Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Roller Derby to the Rescue!

Do you ever have one of those moments when you wonder if life is playing a joke on you? You look around to see if anyone is laughing or snickering but everyone else is plodding away, stone-faced and focused.

A couple weeks ago I was in my office when I received a phone call from a woman claiming to have an offer that seemed to good to be true. She told me that Samaritan House had been chosen to receive the proceeds of an event her organization was holding. I kept waiting for the cruel punchline because there always seems to be some sort of catch. And there was.

In this instance, the catch was that we would not only receive some money, but we would also be able to go and watch some roller derby. She asked if we were interested.

Seriously? Receiving some much-needed funds AND getting to watch women's roller derby? I was on board before she even finished her sentence. I would also like to invite the entire Valley (and beyond) to come out and watch. All the information is on the flyer but I will reiterate just because this has put me in such a great mood:

Time: Doors open at 6pm and the derby begins at 7pm
Place: Flathead County Fairgrounds
When: Saturday, December 8th
Cost $5

Thank you to Flathead Valley Roller Derby for their kindness. All the proceeds raised from this event will go to Samaritan House and be used to further address the needs of homelessness in Kalispell. We are humbled by this act of generosity and hope to see all of you there!

Friday, November 23, 2012

To all who helped...

Samaritan House would like to thank everyone who helped make the Thanksgiving meals at our shelter possible. So many of you volunteered and we could not have done anything without your contributions and generosity. If you contacted us about volunteering but we had already filled all the slots, then please keep us in mind as we now turn our attention toward Christmas and the holiday season.

There will be many opportunities in a few different areas as we now undertake and shift our focus toward December and the impending new year. If you are interested in helping, please call us at 257-5801 or 257-5284. Again, thank you for everything!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy GivingThanks Day

Thanksgiving needs to be a way of life and not just a special day we circle on the calendar once a year. Its easy for us to get caught up in the event of Thanksgiving, but do we really remember to give thanks? Is it a meal or a lifestyle? Often, we cruise into this day on autopilot; we are captured by the routine and structure of the day to the point that we can strangle the meaning.

Start cooking a day or two before...invite people over and then spend 4 hours trying to get them to leave...watch football... oogle over the parade... fall asleep... wake up and hope everyone is gone.

Now, it's unfair for me categorize this as the total Thanksgiving experience for everyone. I am making assumptions and setting up a huge straw man. My point, however, is that we sometimes unintentionally forget to be thankful because we are consumed by the day rather than the idea. So, I thought I would try to go back in time and remember what it was like to view Thanksgiving as a child. It didn't work so I did the next best thing... I interviewed an eight year old child to get her thoughts on this day.

What do you think about when you hear the word 'Thanksgiving?'
I think about food. I get excited because at school we make crafts. I think about the Pilgrims and the Native Americans and how it was in the olden days.

What does it mean to be thankful?
To be grateful and to be happy you have the stuff you do. Be glad that I have the life that I'm living. I am thankful to be alive and have a wonderful life and to help my dad, mom and brother.

Are we perpetuating a culture that has made a distinction between the Day and the Concept? Even at an early age and with no prompting, this child has already begun to divorce Thanksgiving from Giving Thanks. It doesn't have to be this way. My hope that we can do more to foster a thankful attitude all year. We have so much to be thankful for that we don't need to pay homage for just a 24 hour period. We can do more by embracing more.

So, on behalf of all of us at Samaritan House, have a happy GivingThanks year!

Monday, November 19, 2012

What if the Mayans are Right?

People love controversy and intrigue and nothing goes better with a cup of coffee on Monday morning than a doomsday prediction that excuses us from having to do any Holiday shopping. I'm referring to the idea that the world will end on December 21, 2012, as the Mayan Long Count calendar allegedly predicts some type of catastrophic event for all of humanity. Of course there is a slight problem with this apocalyptic scenario: the Mayans didn't really predict this and much of the hubbub is a result of conspiratists and very poor historical interpretation. Sorry to ruin your day by predicting the world will go on! As much as I can guarantee anything, I have a very good feeling the sun will rise again on December 22 and we will be forced to endure fruitcake and bad sweaters and Johnny Cash's horrible rendition of The Little Drummer Boy.

But, what if the world was ending in just a few short weeks? I was originally going to slant this article to discuss the contributions we make to society. It was going to be the typical Knute Rockne-Tony Robbins motivational blog asking us to look around and take inventory of what we have (and haven't) accomplished. However, upon further review, I think this is a line of thinking I will save for another day. We can examine ourselves later this year but I still want to focus on how we would feel if we knew we had limited days left on this planet.

There would be two main feelings involved with this idea. The first would entail some sort of sadness and possible regret. If life was ending then everything we have worked so hard for would be gone. Our homes and cars and friends and family...adios. So many of us have led great and happy lives and we would be devastated if it all went away. We want life to continue. That's not to say there have been no hardships or difficult times. Everyone experiences those moments when life is not easy and we feel like abandoning hope. But then we collect ourselves and move on. Forward. Endure. Reap the benefits. We wish for life to continue because we see it is worth living.

