what a wonderfully kind gesture
for someone to leave a gallon of milk and bread behind
to be discovered by someone else who may need it more.
“let us temper our criticism with kindness. none of us comes fully equipped.”
foghorn leghorn of television fame
and yet another wonderful nextdoor post on my neighborhood site:
Did you have a chicken missing? We have a Leghorn chicken who appeared in our back yard this morning. She is now in our coop with our three, However, we really don’t need or want another chicken so if she is yours, please message me to arrange a time to come and collect her. We have marked her feet with a purple antiseptic so we can identify which one is yours.
Posted in Lost & Found to The River District
“i dream of a better tomorrow, where chickens can cross the road and not be questioned about their motives.”
-ralph waldo emerson
image credit: warner brothers animation
The Nonprofit Spreading Kindness One Lasagna at a Time: “We Have the Power to Shift Communities”
Food is more than a simple snack or meal: It symbolizes comfort, connection, and care, and we’ve been using it to nurture social relationships since at least the Bronze Age. So when Rhiannon Menn found herself yearning to make an impact as the COVID-19 pandemic caused layoffs, school closures, and illnesses, she started cooking.
“I just thought, well, what do I love to do? And what do I know how to do? And for me, that’s cooking; it’s my happy place,” the mother of three told Nice News. In March of 2020, Menn began making extra pans of lasagna, then got on Facebook, found a few “mom groups” in the San Diego area, and offered to drop them off to anyone in need. She delivered seven meals her first week and quickly began getting messages from other people inspired to help. “All of a sudden I found myself managing this network of amazing volunteers who all wanted to feed people in their community,” Menn said.
Just over two years later, Lasagna Love has become a registered nonprofit with over 35,000 volunteers — or “Lasagna Chefs” as they are called — in all 50 states, as well as Canada and Australia. Altogether, they’ve delivered more than 250,000 lasagnas, feeding over one million people in total. The organization has been featured on Good Morning America and The Kelly Clarkson Show. And Menn believes it’s all a testament to how many people are looking for an outlet to show kindness and help others.
Lasagna chefs are matched with families based on distance and dietary restrictions. Once a match is made, all communication occurs directly between those two people. “We do feed families, and that’s important, but really what we’re doing is spreading kindness and strengthening communities, and it’s through those one-on-one bonds that it moves the needle on connectedness,” said Menn.
And there are no eligibility requirements to request a meal or nominate a family. One of the nonprofit’s core values is zero judgment. “We can’t say what needing help looks like,” Menn said, “only you, as a recipient, know what it means to need help”
Virginia resident Jan Delucien, who experienced a traumatic brain injury that left her unable to work, requested a lasagna after hearing about the organization in a support group. For the 64-year-old, the smiling volunteer handing her a home-cooked dish at her door meant much more than just a free meal. “It really was a gift of love,” Delucien told the AP through tears.
According to Menn, when asked if they felt inspired to pay the act of kindness forward, 97% of Lasagna Love meal recipients said they did, and a quarter responded that they already had. “I deliver a lasagna to you, and then you’re inspired to go donate a bag of clothes, or maybe share the meal with somebody, or maybe volunteer at the local animal shelter. So, all of a sudden, those million people that were fed — how many acts does that actually result in? And that’s where we have the power to really shift communities,” she said.
The founder hopes that one day the world won’t need Lasagna Love anymore and that people will help each other entirely organically. But until then, Menn and her team will keep spreading kindness one lasagna at a time.
“no matter what you’re going through in life, eat first.”
credit: rebecca brandes
in talking with my grandson
about the reason shopping carts are found all over
i told him to think about where he sees them and why that might be
i told him to consider the fact that they are often found
where there are people without transportation or without disposable income
who may have to walk a long distance, have a disability, or take public transportation to get home
most with challenging life circumstances
i told him about
when i moved to family housing here for grad school
with no money, but still one of my favorite times of my life
everyone in debt, in grad school, with families, with limited income
most did not have cars and could not afford taxis
i saw that shopping carts were all around us
quickly noticed why.
families used them for everything
to move in and out, to move their children, to move their laundry to the common area
to move things to our monthly swap meets, to carry food, to carry things to their car, and on and on…
my youngest daughter lived with me
for a few months before heading off to her university
before long, we were using them
they had come from the local grocery store
when people would walk home with food for their families
the carts would stay to be used in the community
the grocery store would send a truck once a week
to round them up and take them back to the store
and the next week they would be back
it seemed to be an unwritten understanding
i came to love the custom and used them many times for every imaginable purpose
understanding why they were so helpful and important to the community.
everyone was just trying to find a way to live their life
to get things done that needed doing
while making the best of their circumstances.
“do what you can with what you have, where you are.”
