Tuesday, September 8, 2009

35th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks

Lucky Bobby, Revisited
Around 11:30 am rain, thunder, lightening and a stiff breeze threatened to the west so I decided to not drive the Cabriolet and then nothing but sunshine happened. The whole Sunday was just like that. It looked like things were heading for a rough patch and then suddenly puppy dogs were jumping in your face.

Bobby was on time and hopped into the car as soon as I drove up. He was over the flu he had last week and was eager to start collecting food. There was something else, too. We were going to eventually see his friend Christina and her parents Eric and Nicole at the Arroyo Chico Apartments. I got how important that stop was when Bobby grabbed his shirt and gave it a good sniff and said, “Whew, I used too much cologne.” I didn’t smell a thing.
Although Bobby was not terribly energized his first Sunday because of the pending flu, he certainly remembered an incredible amount of details about most neighbors. He knew where the food was on the porch, where I put the Thank You note and what different items such as chairs and flower pots were also on the porch. I was amazed and impressed. He said it was fun and exciting to collect the food. At one stop a neighbor walked up to us clutching a small parcel and one very large shopping bag. She handed me the small parcel and Bobby reached right over my left arm to take the large bag which I could see was full of books. “No,” she said, “that’s for the library.” Walking back to the car Bobby expressed his disappointment in the fact that the big bag wasn’t food. He got the bug in just one week by watching me. And I knew he was thinking, “Give me the food…now!” because I’m smiling and thinking that all the time.

We arrived at the Arroyo Chico Apartments around two. Eric said Christina was not around and Nicole was resting but told me I could stop by later. I had a 5 pm dinner planned with friends so I said I would be back at 4. Bobby took the news well and kept on smiling.

Where Manlove and Cherry intersect Bobby saw a couple of houses and asked if I had called on them. I had and left the flyer but hadn’t met anyone yet. No one was home at the first house when we knocked so I left another flyer. The second house was different. When the young man in a white sleeveless undershirt and gold chain around his neck opened the door, he instantly got our rapt attention. His belt buckle was a bejeweled gold Glock pistol outlined in rhinestones. I thought they were rhinestones. I hoped they weren’t diamonds. Who could afford such a thing? I also noticed that the Glock looking gold belt buckle was only about a half inch thick so I started breathing again. And since Bobby didn’t take off running I told my feet to stick with him. After I explained to the young man who we were and what we were doing, he went back in the house and got a can of food for us. He also said he would gladly participate. A little more of that Bobby luck on display.

At our first stop on Manlove a woman opened the door and following a brief greeting said, “Who’s wearing that terrific cologne. What’s it called?” I pointed to Bobby and he said, “Polo.” I still didn’t smell anything. Guess I’m really out of the game.

She gave us a whole bunch of food and then asked Bobby if he had a bible at home. Bobby didn’t so she left us and quickly returned with a bible. She said she marked a few of passages that related to food and feeding the hungry. Later Bobby said he appreciated the gift of the bible and was going to start to read it right away. His folks sure have something to be really proud of don’t they.

On the Way to Dinner
A few minutes after 4 I knocked on Eric’s door again. He came outside with his cute little 3-year-old daughter who darted around so quickly I didn’t catch her name. While keeping a close eye on her and saying the word no quite often almost as if it were periods and commas in our conversation, Eric explained that he and Nicole decided that One Can A Week at the Arroyo Chico Apartments will become Christina’s project with their backup support whenever she needs it. He wants to teach Christina community service and the responsibility of caring for those in need. (There’s that word responsibility again!) Also, he added with a smile, “She knows more people in the complex than we do.” When I mentioned this new plan to Bobby, he immediately volunteered to help her. What a guy!

Taking One Can A Week to School
Pamela Stein a math teacher at Gridley Middle School near Harrison and Broadway also teaches a class called Life Skills. She read Pauline Heckler’s article on One Can A Week in the Arizona Star a months or so ago and invited both Pauline and me to make a presentation to her two Life Skills classes. And we obliged. Pauline talked about the Community Food Bank’s role in the community and the many ways the food bank fights hunger in Pima County. When Pauline discussed the cost of a 1,000 calorie meal at a fast food restaurant and a comparable 1,000 calorie balanced meal containing low fat meat and appropriate fruits and vegetable, the class really sat up and took notice. It turned out to be $1.83 vs. $18 and change. Poor people have to struggle to eat healthy but they have a champion in the Community Food Bank. By helping neighborhoods, schools and ordinary people build and maintain gardens all over the county, healthy diets are coming to the rescue.

My part of the program centered around One Can A Week and how the students could get personally involved with community service. But first they had to learn some facts about themselves and life first. After writing 18 – 82 – 100 on the electronic board we discussed what lies ahead for them. At 18 they are considered responsible young adults and then for the next 82 years based on our nation’s expanding longevity, they have a great deal of time to help make a better world. But they have to start now thinking about who they want to be because by 18 things are pretty much set in motion. When asked what they thought about being responsible for their own future, one young lady timidly said it was “scary.” Just today President Obama in his speech to the nation’s schools discussed personal responsibility, too. If more and more folks talk about personal responsibility it won’t be so scary, that’s for sure.

When the students were listening to our words their reaction was a bit muted. However as Pauline and I were packing up, a new class poured into the room with many of the same students we talked to earlier. They were coming back for a math class, but instead of taking their seats, the surrounded us asking all kinds of questions. We took this as a sign we reached a few of them as they were encouraged to think about their many, many tomorrows.

Leave ‘em Laughing
Although we were talking about some pretty heavy ideas for 12 and 13-year-olds at the Gridley Middle School, the last piece of information was a joke on something they hear constantly …never give up. This cartoon was in the handout and illustrates that things can be dire but solutions are available, too…even humorous ones.

Catalina Vista Becomes a One Can A Week Neighborhood
Through the efforts of Lisa Hepner, historic Catalina Vista bordered by Campbell, Grant and Tucson Blvd and Elm Street, is the first 200-plus homes neighborhood to join the Miles Neighborhood in weekly food collections for the Community Food Bank. You can visit Lisa’s blog—One Can A Week2 -http://www.onecanaweek2.blogspot.com//—and follow the adventures of Lisa and her wonderful family. It’s well worth the click of your mouse.

We in the Miles Neighborhood have not only collected a lot of food over the past 35 weeks for the Community Food Bank, we have also defined a new way to involve entire neighborhoods in community service. Click the photo or link and read the essay on how we are beginning to fix the help chain. Think you’ll be fascinated to learn that your donation of One Can A Week is really changing the world.

Great End to a Long Hot Summer
It was another holiday weekend which usually portends lots of folks out and about with family and friends. This may have been the case but those hanging around the hacienda raided their pantries and their piggy banks. We collected 170 lbs of food and $33 in cash and checks. This is the second highest poundage this summer. Way to go, folks!

See you Sunday.


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