Sunday, May 6, 2012


THE WORLD CAN'T HOLD ME, I GOT AMBITION... Well that kind of ambitious thinking may have worked well for JayZ but the think big, live large mantra did not quite work for my fellow love competition partner and me. Our Give and Let Live Drive extended through the month of February and into early March. The idea was that the longer we let the collection of items go, the more we would have to take on the road trip the Reading, PA. After all, that was a long way to go without a full haul. When all was said and done, we had 5 banker boxes full of stuff, two large Duane Reade style shopping bags and one large hefty bag full of donated shoes. Though some of the items (clothing) were not intended for Greater Berkshire foodbank, my idea was if you're helping the needy, it really didn't matter which organization benefitted, as long as those who need it, get it! So with that in mind, I schlepped to my office the night before our road trip, commandeered the big orange hand-truck and put everything in the cargo space of my suv. The items were packed tightly and while it was a heavy load it was not overwhelming and looked like alot! Everything fit in the storage area and we were good to go! I texted Rich to let him know we were locked and loaded and would see him the next morning...road ready! ROAD TRIP RECAP It was a slightly overcast morning with the promise of a sunny 73 degrees. We hit the road around 10:30am armed with a full tank of $4.00 a gallon gas, the trusty GPS, and two low carb diet-crashing bagels(yum's been about a year since I've eaten a bagel but this was a momentous moment and Rich was paying, so what the hell! Live a little). Rich is a rider and I'm a roller, put us together, how they gonna stop both us...the new Bonnie and Clyde of giving hit the parkway for the 2 1/2 hour trip. The sun made its appearance an I opened the sun roof to take it all in! I warned my co-pilot that I was a roadrunner in my other life and that he should strap in and hold on! Beep Beep! We would arrive safely, maybe slightly ahead of schedule but it was bound to be a white knuckle ride for the faint hearted! I ride with the trucks, get annoyed with the highway grandmas, and have been known to get a speeding ticket or two! But Rich is a warrior, so he was down for the adventure. The time passed quickly as we chatted about this and that, the frivolous and the serious alike! I must say as road trip partners go, Rich was one of the better. We took in the scenery, made jokes about the more rural side of life, and felt no pressure to just make conversation for the sake of talking. As we got closer to the town where the pantry was located, something seemed amiss! We thought Greater Berks Food Pantry was in a underserved, poverty stricken area. We expected and in a morbid way, hoped to see some of what the New York Times article spoke of. We both wanted the chance to interact with the people we were helping. Not to play spectator to their misfortune, or to lawd over them the fact that we had driven hundreds of miles to help them feed their families, but to really be a part of the change we were hoping would impact their lives, to be inspired to do more, and to put a human story behind the kind of struggling that comes from a lack of. DONATION DISILLUSION But that was not to be, Greater Berks was located in what seemed to be a very affluent part of town, pristine housing structures, churches, libraries and little home-based businesses like antique shops and real estate brokers along the commercial strip and large farm houses with long rolling hills of land behind them peppered the road way. We pulled into the industrial park where the Berks distribution center was located saw a couple of food trailers lined near the warehouse. It was bitter sweet... happy to be here to unload our haul, but disappointed that the needy Reading, PA we read about didn't seem needy at all! We were