Hunger Is Not a Disease

10 Things You Can Do to Help the Homeless

Persons with no fixed address live in what some refer to as an “invisible world”.  With your help, they may not be stuck there. Making their day-to-day lives a bit easier is helpful and important.  There ARE things you can do.

This list of ten things to do may seem a little bizarre to you.  But, a List of Shelters is very different from a List of Food Pantries or Soup Kitchens.

If you take this list seriously and use some of the suggestions, you’ll understand.

You’ll see.

But, whether you try to do one item or all ten, I send you gratitude.  The things you do will ripple kindness out beyond your circle.  And, right now, kindness is needed desperately.

DEVELOP A LIST OF SHELTERS

Search out local shelters and create a list card.  List each shelter by location and include phone numbers and a bit of information which may be helpful to those without addresses.

Distribute copies of this card to homeless people.

MAKE A LIST OF FOOD PANTRIES

A homeless-friendly food pantry distributes  ready-to-eat items like peanut butter and crackers in individual packets, cereal and milk in individual containers. Some food pantries offer small containers of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Search out area food pantries that are homeless friendly.  Make an info card listing hours and days each pantry is open.  Include the phone number, address and directions to get there.

Distribute copies of this card.

INCLUDE A LIST OF SOUP KITCHENS

Search out area soup kitchens.  Make an info card listing hours and days each soup kitchen is open.  Include the phone number and address with directions to find it.

Carry copies of this card to distribute.

DONATE CLOTHING

Organizations serving the homeless always need gently used items in good condition.  They need items in all sizes from infant to XXL and beyond.

Blankets and sleeping bags are in demand year round.

People are always asking for socks.

DONATE GROCERIES

Because the homeless carry their kitchens in their pockets, their food needs are specific:  peanut butter and crackers in individual containers, individual packets of vegetables and fruits to be eaten raw (such as strawberries or carrots), cereal packed in individual containers, milk packed in individual containers.

When someone in your community conducts a food drive, donate a bag full of homeless-friendly foods.

If no one is having a food drive, fill a grocery bag with food  and take it to   your local food pantry, shelter, or soup kitchen.

Better yet, hold a food drive yourself.

In the past I’ve blogged posts about holding a food drive.  Several dates of these posts include May 3, 2018, January 13, 2021 – February 11, 2021 – February 25, 2021.  There are others.

Food drives are not difficult and they can be fun.  Everyone should have the experience.  Email me if you have questions.  thurmangreo@gmail.com

VOLUNTEER AT A SHELTER

Shelters depend on volunteers to sign people in, and cook and serve meals.  Depending on the resources of the shelter, you may be able to do other things such as helping kids with homework, teaching ESL classes, writing resumes.

VOLUNTEER AT A SOUP KITCHEN

Soup kitchen volunteers pick up donations of food, help prepare and serve meals, cleaning up at the end of the shift.

VOLUNTEER AT A FOOD PANTRY

Volunteering at a food pantry is a community experience.  I did it for years.  Never, at any moment, did I feel I was wasting my time.

SHARE A MEAL

Whenever you leave your home, bring a bagged meal to share with a person on the street.

ADVOCATE

When you do a few of the things on this short list, you will find yourself involved in your community, even if that was not your intention.

Your interest in hunger and homelessness automatically makes you an advocate – even if you don’t think you are.  When you help feed hungry and homeless people, you are fighting hunger in our country.

Most people in food pantries distribute a 3-day supply of food to everyone in each household.

But, however you see yourself, your good work, kindness, and generosity will ripple out beyond yourself and your community.

One thing is for sure, we need more good work, kindness, and generosity rippling out.

Something else happens when you share info cards, bagged lunches,  food, and sleeping bags:

The homeless people you interact with begin to lose their invisibility.  You  replace that invisibility with respect when you treat them as individuals.  Courtesy,  kind words and a smile will change not only your life but theirs. .

You may even learn someone’s name!

 

Thank you for reading this blog post.  Please share it with your favorite social media network.

Forward it to a friend or relative.

Learn more about hunger and homelessness on YOUTUBE at “Let’s Live with Thurman Greco”.

Hats, aprons, T-shirts, and books are available at www.thurmangreco.com

Having touble finding  YOUTUBE interviews?  Send an email to thurmangreco@gmail.com.  We’ll get you there!

Thanks!

Thurman Greco

One last commercial here:  A “HOPE on the ROAD” presentation was recorded and is on YOUTUBE.  Tune in to YOUTUBE to benefit from this presentation.

