Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Hi Folks,
Nobody’s Getting Tired or Bored
Helping the Hungry

2011 Fourth Quarter Report

We donated 13,249 lbs. of food in 2011.

We also donated $3,220.01 in cash.

To put it another way, at 1.3 lbs. per meal, we donated 10,192 meals or we fed 3,397 people three meals in one day. It’s amazing, after three years of weekly donations, we only missed last year’s total weight by 50 lbs.

Where we far exceeded expectations is in our cash donations. This year’s total was $3,220.01. Based on the cost of the Community Food Bank’s food and services we donated $32,200.10. That’s a $1.00 = $10.00 ratio. Last year our cash donation was $2,654.70 or $565.31 less than this year.

Next Sunday is the beginning of our fourth year of donating to the Community Food Bank. I’m still hungry to help and after analyzing 2011’s figures, I know you are, too.

The Divas Are Back
In December, two years ago, Debbie and her Eastside Domestic Diva friends collected a bunch of food and dropped it off at her sister’s home on Miles Street. They did it again this year but this time they heard about the Community Food Bank’s request for cereal. When I got to Kelly’s home near the end of Miles, I could see her front porch was brimming with boxes. So many, in fact, Kelly, in her bare feet, had to help me carry them over the gravel walkway to my car.

“Doesn’t that hurt?” I asked. “I could only walk on gravel barefoot if someone were shooting at me.”

“When it comes to bare feet,” Kelly replied, “men are such…”

I didn’t quite hear that last word because my mind was overwhelmed with the thought of jagged little rocks digging deep into my tender arches.

At the food bank Tuesday morning the cereal boxes reached twice as high as our highest stack ever. With so many hungry kids, the Divas can break our cereal stacking record any time they want.

We collected a total of 240 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $206.75, $175.00 in checks and $31.75 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, December 19, 2011

154th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,

“Call Detective Mark and tell him to hurry.”

Maen Mdanat, owner of the Axis Food Mart
Since February 2010, I have been writing about my friend Maen Mdanat, the owner of the Axis Food Mart. The reason is he never disappoints me. Tiger Woods disappoints me. Joe Paterno and the whole Penn State crew disappoints me. But Maen, even as time and a stressful business economy trudges on, is the same person I met that chilly day in his parking lot almost two years ago . He reminds me of a company president who, when asked why he doesn’t take notes in meetings, said, “I don’t have to, I never lie.”
People have raised questions about Maen’s character, integrity and ethnicity when he applied for his beer and wine license and again when he applied for a liquor license. Those questions forced him to defend himself and his business and cost him a lot in legal fees. He prevailed with no malice in his heart.

Through all of those tribulations, I was one of his most ardent supporters because he listened to my ideas about protecting our neighborhood and helped eradicate the vagrant problem. During a licensing session at the city council, Councilman Frimbres shook our hands and asked me, “He’s still a good guy, right?”

“Yes, sir, he is,” I replied. I could tell Councilman Fimbres was counting on me to vouch for Maen because he knew how much my One Can A Week program means to me and that I wouldn’t jeopardize my reputation for anything.

Today there are more people standing in Maen’s corner providing support, namely the Tucson Police Department.

If you remember in June of this year I wrote in the 129th Week Update, The Beer Keg Caper about Maen’s efforts to help the police capture a thief. Well, a little over a week ago Maen received a letter from the Tucson Police Department with an update on the case and a commendation. The letter reads in full:

“Mr. Maen Mdanat,

“In June 2011, officers from the Tucson Police Department Liquor Licensing unit received information that numerous kegs were stolen from restaurants all over Tucson. The kegs were possibly being returned to receive money back from deposits.

“You were contacted reference this investigation and provided valuable information which lead to officers identifying one of the participants. On June 23, 2011, you phoned officers and advised the suspect was currently in your store returning more kegs. Officers were able to contact the individual. It was discovered two individuals were responsible for the thefts all over Tucson. The subjects were charged with multiple felony arrests due to your cooperation with the Tucson Police Department.

“The Tucson Police Department is thankful for your partnership in this investigation. Without your participation, this case probably would not have been resolved and the local businesses would continue to suffer financial losses. Sincerely, Captain Clayton Kidd, Commander Traffic Division.”

Maen’s been very good for the Miles Neighborhood in many, many ways.

I’ve thanked him a number time for keeping me and my neighbors safe. Perhaps in the spirit of the holiday season you could stop by his store and thank him yourself.

Merry Christmas everyone.

Rain and Shine
The rain chased the sun in and out of the clouds this past Sunday but no matter, we collected more than 30 lbs. above our weekly average. With great results like that, who cares if you get a little wet.

