Monday, March 25, 2013

220th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

Hi Folks,


At the bottom of Mayor Rothschild’s scheduling email is this note. “You can join the Mayor's "One Can a Meeting" program. Just bring a non-perishable food item to your meeting. There's a Food Bank collection box right in the conference room.”

That message is getting through. This week the Mayor’s office collected 39 lbs. of food.

Swarthmore Sophomore Wins
$20,000 Scholarship with
One Can A Week Program

A rough graphic of the map section on the proposed farepath website I created after speaking to Jason
for a half hour. The farepath logo is official.

“My name is Jason Heo, and I’m a sophomore at Swarthmore College, right outside Philadelphia. A couple of years ago, I came across the One Can A Week program as a high school senior in southern Indiana.”

That’s how Jason introduced himself to me in an email on Tuesday. He went on to say how his family after arriving from South Korea years ago struggled in the beginning but are now achieving some success in building a life in America. Jason goes on to write…

“Because my father was an international graduate student, once I was born, my parents certainly encountered some difficulties making ends meet. Fortunately my parents were the type to go through great lengths to guarantee the success of their children. With governmental aid through Head Start and Medicaid, my family was eventually able to reach a more stable socioeconomic class before too long. Through good fortune, I was able to avoid becoming one out of five or six children going hungry everyday. However, and I’m sure you would agree with me, many Americans are much less lucky than I am.”

Later on in his email he turns to One Can A Week, “Additionally, I was so inspired by your progress and expansion through the One Can A Week program, I began my own in the Swarthmore community. I was extremely pleased with how fairly simple your model was, yet so effective. However, I believed that the introduction of technology into the program could be that much more beneficial.”

This is where the scholarship comes in. Jason applied for and won a Lang Opportunity Scholarship that rewards “distinguished academic and extra-curricular achievement, leadership qualities, and demonstrated commitment to civic and social responsibility.” He will receive up to $10,000 for his technological project plus $5,000 per year for two years of graduate study. (The Lang Opportunity Scholarships program is an endowment created by Eugene M. Lang from the class of 1938.)

What Jason is going to build is a secure website for One Can A Week participants, whether whole neighborhoods or individuals. Folks will be able to view maps and information to see how everyone else is doing in the quest to eliminate hunger in cities across America. The website will create a community in the neighborhoods and online at the same time. This is especially appealing to Jason’s generation.

The website will also create contacts for help with delivery to the local food bank every week. Donated food in cities will begin to flow and there will be all kinds of transportation opportunities available for participants. A flash notice on the website will have someone at your door in a few hours to help you out.

The other element I discussed with Jason was the friendly competition aspect. Everyone can see who is doing what in the neighborhood or group and this can help up the ante in donations.

Jason closed his email by telling me … “I’m currently collecting donations from about 20 households through this academic semester to collect data while also working on building different aspects of the technological platform. I really just wanted to express my gratitude and appreciation for what you’ve created in the One Can A Week program. I would really enjoy being able to speak with you to hear more about your program and talk to you about the different aspects of mine.”

Well, that last part about talking? That’s going to happen a lot. Anyone who is helping to make One Can A Week better and more efficient has my undivided attention.

Campus Pantries Growing On NBC News the other night they featured a story about hungry college kids across the country. There are at least 50 pantries in operation at 50 major universities and colleges. We have one here at the University of Arizona. Good heavens, folks, this is a wake up call. Pretty soon pantries will be everywhere, even at banks and corporations.

And this is not an exaggeration. In a Huffington Post story today, “Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Cay Johnston for Tax Analysts” stated that “Incomes for the bottom 90 percent of Americans only grew by $59 on average between 1966 and 2011 (when you adjust those incomes for inflation). During the same period, the average income for the top 10 percent of Americans rose by $116,071, Johnston found.”

Another good heavens!