I can present a segment of “HOPE on the ROAD” to your library, your organization, your class, your group.

If you are a Reiki practitioner, “HOPE on the ROAD” is easy to learn so you can present it to people in your area.

There is no charge for “HOPE on the ROAD”. To participate in “HOPE on the ROAD”, contact me at thurmangreco@gmail.com.

Thanks again,

Thurman

Grief in the Pantry Line

When I think of grief, Lemon Balm Betty surfaces from my memory banks.  She ran around the parking lot outside the food pantry as fast as her feet would carry her, yelling at the top of her lungs “Thurman Greco is a f*** a****!

She carried anguish and anger like twins.  When anger bubbled up and yelled and yelled, anguish followed.

“I don’t think she’s ever going to smile again.” I thought to myself whenever I saw her run her circle around the parking lot.

One day she brought an armload of peppermint.  I put it out in the pantry for shoppers.

When she saw her donation in the fresh produce section, a smile lit up her whole being.  Finally!

In days past, we all looked for security and some of us found it.

But then, things spun out of control and our lives began over in the pantry.

Despair was unavoidable.

Fearful shoppers were uncomfortable and felt hurt in their hearts, clear down to their first chakras.

When we realized how vulnerable and insecure we were, distress happened.  .

No one talked about it much, but people working and shopping in a pantry lost a lot:  jobs, family, (not to mention the house and everything in it), friends, self-respect, self-love.

They lived an ongoing series of losses.

In the pantry, we all just ducked our heads and pressed on. Hungry people lived with the specter of what if:

What if I hadn’t lost my job?

What if I hadn’t come down with cancer?

What if I hadn’t lost my car?

It was all loss:  a lost job, the death of a loved one, a foreclosed home.  Loss triggered feelings and it was all incredibly lonely.

Occasionally I saw people crying in the pantry.  And, truth be told, I cried in the pantry a few times as well.

Sometimes I cried silently.  Once I wailed loud, earth shaking, tears.  I was intensely afraid the pantry would shut down.  I knew there was no other place to feed the people.

I don’t remember what made me become so emotional that day.  The reason I cried escapes me now because why I sobbed wasn’t important.

More important, the pantry was a safe place for us all or no one would have shed a tear.  Safety allowed me to let my guard down for just a moment to shed tears I needed to cry.

This I do remember:  I cried tears for us all in the building that day as  numbness wore off.

Wounds needed tears to heal.  Once this happened, we tried to move forward again.  Drugs numbed and masked the pain, but there were no pills to heal wounds.

This journey confronted traumas, and finally resolved things lost.  A despondent person moved forward never leaving grief behind.  The pain and the journey relied on emotional suffering.

Weekly trips to the pantry left us all with unfinished business.  It was impossible to lose so much with a clean break.

Travelling to the pantry, our lives were up and down.  We carried happy and sad memories with us in the pantry room.  Disaster was the new normal.

Tears paved the way for the good luck we experienced after the feelings of sadness and loss diminished.

Sadness had to be experienced.

The journey attracted spine and joint problems, respiratory problems, irritable bowel syndrome, bronchitis, asthma, pulmonary issues.

Our situations needed to be experienced honestly.  Denying grief got no one anywhere.  I was honest with myself about the sorrow I felt for the pantry.

If I hadn’t been, I would have lost it to those who didn’t approve of me and the hungry people the volunteers fed.

We each faced a challenge:  How to figure out who we were at the moment and who we hoped to be in the future.

In the middle of all this, we carved out a place in the new reality we found.  Then we could each define who we were in our new surroundings and in the community.

When we wrote our new stories and tried on our new identities, we saw the past, the present, and the future blended together.

The new stories brought depended on newly discovered talents and strengths.  A new voice surfaced.  I felt it drowned out the negativity.  When this happened, we were ready for a new life.

Maybe.

What about a new home, family, pet, job, car?  We all had different relationships to repair and rebuild.

Each person working in the pantry or walking through the shopping line felt loss differently.

This was our spiritual work.  Some were lucky enough to move on to a different town, a job, a different family.

But nobody  walked away from this loss , pain, and grief.  So, it was okay when we stayed in town together as we picked up the pieces of our lives.

I recognized this new voice whenever I heard “I won’t be coming again.  I got a new job and I’m moving on.”

