Unexpected mail from the White House
Oh, how I love a full circle moment.
The yellow slip in my postal box advised that a package was awaiting pickup. And so, I stood in line with my grandchildren, awaiting our turn to claim the parcel.
After I handed the slip to the postal clerk, she returned with a large, manila envelope, and I noted the return address, in all caps: THE WHITE HOUSE, WASHINGTON, DC 20502.
And I did a double take.
As I took the envelope from the clerk’s hand, I asked,”The White House? Seriously?”
My ten year old granddaughter stood there, wide eyed, and exclaimed, “Is that from the President? The REAL President?”
Indeed, it was.
And so I eagerly opened the envelope, and found inside an oversized, five page document printed on ivory colored stock, the first page of which was embossed with a golden Presidential Seal and signed by President Obama. It was titled “Remarks by the President on the Tenth Anniversary of Hurricane Katrina,” and it appears to be the speech he delivered in New Orleans on that anniversary.
Now, I know this isn’t quite like a hand penned letter from the President, but it was, nonetheless, an acknowledgement of our Hope for Habitat efforts. I flipped the page over and could see the bleed through of the marker used to sign the document. This was the real deal. And it made me smile.
It also brought to mind a little chuckle from an incident that took place a one year earlier. It was when a handful of people were en route from Louisiana to Louisville, Kentucky, to secure the pre-authorized signature of Sir Paul McCartney on a Beatles themed piano created to raise money for East St. Tammany Habitat for Humanity. Alas, the trip, which should have required only ten hours from departure to destination, was plagued with numerous breakdowns of the Habitat truck caused by a tank of bad diesel.
And so, 17 hours into the Day One of the trip, our Beatles Adventures crew pulled off the interstate and into the parking lot of the Holiday Inn Express in White House, Tennessee. The time was somewhere around 2 am, and we were grateful to secure the last three rooms available and have a place to lay our weary heads.
About five hours later, as we prepared to continue our journey, I was amused by the notion that I was having breakfast with the President in White House. Sure, it was Debbie Crouch, the President of EST Habitat. And it was White House, Tennessee. But it provided a lighthearted moment for our fatigued minds.
In the end, after continued breakdowns and an emergency truck swap, we made it to Louisville later that afternoon, and secured the Holy Grail, the Sir Paul autograph, following the receipt of Ringo Starr’s autograph just ten days prior.
The piano ultimately fetched nearly $99K in a Charity Buzz auction, a fairy tale ending that provided enough funding to build a Habitat Veterans Home.
Now, as to President Obama’s signature and how and why it was obtained…
Shortly after The Beatles piano fundraiser wrapped, I launched Hope for Habitat: Katrina X, bringing together more artists and celebrities to continue the fundraising efforts for this small, Slidell-based Habitat affiliate.
Included with these efforts is a 6′ x 6′ work of art called “Rebirth,” a mixed media collage currently being created with messages of hope and signatures on paper leaves received from around the world as a show of support for the post-K recovery efforts. The artwork will be auctioned on November 20 during EST Habitat’s annual “Home Is Where the Art Is” auction.
The quest for signatures and messages of hope included outreach that I sent by postal mail to numerous celebrities, talk show hosts and, yes, even the President of the United States. As the auction date nears, the artwork now in progress includes sigs obtained from Ted Nugent, Tony Hawk, Ian Somerhalder, Evander Holyfield, India Arie, Dr. Steve Perry, The History Channel’s Swamp People Terral Evans and Johnny Panks, Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Rodgers and Super Bowl Champion Phil Villapiano.
So when that large, manila envelope arrived from The White House, I couldn’t help but think back to that breakfast with the President in White House, Tennessee, and the fodder it had provided.
Little did I know that it would provide the dot for the full circle moment that would come a year later.
And it was made even more special in that my grandchildren were with me in that moment, one of whom, prior to our success in securing the iconic Beatles autographs, had offered to join “The Bugs” and sign the piano so we could sell it for a million dollars.
Sweet moment. Sweet memory.
And so ends this next Day in the Life of The Long and Winding Road that led to White House.
Can’t wait to see what happens next.