll Scootch Over, there’s room.

“Everybody is a story. When I was a child, people sat around kitchen tables and told their stories. We don’t do that so much anymore. Sitting around the table telling stories is not just a way of passing time. It is the way the wisdom gets passed along, the stuff that helps us to live a life worth remembering.”
― Rachel Naomi RemenKitchen Table Wisdom

S.A.F.E. was born at the kitchen table, thirty years ago, by a group of incredible women who dared to gather round and dream together. Today, we have a nice young building and a real shelter, to replace the generously loaned spare bedrooms of the past, but there is still a kitchen table. Amazing stories have been shared around that old yellow table, along with tears, laughs and plenty of donuts.

The essence of the kitchen table is unique. It is not like a conference table, or a desk, or even a circle of chairs. The kitchen table, rather, says, “Come on in, we’ll scootch over and make room for you. Find a place to put your elbows and be here, be you here.” A kitchen table welcomes you for who you are – flaws and mess and brilliance, too – as is. A kitchen table is not a place for deciding, as much as a place for working out possibilities.

I love that old yellow table more with every key I type, and when it offers donuts it’s absolutely dreamy … But mostly I love it because it represents the heart of S.A.F.E., a place where a survivor is welcomed fully, where she can prop up her elbows and talk, and someone will listen. An advocate doesn’t have to justify spending time just listening, for there may be nothing at all that needs done today but listening. An advocate doesn’t make decisions about a “case” or tell a survivor what to do. An advocate helps her work out the possibilities.

I wish there were more kitchen tables like this one here at S.A.F.E., because I think a lot of us could use a place to work out possibilities. Everybody is a story, and everybody is a part of this story of ending violence. We are survivors. We are friends. We are parents trying to raise kids in a violent world. We are moms and dads hoping our daughters are strong enough, and our sons can cry. We are passionate about many causes, from ending sex trafficking to building women’s health clinics. We are overwhelmed by the barrage of news: sexual abuse in churches, an epidemic of campus rape, school shootings, homicide in our own community.

So, welcome to the S.A.F.E. blog – it’s a kitchen table of sorts – come on in, we’ll make room for you. Let’s keep gathering round, passing our wisdom along, learning and dreaming together. Thanks for listening. Let us know what you think:  SAFE in the Bitterroot facebook page.

Jamie Ogden
Ravalli County Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence
S.A.F.E., Inc.