Friday, May 30, 2014

Summer isn't great for everyone

As I write this, my daughter is taking her last final, and my son is already out of school. They are ready for the unstructured days of summer. While they have some responsibilities, most of their summer days will be spent going at a pace considerably lower than the pace we maintain during the school year. Our entire family is grateful for summer!

This ease of summer is in contrast to the lives of the families we serve at CCSC. It's not that these children don't have unstructured days also, but hunger becomes an issue. In public school, students receive breakfast and lunch at school - this is a long-standing federal program designed not only to alleviate hunger but to also enhance a child's ability to learn. (I realize some readers are for federal programs like this, and some are not. My point is not to debate the merits of this program, but to point out what happens in the summer.)

So when summer is out, families are stretched to now provide two additional meals/day for each child. The problem is not one of willpower or desire but a mathematical issue: if you bring in $900-$1,000 of income each month and have two adults and two children living in your home, your income is inadequate. During the school year, you get a break on your food bill, but for the summer months this expense goes up as does your electric bill.

This is why CCSC typically sees a surge in families needing food during the summer months. Hunger in our community trends up.

So this summer I especially encourage you to donate to our food pantries or a food pantry near you. If you have children or grandchildren, take them to the grocery store and have them help you purchase food to donate. You'll not only be helping to feed other families, but also encouraging a young person to share and help others.

Friday, May 16, 2014

A lesson to share

I was at a memorial service for a CCSC volunteer and was introduced to his adult children. Upon hearing where I worked, the daughter said, "volunteering at CCSC changed his life". She went on to explain that her dad often told her that interviewing clients at our food pantry changed his understanding of poverty.  He said he wished he had understood earlier in his life how little he really knew about other people and their situations.  Not just with poverty, but in general.

I find it profound that in the last season of his life, he acknowledged that he knew less about people than he thought he did.  His daughter went on to say that he wished he had had a little more humility and a little less certainty in life.  She smiled, and said "I'm still learning from him."

Me too, I thought.

The man who passed away was gentle, dignified and a pleasure to be around.  I would not characterize him as being anything less than gracious and kind.  So if this wonderful man admits he doesn't have all the answers and a bit more humility was needed in his character, then without hesitation, I profess the same need.

His memorial service was beautiful and reflective of his priorities in life: faith and family.  I walked away from the service with a gold nugget of wisdom and send a special thanks to his daughter for sharing one of her dad's last life lessons.