Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Celebrating the Start of Advent with the Taize Community

There's no better way to begin the Advent season than listening to the quiet joy of the Taizé chant Magnificat. Below is a video of the manger that was set up outside the church on the road that crosses the village of Taizé, home to the community of prayer with the same name.  (Please bear with the short advertisement from a car company that precedes the video).

Taize Advent 2010

Advent Conspiracy: worship fully, spend less, give more, love all

An advertisement popped up in my e-mail inbox promoting "Cyber Monday," a follow-up (or a day parallel) to Black Friday. These two days are symbols for the excessive consumption that has become the priority of our holiday season.   I don't mean to say that we should refrain from purchases entirely.  Sometimes making modest and mindful purchases are very compatible with the season.  Perhaps we could incorporate the concept of fair trade into our holiday purchases? (Another blog post is coming on that subject).

A phrase that I often see during this season: "Keep Christ in Your Christmas."  At least one of my Facebook friends put up a logo with this very important and legitimate thought as her profile picture.  The sentiment is that all the secular celebrations and rituals, and especially consumerism, seem to overshadow the commemoration of the birth of Christ.  

The truth is that it's not just about a single day (the eve of Dec. 24 and Dec. 25).  The true spirit lies in the full season of Advent, which started this past Sunday.  And what I like about this season is that "keeping Christ in our Christmas," does not mean excluding those whose values and beliefs are not compatible with ours.  We are to love our neighbor fully and without judgment.

The Advent Conspiracy movement provides a great tool, urging us to make this season more meaningful through four simple actions: worship fully, spend less, give more, and love all.

Here is wording on their site.
The story of Christ's birth is a story of promise, hope, and a revolutionary love.
So, what happened? What was once a time to celebrate the birth of a savior has somehow turned into a season of stress, traffic jams, and shopping lists.
And when it's all over, many of us are left with presents to return, looming debt that will take months to pay off, and this empty feeling of missed purpose. Is this what we really want out of Christmas?
What if Christmas became a world-changing event again?
And here's a great video.

Wishing all of us a Blessed and Meaningful Advent.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Prayer

My wife Karen, who works as a Client Advocate at St. Martin's Hospitality Center, wanted to share this Thanksgiving prayer, recently offered by Albuquerque Rescue Mission.

O God, when I have food,
Help me remember the hungry;
When I have work,
Help me remember the jobless;
When I have a home,
Help me remember those who have no home at all;
When I am without pain,
Help me remember those who suffer,
And by remembering
Help me destroy my complacency;
Bestir my compassion
And be concerned enough to help;
By word and deed,
Those who cry for what we take for granted.
-Samuel Pugh

Another Reason for Thanks

Among the many reasons to to be grateful this Thanksgiving week, anti-hunger advocates celebrate the improvements we have made in addressing hunger in our state.

The latest report on Food Security from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows that tireless efforts of many state agencies and organizations have borne fruit.

The USDA report shows a reduction in the percentage of people who are food insecure in our state for 2007-2009 at 14.7%, compared with 16.1% in 2004-2006 (scroll down to pages 20 and 21).

Here's the assessment from Nancy Pope, director of the New Mexico Collaboration to End Hunger
This means we have helped 28,000 New Mexicans move out of food insecurity.
As we humbly give thanks and recognize that we are no longer in the top 10 states in food insecurity (we are 11th), we also acknowledge that at 14.7% rate of food insecurity still leaves tens of thousands of people hungry  That's way too many.

For many states, food insecurity worsened.  For example, in Oregon, the rate rose to 13.9% in 2007-2009 from 11.9% in 2004-2006.  In Washington state, it went from 10.3% to 14%; from 15.9% to 17.4% in Texas; from 12% to 12.2% in Colorado.  But there were some improvements in some of the poorer states.  In Louisiana, the percentage of households with low food security declined to 10% from 14.4.% and Mississippi from 18.1% to 17.1%.

Here's what David Sarasohn wrote in Portland newspaper The Oregonian:
Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture released new hunger statistics that might be called hair-raising, especially in Oregon. In 2009, according to the USDA, more than 50 million Americans, including 17 million children, lived in what it calls "low food security" households.

We are thankful for the reduction in the number of hungry people in some U.S. states, including our own state of New Mexico, and humbly accept the work that is still before us.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Bread for the World's Thanksgiving Card

Today (Tuesday, Nov. 23), Bread for the World staff gathered for its annual Thanksgiving lunch and gave thanks.

In an e-mail to Bread members and others who had signed up for e-mail alerts, David Beckmann and the staff offered thanks for all our efforts.  (That's a great picture, isn't it?).

We at Bread New Mexico want to express my gratitude for the very dedicated staff, not only in Washington but in each of the field offices.  We want to especially single out the Western Region staff: Matt Newell-Ching, Robin Stephenson, and Jessie Bullock.

And we are also grateful for all the committed and dedicated Bread for the World members in New Mexico who have participated in any way in helping us build a very effective group here in the Land of Enchantment.  Many of you (and you know who you are), have organized Offerings of Letters, helped with our OL workshops, ecumenical services, conferences, etc...