There are some, though, that do not feel this way. To them, the end of the world would signify a conclusion to pain and suffering. They have no assets to miss or family to mourn for. The calamity has outweighed the beauty and regression has become a way of life. For people in this camp, despair becomes the default setting of every daily activity. Indifference. Numbness. Deal with the consequences.

At Samaritan House we have both types of people. This should be no surprise because we are really a microcosm of the Flathead Valley. Many of our residents plow forward with anticipation of a better future and are receiving the help to reach this goal. But we also have other residents who question the future and their role in it. It would be easier if the world ended because they see no solution or scenario in which things end well. These brothers and sisters are also making a deliberate choice and one that might be braver than the other lot. In spite of their circumstance they are allowing us (and you) to play a role in their story. We offer them dignity and hope because we believe life can improve. Things will get better.

Every donation you make is another dollar that goes not just toward material or financial costs. Yes, you are helping keep the lights on and food on the tables, but it is so much more than that. You are literally saving lives by providing a reason for our residents to move forward and dare to believe. We cannot do this without your help and as the Holiday season approaches, please keep us in mind if you would like to contribute not just in the economic aspect of Samaritan House, but also toward the business of providing hope. Thanks for all you do for us.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

So Now What?

The election is over. No more political ads or phone calls interrupting dinner. I can watch TV without fearing the comericals will devolve into an "I'm rubber, you're glue" prepubescent insult-fest. Samaritan House does not endorse people nor campaign for people. I realize our readers and supporters have all different views and beliefs and we are thankful for each one of them. This blog, however, is not to comment on the election or the results. There are plenty of people weighing in with commentaries and opinions who are far more intelligent than I.

I would rather spend my time allotted with you to inform you that no matter what happened last last night, we all woke up this morning and the homeless issue is just as fresh and pertinent as it was 24 hours ago. Today I choose to make a difference in the lives of people who have no one advocating for them. Today you are reading this blog because you care and want to help. Next  week (November 10-18) is National Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week and I am doing some campaigning of my own. Each day Samaritan House will focus on a particular donation item that we need. Thank you, in advance, for supporting your local homeless shelter. We are located at 124 9th Avenue West in Kalispell. Any and all items are appreciated and receipts for tax deductions are available.

Monday: Food items
- Wild game (must be professionally processed to meat health standards)
- Frozen food (no more than 3 months old)
- Meat and Cheese (fresh or frozen)
- Milk (fresh or frozen)

Tuesday: Items of warmth
- Hand warmers
- Feet warmers
- Socks, scarves, hats
- Metal shoe attachments for walking on ice

Wednesday: Cleaning supplies
- Windex, 409
- Bleach, detergent
- Laundry soap, dish soap
- Disposable gloves (large and medium)

Thursday: Toiletries
- Toilet paper
- Paper towels, paper plates

Friday: Monetary donations
- Any cash donations are very appreciated

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Giving Thanks.

November is synonymous with Thanksgiving for many people. And, depending on a person's beliefs, Thanksgiving is filled with all manner of emotion and reflection. It means certain things to different individuals and no two people really acknowledge it the same way. We have all heard the traditional narrative that depicts the original Thanksgiving in 1607 in Virginia. But here is something you may not have realized:

In America, Thanksgiving was not officially recognized until Abraham Lincoln declared it a national holiday in 1863. Right smack dab in the middle of the War Between the States, when things were not going well and the nation needed a boost because it was being ripped to shreds. It was a calculated event to foster morale and unity in a time when society was being devastated. Until then, Thanksgiving was largely an afterthought of some historic event that happened 256 years prior. I apologize if some euphoric bubbles were burst with this information, but it doesn't demean the day at all. In fact, there now seems to be a little motivation for some personal application that might have been lacking in our own lives. Should we only be thankful when things are going well? I suspect not.

Thanksgiving at Samaritan House is a surreal event because it is shared between people who have much and people who have nothing. Many of our residents are living in the midst of their own private wars and will choose to be thankful in spite of their situations. Without realizing it, they are reflecting the original idea of this day and what it entailed for the entire nation when there was, seemingly, little to be thankful for. It is an internal condition that disallows sorrow and bitterness from uprooting hope and charity. It is not measured by income or which side of Main Street a person calls home. That's if they have even have a home at all.

I know its still a few weeks away but my goal is to remind us that there is one unifying factor that bonds all of us together in spite of economics and religion and politics and unenviable circumstances. The one right we all have is to hope for a better tomorrow. That will mean different things to each person reading this and I won't attempt to qualify what is important and what is trivial; you can make that decision on your own. But I hope you can find a way to rise above your circumstances and not only believe that things can get better, but that you can help them improve for others. Thanksgiving is not just a day to be thankful. It is a proactive event that should inspire us throughout the entire year to realize we are not bound by our circumstances and there is always something we can do to relate to others.