Sunday, May 20, 2007

Atlanta, GA - Day 2

I spent last night up until 1:30am with my mom. Oh, how I needed those few hours with her. I needed her words of encouragement and reassurance. I needed her to wipe away a few tears and hold my hand. Those few hours might have been more helpful to me than the recent months I spent in therapy. It’s funny how moms are like that.

This second day at the Carter Center began with opening remarks from Mrs. Carter and the Keynote Speaker, Otto Wahl. We had a full house of mental health professionals from all over Georgia. I'd made friends last night with Mark from the Center for Disease Control. It's a small world. He was sent to the Coleville reservation in Washington where we screened last December. He didn’t realize that a month after he’d left, another crew from the CDC brought the film to the reservation. We talked at length about the experience with that Native American community. Some heartbreaking stuff. It was nice to see him again this morning and swap cards so we could keep in touch.

We screened the film again for the second audience and received an overwhelming response. The Q&A was more of a testimonial. Individual after individual lined up to the microphones to talk about their stories, their loved ones, their struggles. Needless to say there were more tears, but it was good. Again, I'm struck by the path this film has taken us down. Never would I have guessed I'd be sitting on a stage in front of Rosalynn Carter and a room full of people from the CDC, Ad Council, Georgia's Department of Public Health ... nervously talking about the symbolism of a father fixing the roof of a house.

It was nice to thank Mrs. Carter again for the opportunity and the experience that we shared in Atlanta. There’s so much more to go into and more to tell. The people that work at the Carter Center are truly amazing human beings. And the work that goes on there left me wondering if I was doing enough in my own life. I hope to get back soon. Mark and some of his coworkers who were present want to bring the film to the Center for Disease Control to screen for their employees. Hopefully that’ll work out. I’d like to get back there if possible. Just when I thought that we were wrapping things up with this film, I see a whole new world of opportunity and directions it can take. It’s a great thing, I just wish there were more time in a day to take advantage of those opportunities.

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