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Posts Tagged ‘Charity’

Yesterday we went out to a favorite Cville bagel joint for brunch. You can’t order steak and eggs with a Bloody Mary while reading the Sunday NY Times a la my good ole days – before marriage, before children, before leaving the NY metropolitan area – but you can get a good approximation of a NY bagel. I ordered smoked turkey on an everything bagel, with vegetable cream cheese and sprouts. It was always the Bride’s go-to choice, if it wasn’t going to be lox.

What I didn’t order up was a side of racism.

Because our local news had a story about how some of Bodo’s Bagels customers had been openly hostile this post-election week. Granted, we’ve been hearing reports about an increase in bullying all over the country; but when I read that someone didn’t want one of “those people” making their bagel, well I have to admit I did get a little pissed!

A popular Charlottesville restaurant chain claims its employees have become the targets of prejudice-related harassment following Tuesday’s election. Bodo’s Bagels is taking to social media to tell people who promote hate to stay away from its shops.

Scott Smith wants Bodo’s to be an inclusive place

“The business is conceived as being inclusive really from the ground up both on the customer and employee side,” Smith said.                        http://www.nbc29.com/story/33695338/bodos-owner-speaks-out-following-harassment-toward-workers

Bodo’s is the kind of place Democrats love. You have to stand in line to order, in fact the lines are often long. You can weave around the front of the store and feel like you’re in a Disney line for Space Mountain. When you finally get to a cashier to place and pay for your order, you are standing right in front of the kitchen and you can see everything that’s going on. You are given a ticket with a number on it. No names like Panera or Starbucks, just a number.

Then you mingle with a hungry crowd waiting for their number to be called. Chances are you meet somebody you know or make a new friend on the spot!

Yesterday the line went out the door, and stayed out there the whole time we were eating brunch. The parking lot was every man and woman for themselves…all colors, all ages, we all knew why we came there yesterday, some of us after church, some before heading out to a matinee. I wondered aloud if the owner would hit the best Sunday sales record ever, if they would run out of food.

Hate is a fascinating subject, it feeds on prejudice. After moving South, I remember distinctly the first time I heard a woman tell me she went to a smaller hospital in the area because she didn’t want “those darkies” taking care of her. I remember a friend telling me her mother would not go to Red Lobster for the same reason. Every time I drive into town, I have to pass a big Confederate flag waving at me, as if it’s saying, “Look at me, you will never be rid of me.”

I asked Bob if there was a way to tally up how many fender benders there were last week, because I’m not the only one feeling like I’m sleep-walking through this post-election apocalypse. Can we keep a tally of the number of hate crimes? Is saying aloud you don’t want to walk up to “that” cash register a crime? Is hate speech saying you don’t want “that” person making your bagel? Has this President Elect unleashed the underlying hate and angst of the blue-collar White population and made it OK for them to voice their disdain for the “Others.” Since when did the party of the worker, of the underdog, of the Unions, become the party of elites?

I can’t listen to the pundits anymore, they are obviously clueless. And I’d like the few Republican friends I have left on Facebook to give it a rest. I know you are not racist, and I know you care, it is the extreme Right of your party that has prevailed. We are protesting because it’s our God-given-RIGHT to protest! People are telling me they feel like they did after Kennedy was shot. They feel like they did after 9/11. One person is moving so he can build a bomb shelter! WTF

Maybe I will wake up tomorrow and feel better? More determined to fight another day? To march in the Million Women’s March on Washington January 21st, the day after the Inauguration. Great Grandma Ada wants to go, and so does my niece Lucia from California who accompanied me on another similar march years ago.  http://www.cnn.com/2016/11/12/politics/womens-march-on-washington-planned/

Until then, let’s give to the ACLU, the International Rescue Committee, to Planned Parenthood. Let’s open our hands and our hearts to our fellow Americans, whatever color their skin or sexual identity they have, or head gear they choose to wear. Let’s say something when we hear hate speech, it is not acceptable. Let’s all order everything bagels at Bodo’s! And wear a safety pin like the Bride has been wearing, because #LoveTrumpsHate.   15094843_10210220151522257_1749270517854516976_n