We collected a total of 200 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $107.50, a $25.00 check and $82.50 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, December 12, 2011

153rd Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,

After 400 She Stopped Counting
Lorraine Aguilar stands beside one of the largest of many hundreds of nativity scenes that decorate her Miles Street home during the Christmas holiday. She is such a cheerful lady I wanted to capture her very warm smile in the photo but she became a bit involved in that “my picture is being taken thing.” “Cheese” wasn’t going to work so I said, just before I snapped the shutter, “Now tell yourself a dirty story.” Got it!
For the past 46 years, The St. Augustine Cathedral celebrates “Las Posadas” in neighborhoods around Tucson and the Aguilar Family is one of the homes the peregrinos or pilgrims look forward to visiting. The moment you enter Lorraine’s home you are surrounded with literally hundreds of nativity scenes in different sizes and design from around the world. They are on shelves and in cabinets and along the wall so no matter where you turn, your eyes are dazzled with images of the First Christmas. Lorraine said they stopped counting “after they bought their 400th nativity scene.”

“’Las Posadas’ (shelter) is a traditional Christmas Novena” the St. Augustine Cathedral bulletin states, that “commemorates the journey of Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem and their seeking shelter in anticipation of the birth of Jesus Christ.

“’Las Posadas’ is a nine day procession of the faithful carrying the statues of the Holy Family while reciting and singing traditional prayers and songs. It was instituted in Acolman, Mexico, in 1587 by Fray Diego de Soria who wished to introduce a Christian Christmas devotion to the newly converted Aztec Indians. …This novena is still celebrated in Mexico and in many Hispanic communities throughout the world today.”

The host families this year in the Miles Neighborhood are the Cota-Robles Family on 12th Street and the Altamirano Family on Miles Street.

The event begins at 6:45 pm, Tuesday, December 20th on the Southwest Corner of Miles and Vine Streets.

Whether you are a member of the St. Augustine Cathedral or not, “Las Posadas” is a wonderful family event and a reminder in this age of technology and gadgets that “peace on earth” is still the best gift we can give each other.

Fortune Smiles
The first leg of my rounds Sunday was “unremarkable” as the doctors say but then I got a call from Barbara on 12th Street who was heading out to church and wanted to know when I would stop by. She has a $500.00 check she did not want to leave with the food at Lenny’s house. Lenny, too, was away celebrating a family birthday.

Turns out the check was written by Patricia, Lenny’s sister who manages a non-profit and this year they selected the Community Food Bank for a contribution.

That was not the end of it. After I completed my rounds at 2:15, I drove up to my Ford to unload and along the full length of the back bumper was a row of shopping bags. Kym had dropped off her 13th Street collection and it was maybe four times more than usual. In fact, she had to make a mid-round break to empty her Radio Flyer wagon because it was getting too heavy.

Kym told me that her neighbors across the street had a party Saturday night and the price of admission was a can or more for the Community Food Bank.

We collected a total of 276 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $606.50, $550.00 checks and $56.50 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, December 5, 2011

152nd Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,
Big Changes Start with Little People

The price we pay for our free will is a blank slate. Unlike other animals that come with programmed instincts, each of us must start our journey on this planet knowing little more than how to suckle. And interestingly enough, just a few years later, we still have to be taught how to use a straw.

The blank slate or
tabula rasa (for those with a high school Latin background) is a good thing especially when times are bad like now. Every day there are so many things challenging our stability we often wish for the “good old days” when the world was still a mess but we never heard about it. The internet, cell phones and instant communications are bringing all those negative images and thoughts right into our living rooms, our cars, our walks in the park and unfortunately, into our kids rooms, too. Nearly everyone is constantly connected to the good and the bad on this planet.
Since bad has few or no rules to encumber it’s progress and often looks like more fun than walking the line, a kind of chaos creep follows us around as we just go about out daily lives.

However, that blank slate we are all born with is really our one chance to evolve into a world that thrives on kindness. It all starts with the birth of a child and the parents’ resolve to only teach their offspring two things, tolerance and understanding.

Just the other day, Ari Kaplan, a best selling
author and attorney in New York City, who has become a One Can A Week coordinator in his New Jersey neighborhood, sent me an email describing how he is helping his 6-year-old daughter learn to help others.

“Peter - just wanted to give you an update. We completed week four on Sunday and made our first delivery to the NJ Food Bank last week - 31 cans. We now have 12 homes participating.

