Friday, November 20, 2009

What's in your community?

I forget how easy it is to do a good deed. And I forget how meaningful those good deeds can be.

Last night we had our monthly Parent Academy. Soup and sandwiches are provided through an organization that comes each week. We try to over-estimate our numbers so that we are sure to have food for everyone. Last night we had an over-abundance of leftovers. Mostly soup and bananas.

By about 8:30 when the meeting was over, I was ready to go home. Though I *hate* to waste food, I was about resigned to throwing the soup in the trash when Tameshia wondered aloud if there would be any homeless shelter open to take it to.

Duh! Why didn't I think of that?!

Before I moved to Dallas, I was very involved with the homeless. I worked at a cafe breakfast program designed for formerly homeless addicts in Chicago and then worked at a homeless shelter in Boston. As I walked and caught the bus to work, I made friends with the homeless men asking for change or selling newspapers. I always enjoyed what I learned from them.

One of the guys in Boston, who stationed himself right outside of Mass General hospital, informed me that people would walk right past him without ever even looking at him until one of the doctors (who had become a friend of his) would stop and talk to him. He told me people would literally go around the corner then turn around and come back to give him money if the doctor was standing by him.

So, when Tameshia suggested that, I thought of the places I know. I thought of the Dallas International Street Church because of a friend who volunteers there and because of some minor involvement I've had there.

So, we headed that direction. I called my friend, Karen, to make sure it would be ok to take food that late at night. She assured me it would and told me who to connect with once there.

Just as she said, church services were in progress. Several men were sitting around out front, while others were walking in and out of a building beside the church. It was dark and the street where the church is located is not necessarily the best neighborhood to be in.

It's interesting to me how darkness and run-down buildings can make everything seem so scary. Because the man I approached had absolutely no threatening factor about him. As I asked my questions, he immediately guided me in the right direction, sending me to another man by an open door. As he saw the man we needed to speak to, he called out to him. Barry and a young teenage boy came over to the car to pick up the soup.

Each gentleman thanked us in a very gracious way that wasn't over-done or under-appreciated. They took the soup and bananas and returned to the building.

I am reminded how much perfectly good food goes to waste when people right down the street are hungry. And tonight I was reminded of how easy it is to do good if I simply get outside of my every day routine and think outside of that box.
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