We collected a total of 209 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $32.50, a $25.00 check and $7.50 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, March 18, 2013

219th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

Hi Folks,
Picture Perfect Week
Miles School Gym
Now Only Volleyballs Bounce Off the Walls
A couple of years ago we moved the Miles Neighborhood monthly meeting into the Miles School Gym because it had no stairs and easy access. But this new venue created another problem. The acoustics were terrible. Someone sitting only 5 feet away was hard to hear. And if they were a bit shy and had the meeting-mumbles, he or she was impossible to understand.

Late last year John O’Dowd, the president of the Sam Hughes Neighborhood Association and a prominent Tucson lawyer, mentioned at a school board candidate’s fund raiser here in the neighborhood that he had just gotten some sound proofing done for one of the grade schools in his neighborhood. My ears perked up.

Next to me listening to the same conversation was Dan McDonald a One Can A Week participant and a member of the TUSD budgeting committee. “Oh yeah,” Dan said, “that’s a special budget and we have some funds left that have to be spent before January.”

“What?” I said, somewhat surprised that suddenly the universe of School Box Gyms/Meeting Halls came together right where we were all standing. “I’ve got one of those echo boxes at the Miles School,” I volunteered. Who do I call?”

The next day John sent me the contact information for Marcus Jones, head of Engineering for TUSD. I then sent an email to Robin Weldon the principal of the Miles School and copied Rebecca Lipson and Tiffany Kassel the One Can A Week coordinators at the school.

A week went by and nothing. I then called Robin and we had a great conversation. She never really thought about the acoustics in the gym but if it could be fixed and paid for by someone, she was all for it.

That is when I called Marcus Jones, a very responsive and pleasant person to talk to. He said he would follow up with Robin. That was the last of my involvement.

Then in January as I was sitting in our monthly neighborhood meeting I suddenly became award that I could hear every word that was said no matter who was speaking and no matter how far away they were.

What was going on? I slowly looked around the room and then I saw them. Huge fabric frames about 10 feet above the floor and evenly spaced around the entire gym. I had to think. Those weren’t there before. The walls were so plain, now they have artwork-like things hanging everywhere. And I can hear!

The other day I was thinking about our up coming March meeting and got a pang of guilt. I forgot to thank John, Dan and Marcus. A thank you email was sent to John and Dan got a personal thank you a couple of Sunday’s ago. Marcus was a little bit harder to reach.

On Thursday evening my phone rang and it was Marcus Jones calling me back while he was waiting to go into a TUSD board meeting. He appreciated my thank you call because he seldom gets such things.

Marcus than told me how he made the decision to fix the acoustics. He stopped by the gym one day and a lot of kids were doing gym stuff at the top of their lungs. He then noticed several of the students wore hearing aids. “That must be very uncomfortable for those kids,” he thought. Not long after his visit, the sound proofing when up.

This whole saga unfolded because I wanted to listen to what folks were saying. That carried over to paying attention to what John was saying and paying attention to Dan’s response, too.

When an email didn’t work, I called on the phone to give a heads up to Robin who told me to proceed. Marcus was called next and he then visited the gym and listened to the kids.

Now that makes me think, how much more could we get done if we could just hear each other a little better?

Tiffany Kassel, a Desert Willow and three of her students
Just Being Neighborly
A week ago our current and former One Can A Week coordinators at the Miles School, Tiffany Kassel and Rebecca Lipson respectively, sent an email asking me to help facilitate two community service projects. Tiffany wanted to plant trees and Rebecca suggested collecting pet food for the local Hope Animal Shelter just up the street from Safeway.

At 9 am Thursday, Rebecca’s class of over 16 kids visited 9 neighbors and collected pet food donations and money for the animal shelter. Two by two they knocked on the doors of neighbors on Miles Street, 12th Street, 13th Street and Highland Avenue. I set these up Sunday so everyone was prepared to give the kids a great experience of going door-to-door to meet their neighbors.

