Tuesday, May 31, 2011

125th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,

When Ordinary is Not Ordinary

Fruits and Veggies
by local artist Diana Madaras
Three weeks ago Kristen Hershberger, the Volunteer Manager at the Community Food Bank tricked me a little. She said the breakfast meeting on Wednesday, May 25th was for volunteers so I went prepared to talk about One Can A Week in hopes of convincing a few CFB volunteers to consider starting our program in their neighborhood. What she really meant was, the breakfast was their normal monthly CFB staff meeting and they were going to acknowledge a volunteer … me. I found this out moments after I took my seat next to Pauline Hechler, the Vice President of Development.

I got a hint something else was in the air when Pauline called me about 7:15 that morning and said she was going to be a bit late and that I should save her a seat next to me at the table. I agreed but at that moment I was more concerned about the guy who was going to cover my shift at the Axis Food Market.

He was already 15 minutes late and we had planned this morning a couple of weeks in advance and then confirmed just the night before. I got more anxious when Pauline hung up because I wondered what does she have to do with volunteers?

At 7:25, after clearing it with Maen, the owner, I closed Axis and hurriedly drove to the Food Bank five minutes away. Now I was doubly anxious because I woke Maen up and then closed his store down. Can’t wait to hear that guy’s excuse for why he was a half hour late. Nope, not even going to ask.

Turns out I was third on the agenda, right after Bill Carnegie, the CEO lead the “Drawing for Valuable Prizes” and Robert Rosalva Fuentes was introduced as a new employee. Those two activities were given 2.5 minutes each.

At 7:35, Pauline stood up and spoke for a few minutes. She described the work I had done in the Miles Neighborhood and closed thanking me for getting them involved in a program that is garnering some national attention.

Jacob Coldsmith, the Food Drives manager, spoke next about how pleasant it has been working together over the past two and one-half years. I smiled and nodded my head in agreement.

Then Pauline presented me with a beautiful print by Diana Madaras, a renowned Tucson artist. That was some surprise and I thanked everyone.

Pauline leaned over and whispered that I could skip out on the rest of the meeting if I like, but I wanted to stay … out of respect and I was curious about their working community. The next 40 minutes of the staff meeting was devoted to medical insurance and the open enrollment period. It was just like the meetings we had at Merrill Lynch. Plan A. Plan B. And lots of question on how to protect themselves best without giving up the ranch.

On Sunday, the mood of my collection was quiet and purposeful. At the end of my route, while loading up my trunk for the Tuesday run to the Food Bank, my mind filled up with thoughts of how ordinary the task of feeding the hungry had become for my neighbors and me. I also saw this same resolve and commitment exhibited by the folks at the Food Bank on Wednesday.

Cans on the porch each and every Sunday, me driving around collecting those donations and serious talk about health insurance, yet we all are making a concerted and consistent effort to end hunger in Tucson.

On the border of the cardboard frame of the Diana Madaras print is the Community Food Bank logo and their motto, “Working together towards a hunger-free Pima County.” What the Food Bank staff and my neighbors and I do is quite ordinary. We think about and we feed the hungry as a part of our daily lives. Things would be a lot better for all of us if we just had a little more ordinary in the world.

Never Too Late
A recent new neighbor who had not donated before but who knew about One Can A Week invited me into his home and gave me most of the can goods in his food cabinets. He was moving to Alaska and wanted me to take what he could not use to the food bank.

I was sorry to see him go but glad he had a chance to cover his time in the Miles neighborhood with a huge donation.

We collected a total of 206 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $90.51 … a $75.00 check from the Axis Food Mart and $15.51 in cash.

See you Sunday.


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