Wow, we are in our last week here in Alabama, and well, last week of work before we leave Americorps. In 17 days, this will all be over. Seven .... teen.... days....
Last week we did our last Mobile Food Pantry. It was held in Biloxi, MS. It was quite the experience. Biloxi is basicaly a gambling mecca... that's all there is there... casinos. A mini-vegas. But there really is much more to it. The food pantry went on pretty normally. Didn't seem to be much different than the ones we held here in Bayou La Batre. Only difference was we did not recognize any of the faces.
Towards the end I was carrying boxes for people, well, I did this the whole time, as many of the individuals are elderly, or just can't carry a box FULL of food. The last people were all in line. I saw a woman and went up to her and asked her if she would like me to carry her box for her. She just turned and stared at me... so I repeated "Would you like me to carry this for you?" With tears forming in her eyes she said "you would be the greatest man in world if you could do that for me." As we went through the line, we talked a little. I noticed she had an accent. She was really upset. At one point I said "I notice you have an accent, what is it?" She told me that she was from Czechoslavakia. I was super excited by this and told her that just 2 years ago I was in Praha (Prague). I started telling her of my travels, but stopped very quickly. Her eyes swelled with tears and she brought her hand to her mouth. I apologized for bringing up a sensitive subject. She smiled with those tears and said "Praha is a beautiful place, isn't it?" I agreed.
As we walked out of the building she told me that she didn't have a car, but only lived a few houses away. I offered to carry her food. She started telling me the whole story.. how she moved to NYC to earn money to send her kids to college. And how she then found her way to MS, her boys overseas still, and now she is jobless... and that she had a heartattack and surgery, and is now $120,000 in debt to the hospitals. She can't pay her rent, she cant' but food... she has nothing. Literally. She is here... alone...without anything. I felt useless as I left her, teary eyed, alone in her house...
We really do make an impact in AmeriCorps... even if we fail to see the impact regularly.
All is not upsetting in my world though. With this last week ahead of me, I have been making the best of it. Saturday we got up and drove to the beach for the sunrise. Then, after taking a long nap, made my way into town fora day with my friend, Jamie. Oh, Jamie (one of my CM's).
We dropped some of the team off at an ISP, then got the van washed. Then drove to this 5K we heard about to see if we could volunteer. Which we did. We handed out water to the runners at the 1 mile mark. At the same point was a gentleman who filled us in on all sorts of information about the natural gas and oil structures in the water, as well as the bridges and how they were affected by the storms. Then Jamie did some face painting, I met a lady from MI with a cool dog and a son who is also applying for TFA, and then got attacked by fire ants, and we left. We then went to this benefit concert and heard some incredible music. Then out for sushi, got dessert at a cafe where we didn't quite fit in, but loved every minute of it. Then saw the Halloween festivities DT mobile before heading to pick the team up and calling it a night.
Sunday was a beach day and Chelsea cooked one hell of a Halloween dinner for the team. So good.
Today I found out Zac and I have a free place to stay in Portland, ME after Thanksgiving. So I'm pumped to hit up NYC followed by a couple days/nights in Portland. My former land-lady and current good friend, Toni (from London) has a cousin who will open his doors to us. It's very exciting. I've never been to Maine! It should be GREAT!
Well... we have 4 work days left. Booked the hotel tonight for our travels back to the Point... it's all winding down very quickly. Wow.
Hope you are all great. It's November. and what the F happened to daylight savings time?
Badger 1, Mobile Food Pantry, Biloxi, MS
Badger 1 at Halloween Dinner