Monday, January 28, 2013

Hi Folks,
Three Dog Tale

Brett Weisel, the Director of Advocacy for Feeding America in Washington, DC* told me something I didn’t know soon after I started One Can A Week. Nearly four years ago he said our program will help build our community.

At that time I was just collecting food for the Community Food Bank but Brett’s words stayed in the back of my mind. Last week, I got to see first hand that community Brett said we would build together.

My neighbor and friend Lee sent me an email Thursday telling me about her unpleasant experience while walking her dog around the foot path of our new Arroyo Chico park. She encountered three “very aggressive pit bull mixes” that came barking out of the wash. Lee, not one to be easily intimidated, fended them off with “pepper spray and rocks.”

Nearby was a gentleman who said he was accosted the day before and he called Animal Control. Lee called 911 and was told the officer who patrols our area would be alerted. This procedural response caused Lee to contact me.

I replied saying I would get others involved. Right away I called Animal Control and learned that they had no record of the call the day before and were concerned they had no address for the new Arroyo Chico park. They need that address to send out officers. Our conversation lasted maybe 15 minutes and the fellow on the other end of the line was concerned and considerate.

Friday, the next day, I got another email from Lee with an update. She had just talked to “two young women” Candace and someone with a baby she did not know. I had an idea who they were.

Mary Kathryn with baby Liam is a bit of a fixture strolling through the Miles Neighborhood. Little Liam in a beanie and sunglasses, rides around facing forward in a chest halter, wearing a permanent smile and legs dangling free. She confirmed they had a conversation with Lee when I stopped by her place on Sunday.

Candace and Mary Kathryn told Lee that the dogs were in the care of a transient named Sky living in the wash. He generally restrains the dogs. Lee admitted that on her second encounter the dogs were friendly with other dogs and “quite shy of people.” She decided to “bow out” of the situation but carry a stick when she walks her dog, just in case.

Lee also mentioned that had she known the dogs were involved with a homeless person she wouldn’t have called the police or gotten so upset.

When I responded to Lee’s “bow out” email I told here that “You don’t have to be upset. It is against the law to live in the wash. We have a number of agencies that take care of these homeless. What happens is the police call social services and they send a person to interview the individual and help him get in contact with our city’s help organizations. Sleeping out there in 22 degrees or 17 degrees is very dangerous. They will help get Sky the help he needs. This is a good thing not a hurtful thing.

Lee said those words made her feel better.

In the meantime, I had my own experience with the three dogs. After dark on Friday evening while delivering flyers to Lenny on 13th Street I walked by the wash area and the three came out of the brush barking wildly and flashing their pearly whites. I spoke in a commanding voice and they turned back to the brush.

Saturday another iPhone email showed up from Lee. “Dogs had a go at elderly woman and her dogs, heard her yelling so went out and threw rocks. Tried to decide if I should, again, call animal con.”

Lee continues to tell me the Tucson Police showed up: “nice female officer who called for backup when dogs growled at her.” What happened next surprised Lee. Sky came out of the wash and the dogs settled down. He told the officer and her backup a “convoluted tale” about how the dogs were not his. The officers did not care. The police called Animal Control and told Sky he should leave within 4 hours. One officer left and the other waited some time for Animal Control. When they did arrive, Sky handed the dogs over. “Not sure why he (Sky) did not leave with the dogs,” Lee wondered, “but issue resolved,”

As an Epilog, Lee wrote, “I am sure police came because you called. Thx. The police called animal control or they probably would not have come. I feel bad for the dogs and the guy, but happy I and others can now use path safely again.”

I wrote back to tell Lee that I had not called the police. I just had that extended conversation with Animal Control and when the police did call they hopped to it. Apparently it was some other concerned citizen who did the right thing when she heard the woman in distress. You on the other hand were busy backing up the police before they arrived.

Lee hadn’t thought about her standing up for folks so her humorous reply said volumes about her humility, humanity and her commitment to our neighborhood.

