Monday, November 27, 2006

Paying It Forward

Last month Oprah gave each of her audience members a thousand dollars and a video camera and the challenge to document an act of kindness toward a stranger. Today was the follow-up show when they shared all the incredible stories of paying it forward. I was working in clinic so I missed it but picked up from the internet that the results were pretty astounding. In one case a pair of sisters parlayed their $2K into $200,000 and gave it to a center for abused women and children. When I saw the show last month I thought about what I would do with a thousand bucks. I thought I would like to find a bit of land (which would be donated, like the garden project at the YWCA) and convert it into an urban garden for Latino families. A hortaliza, or kitchen garden, is ubiquitous in Mexico, even if it is just some pots with peppers and tomatoes on a patio. But here in the States, Latinos are often crowded into small living spaces with even less space for gardening. Ds's abuelita is always telling me how much she misses her extensive gardens of flowers and vegetables. When she talks I can just see the rows of nopales, chayotes, guisantes and more. It pains me to think of her among the anemic tomatoes in the aisles of the local Bi-Lo. So, anyway, that was my thought when I allowed myself to dream a bit.

I learned from the follow-up show that Oprah gave folks only a week to act on the challenge. And I thought, how brilliant. I often get overwhelmed by grand plans and don't follow through. The idea is to keep it simple and do it. So I have given myself a challenge to find a Latina here in my home town and offer some kindness. I thought it best not to involve one of my own patients, but I am going to ask a friend who is an interpreter for another clinic to help me identify someone. I'm looking especially for a single, young woman who is pregnant and all of her family is back in Mexico: someone who is feeling isolated and alone. I have met so many women like this, I don't think she will be hard to find. I'm already planning a pozole (a wonderful, hearty Mexican corn stew) party for December 17 and I want her to meet my wonderful community of friends from Mexico and offer fellowship. I also want to help her with some of the material stuff, even if it's just a gift card to Target and some of my ds's used items. I have a little over 2 weeks to complete this challenge. Let's see what happens.

1 comment:

Shelley Wagner Booth said...

Just had a few minutes to check out your blog. If the garden work still speaks to you, I'd really encourage you to check out the Children First/Emma Family Resource Center. They have a community garden on site and a Latino playgroup. Already students from Emma Elementary, Ukrainian families, and some Latino families use the community garden. And I know the Latino playgroup moms have planted some things as well. So, don't feel overwhelmed like you need to create something new, know that the garden space already exists -- it just needs to be used! There are great community and urban garden resources in town. Through my work with Children First, I can get you in touch with the folks at Emma if you like.