Thursday, July 25, 2013

Walt Whitman High School Hall of Fame

I would love to hear from old friends because I am very lonely. And with the reading of that sentence, another chapter in the story of the Walt Whitman High School Hall of Fame began. In founding the Hall of Fame (HOF) in 2005, I have phoned and contacted thousands of classmates who have graduated from Whitman from the very first class of 1957. Although I am not involved in the selection process, I maintain my connection to the HOF through this Facebook page which I set up a few years ago. We have grown to over 700 classmates in that time. It hasn’t been easy. The HOF Committee has never grasped the concept of marketing and operated in their little world doing what they need to do, but attracting minimal interest. The Whitman alumni continue to grow and even a conservative estimate would put that august number at well over 30,000 and counting. That kind of number can fill up a stadium. A Whitman alum who protects his privacy established an alumni directory in the frontier days of the internet and the site has grown along with the online community. Currently, that site, has attracted near 6,000 classmates to register their short biography. From those early days (I joined the site in 2003), I have used their power to build my base, one classmate at a time. Believe me, it has been no walk in the park. As many alums who will tell you that they loved their years at Whitman, an equal number will act as if I am a telemarketer, hawking vacuum cleaners over the phone. There have been people in my own class who have grown tired of my tenacious promoting and believe that I put myself in our HOF to honor myself. It is one of the dumbest things I ever heard, but I have come to expect such thoughts from ignorant people. These classmates haven’t taken the time to learn about their HOF and for that matter, could care less. If they did, they would learn that I am not in the HOF and have nothing to do with the selections. Yes, the HOF honored me in 2012 for being the founder, but that is a far cry from being a member. I am very content with creating a legacy for my alma mater. I am very secure in my own legacy. And this brings me back to Nancy’s post which I first read in July of 2013 and had not read anything quite like it before in the thousands of biographies I had gleaned in the past decade. I went to Cornell University and then married Martin Klein. Martin and I had one girl. When I was pregnant with the second, I had a very bad car accident. I lost the baby and also my husband divorced me. I now live in Delray Beach, Florida where my mother lives with me. I would love to hear from old friends because I am very lonely. So of course I called Nancy and her mom passed the phone to her. Have you spoken to someone with a severe brain injury. It is an extraordinary experience. I was so moved by her story that I went right to our Facebook page and requested that other classmates join me in bringing some cheer into one of our sister’s lives. This led to one response. Rome wasn’t built in a day. My classmate Richard reached out to Nancy and urged others to follow his lead. Christelle responded to Richard and now she is talking to Nancy. Do you see the good we do? Do you see how much more we can do? Now are you ready? Now are you beginning to understand what we are doing here?

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