Monday, June 25, 2012

181st Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,
We donated over two tons of food
in the first two quarters for the past four years

The cheery news for our Miles Neighborhood food donation program is in the past 4 years, we have maintained our neighborhood donations even amid a nasty recession and folks moving in and out of the neighborhood. This year’s first and second quarter food weight dropped somewhat. That’s because of the terrific response to the Community Food Bank’s call for much needed breakfast cereals for kids. However, our cash donations increased which helps make up the difference.

We couldn’t be more proud of our Miles neighbors.

First and Second Quarter Miles Neighborhood Tallies
All that breakfast cereal we donated to the Food Bank this year
dinked our weight numbers a bit but helped a whole lot of kids stave off hunger.

Second Quarter Report for 2012

Good for Maen
This is what 96 cases of Sportastic Sports Drink looks
like stacked up outside the Axis Food Market. Maen
looks like the guy in the corner just over the left shoulder
of the big blue shirt.
Last year in the second quarter, our friend Maen at the Axis Food Mart had an offer from one of his suppliers that he could not refuse. It was 2.781 lbs. of Sunny D juice drink that we added to our numbers.

This year Maen donated 1,000 lbs. of Sportastic Sports Drink but the Community Food Bank decided to open an account specifically for the Axis Food Mart so they could keep better records on his consistent annual donations.

Sportastic Sports Drink has only 4 grams of sugar, 15 calories and lots of vitamins. The best part is the great looking packaging. Kids will probably keep the soccer or baseball looking bottles and fill them up with another favorite drink … chilled water.

The Cereal Keeps Coming
Every week since the Community Food Bank put out the call for cereal, peanut butter and canned fruit, our neighbors have been loading up our cart with all three items. Of course, cereal costs more than a can of peas but kids are hungry and that seems to be all that matters to our One Can A Week participants.

We collected a total of 154 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $37.00, a $25.00 check and $12.00 in cash.

See you next Sunday,


Monday, June 18, 2012

180th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,
Mayor Rothschild meet Mayor Bloomberg
For more than two months now I have been on a quest to meet Mayor Jonathan Rothschild to tell him about our consistently successful One Can A Week neighborhood food donation program and suggest ways to expand the concept citywide.

My plan is not to sit in his office enthusiastically explaining the idea while he looks at me wondering how a guy who collects cans got into his office. So I decided to elicit help from someone who knows us both, making the meeting more about the idea then a question of trust.

Merle Stolar, an attorney friend I went to high school with back in St. Louis, MO was my first designated volunteer. She knows of and likes the Mayor but she wasn’t even an acquaintance. I then spoke to Ernesto Portillo, Sr. who was delighted to make the introduction. He has known the Mayor and engaged his law firm going back 25 years. So I compiled some information, Ernesto attached an elegant, old school kind of introductory letter and dropped the package off personally at the Mayor’s office.

Nothing. The Mayor must be busy.

Then I asked Dot Kret, the owner of DK Advocates a neighborhood firm and a One Can a Week participant. She knows the Mayor very well and attends many social and political functions with him. Over the past month Dot made a number of forays into the political system and finally on the 13th she sent me an email update on her progress.

“Hi Jonathan-

“What a great victory yesterday – and a lovely celebration last night! It was good to see you and join in the collective sigh of relief over Ron’s win in CD8.

“Here is the latest post from Peter Norback, founder of One Can a Week. As we have discussed, if you can squeeze in 20 min to meet Peter, it would be well worth it. He has an idea for picking up the pace of this food donation program and improving our City and I think you will be interested in hearing about it.

“Please let us know when it is convenient for you and we will meet you where/whenever you like…



Again, Nothing. The Mayor must be really busy.

Then very early Sunday morning the 17th Dot sent me another update.

“…I did see Hizzoner the Mayor last night. He said that at his Friday meeting with his team One Can was discussed and that I will be getting a call this week to schedule our meeting! I mentioned the Bloomberg challenge and he was only vaguely aware of it, so let’s be sure to have lots of details for him. I think it is a fabulous idea and we should go for it!”
“The Mayors Challenge is a competition to inspire
American cities to generate innovative ideas that
solve major challenges and improve city life - and
that ultimately can be shared with cities
across the nation.”
Maybe all this stressful waiting was supposed to happen no matter how I plotted and planned. The Bloomberg Challenge she mentioned was just announced in New York City, the home of Bloomberg Philanthropies, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Wednesday, the 13th. I read about the challenge on CNN and saw immediately how such a competition could elevate the importance and purpose of our meeting with Mayor Rothschild, whenever that happens. After all, we have a three-year pilot program with very strong data and results.

