This Presidents' Day was the first Monday I haven't been working for quite some time, so I put it to use. My friend, retired R.N. Jacques Angelino, and I made the trip (72 miles each way) down to Mineral in western Athens County. Jacques has made the trip at least 500 times, each time with his Toyota bursting at the seams with clothes, school supplies, personal hygiene items, and food to deliver to the Feed My Sheep food pantry. He always brings his 97-year-old mother Jackie along, and she sits in the Faith Believers' Ministry sanctuary and bags pasta and rice.
The turnout today was low. We traveled down in the driving rain and low-lying fog and went to work filling food boxes from the shelves that lined the pantry walls. Cans of tuna, corn, Spam, kidney beans, green beans, and soup went into the boxes on the worktable, all the co-workers prayed over them, and then when the cars began lining up outside at 1 p.m., they were ready to go.
He has also made it a point to include a children's book or two in each outgoing food box. He believes that children should start reading and learning at as young an age as possible, and I totally agree with this. When Jacques taught elementary school in inner-city Washington, D.C., he was constantly appalled during his home visits when he saw the total lack of reading material in any of his pupils' homes. I live at the other extreme, where books consume every flat surface of my living quarters, but he would go to houses where there was nothing to read--not even a TV Guide or a Holy Bible, let alone a dictionary or a newspaper.
I was home by late afternoon, and the mercury dropped just far enough that the rain turned to wet snow. The ground was already covered by the time I stepped out of the house for my weekly meeting of the Radical Mental Health Collective at Sporeprint.
I do not/will not elaborate on what happens at the meetings, because confidentiality is the first order of business for such a gathering. The only chiseled-in-stone rule of the Collective is a mantra that members of Narcotics Anonymous use as a guide:
Who you see here,
What you hear here,
Let it stay here,
When you leave here.
The reply is: "Hear, hear!"