Posts Tagged ‘charity’

Not a rainbow but …

… I was taking a shortcut through the Boston Public Library, making my way from the Boylston Street entrance to the Dartmouth Street side.  Of course I had to pause for a quick browse of the New Arrivals shelf.  That’s where I saw the deed take place.

It would be easy to assume that the old man was homeless, one of the many who frequent the building.  His clothing was bedraggled to say the least and his beard more than a bit unkempt.  His brown skin was weathered into the proverbial leather.  Despite apparent age, there was an almost childish bright light in his rheumy eyes.  While he walked with the aid of a battered metal cane, there was a spryness to his step as he made his way across the room.  But, I have to admit, I noticed none of these details until later, until after I heard the young man’s voice calling, “Hey.  Hey! Wait a minute, old man.”

The old man had been walking away from me, but he turned at the younger man’s voice, and that was how I was able to see his face.  The younger man had been walking toward me, looking gruff and rushed as so many of us do today as we race, race, race.  I had seen him brush passed the old man nearly knocking him over.  But then he had stopped.  The gruff look upon his face had not changed. In fact, it deepened.

At some point the younger man  spun around.  With a fierce, aggressive energy, he called the old man.  When the man paused and turned to face him, the young man raced back to him.  “Here,” he said, and shoved something into the old man’s hand.

The old man raised a plastic bag.  It was just clear enough for me to see that inside were a pair of shoes.  I glanced down and saw what the younger man may have seen.  The old man’s feet were barely covered by a pair of threadbare sneakers.

“Where did these come from?” the old man asked, clearly perplexed.  The younger man had already turned away.  Over his shoulder he growled, “St. Francis.”

The older man looked at the bag, shrugged, and continued on his way.

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Around Christmas, my mother used to invite the gentleman across the street over for dinner.  We called him Mr. Joe Boy.  He was mentally challenged but living independently with the support of family.  My mom would assemble a plate of food so that he could eat in the living room, and the rest of us could hang out in the kitchen.  She then left Joe Boy to my dad.  My dad was more a people-person than my mom.  He would make small talk with Joe Boy.  The two of them would watch westerns or whatever was on television.  Sometimes Joe Boy would nod off in his chair and we kids would sigh wondering when he was going home.  My mother would frown at us but we knew she was thinking the same thing.  Eventually my dad would nudge him awake and see him to the door.  Over many Christmas holidays that same act would be repeated.  Not because this man was starving for food or asking for anything.  We did it because my mom felt it was the right thing to do, to be neighborly to this man who spent most of his time alone.  It is a trait that I admire in Steve who practices a similar ethos around food and dining.  Food is on my mind today because I finally stopped turning away from the pictures coming out of Somalia and East Africa. Most disturbing are the pictures of the skeletal children.


AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam

This little man in particular gave me pause because he is in such contrast to the picture I shared earlier of my young nephew growing up in this country.  What to do?   If I find some money to give, where should I send it?  Will it have any impact?  I decided I needed to do my homework.  Here’s a bit of what I’ve found so far.

* In response to a donor query, Charity Navigator, an independent charity evaluator, asked different aid agencies to share what they are doing in the region.  Read more here.

*Interaction, an alliance of U.S.-based international NGOs, has produced a straight forward list of 45 aid agencies with contact information viewable here.

*CNN just posted an article, Famine in East Africa: How You Can Help, providing basic information including simple ways to give via texting and other social networking tools.


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