By Shanita Hogan
“Oh my goodness! I won! I can’t believe it!” exclaimed Trudy.
Trudy runs over to her sofa and moves her newspapers, books and coat onto the coffee table looking for her phone.
“Where is that damned phone!??”
Removing the cushions, she finds her phone tucked down back of her sofa and immediately calls her best friend. They have been friends for 45 years and were meeting up later for Trudy’s 55th birthday, but she just couldn’t contain her excitement, nor wait until later on that evening to tell Stephanie all about her big win.
The line trills twice as Trudy paces back and forth in her kitchen. Stephanie answers.
“Stephanie!!...Oh my goodness!!”
“What? Is everything okay?”
“Stephanie, I j-just won 10 million in grants for C.A.R.E! I won that competition! They believe in my charity and the work I do for neglected kids. I--I just can’t believe it!” She begins to cry.
“I AM ON MY WAY OVER!!!” exclaims Stephanie.
They both hang up and Trudy slumps down on her couch in disbelief. She begins to daydream of all the things she’s going to do with her winnings for the charity and also a few personal things she would like. Her major focus is taking care of Stephanie as she has been struggling lately. Stephanie came into her life when she moved from Kentucky to Louisiana when they were 10 years old and always stood up for Trudy as she was severely bullied for being overweight. All she wants to do is live a good life and include her best friend.
Trudy’s daydream was cut short about 15 minutes later when the doorbell rang. It was Stephanie.
Trudy opened the door and motioned for Stephanie to come in.
Stephanie walked through the hallway into the living room and set her bag on the couch. Trudy was running around grabbing things out of random drawers, came over to the coffee table, pushing her newspapers and coat off and setting down binders, photos and what seemed like a million papers. As Trudy began sifting through the mountain of paperwork, a small black notebook fell off the table. Stephanie picked it up and Trudy immediately got up and put her hand out.
“Ah, pass that here” she said, nonchalantly.
“What is that for? All your men?” Stephanie jokingly inquired as she handed it back.
“HA HA very funny! No!! It’s just a log of all the children I’ve been helping through C.A.R.E so I don’t lose track of who is the most vulnerable and who needs the most help”.
“Ohh, okay. Very Smart. Better keep that safe” said Stephanie.
“Oh trust me, it’s always safe! Can’t lose this, everything would go to shit!”
Stephanie laughed. “So I was thinking, for that competition you just won, you have to tell them all about C.A.R.E, what were you thinking of saying?”
“I’ve been thinking about this since the day I entered that competition. I’m just going to wing it, honestly. So it just comes off as more authentic, rather than rehearsed.”
“Good idea! I support whatever you do. I’m so proud of you” Stephanie reaches out to hold Trudy’s hands. “I am just so...so….so very proud of you. You deserve this. All those children are going to be so stoked for you!”.
Trudy smiled. “All I need to really think about is the sequence in which I describe C.A.R.E. I was thinking I let them know that I started it 10 years ago and it stands for Children Are Relevant, Everyday….then...maybe I can just describe how I monetarily help impoverished and orphaned children in low-income areas?”
“Yea. Maybe let them know that you typically help kids who don’t have parents present and usually have to fend for themselves while their parents are working crazy hours, they don’t have parents or their parents are ill” said Stephanie.
Trudy nods in agreement. “Yes. I mean I know that they obviously loved the fact that I helped build a recreation center for the children and go grocery shopping for them”
“Yea and drop the groceries off to their houses, take them to church, etcetera” interjected Stephanie.
“Absolutely. I guess I could start with the acronym, go into a brief detail about C.A.R.E and then end with a thank you for the grant and what I plan on using it for. Keep it short and sweet.”
Stephanie excitedly agrees. “When is the press conference?”
“We have GOT to go shopping..Let’s find the prettiest dress for you to wear”
“Ugh, I hate dresses. It always looks like I’m wearing a curtain.”
“STOP IT TRUDY” They both laugh and go get in the car to go shopping for a dress.
Next friday rolled around so fast and Trudy was extremely nervous about the press conference. Her anxiety was sky high and she was nervous about how she would look on TV. She began thinking about how many people would see this press conference and immediately ran to the bathroom to throw up.
Stephanie knocked on the bathroom door. “Trudy, are you okay? Do you need anything?”