“The best part is that I invited my 6-year-old daughter to join me in this endeavor. The first thing she did on her own was grab a pad and pencil to take inventory. At each house, she reads the can and writes down what it is -- then she signs her name on the 'one-can' (Thank You) note you provide on your website and we continue on. We walk and talk - it is a wonderful experience for us both. She is so excited when there is a can waiting (as am I) and was very proud to donate the bags of food that she personally collected. In fact, she often lets me know how much of the work she does -- cutting the notes, writing her name, leaving the notes, writing down the contents, etc. :) “

And that is my point exactly. Ari is doing his part to fill up his daughter’s blank slate with ideas that will make this a better world to live in, smartphones or not.

With the advent of cell phones, tablets and social media,
the prospect of standing in line to vote every two or four
years seems so disconnected and antiquated.
Stay-At-Home Community Activism

Four weeks into our One Can A Week program, I met Luis Gutierrez, the former City Manager on 13th Street who said he would participate because he felt the program showed respect. I came to his home to get his help. He liked that personal approach and the fact that he didn't have to get really involved in a time-consuming activity to help his community.

Seems Richard Fimbres, our Ward 5 Councilman has learned the same lesson with his vote-by-mail program. In his monthly email to his Ward 5 constituents, Councilman Fimbres wrote:

“This was the first election conducted solely through an all vote-by-mail process.

“My office brought this proposal to the Mayor and Council for consideration. In April of this year, the Mayor and Council discussed a proposal to change the hybrid system (voting by mail and polling place) of casting ballots in a city election to an all-mail ballot process. During these discussions, one of the points that I brought up was to have more people participate in the process by casting their votes.

“In addition, the potential question of reducing costs, in these hard economic times, through less poll workers, renting of voting equipment and locations, were other factors on why this proposal was brought forward. This proposal was approved by a 5 to 2 vote.

“This election showed that an all vote-by-mail process is a good start to get more people active, involved and casting their votes, and speaks for this system to continue to be used for future City elections.”

The numbers say it all. The average increase in voter participation was 18.35%. Amazing!

The next time you see Councilman Fimbres thank him for encouraging the Mayor and Town Council to help more folks to vote and to express themselves in their community.
Fruits Are Gaining Ground
Tis’ the season for harvesting fruit and it appears more and more folks are making it their business to donate as much as they can. Seventy-six pounds of grapefruits and bananas helped us cross the 200 lb. mark this week.

We collected a total of 230 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $33.00, a $25.00 check and $8.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, November 28, 2011

151st Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,
-A Sweet Idea, Brother- 

Anthony calls most guys brother. He’s big and imposing and served two tours in Iraq. So he can say just about anything he wants and even sell raw honey to the ladies. Nobody objects.

My One Can A Week display table was set up by 9:15 am Saturday morning in its usual spot—just inside the automatic doors on the right at the Rincon Market. A few minutes later a gentleman tried to place his display table on the other side of the doors but there was little room to maneuver. He dropped his table next to me and said, “I guess we’re neighbors.”

His demeanor reminded me of my days back in the Army when newly assigned soldiers showed up and were expected to settle in with little or no direction. They just pick a spot and drop their gear with a curt hello.

Within a few minutes, Anthony had his display of pint and half pint raw honey jars neatly arranged on a three-tier old barn wood rack. Each inquisitive prospect was offered a taste and if she agreed, he handed her a freshly dipped swizzle stick with a blob of honey on the end. He offered a sample to me and I gave it a try since my only experience with honey was a supermarket brand. This honey was less sweet and had a little bit of texture. That texture is pollen and bees’ wings and other things that bears really find appealing. I tend to agree with the bears. It tasted better than any other honey I’ve had.

“I’m Anthony. Have you been in the service?” he asked me out of the blue about a half hour after we first talked. “I’m Army.”

“I’m Army,’ I said to his delight, “but a different war.”

“You know, brother, you can tell about a man’s character after just a couple of minutes. I knew you were in the service.”

He asked and I told him about One Can A Week and the folks the Community Food Bank serves. Anthony explained his operation that is as high tech as a small business selling raw honey jars can get. He kept the cash in his pocket and his iPhone and an iPad with a credit card swipe device sticking out of one end of the tablet like a bee stinger did the rest.

“This is a simple business,” Anthony said “and I’m always looking for people to set up displays like this one. I have ten of these booths around the city and they text sales reports to me on their iPhones all day long.”

I mentioned Microloans and Anthony brought up city license requirements that make it tough on very small businesses.

We left it there and I headed for home and lunch. While attacking my sandwich and cookies, I read an article on the Huffington Post by Howard Fineman. Paul Rieckhoff: Iraq And Afghanistan Veterans Of America Founder (The Inspirationals).

I was riveted.

