One took a blubbering 7th-grader aside the other day, to listen to her concerns about swimming, a social life & her perceived parental problems. The other consistently shows her compassion: A few years ago, she was the only one (besides the teacher) who lingered at the playground, long after the rest of the 6th-graders had gone in to lunch, to cheer on a less-fit classmate in her effort to conquer running the mile during PE. Our Chica's Good Samaritan Ways showed up at the top of her report card that quarter. This acknowledgement of the kiddo's empathy meant more than As & Bs--both the her and to us!
Now, Ella Numera Una is actually living the lessons we've tried to teach her, day in & day out. She gets up at 5:30 a.m. each day to drive to the city. Her mission? Interning at a local soup kitchen. She works for free--handing out clothing, helping with breakfast, listening to clients' concerns & helping them to get legal IDs--for 3 hours, then drives back home to her day-long paid job as a summer swim coach.
Why does she do it? Ever since first setting foot in this facility for the downtrodden as a 5th-grader 10 years ago, Numera Una has felt the tug of Social Justice. She's decided, at the ripe old age of 21, that she wants to go to law school. She's not particularly interested in making the Big Benjamins with her degree; instead, she says she'd like to be involved in some kind of Activism. She's not aiming for Wall Street or a Big City Law Firm; she wants to work at place much like the soup kitchen where she started volunteering as an 11-year-old Girl Scout.
Numera Una told her parentals (That would be Mommy & Daddy Scribe) about some of the soup kitchen clients the other day (notice, they're not called "bums" or "bag people" in the vernacular of The Activists).
Yoshio is Japanese, & doesn't speak much English. The way he communicates is to bow deeply when he sees someone he knows, and smile broadly. He practices Tai Chi in the corner by the caseworkers' table in the morning before breakfast. He loves to sing--the melodies he harmonizes on with the soup kitchen volunteers--"You Are My Sunshine" & "Home on the Range," among other catch ditties--are just about the only English he knows.
Billy wants a job. He comes to the facility every morning, asking for dress pants & a shirt, & perhaps a nice pair of shoes, so that he can look presentable when he goes to interviews. The trouble with Billy, however, is that he's not punctual. He's supposed to line up for clothing before breakfast is served at 6:30 a.m. He often hits the food line around 7:15 or so. But the other day he arrived on time, & snagged a sweet summer-weight suit.
Ted took Our Chica aside the other day. He's an older man, with a pleasant demeanor, & he likes to joke around. He told Numera Una, after she served him breakfast, "We're going to have to stop meeting like this!"
Numera Una reported that the charitable organization needs lots of nice men's clothing, so that these guys can spiff up a little while they're looking for jobs. The Hubby sent an e-mail out to his wide array of contacts, and has received bags & bags of suits, ties, dress shirts & shoes. Every day The Chica hauls this stuff down to the soup kitchen. The grateful men snatch it up. By the end of the summer, the clients are going to be the best-dressed, down-on-their-luck guys in the whole city!
You know what they say: The Suit Makes the Man. And, we believe, The Actions Make the Individual.