For all of you, we give Thanks to God.  And we share David Beckmann's words:
This Thanksgiving, as you celebrate the bounty of God’s creation, I encourage you to also remember that many of our fellow Americans are struggling with job losses and economic uncertainty. And remember our neighbors near and far – in countries like Haiti and Liberia – who face the daily challenge of feeding their families.

I hope you will join me in praying for all those who are hungry. As we pray, let’s rededicate ourselves to working together to bring about change. 

Thank you again for all you are doing to create hope and opportunity for hungry people.

May you experience a fresh sense of God’s mercy and abundance this Thanksgiving.

Daniel Erdman: Servant Leader

As we celebrate Thanksgiving, we are thankful for Bread members like Rev. Daniel Erdman.

Daniel was recently named  Adult Servant Leader Honoree for the Second Annual Called Back to the Well Servant Leader Breakfast.  The honor was presented by the United Church of Christ Southwest Conference on November 3.

Daniel, who is ordained in the Presbyterian Church USA (Presbytery of Santa Fe), is pastor of Iglesia Congregacional Unida in Albuquerque, a primarily Spanish-speaking congregation.

He has spoken out on a number of justice issues, including immigrant rights, fair wages, repealing the death penalty and other important matters.

But that's not all.  Daniel is Coordinator of Congregational and Community Outreach for the New Mexico Conference of Churches.  And he and his wife Anne Sensening are members of  L@s Otr@s, a group that often performs songs from El Salvador and other Latin American countries at the annual commemoration of Monsignor Oscar Romero in Albuquerque.

And did I mention that he once served as Hunger Action Enabler for the Presbytery of Santa Fe? 

Oh wait.  He is also a fellow blogger, touching on themes dealing with Scripture.  Read Daniel ICU

Congratulations Daniel!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Our Common Interest: Ending Hunger and Malnutrition

The other day a teacher from a local school mentioned to me that she wishes she could use the Bread for the World Institute reports as a textbook instead of her regular materials. That is a high compliment to the staff at the institute, which does a great job putting together a quality resource year after year.

Well, today we'd like to announce that Bread for the World Institute has released its 2011 Hunger Report, entitled Our Common Interest: Ending Hunger and Malnutrition.  The report goes hand in hand with our advocacy efforts in 2011, which will focus on foreign aid reform.  If you click on the title, you will enter a site that has a lot of neat tools, including interactive data, multimedia opportunities, a study guide and even a link to the full report. 

Here's what it's all about:
2011 is a time of opportunity to achieve lasting progress against global hunger and malnutrition. For the United States, it is a time of renewing our commitment to this objective and strengthening partnerships with countries that are eager to work together in this common interest. 
The dramatic surge in global hunger as a result of a spike in food prices in 2007-2008 galvanized support in both rich and poor countries for raising agricultural investments to the top of their development priorities. It also brought into focus the long-term consequences of hunger, especially for the youngest children. During the 1,000 days from conception to the second birthday, the consequences of malnutrition are irreversible.  Read full executive summary
And here is a video:

Sunday, November 21, 2010

UNM Fair Trade Initiative Gives Thanks for Farmworkers

The Fair Trade Initiative student organization at the University of New Mexico plans to celebrate Thanksgiving by giving thanks for farm workers.

Members and supporters plan to gather at Trader Joe's in Uptown Albuquerque, 2200 Uptown Loop NE,  on Wednesday, Nov. 24, 3:00-6:00 p.m., to offer their support for farmworkers and demand that they receive a living wage.

The action is part of the National Supermarket Week of Action in solidarity with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers .  The campaign urges several national supermarket chains to help end forced labor, poverty wages and other human rights abuses faced by farmworkers harvesting tomatoes for the U.S. retail food industry.

Read Letter to Trader Joe's

Students around the country are also involved in this campaign through the Student/Farmworker Alliance

Thanksgiving: Our Feast of Tabernacles

All early celebrations had one common theme – God.  Thanksgiving was directed toward God, the Creator, Protector, and Provider of all.

Today, Thanksgiving is a time to pray and thank God for the continuous graces we receive.   Families and friends join in friendship and gratitude and share a Thanksgiving Day dinner that begins with a prayer.

There is no official ‘Thanks to God’ on Thanksgiving Day, but prayers of gratitude have been offered since long before the 1620 American tradition began.  Gratitude is the source by which the Pilgrims decided to begin with a prayer of thanks at the historic feast with the Wampanoag Indians.  Years later, both George Washington and Abraham Lincoln issued Thanksgiving Day Proclamations

For a way to express their thankfulness for survival and the first harvest, the deeply religious Pilgrims looked to the Bible.  They found the celebrated Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot), or Feast of Ingathering.  The ingathering of Israelites (delivered from the desert of Sinai) and their harvest were celebrated in this feast and is the most joyous of all feasts still today. (Leviticus 23).

Another reference to giving thanks is found in the account of ‘setting’ what Samuel called the Ebenezer Stone.  This was a memorial to remind the Israelites to be grateful for God’s help during an attack from the Philistines (1 Samuel 7:10-12).

