Monday, May 24, 2010

72nd Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,

A great way to begin a conversation is to jest a bit. The endorphins flow, the air is charged with positive vibes and folks listen up. So a few months ago in anticipation of being asked to speak about One Can A Week to different groups I began a search on the web for a joke. But not just any joke. It had to be a food joke. Something tasteful and short, like a snack.

Within a few minutes I discovered a web site called This web site features some older folks—well, not so much to me because they are all my contemporaries—who stand before a single video camera on a bare stage and tell one joke. They are professional, teachers, executives, anyone who has a funny joke to tell…quickly.

I clicked on Harry Macklowe’s video, a gentleman in real estate and 45 seconds later I had my food joke.;0

A husband and his wife went shopping in a supermarket. While the husband shopped, his wife started shoplifting and was caught immediately. In the courtroom the next day, the judge asked the woman what she stole. She said, “a can a peaches.”

The judge asked how many peaches were in the can. The woman responded, “six.”

The judge then said, “That’s it. I am sentencing you to six nights in jail, one night for each peach you stole.”

The woman’s husband who was sitting in the gallery immediately stood up and said, “Your honor, she also stole a can of peas.”

I have told Harry’s food joke to a number of folks and the ending always catches them off guard. Now I know I am ready to talk to any group that is serious about helping me feed the hungry here in Tucson. But we are all going to start off with a smile first.

Things to wear, too
Howard said as I handed him a bag with shoes and other stuff inside, “Sure we take garments now and again. We will give them to one of our partners to distribute.” In addition to the 2 lbs. of clothes, this week we collected 164 lbs. of food including 4 lbs. from the Axis Food Mart and $11.50 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, May 17, 2010

71st Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,

A Contract Matters
We are creating a Bobby’s Buddies Consistent Community Service Pledge which each volunteer will sign before becoming one of Bobby’s Buddies. It is only binding in the heart, but still we think it is important.

On Sunday I learned how important after watching the segment on Gustavo Dudamel the new, 29-year-old conductor for the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Gustavo is from Venezuela and a product of a free, countrywide music program in Venezuela called “El Sistema” or The System.

First grade students receive an instrument and join a music program that runs for four hours, four days a week, after the school day ends. Gustavo is a product of El Sistema as are millions of Venezuelan children.

The only requirement is parents sign a contract promising that their kids will be at the lessons and rehearsals, get good grades and care for the instrument. A small price to pay for kids who stay off the streets and out of harms way. And, too, they learn so many important lessons in life, beginning with teamwork.

The story on Gustavo runs 13 minutes but what stuck out for me was the 20 seconds devoted to the contract. The parents signed it willing because it opened avenues for their kids to better their lives and you could see in the parents’ eyes, that they would do anything for their kids. Then I realized this contract, although quite official, was a matter of the heart, too. These parents are very poor folks in Venezuela who could repay nothing even if they broke the contract.

Consequently, it is the signing that is important not the piece of paper. I learned an important lesson watching 60 Minutes, just as the kids do in the story on El Sistema.

Below is a link to the El Sistema program that is now being incorporated in Los Angeles, Chicago, Baltimore, Boston, New York and Miami. It gives me hope that we do have people all over the country who are taking up the challenge to create a more civil world.;contentAux

Interest in Bobby’s Buddies
Diane Luber, Development Manager for Interfaith Community Services and Sandi Brickley, Volunteer Coordinator met with me today to talk about their more than 600 volunteers becoming Bobby’s Buddies. Of course, they can. We just have to develop a way to chart all of their activities since the Bobby’s Buddies program is based on accountability. We’ll figure it out, don’t you worry.

Not So Much
When I closed the trunk lid on the Taurus where I store the collected food overnight I thought the donations were a bit light. And again in the morning when I transferred everything to the Cabriolet for the short trip to the Community Food Bank I estimated about 130-140 lbs. Like most folks, I hate being wrong, but when it comes to underestimating our Sunday donations, no big deal. And this week I sure was wrong. We collected 187 lbs. of food including 20 lbs. from the Axis Food Mart. On top of that, we had $19.50 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, May 10, 2010

70th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,

Empathy is the root of all good
Seven fifty a.m. came and went last Wednesday morning and no mention of Bobby’s Buddies on The Bobby Rich Morning Mix. I was surprised but figured Bobby had other pressing issues. After all, it was Cinco de Mayo.

About 11:30 a.m. my Outlook chimed to announce the arrival of an email from Bobby. He forgot and was pretty upset that he had.

“I forgot to do my segment today!

“Oh man that p*@#*es me off.

“I have TOO MANY THINGS to remember. :-(


My first reaction was to ease my friend’s displeasure with himself. I’ve been there and I knew exactly how he felt.

When you strive to be competent—which Bobby is all of the time—the tendency is to really beat yourself up when you screw things up.

Years ago when told the definition of sympathy, the definition of empathy soon followed. Until tonight, however, I never really looked up empathy but I discovered I had the definition of the word down pat. “…being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another…” This is the crux of the Merriam-Webster definition.