At 11 am Tiffany, along with her class and a wheel barrow full of tools, showed up to dig a 2 foot x 18 inch hole in my entrance way. While they took turns digging, the other kids pulled weeds in the alley, thank you very much. By 2 pm they were back with the 9 foot Desert Willow tree and planted it.

The best part of the two community service projects is things could be done in a hurry and at low or no cost at all. After just a short walk from their class to the neighborhood the students were engaged with either neighbors or planting. It was fun and easy for everyone.

With more experiences like that, the students will have no trouble engaging their family, friends and neighbors in community service in their own neighborhoods. And we can say we helped Tiffany and Rebecca get their young students headed in the right direction.

A $1 bill donation left under the wiper
A Matter of Trust
Right after I turned the truck over I noticed some money under the passenger side wiper. I jumped out, leaving the door open and took a closer look. In a minute I was back with my camera and took this photo.

There was a story there but I didn’t think much about it until I got my weekly TED (Technology, Education and Design) email alerting me to another “trying to move mankind forward” video talk.

The guy, Dan Pallotta, was angry but he tried to disguise that emotion. A few years ago he created the three or four-day long charity event that involved getting lots of folks walking or running. They raised a lot of money but were expensive to operate. When donors found out 40% of the revenues were going to pay staff and things, he got shut down. His talk was to suggest humans have to change their thinking about charity. It takes money to make money and he wants folks to change their thinking.

It’s not thinking that needs to change, it’s human nature and that is never going to happen.

The person who put the $1 bill under the wiper wants his or her money to feed someone. Period. Not buy office chairs or paintings or coffee for the staff. I totally understand that. That’s what I want. That’s what everyone wants. And that’s why I love the Community Food Bank because only 3% of the revenues they raise go for operational costs. And 100% of the food we donate goes to feed parents and kids.

Dan’s right, though, you need money to run or expand an operation. However, deference must be paid to human nature. Donations must be treated as donations to help folks. If money is need to help sustain an organization than it must be called sponsorship.

Of course, many marketers hate to confuse the issue so they use the word donation to cover both bases. It’s more emotional and therefore, more motivating.

The word sponsorship causes a person pause. But smart, charity minded people, realize that if they become a sponsor, they can help even more people because they help run the organization and their 2 cents counts.

One Can A Week has donors and recently a few sponsors. The truck is a perfect example of a sponsor and just look at how much more food has been picked up because of the truck and delivered to the Community Food Bank.

Dan’s thinking has to change, not the wonderful folks who have no trouble stepping up to put a $1 bill under a wiper. When they know you and trust that every penny and every can goes to feed someone they are there for you. If you yourself need help to go forward, call that help a sponsorship, not a donation. Nobody gets fooled and nobody gets angry then.

Good at Gathering Food
When I stopped by the Tucson Planning and Development Office this week for a pick up, Heather Thrall told me about Daniel Barraza, their security guard. Seems he’s got a talent for collecting food from everywhere, his family, friends and party going neighbors.

Hope he keeps it up and has as much fun as I do every week helping out hungry families.

We collected a total of 178 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $35.50, a $25.00 check and $10.50 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, March 11, 2013

218th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

Hi Folks,
Three successful ways
to collect One Can A Week
without going door-to-door

On Tuesday, The Miles School, The Rincon Market and Ward 6 called for a
pick up. Each has a different and effective way to succeed with One Can
A Week.
Successful patterns of behavior are often described in a word or a phrase as a way to help everyone make the right decision. For instance, buy low, sell high or never look a gift horse in the mouth. When it comes to One Can A Week, coordinated consistency is what makes all the difference in the world.

