As of today, October 21, it has been a total of 18 days since Avonte Oquendo went missing from school. A massive search is in full effect all over New York and the surrounding cities. When I first heard about Avonte’s disappearance, it was October 5 and I couldn’t help but think back to two summers ago when an 8-year-old Hasidic Jewish boy went missing in Borough Park, Brooklyn. Like Avonte, Leiby Kletzky’s disappearance prompted a frantic search.
I remember reading a newspaper article where a New York City Police Department spokesperson said up to 5,000 Orthodox Jewish volunteers–many of them rushing in to assist from several states away–had turned up to participate in a block-by-block hunt for the young boy.
Leiby was kidnapped as he walked home from his school’s day camp. While, sadly, he was found dead and dismembered two days later, the enormity of the search–the canine units, the helicopters, the mounted police officers but most of all, the thousands of neighbors and strangers who volunteered to look–stays with me. I was so very impressed by how they organized and dedicated time and resources to the cause. I was inspired to write about Leiby and post information as well.
Unfortunately, it’s just something you rarely see–that kind of turnout-–when a little Black girl or boy goes missing. As a matter of fact, the Black and Missing Foundation has partnered with TV One on a television show called “Find Our Missing,” which focuses on profiling missing Blacks because of the lack of high profile media attention and community involvement in searches.
In the case of Avonte, many volunteers have come out and dedicated their time and resources. His father, Daniel, has repeatedly thanked the many concerned citizens showing up to lend a helping hand. I sat with Daniel for several hours the other day and watched a little more than 50 people come by to pick up flyers, pray, cry and donate everything from food to flyers. Though hundreds more have also stopped by to show their support to the family, in a city of more than eight million people, Avonte is going to need a whole lot more folks to get involved! As the mother of a teenage boy the same age as Avonte, I have pledged my support. I have no other choice. My spirit will not rest … and I am only one of many.
So, the question I pose to everyone reading this today is, are you involved in the search? It’s not enough to watch the news, drop your head and put your hand over your heart, or write “SMDH” on someone’s social media page. Prayers are needed, but footwork is needed also. The Bible says, “FAITH WITHOUT WORKS IS DEAD!”
If your local bodega, supermarket, gas station, salon, laundromat, flower shop–and the list goes on–does not have a picture of Avonte in the window, your action is needed RIGHT NOW! If your child or grandchild has not been shown a picture of Avonte and told to be on the lookout, your action is needed RIGHT NOW! If your nanny or babysitter has not been told to keep a special eye out for Avonte, your action is needed RIGHT NOW! Whatever you can do, YOUR ACTION IS NEEDED RIGHT NOW!
While NYC authorities have done remarkable work to help find him, plastering signs, searching all of the city’s subway stations and tunnels, sending divers into the nearby water and coordinating with law enforcement officials in New Jersey and Long Island in case Avonte–who is fascinated by trains–boarded one to leave the city; they can’t do it alone.
Neither can the various organizations that have stepped in to provide free services for the Oquendo family or pool funds to offer over $85,000 as a reward for Avonte’s safe return.
This is where you come in.
Will you help him?
Will you help his family search for clues?
Will you volunteer your resources, time and/or donate money to help increase the reward?
Will you do what you’d hope others would do for you if one of your loved one’s ever went missing?
If THE ANSWER IS YES here’s what you need to know:
- Avonte has Autism.
- He is 5-feet-3-inches and weighs 125 pounds.
- Surveillance footage shows him running away from Center Boulevard School in Long Island City, Queens, on Friday, October 4., at around 12:45 p.m. wearing a gray striped shirt, black sneakers and black jeans.
- Photos of his angelic-looking face have been making the rounds on social media. Take a good long look and show everyone you know.
- He does not speak, but he can understand you.
- Try not to excite him. Children with Autism can be scared easily. Approach him with calm or follow him while calling 911 immediately.
- The command tent is open 24/7 for volunteers, located at 51st Avenue and Center Boulevard in Long Island City, Queens.
