For the last half-dozen years at least, I would have been at a really ritzy country club in Fort Worth today, catching up with former colleagues and having the kind of food I haven't had since the last gettogether.
I don't get out much. Can't drive much at night. Can't pay for the good stuff anyway.
So I have enjoyed these indulgences. I remember when they were part of my life. That was so long ago my children hadn't been born.
But I passed on going this year with no particular goal in mind.
I have recently started volunteering at the area super soup kitchen, where so many services come together besides food. And I was recruited for today, when we served a great Christmas dinner, gave out gift boxes with things like bandaids, chapstick, deoderant, a pair of socks, soap, razors, hand sanitizers,hard candies, lotion, shampoo....even the homeless consider these necessary luxuries. We had live music.
This was a Big Day. So the advisory board was around. They were taking pictures. I confronted, in a friendly way, one of them. I told him I was a green volunteer, but how could he legally take pictures of the crowd without permission?
He eyed me with a sanguine expression.
"Non-profit," he told me. "No law against it if it is non-profit."
He went off to take more pictures.
So it was legal. I still don't think it was right. And then I understand that pictures sell people on donations. Can they fuzz the faces? Yes. Will they? no, probably.
I don't think it is right. Yes. We have homeless for whom it is a way of life. They aren't celebrities, so don't they deserve privacy under the law? Apparently not.
What about the woman I talked to a week ago who waid she had worked for 12 years and they cut her off? She could afford a car, to get to interviews, or a place to live. The shelters around here are full. She's sleeping in her car. We can help her with clothing, a place to bathe, and some necessities if she doesn't have them. I don't think she's wrong in choosing the car.
The emergency shelters actually were open the last three nights when temperatures plunged in the teens. I hope she went in.
She is only one. I have a score just like her to meet.
Some come in, eat their free meal and leave.
Others pitch in, help clean up, mount decorations, unload food trucks--and they don't get anything for the work. Some volunteer to clean up premises outside as well as in. Several help the others, the handicapped or anyone worse off than they are. None get any compensation. Not even a bag of chips.
But the cameras were busy.
As I age, my mouth goes down in an upside down grumpy look if I don't smile. Except when I was smiling at hungry and homeless folk today, I made sure I had my dour on.
I doubt there will be any pictures of me
And since I made it clear I was a green volunteer and he was on the advisory board, I doubt any repercusions on me or the facility.
He is necessary. Helpful often. And he is totally convinced he is far above and in a different civilization than those we serve. He's wrong. I will never tell him so.
I was not at the country club today. I had a wonderful meal. I saw folk I am beginning to know. Met vibrant volunteers I want to know better.
In the country club and in the soup kitchen. I feel blessed both places.
I give back in the soup kitchen. Somehow, that makes me feel richer.