Today, Thanksgiving is a time to pray and thank God for the continuous graces we receive.   Families and friends join in friendship and gratitude and share a Thanksgiving Day dinner that begins with a prayer.
Loving God, we give thanks for the pleasure of gathering together for this Thanksgiving.  We give thanks for this food, prepared by loving hands.  We give thanks for life, the freedom to enjoy it all and all other blessings.  As we partake of this food, we pray for health and strength to carry on and try to live as You would have us.  This we ask in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.  Amen.
(Reprinted from the Bread for the World Louisiana November newsletter.  Courtesy of Sister Jane Remson)

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Journey to Sierra Leone

Kyra Ellis-Moore, a student at Albuquerque High School, traveled with her mother, Jennifer Moore, a Professor at the University of New Mexico School of Law, to Sierra Leone in West Africa in October 2010.  Jenny Moore, who once worked with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, was in West Africa to conduct research for a book she is writing on conflict resolution in Africa.  The book spotlights three countries emerging from civil war, including Sierra Leone.  We hope to highlight Jenny's research at some point in the future, but this post is all about Kyra.

You might remember Kyra as the young lady who organized an Offering of Letters at Albuquerque High School. She has also participated in several Bread for the World and ONE Campaign activities through St. Andrew Presbyterian Church.

Kyra wrote about her experiences in a blog called New Mexico Word: Speaking Out.  The blog was created by Youth Radio especially for youth in New Mexico to write about a variety of topics and experiences. The organization promotes intellectual, creative, and professional growth for young people through education and access to media. Youth Radio’s media education, broadcast journalism, technical training and production activities provide unique opportunities in social, professional and leadership development for youth, ages 14-24.

Kyra's posts are very insightful and informative and provide a wealth of background along with keen observations.  I have included excerpts from each of her posts.  These are real pleasure to read. Click on the headline to read each  full piece.

After 26 hours spent on planes and in the airports and on the runways of Washington DC, Brussels, Belgium, and Dakar, Senegal, and the five hours spent in a taxi, SUV racing along island highways, parked on a packed-to-the-gills ocean ferry, and stuck in a perpetual traffic jam on the streets of the city -- my mother and I finally arrived at our hotel in Freetown, Sierra Leone at 11 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 8, 2010.

On Saturday night (Oct. 9) we walked down the hill from our hotel to the headquarters of the United Nations in Sierra Leone, and the one-time headquarters of the largest UN peacekeeping mission in history, during the Sierra Leonean civil war.  There we met with Michael Schulenburg, the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Sierra Leone.

Although my mother’s main interest for the interview concerned peace keeping and transitional justice, I was able to ask him some questions specifically on the subject of youth.
But now, [the youth] are being reached out to by political parties, and with a voting age of 18, these youth hold huge political clout, which will most like determine the outcome of the upcoming 2012 presidential election.
Sierra Leone youth are defined as people who have not yet found their roots, goals, or role in society.  These youth have been largely left behind by the war:  they are uneducated, unemployed, alienated from traditional backgrounds, and normally to not belong to any community or social groups.   Schulenburg believes this election is a turning point and will determine the country’s future, and if it begins going in a direction of development and sustainability, it will be time for the UN to begin their exit, and give the nation a chance to be self-sustaining.

Friday, November 19, 2010

New Orleans Artists Against Hunger and Homelessness: 25 Years!

I don't know if there is much significance about the year 1985.  All I know is that three great organizations were formed that year, two of them here in Albuquerque and another in New Orleans, which was my home for eight years. I already told you about the silver anniversaries for Surgite and St. Martin's Hospitality Center in Albuquerque.

Now let me tell you about the huge party that is planned in New Orleans on Sunday, Dec. 5, for a great organization called New Orleans Artists Against Hunger and Homelessness.  And no one can plan a party like New Orleans!  This is no ordinary party.  This is the Silver Anniversary of NOAAHH!

But before we give you details about the party, let me tell you a bit about NOAAHH.  The organization was founded in 1985 when Allen Toussaint, Grammy Trustee Award Recipient songwriter/musician, and Aaron Neville, Grammy Award winner and lead vocalist for the Neville Brothers, brought together a group of New Orleans musicians for the purpose of performing a concert to benefit the hungry and homeless of metro New Orleans.

There have been many other concerts since then, featuring artists and other VIPs from New Orleans and from outside the city. Check out this very impressive list   Some of these artists have their own sites

To date, more than $1 million have been distributed to charity since the first NOAAHH concert in 1985 and  over 50 grant recipients have benefited.

Very few people outside of New Orleans gave much thought to the problems of hunger and poverty in the city before Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. In the aftermath of Katrina, the problem has worsened.  Here are some statistics provided by my friend Sandy Cordray, who has served on the board of NOAAHH.
  • In 2010 the Food Research and Action Center reported that the New Orleans metro area had the eighth-highest rate of food hardship in the nation. Food hardship is defined as the lack of money to buy food that families need and is considerably worse for households with children.  Read more
  • Nationwide, 3 million Americans - including 500,000 children - are homeless.  An estimated 17,000 to 19,000 men, women and children in the New Orleans area are homeless. Source: City of New Orleans:Healthcare for the Homeless Program

Backstage 2010
Okay, now you know about the problem, and you want to help.  And you are especially anxious to hear about this fundraiser party, called Backstage 2010.  

