Category Archives: community

lasagna love.

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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.”

-wordporn

 

credit: rebecca brandes

life with shopping carts.

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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

“those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.”-jmb

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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

after keeping walter at home a bit longer than usual

 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

his town

to celebrate his special day

before coming back to his other home

the restaurant

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

“photography is telling stories.” – jim spillane

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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

sweet.

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sweet delivery

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

seed sampler.

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what a wonderful collaboration between the library and local seed organizations

once again showing how important a library is to a community

“inside every seed is the potential for an incredible harvest.”

-farrah gray

 

sleds.

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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.

peace by chocolate on valentine’s day and every day.

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This is a true and incredible human story, of a refugee family losing everything, leaving their home, and finding a new home and new life in an unexpected place and in unexpected ways. I’ve been following their story since their arrival in Canada and they are a wonderful example of will, grit, tenacity, family, compassion, overcoming odds, and a sheer refusal to give up. They are paying it forward by giving back to the people in their new community and beyond. Supporting those who welcomed them and may need the help that they so generously received when they were in desperate need. Plus, their chocolate in incredible.

So exciting!

We are so happy to announce that the movie based on our story, Peace by Chocolate – The Film is coming to theatres, exclusively at Cineplex across Canada on May 6th and the official trailer of the movie was finally released. This movie is a platform to share hope with Canadians and the world -something we all need more than anything these days. See you all at the theatres this spring. (no date yet for u.s. or international openings)

“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.”

-khalil gibran

the pitch.

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brilliant pitch on our local townie site:

FREE SNOW SHOVELING CLASS: This Thursday Feb 3rd, I will be holding a FREE snow shoveling class at my place. Come and join the class and learn about the proper ways to shovel!

Reviewed techniques will include the scoop and throw method, the down and push method (AKA the plow technique) as well as the upside down scraping technique. 

Don’t miss out on this amazing opportunity to enhance your snow lifting techniques without throwing your back out! I will provide the driveway to ensure your training is conducted in the most life-like situation. I only ask that you bring your own shovel. 

PM me for additional details and times. Spots are limited and handled on a first come first served basis. Hurry, don’t delay!

as always, i loved the responses and they did not disappoint:

Is this for credit or just a certificate program???

Is this one of those Huckleberry Finn/ Tom Sawyer type classes where you have us shovel for you??

Now That’s What I Call marketing baby! Makes me want to get a shovel and throw on the parka and Boots!


Yes my place as well for the master class!

After can we repaint the fence?

You stole my idea!!!!

Now, why didn’t I think of that!!  

Best AAT snow post EVER! 

“i like work, it fascinates me; i can sit and look at it for hours.”

-jerome k. jerome

 

 

 

credits: ann arbor townies