Monday, March 15, 2010

62nd Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,

A Major Milestone
This month marks the first anniversary for Barbara Farragut and Lenny Cota-Robles as volunteers for One Can A Week food collection on 12th Street. I remember Barbara approached me and said she and Lenny have been watching me and decided to help. During that conversation, which was very light hearted at times, Barbara said she wanted to help because she was amazed at how committed the neighbors were to the weekly food donation drive and she wanted a front row seat to see just how long it will last. I burst out laughing and we’ve been friends ever since.

Lenny is a quiet man and someone you can really count on. He likes to work in the background and have someone such as Barbara out front keeping things going like the Circle K banana project. And smiling with delight he’s the one who told me about their anniversary date. I haven’t stopped thinking about how much they have helped me. One whole year…how lucky I am and we are to have such terrific neighbors.

People Care Everywhere
Last week you read about the tribulations of Dana Judice who lives in a small town in Louisiana. She just started her One Can A Week program and encountered lots of negativity on her first Sunday out with her whole family. Making matters worse, she grew up in that neighborhood.

My response to her was to answer her question: “How in the world did you get the guts to start this? in a typical guy fashion by telling her a story about adversity that proved to be a game changer for me. The approach I took was not unlike Darryl Worley’s recent country hit, Sounds Like Life To Me.

On Tuesday I got a beautifully written email from my friend Carol Reed in Wake Forest, NC. Her son Colin, with her support, collects One Can A Week for the VFW there and she wanted me to send her “words of encouragement” along to Dana. You may remember I wrote about Carol and her son some months back

I have to tell you from now on every time I feel a little discouraged myself, I will read Carol's email again. Her words will soon hang in a frame on the wall just above my computer. Right now I making do with a simple printed copy held in place with a piece of Scotch tape.


“Would you pass along a little note of encouragement to Dana for us? We were touched by her words of frustration. Even though we haven’t had the same experiences, we have had to learn about disappointment and rejection.
“When we first started, I thought we would never stop hearing, “how long will you be doing this?” Of all the things we had thought people would ask us, that was not the one we had imagined. Here we were, so excited and eager about our new project and people kept asking when we planned to stop!!

“But after a couple of months, when they saw that my son Colin, (this is really his project, I just helped him get the ball rolling) was not giving up. Through all kinds of weather he showed up every Sunday and I think they started to see that this was real, and meaningful, and not just a spur of the moment thing he was doing.

“I think our society is leery of scams so if they don’t want to give their emails right away no problem! We don’t have all our neighbors’ emails either and do most of our communication by large signs Colin places at the entrance to our subdivision each weekend. It reminds people he will be coming Sunday and also gives them a running total, so they can see it is adding up!

“Sometimes we get “eager beavers” I call them; people who give a grocery bag full at one time and then nothing more for weeks. Which is ok, but in today’s economy we try to stress the name of the program…one can(or box, bag etc) a week. I don’t want anyone to start feeling like it is a hardship for them, as that defeats the purpose.

“For the few who have turned their backs there are MANY more who have embraced the challenge, so when your neighbors begin to see your determination, you’ll get many on the band wagon. Just don’t let those few naysayers dim the light from the good the rest of you do. ANY amount you collect is more than the food bank would have had, so concentrate on that!

Let the kids weigh it and deliver it. Remember you are doing your part and that’s all you can control. The trickle just may turn out to be a stream!

“Best of luck!!

Smiles All Around
Brian Simpson (right) Director of Communications at the Association of Arizona Food Banks in Phoenix was in town to attend The 2010 Community Food Bank Hunger Walk on Saturday at Sam Lena Park. He stuck around to help me make my rounds on Sunday and also video taped his whole experience. He met lots of Miles neighbors and Maen Mdanat, (right) the owner of the Axis Food Mart. Early on Brian said that what he really likes about One Can A Week is the community building aspect.

A short time later we met up with Lenny and Barbara on 12th Street to pick up their collection. Barbara mentioned that she just had a conversation with a couple of her neighbors who wanted to put together a block party in April. One of the neighbors even volunteered his rock band for the occasion. I looked at Brian and assured him that this was not a setup. I was with you all of the time, I said, and didn’t use my cell phone once. He laughed and Barbara and Lenny smiled quizzically having no idea what we were talking about.

Brian is going to edit the video he took with Bill Roach’s terrific Sony HD camcorder—Bill’s my business partner, remember—and provide videos for YouTube, Facebook and our One Can A Week blog. Brian’s a busy man so volunteering his video editing skills like that is a very big deal. If you get a chance, pop him an email of thanks. I know he’d like that because he was born and raised here in Tucson.

Heavy on the Bananas
Last week we didn’t have any Circle K bananas. After Barbara checked back with her contacts, we collected 180 lbs. of produce this week, most of that being bananas. Our totals for this Sunday amounted to a whopping 374 lbs. of food (48 lbs. of that sum from the Axis Food Mart) and $12.50 in cash.

See you Sunday,


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