Written Across My Heart: For Sandy Hook Promise | Kevin McClave’s Fundraiser

I launched a fundraiser on my daughter’s 9th birthday. It will run through December 14, 2015.

Miley was 6-years-old and in 1st grade on December 14, 2012. As we sat a safe distance away from the unfolding events in Newtown, I felt a sad affinity for those parents who weren’t as lucky as we were. As lucky as we are. Make no mistake, luck is all that separates us from them.

I’ve written about this in previous entries. It’s something I know I will carry with me for the rest of my days.

Generally speaking, this Crowdrise fundraiser supports Sandy Hook Promise. No matter how much is raised, that goal will be reached.

I wanted to try and really stretch, though.

If we reach the $5,000 goal I have set for this fundraiser, I will get a tattoo, specially designed (TBD), that incorporates the Sandy Hook School logo, a heart, and the number “26.” This tattoo will be inked over my heart. Forever.

I am 51- years-old. I have no tattoos, nor do I want any otherwise. I do, however, carry with me the events of December 14th, 2012. I remind myself daily how lucky we are. The tattoo will simply be a visible symbol of that.

I will pay for (or perhaps have time & talent donated for) the tattoo. None of the proceeds from this fundraiser will be used for that.

If we hit $20,000 for Sandy Hook Promise, I will also have the 26 names of those lost at Sandy Hook tattooed down my arms. 13 on each arm. Forever.

These are very aggressive goals, but Sandy Hook Promise is doing very important work.

Sandy Hook Promise is a national non-profit organization founded and led by several family members whose loved ones were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012.

Based in Newtown, Connecticut, its intent is to honor all victims of gun violence by turning tragedy into transformation.

SHP uses a multi-faceted slate of programs and practices, centered around issues of mental health, anti-isolationism, gun safety, advocacy, and policy, in an attempt to protect children and prevent the senseless, tragic loss of life.

I will say again, and I can’t say enough, that the only thing that separates those of us with our loves still with us, from those who have suffered unspeakable loss, is pure dumb luck. I am lucky. I hope you are lucky, too. I believe with that luck comes a responsibility.

Thank you for your help.


The Meeting Of The Mileys

I’m happy to offer a quick update to the saga of How Miley Got Her Name.

Miley & Miley

The long awaited meeting of Miley Andra McClave and IL Hall of Fame manager Dave Miley, from whom she got her name. September 6, 2015.

A souvenir

A souvenir from Dave Miley. “I feel so special,” said Miss Miley. September 6, 2015.

Win Anyway

I’m putting myself out there on this one.

This home demo from 18 years ago (of a song written 20 years ago) is about as rough as they come. As I like to say, as a musician I made a good lyricist. This is the only demo of this song I have, so…

I wrote the song with a particular view of beating the odds, bucking the system, climbing the mountain. Mainly, it expresses my world view that some things are worth fighting for, or against, regardless of the chances of winning. It also expresses my personal view that nobody but me tells me what I’m capable or incapable of doing.

In more modern times, this song has been hanging around in the back of my mind as one particularly suited for the gun control movement. A protest song in that grand tradition. We shall overcome.

But I haven’t really done much about that idea.

So, today I am.

For any of you who write songs, I offer this up as a co-writing opportunity long after the fact. Please feel free to have at it. Use the melody, the lyrics. Use a line. A word. The title. It is my hope that you can hear through the performance to something resonant. It has always felt unfinished to me, so finish it if you will.

Or, let it stay as it is. I fully realize some songwriting attempts are dead ends, and deserve to stay in the dustbin.

I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t try.

A Broken Path In A Broken World

“I think I’m in a unique position to be able to not give a shit what people think. Who’s going to stop me?”Gretchen Peters

IMG_20140918_181427Later this year, barring something unforeseen, I will observe the most frustrating and humbling of anniversaries. I will be five years unemployed.

Five years.

This is not how I wish it to be, nor have I been quietly accepting my situation. I have applied for hundreds of positions in my field, walking distance from home, and as far away as Chicago. I’ve interviewed in the District of Columbia and Baltimore, Ithaca and Poughkeepsie, Purchase and Buffalo (twice). Of course, I’ve had a good many interviews right here at home in Syracuse, as well.

I’ve been willing to step backward in terms of career path, to live away all week from the people who are my life, hoping to steal a day and a half with them on weekends. I’ve brought my decade and a half of experience, my successes, my talent, my outlook, and my intelligence. I’ve brought my integrity and my loyalty and my vision. I’ve brought my lifelong record of overcoming adversity and striving to make this world a better one.

Nobody wants me.

The irony here is that my chosen field, the not-for-profit development field, needs people like me desperately.

If you go in to a room of fundraisers and mention “Donor Centered Fundraising,” you will most assuredly get nods of recognition from most in the room. The problem being that knowing something and doing something are not one and the same.

