Main Pub Open Mic to Benefit MACC

We just want to extend an invitation to those of you who are looking for something fun to do on Wednesday, Dec. 19th. A fantastic group of musicians will be participating in an open mic night at the Main Pub and all proceeds are going to MACC. In case you don’t know, the Main Pub is located at 306 Main Street and the event begins at 7pm! We hope to see you there.

$128

Alone, this number may not mean much to you. To us, it means a lot because this was the total deposit from our first return of FAMILY4FAMILY boxes! On each box, there is a line that reads, “$11 feeds a family of four for a week.” If you do some quick math, there was a family that was fed for 11 weeks. Or, two families that were fed for over a month. This is good news!

We’ve talked before about how the dollar goes further at MACC — how the constant efforts of volunteers and generous flow of donations allows us to feed more people for less money — and this is a perfect example. Is $128 a mind-blowing number? No. What is mind-blowing is that $128 can feed a family for over two months. Anybody who shops for groceries knows how expensive food is, so to be able to help people through hard times for $11 a week is an opportunity we shouldn’t pass by!

Thank you to those who participated in the first-wave of FAMILY4FAMILY boxes. If you want to get your family on board to help a family in your community, send us an email!

Crave Film

It takes courage to be known.

To be known means that we must in some way present ourselves as vulnerable. To be known, we must reveal ourselves, step forth from the shadows, and stare back into eyes of the world.

We recently produced a short film at MACC which featured the eyes of our clients (one or two are volunteers). At first glance, the 2-3 minutes of footage may not seem like more than a benign montage, but consider the implications of “being known” and you will realize that the significance of this film is greater than you might expect. By standing in front of a camera for ten seconds, these clients are saying, “I am willing to be known.” They are the courageous ones who offer one of the most intimate forms of human communication — eye contact — to a large and diverse audience. It takes courage to be known.

Many of those who agreed to stand in front of the camera simply hoped that this would help MACC continue to provide the services that they were using. Rather than being ashamed, they met the eyes of the audience and let you stare into their soul. I’m not sure how many of us would be so willing to bare our souls.

Take a moment to view the film. Then share it. Talk with your friends and family about the courage of being known.

 

 

 

Kitchen Update

She stared at the floor and you could almost imagine her wiggling her toes inside those beat-up shoes. It was her first day back in the community kitchen since renovations and the new wooden veneer floor presented a feeling of welcome, a sense of warmth. The cold tile was suddenly gone.

She walked over to one of the staff and looked up. “This floor…makes me want to take off my shoes!”

Our guests were encouraged to keep their shoes on but we knew immediately that changing the flooring was the right choice. For a while we have been wanting to change the feeling of our community kitchen. We wanted to move away from the feeling of a cafeteria and towards a home-style kitchen with wood floors, round tables and a warm atmosphere. If on the first day, people are ready to kick off their shoes then it would appear we are on the right track.

Our pantry adds dignity to those who use our services because it feels like shopping in a small market. Now, our kitchen adds dignity to those who use our food services because it fosters interaction and community.

 

 

 

Go Local

We are bombarded with organizations and non-profits asking for support on a daily basis. Every time we open a magazine, turn on the TV, or scroll through a website, numbers and catchy tag-lines jump out and grab our attention. Each message is trying to connect with our unique passions and interests and draw us to their mission. It is a vortex of good intentions.

I’m not complaining. I see no reason why we wouldn’t support multiple causes — we all know how many issues are facing this planet right now — but there are a few reasons why I think you should consider making MACC one of the primary causes you support. Here are a few thoughts:

  1. We are a local effort engaging world-wide crises. Poverty, hunger and homelessness are not unique to Manchester, but the best way to meet basic emergency needs is by beginning in our own back yard. People in Africa are hungry and so are people on Main Street in Manchester. Support both.
  2. Your dollar goes far with us. By the time we calculate the impact of your dollar, we have taken into account the constant food donations, volunteer hours and financial support we receive. This is why we tell you that “$11 a week can feed a family of 4!” 
  3. You live here. Poverty affects people in this immediate area. Our reach covers Manchester, Bolton, South Windsor and Glastonbury…that is over 100,000 people who live here who have the opportunity to participate and make a difference locally.
  4. We can do it. Surely, with over 100,000 people in these towns, we could meet the needs of a minority who are suffering from homelessness, hunger and poverty. There is strength in numbers but there is change when those numbers commit to changing their community. 