Here was a soldier talking about what he learned in the war as a manager and a producer and how those skills fit into America’s financial dilemma now. I had just met Anthony and he was one of those high tech soldiers, too ... incredibly practical, innovative and entrenched in high tech wizardry. Getting shot at with little or no protection such as vests and armored vehicles makes more than a man or woman of you. It makes you an extraordinary problem solver.

After reading the article I felt hopeful that we will eventually come out of this mess where nearly 25% of Americans never know where their next meal is coming from and that percentage includes millions of kids.

If you need a boost similar to the one I got, read Mr. Fineman’s article, then go out and find one of those soldiers like Paul Rieckhoff or Anthony Tubbialo and help him or her help you make a difference. I know Anthony personally and I will help him develop his vendor program that will begin to create jobs for desperate folks. Soldering on is the way back to our future.

Free Business Forum in the Neighborhood
Richard Fimbres, our Ward 5 Councilman, is sponsoring a business forum on Wednesday, November 30th from 6 to 8 pm at the Fred G. Acosta Job Corps Center, 901 S. Campbell Avenue.

The forum includes a discussion on how to get access to business capital and employer services. In addition, you will learn what steps you need to take to do business with and in the City of Tucson.

Hors d’oeuvres and refreshments will be served.

For more information: call 520-791-4231.

Don’t miss this great opportunity to talk business with Richard Fimbres.

So Much Produce
It took a whole cart to carry the produce we collected this week.

On Thanksgiving, Merle Stolar, my friend from high school, invited friends and family to a wonderful and delicious dinner in her equally wonderful and delicious home. As we left, I got to take home lots of boxed and bagged fruit that was donated to the food bank by each invited quest. Taking care of the needy in Tucson is part of Merle’s Thanksgiving tradition, too.

We collected a total of 264 lbs. of food, 106 lbs. of that in produce. The money we donated amounted to $36.50, a $25.00 check and $11.50 in cash. Also a neighbor donated a supermarket gift certificate for a $20.00 turkey.

See you Sunday,


Monday, November 21, 2011

150th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,
The Man Behind the Idea

A month before I started One Can A Week back in 2009, I met Edward Altamirano in the middle of Miles Street walking his dog Kahlua. We had seen each other before during our many dog walks through the neighborhood but only waved. This day I was looking for someone to help me decide if I should go ahead with my food collection idea. I walked up to him and introduced myself.

“Let me ask you something, Ed. I am considering collecting One Can A Week from my neighbors every Sunday for my community service. What do you think of the idea and would you participate.” (Even then I know the word participate was the key ingredient in my food collection program, not the word join.)

Ed paused a moment. “You know, I am a city inspector and I go into peoples’ homes a lot and I often see empty kitchen cabinets and empty refrigerators. It’s disturbing. So yes, I will be glad to help.”

That image of Ed, with Kahlua at his side, in the middle of Miles Street is stuck in my head. He was the perfect person to ask. He faces the problem every day he goes to work. Whether this was an omen of some kind or not, at that very moment I talked to Ed, I decided to press forward with One Can A Week.

This past Sunday I asked Ed to leash up Kahlua and follow me into the street. I wanted to give him a present for helping me—lo these many years of Sundays ago—and, too, I wanted to capture on camera that image I have of Ed helping me leap into community service.

His monster hand nearly swallowed up the Community Food Bank/One Can A Week can opener I gave him. He liked it immediately and said he needed a new one.

Everyone who participates in One Can A Week in the Miles Neighborhood will get a can opener, but I wanted Ed to be among the first. After all, he’s the one who took my idea and made it real for me.

The Woman In Front of the Idea

Kristin Broksas, Director of Youth and Family Ministries at Catalina United Methodist Church, lived in the big house at the time I started One Can A Week. (I live in the guesthouse in the back.) So she was my closest neighbor and the first person I asked to participate that first Sunday. Just this Saturday, Kristin who moved to a beautiful home on Fremont Street held an early Thanksgiving dinner and when I responded to her Facebook invitation a short time back, she replied, “I hope you have A LOT of cans to take with you!!”

As Kristin has done in the past, she asks folks to bring a food donation for the Community Food Bank when they show up for dinner. And since Kristin is a wonderful cook and the meal is a total gourmet delight, guests stream in with cans in hand. This year Kristin collected 58 lbs. and of course I gave her one of the first Community Food Bank/One Can A Week can operners off the line.

Styling Seniors

The show was a sellout. And the first thing I said to Shannon Iggi, Program Director & Hospitality Manager at Villa Hermosa as I greeted her was, “You have to be congratulated, you got them all out of their rooms.” She smiled and quickly told me the schedule of events. The Dillard’s Fashion Show would start off the program and then there would be a little break This is where she would introduce me and I’d say a few words.