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Woodstock

Woodstock

It’s been a strange week. It was the 45th Anniversary of Woodstock. Three days of Peace and Music and Mud. So we get to reflect, what did it really mean? Bob was home for a long weekend, and we were able to attend a party thrown by our favorite neighbor/friend/alpaca farmers, DeeDee and Bill! Bob thought about his time on a psychedelic school bus while I sipped on a Madison County wine as the sun set and we met the vintner himself; DuCard Winery has won awards for its famous Viogner and its French winemaker, Julien. When I heard that they are planning a wine and chocolate pairing on Saturday, August 23rd, I was all in…https://www.ducardvineyards.com

But the highlight of the evening was meeting my friend’s daughter Brighid, and her son Djouby. Brighid is the brilliant and beautiful Founding Director of a non-profit arts organization in Chicago, “Erasing the Distance.” http://www.erasingthedistance.org Their mission is to use “…the power of performance to disarm stigma, spark dialogue, educate, and promote healing surrounding issues of mental health.” They create plays that confront say depression, for schools, churches, organizations and the general public thereby making mental health a subject to confront with compassion and understanding; they are seeking to bring this disease out of the shadows – shining a stage light on our common humanity.

Which leads me to the next question. If you are willing to grant that each family in this country has a limited amount of money they are willing to donate to a non-profit or a charity, what’s up with the ALS foundation/ice bucket challenge campaign making 3M more than they did last year? I admit I was amused. After all, it’s almost like a-pie-in-the-face funny to watch your friends and co-workers dump ice water over their heads. And the celebrities! Lady Gaga was outrageous of course and Bill Gates was all intellectual about it. I even proudly posted a step-niece doing this on Facebook. One of Bob’s cousins is married to a man who is currently in the last stages of ALS. It’s probably one of the most feared of all diseases, including cancer, because like Ebola, there’s simply no treatment.

However, mental health diseases are the single most common problem in our country according to the CDC: “Mental illnesses account for a larger proportion of disability in developed countries than any other group of illnesses, including cancer and heart disease. In 2004, an estimated 25% of adults in the United States reported having a mental illness in the previous year. The economic cost of mental illness in the United States is substantial, approximately $300 billion in 2002. Population surveys and surveys of health-care use measure the occurrence of mental illness, associated risk behaviors (e.g., alcohol and drug abuse) and chronic conditions, and use of mental health–related care and clinical services.”

ALS, on the other hand, has been harder to quantify according to the CDC because, “Worldwide, ALS affects white males aged >60 years more often than any other group. In the United States, ALS surveillance is necessary to estimate the incidence and prevalence of ALS and collect data on risk factors. ALS is not a nationally notifiable condition in the United States (i.e., it is not a reportable condition in all jurisdictions), and individual state reporting requirements differ, with Massachusetts being the only state that mandates reporting.”

But the VA did commission a study of ALS and found roughly 3.9 cases of ALS per 100,000 people in the American general population. Which would make the occurrence of Lou Gehrig’s disease in mostly older white males less than 0.004%. A quarter of our nation’s population vs 0.004% Sooo…

I’m not saying NOT to dump a bucket of ice water on your head, and give money to ALS research. I’m just asking you not to only give your charitable donations to ALS this year. Please spread the love. Because organizations like Erasing the Distance are doing important work in their community, and I know there are others out there working to bring mental health issues to the forefront, to bring malaria nets to Africa, to fund genetic research to cure cancer and to stop the spread of polio and bring reproductive health care to women around the world. Pick your passion, and do your research.http://qz.com/249649/the-cold-hard-truth-about-the-ice-bucket-challenge/

And BTW, I went to Catholic School, in other words Woodstock wasn’t an option.

Brighid and Djouby

Brighid and Djouby

 

 

 

 

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I’ve been thinking about giving. While driving through the Great Smokies, past cows and barns and more cows and barns on my way back to VA, I listened to This American Life podcast #514 “It’s the Thought That Counts.” http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/514/thought-that-counts But don’t we learn how to give by what we’ve received over the years?

When I was young, Christmas meant a special doll, one that talked or maybe wet itself. And as I grew older, a slip (remember those?) would invariably arrive in the mail from an elderly aunt in Washington. My foster Daddy Jim would always say he didn’t want anything for Christmas, that he had everything he needed in our little house in Victory Gardens. But Nell would make sure I gave him a pair of slippers and a can of Prince Albert pipe tobacco.

Every day when he came home from work, Jim would have a present for me. Sometimes it was a tiny flower in his pocket, or maybe a piece of candy, but can you imagine, every. single. day! That was a hard act to follow for future suitors.

