Still sick, coughing up a lung at this point, but I think the new medication is beginning to work. Got dressed, facebooked, myspaced, tweeted and flew out the door to go to work. I was assigned to assist the Haitian Congregation of the Good Samaritan Church in the Bronx, from 12pm - 6pm. I was to go there, and call into the station reaching out to the listeners and asking them to bring donations. Turns out these donations are for Haitians in the community who are stranded here. They were visiting family here before the earthquake hit Haiti, and they are now forced to stay in NY. They're completely unprepared: no winter coats, not enough toiletries. Some cannot even get a job while they're here due to lack of proper documentation. I was told it costs almost $500 just to assist one person, one person!!!
I was to call once an hour. That's all I really needed to do. I was moved by the interns who work at the station. They were greeting passers-by with big smiles in spite of the cold. I decided to go out and help. At first I was surprised at my initial shyness. It is a bit awkward asking strangers for money. Hm. Is that how homeless people feel when they ask? I was getting too cold, my chest hurting from the cold dry air seeping into my phelgm filled lungs. I'm sorry - was that too graphic? LOL. Well, I almost couldnt' feel my toes, and my feet were killing me about 2 hours in. "That's it!" I told myself. "I'm going back inside..." and then I was appalled by my own thought: "I don't need to be doing this." I had a diva moment - an ugly diva moment. And then I watched her...this woman from the church...a stranger.
She had to be in her 50's or so, maybe 60's...right around mom's age. There she was in a thin coat, literally running up to people from across the street with her little bag. "Donations, please? Can you help the Haitian people?" I watched as she ran to the next person and the next, with questioning, hopeful eyes. And then, unexpectedly, she humbled me. She was crying. She UNDERSTOOD the needs of these victims. She was feeling with them, for them. She KNEW how much they needed because she'd been working with the families directly trying tirelessly to get them food, shelter, jobs, money, paper credentials. I felt worse than ever. I was ashamed of myself. And she changed my mind.
I sucked it up, went to my car, put on my sneakers and got to work. About an hour before we were done, a big Frito Lay truck came with a LOAD of boxes with a little bit of everything; a school teacher brought along what his students had donated. That last hour was a hard one. The sun was going down. We were all frozen; the running had slowed to a walk; we had become almost silent, but we went until 6pm.
My fingers were curled and frozen stiff. I think I dropped my nose. And we all went inside and counted what we had collected $416.70. A great effort, but it costs $500 per person to help. This woman was grateful She hugged me, thanked us all and smiled. I thanked her too - for reminding me that giving of one self is more important than feeling comfortable...she served me a piece of humble pie...and it tasted GOOD!!!
If you would like to help the Haitian Congregation of Good Samaritan Church, they still welcome your cash donations, non-perishable foods, baby supplies, medical supplies, first aid supplies, and outerwear such as coats, gloves, boots, hats, etc. 661 East 219th Street, Bronx, NY 718-881-3779. Please help them. Until today I didn't realize how big the need is. Thank you and be blessed!!!