Thursday, September 29, 2011

Houston Food Bank: Please Donate

Many of  you already know that when I run in the Houston Marathon in January I will be running not only for a Boston qualifying time but also to raise money for the Houston Food Bank as part of their "Run For Food" campaign.

Some of you have already donated money to this cause. Thanks to that generosity, I am already 70% of the way toward my goal of $500, which will be enough money for 1,500 meals for individuals and families who need nourishment. A big THANK YOU to you all. You come from all parts of my life: college, work, blogging and family.

Because I still need $150 to get to my pledge, I'm putting another call out there. And I want to tell you about one of the donors who has already given. His name is Max Weller. I met him through his blog, Max Weller on Homelessness. He writes lucidly and fearlessly about the issue of homelessness in Boulder. Looking at the city from the outside, you might not guess--given the multiple organic grocery stores, the mansions in the Flatirons, the university and all that--but it's a big problem here. I see a lot of homeless folks at my job in the library in downtown Boulder. None of their stories are the same. But the fact remains that even with excellent services offered here, most of them are struggling.

Max isn't usually happy with the way homelessness and its attendant issues (drug and alcohol addiction, unemployment, abuse of women and other crime) are handled in Boulder. He's a Missourian like me, and, like a lot of people from there, he believes in self-sufficiency, accountability and zero tolerance for bad behavior. He's a true "Show Me State" character plopped down in the flawed hippie paradise of Boulder. I don't agree with absolutely everything he writes (he's too hard on Boulder's cyclists, for one thing, though I understand why he has the perspective he has on them, but most of the time I do.

Here's the main thing about Max, though, and the reason his $20 donation to my marathon cause is so impressive: he himself is homeless. His campsite is an assemblage of tarps and chairs on county land in North Boulder (camping in the city is illegal). All of his income comes from donations from passers-by (he won't accept government subsidies of any kind, apart from maintaining a locker at the homeless shelter and using its morning services, including showering). He sticks close to Broadway, Boulder's main thoroughfare, because of its proximity to the shelter, a grocery store and the library where he writes his blog post. You see, his hip is injured and walking is an ordeal for him (something some of you runners can relate to). He rarely strays too far from the bus line.

Max's blog is hosted through the Boulder Camera, the city's newspaper, and if you dip into it, you'll see how smart he is, and how he isn't afraid of controversy. It's not my place to go into his past or the reasons he is homeless--you can find that out for yourself from his blog. All I know is that when he presented me with a $20 bill in an envelope inscribed to the Houston Food Bank a couple months back, I was humbled and inspired. It reminded me of the parable of the widow who gave all she had.

And so....I hope a few more people will follow Max's example and donate to this cause. I am upping the ante. For every $100 ABOVE my original $500 pledge that I raise, I will do a giveaway of some truly awesome Boulder goodies. So that's a giveaway at $600, at $ you think we can get to $1,000??? Here's the link to my fundraising page. Let's try.