“Haaaa :)”

Brett was right
One Can A Week does build community involvement. All those folks playing a part in this tale are participants and because they are participants they had someone to talk to about a situation that needed immediate attention. Miles is a community now … isn’t it?

*In last week’s blog I said that Sandy Scott was the only person I know in Washington, DC. I just learned Brett Weisel is in DC, too, after researching his title for this post. Now that makes perfect sense since Brett is the one who introduced me and One Can A Week to Sandy.

Feeding … and Clothing the Needy
On Thursday, in honor of MLK Day of Service, Senior Companion Maripaz Preciado greets folks as they enter the Southside Presbyterian Church. They are given a bag of food and the chance to browse hundreds upon hundreds of neatly presented clothes and shoes. Many were surprised and commented on the quality of the garments and shoes.

A year ago, Fran Coleman, Senior Companion Program Manager, began collecting the clothing and from the looks of things, she even took the time to break out her iron.

The Difference Anna Makes
It has only been three weeks since Anna and her folks volunteered to collect food on their block, but interestingly enough, the food donations are on the increase. Same participants, same stops but more food. Soon Anna will visit with neighbors who haven’t participated before. That will be interesting to see if they can resist a little girl’s charm.

We collected a total of 172 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $40.00, a $25.00 check and $15.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

211th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,
“My name is Mary Naset and
I’m on the digital team at the
Presidential Inaugural Committee.”

Good thing I was sitting down when I opened that email. I blinked and read the first sentence again. As I got deeper into the email the reality hit me. This really is from the Presidential Inaugural Committee.

One of the fun aspects for me in building One Can A Week is clicking on an email and finding a terrific surprise that moves our food drive forward. This was just such a moment.

“Hi Mr. Norback,

“My name is Mary Naset and I’m on the digital team at the Presidential Inaugural Committee. As we get ready for all the festivities of the 57th Presidential Inauguration—including the National Day of Service, we are looking to profile people who have made service a part of their everyday lives, and your name was passed along to me as a great person to feature!

If you don’t mind, I’d love to ask you a few questions about you, your service, and how President Obama’s call to service has inspired you that we could then feature as a blog post on! Please let me know if/when you are available for a quick phone call, or if you’d prefer I can send you some questions over email.

“Feel free to give me a call at 202-674-5418. Thank you!

Mary Naset
Content Writer
Presidential Inaugural Committee”

Over the next couple of day while anxiously awaiting a link to Mary’s post, I thought about a lot of things especially an email my friend Fran Coleman at Our Family Services just sent to me.

“Our first year, the donations averaged 60 – 75 lbs. per month. I am not sure what has happened this year, but donations are way up from the exact same group! For the past three months, Senior Companions have donated 110 lbs. of food per month! Our total monthly donation for the year will be about 1,500 lbs. of food.

“…all these donations are lovingly given by this gracious group of low-income Senior Companions! Keep in mind that most live on $500 - $800 a month, so giving is truly a loving sacrifice that they feel is important.

“In one of our monthly meetings not long ago I asked the group why they wanted to continue participating in One Can a Week? The response was overwhelmingly this: “We are the lucky ones; we have a roof over our heads, food in our bellies, and work that is meaningful – so sharing with those in our community who are less fortunate is only natural.” Imagine if the entire world thought as magnanimously as the Senior Companions – hunger would be gone!”

Fran Coleman
Senior Companion Program Manager
Our Family Services

On Tuesday, January 15, Mary sent me that link: Helping others—one can at a time. One click and I was instantly thrilled. Mary even used the composite photo of Lenny Cota-Robles, Barbara Farragut, Kym Fuhrig and me. She really wanted a group shot but thought the composite worked well. Guess what’s on our to-do list now? Yep, group shot.

The next day, with a clearer, calmer head, I tried to think of who recommended One Can A Week to the Presidential Inaugural Committee. The only person I know in Washington, DC is Sandy Scott who has helped me a few times over the past four years. In the early days he set up The New York Times and the USA Today articles.

It just had to be him so I sent a short thank you email. I was right and his reply makes me want to try even harder to take care of hungry kids and their parents.

