Tag Archives: Social services

How I Know The Need Out There Is Real

I was at the grocery store recently when the woman behind me in line tried to return a pair of hubcaps.

There’s nothing wrong with them. I just need groceries more than I need hubcaps.

That’s what she said. The hubcaps cost $14. Fourteen dollars was the difference between her eating or not eating.

You may be picturing her in your mind. I’d wager your picture is wrong. She was a nicely dressed woman in her 50’s who would have fit right in at a corporate office. Perhaps she used to work in one.

“Like I said, there’s nothing wrong with them,” she repeated.

The store manager took pity on her and let her return the perfectly good hubcaps. In place of them, she slid a small pile of groceries down the conveyor belt.

It’s easy for us to make excuses. Isn’t this the government’s job? What about food stamps? But it’s easy for people to fall through the cracks of a system that’s largely indifferent to them. Paperwork gets lost, caseworkers don’t show up, appointments are all booked until three weeks from Tuesday, etc.

The economic devastation of this pandemic is very real. And it may be a lot closer than we think. I certainly didn’t expect it right behind me in line at the grocery in my well-off town.

How can we help? A favorite charity of mine is the Salvation Army. It provides food to people who have nowhere else to turn. You can donate here.

Have a great weekend and a happy Valentine’s day, everyone!

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Photo: “Swan, homeless, on Mission St.” by Franco Folini is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Boy Who Was Me

I recently received a wonderful letter from a young man named Corey, who is at Rawhide boys ranch. Rawhide is a place that takes in boys who have gotten in trouble with the law and helps them change their lives. Corey was behind in school before he arrived at Rawhide, but he’s done a complete 180 and will graduate high school early at 16!

This is a rare outcome even for children from the best of circumstances. For Corey to be able to pull that off despite the disadvantages I imagine he’s faced in life is nothing short of astounding.

I can relate to Corey because Corey was me. 22 years ago, I was in Rawhide too. I had gotten in a lot of trouble as a kid but Rawhide completely changed my life.

What Rawhide does is take kids from situations where they’re not doing well, puts them somewhere different, and gives them a chance to change. Instead of being around friends that are also going down the wrong path, you’re around more positive people. Instead of having to fight to avoid victimization in difficult circumstances, Rawhide provides a tranquil place to live.

Corey grew up in Milwaukee, where many people, especially black folks, face few opportunities and a violent environment. I imagine if he had grown up somewhere like where I live now, he probably would’ve never gotten in trouble in the first place. But Rawhide gave him that better environment.

The letter included an envelope so I could reply to Corey, and I plan to write him later today. It’s wonderful to see a young person doing so well.

If you want to support Corey and others like him at Rawhide, you can donate here. Your investment will pay the best sort of dividends.