Saturday, July 12, 2008

Rose and Mr. Patterson, shopping for clothes

Mr. Patterson rode the bus over to Madison from different part of town. He got off the bus not really knowing where to go. Luckily, the second church he went to was affiliated with the food pantry and gave him directions to get there. He didn't know he'd get to pick out five pieces of clothing at the thrift store to go with the food box so, surrounded by women, he asked for their advice (smart man) on his choices and got plenty of answers. It ended up being a lot of stuff to haul back across town on a bus but Ed wasn't complaining; in fact he thanked every one, repeatedly.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

New friends and old ones

Some years ago, Rose Nicks left a relatively fluffy white-collar job to run the Christian Cooperative Ministry in Madison.

"I'm a nicer person because of it", she says. "Before, I would look at the homeless people and I'd look at different people in the community and go: Why don't they get a job? Why don't they do something? but you never know what their story is. You just don't."

Just off Gallatin Rd.

Don't think for a second these ladies won't hook you up with a food box if you need it. And that's just the beginning. They run the Christian Cooperative Ministry in Madison. It's a food pantry and thrift store, supported by sixteen different churches in the surrounding community. Like everyone, they have some regular customers and some that are only temporarily needy or displaced. From left to right we have: Irene, Rose, Millie, Edyth, Irene, and The Captain, Flo.

Monday, July 7, 2008


Aaron grew up in Memphis. He used to shine shoes at Warren's Barber Shop when he was a kid; went to school with Issac Hayes. Aaron joined the Army when he was old enough. They trained him to be a machine gunner and he went to sniper school right on the cusp of the Vietnam War. He missed combat, but not by very much. After the Army, Aaron went to school and ended up working in the morgue at Baptist Hospital. When that got dull, he did a turn in the Navy. The war was nearly over by then. After the Navy, Aaron filled a variety of positions including Plant Manager, bio-hazard courier, and these days, just two months shy of his official retirement, laborer. Every time I've ever seen him he has a perfect (double military) crease in his pants. I'd ask him if he irons them himself but I already know the answer.

Aaron and a host of other working people, usually miss the food truck when it comes. By the time they get home from work, there isn't any food left but they manage to get by somehow anyway.

Attention food bank experts: Wikipedia could use your help in refining their definition of the term: food bank.

Cookout on Sunday

Trish made dinner for about ten people yesterday afternoon. Barbecued ribs (on that little grill), baked beans, and potato salad. People started hanging around long before it was finished.

Smithville, UMC

Last week, as I mentioned before the holiday, I had occasion to go to Smithville, Tennessee, where people spoke highly of a food pantry volunteer there by the name of Betty Martin (aka my mom; don't worry it's only a little bit like The Twilight Zone). Betty helps out at the Smithville United Methodist Church and while she isn't the only person to make the place tick she plays a vital role in that it's her job to divvy up the food.

Like all the other pantry monitors (the ones I've met anyway), she has a pretty rigid system that appears to work beautifully. When it comes to box-, or in her case, bag-packing, they're all cut from the same cloth, these volunteers. They're typically reliable, super-organized, and happy to help. Betty is no different.