Things didn’t always make sense because the voice was filled with anxiety, struggles, and disappointments.  In the end, it all came down to discovering what worked and what didn’t.

Each of us saw this uniquely.

 

Rita lived in the Saugerties/Palenville area before Hurricane Irene.  That storm cost her everything.  One day her life was normal and the next she had nothing.

The most anyone could say about Rita was that she was homeless.

A mutual friend, Lorene, found Rita a worn-out pickup somebody couldn’t  sell or even give away.

Until I looked closely at it, I didn’t even know what color it was.

I knew what color the tires were, though:  slick and bald.

Rita got the pickup and the key that went with it.  She put the key in the ignition and turned it.  The motor came to life.  It got her to the gas station.  Hurrah!

She began her life over by doing anything that anybody needed to have done for $10 an hour and lunch.

She cleaned out flooded houses and sheds.  She hauled trash to the dump.  She used her computer skills when somebody needed administrative savvy.

Her clothes came from Family of Woodstock.

She rented a room in somebody’s house and was finally not sleeping in the pickup.

Whenever she worked in Woodstock on Wednesdays, she shopped at the pantry.

I’ll say this about Rita.  She never grumbled.  With a smile on her face, she always acted as if the pantry food was the best she had ever eaten.

And never, not even once, did she complain about the ancient jalopy pickup rig she drove around.

As far as I could tell, she never lost hope.  Without hope, I don’t think she would ever have made it to the other side – wherever that was.

I never once asked her how she got the pickup repaired and I never even looked near the inspection sticker.  Frankly, I was afraid to ask.  I was afraid she would tell me.

Truthfully, Rita was no different from any of the rest of us shopping and volunteering in the pantry.

She had to figure out how much of her past she could rebuild.  And she had to figure out how much of her past she was simply going to close the door on as she moved into the future after Hurricane Irene.

Rita gave up much beyond her material possessions.  She gave up everything that she felt stood in the way of a successful future.  For Rita, quitting was something she couldn’t afford.

She gave up rear vision.  Looking into her past simply didn’t happen to Rita.  She gave up bitterness and seeing wrongs.  This meant she gave a person a second chance, and even a third if they needed it.

She gave up waiting and putting off something beccause the stars and planets weren’t properly aligned.  She gave up criticism.  This included self as well as others.

Rita was the right person in the right place in the right job to be able to unfold her path in front of her.  She carried on each day as if she truly believed it was better than yesterday.

She walked as if blessings were all around her.

Each day, every day, Rita risked whatever was necessary to rebuild her life.  Rita embraced the future while renouncing her past.  She never quit.

Rita was our poster child.  She found meaning each day, even in the worst situations and the most inhumane conditions.

Thank you for reading this article.  Please refer it to your preferred social media network.

Share it with your friends.

Because of its spirituality, this article could fit easily in www.reflexologyforthespirit.com.  Because of the food pantry setting, here it is in www.hungerisnotadisease.com.

Thanks

Thurman Greco

 

5 Easy Steps to Your Successful Food Drive

 

It’s easier than you think.

Step 1:

Choose the food pantry, homeless shelter, school, church,  food bank,  or soup kitchen to receive  the food you collect.

Step 2:

Contact your recipient, and learn what items the hungry people need. Try to be specific. Can they only accept canned food items or can they use frozen and fresh foods?   What about pet food?

If they need pet food or food for homeless people, for example, request those items (with specific food item suggestions) at your drive.

Step 3:

Decide how you want to collect the donated food.

The method I prefer is, of course, the one that worked for me several times.   I recommend  this method:

Gather some large empty grocery bags in good condition.

Attach a letter to each one saying something like:

Dear Neighbor:

“We are having a food drive in this neighborhood.   Please fill this bag with food and set it out on your entryway on …………………………..  when it will be picked up between 00:00  and 00:00.  Include am and pm to be more specific.

We need the following kinds of food:……………………..

Your donated food will be donated to ………………………………   Thank you for your generosity.  If you have any questions, please call………………………………….    Signed…………………………………….”

Set the bags out at every address in the area you selected.

On the appointed date, return to the addresses and pick up the bags of food.

Step 4:

Deliver them to the selected food pantry, homeless shelter, school.

Step 5:

Pat yourself on your back.  You did a great job!

My experience with this  food drive method is that people respond positively because you give them bags, tell them exactly what food items you need, and return to pick up the food at a specific time on an exact date.

Thank you in advance for all you are doing to feed your neighbors.

