Our movement lost a compassionate and dedicated warrior early this morning. Ann Brentwood, SNAP's long time Southeast Regional Director, passed away in a Tennessee hospital after a lengthy illness. We grieve for her daughter Jennie, her other family members and friends, and for the hundreds of wounded victims and vulnerable children for whom Ann cared for so deeply and fought for so tirelessly.
Very few individuals - whether survivor, advocate, expert, author, lawmaker or leader - have done more to expose corruption, "out"
predators, reform laws, and, most important, offer tender, patient and loving support for suffering men, women and kids who have been sexually abused by trusted authority figures.
In a word, Ann was relentless. She was kind, gentle, smart, wise, but most of all, absolutely relentless. If she knew a survivor was suffering and tended to isolate himself or herself, she patiently called and e mailed time and time again until she got through and could at least offer some comfort and guidance. If she knew a predator was quietly moved elsewhere, she called, faxed, and emailed everyone she could think of (police, press, neighbors, congregants, officials) to warn them to safeguard vulnerable kids. If a SNAP member seemed like "leadership material," Ann gradually and lovingly worked with him or her to boost confidence, teach skills, and nudge him or her toward more responsibility in the movement. She tenaciously, tenderly and single-mindedly built the SNAP movement in TN and then spread to the surrounding states.
She did all this, and more, with the undying support of her dearest friends and SNAP colleagues Susan Vance, Mike Coode, David Brown, Jennifer Meier-Beita and others. David had been to see Ann in the hospital several times. Mike and Susan were there today when Ann passed. (Mike has logged literally thousands of miles in cars with Ann, criss-crossing the southeast, setting up support groups, reaching out to the injured and publicly exposing corruption.)
Susan, in particular, has been the most steadfast support any dying person could ever hope for. And she's been Ann's "right hand" since the very beginning of their tireless work to "protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded."
No one could stretch a nickel like Ann. She was the most frugal volunteer one could imagine. And though it was very hard for her to ask for help, if it meant she could visit one more city and meet face-to-face with one more survivor, she swallowed hard and asked others for enough gas money to get there. More than once, on outreach trips, she ended up spending the night in her car, rather than forking over even $49 for a hotel room for, in her words, "just a few hours of rest."
Throughout her struggles, and there were many, Ann maintained an often sarcastic, always infectious and never mean-spirited sense of humor. At the same time, she could feel both achingly sad for a near suicidal victim and chuckle at the irony (and injustice) when his or her predator was to be honored at a church function. More than most, Ann saw and shared the humor in the often cold-hearted but nonetheless comic ducks, dodges and excuses offered up by frightened or callous church officials when they had to try and defend the indefensible before cameras or crowds. In short, despite the grim work our movement requires, Ann saw joy and brought joy and shared joy with literally hundreds of us who were so extraordinarily honored to have known her.
The poet Raymond Carver wrote:
And did you get what
We know Ann was loved.
--Ann's loving colleagues and peers in SNAP
NOTE: The memorial service has been postponed. Check with our TN SNAP chapter in a few days for details. (Susan Vance firstname.lastname@example.org )