Monday, February 25, 2013

216th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

Hi Folks,

Life Goes Round in Circles

Scenes from the movie Grease or more accurately, Blackboard Jungle could have been shot at my high school in Middletown, NY. It was 1956 and there were fights on many days, but most days there were just ducktails, Elvis Presley and banality. I was fourteen and on a number of occasions I told my folks that as soon as I turned 18 I was leaving Middletown. Had no real plans, just was going to leave because I was that uncomfortable.

In the middle of my sophomore year dad, who was a production manager in the garment industry, took a new job at Alligator Rainwear, a famous raincoat manufacturer at the time. In the late 1940s and early 50s, J. Robert Oppenheimer, the top US physicist was often photographed in a long flowing raincoat. That was an Alligator. The company’s logo line was, “Alligator: They never leak” Ever time my dad said that line, one of my brothers would mutter, “And that is what makes them so mean.”

We learned Alligator was in St. Louis and we’d be moving immediately. I was leaving Middletown and that is all I thought about. Even the trip that took a week in our aging Kaiser was no problem at all. Mom couldn’t take more than 200 miles a day on the road so we poked along.

In a couple of days after arriving in St. Louis, mom found a house in Clayton, Missouri, an exclusive and predominately Jewish community. It was in St. Louis County and one of the best places to live. Mom was always good at making sure we lived nicely even though we had little money. “Class,” she would remind us, “has nothing to do with money.”

It’s didn’t take my brother Craig and I long to acclimate to our new environment. We were from the tough, juvenile delinquent east coast and a bit of an oddity. Craig was asked one time if he had ever been in a rumble, and he said, “Only in the back seat.” I loved that joke. Me? I had a mouth on me that any military man would admire. Made the guys laugh because they did not speak with any attitude at all.

After a few months one of my friends, Stanley Plocker said that he was amazed at how I was able to become one of the guys so quickly. I loved Clayton High and everything it had to offer. Smart and caring kids who wanted nothing more than to succeed at what they chose to do.

In a game of Password, Sheldon Shapiro, my partner, gave me the word “conniption.” Everyone else in the game knew the answer but I was foggy. I heard the word before, however I struggled to find the meaning in my brain. Maybe 30 or 40 seconds ticked by yet no one jumped in to disqualify me. Then I blurted out “fit.” The room erupted in laughter and cheers.

So mostly it was the warmth and acceptance I felt at Clayton High that helped me become who I am today. From graduation on I learned to look for and associate with people who behaved like my friends did in high school. That was a better world and I always strive to live in such a place.

Just recently I met a young man named Davis Bauer who is the marketing director for the UA Campus Pantry program. He’s a junior in the Eller School of Business and wants to incorporate One Can A Week into his class projects and the University’s initiative to “take care of its own.” (Here is a link to the program.

Davis rode with me while I did my Sunday rounds a week ago and I made part of the conversation about my earlier business and schooling experience. Of course, I mentioned my life altering adventure at Clayton High School where I learned how much fun it is to think … and what a delight it is to be around smart folks.

At the end of my rounds I drove Davis back to his fraternity which was just 6 or so blocks away. He told me it was on the next corner and pointed to the house. When I looked up I was startled. It was the Sammy house. (Sammy is the endearing name for Sigma Alpha Mu, a Jewish fraternity.) I mentioned I had been at a number of Sammy parties at Missouri University and let it go.

A few days later we met again in the afternoon. At the end of our meeting I told Davis that my Clayton High saga was just a personal story and I had no idea that I would end up at the åAM house. Davis said he understood and added that for me it was probably “like coming home.”

One Can A Week has been so good for me … just like Clayton High.

When it rains …
Mary, my friend and client, asked me if I would like to have her SUV for One Can A Week when she buys a new automobile. Although the SUV is running well, her mechanic suggested she consider moving on.

No, I have a wonderful pickup now and that is all I need. But I said she might think about giving the SUV to someone who is active in the community, a bus rider and able to afford insurance and minor auto repairs.