When the time came I told them about the great need and that they should take a tour of the Community Food Bank some day soon. (Shannon wants to schedule such a tour so I wasn’t speaking out of turn.)

More smiling and pinching of the fabric followed. Then another short break where Jack Steindler was presented with a Villa Hermosa/One Can A Week certificate for his efforts in keeping the program going. Shannon said Jack’s there in her office week after week reminding everyone to donate.

Jack Steindler receives a Villa Hermosa/One Can A Week certificate from Shannon Iggi for helping coordinate the collection of 1,826 lbs. of food for the Community Food Bank. He has been working on the program at Villa Hermosa since August, 2009.

Here is the donation table at the Dillard’s Fashion Show for the residence of Villa Hermosa. The framed sign reads: “Canned Food Donation Drop-off. Your donation supports the Tucson CommunityFood Bank. Thank you for your generosity.”

Chaos is More Photogenic
The fellow helping me today unload my trunk at the food bank probably is a relative of Adrian Monk or Felix Unger or some other orderly person like that. I came back with the second cart to fill and found the first a librarian’s dream.

We collected nearly 400 lbs. and when you are that neat it sure doesn’t look like 400 lbs. Oh well, it still is a lot of food and neatness doesn’t count.

We collected a total of 398 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $55.50, $45.00 in checks and $8.50 in cash.

Special Note: Everyone else we help with One Can A Week did a bang up job also. Here are the tallies: The Rincon Market, 116 lbs.; the Sunflower Market, 126 lbs. and Catalina Vista, 54 lbs. All toll, One Can A Week turned in 694 lbs. of food.

See you Sunday,


Monday, November 14, 2011

149th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,
What Would a Lioness Do?

View of Miles Street from behind the wheel. Miles Street
floods like this every heavy rain. Hopefully the new Arroyo
Chico project will remedy the situation.
With all of that rain late Sunday morning it wasn’t hard to be captivated by Mother Nature. The mini river flowing down Miles Street forced me to drive on the left or traverse the floodwaters in my car by driving up into driveways. It was slow going but I did keep my leather boots dry.

Fifteen minutes into my rounds the clouds parted and the sun came out and stayed out until I finished at about 2. When something like that happens—clouds parting and the rains stopping—I always think some force of nature wants to help me feed the hungry. On the other hand, when it comes to everything else in life, I generally experience nothing that could be called luck.

By the time I got to Gerry’s home toward the end of Miles, the sun was seriously shining. The front porch had been rearranged and the rocking chair where the can of food normally rested on the seat now stood empty on the right side of the front door.

I hadn’t seen Gerry for several weeks since her husband of 60 years passed. With no sound from inside 30 seconds after pressing the bell I started to turn and go. The door suddenly opened and there stood Gerry in all her pink-robed splendor.

Following the intelligence of nature.
She mentioned how beautiful her husband’s service was and she was especially proud that five priests officiated making it all the more wonderful. Eventually I turned the conversation to how she was doing and how she was getting along. To most of my questions she answered no. She had no dog to keep her company because the last one was killed months ago and the pain of the loss was keeping her from get another one. I suggested a hamster because they make themselves know at night and that sound can be comforting. She smiled and again said no.

In the past two years, Gerry and I have had some very honest conversations especially when she became overwhelmed with caring for her grand kids and her ailing husband. Then as now I told her she really has to think of herself first and take care of herself. I mentioned that probably the best example in nature of one caring for oneself and others is the lioness. 

Gerry listened intently as I explained that the lioness is a skilled provider and when she and the other lionesses in the pride bring down game, they eat first. Then the lion is allowed to eat followed by the cubs. If this order were not strictly observed, the pride would eventually perish.
If the lioness, the sole provider for the pride, ate last, there may not be enough food for her. She would grow weak, diminishing her effectiveness as a hunter. When this happens, the whole pride—her family, in other words—would grow weak too, and eventually die.

I could tell Gerry liked my little nature lesson and perhaps when she gets that lonely feeling at night, she may realize that being the matriarch of her family means that she comes first so that her family can last. I sure hope so but I will still keep checking on my friend every Sunday.