Here are the details:

Featuring NOAAHH Co-Founder
Allen Toussaint
Dr. John • Jimmy Buffett • Dave Bartholomew •  Jon Cleary • Irma Thomas
Little Freddie King • Deacon John and The Ivories and More!
Location: Generations Hall 6:00-10:00 p.m.
General Admission $100 • VIP Balcony $150
Students $50 at door with valid student ID

If You Can't Go
Chances are that most folks reading this blog post are not going to be able to get to New Orleans on Dec. 5. (But don't you love even hearing about this great party!).   Here's what you can do.  You can  donate to NOAHH.

The New Orleans Walk for the Hungry offers another opportunity for you to show your support for efforts to address hunger and poverty in New Orleans.  The walk,  scheduled for Saturday, March 19, 2011, celebrates its 30th Anniversary (Silver Anniversary Plus Five)  this year.   Read about the 2010 Walk

For more information  about participating or donating contact Sister Jane Remson, director of Bread for the World New Orleans, 504.864.7434 or email – jfremson@loyno.edu

Address: The Twomey Center for Peace Through Justice  Loyola University New Orleans, Campus Box 12 New Oleans, LA 70118-3565

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thanksgiving Week Meals in Albuquerque

November 20 (Saturday)
10:30 am to 3:00 pm -- Chava Trucking Company Thanksgiving Dinner, 409 Clark Road SW (2-1/2 miles south of Rio Bravo off of 2nd Street).  Shuttle service will be provided, beginning at 10:30 am, at St. Martin’s Hospitality Center, Good Shepherd, Albuquerque. Rescue Mission, Project Share, Noon Day, Salvation Army Temple (on Broadway & Lead), and Joy Junction

11:30 am to 1:00 pm -- Thanksgiving meal at Restoration Ministries, 824 San Mateo SE (south of Zuni, between Southern & Trumble, parking lot & entrance to building on Ortiz).

Will also be serving regular meal on Sat., Nov. 27th (normal hours)

November 22 (Monday)
6:00 pm – Pre-Thanksgiving meal at Joy Junction

November 23 (Tuesday)
Noon Day Ministries is open for services (9:00 to 11:00 am), but will not serve lunch

10:30 am to 2:00 pmAlbuquerque Rescue Mission’s Thanksgiving meal (no breakfast or dinner)

11:00 am to 2:00 pm – Thanksgiving dinner at the Albuquerque Indian Center, 105 Texas SE

November 24 (Wednesday)
Noon Day Ministries  is open for services (9:00 to 11:00 am), but will not serve lunch

Albuquerque Health Care for the Homeless will be open ALL DAY this Wednesday.

11:00 am to 2:00 pmJoy Junction’s Thanksgiving meal at the Convention Center downtown (get free tickets at various shelters for reserved meal times)

Thanksgiving Day (Thursday)

There will be a sunrise ceremony (approximately 6:45 am) in honor of Native peoples at the Albuquerque Center for Peace & Justice, on the corner of Harvard & Silver (1 block east of Yale, 1 block south of Central), followed by a Fall Harvest brunch starting around 8:00 am

8:30 to 9:30 am -- brunch at Good Shepherd (only meal that day at Good Shepherd)

St. Martin’s Hospitality CenterAlbuquerque Health Care for the Homeless, and Noon Day Ministries are closed

11:00 am to 3:00 pm – Thanksgiving meal at La Mesa Presbyterian Church, 7401 Copper NE (north of Central, east of Louisiana)

11:00 am to 2:00 pm – Thanksgiving meal at Salvation Army, 4301 Bryn Mawr Dr. NE (on Pan American Fwy, the frontage road off of Montgomery just east of I-25)

2:00 to 6:00 pm – Thanksgiving dinner at Joy Junction

4:00 to 6:00 pm – Thanksgiving dinner at ProjectShare

5:00 to 6:00 pm – regular dinner at Albuquerque Rescue Mission (no breakfast that day, but opens at 1:30)

November 26 (Friday)
An Indigenous Day to Celebrate Thanksgiving:  From Surviving to Thriving– a day of prayer, ceremony, celebration, food and fun! from 12:00 noon to 4:00 pm at the Albuquerque Center for Peace & Justice at Silver & Harvard SE -- offered by Rain Cloud LC-17

Most homeless services sites will be on regular schedule on Friday the 26th.  Regular day for Noon Day Ministries, including lunch.  But St. Martin’s Hospitality Center and  Albuquerque Health Care for the Homeless will be closed.

Volunteer Opportunities

La Mesa Presbyterian Church (7401 Copper NE -- north of Central, east of Louisiana) hosts a huge feast each year on Thanksgiving Day from 11:00 to 3:00 pm.  Wednesday, the day before Thanksgiving, starting at 2:00 pm and into the evening, volunteers are needed to sort clothing and other set-up tasks.  No need to call; just show up.  Then, on Thanksgiving Day, volunteers are needed early for set-up and food prep (7 to 9am or 9 to 11am) and late (3 to 5pm) for cleanup, also to deliver meals to homebound people and people who are homeless, and to staff tables any time from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm for clothing & blanket give-away or help with kids’ activities (Spanish speakers are particularly helpful in these areas).  No need to sign up, just arrive at the church when you want to help out, and ask for Mary Jane or one of her assistants.  If you have any questions, you can call Mary Jane at 265-6894 after 7:00 pm Sun-Fri, or any time on Sunday.

