Thursday, May 29, 2008

Remember Local Social Services When Times Are Tough.

When disaster strikes, Americans show their compassion and generosity whether her in the US or in far flung places. I am always humbled by the number of people who mobilize around a cause. The recent earth quakes in China and the Cyclones in Myanmar are just two of the most recent. Hurricane Katrina and 911 were US disasters that spurred Americans into action. But this generosity comes at a cost. Many people will forgo their regular contributions to local charities and take that money to donate it to an immediate need.

In have worked for local non-profits for some time now and I can tell you that these disasters have had a direct negative impact on them. Local charities depend on grants and donations in order to survive. So many people responded generously to Hurricane Katrina relief and found that they could not then turn around and make their annual donation to a local nonprofit. The timing was the worst possible scenario. So close to the Christmas Holiday season when nonprofits can depend on end of year donations that never came. The end result? Social service agencies had to lay off workers, close programs and cut back to bare bones minimums in order to provide something to the city's neediest.

Now with the economy being so bad, I am wondering how they are fairing. (I was one of the laid off so I don't know what's happening directly) It must be pretty bad when the news is reporting an increase in the number of families relying on food pantries and soup kitchens to make ends meet.

So imagine what I am thinking this morning when I read a report written by Tom Borgerding at WOSU news that Holy Family has lost $90,000 worth of that precious food because metal thieves have stolen the compressors to their walk in refrigeration units. It's bad enough that we have all these competing needs and there just isn't enough expendable income to go around and ensure our local social services stay afloat. But seriously!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

An Open Letter to Liz

Dear Liz,

We didn’t abandon you sweetie. It was you that abandoned us. I didn’t even know that you had done so until your ex-husband called to tell me that you were in a motor cycle accident in another state, that you were in critical condition and not expected to live.

I was stunned to silence that drugs and alcohol would have taken you down that road. I know I shouldn’t be surprised anymore when I hear of these things happening but I still am.

So now you are calling to say that your family and friends have abandoned you. We are here, we just can’t watch anymore. I can’t watch you continue in this downward spiral. It’s too devastating. The worst part is that you know exactly where this will lead you.

When your ex first phoned me about your accident, I called all the wonderful women who know you. All of those women you met when you went camping with me. They loved you and accepted you and we all are your sisters. I can’t begin to tell you how many women lit candles and prayed to their God or Goddess for the best possible outcome for you. We prayed that if you would live, you would get well, get healthy, get clean, get sober and come back to us. If we couldn’t have you back, we prayed that you go quickly and not have to suffer any pain. We prayed that you would find peace.

So now here you are, you are alive and yet, you are only half alive because drugs and alcohol are stealing the other half. You are miserable and you want it to change but on your terms. You want to be able to have it all fixed and still keep using. It doesn’t work that way sweetie. We want you back, but only if you are willing to come all the way back. Only if you will get help and really do the deal of recovery because watching you now is just to hard.

I miss you Liz, I miss your energy, your loving spirit, the wonderful talks that we had. The shared passion of owning parrots, of caring for wildlife of being mothers of working for social justice and a better life for all. Remember when it was you and I who talked about how we wanted to make a difference in the lives of others who were trying to get clean and sober? We can still do that, but you have your own battle to fight first. Get well and then come home to us. We love you.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Hail Mary's and Josephine

Growing up Catholic creates certain opportunities for rebelliousness that might have other wise been missed. In the neighborhood where I grew up, there was an elderly woman named Josephine who lived across the street from my family. Josephine was an Italian immigrant that, in pure Catholic fashion, had a huge brood of children and spent most of her life caring for them.

She lived with her son and grandson and spent her days in the summer sitting on the porch watching the rest of the neighborhood. Josephine couldn’t read or write and by the time I met her, she had lost all her teeth. She preferred being barefoot on her porch which was one of the things that I liked about her. As a young girl, I didn’t mind spending time sitting with her on her porch but as I grew older and gained more freedom to leave my block, I spent less time on her porch swing.

There were times when Josephine could be down right annoying though. With six kids in our family, during the summer when we became bored, we would drive our mother to distraction. Once she had finally had enough, she would chase after us spatula in hand, ready to give one of us a swat on the back side. My mother would never spank us in public and knowing that, we would run out the front door and into the yard. Josephine, sitting on the porch would spy us running and my mother on our porch demanding we return to the house, would stand up and yell “Beat the hell outta those kids Sheila, the little brats!” To which we would yell back at her to mind her-own business.

Once in my early teens, there where times when I would leave the house on my way to be with friends, Josephine would yell for me to come and sit on her porch with her. When I told her no, that I was going somewhere, Josephine would angrily reply, “Go on then Little Miss Independent, I don’t want a snotty little girl like you over here any way.” She always called me Little Miss Independent like is was the worst thing in the world for a young girl to be. So Josephine poured gasoline on the fire of my rebelliousness.

Occasionally, on Saturday’s, my mother would agree to drive Josephine to church so she could go to confession. Not wanting to pass up an opportunity to ensure her children’s salvation, she would also drag along any of her kids who happened to be old enough to go to confession and weren’t lucky enough to be away from the house at the time. One of those Saturday’s, my older brother and I weren’t so lucky.

On the way home from the church, Josephine reached over tapping my mother on the arm, and asked conspiratorially “What’d you get?’” then with out waiting for an answer, she continued “I’ve got to say seventy five Our Fathers and a hundred Hail Mary’s. I’m going to die before I say all those.” My mother glanced up into the rearview mirror at my brother and I and said “Kids, if you two say twenty five Our Fathers and forty Hail Mary’s then Josephine will only have twenty five Our Fathers and Twenty Hail Mary’s.” She didn’t wait for a reply but I can tell you that I sat in that back seat, crossed my arms over my chest and glared at the back of Josephine’s head. If she thinks I’m going to say prayers for her, she’s go another think coming. Josephine could some times infuriate me. So could my mother. I think I eventually said those prayers over the years. I think of Josephine and that day every time I hear one of those prayers being said at weddings, christenings and even in the movies. I just think to myself, this is for you Josephine, from Little Miss Independent.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

WOSU Public Media, DTV and help for Seniors

This is a really special project that I hope everyone will consider participating in.

WOSU Public Media has teamed up with Lifecare Alliance and Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging (COAAA) to provide converter boxes to low-income seniors in central Ohio. Many seniors live on a fixed income and can't afford cable TV and rely on local news for information. Lifecare Alliance provides Meals on Wheels to seniors and COAAA provides resources and services to seniors in the central Ohio Community.

You can help provide a converter box for a senior by going to the web site and requesting coupons for the converter boxes. When you get to the on-line form, check under TV service that *All or some of the TV's in my house subscribe to one or more pay services.*

This collaborative has special permission to do the project.

When you receive the coupons (it may take up to two months, so time is of the essence) you can drop them off at WOSU Public Media at 2400 Olentangy River Road, Columbus, Ohio 43210.

WOSU will purchase the converter boxes and provide them to Lifecare Alliance and COAAA. Their volunteers will distribute the converters and install them. The volunteers will receive training on how to install the boxes and are best suited to this job because they already have a relationship with the people they serve.

How cool is that? Please feel free to share a link to this page and encourage your friends to participate. Leave me a comment if you plan on participating in this important project.