Monday, October 25, 2010

94th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,

More Families Fed
PJ on Miles Street set our first collection record at a championship Roller Derby tournament on November 16, 2009 where the fans donating 189.5 lbs. (342 lbs. weekly total) to the Community Food Bank. His record will always stand in our record books because it was the very first humongous food donation initiated by one person. Maen Mdnant at the Axis Food Mart has broken PJ’s record a number of times but he out did himself this week with a 394 lb. forklift-sized donation.

Over the past 8 months, Maen asked his wholesalers a number of times to give him their slightly outdated merchandise and he will donate it to the Community Food Bank. They stop by his store every week, so they could just drop it off instead of throwing it away. Maen’s message is getting through because his wholesalers see he is very serious about taking care of folks. He cleaned up the Miles Neighborhood by strongly encouraging the homeless to vacate the alleys and bus benches where they used to drink and fall asleep. The homeless are gone now from the Miles Neighborhood so his next project is to boost the donations to the Food Bank. Just give him a little time; he will do that, too.

We collected a total of 576 lbs. of food, including 394 lbs. from the Axis Food Mart. The money we donated amounted to $79.00 … a $50.00 check and $29.00 in cash.

Perhaps Too Much Routine
Last week I nearly forgot Al’s donation. Well, I did forget it until he called me. This week I decided to energize my route a bit and call on some new neighbors who recently moved into the neighborhood. These folks are totally new to the program, meaning the former neighbors who moved out never participated. Generally I call on the “replacements” right away because I have a story to tell the new neighbors. I found they are more easily convinced to participate when they are made aware of “the tradition,” at their address.

On the other hand, new folks remind me of the old days when I had to be extra charming in hopes that they would help The Community Food Bank. For me, extra charming can be tiring, you know.

The first new neighbor I met was backing out of her driveway and saw the Cabriolet. Of course, I was dawdling a bit hopeful she would be curious about my mission. We made eye contact and she invited me over to her SUV. Within seconds of my explanation, she said she would participate starting this coming Sunday.

This success encouraged me to make another stop as I headed for lunch. These neighbors were outside their front door building a large doghouse for their two pups. Adam, Molly and I had already met their pups on a recent walk. When I mentioned this fact, one of the young ladies said, “Oh, I know who you are, I’ve seen you with your dogs.” See, just like when I started. They open up the moment they learn I’m the guy the Westies lead as they sniff their way around the neighborhood.

The new neighbors gave me two cans and promised to have more waiting for me next week. Great, a new routine. Thanks, Al.

See you Sunday,


Monday, October 18, 2010

93rd Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,

Nice as They Say
In separate conversations, both Pauline Hechler, VP of Development, The Community Food Bank and Bobby Rich, 94.9 FM Morning Mix, mentioned how pleasant it was to work with the folks at the Sunflower Market. I was asking Pauline and Bobby about feeding kids at schools and the Sunflower Market worked its way into both discussions.

Thirty stores in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico,
Texas and Utah.

It took me a few months to figure out how to write a proposal I could present to the management of the Sunflower Market. I’m looking for a way to grow the One Can A Week neighborhood food collection program by going directly to the food source…the supermarkets.

Pauline and Bobby were right. The moment I met Richard Rodriguez, the Speedway store director, I liked him. He was in a conversation with two of his staff near a bin in the vegetable department and turned to me as I walked up. He stopped talking to his staff and asked if he could help me. It was one of those rare moments in cold calling where the person you want to speak to is ending a conversation and is willing to begin another with you.

The Sunflower Market was founded in 2002 by Mike Gilliland—who earlier in his career—co-founded the Wild Oats Markets. As stated on the Sunflower Market’s web site, “…since its inception...”Mike and his “…employees recognized the connection between community and business.”

When I mentioned One Can A Week is a unique, capitalistic charity idea that benefits the supermarket, the consumer and The Community Food Bank, Richard’s interest was piqued. He also liked the fact that One Can A Week is in the public domain—meaning free—and it can fit into his normal marketing plans at no additional cost.

