I am proud of our little community's efforts to help each other, especially the efforts of Old Mission Church. Thanksgiving is not only no exception but it is a major big deal. Last Thursday, the Old Mission Church hosted a thanksgiving meal for any and all in town, regardless of social or economic standing. Those who could afford to donate, gave money. Those who knew how to cook, cooked. Someone anonymously donated 20 frozen turkeys. Twenty people raised their hands to cook them and bring them to the feast. Those with neither money nor cooking talent helped clean. As for me, I also helped clean. I can donate, but I cannot cook, and I do like to feel useful. We had so many cleaners, though, that it took less than a half hour to clean up after a three-hour meal for which more than 25% of the town showed up. No one should have been left hungry in San Ignatio on Thanksgiving Day. Those who did not attend, I suppose, were having dinner with relatives; I do know a number of people who donated in lieu of helping because they had planned family meals. We have come to enjoy the town meal so much, though, that we leave Shane's thanksgiving meal as a special event for Lemony's family, making the preparation easier for her, and instead participate in the community event, taking along Noelle, now that she is without Roy, and Doah, pictured above at the feast with Sr. Delores from our local Franciscan convent, Sisters of the Atonement. Every community should be so interwoven and caring -- little more than a big family, which is not such a little thing after all.
I am taking the day off from blogging to attend morning Mass and then help out all afternoon at Old Mission's community dinner -- open to all, regardless of SES or church affiliation. I will also take some time during the day and evening to drop in to followers' blogs with Thanksgiving greetings.
I would like to bring readers' attention to one of the blogs/websites that I list on my blogroll, whence came the picture above. (I am sure I will be forgiven for "borrowing it.") The site is called "Invisible People," and it accomplishes the intent of H2 Helper perfectly.
Each blog post focuses on an individual. Through a video, the individual is introduced to blog visitors. No longer is the individual just a face in the crowd. The individual is now a person with whom visitors can identify.
Poverty, whether it be felt through hunger or homelessness or both, is not without a face. However, it often is easier to drop a few coins into an outheld hand than to invite that person to share a meal. When we take in the former action, we fail to engage with the people whom we are helping. Our charity takes on an impersonal nature. When we take the latter action, we do engage with the people we are helping. Our charity not only takes on a personal nature, but the rewards are two-sided: the helper is rewarded along with the helped. Getting to know someone personally is always a reward, no matter who that person is.
People should not be invisible. The poor, the homeless, the hungry, the ill -- they are not all that different from those of us who have not had to carry these crosses. Looking the other way makes them seem invisible, but it does not make them invisible. They are real, and they deserve our respect and personal attention (and, if only for a brief time, our friendship). That thinking is what the Invisible People website hopes to catalyze by introducing real people to readers.
There are many ways to help Syrians as the war shows little evidence of subsiding. Here are some of the organizations helping. Check their websites for information about how you can help them help others.
Save the Children is on the ground, helping to keep children safe, providing the basics they need, like food and blankets and offering programs to help them cope with tragedy. However, the numbers of children escaping the violence are rising every day, and the refugee crisis is set to get worse. They can use help in helping. Read children's first-hand stories at their website.
For more ways to help, an ongoing update, and new opportunities to assist as they arise, check the Syrian American website on a regular basis.
16 million Pakistanis are desperate for help, and one young college student, Wajeeha, and her classmates have taken a journey to help them. Read about their plans (now fulfilled) here: Come Along on a Journey to Help Pakistan One Family at a Time. Thank you to the readers of 100th Lamb who contributed to this effort. More help is needed in Pakistan. In addition to Wajeeha's project, two helping organizations through whom you can contribute are Catholic Relief (for people needs) and World Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (for creature needs).
The "H2H Challenge" asks those who care to go beyond throwing money at the hungry and homeless and instead of giving a handout only, get to know them, give them dignity, and provide them with respect, to follow the example set by St. Francis in eating together with the outcasts of society (in his case, mostly lepers) and through getting to know them in this manner, treating them as the same children of God that we all are, no less worthy of love and kindness than ourselves. Specifically:
Invite someone who is homeless and hungry to dinner once a month. (More often, if you can afford it, is, of course, wonderfully fine!) Get to know that person one-on-one.
You can report on your experiences, if you would like to do so here, by leaving a comment on any related post.Or, if you would like to write a post about it, contact me (Elizabeth.Mahlou@gmail.com).
You might want to donate money, goods, or time to one of the organizations that help the homeless and hungry. There are some in every community. Your location church or chamber of commerce can tell you where they are. I am listing below those that come to my attention as being unusual in what they offer and those that are really in need of financial support (many have fallen into this category during this Great Recession).
I am the mother of 4 birth children (plus 3 others who lived with us) and grandmother of 2, all of them exceptional children. Married for 42 years, I grew up in Maine, live in California, and work in many places in education, linguistics, and program management. In my spare time, I rescue and tame feral cats and have the scars to prove it. A long-time ignorantly blissful atheist converted by a theophanic experience to Catholicism,
I am now a joyful catechist. Oh, I also authored a dozen books, two under my pen name of Mahlou (Blest Atheist and A Believer-in-Waiting's First Encounters with God).
100th Lamb This is my main blog. It originated from my book by the same title but has morphed into a blog that explores the spiritual questions I encounter as I careen through a life with many children and in many states and countries, meeting many very interesting and wonderfully diverse people.
The Clan of Mahlou. This blog provides background information about various members of the extended Mahlou family; it is a work in progress since the lives of Mahlou clan members continue to march forward. This blog also contains my conversion story.
Mahlou Musings. This site contains excerpts from my various publications. The tiger is a representation of my spirit and life.
Modern Mysticism This blog discusses the mystical in our pragmatic, practical, realistic, and rational 21st century world and is addressed to those who spend some or much of their time in an irrational/mystical relationship with God. If such things do not strain your credulity, you are welcome to follow the blog and participate in it.