Thursday morning (Thanksgiving day), the Albuquerque. Peace & Justice Center, 202 Harvard SE (corner of Harvard/Silver) will host a sunrise ceremony honoring indigenous people, followed by a Fall brunch (around 8 am).  The help that is most needed is food for the brunch, esp. cooked turkeys (or other meat) and side dishes.  Please bring food that morning by 8:00 or 8:30 am, already prepared.  You can also bring coats/hats/gloves, shoes, socks, warm clothing, blankets, sleeping bags and backpacks to give away to folks who are currently “unhoused.”

From Surviving to Thriving, a day of prayer, ceremony, celebration, food and fun!” will be offered by Rain Cloud LC17 from 12:00 noon to 4 pm on Friday, Nov. 26th at the Albuquerque Peace & Justice Center, 202 Harvard SE.  Rain Cloud is New Mexico’s Behavioral Health Collaborative (#17) “for off-reservation Indians.”  Many of the members are currently homeless and the feast is held on Friday so that folks can get there by bus.  Volunteers and food are needed, as this will be a large gathering!  “Gift bags for Homeless Indians” will also be given out that day.  Kitchen volunteers are needed, including cooks (other needs are listed on the attached).  To get involved, contact Gwen Packard at gwenpack@gmail.com or Donna Kipp at 315-6498 or cantemaza4@hotmail.com Or, just bring food that day to share (already prepared – can be heated up in the Peace Center kitchen) and/or stay to help out.  You can also bring coats/hats/gloves, shoes, socks, warm clothing, blankets, sleeping bags and backpacks to give away to the folks there who are currently “unhoused.”

Paul Fredrickson, Service Coordinator for MacManagement, Inc., needs 15-20 volunteers to deliver food to homebound tenants of seven low-income apartment complexes on Thanksgiving morning, 9:30 to 11:30 am. Call Paul at 401-3628 or e mail him at paul@macinc.net

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

'A Full Court Press to Fill the Mandate of Matthew 25'

Photo from Food for the Poor
Jesuit Father John Dear, a resident of Santa Fe, wrote about a retreat he gave to 300 staff members of Food For the Poor at their headquarters near Miami.  Food for the Poor is an interdenominational Christian relief and development organization directed by Robin Mahfood. 

Here are excerpts from John Dear's column in NCR Online, entitled Don't Forget Food for the Poor.
I was there to lead a day of reflection on Jesus and Gospel nonviolence, but it was I who learned so much about their good works of mercy and charity and their full court press to fulfill the mandate of Matthew 25: “When I was hungry, you fed me.”

During my talks I spoke of the Beatitudes, the Sermon on the Mount, and the command to “love our enemies” in Matthew 5. It’s in those passages that we see the full spectrum of Jesus’ politically incorrect vision -- that war not only makes people hungry, thirsty, homeless, sick, and imprisoned. It bombs them, vaporizes them, and kills them...

For a day we discussed this Gospel vision of renouncing the culture’s wars and greed to embrace Christ’s vision of universal, nonviolent love. It was like hearing again that beautiful line from Tennyson: Come my friends, it’s not too late to seek a newer world.

Food For the Poor works in 17 countries in the Caribbean and Latin America to assist the poorest of the poor. They collaborate with pastors, missionaries and local churches to bring immediate relief to those in most need. Robin told me they feed two million people a day, six days a week.

They feed millions -- an astounding achievement on its own -- and do much more. They drill wells for drinking water; provide medical care; build homes for homeless families; provide skills training and micro-enterprise opportunities to offer work; and give children an education.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Food Drive on the Santa Fe Express

It's carrying food.  

In fact, barrels of food.  

But it's not a cargo train.   

It's the New Mexico Rail Runner, and it's a passenger commuter train.  

The barrels are placed on the train for riders to deposit their donations of non-perishable food items to The Storehouse between now and Monday, November 22.  

I guess you could call it the Food Drive for Thanksgiving. And by the way, the headline could have easily read, Food Drive on the Belen Express, because many people commute south instead of north.

So what are you waiting for?  Take a ride up to Santa Fe or Belen or points in between and deposit your non-perishable food items in the barrels. 

Or if you want a formal invitation, here it is:

NM Rail Runner Express/Storehouse Food Drive
WHEN: Monday, November 8th through Monday, November 22nd
             (Applies to all regular weekday service, as well as weekend trains.)

WHAT TO BRING: A non-perishable food item.

WHERE TO BRING IT: Deposit non-perishable food items into any Storehouse collection barrel on all Rail Runner trains.

WHO IT BENEFITS: People served by assistance provided through the Storehouse of Greater Albuquerque.

The holidays can be difficult for much of our community, therefore the Rail Runner Express will begin collecting non-perishable food items starting November 8th - November 22nd. All donations collected will benefit the Storehouse of Greater Albuquerque. Food barrels will be available on every train set.
Contacts: Augusta Meyers, MRCOG (Mid-Region Council of Governments)  Communications Manager at (505) 239-8612, ameyers@mrcog-nm.gov

Monday, November 15, 2010


I have a friend in Birmingham who calls me a "Breadhead". That might make for a fun t-shirt for young and old alike!  
-Elaine VanCleave (creator of this design)

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Haiti: The Long-Term Approach

We held Haiti tightly in our hearts and our prayers, even Taize prayers, in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake of Magnitude 7 that shook the capital city of Port au Prince on Jan. 12, 2010.  That was only about 10 months ago!  Haiti gradually faded into the big pool of news that came onto the front pages of newspapers, and the television and computer screens and smart phones. Even in this blog, we only mentioned Haiti occasionally this summer and fall. 

