This one’s for my squad.
The people, to quote one of the original congressional squad members, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, who believe in “building a more equitable and just world.”
People like Zach Bookbinder, a 14-year-old newspaper reader — yeah, you read that right — who came across my column about Azir Harris, a Philadelphia teenager who was shot and paralyzed and struggling, and wanted to do something.
“I thought I had to act upon it because I felt badly for him,” Zach said when I called him at his Penn Valley home this week.
He’s also hosting a fund-raising basketball tournament planned for Saturday, Sept. 14 (rain date Sept. 21), at the Narberth Park (80 Windsor Ave., Narberth, Pa. 19072) from 10 a.m. to noon.
The donation to participate can be made through GoFundMe. If you’re like me and not really into playing basketball, you can also just donate and skip the hoops. There is a minimum donation of $25 per player to participate in the tournament, but Zach is encouraging people to be “as generous as you can.”
Seriously, you gotta love this kid.
Bookbinder, an incoming freshman at Harriton High School, comes by his newspaper reading and activism honestly — gun violence has always been an issue that his mom, Hannah, has felt passionately about.
“It started for me when Reagan and Brady were shot when I was little,” she said. “I actually wrote to both of them and got responses!”
She’s recently gotten involved with Sandy Hook Promise, an advocacy group formed in the aftermath of the 2012 Newtown school shooting.
Joining SHP, she said, and helping her son help Azir is empowering:
“It’s something tangible and makes me feel like I am doing something to help, in a situation where I otherwise feel so helpless.”
It’s a sentiment I hear often these days as many of us struggle to make sense of a world that is increasingly becoming unrecognizable, and frankly, scary.
The crazier things get, the more we seek opportunities to show, or hold onto our humanity: A kind word. A helping hand. Support for our squads, whoever those standing on the right side of history may be.
After a week of attacks by the president, including racist chants from his supporters that he co-signed with his silence, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar’s supporters — her squad — welcomed the Somalia-born lawmaker back home to Minnesota.
To see the smile on her face, her hand on her chest in gratitude, was to witness the power of the squad.
My squad came out in force after the column about the paralyzed gunshot survivors who created their own space when they couldn’t find one. Many of you reached out to offer everything from snacks and words of encouragement to space for the next meeting.
“They are not alone,” several readers wrote.
Many also wanted to know how to help Frazier get a new wheelchair. He’s having his current wheelchair looked at next week, and after that, he’ll have a better idea if it can be fixed or if he needs a new one and what that will cost.
In the meantime, thank you, and a little advice to get through these hard days. Find your squad. Support your squad.