Initially One Can A Week started out as a neighborhood program where door-to-door pick up and delivery service was an essential ingredient. It still is and proves to be the most productive method of food collection. However, if someone just concentrates on coordinating a One Can A Week program on a consistent basis in a non neighborhood environment, he or she will be quite successful. Three cases in point:

The Miles School
For the past three years the Miles School has had two coordinators: Rebecca Lipson and Tiffany Kassel. Both are strong managers and both have been very consistent even though our economy is quite sluggish. This week Tiffany had 46 lbs. of food and surprisingly, $119.60 in cash.
Ward 6
Councilman Steve Kozachik along with his assistant Molly Thrasher, who is also our One Can A Week videographer, encourages every visitor to donate food each time he or she attends a meeting in any one of their three very pleasant conference rooms. And it makes no difference if the meeting is Ward 6 business or a community art class.

As I walked into the building to make the pick up, Steve was standing in the entrance way and asked, “Did you bring your can of food?” In addition to running a strong One Can A Week program, Councilman Kozachik also likes to make folks smile.

The Rincon Market
The process is simple. Customers drop coins and dollar bills into the food bank collection jar as they pay for their meals. Throughout the week, Ron Abbott, the owner of the Rincon Market keeps an eye on the jar’s contents. On Saturday, I wrap the coins and purchase food from their grocery store. Ron, too, is very consistent and takes his coordinator role very seriously.

With one in six Americans experiencing food insecurity now, more and more folks will step up to help. And those who take the One Can A Week approach are assured success if they simply become predictable and dependable.

If anybody can make
a neighborhood drop off program work,
Frank Flasch is the guy
Right away Frank Flasch, who lives in the Old Ft. Lowell Neighborhood, took a different approach to One Can A Week. He called his program The One can a week - Four cans a month TEAM. He also calls his volunteers Champions, not coordinators. That was back in September, 2011. Frank was also a strong proponent of having his neighbors drop off their donations at the monthly community meeting.

I alerted Frank to the fact that his participation might be less than the 50% we experience if he does not pick up the food every Sunday. Undaunted Frank pressed forward.

The Old Fort Lowell Neighborhood consists mostly of Home Owner Associations. To date Frank has engaged 9 of those associations in his program plus he has three more waiting in the wings. In addition, there is a drop off box at the San Pedro Chapel.

The first year was slow going but Frank is never one to give up and his consistency is beginning to pay off. In the first two months of this year, his neighbors have contributed 1,081 lbs. of food and $485 in cash to the Community Food Bank. This is very solid growth for Frank’s program.

In addition, Frank is building his community because now a significant number of his neighbors are working together and talking about one unifying project.

My whole drive is to collect as much food as possible but I have to admit building a community—as Frank is endeavoring to do—is just as important.

Congratulations, Frank, on the great job you are doing.

The Miles School Community Service Day
in the Neighborhood

Thursday, March 1

Rebecca Lipson, the original One Can A Week coordinator at the Miles School is encouraging her students to participate in even more community service activities.

Rebecca’s project is just like One Can A Week except it’s for dog and cats … not people.

The Hope Animal Shelter, Tucson’s only no-kill animal shelter is looking for food donations. (If you don’t already know, the shelter is quite close to our neighborhood at 2011 E. 12th Street, just a few steps east of Safeway.)

On Thursday the students will gladly come to your home to pick up donations which you may also leave on your porch.

They are looking for Authority brand dog food, Fancy Feast canned cat food and Pine/Feline Pine cat litter. All these brands are carried at PetsMart or Trader Joes.

If you want to meet some conscientious Miles School students and donate to their Hope Animal Shelter cause, please drop me an email or call me at 520-248-3694. We will make sure you are on the list for a visit this Thursday morning.

Keeping our neighborhood safe

Last Tuesday I accompanied Larry Robison from the Pima County Flood Control District and Mary Lucking, the Tuffets artist, around the Park to select appropriate sites for the 8 charming seats. That was 11 am.

I was back again around 4 pm walking Adam when I noticed two people setting up two huge tents in the ravine. I calmly suggested they not do that because camping is prohibited in any Tucson park. If they did not move the police would come.