Some people can think only of themselves. We know these gifts, we open them trepidatiously. “What a beautiful book about art that you are interested in Uncle Sam.” Some people are pragmatic, like my aunt and her slip. “I really needed more socks and pajamas Aunt Helen.” Some people like to boast with their gifts, like the time my step father gave the Flapper a mink coat, “I’m speechless, how thoughtful.” But some people have a knack for gift-giving, like my niece Lisa.

She remembered something I had said in passing that must have resonated with her. Over the years I’ve made only a few close friends with each move. I’m not saying this is a good thing, in fact next year I should work on my friendship skills definitely. My motto has been it’s important to have a friend who knows where the spoons are in your kitchen.

And so Lisa sent me a gigantic spoon to hang in my kitchen! I smile each time I look at it.

In the past, I had searched endlessly for gifts that were actually made here in the US to send to Irish relatives, an almost impossible task. Something might be designed here, but chances are it was manufactured in Bangladesh. So like many, this season of endless giving has turned for me into some distorted, commercialized cartoon holiday. I avoid malls like the plague.

We Americans have so much in the grand scheme of things. I love it when the whole Secret Santa bit is employed to contain costs. Bob’s friend in Richmond passed out some papers to his relatives – only gifts for kids this year, which was always our style – the paper was to make a donation in the family’s name to the local food bank. Great idea Al!

So if you are planning on re-gifting or returning that salad bowl that doesn’t go with anything, take a minute to think about the thought that went into your gift as you trudge back to Target hoping that your credit and pin information is still safely tucked into their hardware. Are they telling you to eat healthy, or sending you a message to stop bringing them pie?

As the Stones famously said, you can’t always get what you want. As for me, I can’t wait till the Love Bug is old enough for a trip to NYC and the great American Girl Doll pilgrimage.  IMG_2349

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This was another phrase the Flapper used regularly. As a young child, I wasn’t quite sure what she meant. She was living “hand to mouth” for many years; widowed, crippled by a drunk driver, small children at home. She was radically frugal, as many Depression era people could be, mending clothes and never throwing out food, always finding creative ways to serve leftovers, if we had any. Too proud to take help from the Salvation Army, I thought she meant we take care of our own – save money for my brothers so they could go to college. If there was some left, maybe I’d be able to go, the last of 6. When you grow up poor, having new shoes on your feet and good food on the table was enough. After all, we had each other. Charity was something you tried to avoid, there was little or nothing left to give at the end of the year.

I tend to think of it differently now. Today is “Giving Tuesday” http://givingtuesday.org: “We have a day for giving thanks. We have two for getting deals. This year help create #GivingTuesday™, the giving season’s opening day.”

Bob and I tend to give to those causes we are passionate about, like the Salvation Army. Not only do they have a history with my family, they seem to be the first to show up after a natural disaster. I am also deeply committed to women’s reproductive health and saving Roe vs Wade. It is not counter-intuitive to think that abortion rates would fall in this country with increased access to contraception. So Planned Parenthood is on my list: http://news.yahoo.com/us-abortions-fall-5-pct-biggest-drop-decade-171356037.html And I’m not thinking twice about it. Donating to our colleges will also be on the list.

But if we take my Mother’s advice further, charitable giving also includes delivering bags of food to the local Food Bank. Buying the clothes and toys listed on a giving tree for a disadvantaged child in our community. Volunteering at the Charlottesville Free Clinic. And when our children were young, we would help to serve Christmas dinner at a local church through our synagogue. I can’t stress how important modeling this kind of service is for your children. Time or money, if you can donate to a cause that resonates with you, all the better. Here is a quick read to help you navigate websites for different charities, It’s important to do the research.
http://www.forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2012/11/26/6-mistakes-to-avoid-when-giving-to-charity/

Hurricane Sandy relief efforts will be foremost in my thoughts this year. The Parlor Mob’s music was set to this surfer’s American Red Cross appeal: http://www.surfermag.com/videos/jersey-love/ “There’s nothin’ like Jersey when it’s good.” But if you really want to help our area, there is always Woody’s in Sea Bright, or what is left standing in Sea Bright. “Like” this Facebook page to see what our old neighbors need: https://www.facebook.com/SeaBrightRising?fref=ts

And as my editor reminded me, our little stocking stuffer book, “Tangerine Tango” (just click on the book in the margin) is donating its profits to fight Huntington’s Disease http://www.hdsa.org If you’re not familiar with her blog, I can highly recommend Lisa’s slice of NJ life! http://cyclingrandma.wordpress.com. Happy Giving everyone.

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