Seem to have a food-related volunteer theme emerging this week. Not my intention but just going to run with it.
If ever there was a time to ignore the imperative Think Global, Act Local, this is it. Don’t you agree?
As I explained to my son on this week’s MLK Day of Service, we’re thinking and acting globally and locally. How can you not help Haiti?
But first, some background. Not a fan of government-initiated calls to duty. It’s my rebellious spirit. Still, the Day of Service I can get behind.
Last year, the event got a huge, historic turnout, fueled by almost-Prez Obama. But we arrived home from a trip Down Under that day, jet-lagged, discombobulated, and, basically, no use to anyone.
This year, I vowed, things would be different. We’d step up and do good.
I’m not new to volunteering. I used to read to kids in hospital when I first landed here. One child, David, was in a coma following a car accident.
Notes above his bed instructed his “book buddies” to read Dr. Seuss, his favorite author. At first it felt odd reading to a kid who couldn’t respond or move. But nonetheless every Monday night I read to that beautiful little boy, even though I doubted he would get better.
Well, of course, he did. I got to enjoy his sweet smile when I tickled him, by request, with a peacock feather. And I was, frankly, a teensy bit devastated when he was moved to a rehab hospital. I never knew what happened to him. He’d be 24 now.
Years later, following another major life change, this time back across the pond to my homeland, I took on another volunteer gig.
I lived in Sydney and taught English to a new mom, who happened to be a former art critic for a Korean daily paper.
I don’t know if her English improved but I know she appreciated contact with a local, chats about journalism, cultural differences, and where to find food from home.
Upon our return to the States I began volunteering in Berkeley public schools, including, as noted previously, at the Edible Schoolyard.
For the record: I’m not some charity groupie with too much time on my hands and no need to, you know, earn a living. On the contrary.
I’m a self-employed writer; code for often anxious, underemployed and underpaid. Major plus: flexible schedule. Mostly works. Except the anxious part, due to under bits.
And honestly folks, it’s not a huge time investment. Less time than most people watch TV in one day. Ninety minutes at Edible; two hours tops if I stay to help with clean up.
This may be my last year in my child’s classroom. What middle school kid wants his parent hanging around? SO EMBARRASSING. And so I am savoring the task assigned by his teacher, a departure from previous years, when I’ve helped small groups of kids with the 3 Rs.
I’m working one-on-one with a child to help improve her comprehension and reading and raise her confidence so she believes she can do both these things. Small success last week had us both jazzed. When it works well, giving feels good on both sides of the equation.
While I know I’m modeling worthwhile values that I hope my son will pursue, I also want him to directly participate in charitable acts.
Back to: What to do on this year’s Day of Service? I got inspiration from an unlikely source, none other than George Bush Jr. Finally heard something come out of his mouth I could agree with: “Lots of people want to send supplies to Haiti. They need money. Just send money.”
So we did. We did the text thing. Took barely a minute, hurt a little (there goes the allowance), and that was our global contribution.
Then we bagged up pantry goods to take to a local food bank, along with a bag of Meyer lemons from our abundant tree. You know that many food banks will take fresh produce, right?
This Saturday, we’ll combine global & local at a bakesale benefit for Haiti, organized by chef Samin Nosrat and hosted at Oakland restaurant Pizzaiolo, which, as you might imagine, makes a mean pizza but also divine donuts. (Two other participating Bay Area locations: Bi-Rite Market in San Francisco and Gioia Pizzeria in North Berkeley. All $$$ goes to Partners in Health.)
Because when all is said and done, it is money that matters most to the people of Haiti right now. Much of that for critical medical care to stave off death. But, equally important, for sustenance to live.
So what better way to funnel money where it’s so urgently needed than connecting cash to another basic human need. To eat. Food.
What say you?