- If you do not live in NYC, you can still help by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Let’s bring Avonte home, ladies and gentlemen. One of our babies is missing and there is nothing more important than returning him to his family.
See below for the official missing persons flyer being circulated in New York and posted on the Facebook page dedicated to this effort, “Missing Avonte Oquendo.”
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Here’s 17 Things You Can Do To Lift Your Spirits Today!
1. 1. Play With A Puppy
It's no secret that people with pets live longer. Petting a puppy increases blood levels of the brain chemicals serotonin and oxytocin, which are both mood elevators.
2. 2. Get Less Sleep
Usually, we're told to get more sleep, but science proves that if we get less, depression lifts! Although researchers aren’t sure why it works, they speculate that one night of sleep deprivation may reset the sleep clock, enabling people who are depressed to sleep better.
3. 3. Play Peekaboo With A Kitten
As an admitted cat hater, even I can't deny the power of an adorable kitty!
4. 4. Become A Drummer
Drumming relieves stress and even allows for your aggression to be expressed in a healthy way. While it may be helpful to bang out a few notes at your desk, joining a drumming circle could be as therapeutic as, well...therapy!
5. 5. Walk It Out
Taking a walk is often used to relieve stress, but little do you know, fresh air does wonders for the brain. It energizes and uplifts!
6. 6. Smile
Turn that frown, upside down! We all know it takes more muscles in your face to frown than it does to smile. Research proves that the physiology of smiling actually makes you happy. Go ahead. Try to smile and see if notice a change in your mood.
7. 7. Feed Your Face
A dip in your blood sugar can effect your mood in a negative way. What causes your blood sugar to dip? Not eating! So make sure you get in your three square meals plus snacks, everyday! Make sure you're looking for foods rich in Omega-3 fats., as these foods have been shown to lift moods and can possibly alleviate depression. Omega-3 fats are found in oily fish like salmon or sardines, canola and olive oils, as well as flaxseeds and walnuts.
8. 8. Listen To Music
Music has a way of creating a cocoon of positivity around you. Tune out and tune into some of your favorite songs. Get lost in the melody, lyrics and soothing tunes and you'll feel better in no time.
9. 9. Volunteer
Taking yourself out of the picture and focusing on helping someone else keeps your own stress down to a minimum. Nine times out of 10, you realize that people have it worse than you, and that allows you to put your own troubles into perspective. It could always be worse.
10. 10. Get You Some
Recently a 100-year-old woman expressed that for her very special birthday, she wanted to get her some, you-know-what. But here's the thing, sex does wonders for your mood and evidently it's the fountain of youth too!
11. 11. Laugh A Little
Nothing says good mood like a healthy and hearty laugh! Making sure giggles are inserted into your day is a bonafide way of just letting it go.
12. 12. Get A Massage
By adding therapeutic massage to your routine now, you'll feel, look and simply be healthier. In fact, stress relief alone can improve your vitality and state of mind.
13. 13. Take A Deep Breath
When you're feeling frantic, you should stop, close your eyes and refocus your breathing pattern. Shift your breathing and take longer breaths. This will soothe your nerves, send oxygen to your brain and refresh your mind.
14. 14. Press Your Palms
In case you can't afford massages, give yourself one! Start with your hands, focusing on pressing the thumb from your opposite hand on the fleshiest part of your palm and firmly kneading in tiny circles and repeat.
15. 15. Let Them Eat Chocolate
Chocolate causes euphoria. No, really. The sweet treat contains alkaloids and magnesium, copper and other minerals that regulate and stabilize brain chemistry.
16. 16. Beautify Your Surroundings
Nothing says happy like looking around and catching all the beauty that's around you. Taking pride in your personal space and keeping it beautiful, makes your mood beautiful. And if that fails, surround yourself with Idris Elba.
17. 17. Stretch
Stretching a few times throughout the day stand up stretch out your arms, your back, your legs, and your neck. Be gentle and don’t over do it. Stretching should feel great and renew your energy.