Tuesday, July 20, 2010

80th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,

Rick Stertz Gets It!
Most times Rick breezes through the Rincon Market a couple of Saturdays a month. He picks up his coffee and waves at me behind the One Can A Week table on his way out through the sliding doors. This is okay with me because Rick is the one who instigated these Saturday morning adventures by introducing me to Ron Abbott the Rincon Market proprietor.

This past Saturday was different. Rick stopped in front of the table, coffee in hand and talked about how he and a group of business people, 250 or so he said, are taking a new approach to helping Tucson at large…large being the operative word. You could tell that a lot of strategic thought is going into Rick’s plan because he had exact definitions of the process, not unlike “corporate speak” companies use to get everyone on the same page.

As he spoke about such things as “material and monetary resources” my thought was, “This is impressive, he’s written a bunch of things down.” At a respectful juncture I asked about “mental resources” because I am most interested in feeding the hungry kids here in Tucson who make up 25% of the school age population. This endeavor will take boots on the ground just as I am doing now.

Right away Rick jumped back into the conversation. He’s an excitable guy and I like that about him. “Mental resources? Of course, we have lots of retired engineers from Raytheon whom we can vet, fingerprint and place in classrooms all over the city to help math teachers or even tutor students.”

“They have to be just like One Can A Week,” I said mirroring his energy, “they are only there to help, not change the way things are done. The teachers and the school system remain the boss.”

My friend Ed Altamirano is more poetic in his assessment of how people should help each other. He says, “we don’t need modification, we need intensification.”

So I asked Rick, “Is the plan just to help?”

It is the plan, he assured me.

With each passing day we are getting smaller government—whether we like it or not—because we are running out of funds. This means the citizens have to step up to fill the gap for teachers, police officers, firefighters and other necessary community services. We just cannot let ourselves down …nor those in need.

From Other Lands
While contemplating what I wanted to write about this week, I happened to catch a segment of Faces of America with Henry Lewis Gates, Jr. Mr. Gates told people like Meryl Streep, Stephen Colbert, Queen Noor of Jordan and Kristi Yamaguchi about their ancestors’ struggles in coming to America. The actor, the comedian, the queen and the skater—although all very different people—sat there transfixed in disbelief while they studied the photos Mr. Gates’ researchers found of their great grandparents and grandparents as children. It was very difficult for them to absorb the hardships that their families endured just to get to America. The disconnect of a Starbucks on every corner today to families splitting up just to survive never to see each other again brought tears to their eyes…and mine, too.

Our recent ancestors were tough well beyond anything we can imagine and they did it just to give their yet to be born children and grandchildren a better life. The least we can do is honor their heroic motivations and become motivated ourselves to make it better for our children and grandchildren.. Rick Stertz gets this and is stepping up his leadership role in the community. But he could use your help. Think about it for a bit and then send Rick an email at rstertz@cox.net. I know he will gladly give you something to do that will make your ancestors proud.

More About Rick Stertz
Here, as Chairman of the Sam Hughes Community Action Committee, Rick (right)is shown addressing the folks at a Sam Hughes Neighborhood Association meeting in late October, 2009. A prominent real estate developer in Arizona and Colorado, Rick is also the Secretary for the esteemed Tucson Police Foundation which hosts the annual Cops and Rodders Car, Truck and Motorcycle Show. He’s a busy guy but never too busy to reach out to others.

The Squash is Getting Bigger
Last week, along with all of the food and produce, we had three normal size squash donated. This week the squash is huge. It reminded me of an Olsen & Johnson skit from “way back” in the day, like vaudeville, that my dad told me about. He said they would interrupt the show carrying a tree and paging a Mrs. Smith. Each time they interrupted the show the tree they were carrying was bigger. At the end of the show as the audience left, they were in the lobby hanging from a large tree shouting out Mrs. Smith’s name.

Maybe that is what is happening to our squash…soon it will fill the whole basket by itself. Wouldn’t that be great…and funny.

We collected a total of 202 lbs. of food including 48 lbs. of produce. In addition there were 6 lbs. of non-food items like hand soap, a Loffah and several winter scarves. (Those made me hot just looking at them.) The money we donated amounted to $66.00…a check for $25, $16 in cash and $25 from the Axis Food Mart.

See you Sunday,


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