This is one of my hero/heroine blogs -- so many people out there doing amazing things but doing it so quietly you may not even notice.
My first person is a male Kurt in his 50s and I know him only through my husband; they work together and sometimes he comes to our home and Brian and he work on projects together, like our wonderful wooden fence. And sometimes Brian goes to his home and they work on garage doors or K’s car when the whole steering wheel comes off K’s car.
K’s wife of many years has M.S. and is now electric wheelchair bound, has a feeding tube and a catheter which is constantly causing kidney issues and midnight trips to the E.R. The state wanted to place K’s wife in a nursing home but K fought it and won!
I remember when K and Brian built a handicapped accessible deck, accessible both from the inside and the great outdoors, so as K put it, “At least she can get outside.” K is a simple and quiet man who deeply loves his wife, and never considers it a personal trial to be with his wife and care for her.
Now I have 3 different female heroes.
Another K who brought her book in progress over to QUEST so I and she could read it together. And I was a little unsure of its beginning, but it went on for 50 pages and kept me totally riveted and there was a twist or a shock around every paragraph and I am a mystery lover, but this was more than a simple mystery, it was a mystery of life’s gone awry. It was life on the Hill, life in Harlem, life in every poverty stricken area of everywhere taking place on a farm. Rural street life if you will because K’s roots are in the south, and the country. And the writing was fine -- a few minor things but they quailed before the flow and drama of the outburst. I can’t wait to see what happens next -- Really -- this is good stuff.
Two weeks ago I put a plea up on Facebook saying I could feed 50 more kids a day if I got $50 more a month to pay for the installation and upkeep of a dedicated phone and monitor to -- yes well, monitor it. I asked for 5 people to donate $10 a month to help feed 50 children a day. D.O.H. will pay for the food and J.R. Enterprises will cook it. I had just paid $7,000 for the fire alarm and I do not use the sentence, “I had just paid $7,000, because indeed I did, my own personal monies.”
The first two nights I got 2 responses, and I quote the comments here:
Chris -- “What if I pay the whole 50 I would love to do this for QUEST and to help the kids who need this program.”
Me -- “Chris, you put the whole world to shame. We are talking 50 every month. Please think about this carefully and let's see who else turns up.”
Mir- “I’ll put 20.”
Me- “OMG the people with the least money and the most love.”
Chris- “Then I will cover the 30. QUEST saved me and I want to return something to QUEST.”
Mir & Chris- “We got it. Inbox me when you need it by.”
Chris- “Inbox me the due date.”
And one week later nothing, nada, not a peep until my cleaning crew increased to 23 people saying to me in person, “We all have jobs now, we can manage buying the cleaning supplies, and together we can put up another $50 a month to help out. We can do this, we want to help.”
“Religion is a way of walking, not a way of talking.”
-- William R. Inge
Now on the other side of the coin are the mobs of girls still fighting in the streets.
The other day we passed about 40 girls on Forest Avenue, fighting in the street. Cars nose to nose like fighting roosters, older women screaming at each other and cursing enough to make the very air turn blue. And six cop cars pulling up on the sidewalks. And as the cops were getting out of the cars the girls were joining forces to face the police down.
Two days later 10 girls in their late teens severely beating up another young woman who was massively pregnant. A CDTA bus had to drive on the sidewalk to avoid mowing everyone down.
Two groups -- one allegedly from Mont Pleasant Middle School and another older and more savvy group beating someone for “snitching” with a common thought and thread. Violence and mayhem. Good times in the hood.
Then I read in yesterday’s paper of a Schenectady High student beating up a hallway monitor when she tried to pull him off another student. And of course the infamous Bow Tie gang assault.
This is only the tip of the iceberg -- the largest part is under the water and growing larger everyday.
Clockwork Orange anyone?
“It’s not a matter of using fewer things in order to simplify, or more things in order to elaborate, but paying attention to the circumstances of life. How can we respond to our world with respect?”
-- Jisho Warner
Ah, how the word respect keeps turning up. In our parking lot and on our steps at QUEST, people getting high, and giving me plenty of mouth when I ask them to leave. Telling our kids they are going next door to buy drugs and get high. The children take it in stride and usually tell me and we rant together. But really it is necessary for them to deal with it daily? A staff member tells me of the crack people smoking every night in the alley outside her windows. And yet she hesitates before calling the police. She fears retribution.
The druggies are in your face blatant. “Who are we hurting?” they say. And it’s true the main damage is what they inflict upon themselves. But what I see happening is truly disturbing. The everyday, commonplace way kids view this. They are not disturbed. They talk to these drug users, and maybe run an errand for them, and I know it’s a short step from there to becoming a runner and/or a user. And then they feel they really fit in. Become a part of the good old neighborhood.
Look, these kids are poor, ground down by poverty daily, a little money offered for a little high jinks and they are on it. They become the men of the household. Holding it down. Taking care of business.
“Here’s to a generation of children of the children of your children.”
And lo the problems of drugs and prostitution (many, many women go into prostitution to earn money for a fix) are a gene pool handed down from generation to generation. So many children I see and care for born addicted. It’s not fashionable to say, “fetal drug syndrome” so A.D.A. becomes the disease of choice; it is so much more politically correct. It trips so easily on the tongue. I have some such at QUEST. And sometimes the mother tells me she used often when she was pregnant but this time it will be different. This time the baby will be different. And I just sigh and wish it were true.
All these damaged adults, all these walking wounded children. It makes my heart weep. And still generation after generation it continues only at a slightly faster speed each year. And oh the lies, and ah the falsities; it is a veritable carousel of sadness and destruction.
I testified at a trial at county court downtown. The building is a gorgeous, but accessible it is not. A decent ramp at the foot of the main staircase would solve everything and would cost less than $20,000.
Sure we could walk further down the block enter an adjoining building and then walk back, down a long marble corridor. But that is not what the state or anyone else calls handicapped accessible.
Then there is the toilet. Singular one toilet next to the courts, not the right height for handicapped folk and no railing for proper support.
This in a court house? A railing can be bought at any drugstore for under $40.00 and it’s simple to install. My husband installed 2 at our house in less than an hour. Any maintenance person could do so easily. Where is the cities concerns for it’s constituency? Where is the state’s concern of upholding its laws?
And then there’s downtown, I bet they have all the bells and whistles needed to keep them legal.
The latest is another Thai Bistro -- ”Thai-Thai”. The Bangkok Bistro was wonderful and the building was even better from the early 20th century known as the Nicklaus Building at it housed the Nicklaus Restaurant. The frescos alone are priceless and should be protected. That building should be placed on the National Historic Register but I am not holding my breath. Like the original old diner on Erie Blvd I am afraid this building too will go the way of the dinosaurs and be replaced with one more faceless stone block building. Tasteless and off putting. We have not saved the uniqueness that once was our city. Our city could be any city -- anywhere in this nation. A look alike to any other look alike. Once these buildings are gone they are gone. We will never have them again.
Like the lovely Plaza theater where M.V.P. now stands, one of the most beautiful theaters in this country, gone -- all gone.
“There are only the marvelous and nothing but the marvelous.”
Don’t forget our next evening of fun and food at Petta’s Restaurant on Duane Avenue Oct.30 -- the last Wednesday in Oct. the day before Halloween -- 20% of all money earned from the sale of meals sold will be donated to QUEST.
And Boo to you too