Hope #4 Food Bank

This is my fourth painting in my 31 images of hope for Perkasie Fun-A-Day 2018. My wife and I have been through the wringer over the last several years. I had a series of health crises, starting in 2010. They were all related. It all started with an infection in a scratch on the back of my neck that I apparently picked up from an overly enthusiastic Thank You hug from one of the homeless men I served on the streets of Philadelphia. I have an inherited autoimmune disorder. As a result, I am allergic to multiple antibiotics and random other drugs. To make a very long story short, I ended up with a heart valve replacement, losing my business and ministry and our home. I am on disability. While I was going through that, the bank Bethann worked for for over ten years started systematically firing all of its middle-aged women. They planted a missing $100 in her drawer, sent her home, fired her; found the missing $100 after she left (exactly where they put it).

At any rate, Bethann has a job now. She was laid off from one and then found another. She has a couple of weeks off without pay for cataract surgery. I have disability. we have rent and utilities. Her work does not cover medical insurance yet. Our credit cards are tapped. We make too much to qualify for SNAP (food stamps). We can’t afford groceries or Christmas gifts or much of anything. Our local food bank, Perkasie Fish, lets us shop weekly. They have gluten-free for me. They have almond milk for kids who are lactose intolerant. They are helpful, generous and kind. they have a free thrift store we can shop at once a month. At Christmas, parents could shop for their children. What blew our minds was that we could shop for our grandchildren who were 12 and under. We expected to pick up one gift each. No. I went through and got to choose several things for each in different categories, plus bonus items for them and for us! This is hope.

I do have some concerns, having had other experiences with food banks and serving the poor. I have been to food banks where the staff fill your box for you and you have to take what they give you, and that’s it! In a neighboring town, in fact, the food bank is very institutional and demeaning. For decades of serving in prisons and on the streets, I have seen people who are doing what on the surface looks like the same activity, but when I got a little closer, I could feel the condescension. True service to the poor is not actually so much “to”. It is among and of. We are the same. We are in this together. It seems to me, the people at Perkasie Fish get this.

My other concern, goes to the fact that we are served so well, because we live in a wealthier, whiter town, than our sisters and brothers in Philadelphia, Camden, Bristol, Pottstown and Chester. There is that nasty platitude that has no basis in morality and is definitely not Christian: “Charity begins at home.” The problem with it is that people who spout it, use it to justify never expressing charity to anyone who is not like them. It takes effort, or taxation, to have us share wealth equitably to help all of our neighbors. Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan demonstrated that the neighbor was not the person who was close or convenient, but the person who was in need. The traveler who helped went out of his way to return to help.

Donate to two food banks if you can afford to. Donate cash to one in your town and one in an underserved area. Give a little hope to some families who could use it.

Painting is acrylic on 10″ x 10″ stretched canvas.

Price: $120 including postage to US address.

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