Please post  this article on your favorite social media network.

Share it with your friends.

Have a wonderful day!

Thurman Greco

www.hungerisnotadisease.com

 

Food Pantry Rules – 2021 – Pandemic

If you read my last post – “Food Pantry Rules” – you may have thought you were in some time warp.  Travel had returned you to about 2010.

Well, not really.

The pandemic changed many details but the bones of a food  pantry event are the same.

The volunteers and the people who shop at the pantry are the same.

Everyone comes together looking for groceries but often, they want and need far more.

Food pantry lines get longer every pantry day because people, families, struggle with change they didn’t ask for.

They are rewriting their destiny stories without a road map or instructions.

A number of people in the food pantry, both shoppers and volunteers, didn’t know about food pantries until circumstances set up a situation where they suddenly looked around and realized they were in a car in a long line waiting for food.

There is a name for this category:  SITUATIONAL POOR.

A person fits into the situational poor category when she lands in a situation created by an event such as a hurricane, fire, flood, pandemic, or other disaster which destroys the home, car, job.

Food pantries offer much – peace, community, spiritual connection, groceries.

A food pantry in the basement of a church is a cross between a church and a busy pizza place.

A food pantry in a line of cars in a pandemic is reminiscent of the mass food distributions we held periodically in New York State after the collapse of the economy in 2008.

A line of cars filled with people needing food wraps around the block, down the road, and even further.

A whistle blows.

The cars begin to move.  A volunteer puts a bag (s) of food in each vehicle.

Everyone wears masks.

There are still food pantries where people show up to a church and receive a bag of groceries.

But, whether the food is distributed to hungry people in cars or to hungry people walking to a building,  a food pantry distribution is not a program.  It is a community made up of those who gather the food and distribute it, and those who receive it.  The  process of distributing the food  to people creates a change in everyone.

The experience does not heal a person.  Nor does it change the story.  It does not offer therapy.  The experience itself is a conduit for each person’s own spiritual growth and change.

Never once when I was involved in a food pantry did I kid myself into thinking that I was winning the war against hunger.  And, I do not kid myself now.

I know this food pantry food distribution experience does not end hunger.  Instead, it offers food for several meals.  And, that is all.

Ending hunger is another matter altogether.

I do feel, though, that the rules are changing.  The pandemic experience is altering the hunger situation dramatically, at least.  The pandemic experience is altering the hunger situation permanently.

“How is that?” you ask.

The pandemic has changed how our food is grown and distributed.  Food pantries are a link in the food distribution chain.  This chain now looks different.  The link connections are different.

“How is that?” you ask.

For one thing, the restaurant industry is different.

Food production and distribution is different.

I do not think we know yet just what the fallout is.  We have yet to live out the end of this story.   We’re living and experiencing the future.  For some, it is hard to see the big picture because the changes have not yet come around  for each of us to see and experience in our daily lives.

In any event,  the Pandemic is not us what we think.  Our opinions and preferences don’t count for much here.

One thing is certain, our future is destined to be different from a future without a Pandemic.  Another thing is certain for me:  We can never return to our past.

We are all destined to experience a new Pandemic future.

Whatever the future brings, we need to keep on feeding the hungry in whatever way that works.

Thank you for reading this blog post.  Please forward this article to your preferred social media network.

Share it with your friends.

Thurman Greco

 

 

 

 

 

Food Pantry Rules

A food pantry is what it is because of three things:

the economic situation at the moment

the volunteers

the people who shop there.

The people come together looking for groceries but often, they want and need far more.

While the coronavirus pandemic rages, the food pantry lines get longer every pantry day because people, families, deal with change they didn’t ask for.

In short, they are rewriting their destiny stories without a road map or instructions.

A number of the people in the pantry, both shoppers and volunteers,  didn’t know about food pantries until circumstances  set up a situation where they suddenly looked around a room and realized where they were.

There is a name for their category – SITUATIONAL POOR.

A person fits into the situational poor category when s/he lands in a situation created by an event such as a hurricane, fire, floor, pandemic, or other disaster which destroys the home, car, job.

Pantries offer much – peace, community, spiritual connection, groceries.  I always think of a food pantry in the basement of a church as a cross between a church service and a busy pizza place.

A food pantry, and those connected with it, are not a program.  They are a community.  As volunteers, all we really do is open the door.  As all the hungry people walk through the door, they undergo a change somehow.

