Tuesday, December 25, 2012

207th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,
A Kind Word for Everyone all 136 of them

Councilman Richard Fimbres and Peter
Photo by Mary Fimbres
If you’ve been keeping up with Councilman Richard Fimbres’ professional and well designed monthly newsletter you know he and his team have been very busy attracting big time businesses here to Ward 5. Due to their tireless efforts we now have Costco, Wal-Mart and Curacao just down the road a piece which really does mean jobs … jobs … jobs.

So to watch Councilman Fimbres display some of his charm during the Recognition Ceremony at the Annual Ward 5 Holiday Partly was a pure delight. Malinda Jacobs, Council Administrative Assistant, held the large stack of award certificate folders and read off the names quietly to Councilman Fimbres. He repeated the name in a more robust fashion, not to dissimilar to an operatic tenor warming up.

After a name was called out, the individual stepped forward to receive a certificate, a hand shake and a Tucson medallion. During the exchange, Councilman Fimbres said a few words about that person’s contribution to the community. What soon became apparent is Councilman Fimbres knew every one of the 136 honoree and had a tidbit of personal information about each of them to share with the audience.

“We cannot seek achievement for ourselves and forget about progress and prosperity for our community… Our ambitions must be broad enough to include the aspirations and needs of others, for their sakes and for our own.”

-- Cesar Chavez   Quote published on the cover of the Ward 5 Awards pamphlet.

Amazing. That had to be some kind of magic trick or he has an incredible memory. While I munched on some wonderful medium rare roast beef, a gentleman standing next to me couldn’t quite get my name right but he knew who I was. “I read you blog,” he said. I remembered meeting him, too, but I had no idea why I know him.

This foggy recollection process is perfectly normal. Two people meet again after some time passes and they have to state a number of things like names, places and jobs to recall information out of the memory vault. However, what Councilman Fimbres was doing—instantly remembering bios as if he just had lunch with them—was phenomenal, magical and quite entertaining.

When he runs for office again he should be elected in a landslide. Not because he brings jobs and businesses to the neighborhood. That’s significant but Councilman Fimbres does something that is even more important. He makes each of his constituents feel that what they do matters.

Donations on the Rise
A couple of weeks ago we learned that the economy was improving at the Rincon Market and coincidentally around the country. This week the Rincon Market set a new donation record of $215.50, well above the previous $160.00 mark.

Another new development at the Rincon Market is the complete remodeling of the grocery department. Stop by and check it out. If you are into wines, you’ll love the greatly expanded selection and there is soon to be a whole new specialty food area.

Things are moving forward for the Abbott Family and it couldn't happen to nicer, more thoughtful folks.

Outside Pitching In
As I wrote about in an earlier post, my friends John and Heidi who live in Ventana Canyon donate one or more of those large Costco food packages nearly every week. In an effort to highlight their efforts, I place their donation in the upper right hand corner resting against the cart handle. (It’s cans and peanut butter this week.)

Now Dr. Su-Wen Chang, my dentist, and his staff are donating to our Miles One Can A Week program. Of course, they have to be recognized, too, but since they give such a variety of food, I decided to mark the occasion with a very toothy Smiley Face somewhere in the photo.

We collected a total of 294 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $36.00, a $25.00 check and $11.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, December 17, 2012

206th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,

It’s beginning! Last week there were two calls for a pickup. Victoria Cortinas, Contract Administrator at the Department of Procurement and Rosi Andrade, Associate Research Professor, at the Southwest Institute for Research on Women had brimming Community Food Bank collection boxes and need help. Victoria’s organization donated 90 lbs. of food and $20 in cash while Rosi’s institute gave 86 lbs. in food. Together they feed 45 folks three meals in one day.

The best part of the pickup was both Victoria and Rosi were quite excited to be involved in the Mayor’s One Can A Meeting Program.

Just Wait
Every writer has a gnawing feeling as a deadline approaches that maybe this time the idea spigot will stop trickling out suggestions. Today was my day. I had nothing … but I didn’t let it get to me. Well, maybe only a little. I could have done without all those cookies.