I believe people who are good at managing finances like Mary, should also consider investing in people when an opportunity presents itself. For instance, imagine a person who has little money and few complaints in life but thinks it important to volunteer as a Senior Companion or a school crossing guard. How much more could he or she do with reliable transportation? It is always the large cash payment or a down payment that keeps folks riding the bus.

And if help from above, as it were, became the norm here in Arizona how many more people would turn to helping others if their good works and good behavior could possibly be rewarded in this lifetime? Just thinking.

We collected a total of 162 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $32.00, a $25.00 check and $7.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

215th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

Hi Folks,
We Have Been Out of the Caves
Only 12,000 Years


Judi and Merv Wingard already introduced One Can A Week to their neighbors at Academy Village when they asked me to come and make a presentation. They (the neighbors) approved collecting One Can A Week in their monthly executive meeting and opted to ask folks to bring cans to the Community Center rather than going door to door. That interaction seemed like a lot of work to them. Judi on the other hand wanted me to present to her neighbors how the program proves to be the most effective.

After a brief introduction I showed Molly Thrasher’s 10-minute One Can A Week video which got them in the mood. But I don’t explain what the Community Food Bank does or how great the need is. That follows the Henry Ford slide below. Instead I brought up a different, yet quite related subject … attitude.

What I have learned over these past four years of encouraging people to help the hungry is that there is a huge disconnect when it comes to how we humans fit on this beautiful planet and what we should be doing. The crux of the problem is our perception of time.

We moved out of the caves some 12,000 years ago which seems like a long time to most folks … but it is not. So I began there to try to startle the audience in an attempt to help them gain a new prospective.


Sociologists set the generational scale at 25 years but I suggest we look at a linear generational chart based on 100 years. That means since we came out of the caves, one person is born, lives to be 100-years-old and dies. Then the next person is born and so on. We see a lot of 100-year-old people these days making it a quite familiar age.

I asked the question, “Linearly speaking, over the past 12,000 years how many 100-year-old people have lived and died?” I let them calculate for a few seconds, but as confusion creeps across their faces I say. “120 people. You’ve been in longer movie lines. And I have to tell you, I’m now at the 70% mark of one of those one-hundred-year old people and it’s not been very long at all. I feel like I’m just getting on a roll. What do you think? Has it been long for you? Of course not, so why do we think we know anything? Why do we think we know anything at all? And by the way, it doesn’t look like it but there are exactly 120 figures holding hands in the chart.”

This idea of so few lives representing how long we have been highly productive on this planet is astonishing and provocative. A year ago I gave this talk and a person who was there came up to me recently and said, “Do you believe it? Only 120 people.”

A normal 25-year linear generation isn’t much better. It’s 480 people and that number fills a little over half of a full capacity (853 seats) Air Bus 380A.


Now that I have them blinking I talk about the haves and the 80% who have nearly nothing. The top 20% are doing okay but the bottom 80% are sinking fast. Looking at the actual figures brought a hush over the audience, especially that 4.7% number.


To bring my audience back up for air I offered a solution that is just as astounding as the 120-people time gauge. About two months ago Demos, an idea organization in New York City presented a study where minimum wage workers could be paid an annual full time salary of $25,000 and it would only cost 30 cents more every time consumers shopped at their favorite retailers like Wal-Mart and Target.

This idea, too, caused more blinking. How could 30 cents be the solution? Simple. It’s a One Can A Week idea. Lots of folks doing a little all of the time.


Just one of those one-hundred-year-old people ago, Henry Ford was stuck like many of the major retailers are today. They have substantial turnover and many of their workers can’t buy their company’s products.

Mr. Ford shocked the world when he made a purely business decision to raise the wages of his average worker from $2.50 a day to $5.00 a day. This cut his turnover, increased the worker pool and expanded his customer base. Of course, other manufactures followed suit and the middle class was born.

At this point I discussed the need for food and our wonderfully efficient Community Food Bank. One Can A Week is what we can do now to help feed folks—and at the same time—show other neighborhoods that we all have to “Do Something…” to make a better society.