Each person in a pantry, in whatever capacity, has experienced rejection in some way – too young, too old, too crazy, too sick, too poor, not poor enough.

The food pantry experience  does not heal a person, nor does it change the story.

The food pantry experience does not offer therapy.

The food pantry is, instead, a conduit for each person’s own healing.

FOOD PANTRY RULES

Sign your name in the register as you enter the pantry.

Find a place in line.

Do not crowd or block the door to the pantry room.

No more than 2 shoppers are allowed in the pantry at one time.

No more than one new shopper is allowed in the pantry at one time.

Shop for a three-day supply of food for everyone in your household.

Place your selections on the table as you shop.

Respect the restrictions on certain foods.

Finish your shopping in 10 minutes.

Once you begin to bag your groceries, do not continue to shop.

Because the food availability is different each time you shop, it is best to visit the food pantry weekly.

Thank you.

Thurman Greco

P.S.  The rules may be different at the pantry where you shop.  Each food pantry is different.  The space is different.  The times the pantry is open is different.  The management is different.

These  specific rules were used in the food pantry I managed where the people were many, the space small, and the hours few.

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Miracles – Because Hunger is Not a Disease

Miracles happened in the food pantry.  It took me a while to realize this and then it took another while to accept that such a thing could happen in the basement of a small town church in Upstate New York.

I sneaked miracle stories in on the blog posts.  I sneaked them on the pages of   “I Don’t Hang Out in Churches Anymore”.  Finally, I gave them their own pages – as much as I had the nerve for anyway,  in a short book “Miracles”.

Research on miracles taught me some things.

I learned that miracles often include weeping statues, broken legs healing  straight,  relics, stigmata, and visions.  The pantry miracles included none of those things.

Our miracles never really cured anyone.  I never saw a statue weep, and no one came down with stigmata.

Instead, they  showed us all how to grow and love and forgive.  It was giving away the food that was the tip off for me.

As far as I can tell, the food pantry miracles were not the result of prayer.

God just showed up and brought food.  Once he came disguised as a fireman.  Each miracle was a complete surprise, a unique and different event.  God came when the pantry shelves were bare and the lines were long.

I don’t think the miracles proved that any of the shoppers or volunteers were more  faithful than anybody else in town.   Frankly, I think that some of us saw the miracles as coincidences or something.

However they were seen, these events made an impact on a small number of people who saw them as they happened.

The clincher for me occurred when I finally realized and accepted a few basic things:

Carloads of food never showed up when we didn’t need it.

Boots never appeared on the shelves disguised as toothpaste in the summertime.

Nobody ever brought a handful of nails to fix the barn when the wall wasn’t falling.

Two books appeared on my desk out of the ethers:  “Miracles” by Tim Stafford and “Looking for a Miracle” by Joe Nickell gave a feeling of legitimacy to my thoughts and memories.

Because of Tim Stafford,  I wrote my book entitled “Miracles”.    He was direct about a few things – one of them being that people should not spread “miracle gossip”.  Because of his feelings about what he called “miracle gossip”,  I’m compelled to relate the pantry miracle stories.

To sneak them in  blog posts  does not do them justice.

Thank you for reading this blog post.  Please refer it to your favorite social media network.

Thurman Greco

 

Hunger and Healing for Ourselves and our Planet During this Spring Solstice

Throughout the month, and especially on March 19th, whenever you find a time and place that fits your schedule…sit quietly for a few moments and visualize a world where positive renewal and growth exists for all beings.

Invite adequate housing, nutritious food, and reliable quality healthcare to become a reality for  all.

Plant spiritual seeds to nurture goals and dreams of everyone.  Reflect on all the wonderful opportunities available in our world for growth and hope throughout our planet.

Spend a moment including  goals for housing and food and healthcare for those who have insufficient resources

Honor the mystical and magical change of seasons creating space for the spiritual growth for everyone.

Check in with yourself now.  Give your spirit the support it needs and seeks to bring housing, nutrition, and good health to everyone on our planet.

Quiet your mind as you bathe in this new energy created by spring.  Invite universal balance, and abundance into our world.

May all beings on this planet live and thrive in peace and harmony.

Thank you for reading this Meditation.

Please refer this article to your preferred social media network.

Thanks again

Thurman Greco.

 

What Inspires me in the Fight Against Hunger

Well, actually, it isn’t necessarily what.  It’s more likely who.  The first line of leadership inspiration is the hungry people in the food pantry line.  A food pantry really is all about the people grappling with hunger.