By 4:00 PM I had two stories that merit telling. Whew, that was the closest so far.

Adam is barking to let everyone on 13th Street and Santa Rita know that the
wonderful green barrels have arrived.
 3:28 PM – About two weeks ago I sent an email to Nanette Reynolds and Larry Robinson at the Pima County Regional Flood Control District requesting waste disposal barrels for the grassy section on the corner of 13th Street and Santa Rita. I hadn’t heard back so I called today around 11:00 AM to personally present my request. Nanette who is always so helpful said she would do some follow up.

She called back in the afternoon and told me there would be at least 4 barrels in that area and one or two will go on duty today.

I took a walk with Adam around 4:15 PM to get a photo of a barrel already in the Arroyo and ran into Mary Kathryn who was out walking with her son Liam, too. I got the photo and continued on to 13th Street.

That Arroyo path is even more pleasant with lucid company so we ended up at our destination more quickly than I anticipated. At the far end of the grassy plot I spotted the green barrel and to my surprise I was really quite excited to see a painted oil drum chained to a rail.

The Miles Neighborhood really needs the Arroyo Chico Park and those green barrels are the best way to keep the property clean and healthy and fun for everyone. Now I’m going to see what is happening with the community garden.

A small dent that did not turn into a big deal.
10:30 AM - As I walked down the ramp to the new Ford van Steve Furhig, Kym’s husband, generously offered to cart our donations to the Food Bank, a Mac truck drive named Jose walked up to me.

The bay next to the ramp was empty when we took the food carts into the warehouse, but now there was a monstrous truck parked there.

“Is that your van?” he asked. I nodded.

“I scraped the back end as I backed up,” he continued. “I’ll pay for it personally because my deduction is $1,000.”

Steve walked by me quickly and got into the van. I called but had to go get him. His first reaction to the news and the sight of the damage was a bit excited. “Oh, no, it’s a brand new van,” he moaned, dancing away and throwing his hands in the air.

He quickly calmed down and soon phone numbers and names were exchanged. The Food Bank documents all accidents on their property so a staffer got involved, too.

As that went on I talked to the Jose and praised him for stepping up. That was big of him. He told me that in the past he was a very angry man and had many scrapes and scraps with the law but he “came to know the Lord” and now he always does the right thing no matter if his first reaction is to slide.

Of course, everybody’s first reaction is to slide but it is the brave and the strong who face up to life. We need more men like Jose on our roads and more men like Steve who can wrestle their emotions to the ground in seconds.

Two More Weeks to Go
Our collection on December 30th will mark the fourth year we have donated weekly to the Community Food Bank. We are going to surpass last year’s donations, but perhaps we can do it in a big way. For the next two Sundays, maybe you can give just a little more. And as you know just a little more, on a consistent basis, makes a huge difference.

We collected a total of 160 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $81.00, two checks for $75.00 and $6.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, December 10, 2012

205th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,

When I sent Candy Parkhurst, the office manager at Lewis and Roca, the weight of her most recent donation (48 lbs.), she reminded me that their contribution to the Community Food Bank really represented the efforts of the whole office building at One South Church. (See arrow below.)

“A notice was sent," Candy wrote, “to all the tenants in our building, regarding our Food Bank collection effort so I hope we will continue strong through the holidays!”

What a great idea. Right after the first of the year I will have a reliable small truck to make pickups so I am going to go around to all of the large office buildings to implement Candy’s approach.

People are always stymied when it comes to donating small amounts to the food bank but if there were those large Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona boxes everywhere with one person in each building monitoring the situation, everybody wins. I’ll be busy, the donors will be happy they can help a little every week and the hungry kids will be fed. Now there’s a Happy New Year.


Tiffany Kassel and her kids are really energized when it comes to One Can A Week. They recently donated 141 lbs. of food and $36.00 in cash. Since school began in September, Tiffany’s class as helped their classmates contribute 481 lbs. of food and $137.25 in cash. Impressive.

