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Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Double Agent Judy

 Happy Spring!
Although my favorite birds are back, happily humming their way around the ranch,
these beautiful flowers have a ways to go!
Photo taken summer "09

This post has been sitting in my drafts folder for weeks, I have thought of it often, but just never finished it.  Well, today is the day because this may be my last day to be a double agent due to such a huge increase in demand, just read on, you'll catch up.  This has become so near and dear to my heart that I haven't even been sure how to put it to words, so I will go with what I already had started:

You know, I went into blogging to advertise my business, help promote my book and to try and help people.  Really, that was my highest intention.  And I think I have written a couple of posts that have affected peoples lives, or at least opened up their minds.  Like when I posted about my epilepsy, that has the power to help a person to stay positive in their own "lemon" situation.  As far as opening minds, well hopefully I do that quite often-ha!  One time my Dad and I were talking about nothing in particular and he said that he had really gotten to know who I was better, through reading my blog.
As you all know I have been cross posting on Tuesdays for a few weeks now.  It seems that this is sort of a metaphor for my life, it is like I am a double agent these last weeks because I lead a double life on Tuesdays.  It's not really that I have kept it a big secret, it's just not something I want to brag about, I volunteer at the food pantry on Tuesday, which came about because I had to start going to the food pantry.
Let me start at the beginning, shall I?  It all starts with this post, really.  At least the trips to the food pantry do, because that is when I "woke up".  We really had no choice, at that time we had gotten so far behind in our bills due to my back injury that it was either pay the bills or nothing.  So, I had talked to many of my friends who had already had the "food bank" experience, and bawled my way there one Thursday afternoon.  Do you know what I cried for?  I cried for our country.
See, a year ago, we would have been considered a lower middle class family.  My husband made $20,000 less last year than he did the year before, due to a loss of all overtime.  I made zippo, because I lost my job taking care of the neighbors horses.  We accrued huge medical bills due to all of the broken bones, head and back injuries and the fact that my husbands boss can't afford good health insurance. (Who can? At least we have it.)  But that was what felt kind of funny to me, yes, I was a little embarrassed, especially if I thought of running into certain people or something, but mostly just sad for our country.
I'll never forget walking in that first time after crying my way there, this gruff hillbilly looking guy says "What, you need some food?"  I, of course in Judy fashion had come in the back door, but when I came around the corner, I swear I could hear the angels singing!  You can't believe the amount of bread and produce that was on the tables, it really was unbelievable; enough for the entire town of Bailey to each have a loaf of bread and then some leftover, I bet.  So, anyway, I got some food and got the heck out of there, I was so nervous!  But, that's just not the way I do business, and I knew there was more that needed to be done.
You see, one of the few good things about recovering from the back injury is that I found myself with a little time on my hands.  To be honest, I couldn't even really remember what it was I did before the back injury that had kept me so busy.  So, I signed up to volunteer at the food pantry.  Not only did it make me feel better about taking the food, but it introduced me to some really great people.  It also really opened my eyes to what is going on around me.  Believe me, lower middle class is not the only one that has been hit.  We are talking all the way up to upper class, folks.
For us, it was a matter of choice in a way, the only one that made sense anyway.  We had already taken advantage of all of the assistance through our mortgage companies, we make too much to qualify for public assistance (which I'm not sure I'm comfortable with anyway), so to get caught up on our bills, something had to give and that was the grocery money. We may not have any money, but I do have time, so that is what I gave.  And now I know the reason all of this has happened, I am exactly where I am supposed to be.
Remember that odd sadness for our country that I told you about?  Well, that is called empathy, and yeah, it has taken me a long way in my new job.  The first timers are easy to pick out, because they usually either are crying, or have just wiped the tears away as I had done when I walked in the first time.  Then you have the regulars, like the little old man that was so concerned when I was sick one week, that he practically ran back to the kitchen with a grin when I returned to tell me how much he had missed my smile!
The other volunteers have become great friends of mine as well.  I feel as if a couple of them are people that were put in my path for a reason and are on the same wavelength as I am, so to speak.  To hear the stories of how people ended up in the positions we have all ended up in, is simply amazing.  From freaks of nature, like repetitive strikes of lightning last year on one guys ranch to traumatic health issues like Agent Orange that have tainted an entire household, people have arrived on the food bank doorstep for many reasons.  But many, many of us are there wanting to give back all that we take plus much more, and that is a common and strong bond.
I purposely chose to write this post on a day that I write on both GSO and at home at the Royal Ranch, because I know how many people this might affect.  And do you know how I know that?  Because ever since people have found out that I work/go to the food bank, each week I have sent someone new in there.  That is also why I will no longer be a double agent, demand is so high, we need to move some volunteers to Thursday, so today will probably be my last Tuesday.  That's right, demand for our little food bank is so high we are growing each and every day we are open.  Most days there is a line waiting for us to open.
A couple more things I would like to add.  To me this is "green living" at it's fullest.  Our biggest suppliers are Whole Foods, Target, Kings and Safeway.  So we are taking the day olds from stores that would be throwing them away and passing them along to people who really need them.  Now this to me is the kicker, it is all really healthy food.  Food that I could not afford, even in the best of times, to feed my family.  Lots of organic foods and soy and tofu and a variety of produce that you literally would find at Whole Foods.  I mean really nice stuff, and then anything that we don't use, gets taken back down the mountain to the homeless shelters.  Again, to me this all seems like a very environmentally responsible way of dealing with the stores' castoffs.
Now, a word of caution, or possibly defense, I don't know.  There are different types of food banks out there.  If it is a food pantry that relies entirely on donations from the community, that is a little different in my opinion, and should only be used for those with the utmost need (and by all means use it if you need!).  But if there is a pantry like ours, that receives donations from stores, it is well worth checking out, who knows you may make the difference in another persons day, or even  life.  Now go make a double agent miracle today, I plan to.


Khrys said...

Judy, thank you for this post.

It is wonderful to see other people involved in their communities. I don't think a lot of people take the time to think about how much help is needed out there to do even the littlest things. When I was 10 my mom started volunteering at festivals and I also did the same. I have been volunteering for most of my life. At festivals, events, schools you name it. The most important volunteer work I have done is at an elementary school where I have been volunteering the past 3 years. I have helped with fun nights, field trips and lots more. Today and yesterday I spent hours making cotton candy for the school carnival and making signs. Tomorrow I will be making popcorn. Friday I will be face painting at the carnival.

I do this to show my children how important it is to be involved in their community and they see me do it every day!

I wish everyone would take time to volunteer with places like the food banks, schools and more because that is where people are needed. In the schools volunteers are needed for programs like Schools of Hope (Mentoring). To see a child reading better because someone took the time to volunteer with them and help them can be a very rewarding experience! You can find volunteer opportunities anywhere. Including nature preserves!

Thanks again for your post and I hope that our readers have enjoyed it as much as I did.