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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Sorry for the Delayed Blogging

click on pics to enlarge

Sometimes I wonder if what I’m doing makes a difference. If all the hassle and work is worth it; you may know the feeling.

I have been helping an old friend of mine every now and then over the last few years. His name is Marion. He is a soft spoken older gentleman with a heart of gold. Marion got upset with the bureaucratic inefficiencies and things he saw as wrong in the Nelson Neighborhood Association and walked out. He simply set up his own group. He called this group the Nelson Community Association. That was over 20 years ago.

Over the 20 some odd years since then, he has quietly kept that group alive. Marion runs a very small food pantry through which he gives out and sells food to about 20-40 people. He has to buy the majority of the food from food banks and the like. Sometimes that food is free as with his share from the recent US Post Office Letter Carriers Food Drive. Other times it's not.

That is the time when I can help out. I have a pickup truck you see; Marion has never driven a car.

Did I mention that Marion is at least 80 and recently had brain surgery? The holes in his head are still healing. Let me add also that this association he set up is a legal neighborhood association.

Don’t expect newsletters and meetings and the like. Marion runs it himself with occasional help from a few of his neighbors, which he occasionally finds who are willing to do the heavy lifting for him. His food pantry only opens when he thinks it’s necessary. He calls up everyone on his list personally letting them know that the “store” will be open around noon always on Sat. This happens probably every other week, but no set schedule. He does this with the neighbors he feels can afford to pay something for the food. Like me and it usually isn’t much, and it depends but maybe a couple of dollars for a bag full. If I'm flush I'll give him an extra five. For some it’s more some it’s less. Nobody argues price, they know it’s fair. Marion also fixes up bags and hand delivers them to some worse off than he. No charge in these cases.

Marion doesn’t need to gather financial information for his pricing scheme, these are his neighbors and he’s known them for a long time. They don’t argue because they’ve known him for a long time.

If you’ve read my blog you are familiar with Marion. I will help him occasionally and if it seems worthy I will blog about it. He has a fundraiser every year and it's coming up and I again will post about it. The deal is parking for the Summer Celebration and the July 4th fire works.

I really like this guy because he is a doer, he doesn’t let bureaucracy get into his projects. While he has never driven he has gotten to know all the players in city government, he has gotten to know them through his battles to be able to have an organization like his in direct competition with the other Nelson Neighborhood Group; from his battles to be able to run a food pantry as he does.

Marion is a fountain of knowledge of how the city works. For someone who doesn't drive or use computers that guy gets all over the city and knows everything. When I need to know who to go to he can be helpful. I used to sit and listen to some of his political stories for hours. He is constantly fighting against city hall and their encroachments upon our rights and mainly the abuses and corruption within.

Getting back to my blog, once a year Marion has a Plant sale. Although he makes some money, he mainly does it so his neighbors will be able to afford flowers and vegetables which he hopes will help them to fix up and pay more attention to their yards. He recently upped his price per flat from $1 to $2 due to the money that he pays me for gas.

That’s where I come in each year I take a day off to go pick up these plants; Marion comes along, he still tries to do half the work. Last Thursday, we left his place at 9am and ended up back at 9:30 pm. I have made a set up for my truck that provides a shelf to carry more plants. I've built it so I can build it and unbuild it as we load and unload. It works. I save the rig in my basement.

Over the years Marion has gotten to become friends with Greenhouse owners from North of Montague to Holton to Airline Road. At the end of their busy time, (this year was last Thurs.) the greenhouses will set aside anywhere from 20 to 240 flats of plants that they have extra and would probably throw away anyway. They’ve gotten to know Marion and what he does and they feel good doing this for him.

Whether it was the economy or what have you, we collected more plants than we ever did. It never took 12 hours before to collect them. Well we then stored them in Marion’s back yard until the following Sat. Morn. People start lining up for numbers early. They are let in at noon. This year I didn’t help on the Sat. Marion is good at finding help among his neighbors. I had political stuff to do. Below is Marion’s back yard and some of the flowers and veggies. For being next to the expressway, in a poor part of town on a narrow 50' lot, he has a backyard to die for.




I only took 2 pictures of the Sat. flower sale. I was busy that day, Goeff Hansen was in town and we were going to the Mayor’s breakfast in the Heights that morning and Goeff had some time to kill and he wanted to see the stuff I was trying to do and help with in my precinct. I took him to Marion’s plant sale. Goeff really likes this sort of thing. Getting out of the political thing for a change; I will write another blog after this one about what all we did Sat. but suffice it to say I haven’t had time or energy to blog till now. Goeff is in one of the Pics below. We came late and there were just 20 or so in line left with #s. Also a few hangers on.

The stories I have of Marion are becoming, in my mind at least, legendary. Let me share one brief story. I went to Meijer’s one day a few years back and ran across Marion. I always offer to drive him home when this happens. This is hard for me as I like to breeze in and out as quick as possible. Marion however spends a great deal of time in preparation for his bus trip to Meijers. Price and quality comparisons are the name of that game along with constantly sorting through his envelope of coupons he saves.

Well this one time he seemed to be in a panic. He had discovered the holy grail of coupon shopping and he was the first to find this “loophole”. As he excitedly explained it to me, I too became caught up in the fun. This is how it worked, at least in general, the specifics have blurred over the years. Meijers was giving out coupons of I believe $10 for purchases over $30 to be used on your next purchase as a reward for shopping at Meijers. They were also running big sales on items and some of those items had manufacture’s coupons right on the package. Marion had it figured out how once we bought the first $30 worth we could keep going back and back and back. We actually would go through checking and get a couple of dollars cash back and the $10 coupon for our next purchase. We kept doing that, and loading up my truck with free food.

This was completely legal, however we both knew it wasn’t fair to Meijers but we justified it in that ALL the food went to Marion’s pantry. Finally management came down and said they had watched us make several trips to our truck and we said we did and they said they would appreciate it if we stopped. We did.

We both still remain big fans of Meijers

We left and went to Marion’s pantry and unloaded the food. Below is a Pic of Marion during our pick up of food from the Post Office Letter Carriers food drive.

Is this worth all the hassle and work, well I think it is and like my new favorite saying says; What other people think of me is none of my business.

Regards, Live Dangerously Be A Conservative

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