In Molly’s Memory
Since Molly’s death on November 30th I’ve been pretty much holding it together, with only momentary bouts of sadness interrupting my days and nights. Lots of friends have written cards, emails and even called to offer support.

On Saturday I got a greeting card featuring two plump cardinals resting on snow covered branches. Inside my friends Julieta and Ernesto Portillo wrote, “In
memory of your beautiful Molly we are sending you this check for the food bank.”

Well, that touched me deeply…and still does even as I wrote this blog. Julieta and Ernesto are right, Molly was beautiful … and so are they.

Ramen Noodles On Sale
Kids have no problem eating Ramen Noodles so when they went on sale this past week, Ed and Liz couldn’t resist buying a whole case. The cost was about 20 cents each but the smiles on the kids’ faces will be priceless.

We collected a total of 182 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $31.00, a $25.00 check (Molly’s Memorial) and $6.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, December 3, 2012

204th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,

Her Name Was Molly
July 1, 1999 - November 30, 2012

An old fashioned name like Patience might have suited her better but no matter what moniker was chosen for her, her understanding of life on this planet would have been just as keen.

Molly seldom barked, a notable feat for a Westie, but scampering cats and squirrels and dogs trotting wearily beside bicycles triggered a very strong desire to chase after and noisily chastise her prey.

Most other times she would quietly go about her business of sniffing the ground or just sit and wait while I would chat with friends or other folks walking in the park. How long I took was of no concern.

Since Friday night she has been in my thoughts constantly no matter what I was doing. Yes, Molly was 13 and one half years of constant joy in my life but now this is the time to be deeply sad for a little while. A very small due, in deed, for all those years of sunshine.

On Sunday morning while watching Up with Chris Hayes  I came to the realization that we, as humans in our present state, are never going to eliminate hunger. Chris and his guests were in the midst of a spirited discussion on the legalization of marijuana.

Round and round they went comparing the current situation to the history and evolution of alcohol in America. Suddenly the question I had on my side of the computer screen was, “Why is life so intolerable in America that millions upon millions of people need another kind of “fuzzed out” reality just to get by?”  With so many people around the world willing to come to America at any cost you would think otherwise.

I thought of that question because when things got rough or annoying in my life I had Molly to pick up and hold or just to walk around the block as I unclouded my mind. That stabilizing force in my reality always made things get better. 

Unfortunately, what I had with Molly is not anything drinkers and smokers could possible comprehend. They are too busy hiding or anesthetizing the pangs of living on this planet instead of sharing hope and understanding with another creature.

Many times I would grab Molly’s jowls, get nose to nose and stare into her brown, almond shaped eyes. “So what do you think, girl?” I’d say.  “What should I do now?”

Molly would just calmly look back at me as if to say, “I’m not too worried, you’ll think of something.  You always do.”

Right now I’m thinking of all those hungry kids and their parents and those millions upon millions of people who could help but they just can’t get into life on this planet. So hunger goes on. And altered “fuzzed out” realities go on causing us to get little done. But this doesn’t mean we can ever give up on feeding the poor. I had Molly in my life so I saw hope. With Adam, my other Westie, I still see that same hope but it’s a little more rambunctious.

Eye-opening Trip
Since my Cabriolet is still down for the count, I asked Hugh Koepke, Kym’s brother, if he’d like to help me deliver our donation to the Food Bank on Monday. He had the time.

As soon as we pushed the cart through the warehouse door, Hugh stopped and looked around. The enormity of the warehouse gave him pause. After we weighed in I took him on a tour and as luck would have it we ran into Bill Carnegie, the CEO. Gracious as always, Bill answered all of Hugh’s questions about the folks the Food Bank serves and the process those folks go through. 

Even in the car driving back home Hugh was still startled by the number of needy taken care of by the Food Bank. 250,000 people a month was not an easy number for him to digest.

Hugh helps Kym collect on 13th Street
when she has family commitments that
come up now and again on Sunday. But after today’s experience at the Food Bank, I’ll bet he’s thinking about how he can do even more.

We collected a total of 163 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $36.00, a $25.00 check and $11.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,