There is great strength in knowing who you are, perhaps greater strength in knowing who you are not. You are not the words spoken about you. You are not my opinion of you. You are not even simply a sum of your actions, thoughts, intentions, and dreams. And who you will be tomorrow should stem in part from who you are today.
I reflect on who I was yesterday. I know who I am today, and I am eager about who I will be tomorrow. Peace dancing with anticipation.
If you've known me any length of time or have been even a casual reader of this journal, you know that I have hero worship for the brilliant T.S. Eliot. Here are wise words from him that I take to heart:
"O Lord, deliver me from the man of excellent intention and impure heart: for the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. "
-T. S. Eliot
"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go."
-T. S. Eliot
You never fail to lead me down a path of wonderment. You show wisdom far beyond your years.
I have often said, without risk there is no growth.
Dammit. No "new" tag on Morri's journal. I have to think for myself. I've gotten lazy, springboarding off of her active mind.
Maybe it's because I don't always want to think about the things on my mind. I'm still wearing the young mother who wanted us to pay her electric bill again. She is a hard worker, but her husband is not. Nobody has paid the bill since we paid it in January and now it is $600. They live outside our service area and we probably shouldn't have paid it when we did, not with our distressed budget, but it seemed the merciful thing to do.
Now, 2 months later, and we have checked more closely into the underlying problem as we always do when following up. They are not home, but their air conditioner is on. They have cable. They smoke, even though their baby is undergoing tests for cystic fibrosis. In short, no changes have happened to demonstrate to me that they understand the difference between want and need when their situation is serious.
Why can't people understand truth and reality?
Why is your anser to me, "but cable is all we have." Are you kidding me? Sadly, I know you aren't. I tell you again about the public library...how good ours is: Videos, audio books, BOOKS, events for children and book and movie clubs for adults, internet computers, etc...
I talk to you about your household needing you BOTH to work the hours you are scheduled. I show you the budget that demonstrates the ongoing expenditure problem...that income column needs to catch up, or you will have to cut costs...every little bit counts and we expect you to do your part before you ask for help. We don't have government money. This is money given by people as a sacrifice...working people who want it spent wisely.
I talk to you about smoking and you tell me that you only smoke outside. I talk to you about the expense. I do so gently. I am human, too. But it is my job to care about you while I tell you the truth. We cannot pay this bill. It is your responsibility and we're going to help again in the only way we can, by giving you food worth over $100, formula and diapers for the baby. I encourage you to put some grocery money on the bill.
You smile at me and I see sincerity there, but a dimness to the sharp edge of your truth. You are short every month and your husband would rather you work overtime and come to the Center to ask strangers because he has not yet chosen to grow up. Your baby coughs and I swallow hard. I talk to you about resources in the community and offer to write in your behalf and release what we have done to help. You thank me and step close, hugging me.
I watch you walk out, leaning to the right under the weight of the carry seat, your sick baby, and the lack of a plan in your life. I wonder about you and visualize how different your life could be with a few willing changes and some teamwork. I'm sad. I'm unsurprised. I'm still hopeful. I wonder how that can be.
Wow, the young couple with a kid...Ridiculous...
1. The electrical bill is not that much, it should come before cable and wanting to stay nice and cool with the air conditioner.
2. I've been that poor...Probably poorer..No job, living in a house with holes in the floor.
3. I am WAY better off now, with a steady job and money to put aside. I still have no tv. Only internet.
4. Maybe my policy on life is too new...But if I'm living in poverty, I will not have a kid. If you can't "afford" condoms, you can't afford a kid. Control your hormonal urges, grow up, face reality, and be responsible.
I'm sorry, I have little tolerance for people like this, they are able to make a difference in their own lives but they choose not to, you have a big heart, much different than mine. Sometimes I feel like we could stand to be a little bit more like each other...
OK, you and Morri ARE the 2 most intelligent, sensible people I know.
It is so sad, but it's the same thing we see at our church over and over again. People who constantly need "help" with rent, utilities, etc. Why did you buy a NEW car? Why do you have full cable (w/ HBO, all movie channels etc) on 3 TVs? Answer...Blank stares..."But our gas is going to be turned off."
It is MUCH harder to say no and give the advise they truly need, but it is what has to be done.
"I wonder how that can be."
Not a question, a statement. The ability to still wonder is why you do as you do, my friend.
The benefit dinner was a wonderful success. I began to feel ill as the day wore on. I'm feeling pretty awful right now, but I wanted to give a few details. We don't have all the figures totalled yet, but we made about $1000.00 just today at the door. That does not include pre-sale tickets. And, since everything was donated, ALL the money is for the Center!
We had amazing volunteers who stayed all day and made everything go smoothly. Here are a few images. I'll write more when I'm feeling well.
I want to thank the VR member who sent in the GPS and printer for the Parade of Prizes and the monitor and printer for the Center.
We had 43 prizes donated in total!
Your passion is what inspires people to turn your events into real successes. Your center is damned lucky to have you.
It looks like they've got room to move there, at least. Swing a cat in our kitchen, you'd kill it. That said, I'm delighted for you and the centre.. and all of those who've helped you.
:) Very glad it went well, and I hope you feel better soon.
That's awesome!!!...seems everyone is sick this week, hope you get well soon;)*hugs*
That is so wonderful! Considering you were stressing about prizes not so long ago and that table there looks like it is struggling to hold them up, I would call that a real success:)
Last week I wrote about a VR lady who made a generous donation to the Center. I wasn't even sure who she was at first. Then I wrote about the fish and chicken fry that's coming up on On Saturday the 8th. (By the way, we got a radio interview about it today!)