But, where did this whole thing actually begin?  For me, it all started with Robert F. Kennedy.  In 1967, he traveled to Mississippi to see poverty and hunger for what it was.  Being a wealthy man from a wealthy family, he actually had no idea.

Down there he saw  hunger and poverty for what it was, not what he thought it should be.  He saw people, elderly people, adults, children.  He saw people with no jobs, no welfare, no surplus commodities, and no food stamps.

If the history books tell this story  correctly, it was the children who got to him.  He saw the hunger as it was. Seeing children hungry to the point of near starvation,  Robert F. Kennedy came face-to-face with malnutrition.

Robert F. Kennedy was both moved and angry.

There is a book out there  telling the story of their  hunger.  You may or may not ever have heard about this book.  “So Rich, So Poor” was written by Peter Edelman.

In reading about Robert F. Kennedy, I read a paragraph which has meaning for me:

“All of us, from the wealthiest to the young children that I have seen in this country, in this year, bloated by starvation – we all share one precious possession, and that is the name American.

“It is not easy to know what that means.

“But in part to be an American means to have been an outcast and a stranger, to have come to the exiles’ country, and to know that he who denies the outcast and stranger still amongst us, he also denies America.”

Those words resonate with me.  They may  mean nothing to you.  But, whether or not they have meaning for you, they are powerful words and they tell a story I see in the food pantry line.

I thank you for reading this blog post.  I thank you for your interest in fighting hunger.  I know that distributing food in a food pantry is not going to do away with hunger.

But, this I do know:  Distributing food in a food pantry will keep the shoppers in that line from starvation for three days.

This is all I can do.  This has to be enough until a better option comes along.

Thurman Greco

Please refer this post to your preferred social media network.

 

 

Hunger, our Planet, and the Winter Solstice

On this Winter Solstice  please take a moment  that fits into your day to focus on our world and how we fit into it.

Visualize a world where all beings know they are connected and live in the comfort of this connection.

Focus on a planet where everyone works together with mutual respect, honor, and  harmony.

In your spirit, see a world in which no one goes to bed hungry.

Understand in your heart that hunger and homelessness are not categories.  They are situations which can happen to anyone.

Create a vision of peace and food for all.

Thank you for reading this article.  Please refer it to your preferred social media network.

Thurman Greco

Grief in the Food Pantry – Hunger is not a Disease

“Lemon Balm Betty is out in the parking lot again.”
When I think of grief, Lemon Balm Betty surfaces from my memory banks. She ran around the parking lot outside the food pantry as fast as her feet would carry her as she yelled at the top of her lungs “Thurman Greco is a f..king a..hole!”

“I don’t think she’s ever going to smile again.”

Her anger morphed into a smile one day when she brought in an armload of herbs.  I put them out in the pantry for shoppers.  Shen she saw this, a smile lit up her whole  being.

Finally!

Grief was unavoidable in the pantry.  Grief and fear are best friends.  Fearful people are uncomfortable and feel hurt in their hearts, clear down to their first chakras.

Grief happens when we realize how vulnerable we are, how insecure we are.

In our past, we sought security.  Some of us found it.

But, then, things spun out of control and our lives began again – in the pantry.

Pantry shoppers and volunteers live with grief.  No one talks about it but people working and shopping in a pantry lost a lot:  love, jobs, family (not to mention the house and everything in it), friends, self-respect, self-love.  Grief is an ongoing series of losses.  In the pantry, we all just duck our heads and press on.

Hungry people live with the specter of what if.

What if I hadn’t lost my job?

What if I hadn’t come down with cancer?

What if I hadn’t lost my car?

It’s all loss.  It’s all change, whether a lost job, the death of a loved one, a lost home.

Loss triggers grief.  And, it’s all incredibly lonely.

I occasionally saw people crying in the pantry.  And, truth be told, I cried in the pantry a few times as well.  Sometimes I cried silently.  Once I cried loud, earth shaking tears.  I was intensely afraid the pantry would shut down.  I knew there was no other place to feed the people.

I don’t remember the exact circumstances which made me so emotional that day.  The reason I cried escapes me now because why I cried wasn’t important.  More important, the pantry is a safe place for us all or no one would have shed a tear.  This safety allowed me to let my guard down for just a moment to cry the tears I needed to cry.

This I do remember:  I cried tears for us all in the building that day as numbness wore off.  This was grief at work.