When the talk ended, many are a bit surprised with what they have just heard and their questions proved I may have hit a nerve. “How come we stopped caring for each other?” (Probably the invention of the refrigerator made it unnecessary to share to averted food spoilage.) “How come churches aren’t more involved?” (Probably because pastors pushing parishioners to participate in weekly community service is antithetical to job security.)

Even at the 5 pm social after the presentation the questions continued. This is exactly what I was going for. Only 120 one-hundred-year old people have gone down the linear path before us so we really only know two thing for sure, we can never stop asking questions and we’ve got to “Do Something” to help each other.

Reaching across Broadway
Maen handed me a slip of paper with an email address written on it and suggested I contact the young man. “He’s a good guy,” Maen said. That’s all I needed to know.

Turns out the “good guy” is Davis Perry Bauer, the marketing director for a new U of A initiative called UA Campus Pantry. They want to get involved with One Can A Week to help feed their own needy students and staff. Also he is a member of the Sigma Alpha Mu (åAM) fraternity and they want to donate to the Miles Neighborhood starting next Sunday.

Isn’t it always the way? I was looking to engage the University of Arizona in One Can A Week and they reached out to me.

We collected a total of 184 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $33.00, a $25.00 check and $8.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, February 11, 2013

214th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

Hi Folks,
“And what are you going to do?”

It never fails. When I make a One Can A Week presentation to a neighborhood association or social group, telling them about our concept of picking up the food contributions every Sunday, someone immediately speaks up and says. “What a great idea. I’ll just have my neighbors drop off the food at my home.”

Most insist on pursuing their approach even when I suggest—as politely as possible—they are doomed from the very beginning. I’ve often heard back that they did try and they did fail within a week or two.

Humans have a very consistent and predictable behavior pattern when asked to do something. Whether the thought appears in the conscious or unconscious mind the words are always the same: “And what are you going to do?”

If the role of the person asking for help is passive, the person asked to help will remain or become passive in a very short period of time. This is why many charities host singular annual events to raise funds. People only help passive folks once in a while if they help at all.

Years ago when my back was stronger I was often asked to help my friends move. “Sure I’ll help,” I’d say quickly, “but I have one rule, you have to pick up your end of the couch first before I pick up my end.”

People just love others to do the work for them, don’t they? And it’s not a bad path for an individual to follow, but it does stymie community interaction. Since I’m more into equity, I thought of this simple rule to involve both myself and the helpee, as it were, whenever there’s work to be done.

One Can A Week operates on the same principle. My neighbors put out the can first and then I take it from there. It’s neighbors helping neighbors help. And it accounts for our wonderful success in shared responsibility.

Others involved in grassroots charity work are beginning to pay attention to what we do and the way we do it. On Thursday, I received an email from Nina Straw.

“I was just talking to Frank (Flasch) at the Ft Lowell Neighborhood Association and he suggested I contact you.

“I started a backpack program in my neighborhood elementary school and we are sending 73 children home every Friday with a weekend backpack containing 2 breakfasts and 2 lunches to make sure our kids are eating over the weekend and ready to learn on Monday…

“Any ideas or suggestions would be very helpful as we are very grassroots.”

Then two days later, Davis Bauer sent me a similar email.

“…I am a student in the Eller College of Management here in Tucson. I am communicating to you because I represent a non-profit organization here on campus called UA Campus Pantry.

“I would very much like to collaborate with your "One Can A Week" program. UA Campus Pantry is an officially recognized ASUA organization here on campus, and the very first student food pantry exclusively for staff and students in need.

“We not only offer canned food and other non-perishables, but an array of toiletries with our recent partnership with UA Campus Health services.”

It’s going to be fun and rewarding to help both of these essential organizations achieve their unique goals. And isn’t it amazing, all they have to learn is to “pick up their end of the couch right after their participants’ pick up theirs.”

No wonder the Cabriolet gave up the ghost
January 7th was the official start date for the new One Can A Week truck. It’s been only 35 days since then and the S10 has delivered 1,986 lbs. to the food bank. At this pace we’re headed for an 11-ton year at the minimum.