I don’t just believe in MACC because I work here, I believe in MACC because we make a difference. We make a difference every day as we help people back to their feet. We make a difference as we break through stereotypes. We make a difference as our community groups, churches and individuals give of their time, energy and resources to create change.

So, the questions remains, will you Join us?

– Nathan | Community Engagement Coordinator

FAMILY4FAMILY

This past weekend, at SUMMERSTOCK 2012, we launched a new initiative called FAMILY4FAMILY. It’s pretty simple actually: we are handing out assembled boxes for families to collect money together for other families in our immediate community who are in need.

The front text on the box talks about the $11 a week it takes to feed a family of four and the need for communities to come together to help other families who might not be able to afford their own groceries and meals. If you can hit $11 a week as a family, great! If not, you need to remember that no donation is too small.

One of our shelter guests was recently telling us that he never walks by a penny. “Some people tell me, ‘It’s just a penny’, but I always say that a hundred pennies is a buck!” It’s true.

If you didn’t get a box at Summerstock, our office is packed with them! You can pick a bunch up for you, your neighborhood, your MOPS group, your church, or your school. We can also mail them to you if you are unable to come by our location.

The name FAMILY4FAMILY is important because we believe that one family who has $11 a week can help a family who doesn’t have it. It also came from the Allstate commercial which says, “Dollar for dollar, nobody protects you from mayhem like Allstate.” We thought, “Family for family, nothing protects our community from poverty like unity.”

SUMMERSTOCK Video

We wanted to publicly thank all of our volunteers and guests who showed up this past Saturday, August 18th for our first SUMMERSTOCK event! If you still haven’t caught wind about what SUMMERSTOCK is, you can read this post.

The forecast called for rain the entire week leading up to the event but Saturday ended up being warm, sunny and beautiful! Enjoy this 5-minute video from the event:[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UNmHoASCKqk]

Our volunteers were simply amazing and represented a variety of local churches and community groups. Many came early and stayed late, working as a team to make sure the event was a success from beginning to end.

The band who joined us, The Dale Project, did a fantastic job and created a fun atmosphere for balloon tossing and face painting. We saw lots of guests enjoying the ice cream donated by Highland Park Market and the popcorn and cotton candy run by volunteers.

Families got to stock our shelves together and many people brought generous donations of food to help fill our shelves for these remaining Summer months.

In summary, this event was a blast and we are deeply grateful to every business, individual and family that supported, volunteered, and attended our event.

Enjoy the video and feel free to share it as much as you want!

We’ll also post it on Facebook.

 

Us

There wasn’t anything special about this night. It was getting dark — as it always does near the end of the day — and I was sitting with one of our clients. The shelter guests had been checked in and were about their own business watching TV, waiting for dinner, showering, talking…

Then I heard my name. It sounded familiar, though I couldn’t place the voice. A client stepped closer and I recognized her face as she said, “I used to work under you, as a CNA.”

That was a tough moment. I never really expected to see someone I recognized — let alone used to manage in a professional environment — walk up to me as a client in a shelter for homeless individuals. It wasn’t a moment of judgement, it was a moment of stark contrast between the world of delusion and the world of reality.

There are painful and dehumanizing stereotypes around homelessness. Many people never get beyond the word “Bum” and the implications of a bottom-feeding, withering soul; a body passing most days inebriated or in a coma. Yet, here was a living and breathing example that shattered every stereotype about the poor. The reality is that life hit someone I knew — hard — and now she was working her way up.

