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,