Fran Coleman, Senior Companion Program Manager of Our Family Services was the Master of Ceremonies for the Senior Companion’s Annual Recognition of Service 2011 program, held Wednesday, November 9 at Gee’s Garden Bistro.
Sue Krahe, Executive Director of Our Family Services and I scoot around the room handing out two Certificates of Appreciation to each of the volunteers. Photo by Maripaz Preciad

One Can A Week
Certificate of Appreciation
Who Called These Folks Retired
Even at the Annual Recognition luncheon for the Senior Companion program the food donations for the Community Food Bank piled up at the front registration desk. It is obvious that the volunteers at Our Family Services are not only committed to helping seniors in need, they also want to feed as many hungry kids and their families as they can.

Just Another Sunday
When I arrived at the Community Food Bank Monday afternoon some of the food containers in the trunk of my car were still damp from the dousing they got the day before. What’s so impressive about my neighbors is rain or shine the food keeps coming.

We collected a total of 190 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $38.00, a $25.00 check and $13.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, November 7, 2011

148th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,
Villa Hermosa Still Going Strong
with One Can A Week

Shannon Iggi, Program Director &
Hospitality Manager, Villa Hermosa
 “Jack Steindler is consistently promoting One Can A Week at Villa Hermosa, “ Shannon informed me as we talked last Friday in the very warm and comfortable seating area facing the sunny entrance.

Since August, 2009, One Can A Week has been part of the varied social activities offered the residents at the Senior Living Center. “We are having a social on Thursday afternoon, November 17th” Shannon said, “and we would like you to come and talk a little bit about what is going on with One Can A Week.”
“Then,” she continued, “we would like to set up a tour of the Community Food Bank in the very near future. I think our residents would love to see where their donations go.

Jack Steindler, Villa Hermosa resident
and One Can A Week enthusiast

Jack was one of the Old Pueblo Rotarians I met following a One Can A Week luncheon presentation at McMahon's Prime Steakhouse. He called me a couple of weeks later and asked to meet at Villa Hermosa.

Jack and his fellow residents have been around eight or nine decades yet they still strive to stay involved. What keeps Jack going is the thought that we could end hunger here in Tucson if lots of people got involved with One Can A Week. Jack recognizes that it’s a lofty goal but he’s not giving up … and neither am I.

Mellow Yellow
That’s the feeling I get when I still see all of those Cheerios boxes and bananas. Some kids are going to have that all-important breakfast for the next week or so. We just have to keep the cereal coming.

We collected a total of 172 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $34.50, a $25.00 check and $9.50 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, October 31, 2011

147th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,
You Can Feel the Pain in His Heart

It was pretty obvious that Bill Carnegie, CEO of the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona loves his job. Months back, as he took Bobby Rich from MIXfm and me on a personal tour of the huge warehouse facility—which in itself is an indication of the huge problem he oversees—Bill talked glowingly about his up-to-date food distribution center and the numerous programs they have in place to feed the needy in Tucson.

The ever-increasing demand for food is the reason the
Community Food Bank’s shelves are often empty.
Just a few days ago I received a copy of Nourishing News, their quarterly newsletter. In his "A Note from the President" column, Bill’s presentation was a bit more somber. "Four years ago,” he wrote, “we were assisting about 98,000 men, women and children each month; today that number is 235,000. We are nervous about the future."

Well, considering the planet Earth is now home to more than 7 billion humans as calculated by the UN Population Fund and growing 220,980 more souls daily, we all should be nervous right along with Bill. If we don't all take this problem seriously, Mother Nature, in the long run, will correct the situation. And that won't be pretty.

In the short term, while we create those long-term programs to modify human behavior, there is something we can do right now. Be fair.

Those two words seem to have disappeared from the lexicon of those in congress, the health care industry, the oil companies, and the financial institutions. Actually it appears most of the significant organizations running our society have lost their sense of fairness.

But then there are those rays of hope slicing through the darkness. For instance, the National Football League sets up its annual draft of the newest and brightest players by ranking teams in reverse order based on the prior season's record. Then they allow the worst team to pick first. Spreading the talent around and helping the less fortunate in the NFL just makes good business sense. Who’s going to attend or watch a game where the downtrodden keep on getting more down troddened.

One of the first things our parents and teachers encourage us to do in our early socialization process is to share. It, too, makes good sense and it makes for peaceful and productive communities. Why this concept becomes alien to many adults who have some bucks in the bank and a lust for power in their hearts is one of those great mysteries of life.

In the 1960s when materialism became the all-consuming goal here in America, it was said, “the one who dies with the most toys, wins.” This is an axiom with an interesting and profound word choice. Aren’t toys for kids and aren’t kids supposed to share on their way to becoming caring adults?

Bill, and the rest of us, wouldn’t have to be so nervous about the future if the answer to those two questions is a simple “Yes.”

