Reeling, Recovering as a Community
As I write this, the funeral for 15-year-old Drew Ferraro is drawing to a close in Tujunga.
The service was attended by hundreds for a boy who felt there was nothing left to live for.
This was an incredibly difficult story for us to tell our foothills neighbors. Information was pouring forth from the CV High School community in a rapid-fire manner – much of it incorrect. Mary O’Keefe was on site at the school for “mom business” when the chaos broke out. In fact, like so many who have attended school up here, Mary’s daughter knew Drew.
Mary comforted her daughter and her friends while gathering information for the CV Weekly to report via our website and to those on our email blast list.
We were cautious in our reporting – this happened to one of “our” families, after all – and we tried not to intrude on the grief that our community, especially our youth, were experiencing. As I’m sure many of you know, this was not the case with all media, some of which had little qualm in trampling on the devastation felt by so many. Even at the school, within hours of the tragedy, news vans were on the scene filming as our kids were dealing with the news. Mary’s daughter, who asked not to be filmed, was filmed praying with others.
Social media was also utilized by less than desirable – I would say sick – people who were evil in their comments. Thankfully, law enforcement was able to step in and take down the ugly comments.
Friday night, The Fire House youth teen center, which is usually open on Tuesday nights and Thursday mornings, opened its doors so kids could come and be together. Rev. Beverly Craig, therapist Pam Erdman, and vicar Bryan Jones were on hand to help counsel. Food was sent and brought over, paid for by caring friends. Not surprising, news vans found out that the teen center was open and tried to gain access to our kids. Shame on those that tried to circumvent the protocols that were established by parlaying prior relationships.
After closing up The Fire House, Mary and I, with some of the kids, headed to Crescenta Valley High School where an impromptu memorial was taking place in front of the flagpole. Students were in a wide circle, praying, singing and taking refuge in each other’s arms.
News vans were there, too, walking the perimeter of the circle, actually sticking their microphones in people’s faces. I know because we joined the prayer circle and had a camera stuck in our face.
But the foothills community wasn’t going to rely on the six o’clock news to determine the direction of this story.
A local resident quickly gathered resources and created the I CARE campaign with the goal of delivering 3,200 Valentines to CV High School students returning to school on Tuesday. The campaign quickly caught fire and over 7,000 cards were distributed among the student body. The students were also greeted on Tuesday morning by stickers that had been affixed to every locker that read, “You Are Loved.”
Wednesday morning, platters were delivered to The Fire House in response to a call for food for the reception following Drew’s service. Typical of Crescenta Valley folks, food was provided, homemade and store bought, so that the Ferraro family didn’t have to worry about feeding those attending the service. Restaurant gift cards are still being collected at The Fire House, Rosemont Middle School, the CV Chamber of Commerce and the offices of CV Weekly and will be delivered to the family so they won’t have to worry about preparing food as they move through this journey.
One thing that has stuck with me was something my son Danny said at The Fire House. He said that maybe Drew wouldn’t have done what he did had if he knew the effect his actions would have caused and had he known how much he was cared about.
Unfortunately, that is not something we’ll ever know. From my sense of loss I plan to often take the opportunity to tell those that I care about that I love them and I treasure them.