Monday, April 4, 2011

117th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,

Three ASU School of Social Work – Tucson Component graduate students –
Stacey Harrington (left),Vidal Ramirez and John Rorke – take on the
challenging task of citywide community outreach andeducational
materials implementation for One Can A Week.

Influencing the Influential

In the world of selling new ideas, there’s an old saw: Nobody wants to be the first to buy, but there is always a line for second.

I learned this first hand in my publishing day in New York City. My brother and I had book ideas like The Misspeller’s Dictionary, Great Songs of Madison Avenue (The Jingle Songbook) and Great North American Indians, but for nearly a year we couldn’t sell any publisher on taking a chance with our concepts. Maybe a week after Quadrangle/The New York Time Book Publishing Company bought our first book, The Misspeller’s Dictionary, we got calls. In the next 8 years, we sold and published 22 books with the likes of Random House, Simon and Schuster and Macmillan.

For some time now I have been having that New York feeling about One Can A Week. No matter what I tried to do to get others to get involved in our program, nothing sparked. But I keep making sales calls. Most of them were those no fun, “I wish I didn’t have to do this” cold calling. Grab the door handle, take a breath, walk in the office and say, “Hi, my name is…”

Of course, the failure rate for cold calls is quite high. After I get rejected and a bit dejected, I tell myself that Babe Ruth had far more strikeouts than home runs. That works for me most of the time. The other times I just keep pressing forward.

Then on January 20th I walked into the offices of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and met John Rorke. He motioned to me as he hung up the phone. Within a minute or two I learned he was the mentee for Gabe Zimmerman and that he will take my card and present my idea in the morning staff meeting.

The fall election had two weeks to go when I met Gabby Giffords during my Saturday stint at the Rincon Market. If you remember from an earlier post, Gabby thought her volunteers might want to hear about our One Can A Week program because they may be looking for something meaningful to do after the election.

I told this story to John and I saw in his face that he liked what he just heard. John said he would call me in a few days and that’s exactly what he did.

In the beginning of our phone conversation he was talking slowly and choosing his words carefully. My first thought was “here comes another no!” But that was not what he was trying to tell me. He wanted to take on One Can A Week himself as part of his graduate course work and create a community outreach and educational program that will be presented to all of the neighborhood associations and gated communities in Tucson. He wants to develop a sustainable program that will build strong communities by focusing on one unifying project. For him, One Can A Week is such a project. It’s simple, cost effective and fun.

Last Wednesday Stacey, Vidal, John and I met Bill Carnegie and Pauline Hechler at the Community Food Bank. Bill is the CEO and Pauline, the VP of Development so we were in decision-making company.

Pauline opened the meeting by asking Stacey, Vidal and John to tell her a little something about themselves. It wasn’t long before they all realized they had lots of family and friends in common. Pauline and Bill knew the Harringtons, Stacey’s family, Vidal’s La Frontera connections and most of John’s coworkers at Gabby’s office.

Somewhere near the halfway point in their educational materials presentation involving slides, charts and a large graphic display, Pauline turned to Bill and said, “We have to include the printing costs of these materials in our budget.” Bill didn’t hesitate. “Yes, give them a budget.”

This is where these graduate students showed their most professional demeanor. They didn’t flinch. They had reached their goal even before finishing their presentation and they just calmly agreed that a budget would help them move forward.

Of course, in the parking lot things were a bit more emotional. And I was as excited for them as they were for themselves. If this is how effective John, Stacey and Vidal are out of the gate, imagine what they will produce when all of their materials are printed and they are making presentation to neighborhood associations throughout the city.

They got their first buyer…now the other buyers will just have to get in line.

It Was Nuts This Week
Every week there is always a special food that sticks out. Maybe it’s lots of cereal boxes or peanut butter jars. This time it was two huge bags of walnuts (upper right in the cart). What great food and a very thoughtful donation. So many nutritional benefits in every bite.

We collected a total of 194 lbs. of food including 48 lbs. of produce. The money we donated amounted to $59.00, $34.00 in cash and a $25.00 check.

See you Sunday,


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