-theodore ‘teddy’ roosevelt – 26th president of the united states
a call came from a director
who had worked with my grandson
on an entertainment project
he and his crew were in town
to shoot a pilot for a new show
the idea is to surprise someone
but instead of pranking them
it’s focus is on thanking them
he was looking for locals to help with the show
those who know ‘afternoon delight’
a local breakfast/lunch spot
not fancy, with great food
an unchanged part of this town for many years
the surprise was to be for walter
a local, humble, and very deserving gentleman
who has worked there for 40+ years and refuses to retire
he lives without a phone
(the farmers at the market let him use theirs when he needs one)
he lives without a car
(the local pedi-cab guy gives him rides to work and whenever he needs one)
he’s never been on a plane or boat
he lives alone with his many plants
his family is the restaurant crew and all who pass through the doors
he shows up every single day, works hard, and is unfailingly kind to everyone
but his presence is so much more than that
he has touched so many lives over the years and in so many ways
worrying about being needed at work
everything was finally ready
the moment he walked in
he looked teary
saying, “i can’t believe my eyes”
with the sweetest smile
he thanked everyone for coming
and was told
“walter, we are here to thank you!”
for impacting the town and the people
he had a chance to talk to every person
as we each presented him with a plant and our story
he had walked one down the aisle
when she was a waitress there and didn’t have a father
the pedi-cab driver had worked there too
some had worked with him for many years
or had been coming in for many years
and one after another
each person thanked him
multiple generations had eaten there
and he listened and he smiled and he thanked them
for being such an important part of his life
when he sat in the booth that now has his name on it forever
he told his stories
how things had changed over the years but stayed the same
how life had been hard at times but was so thankful for everything
when he first started it was bob dylan and joan baez stopping by after a concert
each era brought new music and new people
along with people who continued to come in over and over
bringing children and grandchildren
while the food is very good
walter is what makes the difference
why people keep coming
as we said our goodbyes
walter climbed into the pedi-cab,
now with bubbles flowing, music playing, for a ride around town
to celebrate his special day
before coming back to his other home
as i walked back to my car
someone saw my t-shirt
stopped his car and asked:
“is that for walter from afternoon delight?”
when i said it was
he told me he owns a nearby deli
whenever he sees walter making his way down the street
he makes walter’s favorite sandwich for him
walter is a treasured family member to everyone lucky enough to meet him.
“there is a light in this world, a healing spirit more powerful than any darkness we may encounter.
we sometimes lose sight of this…
then suddenly the spirit will emerge through the lives of ordinary people,
who hear a call and answer in extraordinary ways.”
-sir richard attenborough
attending the annual ann arbor art fair
i had great luck and the honor of meeting
photographer/human rights advocate, jim spillane.
i happened by his stall
drawn in by the beauty and subjects of his photographs
especially taken with his pictures of children
after much thought
finally decided on one
a young tibetan child
tiny hands held together in hello.
i asked jim his story
how he had come to take these stunning pictures all over the world.
once a criminal defense attorney in the gerald ford white house
representing vietnam war draft resisters seeking amnesty
he got sick, had a horrible experience
changed his life
trained with an ansel adams associate
began traveling the world
taking photographs of people
his subject is the human condition and the connections and responsibilities we have for each other.
using his pictures as a way to create interest, open discussion, communicate, call attention to a cause
he has worked taking photographs of workers at a nepalese brick factory for many years
created a photo book of the workers
to speak out and to tell their stories with his photographs
still seeking to help those in need and to be an effective advocate for them.
he is a natural artist, storyteller, teacher, advocate, and man.
“in recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings, we pay ourselves the highest tribute.”
-thurgood marshall, former justice of supreme court of the united states
link to his website: jimspillane.com
link to his book, ‘the face of bricks’: https://www.blurb.com/b/9897011-the-face-of-bricks
people helping in the community just because
From the Humane Society:
The sweet and thoughtful Washtenaw Dairy drove up to HSHV today with pup cups for all the dogs!! They’d heard that we have a FULL shelter and brought enough for all the dogs to enjoy a cold treat on this hot day. Not to mention bringing donuts for the humans at HSHV! What a wonderful surprise, thank you Washtenaw Dairy
Response from the Dairy:
Every day is a fun day working at Washtenaw Dairy but today was extra cool! Thanks so much to HSHV for allowing us to pop in today and treat all the dogs at the shelter with pup cups. We are excited to see these sweet dogs find their Forever homes! Their shelters are full right now. A lot of Covid puppies coming back.We wanted to do some thing to showcase their Empty the Shelter event and spoil all the pups that were there.
Thank you for all you do for all the animals in our community!
“no single act of generosity remains in isolation. the ripples are many.”
―sarah winman, author
credits: huron valley humane society, washtenaw dairy
Community partners bring 1st “Free Sled Library” to Battle Creek.
Jeremy Andrews was enjoying a January vacation with his wife, Erin. The couple, co-owners of Penetrator Events, had just finished rafting along the Sturgeon River when they stumbled upon a unique feature at a local park: a shed with numerous sleds pouring out of it, the words “Sled Library” plastered on the side.
Now, with the help of some community partners, Andrews has brought the concept to the Cereal City, (Battle Creek is the home of Kellog’s Cereal), unveiling the first Free Sled Library, where patrons “borrow a sled, leave a sled,” at Leila Arboretum.
Kids took full advantage of the newly installed sled library Feb. 12 as hundreds poured into the 72-acre park for the annual “Festivus” cardboard sled race.
Steep hills combined with formidable ice claimed at least four of the plastic sleds available for kids that afternoon, but Andrews isn’t deterred. “As long as people donate, I’ll just keep buying sleds,” he said. “The idea is really cool and we’re happy with it.” Andrews has garnered more than $600 in donations since floating the idea out to friends on social media Feb. 2. A second sled library is planned and will debut next winter given the recent warmer temperatures.
Heidi LaGrow, a graphic communications technology instructor at Calhoun Area Career Center, was one of the first people to offer Andrews a helping hand with the project after reading his post on Facebook.
“generosity is not giving me that which I need more than you do,
but it is giving me that which you need more than I do.”