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Judy Atchinson's A Stubborn Woman
by Judy Atchinson

A Stubborn Woman

A Daily Gazette community blog
QUEST leader's wanderings and musings


“Excellent,” I say. “Now what’s compassion?”

No Takers?

The class collectivley squirms and stares at their state issued boots.

“Come on now,” I say, “Compassion- what’s it mean?”

Their silence is quite sustained, like visitors entering for the first time some sacred mysterious temple.

Finally, an old timer, down 25 years, tentatively raises his finger. I call on him.

“Well now,” he says, all eyes on him shaking his head, “Compassion- thats sumthin altogether different.”

He ponders what he’ll say next.

“Cause,” he adds humbly, “Thats what Jesus did. I mean, Compassion..IS--God.”

—From the book “Tattoos On The Heart” by Gregory Boyle

Scripture scholars connect the word to the entrails, to the bowels, from the deepest part of the person. This is how Jesus was moved, from the entirety of his being.

Later on one of Greg’s favorite people was killed in a drive by.

“Betito was precocious, funny, bold and only 12 years old. He was the “Real Deal.”

When the shooters were caught, and I found out I knew them, it was excruciating not to be able to hate them. But for the lack of someone to reveal the truth to them, they had evaded healing and the task of returning them to themselves got more hardened and difficult. But are they less worthy of compassion then Betito?

—From the book “Tattoos On The Heart” by Gregory Boyle

Kids I love killing kids I love or raping them, or turning them on to drugs, or pimping them, or-or-or.

Question: How do you love the kids who bring hate and destruction to the kids you love?

Answer: To be in the world where God is whoever that God may be.

Here is what we all should seek: a compassion that can stand in awe of what the poor have to carry rather than stand in judgement at how they carry it.

Pema Chodron, an ordained Buddhist nun, writes of compassion and suggests that it’s truest measure lies not in our service of those on the margins, but in our willingness to see ourselves in kinship with them.

Gregory arrives at the shelter/church for undocumented men from Mexico and Central America and their women and children.

Coming up short he finds spray painted crudely across the front steps.


I arrive at a church meeting and tell the gathered women about our hostile visitor during the night.

“I guess I will get one of the homies to clean it up later.”

Petra Saldana, a normally quiet member of the church stands up and takes charge.

“You will not clean that up.”

“You will not clean this up, if there are people in our community who are disparaged and hated and left out because they are mejados (wetbacks) then we shall be proud to call ourselves a wetback church.”

—From the book “Tattoos On The Heart” by Gregory Boyle

Continued next week.

This brings me to QUEST (again) for years I have been shunted aside, denied funding, etc. etc. etc. because I worked with everybody from pimps to prostitutes, to dealers, hold on folks, here comes the BIG ONE, gangs, and to top it off we had and still have an open door policy, and no, (shudder) dress code. And here I am 72, short, white and I stand still upright, a little bent, but firmly rooted in my beliefs.

Last week I got a certificate of appreciation, nicely framed, made out to Miss. Judy and QUEST, thanking me for my commitment and loyalty to the city and ending with and signed by Latin King-Choice- and the words that the upstate chapter of and nation wide chapters of the Latin Kings. Here let me state this exactly as they did.

“We Salute You.”

And do you have a clue how much that means to me, I show everyone. I am truly one of the people of the street, and this is my admission to stand up and say, “I am one of you.” Choice wants me to hang it up at QUEST, and I will, that is when I get done carrying it around.

Thank-you guys and gals, for making an old lady proud to be who she is.

Every Sunday they come, they clean and bring their families, and make the old place sparkle. And now we are going to join up with Predels and recycle.

I sighed when Will (a young king) said, “Judy, you have all this cardboard and stuff you could be getting money for it!” “Sure,” I replied, “just another chore on my bent shoulders,” sob, pity, sob, “Oh no, Miss. Judy,” he said “if I suggest it, I will take care of it, I would never expect you to do it yourself.”

So-now QUEST will be green in two ways, green with eco dollars and green in the proper disposal of all things disposable. And ain’t that a great thing? The Gazette actually wants a photo of me holding my certificate of support and appreciation, to print with my blog and maybe some day I will get to it, any takers to take the shot?

