Losing the Humbug
A season of frustration can easily transform.
Thursday, December 23, 2010
I spend a great deal of time (more time, in fact, than would seem reasonable) positing this single question: What’s wrong with people? It’s something of an occupational hazard. The people in question this week include, (but aren’t limited to), anyone driving in the Del Monte Center parking lot the weekend before Christmas; the two teenage boy I gave birth to who seem hell bent on getting on the very last nerve I have left at the end of each day; Mel Gibson, just because, well, damn; and Republican cry babies John Boehner and Mitch McConell, who will snivel at the drop of a hat (or the retirement of a senate colleague) but can’t or won’t man up long enough to do the right thing and muster a little sympathy and cash for the first-responders and emergency workers who toiled in unholy, unsafe conditions in lower Manhattan on 9-11.
But as annoying as I often find the world (and like I said, I can find it more annoying probably than most) there have been examples of breathtaking beauty and generosity throwing themselves in front of me, especially in the past few weeks. ’Tis the season and all of that, but the examples that have presented themselves are ones that will have lasting impact on people’s lives.
ADD IT ALL TOGETHER AND PEOPLE IN THE COMMUNITY HAVE ALMOST REACHED THE HALF-MILLION-DOLLAR MARK.
First, on Dec. 16, the Natividad Medical Foundation received a $250,000 donation from produce industry leaders Andrew and Phyllis D’Arrigo and D’Arrigo Bros. Co. of California. (Mr. and Mrs. D’ gave $100,000 in personal funds.) The money will fund the build out of existing clinic and empty hospital space to meet the community’s growing healthcare needs, especially farm workers and farm families. Called the D’Arrigo Family Specialty Services, the expanded space will provide services for upwards of 40,000 patients a year, with new pediatric services including cardiology, orthopedics and gastroenterology.
The second great whack of generosity is one I briefly wrote about in this week’s cover story, under the subheading of “The Volunteers.” About 400 volunteers are amassing this week for the 25th annual free community Christmas dinner taking place at the Monterey County Fairgrounds. Committee head Rich Hughett says it will take 110 turkeys, as many cooked hams as people can donate, 500 pounds of potatoes, 100 pounds of carrots and multiple boxes of vegetables and greens donated from various produce companies to pull off the meal. About 1,800 people are expected to dine at the fairgrounds, including women and children staying in shelters through the Shelter Outreach Plus program; homeless men participating in a shelter program through Shelter Outreach; and folks and families like the rest of us—some poor, some working poor and some who are just one job loss or medical emergency away from finding themselves on the brink of economic disaster. The 12-person committee running the dinner also are gathering donated toys for children, decorating five Christmas trees and trying to make the event as festive and upbeat as possible.
Hughett called me on Tuesday with a plea. While the committee can always use extra hams, this week he finds they may not have enough turkeys to feed everyone. If you have an extra bird laying around, or don’t mind grabbing one from the grocery store while you’re doing your shopping, give him a call at 757-5709.
He needs them fast. Dinner starts at noon on Christmas Day.
The last example is for me the most personal. Having come from a previous employer where donations and charity were catch as catch can, I walked into a place where giving is more than a highly organized affair—it’s an absolute mission. MC Gives!, a project of the Monterey County Weekly Community Fund, has a mission of supporting “big ideas from local nonprofits.” Last year, the drive raised $529,000 for local nonprofits, including a $100,000 matching grant.
As of Dec. 22, MC Gives! had raised $399,333, not including the $100,000 matching grant. Add it all together, and generous people in the community have almost reached the half-million-dollar mark. Given that Dec. 31 is the day when many people allocate their giving for the year (and MCGives! runs to the end of the 31st), we’re all anxiously waiting to see how far it can go.
I had a chat Wednesday with the executive director of one of the nonprofits participating this year. When I asked her about the importance of MCGives! to her organization, she laughed.
“Are you kidding me? It’s meeting our budget shortfall for next year,” she says.
Donating via MCGives! is a no-brainer. Hop online, tick off a few boxes, throw in your information and be in and out in under five minutes. The karma is worth it.