Monday, August 16, 2010

84th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,

The Set Up
Over the weekend I received an encouraging email from Carol in Wake Forest, NC. Remember, she and her son, Colin are collecting One Can A Week for the VFW in their community. The email contained a link to a story about a fellow who summers in the coastal town of Holden Beach, NC. His name is Bill Spier and he is 76-years-old. He started his “A Second Helping” program—which is similar to One Can A Week—five years ago. It involves collecting food from folks who spend a week in the 700 plus rental homes along the shoreline. All of the homes have kitchens and he reasoned that the folks might donate the left over food at the end of their stay rather than cart it home. He was right and he collected over 14,290 lbs. just last year.

His success inspired him to try to initiate the program in other Carolina towns but so far only three have thrived of the dozen or so that tried.

This is the part of the article that got most of my attention probably because I am also looking to inspire others to initiate a One Can A Week program in their neighborhood and I can’t seem to kindle a flame. By Monday I was sufficiently dejected enough to realize I had to let it go and think about something else.

Aaron’s Story
Of course, the last stoplight would turn red at Speedway and Wilmot and make me a couple of minutes late for my computer lesson with Aaron at Villa Hermosa just across the intersection. And of course, as I darted up the stairs and rounded the corner to the computer room, I could see he had already positioned himself in his scooter in front of the computer and was patiently waiting for me to arrive.

Aaron is 88-years-old, well educated with a couple of Ph.D.s in a couple of languages and very afraid of the computer. Our first lesson last week consisted of clicking the mouse a couple of time and then taking deep breaths to calm ourselves down. I guess it worked because here was Aaron again. (Clip Photo - Not photo of Aaron)

Before I arrived he had tried to open the Internet but with little success because his rhythm of clicks was off somewhat. When I tapped on the table to show him how he should click, he got it the first time. There were a few more breathing exercises but we opened his Gmail account and began typing a message to his daughter. Aaron has a tendency to hold down the keys too long so a bunch of letters show up. I told him not to fret because we will edit after he is finished typing his message.

When I came back from getting a drink of water at the fountain across the hall, I noticed his was smiling. He had typed his first message. I told him now comes the fun part…editing. I know as a linguist and writer, he loves words and has done an incredible amount of editing in his life. I quickly showed him the arrows on the keyboard and he took to them like an editor to a red pencil. He started to smile and chuckle and the curser raced to the double letters and the no-space between words. He even said, “I’m having fun.” And he needed no air breaks.

The second, which was the last email he typed, was to his grandson. He talked about how he was not good at this stuff but his grandson was and could help him. He signed it, “Your anxious granddad.” We both laughed.

Aaron will check his email himself tomorrow to see the replies. He’s anxious in a good way to get them. He has made tremendous progress in just two lessons and has taught me something in the process. When it comes to moving One Can A Week forward, I have to be as patient with myself as I am with all of my students. That’s when the success will come.

Food for Thought
As I sit behind the display table at the Rincon Market on Saturday mornings I have plenty of time to observe folks, think and make notes. This past Saturday I saw a neatly dressed gentleman in a white shirt and black trousers who had a cell phone on one hip and a holstered gun on the other. This struck me as strange in such a peaceful place and my mind whirled around that dissonant image for a few minutes. Then I wrote: When your brain is not loaded and ready to fire, carrying a gun highlights that fact.

The Luck of Bobby and Debby – Lopita and I were standing on her porch discussing our desire for everyone to vote this election season when I noticed she started looking over my right shoulder. I stayed focused on Lopita until a quizzical look took over her face. She was actually wondering who was trying to get my attention in the blue sports car down by her mailbox. I turned and saw it was Bobby and Debby Rich, who were somewhat lost.

They were on their way to a noon time theatre show on Park but Bobby forgot that Park doesn’t go straight through and ended up on Miles. He recognized the Cabriolet and umbrella so he stopped. We talked until the loss of air conditioning through the open window got to be too much for them and they drove off. I didn’t blame them because it was really hot standing still.

Lopita was only my fifth stop and I had about 150 lbs. of cans to pick up before my nap later in the day. At the end of my run I loaded the trunk in preparation for Monday’s delivery to the food bank and I noticed we had more food than usual. Today I learned we collected 50 more lbs. than our average. Very nice!

With any luck of our own, maybe next Sunday Bobby and Debby will get lost in the Miles Neighborhood again. I’m guessing with their kind of luck we could easily beat our average.

We collected a total of 200 lbs. of food, including 32 lbs. of produce and 4 lbs. from the Axis Food Mart. The money we donated amounted to $84.50…two checks for $55.00, $19.50 in cash and $10.00 from the Axis Food Mart.

See you Sunday,


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