I feel empathetic a lot so when thinking about how to help Bobby like himself again, it didn’t take me long to do for Bobby what I would do for myself. In my reply to his email I tried to look at the big picture and make him part of that big picture which is exactly where he is.

“Hi Bobby,

“This is not a bad thing...this is a good thing. What happened to you is what happens to most folks and that is why community service is such an important lifestyle change.

“You can point to yourself as a fine example of why we need to teach ourselves that helping others is all that matters, not the meetings, not the planning, not the nights out, not the TV shows, not the good times. We must think about the children who go to bed hungry and the children who can't read and the folks without jobs. Our scheduled sympathy has to become full time empathy. Then when we take care of everyone we can have a huge 24/7 party.

“Please don't feel bad. Things happen and we must respond to those happenings with reason. Your listeners can relate to what happened to you and they will probably be moved to action when you ask them to act.

“This is a great teachable moment. I know because I had to teach myself what is important in this world, too.”

The next morning at 7:50 a.m. Bobby talked about his forgetfulness and how he and his listeners must concentrate on others and community service and cut back on all those thing that are really not important.

On my Sunday rounds a neighbor stopped me and said he heard Bobby on Thursday but knew Wednesday was Bobby’s Buddies day. It’s interesting, folks are paying attention to what Bobby does and he is making a difference…no matter what day of the week.

Nemi Finds A Home
Often the solution to a problem is right there in front of us but the tears often cloud our vision. When the nurse taking care of Erin’s mother recently learned that Nemi was up for adoption, he asked Erin if he could take her home to help care for his autistic son. Nemi would be a perfect fit. A lot of energized love for a boy who needs a lot of puppy kisses to come back from his far away places.

This is a sad story for Erin but a happy ending for a boy and his best friend who will grow up together living all kinds of wonder- filled adventures.

DKA Birthday Surprise
Since Dot and the folks at DKA couldn’t afford to give me a plasma screen TV for my birthday last week, they came up with a gift idea that proved to be even more exciting…a big box full of ribbon-decorated food. This is one of those gifts were the thought really counts.

Thanks, guys…I am very touched by the amount of food you gave me, and of course, your creativity.

More Than Your Average Basket
Even on Mother’s Day when families pay tribute for an entire day to their moms in appreciation for all that she does for them, our neighbors weren’t the least bit distracted from their commitment to care of the needy here in Tucson.

We collected 201 lbs of food (168 is our weekly average) which included 192 lbs of food, 8 lbs. of produce, 1 lb. of non food items and 28 lbs. from the AXIS Food Mart. In addition, we tallied $28 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, May 3, 2010

69th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,

Another Simple Idea
Last week Brian Williams featured a woman named Rosemary Peterson in his Nightly News broadcast. She is a school bus drive for Somerset Elementary School in Brighton, Florida. The kids call her Ms. Kookyi because of her penchant to hand out cookies.

Ms. Kookyi was distressed by the racket and disrespect she had experienced on her bus for years. In fact, she was thinking about quitting when she got an idea. Why not have the kids read books while they ride her bus and then give her a book report on what they had read? A silly idea, right? Nope. It worked even to the amazement of the kids.

Click on the link HERE to see the whole story. To fix America’s civility problem you have to start with the kids. I’m proud of Ms. Kookyi and you will be, too, after you see the video. Also, you may come up with an idea of your own to solve another unsettling problem. And why not, it only has to be simple.

A Decent Guy at a Decent Hour
On Wednesday, April 26th I had a great TV interview with Bob Lee who heads up the In Focus community service program on KTTU-18. Bob knew a lot about the Community Food Bank and he did extensive research on One Can A Week. So his questions and our overall conversation was fun and very interesting. The best part is In Focus with Bob Lee airs this Sunday, May 9 at 10:30 AM on KTTU-18.

I won’t even have to set my alarm to catch this one and neither will you. If you like, you can read a synopsis of our discussion at

Up and Running
Bobby Rich’s web site is ready for primetime. One Can A Week has its own page and lists our collection results as of this Monday. The Axis Food Mart also has a page.

As Bobby’s Buddies grows, other organizations such as the Diaper Bank of Southern Arizona and the Rincon Market will show their weekly donation results, too.

That is the whole point of Bobby’s Buddies. If we can get lots of Tucsonans to do just a little…consistently, we can accomplish a great deal each week and nobody will be exhausted or burned out by community service. And, too, we can all read about everyone’s achievements on Bobby’s Buddies. Recognition is such a good thing!

Full Basket Every Week
You’d think it would be boring after collecting donations for 69 straight weeks but I am here to tell you it is not. Actually, it’s fun because I always find food. In the back of my mind is the reality that this is America and no one is forcing anyone to do anything.

I could be disappointed at every turn but I’m not and I get a surprise every Sunday. Maybe you are surprised that I seem to never go away either.

This is the first time in my life I like the status quo. So glad you do, too.

We collected an impressive 276 lbs. of food this week: 142 lbs. in food, 6 lbs. in non food items (dog and cat food and shampoo), $20 in cash and 134 lbs. from The Axis Food Mart.

See you Sunday,