I came there with two rookies--my friend Steve Palm-Houser and his daughter Amelia. We made the trip down to western Athens County with only one casualty along the way--Steve's tire. He managed to travel the rest of the way from Logan to Mineral (New Marshfield, according to the U.S. Postal Service) on a doughnut, but we arrived shortly after 1 p.m.
Bean counter is a pejorative term for an accountant (per The Urban Dictionary), but it's been extended to all civil servants. Last Monday, I literally became a bean counter briefly, although I was mostly a pasta counter. We arrived too late to stock the boxes of food in the back room of Feed My Sheep (a room off the sanctuary of Faith Believers' Ministry), so we went to work filling Ziploc bags with pasta. Amelia jumped right into this task with no trouble at all, helping Jacques Angelino's 96-year-old mother, while Steve and I needed a few moments to get organized and get a pattern going. Soon enough, we were scooping up pasta, filling bags, and adding them to boxes, stopping only when we ran out of bags.
Steve (back to camera), pasta, and me, at Faith Believers' Ministry.
Amelia and Jackie bag pasta.
Mineral, and the poverty in Athens County, is an ongoing crisis. In many ways, I would think that a natural disaster--such as Hurricane Ike or Hurricane Katrina--would be preferable to a resident of these areas than the grueling poverty and unemployment. When a natural disaster strikes, the experience is hellish, but they end. You can look around and see what has been damaged or destroyed, you can see what needs to be done, and then set about either doing it or finding the resources to accomplish it. This is an ongoing crisis, and you come away thinking that your time is well spent, even if the help provided will be necessary again next week. Rabbi Michael Lerner, editor of Tikkun magazine, is fond of quoting Talmudic rabbi Tarfon's words: "It is not upon you to finish the work, but neither are you free to abandon it."
I have posted the address elsewhere in the blog (both here at Blogspot and on my erstwhile site, the LiveJournal account), but if you are moved to generosity, please send a check or money order to:
Feed My Sheep Food Pantry
c/o Faith Believers Ministry
8137 St. Rt. 356
New Marshfield, OH 45766
I am hoping to make another trip down to the pantry sometime in the summer, possibly with Susie in tow. She has gone before, and was quite a productive worker.
Amelia made a new friend while she helped out at Mineral.
A look at Faith Believers Ministry, which houses
Feed My Sheep Food Pantry, and boasts the
only soda pop machine in Mineral ($.50 a can,
quite a bargain!)