Richard made sure he had my contact information before I left. He said he would talk it over with his management team and get back to me.

And he will do both. That is for sure.

It’s a Philosophy
Last Friday I got an email from Tina Gillette. “… I have three kids, ages 15, 13 and 11. I found out about your wonderful program on MixFM a while back, and would like to start my kids up in our neighborhood in Oro Valley.

Picking up Otto’s Weekly Donation – This Sunday Otto
Sanchez on E. 12th Street was home so he got to meet
the entire Gillette Family. Mom and Dad (Tina and Darrell)
are in the background. In front (left) are Carlie, Chandler
and Cameron holding the can.
‘However before doing so, I would very much like to speak with you briefly about the program regarding time commitment on the part of the kids, etc. “

On Sunday the whole Gillette Family showed up to help me collect the food here in Miles and the first thing I noticed was the strength and character of their children’s names. It is obvious these folks want to fortify their children for the rigors of adulthood. And a good name is always the best place to start.

Tina and Darrell want to teach their children that helping others is the best way to help themselves succeed in life. Universities are looking for young leaders who took on the responsibility of helping others early and performed consistently throughout their secondary schooling.

Cameron is the lead on One Can A Week so he rode with me in the Cabriolet while his folks and siblings followed us in the SUV. We had a chance to talk about accepting responsibility as a kid and what it means to help people in trouble. I told him One Can a Week is a philosophy not a program. He said he knew and that is why he wanted to start his own initiative in his neighborhood. He was even thinking ahead to those friends who he might be able to convince to join him. I suggested he just do the work and they will follow in time…some sooner than others but they will join him.

Yes, our country is in trouble and Cameron knows what he is up against, but he does not find an uncertain future daunting because his folks know what it takes to fight the good fight. And they are not shy about letting their kids in on the strategy.

The Recession of the Heart is Over
At least that’s what it felt like at the Rincon Market on Saturday. Moments after setting up the table, Ron Abbott, the owner of the Rincon Market handed me a very large and pudgy bank pouch. He said he had to empty the magic Styrofoam cup three times during the week. The donation amount was so large that it took me nearly the whole time I was there on Saturday to count the money and wrap the coins.

As we thought, it turned out to be a record. We collected $233.97 in cash donations and 18 lbs. in food. The highest total donation amount prior to last Saturday was $180.04 on September 27th.

Missed One
For some reason I walked right by my friend Al Shoemaker’s home and forgot to pick up his donation that he hides in a small, unplugged refrigerator near his front door. After some thought I still have no idea why I forgot. But a few hours later Al called me to find out if I were “sick or something.” I walked right over to his home and picked up his donation thinking along the way that everybody needs a friend like Al … just in case something really does go wrong.

We collected a total of 390 lbs. of food, including 222 pounds of produce. The money we donated amounted to $83.55 … $55.00 in checks and $28.55 in cash. The Axis Food Mart was responsible for 204 lbs. of that produce figure above.

See you Sunday.


Monday, October 11, 2010

92nd Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,

WATCH: Bill Cosby Interviews Deborah Kenny On Revolutionary Schools

Dr. Deborah Kenny encircled by some of her admiring students.

The headline got my attention. I know Bill Cosby but I have no idea who Deborah Kenny is. Of course, the headline was written as if I should though. Every time my brain draws an absolute blank on a person’s name I try to resist the urge to learn about another “flash in the pop culture pan.” But like CODIS, the law enforcement DNA search program, my brain keeps at it until I gave in and click on the link.

No matter how small the world is getting, it’s still amazing how someone’s feats can be prominently displayed in O, The Oprah Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Esquire and on Nightly News with Brian Williams and still you never heard anything about her. Guess that’s why my brain knows better and forces me to look.

