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,


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