Fundraising is based, as the cliché goes, on relationships. It’s a cliché because its true. The problem is that folks who work in development, and their organizations at large, damage relationships on a daily basis. Would you keep a friend who only came around when he needed money? If you gave an associate money for a task and she never gave you any indication that task had been completed, that your money had been put to good use, would you trust that she did what she said with it? Would you trust her enough to give her money the next time she asks?

That’s why the not-for-profit development field is so nomadic. Because fundraisers churn through their “relationships” with bad behaviors. Then it’s on to the next organization and a (hopefully) new slate. A lot of my own struggles to find a position are no more than losing at an ongoing, maddening game of musical chairs. The problem isn’t only individual, it’s systemic, but it can only be changed by individuals.

Here at home, we’ve been fortunate to have been able to financially weather this loss of the larger portion of our household income. Many families have not. I tell myself consciously every day that, while things may not be ideal, we are lucky. Damn lucky.

With that good fortune comes responsibility. Make no mistake, while it seems my profession has turned its back on me, my resolve to change the things I see in need of change remains strong. I will not go quietly.

Who’s going to stop me?

Somebody’s Coming Home

Heart in HandDecember 14, 2012 was the longest day of my life. This isn’t a new revelation for me or for anyone who knows me, but it is one I wanted to revisit today. Especially today.

In the year before that pre-Christmas Friday 2 years ago, I had started to really dig the music of Nathan Bell. I had stumbled across a glowing review of his then-new acoustic album Black Crow Blue, but it was Crow’s self-released predecessors In Tune, On Time, Not Dead and Traitorland that grabbed me first.

Nathan’s work earns the sort of obsessive behavior I put in listening to those 3 albums. His songs are well crafted and True. I love his guitar playing, as well. His art fits very well in my hierarchy of things.

I loved (and still love) a good number of the songs I downloaded from Amazon. I listened to a lot of them a lot of the time. One of my favorites was “Somebody’s Coming Home” from Traitorland. It spoke to me immediately as a father. Listen to the song and that’s an obvious response.

As I sat a safe distance away from Newtown on 12/14, watching, listening, reading with sorrow as the bad news became worse and the worse news became unthinkable, “Somebody’s Coming Home” was forever transformed from one of my favorite songs to my song of thanksgiving.

The wait for that “big yellow school bus” to come around the bend with our own 6-year-old first grader on board was difficult to say the least. I promised myself two things: I would never forget, and I would be mindfully thankful. Thank you to Nathan for writing a song that helps me do both:

 Happy Thanksgiving. May everyone you love come home.

The Guy in the Jacket

Nathan Bell is worth your time. The past several years I have listened to nobody more than him (and I listen to a *lot* of music)

Rusted 38

Nathan Bell, photo courtesy of nathanbellmusic.com The Guy in the Jacket -Nathan Bell, photo courtesy of nathanbellmusic.com

Hello friends and welcome to Rusted 38. My name is Heather Tinker. I am a thirty-nine, (or Rusted 38′), year old freelance writer living in upstate New York. I’d like to begin by telling you an extraordinary story about my introduction to the Guy in the Jacket.

Around mid August my husband and I found ourselves outback of our neighbors house, hovered over an outdoor fire and an outdoor bar, just as the majority of our Wednesday evenings had placed us for the past six years or more. As a ritual during these meetings we have a few mid-week cocktails and unwind with our friends, which, by our definition, involves our close compadre’ Sean and his endless search for unique and neglected music. Now, when I say neglected I mean by the mainstream media and the cache’ of all that someone on the fucking planet, who…

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Champions Overcome

One of the myriad ways in which I am a lucky man is based, at least originally, on proximity. I am fortunate enough to live in Central New York, where I have the pleasure of reading the writings of the great Sean Kirst.

Sean has been writing for our local morning newspaper for a couple of decades now. For much of that time he has been for me the window through which a lot of our problems and issues take on a human face. It may be easy to dismiss data and theory, it is much more difficult to dismiss people. Especially as Sean introduces them to us. He has been our local treasure. Now, of course, you can read his work from wherever you are at syracuse.com.

It was while reading this morning’s column that I found myself repeating a strongly held belief.

Champions overcome.

Of course, “champions” terminology is lifted directly from athletic endeavors, where there is very often a winner and a loser. Sports can be nuanced, but not nearly as frustratingly so as living a life. Back when I was a radio broadcaster, more than being a big sports fan, it is this reason that made me prefer doing sportscasts to news. In sports, the worst thing that happens most of the time is that somebody loses a game.

Sports champions are made by excelling over the long haul, but they rarely go without defeat. In the National Football League, for example, there has been a single championship team that has not lost a single game in a season. That was 42 years ago.

In that way, sports are very much like life. Some of us will have an easier time. Some of us will struggle. All of us will lose, and to ultimately succeed, all of us most overcome.

We overcome our past. We overcome our present. We overcome disabilities and weaknesses. We overcome enemies and friends. We overcome ourselves.

What defines champions, in sports and in life, is never giving up. We can rest. We can reflect. We can reassess. We must keep going.

We must overcome.