Dr. Deborah Kenny has had some life so far. According to Thomas Kelly’s Esquire article Deborah Kenny: Radical Education Reformer “She had earned a Ph.D. in comparative international education from Columbia and taught public school in three states. Disillusioned by the systemic failures she encountered, she left for the corporate world, where she became vice-president of marketing for the parenting group at Time Warner and then head of Sesame Street Publishing. When she decided to start Village Academies, she knew she would utilize the business side of her background as much as the teaching side. She developed a business plan devoid of bureaucracy and heavily influenced by Jack Welch's notions of leadership analysis and accountability.”

I watched the video and was moved by one statement she made. Bill asked Deborah to talk about her frustration with motivating others to take up and follow her highly successful educational program. Her three Village Academies in Harlem educate thousands of kids to think and participate in American’s Dream.

In answer to Bill’s question, Deborah said she was highly perplexed and she thought about it every day. I think about our One Can A Week program the same way. I know, a lot of you have heard me consternate on why we can’t find others to follow our lead in their neighborhoods. Deborah has no answer in sight for her concerns, but I take solace in the fact that there is another deeply caring person who faces the same issue of change we do. Like Deborah, we’re ahead of our time when it comes to helping others on a consistent and disciplined basis. We just have to keep going and others, in time, will see that we have an effective program and will follow the path we have laid out before them. Right now Deborah’s is doing the same thing.

Special Note: If you are a teacher or a school administrator, I think you will enjoy meeting Deborah as much as I did. (Just click on the links.) You may also get an idea or two. I did.

Hesitant Friend
The first thing Michael asked as he jumped into the Cabriolet was “Do we get to see the dogs today?” He was not along on that part of the trip last week where Rayah (center) and Petra met Adam and Molly.

Michael, Rayah, Petra and Molly getting
to know each other.
As promised, right after unloaded our morning collection at my home we entered the lair of the barking Westies. They mostly meet people on their walks and are very friendly…if they are not too busy sniffing the turf. But in their home they are a little protective and wary. Molly calmed down somewhat (notice the flopped ears) but Adam (barking a safe distance away) kept sounding the alarm all the while we were there.

Not helping the situation is the fact that the kids are a little hesitant themselves, pulling their hands away at the slightest move. It’s going to take many more Sundays for everyone to become the best of friends.

Busy Morning at CFB
Generally Howard and I handle weighing the food and counting the money together. But this morning there were three semi trucks to unload and forklifts were beeping and zooming everywhere.

Howard counting all of the cash donations.
So Howard took care of counting the donations and I got the food ready to photograph and weigh. This gave me an opportunity to shoot both the cart and Howard working at the same time. Now he can show a photo to his co-workers and say, “See, I do work when you are not around.” They kid him a lot because he is such a kidder himself.

We collected a total of 218 lbs. of food, including 50 pounds of produce. The money we donated amounted to $47.50 … one $25.00 check, $9.50 in cash plus 2 lbs. of food and $13.00 from The Axis Food Mart.

See you Sunday,


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

91st Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,

Maen, my friend and owner of the Axis Food Mart has been talking to his three beautiful children, Petra, 13, Rayah, 11 and Michael, 7 about community service, The Community Food Bank and One Can A Week. However, based on their response, he could have also been talking to a brick wall. Then something magical happened. Their school, the St Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic School is requiring their students to participate in 6 hours of community service. “Sign this,’ Maen said sliding a pen and piece of paper across the counter to me. “This Sunday and next Sunday you have two helpers, Petra, Rayah and Michale.” I just love the way my friend and I decide things together.

His plan was always to get his children involved in community service but now the school requires it so they go along willingly. (Amazing how the words require and willingly in the same sentence work for a school and not a parent.) The kids, and their mother, Seham, are already planning to continue the One Can A Week experience in their gated community of 160 homes. This will happen as soon as I can get the collateral materials to them.

In the meantime, they are meeting their Miles neighbors and learning that community service can be helpful and a whole lot of fun, too.

