Health Association in New York State, Inc.
Community Connections, Spring 2003
Brave Band of Travelers Advocate for Timothy’s Law
The issue of housing is a serious one in the mental health arena. Simply put, without good and safe housing, the value of all our other efforts are greatly diminished. This edition of Community Connections will share some of the thrilling victories in the field of housing.
Many thanks to all who strive to improve housing and meet the needs of people living with mental illnesses; additionally, a special thanks to all those who took the time to share their experiences for our publication.
Although off-topic, please allow me to share with our readers an experience of my own -- traveling Central New York in support of Timothy's Law.
In early May, the Timothy's Law Campaign completed the most amazing, and grueling, 36 hours in recent memory. Beginning at 10:00 on a Monday morning, in Binghamton, our heroes the O'Clairs, became the heroes for many. From Binghamton to Syracuse to Rochester and back, this family, who we've not known yet a year, traveled across our state, sharing their combination of good humor and heart-wrenching grief with at least eight major media outlets. Jessica Lynch, who bravely tells her own story, and shows people that success and promise are possible, has become part of their family.
The O'Clairs told Timothy's story, and their own, over and over. They gave two 2-hour interviews, and three very short TV spot tapings. In light of their experience, it is amazing how deeply they love life. With them, we have had moments during which I laughed until I nearly cried.
But, in those 36 hours, I cried -- five times. I cried three times in one meeting alone, a two-hour session with the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. Listening to Donna O'Clair describe what her family had been through and how greatly they suffered, every step of the way through a system whose purpose seems to be breaking the most important bond a child can have; the bond with his family. I cried again as Christopher, Timothy's older brother, talked about his relationship with Timothy. While the words were few, the meaning was great.
I cried a third time toward the end of the meeting, when a reporter, a veteran of many years, burst into tears as she recounted a story of her life-long friend's baby sister, who as a teenager threatened suicide many times. The young girl completed her suicide by throwing her sneaker laces over a tree limb. Although the laces were too weak to hold her, and broke several times, the girl kept re-knotting the broken pieces until at last she was successful.
Each leg of the trip, every person who spoke did so from the heart, and often from the soul. Timothy's story, and the reflective image of stories so similar, are quickly spreading across the state. On behalf of Timothy's Law Campaign, we wish to thank all who are helping to make this effort a success, and those who continue to toil in support of the O'Clairs and the thousands of other families who are counting on us.
To learn more about Timothy’s Law, see the website: www.timothyslaw.org.