The young lady told me to go away which I did. However I called the police. Within 20 minutes two patrol cars showed up. I was impressed and wanted to say thank you and do something special for the incredibly quick response. Rossana talked to her son who is a police office and he said "we are just doing our job...there is no need other than a hello or wave to let us know we are appreciated."

These words reminded me of something my folks always told me to do when I was a kid so I created a little flyer we handed out Sunday.

“Wave to the nice police officer.”

Heard that a lot when I was a kid. My folks were trying to teach me respect for people, authority and a caring world.

It worked.

So when I had to call the police Tuesday to help extract some homeless people who just set up two large tents in our Park’s ravine, I did not hesitate. Others I talked to later who had seen the same homeless people did not call the police because they were concerned about retaliation or just plain did not want to get involved.

Thanks to my folks police are my friends, and like my big kid friends back in school, they protect me from the nonsense of the world. I’ll never hesitate to call the police when I or any of my neighbors get in trouble.

The next time you see a police officer in the neighborhood, think about what Howard and Mabel Norback said and “wave to the nice police officer.”

We collected a total of 174 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $58.00, a $50.00 check and $8.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, March 4, 2013

217th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

Hi Folks,
Rincon Market Serves Breakfast
at UA Campus Pantry

Three UA Campus Pantry board members, John, Beeler, Chairman, Mariel Wilk, Director of Outreach and Michelle Sun, Adviser, greeted fellow students at the second opening of the Campus Pantry last Friday. They also checked in the much needed breakfast cereal donated by the Rincon Market. Davis Bauer, Marketing Director, was present also, but by proxy. He is in the photo held up by Michelle.
Instead of handing out bags or boxes of food, the Pantry wants to make the experience more like shopping at the supermarket. Participants come into the room, show their Cat Card and are handed a paper shopping bag. They are then told to walk around the tables and select one, two or three items depending on the table. There are three tables and plenty of interesting, brand name foods.

 As the students leave, they check out by having all of their items entered into a computer. This is for inventory control only. No names are associated with any orders.

The Pantry is new and will grow once they receive their nonprofit status and a permanent location on campus. However, they already have the most important ingredient for success: A very professional and remarkably caring staff.

Someone Reported Me to Ben’s Bells

Jeannette Maré, Ben’s Bells, (left), Lee Wilson, Peter Norback, Bill Carnegie, CEO, Community Food Bank, Lenny Cota-Robles, Jack Parris, Media Relations, Community Food Bank, Barbara Farragut and Kym Fuhrig.

Photo by Laura Sanchez, Community Food Bank

“Is it possible for you to meet me for coffee at the Rincon Market next Tuesday about 8:15 AM? I need the contact information for the U of A Food Pantry and would like to just catch up with you.”

Those are the exact words Bill Carnegie, CEO of the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona, used in a February 19 email to set me up. I was all excited because I was going to get a chance to discuss some of my strategic planning for One Can A Week. And since my background is Merrill Lynch corporate I know how important it is to focus on a succinct presentation for a key executive.

I was early but Bill greeted me as he came out of the grocery section of the market with his coffee in hand. That should have tipped me off but I was lost in my focus on the content of our meeting.

He said he didn’t know that the Rincon Market was so big. I offered to show him around and he replied, “Later, let me get some coffee for you first.”

I looked at him and thought, “What about breakfast? I planned on breakfast.”

Coffee is something I don’t like and I don’t drink but the pressure was mounting. I agreed to a cup of decaf to be compliant. After all, I didn’t want to create any ripples even before we started our conversation.

Bill chose the table and the chair facing in. I sat with my back to the food counter and grocery section. He asked me if I had heard about the situation where they found contraband in one of the produce bins. I had no idea so he told me about it. Toward the end of that conversation a blond woman leaned over my shoulder and shook Bill’s hand. Bill said, “You know Jeannette Maré, standing up and gesturing to me.

I stood up and shook her hand trying to place her face. Jeannette then gestured behind me and smiling said, “And you know all these people.”

