Monday, October 12, 2009

40th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,

The birds were singing their little beaks off this Sunday and the air was warming up instead of cooling down. It felt like a beautiful spring day rather than the second week of fall. People I met along my route were talking more about up coming plans; not packing it in for the winter. PJ Trujillo, remember him, he’s the young man on Miles who set up the food drive at his mother’s championship Roller Derby event a few months back. When he opened his door and handed me his cans of food, he said, “Listen, I’ve got to talk to you.”

I’ve heard those particular words before and they always meant something serious was about to happen. For me it invariably was the setup for loosing a girlfriend or worse yet, my job. So PJ had my attention.

PJ quietly said he, along with the help of a classmate, wants to set up One Can A Week or rather One Can A Month at his Miles school. He wondered if I would come to speak to his class and guidance counselor who would coordinate the program. I said sure, any time and gave him my business card.

That was a relief. I didn’t loose anything even though those fateful words were spoken. And when PJ gets his program operational—which I know he will based on his past success—I’m going to have to learn to stop flinching every time someone starts a sentence with “Listen.”

So Much More Than…
Beth Haggerty, a dear friend of mine, lives on one of those wide, winding streets in the Bel Air Ranch Estates way out on Tanque Verde Road. A life-size black stallion mounted on a 6” high pedestal marks the entrance of the estates. A few months after I started One Can A Week, Beth introduced the food donation program to her neighbors. Her mother and dad and her husband Terry also help with the food collection.

For the past few weeks Beth and Terry were in Alaska presenting a Mental Skills Coaching program to several corporations. When she returned she spent a little time catching up with her neighbors and was moved to send me the following email.

“I am beginning to realize just this past week,” Beth wrote, “how the point of the One Can a Week Program is so much larger than just helping to feed the hungry (although that in itself is important).

“It has taken me from knowing little about my neighbors to beginning to know about their lives, their kids, their animals, challenging events, kids going to college, camping trips, home projects - and realizing they care as I do about connecting and giving.

“In our neighborhood, we are now discussing how we can get together more - do a get together every couple of months.

“They did a welcome party for a new neighbor (we were out of town and missed it) and excitedly discussed One Can of Week, so new families are joining!

“I just feel more at home now and that includes my neighborhood.

“Thanks Peter,

“Love, Beth.”

I don’t know about you but “I just feel more at home now and that includes my neighborhood.” knocks me out. We are making a difference with One Can A Week simply by helping our neighbors help.

A Matter of Perspective
Most every week I get a note in the plastic bag that hangs on the fence or door knob with a neighbor’s food donation. Sometimes it’s a greeting card or just a piece of paper with the words, “Keep up the good work.” This week I got such a card but I also had at least three people say those same words to me personally.

I assure them I won’t give up and they can count on me. But they’re the ones doing the good work by having a food donation ready for me to take to the Community Food Bank. I’m kind of like a postman but I work on Sundays. The truth is, I hope all of my neighbors “keep up the good work.” If they don’t, I’m just flapping in the breeze.

Harbinger of Turkey Day
Much of the food collected this weekend was normal, tasty fare such as tuna, string beans and soup. However, someone is thinking ahead and donated a sack of sweet potatoes. I first called them yams but after a little research I called them by their rightful name…sweet potatoes. I will never make that mistake again. Here’s a link to “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About the Difference Between Yams and Sweet Potatoes.” You’ll like it even if “who cares” is your favorite expression.

We gathered 166 lbs. of food which included 2 lbs. of non food items (canned dog food) and $10 in cash.

See you next Sunday.


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