Now on to a very disturbing issue. I have been approaching banks for help with funding, and here is what one “executive” banker told me. I was explaining to him/her about buying beds for one family for Christmas. Well not buying, but soliciting, well lets use the real word- BEGGING- 4 kids and 0 beds. I was explaining that mom had some prostitution and drugs and the person in question was actually crying, “Oh no,” she responded “we as a bank can not help anyone who breaks the law,” she said. “Prostitution and drug use is a crime. We cannot be involved in that.” And hang on folks wait for it, the kicker is coming. “Why are you feeding children. How do you know who needs food and who doesn’t and don’t they have food stamps?”

I am reminded of old scrooges saying, “Don’t we have workhouses and orphanages?”

It’s 2014 and it seems we have not advanced beyond the 1800s, talk about compassion, it seems compassion is getting confused with the bottom line-money. And anyway aren’t we as a nation in the process of cutting food stamps, as I speak?

“Poverty is a very complicated issue, but feeding a child is not.”

—Jeff Bridges

And now here’s a tale or two.

Two of our young-uns, 8 year old boy and 5 year old girl showed up at QUEST today. These two siblings live in Bellvue a long way. Trouble was 2 missing parents. Two parents who have nursing degrees, 2 nice cars and no clue, how to be a parent. After school there was no one home, the kid kept it together and told a neighbor who was getting ready to call C.P.S. that their 21 year old cousin was upstairs. And then these two babies started to walk, all the way down Broadway Hill to State St. then all the way up State St. hill to QUEST. A very very long walk for anybody let alone 2 small quiet children, the parents never showed for over 2 hours and of course they never called for back up or help of any kind. And this makes me sick to my stomach.

But wait here comes tale number two. My tiny 8 year old ballet student and I had to hunt someone down to open the door to let her in her own home. She was able to call her mom’s cell phone and after a while someone came to let her in. And this is on an extremely bad, no let me say vile part of Albany St. And here’s M standing in front of her home, over a crack outlet and a prostitute outlet afraid to move. People going about their business and none with a thought to the safety of this tiny child.

“I don’t know where she is, she came home this morning but she must have gone out again.”

Let that sink in readers. “She came home this morning.” That means 3 children, the oldest 12 and the youngest 1 ½ years old. All above one of the worst spots in this city. Comings and goings constantly and no police in sight. Speak to me folks, do you think they should be punished, for moms actions? Dads in jail there are four children each by a different dad. And M is achingly beautiful. Oh wait they don’t need a hot meal, family is probably on food stamps.

Today is the anniversary of my dad’s death over 20 years ago he died. Big red double amputee, pace maker, 4 heart attacks and finally the stroke that slowly did in him in. I remember being called at work at Skidmore and driving home to the hospital at an ungodly speed and being stopped by the Sheriff in Ballston Spa, who checked out my story and then let me go. I raced to all his old haunts, including the drug store on State St. Aumillers, yelling Eugene Fitzner is dead, Eugene Fitzner has died. And so I remember him today, right here, right now, because I don’t want him to be forgotten, I don’t want it to be as if he never lived. So I shout it out, “I love you Dad, I miss you, thank you for sharing your life!”

Saw something special- actually 2 somethings one endearing, one not so much.

I watched a young man in his late teens pushing a Hannaford shopping cart down State St., and inside the cart was a medium sized brown dog standing up with his 2 front paws resting on the top bar of the cart, and staring straight ahead, with very serious intent as if he were completely in charge, and was being chauffeured by the obedient young man bringing up the rear.

The not so endearing thing was a dead and abandoned shopping cart in Niskayuna, I have lived almost 50 years here and this was a first. Entropy it grows when you’re not looking.

“Did you ever fly a kite in bed?
Did you ever walk with 10 cats on your head?
Did you ever milk this kind of cow?
Well, we can do it, we know how.
If you never did you should,
These things are fun and fun is good.”

—From " One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish" by Theodor Seuss Geisel, Born March 2, 1904, AKA Dr. Seuss

Dr. Seuss, Mr. Rogers, Captain Kangaroo, etc..

Among the first Advocates for children, for fun, for a happy life.

Bless you all.

6 Robins in the snow,

8 Robins in the birdbath

Red and White-everywhere

All with puffed out chests,

and shoving and carrying on in my backyard.

And then there was the rainbow, enormous and over arching the most poverty stricken areas of the city. It’s as if God was saying- Here you are, a rainbow in Feb. just for you.

And home, situated exactly in the middle of my sky light, one small new leaf just brought forth. A tender reminder that, yes it’s coming.

It’s nearly time.


“A brand new axiom making the rounds for women and girls, that says calling girls bossy is just plain wrong.

‘I’m Not Bossy
I’m The Boss!'”

Can I have a T-shirt for that- PLEASE!!!

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