Friday, October 5, 2007
I stopped by the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle in Raleigh last week to begin working on a project with them as a part of my graduate studies. I knew a little about the organization and their efforts to alleviate hunger in our area, but had no comprehension as to their size and scope. Needless to say, I was amazed and moved at what I found. As a part of America's Second Harvest Food Bank Network, their job is to collect food donations from individuals and businesses and to recover food from restaurants that would have normally been thrown away. The food is then redistributed to the poor, homeless, and/or undernourished in the Triangle Area. In addition to this, they have recently started a "Back Pack Buddies" program for children in our area who receive free/reduced-priced lunches in school. The goal of this program is to ensure that at least some of the 50,000+ children in Wake and Durham counties who receive subsidized lunches still have access to quality and nutritious meals on weekends and breaks (spring, summer, Christmas). Bookbags are packed with nutritious foods and delivered to children at various locations (Boys and Girl's Club, YMCA, Housing Authority Communities) to ensure their nutritional needs are continuously met.
My visit mainly focused around their acclaimed "Culinary Job Training Program," so I sat down and talked with the program coordinators about their work. This 11-week training period is made available 4 times each year, with approximately 10 participants each period. The program targets low-income and unemployed members of the triangle to teach them marketable cooking skills. After students graduate the program, the Food Shuttle helps them find stable employment in the culinary field. The program coordinators stress that graduates aren't going straight into executive chef type roles, but instead typically enter entry-level kitchen positions. What is important is that they are learning the "language of the kitchen" and getting some sort of social capital that they wouldn't have had otherwise. The hope is to keep the graduates in meaningful work so that they can be self-sufficient contributors to society and providers for themselves or their families.
Does your business/organization/church have left over cooked food for any reason? Want to help sponsor a food drive or donate food to the hungry? Find your local food bank and donate your time to alleviate hunger and the painful effects of poverty in your area.
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Slavery still exists. In the hidden crevices of the developing world, it thrives. What's even more troubling is the fact that many of those ensnared in slavery today are children. In Taiwan, one of the darkest forms of slavery (as if there is actually a type of slavery that isn't dark) shows its face - child prostitution.
While visiting the Apostles Church in New York this summer, I was introduced to theSOLDproject. This project, spearheaded by a group of twentysomethings officially based out of Indiana, brought a documentary film crew to Taiwan to explore the cultural, economic, and social conditions that allow for this repugnant industry to thrive. In the same vein as the Invisible Children movement, the film crew hopes to raise awareness of the child sex slave industry in places like Taiwan by traveling around the country to show screenings of their film. Keep a look out for news on their work and learn more about what you can do to help stop this injustice.
Last Sunday morning, my girlfriend and I were running a little late for church. She was inside finishing all the things girls do to get ready and I was outside hastily trying to motivate Dexter (our dog) to use the bathroom. Dexter, being a normal dog, was in no rush whatsoever. Instead, he was sniffing around and taking in the slight crispness of the air that has started to appear in the early hours of late. As he slowly finished his duties, a flutter caught my eye next to a tree near our home. There, on the ground, lay a bird engaged in a peaceful struggle to survive. The strike of a vehicle had rendered the legs useless and had severely injured it's back. My head was reminding me how late we truly were at this point. My heart was telling me of the dire straits this bird was in and that I was the only thing that might enable it to fulfill its existence in this world.
I took Dexter in and told Whitney of the goings-on under the tree. She was aware of our impending tardiness, but once she saw the bird she knew we couldn't leave it. We went in and googled "what to do for a bird that can't fly." The results suggested we contact a local wildlife rehabilitation center. We found one near our home, gently boxed up the bird, and headed to the Piedmont Wildlife Center. This free clinic - run by two full-time wildlife specialists and scores of volunteers - allows you to bring in any native, wild animal that is in need of medical attention for treatment and rehabilitation. Upon arrival, the bird was taken into the the care of veterinarians and I was given a card that gave me the species of the bird and it's case number so I could check on it's progress - Mourning Dove #07-2000.
I was told two days later that the bird suffered from permanent spinal cord damage and would never be able to use its legs again. It was humanely euthanized.
Sometimes in our dominion over creatures big and small, we forget that a life is a life - that suffering and hurt is not limited to the human heart. I am sure the Mourning Dove is in a better place, I just know it. I am grateful to the staff at the Piedmont Wildlife Center for the selfless work they do. If you come across an injured animal, contact your local wildlife rehabilitation specialist to see if there is anything you can do to help.
The Reason is a new blog dedicated to the good stories of humanity and the things we do for one another. In a world seemingly gone mad, its easy to lose focus of the positive. My hope is that the stories you read here will spark your heart for caring and motivate you to act - to change the world around you.
Posted by Dustin at 11:51 AM