greeted warmly by the staff there and it was explained to us that this was the main distribution hub and all donations came through this entry point and were distributed to various local and community groups that ran their own pantries. They confirmed for us that our donation would indeed go to needy communities and that there was a strong need in the areas they supplied food. We were told more about the community, their operation and introduced to the organization's Executive Director, who thanked us for the donations and for inquiring about how we can help further. We then proceeded to inquire about where we could give the clothing. They directed us to a nearby church that ran clothing drives and distributed them to impoverished communities. But like the the Berks food bank it was alll too well-to-do for comfort. The church, Good Shepherds, was a glass and wood encased structure, with well kept flowering grounds and an adjacent day care center. Through the crucifix embossed glass doors you could see the sanctuary and open areas for meetings or services. The doors were locked and entry was permitted only after ringing the intercom. We did several times but no one answered. We then proceeded over to the day care center where on of the teachers tried to get us entry to the church and access to the secretary who was curiously unavailable. We left our donations at the Center where the teacher was more than happy to store our offerings until the church secretary's return. Again, mixed emotions! Had we done the right thing by leaving the clothes there? I have to believe we did, but admit I had a moment of doubt when the teacher asked if our donation included children's clothing, because some of the children come to day care without provisions for unforeseen accidents. Yes, I told her, "there are a lot of children's clothes there in various sizes, no doubt they will come in handy". But the question in my mind was whether the particular children serviced by this day care center were dropped off ill equipped due to a " lack-of" or just parental oversight. Again, I have to believe we did, and they will, "Do the Right Thing!" SERIOUSLY SENIOR MOMENT All this giving sure does work up an appetite! A local eatery was recommended to us by the staff at Berks who were known to "eat out a lot". The place called the County Corner or something countrified and corney like that turned out to be little more than a diner. A diner that must have been running a BOGO special for card carrying AARP members, because we were the youngest people in there and that includes the wait staff! It was pretty large and we wondered what kind of karaoke and line dancing went on there on a Friday night! The food was good and the service hospitable as long as you didn't ask for herbal tea, organic anything, or a slice of lime for some fancy bottled water they didn't carry, or never heard of. Rich and I were mindful to leave our "New York" behind to enjoy our meal; and that we did! IT ALL ADDS UP So a few days ago Richard calls me to see if I too received a thank you letter from the Greater Berks Pantry thanking us for our donation. I didn't, so he came over to my office with his usual lightening speed to give me a copy. The letter thanked us for donating 88.9 lbs. of food! It said our donation will help feed families in the county's neediest communities. Perhaps we'd done some good after all, perhaps bitter/sweet was more sweet than we thought. Hold up, Wait a minute!! Let's do the math... Round up to 89 lbs. If we are comparing this to common pantry can goods, 89 lbs, is the equivalent of about 6 cans of beans, peas, or soup; assuming most can goods are about 15.5 oz. or roughy 13 cans of tuna! When I look at it that way, I suddenly realize yet again in a moment of clarity, Giving Ain't Easy! Time to brush that dirt of my shoulder and move onto the next one!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

