Autumn in Southside
Even though summer keeps trying to fight back, autumn has come to the Southside. Gardens are already showing rows of green seedlings. Citrus and Pecan trees are laden with fruit. Pomegranates are on their way to being red by Christmas. This is the season when municipalities, civic organizations, churches and many of our friends and neighbors begin to plan their seasons of giving and celebration. Parades and festivals will crisscross our community, opportunities to feed our less fortunate and to give gifts to children who, if not for the care and generosity of our great community, might spend the holidays giftless, cheerless and hungry.
The fabric of our community is rich and varied. We have million-dollar mansions near the mountain, neighborhoods challenged by desperation and poverty near the river, and lots of neighborhoods in between. One might think, I suppose, that if the rich neighborhoods could just take care of the poorer neighborhoods, that it would all just even out. But life is not that easy–it is not a case of lack of generosity, but a matter of logistics. A rich person may not know someone who has fallen on hard times, unless it is another rich person or a “poor relative.” So, they must search out an organization that is in the business of receiving from the rich to give to the poor. Of course, in this scenario, there is something of the “gift without the giver” syndrome. So, to avoid complete anonymity, many Churches provide an “adopt the family” program.
But generally the style is to get the folks who are having financial difficulty together with a giving group in a large venue and distribute food, clothing and whatever constitutes holiday cheer. Bless the folks who make this happen year after year.
This Thanksgiving institutions like the Saint Mary’s Food Bank and the Salvation Army will serve thousands of meals to good people who have just fallen on a little bad luck. This effort will be facilitated by many volunteers and good people doing what they can do. But this also means there will be hundreds of kitchens sitting idle, houses with no smell of roasting fowl or pumpkin pie. There will be hundreds of children in a strange place trying to figure it all out, wondering what’s going to happen next.
Many years ago I sold a home to a man named Dennis Prince. He is a stylish kind of guy who has worked in education most of his life and been in the Southside as long as I have. I would see him periodically at the American Legion: we would buy each other drinks and he was always trying to sell me a ticket to something or other. I would just buy the tickets and stuff them in my pocket, and never pay much attention to them. A few years ago I became more active at the Legion. I am a SAL (Son of a Legionnaire), and Mr. Prince is my commander. Now I’m the one selling tickets and working on events. Close up, Mr. Prince works nonstop to raise money for the Post and the community.
At Thanksgiving he does not ask for donations to put on a sit-down dinner at the Legion. What he does is ask for donations to create “baskets” that have all the fixings for a Thanksgiving dinner including the turkey, the pumpkin for a pie and greens to boot. His idea is simple– let’s keep the families together, in their homes and with their kids for this holiday. It’s a Southside solution to a universal problem: How do we take care of our own when they are in trouble, but sill leave them with a sense of self worth? Mr. Prince would have us do this with care and style, letting families enjoy their meal together with love and integrity leaving the children with only memories of ginger, cinnamon and grease-covered fingers.
If you want to help him out, give him a call at 602-579-7927. Or, stop by the Legion to get more information.
Here in the Southside, autumn is a warm season.