“I’m fine. I think the nerves just got the best of me.”
“I understand hun, but we really have to go. It starts in an hour”
Trudy groans, gets up, flushes the toilet and proceeds to brush her teeth. She looked in the mirror and studied her double chin, her thick glasses, her curly hair and her big 275 pound body and looked at herself with utter disgust, wondering how anyone will take her seriously. She wondered how anyone could take an overweight, sweaty woman with glasses seriously and if they’d take the grant back. She then began to overthink everything and wondered if they’d think she had white saviour complex, because after all, she is a white woman helping predominantly black children.
She walks out of the bathroom and looks at Stephanie “I don’t think I can do this Steph...I just can’t”.
“Yes you can. You started this charity from scratch with nothing and people believed in you so much that they have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars! Consistently! How could you not believe in yourself?”
They both proceed to get into the car and drive to the studio where the press conference was taking place. As they pull into the parking lot, there were at least 20 news vans, hundreds of news anchors, police officers, security guards and numerous people entering the building. Trudy gulped and got out of the car.
Stephanie exited the car also, motioning to Trudy to stand up tall. “Confidence, Trudy. Be confident. You’ve got this.” Stephanie walks around the car to Trudy and reaches out to her hand. Stephanie squeezes her hand and smiles at her. Trudy smiles back. They walk into the building, go through security and enter backstage of the press conference. As they are talking about other philanthropic things happening in the state, Trudy starts to sweat excessively.
“Stephanie, I want to leave...I can’t do th---”
“AND NOW, LET’S WELCOME THE WINNER OF OUR ‘FOR THE PEOPLE’ GRANT OF 10 MILLION DOLLARS, GERTRUDE TOLLIVER!”
Security pushes Trudy towards the stage entrance and within seconds, she is at the podium. She immediately gains confidence as people are smiling and taking her photo. She begins speaking about C.A.R.E, what the acronym stands for and what C.A.R.E is.
“...and my plan for this grant is to buy a hotel and renovate the rooms into small apartments for these vulnerable children and their families with round the clock security. I also plan on incorporating a clubhouse in the building with video games, a lounge and different activities for the families to engage in. This will be a gated and key-fob community. We will also have tutors available 7 days a week for students who are struggling in school”
The audience applauds.
“I have some time to answer some questions if anyone has any”
Anchors scramble to get her attention as she randomly points to a lady in the front.
“Hi Gertrude, Melissa with KVPB news, online. I was just wondering, before this grant, how did you manage to afford to do all of these things for these children?”
“Oh, Melissa, it was not easy. At first I barely had enough money to support my dream. I started by telling my church, Mount Pleasant Baptist Church, about it. They loved the idea and people started donating money to C.A.R.E. Then, as my charity began gaining momentum online, a lot of people I didn’t know wanted to donate to C.A.R.E. It was so unreal. They wanted to know all about the children and how they could help. I went from 20 dollars here, 100 dollars there, to hundreds of thousands of dollars every month. I want to thank everyone for their continued support. I couldn’t do this without you!”~
“Wow that’s amazing. Thank you, Gertrude.”
“No problem, Melissa. Next!”
As Trudy begins to choose someone, the Amber Alert on everyones phones begins to go off. Trudy immediately looks at the tablet on the podium.
Jaquan Jones, black male, 14 years old, 5’9, 150 pounds was abducted in broad daylight in a silver sedan with no plates. Trudy’s eyes practically bulged out of her head. She knew him. He was popular amongst his peers because he was extremely good at basketball.
“Oh my goodness, I have to cut this press conference short. I’m so sorry, but Jaquan Jones, who just popped up on the Amber Alert, is a child I know through C.A.R.E. I have to go!”.
Trudy scurries off the stage, puts her coat on and pulls out her phone to text someone. The text just simply says “I’m on my way.” but as she took her phone out of her pocket, her little black book fell on the floor. A camera guy picked it up and called out to Trudy, but she was already out of the building.
He opened the book in hopes of possibly finding out her phone number or address, but instead, on the first page, was a list of childrens names and addresses as well as random information. As his eyes went from the top of the page to the bottom, in the middle, circled in red pen was
112a Riverside Road.
Heart - $600,000.
Highest bidder, Bill Rosenfeld.”