Keep the Cereal Coming
Breakfast food is not the cheapest product on the supermarket shelves but lots of folks are stepping up to take care of the kids. Every week we donate stacks of cereal boxes which, in turn, helps keep kids healthy and productive in the classroom.

We collected a total of 156 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $42.50, $7.50 in cash and two checks for $35.00.

See you Sunday,


Monday, October 24, 2011

146th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,
Tweet-like Update,
but With More Characters

It didn't take long to count the cash donations at the Rincon Market Saturday because there weren't that many. So I decided to stick around longer than usual to see if I could put some energy into the collection plate. The dollars were stacking up and then a gentleman approached my table.

"Is this program affiliated with a religion?" he asked?

"No," I replied.

He quickly withdrew a $5 bill from his pants pocket and dropped it on the plate. As he walked away I said to myself, "But I have to tell you, I do my One Can A Week program religiously."

The Miles School cafeteria is no picnic when it comes to ease of access for a number of our neighbors. With all of those stairs and gates to negotiate, it becomes a bit of a pain in the knee to attend our monthly neighborhood meeting. Consequently, Lorraine Aguilar, the sweetheart that she is, requested that we meet in the Miles Gym. Great idea! The access problem solved, but even bats won’t stay in that gym because of the horrific acoustics. It’s nearly impossible to hear a person speaking in a normal voice seated just 15 feet away.

When I spoke to Lorraine last Sunday and suggested we go back to the cafeteria, she came up with a better idea.

“How about holding our monthly meetings in people’s homes?“ she asked.

Lorraine is going to talk to others to see if there is interest. I like the idea because a change of venue may generate more interest in attending our meetings … even if they are there just to check out the drapes.

In last week’s update, There Are So Many Things to Fix… a couple of folks found the inspiration they needed to help feed America’s hungry kids.

Ari Kaplan, a nationally known author, business consultant and motivational speaker, sent me an email from his home in New York.. “…just wanted to let you know that I am doing my first can pick-up on Sunday :) So far, 3 of my neighbors have agreed - you have to start somewhere! Will keep you posted. Thanks for the inspiration.”

Phoebe Fox in Phoenix wrote, “To be honest, I haven't read these updates in a little while (life has been busy). The boys and I took a summer break from One Can a Week, and I am just now thinking about starting up again. My friend Emy and I had a great conversation about it today, and we got so excited by discussing the idea of how we could help make One Can a Week grow in Phoenix. Your email tonight inspired me to email my neighbors; it gave me just what I needed to get back into it and "do something". Thank you!”

Just one email inspires me to keep writing … and I got two. Wow!

Moments before she left, Martha introduced herself.

"Is that your car?" she asked right after making her purchase.

I was working Sunday for a few hours at Axis to help out my friend Maen. He wanted to take his kids to the pumpkin patch and I thought that was something he should do since he works maybe 70 hours a week.

"Can you tell me what that is all about?"

As I explained the One Can A Week program I could see an intense interest in her eyes. "I like that idea," she proclaimed, "and you will see me later when I check out your blog."

Most folks say that, but Martha’s eyes told me she will be back.

Giant Cereal Box
It takes two hands to carry the 9 lb. box of Quaker Oats cereal someone donated Sunday. That monster box is going to keep a lot of hungry tummies warm this winter, that’s for sure.

We collected a total of 174 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $31.50, a $25.00 check and $6.50 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, October 17, 2011

145th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,
There are so many things to fix
yet only one simple thought
occupies everyone’s mind. 
Diane McEachern from the very small town of Bethel in western Alaska helps
explain the essence of Occupy Wall Street for those befuddled by the movement.
To read her full story, click on the link to the Los Angeles Times/Nation website.
While checking out my favorite news sites Saturday afternoon the above photo of Diane McEachern jumped out at me. I didn’t see the headline or the caption…just the photo. Of course, I thought, that is what Occupy Wall Street is all about. And having a cacophony of causes under one umbrella is suddenly not confusing to me any more.

Occupy Wall Street is a simple tool, like One Can A Week, where ordinary concerned citizens can personally do something about an awful situation by exerting very little energy. Pitch a quiet tent in a city park and you are doing something very important. You have finally found something you can do about the abuses of the financial system, the astonishing lack of jobs or the closing of your favorite library. It is the powerful feeling of doing something— not the cause(s)—that is so exhilarating and motivating.

I immediately understood the concept when I saw this poignant image of a lone woman with here peaceful pups. (Those guys look like they get it, too.)

The organizers of Occupy Wall Street are also aware of what they have discovered as indicated by their insistence on and off camera that a precise cause does not matter. Just the thought of doing something simple motivates people to help make great changes. They will keep the occupations going and by sheer numbers of voters attending these events, things will change. When it is time, the organizers will probably say, “Now go vote. Pick the candidates that talk about changing what you want to see changed.”

