Thursday, April 10, 2008

Warning: Fundraising Plug to Follow

On Sunday, May 4, I will be participating in the 40th Annual Walk for Hunger here in Boston. I am hoping that I'll be able to complete the full 20 miles again this year (I did 100 miles over three days when I was 13 or 14, so 20 is, in theory, a piece of cake ;) If you care to support my efforts (even a small amount can make a big difference), follow the link below (or here!). If you follow that link to my Walk for Hunger homepage, you'll see that this is my answer to the question of Why I Walk. (And you can find out my real name, for any of you who don't know it.)

Why I Walk

When I was twelve, I began volunteering at the soup kitchen at the Cathedral of St. John in Providence on Tuesday afternoons after school. I continued to do so every week throughout middle school and high school. I got to know many of the patrons over the years, some quite well.

David was the piano man and was one of the first people I got to know well, and certainly one of my favorites. My first Christmas, I helped him figure out who to ask whether he could play Christmas carols on the piano while people ate. I'm not the greatest singer, but I loved to sing along. We made quite a team. And we kept playing and singing, long after Christmas was over. He loved to make up new lyrics to songs that, to my twelve year old mind, were a riot. Every week, we did Billy Joel's Piano Man, but instead of wearing a younger man's clothes, he wore his nose, which made me giggle endlessly each time.

Sophie was probably five when we first met. Her elderly grandmother cared for her and her older sisters as best she could, but when they couldn't find shelter they lived on the street. I shared her excitement when she lost her baby teeth, then saw her shame when her new adult teeth fell out due to malnutrition. It was heartbreaking and made it difficult to imagine a positive outcome for this girl who would now be in her early twenties.

Jeff had lost his job and his marriage in rapid succession. He was bright and articulate, but not especially compassionate, seemingly lacking the inner voice that tends to tell a person when to keep his mouth shut. He came every week for a couple of years, then stopped all of a sudden. A year or so later, he resurfaced -- employed, in a relationship, and wanting to volunteer. Having somewhere to go where people would listen to him and where he knew he could get a solid meal each week helped him to get back on his feet, and he wanted to give back.

Why do I walk? I walk for David, and for Sophie, and for Jeff. And I walk for the more than 450,000 people in Massachusetts who are struggling to put food on the table. I walk for some of the state’s most vulnerable citizens — children, seniors, people with chronic illness, and the working poor who are suffering from an increase in poverty and from the high cost of living. In a state as prosperous as ours, no one should have to start and finish their day hungry. Funds raised through the Walk support more than 400 emergency food programs in 126 communities statewide.

To make a contribution, click here.


Sara said...

I could only afford something really small, but I'm happy to give! :)

Jen said...

What a wonderful cause!

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