And then the recent cholera outbreak brought Haiti back to our  nation's consciousness.

We cannot deny that disaster often tugs at our heart-strings.  But I think it's important that we start looking at long-term responses to problems not only in Haiti but across the globe.  This is where our advocacy efforts come .  For Bread for the World members and our allies, we can address some of the long-term approaches through our 2011 Offering of Letters.  Stay tuned for more information.

While we wait for the Offering of Letters kit to be released, I would like to recommend some great background articles written by Bread for the World communications staff members Molly Marsh and Laura Pohl, who recently traveled to Haiti. These posts are contained in the Bread Blog.
We posted a couple of companion pieces about Haiti .

One piece contains accounts from former Bread for the World regional organizer Elise Young, who is in Haiti with ActionAid.  Elise is posting through her blog The WOW Chronicles.

Another side piece features the Prizm Foundation (a company that has partnered with Racine Kreyol Cultural Arts dance group to develop disaster housing prototypes for Haiti), and Acupuncturists Without Borders (which has put together its Haiti Disaster Recovery Program). Prizm Foundation and Acupuncturists Without Borders are both based here in the Albuquerque area.

Now food for thought.  The distance between Miami and Haiti is only 681 miles or 1,097 kilometers.  That's about how long it would take to drive from Albuquerque to Colorado Springs.

Haiti: Down to Earth

Elise Young, who served as a regional organizer for Bread for the World for many years, is now working as a senior policy analyst for ActionAid USA.  Her work took her to Haiti in June and again in November of 2010.

She offers some great insights from her November trip through posts on her blog called The WOW Chronicles (Women of Washington) .  These are wonderful accounts because Elise is such a great story teller.  Stories offer a type of grounding that statistics and straight news can never deliver.

Below are excerpts (and only excerpts--these posts have a lot of depth).  Each piece is accompanied by gorgeous pictures of Haiti.  Take look for yourself by CLICKING on each of these headlines.

Haiti, Take 2

I'm heading to Haiti tomorrow for a week-long work trip. My June trip to Haiti exposed me to the massive damage that Port-au-Prince had suffered during the January 12, 2010 earthquake. Now, in the wake of Hurricane Tomas and Cholera outbreaks, I'm not quite sure to expect. So, again, I'm really, really, really going to try and just listen, watch and learn. I'll also try to update my blog with pictures and stories from the field.

Parlez-vous soccer?

Haitian children are beautiful (ok, children do officially count as people, but they still get their own category.) When I emerged from the Guest House yesterday early evening to go for a walk with Marie, the children and their soccer ball descended. A round of voices started asking me if I knew how to play soccer. I joked and teased them and said of course I did, but did THEY know how to play soccer, or would I have to teach them. This resulted in the most beautiful chorus of giggles and laughter and enthusiastic pleading for me to come and play a quick game with them.
I am proud to report, that I scored 2 goals, blocked over a dozen attempts and successfully managed to not embarrass myself on the makeshift soccer field (consisting of a small dirt patch of semi-even ground, rocks for goals and a sadly deflated soccer ball.)

Mountains Beyond Mountains

We greeted every Haitian that we passed in Creole and were received with the warmest, most sincere response at every turn. (Creole goes a LONG way…It is inspiring how the Haitian people have held onto their language and so respect its use by foreigners.) I oohed and ahhed over the amazing agriculture projects all around us: terraces of sweet potatoes, cassava, peppers, tomatoes and onions. Green houses with marigolds and lettuce and herbs.

Haiti: Two Albuquerque Responses

The earthquake in Haiti last January brought forth some great responses from three Albuquerque-based organizations.

The Prizm Foundation and Racine Kreyol Cultural Arts formed a partnership in September to develop disaster housing prototypes for use in Haiti.  The shelters, which are 315 square feet, are intended for families displaced by the devastating Magnitude 7 earthquake that hit the capital city of Port au Prince especially hard.  The New Mexico Business Weekly published a great piece about the project in September.  Read the article entitled Prizm Foundation to send disaster housing prototypes to Haiti

Another locally based organization that has responded in a generous manner to the crisis in Haiti is Acupuncturists Without Borders, which provides immediate disaster relief and recovery to communities that are in crisis resulting from disaster or human conflict. AWB is committed to creating alliances with local community based organizations and treating all who have been affected - survivors, first responders, emergency personnel and other care providers.

The organization has developed the Haiti Disaster Recovery Program. Read Haiti report from trainer Doris Owanda,

AWB uses the concept of community acupuncture.  Here's a partial description:
Community acupuncture is a highly effective and efficient way of treating a variety of individual and community conditions in areas of conflict, disaster or devastation. Clients are treated in a group, sitting up in chairs, fully clothed. Needles are inserted in the ears based on a protocol developed by the National Acupuncture Detox Association. Other needles may be used on accessible body points as needed.   Read more
Even though the organization has members around the globe, its headquarters are right here on Virginia Street NE in Albuquerque. (AWB is not to be confused with another worthy organization,  Acupuncture Sans Frontieres).

