Last week, I wrote about how the COVID-19 Pandemic had changed our lives as we knew them. Some people lost their jobs. Some were evicted from their homes. The “Stay Home Order” and “social distancing” have denied us the pleasures of being with friends and loved ones. People who like to shop or eat out have been denied those pleasures, and businesses have closed.
Those who follow the scientists’ reports have a real fear of succumbing to the virus every time they encounter “someone in the store who coughs without a mask.” Those who don’t are dying. If that weren’t enough, the climate is changing, melting the glaciers, destroying the homes of wildlife.
We’re uncomfortable; we want everything to be the way it was. The virus will pass, perhaps in a year or so, but for some, it will never be the way it was—like this story about a woman of service.
Anyone who goes into teaching has low income unless their job is in a private school. I know this to be true because I was a public school teacher who became a professor, and I made more money as a waitress in a bar. Most of my college students made more money in their part-time jobs than I did. So why do we do it? Certainly not for the money. It is because we are compelled to serve, just as policemen and firemen are.
Alexandra Van Zandt, who goes by Alex, is such a teacher. She has taught general education students, but her love is helping the ones who need it most, and so she got a master’s degree in Special Education. She worked in a public school, teaching students with exceptionalities, and she shares her expertise by creating online courses for college students seeking to join that effort.
Alex’s husband, Jeff, was a strong advocate for inclusion. Their creative minds worked in harmony. Last summer, they launched “Gunny Gal,” independence-building adventure trips for young adults with exceptionalities. That project enabled them to merge his music production background, Alex’s special education background, and their fondness for nature. Jeff loved, championed, and challenged a population of individuals often ignored or put on the sidelines.
Jeff’s interests before he married Alex, were boats and water, music, management, and production. Everyone who knew Jeff Van Zandt (JVZ) loved him, perhaps even you.
He was a seaman and dock master in Newport Beach, California. He played guitar in music groups, was a technician and manager, including world tours and the showroom in Austin, Texas for Fender Musical Instruments, Inc. In his role as Artist Relations Manager for Fender, JVZ worked with some of the most interesting artists in the history of Rock-n-Roll.
In 2010 he created and directed SUP Jam Austin, a stand-up paddleboard race event and expo, the first in Austin, Texas. Numerous organizations called on him for his input for events including Nike Human Race, Austin Marathon, Ameripolitan Music Awards, and ALL ATX.*
In those areas and as a human being, Jeff’s special skill was service: meeting the needs of his clients to help them get what they want.
Alex and Jeff had a dream: move to Gunnison, CO, where Alex could join the staff at the college that hired her, and together, they could continue the “Gunny Gal,” independence-building adventure trips for young adults with exceptionalities.
They bought a house in Gunnison, and they had a buyer for their home in Austin. Everything was going as planned.
That is until the officer from the Travis County Sheriff’s Department showed up at 3 a.m. on Saturday, July 4, with bad news: on Friday, July 3, Jeffrey Charles Van Zandt (a.k.a. JVZ) was killed in a car wreck.
Suddenly, everything changed. Alex lost her husband, her best friend. Grief overwhelmed her and her family. How could this happen? How could she continue alone?
But Jeff was still nearby, talking with Alex, encouraging her to do as they planned. And this strong woman who loved her husband said she would, despite the added complications.
Alex and Jeff had already closed the deal on that property in Gunnison before his fatal accident, and they had a contract for selling their Texas house. But everything they had shared is now tied up in legal matters.
Alex and Jeff are known for helping others. Now she needs our help.
Currently, Alex does not have access to the financial assets she and Jeff shared, nor is she able to finalize the sale of her home in Austin without the assistance of an estate attorney. (Have you ever had to hire an attorney? I have, and the cost was astronomical, especially for a teacher!) The lawyers say, “Due to COVID-19, Travis County believes it could be up to a year before all access, legal, and succession issues will be resolved.”
Alex is stuck and needs our support for unanticipated legal expenses and day-to-day living costs until her new job starts in September. Still grieving the loss of her husband, she is packing to move, relocating to another state, starting a new career, and continuing their dream to help those special needs people: all without her husband and partner and with no safety net.
Let that net be us.
Will you help her?
Please say “Yes!” and CLICK HERE for the GoFundMe site created by the Teacher-friends of Alex. And please share!
Till next time,
Please be kind to everyone you meet, for we all have our hidden sorrows. ~Tzaddi, aka Pam Young