I Got 99 Problems and Giving is One....

I figured I'd keep the title of this post in line with the current Jay Z theme. heheh....  Giving aint easy, lemme tell you.  I guess I had hoped that if I opened myself up to the possiblities of giving and helping my fellow man that the opportunities would just present themselves, but I find myself having to be way more pro-active than I had imagined.  Anyway, my food/ toiletry drive was a resounding success!   Well at least I filled up the two boxes that I had set up outside my office.  Once one person put some things in the box, then others followed suit (felt the pressure) and made their contributions as well.  It was very nice to see the boxes filling up as the days and the weeks progressed.  The next step is to bring it on down to Reading, PA.  I am interested to see what the most poverty stricken city in the United States looks like.
To keep the giving momentum going I am running a half marathon this weekend.  The proceeds of the donations raised will go to help build wells in Africa.  I got into the donation raising a little late, but hopefully I will at least hit the $100 dollar mark in donations. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012


Since we're quoting The Great Brooklyn Boy, I figured I'd follow suit! Thanks for the props "cuz"! It is truly a competition against the lack of love in the city...I ask ya, "where's the love"? It's there, but for so many it is dormant and suppressed (myself included). Part of life in NYC is desensitizing yourself to the misfortunes and trauma experienced by others and pushing the love to the back burner; storing it up and using it sparingly on select few. Part of this competition or shall I say campaign, is to bring the love forth and allow it to manifest in the form of giving! The hardest part of the mission to consciously spread the love is allowing it to flow naturally and instinctively; to recognize a need, draw on your resources and take action. This past few weeks giving has taken many forms. I've given of my time, my knowledge, my resources, and energy. But it comes easier when I allow myself to act with pure intention...not because there is a competition, or to get kudos but because I can, and because it improves the quality of my life and the lives of others in small and big ways! My last two giving experiences did just that! The first came from clearly seeing someone struggle needlessly. A woman I know recently and courageously left an abusive relationship. She explained how she will never look back on the life she had but described how hard her new found freedom comes with many new burdens...schlepping 4 young kids (2 are infants) back and forth on public transportation without a stroller. I thought, what can I do that would make her life easier? Then it came to me that it would cost me nothing but resources to ask around for someone looking to unload a stroller. Well one person I asked posted my request on Facebook and within hours we had found her not 1 but 2 strollers for FREE! That was quite the score! But even better it will improve her life and that of her kids. The 2nd act this week was much less complicated and involved just giving a stamp to the elderly woman in front of me at the discount store, who had a mini breakdown when she got to the cashier only to discover that the store did not sell stamps and never did! Distressed by this new news, she rambled almost incoherently in broken English, about the letter that she needed to send off to her daughter. I tapped her on the shoulder and asked how many stamps she needed. She said, "Just daughter needs these important papers"! Before she could drag on her story, I reached into my wallet and gave her a stamp! She thanked me and tried to offer me money. I simply said good luck and walked away. A small thing for me,big thing for her! This is what it's all about..just allowing yourself to recognize the suffering of others and then taking action however you can to ease that pain. With giving experiences like that ... I will not lose, ever! This world of "lack love" will not triumph, and this cadence from JayZ will serve as inspiration to spread the love!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Posted by a love refugee

Allow me to re-introduce name is HOV!! wait that's not I'm not a super famous rap mogul or a man for that matter lol...I am the cousin who has been doubted! And reasonably is now March 2nd and obviously my team mate and I have not been eager participants.  I am however, 100% supportive of my cousin Rich and his team mate Crystal, although, unfortunately it looks like they're just competing against well The 'Lack of Good' out there in general or rather than competing, 'championing' a good cause...LOVE! I did want to say though, that I have been inspired, which I've already told Rich, but I wanted to show my support, here, in this forum. 
Quick story...a few weeks ago I was getting lunch in my Employee Cafeteria and the guy who makes all of our delicious sandwiches was talking to another employee about a local soup kitchen and how desperate they are for help...sooo...with this ‘seek out new ways to do good’ mentality in the back of my head…I said "I'll help!" and me, the other employee, and the sandwich guy are going to go on March 21st for the first time.  I hope it leads to a weekly engagement!  Also, just so everyone reading this doesn't think I call the guy that makes my sandwiches, 'the sandwich guy', I do know his name but I'm protecting his privacy lol
Soooo...Thank you Rich and Crystal for the ideas, inspiration and Loooove! Keep it up! xoxo
I may not be 'competing' but I'm your number one cheerleader!!!  With your sister being a very close second! ha

Thursday, February 2, 2012

February is the month of Looooove...

I read recently (well I was actually informed that I read it a few months ago, but that is besides the point) that Reading, Pennsylvania is the most poverty stricken city in the United States.  Usually that is a piece of information that you would just shake your head at and say "What a shame".  But with this competition in gear, it is the perfect opportunity to find out if there is anything I could do.  The Greater Berks Food Bank was an organization mentioned in the article, so I decided to have a little food drive at my office.  I will be collecting non-perishable foods, and toiletries for a month or so to give to the good folks over in PA.  When I told my teammate about this she ratcheted up the stakes and decided to also collect baby clothes, and old cell phones for Safe Horizon.  OK... this is could be really good.  I have a feeling that I will be filling up these boxes outside my office by myself, but I hope I am wrong.  We'll see....

Monday, January 23, 2012

Slip, Fall and WAIT...