There have also been some individual responses from local folks to the Haiti crisis.  We blogged back in September about Sharon Barefoot's decision to spend a year as a nurse with the Catholic Medical Mission Board in Haiti.  She will be providing updates through her blog Barefoot in Haiti.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Great Reflection on Isaiah 58

There's something compelling about Isaiah 58 that really speaks to anti-hunger advocates. We are called to open our hearts and step outside our comfort zone to show solidarity with others.  But when we open our hearts, we do so with the knowledge that our Creator is with us every step of the way.

This message in Isaiah 58 was one of the central themes of A Heart for Hunger, Poverty and Fasting, a reflection we put together for a conference sponsored by the Center for Action and Contemplation in April 2010.

In the latest Bread newsletter, Bread for the World member Lynne Hybels, offers us her own wonderful reflection on Isaiah 58, in a piece entitled Am I Spending Myself?  The phrase to "spend yourselves on behalf of the the hungry and satisfied the needs of the oppressed" is found in Isaiah  58:10.
If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
Lynne, who with her husband Bill founded Willow Creek Community Church near Chicago, has spent time in Latin America and Africa.  Check out her Web site and blog.

The call to work with poor communities came partly because a friend of hers challenged her about a decade ago to read Isaiah 58 daily for 30 straight days.
Shortly after my initial Isaiah 58 challenge, I made my first visit to Africa. In a rural Ugandan village I met eight orphans living with their elderly, frail grandfather. It was late afternoon. The children had not eaten that day and there was no meal awaiting them. The meeting was unexpected, so we had brought no food for the family.  In that moment I hated who I was: a privileged American seeing a desperate need and doing nothing to meet it. Of course that wasn’t my intent, but good intentions mean little. To those children, I was just one more person seeing their need and walking away.
I  vowed that day I would never again be an abundantly blessed American turning my back. In subsequent trips to Africa, I have partnered relationally and financially with local churches fighting hunger and disease. In many cases it’s the poor caring for the desperately poor, the sick caring for the dying—but these radical followers of Jesus have become my heroes, giants of faith whose example humbles me.
This is an inspiring story of transformation that speaks to all of us.  Each of us is called to examine our ministry and remain open to where the Holy Spirit will lead us.  Read full piece

(The illustration at the top comes from the Swaziland Arts and Education Web sitePlease visit their site to acquire beautiful, handmade art and home accents and help educate orphans in Swaziland)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Leveraging Our Commitment (With Our Digits and a Couple of Seconds)

Sometimes we get a unique opportunity to leverage our commitment to Bread for the World.

A generous donor has promised to donate $1 to Bread for the World in support of our work to fight hunger and poverty for every person who signs a pledge renewing his or her commitment to address global hunger and poverty.

Won't you join me in making this pledge?  All it takes is a couple of clicks on your keyboard.

Also, I want to share this great appeal from Bread's Crista Friedli 
I recently had the opportunity to teach preschool students in the Eastern African village of Bagamoyo, Tanzania. I saw firsthand the challenges these preschoolers face every day.

Each morning I saw Amina come to school clutching her pencil so no one would take it. When she wanted to play, she gave it to me for safekeeping.  Amina was one of 40 children in a classroom where writing utensils were scarce.  The pencils were often cut or broken in half to accommodate more students.

But Amina and her classmates did receive lunch—a watered-down cornmeal porridge served by the neighborhood women. For some, it was their only meal of the day. 

Amina is not unique. Today, more than 600 million children in developing countries don’t get enough to eat.  
Will you join me and sign the pledge to help end hunger for kids like Amina? When you sign the pledge, a generous donor will donate $1 to Bread for the World in support of our work to fight hunger and poverty.

Here's what we know: we can end hunger and poverty. In Tanzania alone, 2 million more kids like Amina are in school. That’s a doubling of school enrollment since 2001.

Ending hunger is not a question of resources, but of political will. And in order to build the political will, we need to grow a strong movement of compassionate advocates—like you—to speak out on behalf of hungry and poor people everywhere.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Three Prophets Speak about Faithfulness

The last election could make our advocacy efforts to address hunger and poverty a little more difficult.  There is a strong chance that the next Congress will place a high priority on spending cuts.  There is also some sentiment out there that our country's foreign policies might become a bit more isolationist.

This does not mean that we should throw up our hands and stand on the sidelines.  On the contrary.  God works miracles every day.  And we tend to see them more during times of adversity.   God calls us to be faithful no matter what.  Our goal is not victory for the sake of victory, but God's desire that we show faithfulness by acting on behalf of our brothers and sisters.

God accomplishes the most, not when we work for him, but when we become faithful and obedient enough for him to work "through" us, says Richard Neill Donovan in a sermon published in Lectionary.org   The author bases his comments on Isaiah 6:1-8

I would like to share some words of wisdom and hope  from three people with links to Bread for the World.  Those of us who are long-time Bread for the World activists are familiar with all three of them.  But I'm sure you know at least two of them.

David Beckmann
This comment was published in the Birmingham News on Sunday, Nov 7, entitled Ending Hunger Requires Political Change
Ending hunger in our time is possible, but it will require ordinary citizens -- especially people of faith -- to work with their legislators to change the politics of hunger.