“Bloomberg Philanthropies is inspired by the opportunity
to find and spread innovative local solutions to
national problems. We created the Mayors
Challenge to celebrate the creative problem solving
and incredible innovation that is happening in city
halls from coast to coast. The five boldest ideas
with the greatest potential for impact will win…”
Think about it, based on our weekly donation average—229 lbs. and $50.18—if the Mayor could help us implement One Can A Week in neighborhoods across Tucson, we could generate more than 17 million lbs. of food and over $3.9 million each year. On top of that thousands upon thousands of Tucsonans will be involved in community service and feeding hungry families.

Sunday night while writing this blog I got an email at 9:42 pm from Dorothy Adjovu Executive Assistant to Mayor Jonathan Rothschild.

“Ms. Kret and Mr. Norback,
Mayor will be available to meet with Mr. Norback on July 12th at 10AM.

Ms. Kret, do you plan to attend with Mr. Norback?”

That was short and sweet. I guess the Mayor is not too busy anymore. He deserves a rest anyway.

Votes Keep Coming In

Right now Dot Kret’s DK Advocates has 142 votes in the Chase $250,000 Grant program. Remember, 250 is the number of votes to qualify and all voting ends June 30th. So hurry.

Open your Facebook page and then click on this link:

Type DK Advocates in the Business Name box and hit Search. Find Support at the bottom of the page and click on it. You just voted. Try to get your Facebook friends to vote, too. It’s good practice for this fall.

So Much More
There is a new trainee receptionist at DK Advocates named Mark who handed me a very full box of food Monday. I asked him what happened and he said they—and I’m guessing him—are placing a little more emphasis on getting out the donations.

There was so much food I had to make two trips to my car parked out front. On my return to pick up the last bag, I handed him a gift wrapped One Can A Week can opener. I told him it works well … until it doesn’t.

“Don’t they all,” Mark replied as he turned it over a couple of time in his hand.

Now there’s a man who see things as they really are. It’s apparent he’s using that same kind of common sense logic on his coworkers to encourage their more charitable side.

We collected a total of 212 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $36.50, a $25.00 check and $11.50 in cash.

See you Sunday.


Monday, June 11, 2012

179th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,
They were all going to help
until they saw it was work
Maria Maes, the 17-year-old high school senior who runs the Catalina Vista Neighborhood One Can A Week program is taken aback when Jeanette Mare presents her with a Ben’s Bell in a surprise ceremony at the Rincon Market Saturday.

Maria Maes and Jeanette Mare, co-founder along with her husband Dean, of the Ben’s Bell Project enjoy the moment after all of the emotions come back down to earth.
Maria Maes mentioned a couple of time early in her One Can A Week endeavor that her friends were going to chip in and help her collect food in the Catalina Vista Neighborhood. It never came to pass and weighed a bit on her mind but she still pressed forward on her own. Patricia, her mother, saw the concern after so many months of going it alone. It was not a fun lesson for Maria to learn about people and friends in particular.

A month ago, Patricia called and asked me to recommend Maria for a Ben’s Bell. She said Maria really likes Ben’s Bells and what they represented, “a more gentle life.” (During the photo session at the ceremony Maria told Jeanette that she had found at least five Ben’s Bells as she walked on different toe paths around the city.)

I thought Patricia had a great idea and a wonderful way to reward the courage of conviction. The Ben’s Bell Project web site made it easy to submit my recommendation. Here’s what I wrote:

In May, 2011 Maria Maes contacted me because she wanted to start her own One Can A Week Community Food Bank donation program in her Catalina Vista Neighborhood. We met officially at her neighborhood’s annual picnic and I was impressed with her demeanor and confidence. Maria is bright and unusually focused for a sophomore in high school. She asked meaningful questions and quickly understood the answers. I especially liked how she took charge of the situation. She stepped in moments after someone walked up to our display table. Most were older folks and confronted me first. After a sentence or two, Maria politely interjected and told them who she was and that she was starting One Can A Week soon.

It has been one year and she has not missed one Sunday’s food collection except for holidays. This is some accomplishment for a 17-year-old high school student.

Many of Maria’s friends said they would help, but to date none have stepped forward which surprises and concerns Maria. None the less, she still proceeds on her own feeding the hungry weekly. Visit and search Maria for her full story.

Thank you for your consideration.

