Thursday, December 11, 2008

Stop, Drop & Blog- It's HP Holiday Magic

Stop, Drop and Blog is one of 50 sites participating in the HP Magic Giveaway. Part of the requirements for entry is submitting a post from your blog about what winning that prize package would mean to you and your family.

I wish I could say that my husband and I are setting the world on fire, but we're just like every other family out there; times are tough and we're trying to stretch out pennies just like everyone else. We're a blended family with four children between us; our oldest is grown and on his own, two are in college now, and our youngest daughter is in sixth grade. My husband is a route driver for Interstate Brands and his company has been in bankruptcy for four years now (which, by the way, is a record for any company having been in bankruptcy). Last month my husband's union held a vote: either vote yourself a $125 per week paycut and a $45 a month increase in your health insurance premiums or the Bankruptcy Court would close Interstate Brands before Thanksgiving.

Wow, tough choice...NOT! We took the paycut..everyone did or the rest of the country wouldn't be enjoying Wonder Bread or Hostess Cakes anymore. I tell my husband he saved Twinkies for the free world with his "yea" vote.

I've been a police dispatcher for almost 22 years now, hence the title of this blog "GOA-UTL" which stands for "Gone on Arrival-Unable to Locate" an abbreviation frequently used in police work. I love my job (most days) and I am forever grateful for having a job that I enjoy doing and that I'm good at in these tough times. A few times a year I also teach classes in police dispatch with my sister who just happens to be a sergeant at the police department I work at. We've worked together for almost 16 years now. She also started out as a dispatcher, took the police test and was a "patrolman" for years before being promoted to sergeant last year. I'm so proud of her!

While I have a public service job, no job is ever secure. The city I work for is like every other small city in America; they're experiencing a lack of revenue and new business growth. Is my job safe? Who knows. I do know that a raise is not likely in my immediate future. Contract talks are coming up and I'm just hoping we keep what we have now; I can't take another hit after my husband's income loss.

I'd love to win the HP Magic contest but that's too much prize for my family. I'd love to keep the HP HDX Premium Notebook PC for my husband and I since I've never owned a laptop before. I'd also be able to use Microsoft Office and Corel VideoStudio to create some great presentations for the dispatch class I teach with my sister. Kung Fu Panda is also staying just for my daughter. My oldest son is in dire need of a new laptop too, so I'd gift him the HP Pavilion Entertainment Notebook PC. His current laptop has cooling issues.

The rest of this prize package would go to GLSEN Cleveland. GLSEN stands for the Gay-Lesbian-Straight-Education-Network. GLSEN Cleveland holds a special place in my heart.

My middle son Jared is gay. He is the way God made him and I wouldn't change a thing about him, what I would change is the way the world treats him because he is gay.

When he was 13, Jared "came out" to my husband and I. It was the toughest thing he ever had to do. For a long time I knew my son was "different" but I lived in a little hermetically-sealed mayonnaise jar. Gay? What was that? I'd never grown up around anyone openly "gay".

A myrid of thoughts runs through your head when your son tells you he's gay. I thought maybe I did something to make him gay...did I hug him too much? Maybe I didn't buy him "manly" toys like guns and G.I. Joes. Did someone touch him and make him gay? Or maybe he was going through a "phase".

The reality is, Jared is and always has been gay. It's the way he was born, the way God made him. I wouldn't turn down any gift God gave me and, by all means, my son Jared is a gift.

Fast forward to high school. In an effort to give our children the best education, my husband and I worked many hours of overtime to send them all to Catholic high school, thinking they would have the best chance of getting a good education and, hopefully, scholarships to college. Jared was going to an all-boy Jesuit high school in Cleveland, the same one his older brother had just graduated from.

School was hell for Jared. He was tormented daily for being gay. While he tried to hide it, the boys there knew. Repeatedly threatened and made fun of, Jared couldn't take it anymore. He came to me crying and begging not to have to go back to that school. I tried talking to the school officials but the abuse continued.

I pulled Jared out of school and sent him to public school. It was then that Jared joined GLSEN. Working with GLSEN, Jared started the first gay-straight alliance in the Cleveland Public School system. Jared became Midwest Co-Chair for GLSEN National and GLSEN flew Jared to various states to speak at seminars about starting gay-straight alliances in schools. When it came time for Jared to leave for college, GLSEN honored Jared for all his activism with a small scholarship for college. He was presented with an award at their annual scholarship dinner and I saw firsthand that night how many people cared for my son. That night I wasn't the only proud "parent" in that room, many of the people Jared had worked with hand-in-hand for four years couldn't have been prouder of him.

I know GLSEN-Cleveland struggles for funds so the rest of this prize package would go to them, either for use in their office or as part of their annual raffle to secure funds for their Robbie Kirkland Scholarship. I'd like to see other high school students involved with GLSEN be afforded the same opportunity Jared had by winning that scholarship.

If you're also interested in entering, head over to Stop, Drop and Blog enter to win this fantastic prize package. The drawing is random and you only have until December 16, 2008 at 6 pm to complete the four entry requirements.