Take the story of Pat Pelham and Elaine VanCleave of Birmingham.

In the late 1990s, they were moved to help hungry people in Africa. After attending a meeting with me at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church, they organized a hunger committee at Independent Presbyterian in Birmingham and invited their member of Congress, Rep. Spencer Bachus, R-Vestavia Hills, to an event at which I was speaking. Several years later, Our Lady of Sorrows asked people to sign a petition to support debt cancellation for poor countries. Pelham and VanCleave flew to Washington, D.C., to deliver the petition to Bachus, who went on to become Congress's most effective advocate for debt relief for the world's poorest countries.

This is the type of power we all have to change the politics of hunger. I am calling on all people -- no matter what your faith is -- to do the same.
Art Simon
 Bread for the World's Offering of Letters in 2011 will refocus our efforts to reform foreign aid.  We will again push to ensure that our foreign aid gives priority to poverty-focused development assistance.

Even though it seems at times like we're spinning our wheels, there are many examples where we've made a difference.  Take for example, Bread's role in the crisis in Ethiopia in 1983, as described by Art Simon in his book The Rising of Bread for the World.
In 1983, we began getting reports of a serious food shortage in Ethiopia, which was gradually turning into a catastrophic regional famine, so we began to campaign for emergency U.S. aid.  We got there well ahead of the national media, which had not yet given coverage to the famine.   In addition to alerting members, we convened a national one-day summit on the African crisis that drew representatives from forty-seven church-related agencies
We later did a media blitz in 30 cities, led by our media specialist Cureton Johnson.  The public response to those efforts prompted Congress and the administration to move more quickly with increased U.S. assistance.
Cureton Johnson
The Cureton Johnson mentioned by Art in his book went on to great things after he left Bread.  Cureton, who is a pastor at First Baptist Church in Fayetteville, N.C., recently published a book entitled Bible-based Spiritual Stimulus Plan

Here is part of the promotion for the book
Does your spirit ever grow weary from all the social, political, economic, and environmental stress of our post-Great Recession nation? Want some good news to sustain your hopes, optimism, and a consistent over comer attitude?
The publisher, WinePress Books, describes the book as as heaven's Mapquest pointing God's people to victorious living in the 2010s decade."

The Plan is a virtual 'revival in a book,' offering a prophetic voice of encouragement to all  iving in this breathtaking world of change! Its 12 key scriptural stimuli help fashion readers into God's masterpieces for good in society,  adds the publisher.

Here are a few examples of spiritual stimulii:
  • Alligator Courage: The author, in a small boat on a storm-tossed river containing alligators (caimans) in Guyana, shows us the power of Psalm 121.
  • Your Holy DNA: Tap into your holy DNA that carries wonderful spiritual resources. The author tells you how! Old things pass away and behold you become new creations in Christ Jesus!
  • Joy--A Yummy Recipe: Discover how a pineapple-upside-down-cake can change your life! "Taste and see that the Lord is good" every day (Psalm 34).
  • Spiritual Blind Dates: You never know when God will put you in a particular place, at a particular time, with a particular person, for a particular reason. Get ready to walk through doors of opportunity! God used a dog on Dr. Johnson.
  • Kindness/Vitamin K: Kindness produces ripple effects of good works, like a stone thrown into a lake makes ripples on the water. Kindness is a doorway into the Kingdom of God. Find out how a young girl in scripture is a perfect example for us to use this gracious gift. 

Thursday, November 04, 2010

'We Walk Because They Walk'

Dear Friends and Family:

I send you greetings from the beautiful city of Las Cruces, New Mexico! 
I am the Family Ministry Coordinator at Peace Lutheran Church and Director of Peace Village, NM.  

The purpose of this letter is to tell you that I am  working with a group of people to coordinate this year's CROP (Communities Responding to Overcome Poverty) Hunger Walk.

I write to you today to ask for your support, both financially and in prayer, for this upcoming walk.

Each year some 2 million CROP Walkers, volunteers, and sponsors put their hearts and soles in motion, raising over $16 million per year to help end hunger and poverty around the world -- and in our own community.

And you can be part of it! This year will mark the 7th CROP Walk that I've participated in, and I walk each year for most of the same reason--because they walk. They being those who live in underdeveloped third world countries and suffer from food insecurity, clean water issues, and lack of affordable anything. 

CROP Walks are designed for us, as privileged people, to be able to walk with those who suffer, to get an inkling of what it's like for them to walk each day for food and water, and to join them in the journey toward a better life.

I'm beginning to learn that 'they' is also those our own communities who suffer from the same things--food insecurity, lack of access to clean water, and no place to call home. We're in a global hunger crisis, and I ask you to join me in helping to fight it.

Here are some details for the Las Cruces Walk

Sunday, November 14
Starting Time 2 p.m.
Veteran's Memorial Park
Distance: 4.5 miles
(Click here if you want to Participate or if you want to Sponsor Me)

Remember, 4.5 miles is not a long distance.  In fact, it represents a small step in helping those in our community understand what it is like to walk at least that far (usually farther) to get such basic necessities as food, water, medicine, and other help each and every day. 

Just so you know, our walk in Las Cruces is only one of  12 CROP Walks in New Mexico

Please join me on this journey, ending hunger one step at a time.

Becca (Winship)