Tears are necessary to heal  wounds.  There were drugs to numb and mask the pain but there were no pills to heal.  So…I cried because there were no grief pills at the Village Apothecary.

Grief is a journey confronting, enduring, and resolving loss.  A grieving person moves forward never leaving grief behind.  The pain, emotional suffering, were a necessary part of the process.  We grieved over things lost:  people, jobs, hopes, dreams, belief in self, fun.

The trip to the pantry left us all with unfinished business.  It was impossible to lose so much and have it go as a clean break.  No loss was perfect.  While we traveled to the pantry, our lives were full of ups and downs, good and bad moments.  We carried both happy and sad memories inside the pantry room.  Grief was the new normal.  But grief, with all its tears, paved the way for something positive which we experienced when sadness and loss diminished.

Grief attracted spine and joint problems, respiratory problems, irritable bowel syndrome, bronchitis, asthma, pulmonary issues.

Grief needed to be experienced with depth and honesty.  Denying grief got no one anywhere.  I was honest with myself about the grief I felt for the pantry.  If I hadn’t been, I would have lost the pantry to those who didn’t approve of me and the hungry people I fed.

Grief and anger were never far apart.  Anger was always there, just below the surface until it  yelled.

In the pantry, each of us were trying to figure out who we were at the moment and who we would be in the future.  In the middle of the grief, we explored a new reality we found while we each defined who we were in our new surroundings and community.

We tried on new careers and identities in our new lives.  As this happened, we saw the past, the present, and the future all at once.  This experience allowed us to see newly discovered talents, strengths, gifts.

In this experience, we created new voices.  We found courage to overcome fears.

I recognized this new voice whenever I heard “I won’t be coming again.  I got a new job and I’m moving on.”  When I heard this new voice, I also heard anxiety, struggle, disappointments, and courage.  The person was discovering what was going to work and what wouldn’t.

RITA

Rita lived in the Saugerties/Palenville area before Hurricane Irene.  That storm cost her everything.  One day her life was normal and the next day she had nothing.  The most anyone could say about Rita was that she was homeless.

A friend we both knew, Lorene, found Rita a worn out pickup somebody couldn’t sell or even give away.

Until I looked closely at it, I didn’t know what color it was.  I knew what color the tires were, though:  slick and bald.

So, anyway, Rita got the pickup and the key that went with it.  She put the key in the ignition, turned it.  The motor came to life.  It had enough gas to get her to the gas station.  Hurrah!

She began her life over by doing anything that anybody needed to have done for $10.00 an hour and lunch.  She cleaned out flooded houses and sheds.  She hauled trash to the dump.  She used her computer skills when she found anybody who needed administrative work done.  Her clothes came from Family of Woodstock.  She found a room in someone’s house and was finally not sleeping in the pickup.

Whenever she worked over in Woodstock on Wednesday, she took time out to shop at the pantry.

And, I will say this about Rita.

She never once grumbled.  She always had a smile on her face.  She always acted as if the pantry food was the best she had ever eaten.  And never, not even once, did she complain about the ancient jalopy pickup rig she drove around.

As far as I could tell, she never lost hope.  Without hope, I don’t think she would ever have made it to the other side – wherever that was.

For my part, I never once asked her how she got the pickup repaired and I never even looked near the inspection sticker.  Frankly, I was afraid to ask.  I was afraid she would tell me.

Rita was no different from any of the rest of us shopping and volunteering in the pantry.  She had to figure out how much of her past she could rebuild.  And she had to figure out how much of the past she was simply going to close the door on as she moved into the future after Hurricane Irene.  Rita obviously gave up much beyond her material possessions.

She gave up everything she felt stood in the way of her successful future.  Quitting was something she couldn’t afford.

She gave up rear vision.  Looking back into her past simply didn’t happen to Rita.  She gave up bitterness and seeing wrongs.  This means she gave a person a second chance, and even a third when they needed it.

She gave up waiting and putting off something because the stars and planets weren’t properly aligned.  She gave up criticism.  This included herself as well as others.

Rita was the right person in the right place in the right job to unfold her path in front of her.  She carried on each day as if she truly believed it was better than yesterday.  She walked as if blessings were all around her and all she had to do was open her eyes a little wider.

Each day, every day, she did whatever was necessary to build her life.  Rita embraced the future and renounced her past.

She never quit.

Thank you for reading this article.  Please refer this post to your preferred social media network.

Thurman Greco