My worry about the dinner has been the donations needed to pull it off. I think we should have slowed down and given ourselves longer to plan it. It's our first one, and we did what we always do, jump in with full enthusiasm. But when I went to local businesses, thinking they'd be delighted to donate a gift card or a bit of merchandise toward our success, I was stumped by an attitude of avoidance.
Friday afternoon I had just finished reassuring my coordinator that it was all going to fall into place, when a gentleman walked in from Juniper's Restaurant around the corner. He had 4 gift cards to be used as prizes. Would you believe that the same lady blessed us again in such a personal and immediate way? It was almost unbelievable how the timing worked. I felt like my prayers had a hotline to God.
I'll never ever be able to express what generosity means to me...to this Center. Know that there is an awe-struck woman in Louisiana who believes that faith is worth leaning on and people are worth believing in.
Thank you with all that I am.
Some of us are very glad to help. Joli you are an inspiration to us all, no matter what faith we are. You and others like you have made me see good in the world again, when I was ready to give it up and think that there was no goodness in the world left. Thank you.
On the positive side...that grant that I was writing for - my first-ever grant app...I finished it on time and got it turned in! It's a Starbuck's $10,000 grant. I hope with all my heart that we get it. There is another one due at the end of the week, but I need direction from the Executive committee on whether it really fits us. It's ear-marked for Katrina assistance, but we can actually make up a new program- a new proposal for a project that fits the criteria of the grant; that might work better than trying to sift Katrina victims out of our database.
An idea that occurred to us, since transportation is such a huge problem here (we have no public transportation.) What if we had a grant-funded category for people impacted by the storm and still have no transportation. We could use it for repairs on their vehicles, toward the purchase of a vehicle if they are employed and need to get to work, and for gasoline vouchers to the doctor, etc...? I'm intrigued as to what Executive committee will say tomorrow.
I have received a steady stream of phone calls since the following story hit our local newspaper. Every caller expressed outrage at the corruption, and several wanted to know if our Center was at all affiliated with the Mandeville Toys for Tots. Thankfully, we are not.
I have watched the public outcry and my fears are confirmed. There are people who will react to ALL agencies when one is brought to light for corruption. I have just written to 2 of our local newspapers to try to reassure and encourage the public about holiday giving. I've offered an interview to discuss our process and measures for accountability.
The article is a long one, but if you can, read it. It is staggering. Here is only one disturbing quote: "spent only $114, or 1 percent of its Christmas budget, on toys. The fund did not spend any money on toys in 2006..." Two comments leap to my brain when I read that:
1. We would KILL for a holiday budget like that which would allow us to help scores and scores of people.
2. ONE PERCENT?! When you donate $1 to our holiday fund, One hundred percent of that dollar goes to helping. We do not even spend a cent on administrative costs; those costs are budgeted at the beginning of the year so that nothing is taken from donations to special programs like holiday help, school supplies and uniform help, and others.
Here is the letter I sent to the newspapers (I have removed the name of our Center and my name in compliance with the Center's policies):
I would like to offer a newspaper interview to respond to the concern of our local residents about holiday giving. As Executive Director of the **** Center, my concern is that people will react to all organizations that rely on donations to help the less fortunate and real needs will not be met. I want to talk about how people should choose an agency to donate to. I will cover accountability, screening clients, and the entire process our ministry uses.
It would be a tragedy and poverty to us all if giving stops and there are no funds for reputable organizations to serve the poor. This kind of work demands heart, soul, energy and accountability. I would very much like to reassure our residents that giving is still the right thing to do and many organizations do so with honor and integrity.
Please contact me at the **** Center by email, *** or by phone, ****. Thank you for the service you provide our community.
*This should not be a black eye for Toys for Tots. This article exposes corruption and misappropriation of funds on a local level. I do not mean to suggest that Toys for Tots is not a good and helpful organization.
One of the other issues that Seattle faced, was that none of the charities were talking to each other and some families were going to EVERY one of them for gifts, and then were selling them for money.
Since that happened, the charities now talk with each other and use SSN to help prevent fraud.
But it is sickening how many people abuse what should be and is a wonderful thing.
That is sad. I am always hesitant to donate to some places because I want all that I donate to go to the people who need it.
It's sad that things can get that way.
I'm trying to arrange my budget so I have some extra to donate, I just enjoy doing it, I like feeling like I've done something for someone...Gah. The bills just keep coming in, but I'm getting there ;)
When I get some to set aside, I'll be messaging you.
This is kind of why I won't ever give a cent to United Way, really.
Great point, Liebe. At least as long as I have worked here, we have been involved with local organizations like, The Northshore Homeless Coalition, and The Commission on Families. Both bring local social service non-profits together so that we can network. Our Center will be hosting our first one this year :)
Morrigon, I'm not at all surprised by your desire to give nor by your wise sense of discernment. It really IS wise to ask questions about where your donations will go. I love this Center so much for its commitment to people and accountability that I am having a bequeathal set up as a percentage of any estate I leave behind to be directed here.
Here's a funny factoid: Our Board Of Directors seats 60 members! If you know anything about boards, you'll know how incredibly huge that is for ANY organization. For a small one like us, it's pretty funny. But it's SO cool. You can imagine how careful we have to be about everything when there are a possible 60 opinions to weigh in. :)
Damn I am at a loss for what to say. Damn.
The last board meetings I had to go to had like 12 people, and those were a goddamn nightmare.
Anyways, no one who knows you (or knows of what your center actually does) is likely to think that your organization would ever do anything like that, and you'll have donations from me when I can make them :)
Thanks. I'm just hoping that if I take this opportunity to reassure the public, they won't lump us all together.
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