Safety Zone Connection

Summer Reflections 

by Susan Mann

Summer is usually a fairly quiet, limin’ time on the island. We try to find a shade tree, and a tall cool iced beverage. We might even think of making an extra trip to the store, especially if it’s to a well air conditioned place of business.

Unfortunately, this year the summer months took on a special sadness when three healthy, young adults who were on-island for employment opportunities passed away unexpectedly and very suddenly.

Many St. John parents, especially those of us with adult children, couldn’t help but pause for a few moments to try and even imagine how we could go on with life if we ever picked up the phone or answered the door and heard such news. Some of us may have even had a similar experience.  

It’s never too late to buy a postage stamp and send a card or brief note to these off-island parents to let them know they were or are in our thoughts. Appropriate government agencies would surely be glad to forward our written support and sympathies.

As I write this,  I am also thinking about the passing of a police officer here on-island, and how saddened his family on St. Thomas, as well as his VIPD comrades must be by the tragedy which has taken place.

May the hearts of all whose life this fallen officer touched soon begin to begin to heal. The Safety Zone offers free confidential counseling and case management assistance from experienced, qualified counselors for victims and family members who have experienced the trauma of a violent crime, domestic violence, child abuse and sexual abuse.        

Now that autumn is here a few of us will experience an inner renewal, or sense new possibilities.  This is especially the case for those who actually looked forward to the start of a new school year when we were kids.

When the weather is a little cooler we feel more energy. Local newspapers and television networks, and on-line charities and non-profit organizations are continually asking us to volunteer our skills and hard won free time.

Schools have added a requirement that students can not graduate until they complete a certain amount of time volunteering in their community. It’s always a good time to reconsider what we can offer such programs and services.

The reason some of us don’t volunteer to lend a hand is because we are not willing to respect our own limitations! Instead, we cling to the belief that community groups may demand too much of our free time. Thus, we are reluctant to offer any at all.

A guaranteed two hours a week to help out with any project is much better than simply saying, “I will if I get the time.”

If you want to test the latter statement, just ask the leaders of any worthy St. John program you think you might want to consider becoming involved with.

One of the biggest challenges faced by the trained advocates and counselors at the Safety Zone, as well as other support agencies, is helping the individuals let go of the past and move forward with their lives.

While each person has a different life story, and some of us come in to this world with more resources than others, sooner or later something happens that makes us feel and think we will never, ever get over it.

For instance, a very dear friend of mine lost her 36-year-old son to a traffic accident in the late spring. I marvel each day that slowly, but surely, she is starting to learn to live her life without being able to look forward to seeing her boy. In recent years Rob had moved next door to her.

My friend has decided that she will somehow move forward; she has started to enjoy social time with her friends again, as well as her on-going volunteer activities.

It’s not always easy to choose to continue down the path in front of us, but the best option is usually to keep walking as soon as we are able. Accepting a helping hand, or reaching out for one, may be the key to taking the first step of our journey.