We collected a total of 164 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $38.00, a $25.00 check and $13.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,


Monday, February 4, 2013

213th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Project

Hi Folks,
Big Step Forward for One Can A Week

It happened again. We just keep on doing what we do and things start to change for the better all around us. On Thursday I got another one of those completely unexpected emails from Laura Sanchez, Web Content & Donor Relations Specialist at the Community Food Bank.

“Hey Peter,

“It’s Laura from the Community Food Bank. We’ve spoken a few times at the Rincon Market. Congratulations on being featured on the Inauguration blog. What a great national story! We love your blog and try to highlight it when possible on social media. The Association of Arizona Food Banks actually tweeted us that great article from the Inauguration.

“We know you are already collecting monetary and food donations; but we wanted to help create a way for you to promote this food drive and collect money online more easily. So, we set up a Virtual Food Drive for One Can A Week.

“All donations made on this virtual food drive page will be tracked as One Can A Week Food Drive donations and will be included with your monetary totals report. (You have already raised over $10,000 for the Community Food Bank and we can’t thank you enough for your efforts!)”

What a great idea … virtual One Can A Week. All donations go directly to the Food Bank through their secure website. After thinking about this new feature for a few days I realized this is perfect for those who work in offices and have a hard time remembering to bring a donation to work. Now they can become a One Can A Week participant simply by filling out a form to donate $4.00 every month… $1.00 a week for one can. They will never miss the money and they will never miss a week helping feed hungry folks and their kids.

Interestingly enough, the “set it and forget it” One Can A Week virtual program is as easy as placing a can outside your front door every Sunday. And like our friendly Thank You notes, the Community Food Bank sends out Thank You notes of their own. You may forget you are a One Can A Week virtual participant, but the Food Bank will let you know how important you are to them every month.

Please post a link to our One Can A Week virtual program on your Facebook page and Twitter account. Thanks.

Spiffed up and ready to go

Around 3 pm, Signs Now on Speedway and Alvernon called to say the S10 was ready. Even though I had to take the bus one more time I was still all smiles. On this last bus trek, I had to wait no longer than a minute or two at each bus stop before the bus arrived. I took this as a good sign.

The truck was parked outside the store’s front door when I walked up. The first thing I noticed was the craftsmanship. It was outstanding. Maybe I should call it craftswomanship because Barbara does all of the wrap installations at Signs Now. The hood looked painted, not vinyl wrapped, and the window washer spray mounts were covered, too, as if they were molded. Add to this Dave’s signage design and you have a superior job.

The best part is the Cabriolet paid for most of the signage. U-Pull-It Auto Parts, the salvage yard near Ajo and Commercial Way gave me $300 for the car and I kicked in $8.00. It’s like the Cabriolet is still riding around with me helping collect One Can A Week.

Next I bought an $8.00 can of black spray paint at AutoZone and on Saturday afternoon sanded and coated the truck’s finish that had been mangled by the Arizona sun. Ten feet back the Chevy S10 now looks all rugged and shiny again.

As our President said, nobody builds anything alone so I’d like to recommend some great partners when you have signs to make and autos to fix or trash.

Signs Now
3955 E. Speedway Blvd.
Suite 109
(520) 325-7446

U-Pull-It Auto Parts
4151 E. Michigan St.
(520) 790-5211

Both of these companies like our One Can A Week program and helped out with the pricing.

Thinking of Adolph Farragut
On January 16th, Barbara’s husband died. After a long illness, “It was quick and quiet,” she told me the other day when I ran into her while walking Adam. She looked a bit tired but said her family and friends are taking very good care of her. With all the prepared meals and dining out she hasn’t cooked in weeks.

On Sunday, Lenny handed me a $100 check from his brother Dickie who wanted to make a donation to the food bank in Adolph’s name. Barbara will find that gesture especially comforting.

We collected a total of 184 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $158.00, two checks for $125.00 and $33.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,