We are celebrating our 145th consecutive week of collecting food for the hungry in Tucson. One hundred and forty-five weeks of doing something simple like taking a neighbor’s can of food to the food bank. Apparently, we have been occupying the Miles Neighborhood for some time now.

The Bigger Picture
We are here on this planet to help each other but when the powerful make us feel helpless, hopeless and weak, it is time to do something simple like Occupy the Tundra in Alaska. or Armory Park in Tucson. Just by standing next to other 99%ers, we can gather our collective strength and vote into office those
who are able to help, not hinder our compassionate view of the world.

We do have to face up to and face down those who want to challenge our democratic way of life for the sake of a quick buck. All  it will take is each of us, like Diane McEachern in Bethel, Alaska deciding to occupy a small space with a simple idea.

Banana Bonanza
We still donated lots of cereal boxes and peanut butter jars but bananas were by far the most plentiful food product this week. Exactly 100 lbs. worth of bananas accompanied 10 lbs of potatoes topped off with a colorful bunch of radishes.

We collected a total of 238 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $33.00, a $25.00 check and $8.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

144th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,

Don’t you just hate it when a lot of little things go wrong, one right after another. Monday was a holiday and I thought, as in months past, that the Community Food Bank was closed. I planned on a Tuesday afternoon delivery.

Consequently, on Monday night I prepped for my blog, researching logos and links for my story on Feeding America and The Corporation for National and Community Service. (This article will appear in next week’s update.)

Months ago, Norton warned me about an attack while searching for an innocuous round cornered label image on Google. Seems Google was having problems with infected images which they soon fixed.

But nothing disturbed Norton Monday night and I blithely clicked away. Tuesday morning, Aisling, a Barrio San Antonio friend of mine asked me about an email she got. She knew something was up. Then I got another email from a friend and another. Eventually, Bobby Rich and Bill Carnegie, the CEO of the Community Food Bank checked in.

Bobby said change my password and the problem will go away. Soon after he told me I did just that.

Although everyone was expecting the normal Tuesday morning Update from me, they got something totally different and were puzzled. After I settled down Tuesday morning I realized that perhaps it was a good thing I erroneously gave the Food Bank a holiday on Monday. This mistake on my part saved me from a real spamming situation Tuesday morning.

My most upsetting thought was that I worked years to build my readers’ trust and then with a click of a mouse by a jerk in a basement somewhere, all that trust went down the drain.

This thought, too, was quelled by reason when my friends sent me copies of the spam and stated they knew this wasn’t me. I wished evil upon the hacker but then surmised that I couldn’t wish more trouble and turmoil in the hacker’s brain than already exists there now.

Thanks for trusting that you know me so well…because you really do.

Just received a disturbing report from the Association of Arizona Food Banks titled:

“Wonder What Hunger Costs Us?
New Research Calculates The Staggering Tab”

One fact included in the write up states that “In Arizona, our tab is nearly $4 billion, a 35% increase over 2007 and the 12th largest increase of any state.”

Click on the link below to read the entire report. (Notice the guy standing in the food line, he could be any one of us.) New research from the Center for American Progress.

Something is Happening at the Arroyo Chico Apartments
For a couple of years now I have had a couple of Arroyo Chico neighbors participate in One Can A Week. Suddenly, now there are four apartments in a row hanging donations on their doorknobs or placing cans on their stoops. Guess its just neighbors helping neighbors to step up.

We collected a total of 198 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $34.50, a $25.00 check and $9.50 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, October 3, 2011

143rd Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,
We are the same size …
but we keep on growing

Click on to enlarge.

With the economy yet on the skids—accounting for more and more hungry families to feed—we still moved ahead of last year’s third quarter totals. When we compare the 2010 Third Quarter figures with this year’s results below, we ended up collecting 553.5 lbs. more food and donating $94.58 more cash. We just get better with each passing week!

Also, I'd like to give a special thanks to Barbara Farragut on 12th Street who collected over 256 lbs. of fresh produce in the past three months.

Hungry as a Horse
That’s the first thing Jacob Coldsmith, the Logistics Manager at the Community Food Bank said when he laid eyes on the stuffed carousel pony. My neighbor on Santa Rita had no more room for him at his inn so he wanted to donate the critter to the food bank. Would I take him? Of course, he’s a horse, and some little kid will love him to pieces.

We collected a total of 170 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $90.50, a $25.00 check and $65.50 in cash.

See you Sunday,