When I turned I saw Barbara first and said I know her … and as I went down the line, I could see I knew them all. I blinked. “What the heck is going on?’

Than Jeannette took out a rather large Ben’s Bell from a green shopping bag and handed it to me.

Photos soon ensued and that was the best part. I now have a wonderful photo of everyone who has helped me make the Mile Neighborhood One Can A Week program work. I’ll get to talk to Bill again soon but that photo is a once in a lifetime memento. Thanks, Bill, for making it happen.

COOL … BMX is Back at Arroyo Chico Park


On Saturday I took Adam for an afternoon walk around the park and on the backside I saw lots of kids flying over the BMX jumps. There was no supervision but everything was methodical and orderly. As a number of riders shot down the dirt mound on the right, others waited and watched at the jumps. I was lucky enough to get a photo of one rider returning from a thrilling ride while another of his friends took flight in the background.

The fellow in the blue shirt under the tree was a bit older and taking videos of the riders as they flew over the obstacles. Although I was off in the distance, I heard one kid say to him as he ended his ride, “This is fun … but it is safe.”

Rocky, the course designer who is currently updating the jumps for the Pima County Flood Control District said that much in our meetings last year when contention—not a BMX biker—was in the air.

Some Saturday afternoon take a walk in the park and see a bunch of really slender kids enjoying the heck out of some major—yet no cost—dirt bumps in the ground. Those bumps, by the way, they hand built themselves. And then consider, if we had more BMXers, we wouldn’t have an overweight kid problem, that’s for sure.

Was Thinking About Calling on You, too
On Friday, Jessie Baxter, Outreach Coordinator for Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva sent me an email asking to be placed on my email list so she “can keep up with all you’ve got going on.”

For the past few months I have been wondering if I should call Congressman Grijalva to tell him about One Can A Week.

Well, thanks to Ms. Baxter, I can start to wonder about something else.

Philosopher on the Road
Mark Evans at the Tucson Citizen website suggested I get in touch with Daniel Becton a gentleman who travels around the country talking to folks in community service.

He runs a family organization called Project Ubuntu. The word Ubuntu whose origin is from the Bantu languages in Southern Africa means “my humanity is tied to yours.” Daniel has a degree in philosophy and is writing a book about his experiences. In between bites of my Betty’s Brie sandwich at Beyond Bread, I answered his most interesting question, “what do I think causes man’s inhumanity to man.”

Two words, tribalism and fear, I said. People need to put down other groups to feel better about themselves and they fear everything.

Daniel didn’t ask for any solutions and it’s a good thing because I have none.

The lunch ended when I said I had to leave to go to the UA Campus Pantry. Daniel gave me a can of food which I gladly accepted and I gave him a little advice.

“Daniel,” I said, “everything you do is passive. In your travels you see lots going on, select something and become active. Connect folks, help folks, bring folks together who can help each other. Your life will have much more meaning.”

I got that from my dad who also had a degree in philosophy. He asked me lots of time, “So … what are you going to do?”

Best question ever.

Bringing cans to the office really works for Ward 6
PhotoMolly Thrasher, our One Can A Week videographer, sent me an email today asking for a food pickup at Councilman Kozachik’s office. The collection bins near the front door were overflowing as was a huge box in the supply closet.

The key to their success is Ward 6 asks folks who use the free meeting rooms to donate at least
one can of food per meeting. Over time, it appears, the suggested donation turned into a goodwill gesture on the part of the meeting attendees to pay for the privilege of using the very pleasant accommodations. And one can is just not enough. Bags of food are dropped off, also.

So donating cans at the office for the Food Bank is just not enough motivation. And often those cans are forgotten at home, too. However, cans that become a mechanism to express thanks and gratitude for services that are offered free, stack up high in the office entrance way. Fascinating.

We collected a total of 178 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $32.00, a $25.00 check and $7.50 in cash.

See you Sunday,