Well, perhaps I started a new chapter in my life today. We'll see, over the coming months.
A week or so ago, I spent some time with Shelly and Ellen. Our lives have gone in different directions lately and I hadn't really seen them to visit for more than a year. Now that they are legally married, while I sign petitions and keep abreast of Marriage Equality issues, somehow the fire has gone out of me to actively work for marriage equality...perhaps because of getting at least two requests for money a day for a long period of time!
Anyway, we had a great visit getting caught up and during our time together. Ellen mentioned that she was in desperate need for help at Community Meals, a project she and Shelly have been deeply involved with for many years.
Davis Community Meals offers a free meal on Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 5:45 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and lunch on Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. Participants often include seniors, low-income and homeless individuals, and families. Everyone is welcome. The meals are prepared and served at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church. Along with purchased food, ingredients are gleaned from local markets and donated by individuals, groups, businesses, non-profits, and government agencies, including the Yolo County Food Bank. The food is prepared and served by individual community volunteers, religious organizations, school groups, UC Davis and community service groups, and many others.
I gather, though that there is a loyal group of "regulars," women like myself who are "of a certain age" and have free time. Ellen said that two of the regulars had recently had to quit. Both were about my mother's age (or older) and it was getting to be too much for them. She asked if I would like to help. I said that I would.
I couldn't go that week because of my podiatry appointment, but this was the first Tuesday I was free and I showed up at St. Martin's to help out.
The first problem was finding the place. St. Martin's is easy to find, but it has a zillion buildings, what with the church, the parish hall, and lots of school buildings, to say nothing of a bunch of tuff sheds to store stuff. But I did finally find the right building and presented myself to the fairly small kitchen (smalll, given how many people they would be serving in a few hours).
Ellen wasn't there, so I introduced myself and was given my hair net, gloves, and apron and put to the task of slicing eggplant for today's Moussaka.
The boss lady was very specific about how she wanted her eggplant sliced and in short order I discovered that I was unable to live up to her expectations. She checked on me several times, told me often what I was doing wrong, and finally switched me to fruit salad. Apparently there wasn't really anything I could do to screw up cutting fruit.
I was glad of the move because by the time I was given the assignment of fruit salad, Ellen had come and I worked with her and a lovely retired physician who sounded like she might originally be from Germany, or similar country.
I cut fruit for about an hour and a half. Picked grapes off of bunches, cut canteloupe, plums, and peaches while Ellen and the other woman cut apples, mangoes and pineapple. It was really fun, talking and laughing with them. We ended up with a vat of fruit salad and by that time, the eggplant had cooked and was being layered in pans with meat for the Moussaka. All the other jobs seemed to be finished, and I was meeting my friend Ruth for lunch downtown, so I decided to leave, a bit early. (Ironically, I originally met Ruth many years ago when we were both volunteering at the Homeless Shelter, which is run by the same board that runs Community Meals, so it was like my life was coming full circle).
It's just my first day at Community Meals, but I enjoyed myself and it felt good thinking about other people instead of myself. I will go back next week and we'll see how long I'll last.
This afternoon, I had a call from my mother. She was cautiously optimistic and excited and I listened to what she had to say. . She had her stepson talk with the man she was supposed to call and he assured him that this was legitimate and I guess it sounded legitimate to Ed, so they went to the bank and deposited the check. a letter from the Publishers Sweepstake Commission informing her that they had been trying to reach her by phone, but since they had been unsuccessful, she should call their office so they could tell her the great prize she had won. Turns out she won something like $22,000 and they were sending her now a check for $7,000 which would pay the taxes on the money she won. She should deposit the check and then they would be out with photographers to take her picture with her "big win."
, For one thing, she is almost never out of her house, so it couldn't be true that they had been trying unsuccessfully to reaching her by phone. Also, she has an unlisted number that only very few know.
While I was talking to her, I was Googling "Publishers Sweepstake Commission" and found a whole page (possibly more) of people who had either fallen for the offer and been scammed, or who found out it was a scam before they did anything. I told my mother she has to go to the bank TOMORROW and tell them what she has done, I sent the web sites to Ed so he could read what I found. And I will check tomorrow to find out what happened.
It makes me angry that there are so many people out there preying on senior citizens. And they are so good at it that relatively intelligent people like my mother and her step son would fall for it. Of course the scammers have only done the set-up and haven't asked her for any money yet, so I'm sure we've caught this in time, but I know there are lots of other people who have fallen for it and lost thousands of dollars they can ill-afford to lose.