Monday, December 29, 2008

Making a List

Each Sunday evening I prepare for the coming week. A part of that process is reviewing a check list of items from a book I read years ago, Creativity in Business by Michael Ray and Rochelle Myers. The list hardly seems appropriate coming from a business book, but I've found the questions to be helpful in centering myself, looking back on what happened in the prior week, and planning for the week ahead. Perhaps these are good questions to consider as we look back on 2008 and prepare for the coming year...

  1. Who or what was my teacher?
  2. What did I learn?
  3. What did my Voice of Judgment say?
  4. What did I observe?
  5. What did I forget?
  6. How did I take care of myself?
  7. What was my relationship to time?
  8. What permission did I give myself regarding emotions?
  9. What did I notice about love?
  10. What truth did I find?

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Problem With Too Much Food

It's hard to believe, but only three months ago our shelves were nearly empty. Part of the problem back then was of our own doing. When other local food pantries get low on food, we tell them to stop by and we load them up with supplies. Sometimes we give away too much and put ourselves in a bind.

There's a balance we strive for... sending food where it's needed, while keeping enough to serve our our clients. As we move on from the holidays, when people are continually donating food, to the winter months where deliveries slow down, we do our best to share the wealth. One of our mantras is "It isn't our food... it belongs to the community."

Friday, December 19, 2008

No Sweat

One of our programs that doesn't get much publicity is being a site for court-ordered community service. We'll take on kids or adults for a variety of reasons: disorderly conduct, drug offenses, DUI, anything except theft.

When they first arrive, they're often reserved, not knowing how they will fit in. But we treat them like regular volunteers (no scarlet letters here). Most of the time, they have a good experience and some even come back to volunteer.

Every so often we're surprised how their time with us makes an impact. Take Nick, for example (not his real name). He's here to put in 20 hours for a DUI charge. He's pretty quiet, but willingly does what we ask of him. At one point in the day we were about to ask him to take out the trash and noticed that he didn't have a jacket. Turns out that he wore a hooded sweatshirt in that day, but he gave it to one of the men who came in to eat that morning. Nick said that the sweatshirt was kind of big on him... fit the other guy better anyway.

I guess we shouldn't be surprised - just because someone did something bad in the past doesn't make them a bad person...

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Just Old Enough

Last week the kindergarten class from York Avenue Elementary School trekked to Manna on Main Street. With wagons in tow, they brought canned goods to donate to our food pantry. It's always fun to listen to young children who visit us and watch them respond to sights and smells of a soup kitchen.

I asked them a question: how old do you think you have to be to volunteer at Manna. Hands went up slowly, and they answered very seriously - 44 years old... 46... an adult. I responded with the same serious tone: they had to be at least 5 years old.

Faces brightened and hands shot in the air. "I'm 5" - "I'm 5 too" - "I'm 5". I told them how simple is was to volunteer, to give back to the community. They could carry a plate of food to someone at Manna. They could get someone a drink of water. They could cook something at home with their family and bring it in to serve.

They seemed satisfied with that, that giving back does not have to be complicated. Maybe they will remember to tell their parents.