Monday, August 31, 2009

34th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks

Radio Now and Then
My second job out of college in the mid ‘60s was at KxOK AM Radio in St. Louis. It was real, “first time around” rock ‘n’ roll and they wouldn’t call those Beatles, Stones and Motown goodies Oldies for maybe another 25 years. So when Pauline Heckler, the Vice President of Development at the Community Food Bank contacted me Monday to ask me to join her at a recording session for a 96.1 KLPX-FM Sunday morning talk show I thought why not. We’re going to chat about the Community Food Bank and One Can A Week and it’s a rock ‘n’ roll station, albeit, Oldies.

Stephanie Fries, the host of Lifestyle Tucson (on the left) greeted Pauline and me in the lobby and walked us back through a bit of a maze to her recording studio. I know radio is now all digital but I was taken by the high tech black and gray starkness. From our studio, we could see the adjacent studio through a large plate glass window and it looked exactly like our studio. High stools and a counter not unlike the bar at the Red Lobster. Big foam microphone windscreens and computer monitors blocked a clear view of Stephanie and Pauline. The fellow in the other studio had no guests but he was just talking away into the mic and checking out his Blackberry now and again.

The radio studios I remember were big honking rooms with dozens of chairs and an engineer on the other side of the glass. Also, there was that large “On Air” sign that kept everyone on his or her toes. The possible mistakes made it all the more exciting because editing was a piece of scotch tape and a single edge razor blade. Stephanie got surprised by a cough that snuck up on her but that could be taken out is a second with a click of the mouse. These days the sound and editing are superior, I admit, but a small vase of flowers or a family photo on the bar would have been nice.

By Monday I heard from friends and a mother who listened in to our conversation on her way to the Farmer’s Market Sunday. She thought One Can A Week would be a terrific program for all of the moms in her home schooling group. Guess high tech black and gray starkness motivates the audience to act, too.

Miles Makes The New York Times and KOLD-TV in the Same Day
Right after I opened my email on Wednesday I noticed a message from River Cities Harvest, a perishable food rescue agency, in Ashland, KY. A few minutes later I got another email from another someone in Ashland. My thought was that somebody probably just wrote something about One Can A Week somewhere. Then my cell rang and it was Bud Foster from KOLD-TV. He asked me if I had seen the article in The New York Times titled “Volunteering Waning in Recession, Report Says.” I hadn’t but it answered my question about the two emails from Kentucky to whom I sent all of our collateral materials. And as it turned out, Sandy Scott’s office at the Corporation for National and Community Service put in a good word for us at The New York Times. Of course I thanked him for all of us and told him we would never let him down.

Bud wanted to come by and discuss the very positive statements he read about the Miles Neighborhood in an article that highlighted a disturbing national trend in volunteerism. We met at 11:30 am which gave me about 30 minutes to put the Cabriolet’s Sunday best on…umbrella, radio and shiny hood. The story also featured the Community Food Bank, the Volunteer Center of Southern Arizona and the Junior League of Tucson. The good thing is Bud discovered that Tucson is not following the downward trend in volunteerism mentioned in The New York Times piece. (Click on Featured Video)

From the Few…Lots
The Casas Adobes Rotary Club meets at the La Paloma Country Club every Wednesday morning and although their membership is small, they certainly have big hearts. After my presentation on the 26th they loaded up my Taurus trunk with a whopping 172 lbs. of food donations in honor of the occasion. Wonder if they wouldn’t mind me making a presentation to their club every week?

Real Southern Charm
A few weeks ago I was contacted by Carol and Colin Reed in North Carolina who read about our Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week program in USA Today. Tonight, Sunday, Carol sent me an email and said, “Just wanted to update you on our version of One Can A Week. This is about 75 pounds which came from just two streets on one Sunday!!Thanks for the inspiration here in NC!!” Now Carol and Colin are our inspiration in North Carolina.

Julia Child Would Be Proud
The incredible variety of food my Miles neighbors donate never ceases to amaze me. A case in point, the very large and aromatic onions at the top of the basket. It is obvious everyone is thinking about the needy recipients of our Miles Neighborhood generosity because there is always a lot of pasta, essential proteins such as chicken, beef and tuna fish—lots and lots of tuna fish. Also, there are many varieties of beans, even some I would eat. In the beginning I was often asked, “What should I give?” My usual reply was protein, beans, some carbohydrates…whatever you think is good to eat. Seems all of my neighbors have figured it out and then they throw in a little bundle of onions just to surprise me. This week we collected 140 lbs of food, $19 in cash and 2 lbs. of produce. That’s the onions.

See you Sunday.


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