Love happens at the strangest times...After a nice business lunch with a Berkley College Rep and Crystal, we returned by train back to work and were about to climb the stairs to exit the station when a young woman slipped on the snowy wet stairs and landed on her back at the bottom of the staircase. I immediately went over to see if she was okay.  From first glance she seemed stunned but not seriously here is where it gets tricky.  She complained that she was not okay, she couldn't sit down, she couldn't stand up, she couldn't move her leg, her backside was numb and all I'm thinking is why doesn't she just shake it off and move on already.  She is young, she should be able to bounce back easily!  It just appeared that she was "milking it" for some reason.  This is where Richard pre-lovecompetition would have said his goodbyes and made a hasty run for the exit and left that chick to her own devices.  But the post-lovecompetition Richard said, I have to stick around and see this through.  So with teammate Crystal we held her belongings, called EMS and waited for them to arrive.  We waited, and waited, and waited, and waited for EMS to arrive and that is where some of the nicest things started to happen.  The girl (Ada) thanked us for helping her and staying with her to make sure she was alright.  A bystander who happened to be an off duty EMT stopped and checked the girl out to assess the seriousness of her condition.  A random woman stopped and volunteered to call and wait for the EMT outside of the station (at least 15-20 minutes), and afterwards volunteered to call 311 to complain about how long EMT took to respond.  Various people stopped and asked if everything was ok and if there was anything they could do.  Granted the majority of people just kept on walking and looked annoyed that they had to go around the girl lying on the subway steps, but it was the minority that made me feel good about being a "first responder".  Crystal called the girl's mother (Fila) to let her know what happened and when she was taken by the ambulance, I called the mother to let her know what hospital her daughter would be in. 
Although I'm not sure how hurt the girl really was, I honestly do feel good that I stopped and saw the incident through to the end.  Instead of rushing to get back behind my desk I stopped to help and comfort another human being.  Maybe next time she sees someone who needs help she will remember that two people helped her one time and she will feel the need to do the same.  Maybe those people that passed us by without saying a word will examine why they didn't stop to help also and might reconsider if it happens to them again.  Love, caring, and compassion can truly be contagious.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

GIVING JUST GOT EASIER...I THINK!? So this weekend started on a very sour note! On Saturday shortly after the end of our first snow storm, I totaled my car in a spin out on the LIE. Luckily I walked away without a scratch or bruise but needless to say it put quite a damper on my spirits. Today, I came into the City to go to a play ( I purposely chose Sunday because I could drive in and park my car with little hassle). But without my trusted hooptie of 12 years, I had to ride the train. I'm a real NYer but I hate the subway. So after the show and dinner, I begrudgingly get back on the F train to Queens for the long ride home. I missed the train and must wait for the next, whenever that will be. Waiting on the platform, I noticed an old woman layered in men's clothing and tattered gloves with sneakers that had clearly outlived any real usefulness, because the top was separating from the sole. She carried an overstuffed children's napsack, adorned with Dora the Explorer and was struggling to get her arm into the garbage can a remove a black bag which she apparently believed had food in it. This is precisely why I hate the subway, it is a shocking reminder of the separation between "the have" and "the have nots"! On any given day you can see some well dressed man or woman toting a designer bag filled with electronic gadgets and financial portfolios passing by someone whose life and personal belongings are toted in black garbage bags...But I digress... I make eye contact with her and step a little closer to her saying, "Are you hungry momma"? She lowers her head and says yes,yes, or rather "Si,Si". I offer her a bag of grapes I had packed in my bag as a snack, which she reluctantly takes, then I reach into my pocket to give her $3. She takes the money but tries to give me back $2, saying that she doesn't want to make me poor! I smile and tell her it is ok, take the money and God Bless. She scurries off, a lot faster than I thought she could move. Perhaps she was younger than her hard life could display. Before the next train arrives, I see her back on the platform with a buttered roll - not sure where she got it so fast, but I could see the relief and gratitude in her face for her simple meal. Wow! I finally see why we are doing this! It was an overwhelming feeling to step outside of myself and my funky attitude to bring a moment of comfort to another person. Even more amazing is that even though I was trying to help her, she didn't want to put me out. It was just a humbling moment, for which I was more grateful to her for allowing me to help than she was with her bread and butter. Giving just got a little least I hope. 1 week down and 51 more to go :)