“I was so glad to see their blogpost! We are excited that the President has again made a National Day of Service part of his Inauguration and our agency is working closely with the PIC on this exciting effort. I sent them your story because we think what you have done with One Can a Week in an incredibly inspiring example of the difference a person can make when they join with others to tackle a problem. You should be very proud of what you have started, what you will continue to do, and how you have inspired other efforts.”

Sandy Scott
Director of Public Affairs
Corporation for National & Community Service

Yesterday I got an email from a new grassroots organization called Organizing for Action that will help President Obama do something about gun safety, immigration, the debt ceiling and health care. After signing up and reading up on the next steps, I’ve decided that I’ll help were I can, but I’m keeping my focus on One Can A Week and the hunger issue. Folks are now realizing that We The People—as the President just said in his Inaugural Address—have to solve these big community problems by everyone working together in the community. Well, we in the Mile Neighborhood know this but won’t it be great having so many more people committed to community involvement? It sure will.

Look Around, Hungry Students are Everywhere
On Thursday Tiffany Kassel invited me to talk to her new class of One Can A Week volunteers at the Miles School. They were already pretty comfortable with the subject and had 56 lbs. of food and a $20 check for me to take to the food bank. Near the end of my chat I told them to pay attention to students who seldom eat when other are snacking. They have nothing so they say they are not hungry. Help them by quietly sharing your food.

Those words caused one young girl to speak up about her situation some time ago when she and her family had to “use the food bank.” Her point to her classmates was that yes, hungry students are among their friends, so look around.

We collected a total of 176 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $8.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, January 14, 2013

210th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,
“Charity Takes Small Piece of the Pie”

There’s a headline you won’t see in the local newspaper or online any time soon. It’s not provocative and nobody got hurt. Unfortunately, what piques everyone’s interest and sells newspapers is humans getting over on other humans. On the other hand, humans helping other humans without any jaded self interest, that’s just not news.

But it is news. Such behavior is as rare and as valuable as the Hope Diamond. Whenever I have a conversation with folks about charities in general the first thing that comes up is how they are ripping off the donors by painting homes, throwing parties and generally misusing funds. This makes every charitable organization suspect and donors reluctant to get involved.

But there is one charity I know for sure that is above reproach and it is our very own Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona. Bill Carnegie, the CEO, along with his board and staff run one of the most efficient and effective food banks in the country. Charity Navigator, a prominent charity rating service, gives the Food Bank 4 Stars out of four. But the Food Bank’s audited annual report says it all. Only 3% of the revenues they receive go to pay for fund raising and administrative costs. That’s 3%.

So the next time your friends talk about not-so-charitable charities, you can tell them you donate to one every week that knows what it means to have and keep the public’s trust. Those are the words I use every time the subject comes up and is the reason why I work so hard on One Can A Week. Our Food Bank is one of the best in the business of helping feed hungry kids and families.

One Can A Week is Making Some Noise

We showed up on one list in the Community Food Bank Annual Report 2011 – 2012. One Can A Week is among the 14 Food Drives that produced 10,000 Pounds & More. That’s a pretty select crowd which proves again that donating just a little on a very consistent basis really makes a big difference.
Ward 6 in the Lead
For some time now Council Member Steve Kozachik has encouraged his constituents to donate a can of food to the Food Bank every time they used one of their free meeting rooms. The last pick up was in late October so in a little over two months Ward 6 has collected 154 lbs. of food. That’s a very effective One Can A Meeting program.

Take Your Pup to Work Day
Now that there’s only Adam, I’m figuring out ways to bring him along on all kinds of little trips where he won’t be left in the truck alone. Today he helped me make a deliver to the Food Bank. When it came time for the cart photo, I got this terrific idea. It immediately became clear that Adam was not at all impressed with my creativity nor the situation I put him in.

We collected a total of 144 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $66.00, $55.00 in checks and $11.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, January 7, 2013

209th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,
A Thing of Beauty...

Even Adam likes to extend a paw
 “Benevolent goodwill toward or love of humanity” is how Merriam-Webster defines charity. What the Merriam-Webster folks leave out is “while expecting or desiring nothing in return.”