This Is Not Disneyland?
Since Rayah saw the funny car with the funny umbrella, she decided she could drive just like in Disneyland. That bit of cleverness gave me a clue that this short road trip would really be a trip.

Their Very First Customer
Although Andrew, my next door neighbor, is nearly twice as tall at Rayah, neither she nor her sister had a problem speaking right up…in kind of a shy spunky way. They both thanked him a couple of time for his donation.

"I Got Spooked"
You can see Rayah in her pink top in the door’s reflection looking on cautiously. One second ago she was standing next to Petra putting the “Thank You Card” on the door handle. That was when the cat’s tail brushed against her leg and she bolted.

The First Man to Say Yes to One Can A Week
Before we arrived at Ed’s home, I told Petra and Rayah the story of how I met him and that he was the first neighbor I talked to about starting One Can A Week. They found him just as easy to talk to as I did that day back in late 2008.

Thirteenth Street Collector
Lenny, along with Barbara who lives across the street and was at church by then, collect the food on their block. I told Petra and Rayah that if they worked week after week collecting food, neighbors would eventually step up to help.

Stand-in Photographer
I asked who likes photography and Rayah spoke up. My idea was to have her take a picture of Lenny and me and the person who doesn’t like photography. She did a great job until I said that.

Give Me That Camera
Lenny hasn’t seen this yet but he will and I will hear about it next Sunday. But fortunately Rayah will be with me again and Lenny is such a gentleman.

Petting the Pups
There’s another Westie who is off to the side barking because he does that with strangers in his home. But only the first time he meets you. Petra and Rayha are like that, too. They are cautions about meeting pets but Molly proved to be the exception. They gave her quite a few pets and later asked when they could see her again.

Not So Hard Being Charitable
We started at 11:30 am and it is now about 12:20 pm. Time for lunch at their dad’s store. Their little brother, Michael joined in the face-stuffing. The hamburgers were In and Out, Maen’s favorite.

Instructing a New Photographer
I wanted a photo with the guys and the photographer couldn’t wait until I finished my directions. Not using him again either.

That Much Fun Has to be Shared
Michael who is only seven has as much animation as a 50-year-old Bugs Bunny cartoon. And it was on display most of the time. He amuses me because he talks like Bugs with one clever remark after another but his words come out sounding like Elmer Fudd. How funny…and how could I not say yes when he asked to come along for the ride.

You’d Think They Were Related to the Barrymores
“Hold it,” I said. “Turn around and look at me.” I shot the photo so fast I did not see the results until I uploaded the files from the flash drive. They were really into what they were doing and posing, too, for sure.

Meeting the Ward V Councilman
As we approached Richard and Mary Frimbres’ home, they drove up into their driveway and got out of their SUV. What luck! I had time to tell my crew who he is and what he does. They were perfect kids standing there quietly while I told Richard how their dad eliminated much of the homeless problem around his store, Circle K and drunks sleeping in the alleys. I then suggested a photo and by the looks of Michael, he’s still promoting his dad’s good works in happy song and dance. “He did it. Yeah, Yeah, He did it.”

Caught in the Act
Michael arrived first at the dollar on the marble slab next to the pumpkin. This gave him time to think while his sisters focused on placing the quarterly report and “Thank You Card’ on the bench. But they were wise to his antics. Immediately they figures out what he was doing and brought it to my attention. “He’ stuffing that dollar in his pocket,” warned Rahah.

His huge grin told me otherwise. What a funny 7-year-old jokester!

Enough is Enough
They were getting a little tired when a bit of family dynamics came to the surface. Apparently, Rayah talks a lot and Petra, armed with a little extra scotch tape caught her sister off guard and taped here mouth shut. Everybody really liked that joke but the best part is I get to ride with them again next Sunday.

Feeling Our Oats
We collected a total of 228 lbs. of food, including 70 pounds of produce. The money we donated amounted to $59.15 … one $25.00 check, $14.15 in cash plus $20.00 from The Axis Food Mart.

See you next Sunday.