Two weeks ago Jeanette called to give me the exciting news. Maria deserved a Ben’s Bell for her commitment to neighborhood community service.

The story of Ben’s Bells
Jeanette and Dean lost their three-year-old boy Ben to a sudden illness. “On the first anniversary of his death, hundreds of Ben’s Bells were distributed throughout Tucson, hung randomly in trees, on bike paths, and in parks with a written message to simply take one home and pass on the kindness.” The whole amazing project is “in memory of our beautiful boy,” they write on their web site. Visit to read the full story and learn about the important work they are doing.

Photo Bombed at the Rincon Market – What’s the opposite of anthropomorphism, otherwise know as humanizing animal behavior. This white pup, relaxing during a quiet cafĂ© breakfast created an opportunity for a very funny photo. His legs are crossed just as the legs of his human friend.

But the joke is on me. As I was immortalizing the humorous moment, my friend Mark, the jewelry vendor who sells his wares every Saturday morning at Rincon saw an opportunity to bomb the photo. In the first photo I took he is hidden by the women, but by the time the shutter is ready to click again he is waving his arm off. Since I am focused on the pup I didn’t see it until I opened up the flash drive on the computer at home.

That’s okay, Mark donates at least $5.00 a week to One Can A Week whether he makes a sale or not. Keep waving Mark, it really was funny.

Neighbors Moving On
A number of folks have left our neighborhood in the past few months. Fortunately, the new neighbors are just as eager to participate in One Can A Week. This keeps our donation numbers up a bit and smiles on the volunteers’ faces.

Also, Busy Bee’s Bakery contacted us to pick up their food donations every Saturday. Not having any trouble finding a volunteer to make that run.

Cake is the Busy Bee’s specialty so stop by and see them when you are in the area. 6781 N. Thornydale Ste, 229 (520) 531-1011

We collected a total of 198 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $30.50, a $25.00 check and $5.50 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, June 4, 2012

178th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,
Returning 250 Small Favors
for One Really Big One
The staff of DK Advocates which is located on the corner of Broadway Blvd.
and Vine Street. Dot Kret is in the center of it all holding the Community
Food Bank plate. Jorge Ruiz stands in the back, third from the left.
Dorothy Kret who likes to be called Dot, owns DK Advocates, a firm that “helps people become employable and employed.” The whole firm has participated in our One Can A Week program for more than three years now. And it all started with Jorge Ruis, a Miles neighbor, friend and as it turned out, staff member at DK Advocates.

Jorge approached me one Sunday early in our program and said he wanted his firm to get involved because it is a neighborhood company. It took him about 4 weeks of plotting and planning but he made his presentation and Dot agreed right away. We have all been friends since.

The thing about DK Advocates is they are participating the hard way which is seldom sustainable. They have to remember to bring their donations to work every week. People at home always forget even when their kitchen is just 15 feet from their front door. So to carry the food to work is quite a commendable feat. Then on top of that, they have done it for more than 156 straight weeks. It is obvious, the whole staff at DK Advocates is doing the Miles Neighborhood a huge favor.

On Sunday Dot sent me an email asking for some help. Now how can I refuse especially since it’s such a tiny thing.

This is what she wrote: “Chase Bank and Living Social are having a grant competition for small businesses and I have applied. In order to even be considered for it, DKA needs 250 ‘votes’ on their site through FaceBook. Which is where you come in. Please click on this link to the Chase Bank grant program:”

So I clicked on the link and voted. It was easy and when I refreshed the page my vote was tallied. That’s the part I liked the most. I could instantly see I helped Dot.

If you click on the link, this is what you will encounter (see graphics below). All the stuff is easy to understand. Please help Dot get 250 votes to qualify for the grant program. And your efforts will be rewarded because Dot always places in the Top Ten on everything she tries.

A simple screen explaining the Chase grant program. Click on the
Log In & Support button.

This pop up box appears and you sign into your Facebook account. (One
vote per Facebook account.)

Just type in DK Advocates as shown and hit search. You don’t have to
select State or City.

Within a few seconds you will be thanked for voting. Right click and
Refresh the page. A new number, which is your vote, will appear.
If you are a Facebook whiz, please try to get your friends to help Dot. Also, Living Social is a Local Bargains web site so you may want to check that out, too. Chase Bank link:

Quiet Sunday
The streets were devoid of cars and people, yet there was plenty of food to be had. Even when there is profound silence, it is quite exciting making the rounds.

We collected a total of 170 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $61.50, a $50.00 check and $11.50 in cash.

See you Sunday,