When I started One Can A Week my goal was to make our neighborhood program a pure charity. In other words, everything donated by my participants goes directly to the Food Bank. Every penny and every can or food product. If I needed something to help me do a better job, I would just make it know but still press on as things are.

My friend John gave me his 1992 Taurus which helped me collect and deliver to the Food Bank more than 40 thousand pounds of food. The car died this past summer and the responsibility fell to the aging Cabriolet. It, too, succumbed to the weight of the food a couple of months ago.

In the meantime, I used my Cabriolegs—what a friend called my two-wheeled dolly—to collect the donations on Sundays. Then a rotating list of friends, including Maen, Hugh, Kym, Mike and John helped with Monday morning deliveries. On Saturday, a neighbor friend handed me the keys to her sturdy and well maintained 1998 Chevrolet S10 and wished me well in my endeavor to help hungry parents and kids here in Tucson.

The world is mostly egocentric … survival of the fittest, as it were, but I don’t want to live like that. We’re out of the jungle and somewhat sophisticated so I want my world to revolve around people helping people to live more useful and productive lives.

I give my time and energy to help my neighbors help lots of needy folks. My friend gave me a truck to help me help even more neighbors. This world I am living in now is not a new idea. In fact it probably was born thousands upon thousands of years ago when the first philosopher said, “Hey, here’s a neat concept, put down your slings and arrows and let’s do unto others…”

It’s a new year and a new time for all of us to think about a way out of the mess we are in. Look around and then like my friend who had an extra truck in her driveway, find someone who can do a lot of good for his or her family or his or her neighborhood and make it happen. Welcome to my world.

Doing Good in a Not-so-good Year
2012 was tough on nearly everyone but the folks who dine and shop at the Rincon Market made life a little easier for hungry kids and parents in Tucson. With their nickels, dimes and dollars dropped into the Community Food Bank of Arizona’s donation jar, they paid for 5,342 lbs. of food. This amount was over a half a ton more (1,212 lbs.) than they donated in 2011. Even small change on a consistent basis matters.

If it’s Still Sunday
Roberto and Arnold left home early Sunday morning so they were gone most of the day. This meant they missed making their regular donation to the Food Bank. However, they just happened to run into me at the Axis Food Mart later that afternoon. As they picked up their Budweiser, they also grabbed a can of corn off the shelf and handed it to me. You could tell by their smiles they felt a whole lot better. Me, too.

We collected a total of 166 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $26.00, a $25.00 check and $1.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

208th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,
Simple Math for a Simple Program
1.7% Time Invested + 100% Commitment = 49,368 lbs. of Food

To the point: There are 8,706 hours in one year. If you and your three volunteers spend just three hours each and every Sunday for four straight years collecting food from your neighbors, you will donate 49,368 lbs. of food to the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona. Put another way, that’s 24.6 tons of food which sounds like more especially if you lift it … twice. Once to pick it up and once to deliver it.

Everybody understands 100% commitment. It’s the 1.7% figure that is the motivator. In one year my commitment to my Miles neighbors comes to 156 hours. And those few hours are incredibly productive for me, my neighbors and the folks we feed weekly.

Over the years I have worked for major corporations like Purina, Merrill Lynch, and BBDO Advertising. I even authored 22 books, but the most successful work I have ever done is to collect food for the Community Food Bank through One Can A Week.

We Americans are always chasing the buck and grasping at success. I have to admit I am fully vested in the game. However, if you want to feel very productive and very useful, go help someone in need. That’s true success and I have the numbers to prove it.

Happy New Year.

Our Fifth Anniversary Begins
Through our food donations in 2012 we fed 12,658 folks three meals in one day based on 1.3 lbs. per meal. We also collected $2,839.81. With the buying power of the Community Food Bank that amounted to $25,558.00 in food and services ($1.00 = $9.00).

The question now is how many more can we feed in 2013? If history is any indication it definitely will be lots.

We collected a total of 168 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $41.00, a $25.00 check and $16.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,