Some people assume that the homeless are a group of aimless wanderers with no interest or  desire to return to a state of normalcy, that somehow there is a sadistic joy that flourishes under pervasive loneliness, hurt, and fear. Reality proved this wrong again. Within a few short months, I was contacted by this client and once employee. She had received the necessary treatment that allowed her to return to housing and was proudly an employed citizen. She hasn’t been back to a shelter since.

Our words hold too much weight to throw around damaging terms. Our thoughts, when allowed to run without restraint, can quickly develop false concepts around the homeless. We pick up on stereotypes from the media, or from a personal experience that reinforced a pre-existing negative label. Our goal at MACC is to break through these and reveal that we are dealing with people…not “hobos”, not “bums”, not “them”.

This is about “us”. This is about community because it takes everyone linking arms to break through misconceptions and restore human dignity to an outcast and overlooked population. Donating is helpful, volunteering is good, but changing your thoughts and ideas and becoming an advocate for the poor is even better.

Join us.

– A MACC Staff Member

Olympic Lessons

Winning needs to be redefined. It is a good thing to applaud the accomplishments of one person, but it is even better to revere the moments where people depend on one-another to accomplish a common goal.

This past week, the Olympic stadium in London thundered with applause as an injured hurdler decided to finish the race. He kissed the last hurdle, crossed the finish line and hobbled into the embrace and support of other Olympic athletes. The moment of defeat became an iconic victory that will be remembered for generations.

Victory is not always about winning gold, sometimes it is about rising from the ashes to meet the goal amidst searing pain. The thing to keep in mind is that these types of victories are not accomplished alone. This athlete probably would have simply walked away from the goal if there was no cheering crowd. Just like our hurdler, our neighbors who are deemed “disqualified” need the support of their immediate community to cross the line.

At MACC, we’re all about victory. It might not be a pretty process, but we are committed to providing the resources and encouragement to help our neighbors meet their goal. There may be no shining gold medal, but we can win the prize. When we clothe a family who lost all of their belongings in a fire, we win. When we keep an elderly woman from freezing in her house by keeping her heat on, we win. When we make it so a family can afford to eat, we win.

This is what victory looks like.

This is what community looks like.

Liu Xiang – Time Images

Thirty Seconds

Read this on the Manchester Patch:
There is an advertisement circulating the airwaves right now which leaves the audience with a question: “What can we do with 30 seconds?” The commercial has a variety of options which include beginning to learn electric guitar or creating a new language with a friend. Better ideas exist.Though the suggestions in the ad fall short of the potential energy wrapped in the message, we can develop our own list to answer the question. Here are a few ideas: in 30 seconds, we can make someone laugh. In 30 seconds, we can speak words of hope into someone’s life. In 30 seconds we can turn someone’s day around. In 30 seconds, we can speak up about an issue or donate to a cause. Even more, in 30 seconds, we can change the course of a life.

When we begin to think in terms of important phrases, taking action, keywords, and eye contact, 30 seconds begins to seem like a long time. A lot can happen in a half of a minute. Let’s take this a step further from “What can we do with 30 seconds” to “What will we do with 30 seconds?”

At MACC Charities, we have myriad half-minutes that intersect opportunities where a few words and some eye contact can completely change someone’s day or week. As James Murray — author of “The Emptiness of Our Hands” — suggests, sometimes the best gift you can give to the underprivileged is eye contact. Around here, 30 seconds hold tremendous potential and we believe this is true for the world outside of our efforts in Manchester.

Let’s unleash the potential of a half-minute together by considering what we will to do next time one arrives, ready to burst at the seams with hope, dignity, love and peace. Don’t let the moment pass you by. Make the choice to rise above your comfort and think about how much good can happen in such a short period of time.

If you want to have direct impact at MACC, take a half-minute to donate: $11 a week can feed a family. Or come and volunteer with us! Use some of your half-minutes here to make eye contact and have uplifting and hopeful conversations. However you choose to spend your time, we encourage you to go beyond creating funny languages and explore the world of potential that is before you.

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