Soaring Once Again….

Soaring Once Again….

From the first day I walked into ScentsAbility, I felt a rekindling with a school I had taught at over a decade ago, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, named after a pioneer and savior of the Everglades who had, when the school was founded, already endured over 100 years of life, most of it fighting to save Florida’s precious Everglades.

Perhaps this rekindling was because of Kim who had graduated from Douglas during the time I taught there; we often shared stories about those years, and her love of sports made her extra proud to have been at MSD while Chicago Cub first baseman, Tony Rizzo, attended there.  Perhaps it was the plethora of student volunteers who come into the shoppe from Douglas.  Perhaps it was the proximity to PizzaTime: a favorite of the ScentsAbility crew as well as my own sons and their friends who attended Stoneman Douglas.

More recently it was a young man, Zachary, a freshman at MSD, who is simply different from all the other student volunteers we have had.  He does not come to the shoppe just to earn his 30 hour school requirement.  He has sincerely enjoyed being there and has a connection with our chandlers, despite being half their age, that I’ve not seen in any other young adult.  He is already figuring out how to get other MSD students involved with our crew.

Zachary, Kim and Anais have something in common: they are all Douglas Eagles.

So when the tragedy occurred at Douglas on Valentine’s Day, my first thoughts were of Zachary and of some of the teachers and staff I know there.  Bonnie, the shoppe director, immediately texted me that Zach was OK and would be coming to the shoppe as much as possible as a sort of respite from the horrendous experience he had endured.

I get it.  ScentsAbility is that kind of place, a place that is a part of the real world, but has a reality and sense of time all its own.  A simpler place where love and camaraderie and togetherness prevail, where hugs are the norm, where time often seems to stand still.   A place where everybody is a friend – and often family – to everybody else.

Anais quickly learns to pour just the right amount of scent rocks into the bag.

This week another Douglas student, a student with special needs, Anais, came to ScentsAbility.  Not only had she endured the February tragedy, but she and her mother came to Parkland to live with her aunt a few months ago when her home in Puerto Rico was destroyed during Hurricane Maria.  Her aunt thought perhaps ScentsAbility would be a comfortable place for Anais while adjusting to not one, but two life altering experiences.  And Anais fit right in.   By the end of the day, she was cutting decorative ribbons, making scent rocks and dispensing hand sanitizer, all the while with a smile on her face.  Smiles have no language, and although Anais is working hard on her English, the interactions and hugs with new friends made any language barrier disappear.

Zach shares wax pouring techniques with Anais as she pours her first candles.

It has been only a few difficult weeks since the tragedy, but as is typical with tragedies, communities and people come together, sometimes by choice, sometimes by necessity, and often by coincidence.  I have never witnessed such a sense of community, this sense of Coral Springs and Parkland being one against evil, this sense of the worlds of young adults with special needs and typical young adults becoming one.  I saw it when I walked by the memorials at the school, I saw it at the vigils in the park, and I see it every day at the ScentsAbility.  Marjory Stoneman Douglas would have been proud of the students at the school which is part of her legacy.  Like her, they will endure, with a sense of community they will prosper, and like Eagles they will soar.

This post was written by