Kathleen Stephan, PR-B Family Center Volunteer
Helen Keller once said, "Alone we can do so little. Together we can do much." Initiated by Chefs Brian and Kristy from Trout Lake Camp, a small group met to explore the option of providing a weekly free community supper in both Backus and Pine River. Simon Whitehead, Cass County health and nutrition educator, spearheaded the group, which grew to 18 individuals in a short time.
This morning, eight deer were lined up on my driveway with a couple others in the yard and a group of 30 turkeys hanging close by on the edge of the woods. This is what happens when you start to feed a couple skinny-looking deer. They are waiting for the breakfast bell to ring. It is a familiar conversation in the spring - people sharing how many deer they are feeding or turkeys they see roaming through. They brag proudly about how many pounds of feed they go through to help these helpless, struggling critters.
Among our favorite resolutions each new year is volunteering our time to help people. Although this is a very altruistic goal and, frankly, needed, it is so hard for busy young families to find the time to commit. In our world today, it is necessary for both parents to work and our student activities and social engagements leave us scrambling to do the minimum. The goal of showing our children how to "give back" and practice good citizenship has taken a back seat in our rush to put 48 hours of obligations into 24 hours a day.
As the year closes, the Pine River-Backus Family Center becomes reflective on what the world around us looks like. Have we progressed or regressed? With our programming, did we make a difference in 2018, and what are our goals in 2019? New challenges await us while the challenges introduced in 2018 are still before us. The depth and extent of the impact of the opioid crisis in our communities is still being dissected while frameworks are being built to do the prevention work under Richie's leadership.
Memories of holiday meals gathered with family and friends are very uplifting. Can you imagine not being able to celebrate Thanksgiving or Christmas with all the traditional dishes? These occasions are a special time for sharing blessings and making memories that last forever. But what happens if you can't afford to purchase the meal? How do you explain to children why you need to skip the meal this year?
Winters can be a harsh time here in God's country. We spend our energy trying to keep warm, navigating icy roads and trying to schedule our lives around approaching snowstorms. Add to these job layoffs, family emergencies and health issues and life gets even more complicated. Putting a hot meal on the table becomes harder for families struggling financially.
Do your kohlrabi have a chance to make it from your garden to your house? Ours are eaten right in their row. Are your tomatoes producing in bushels instead of one or two here and there? Everyone says their apples are plentiful this year. I don't think I've tasted a cob of corn that wasn't excellent this year. We are really fortunate to live in an agricultural area. When I was a kid, Mom would buy bushels of tomatoes or apples and put them on the back porch for our snacking. Processed foods like canned meals or boxed dinners were not in our budget.
I lived in an apartment complex in Detroit where I never knew one neighbor. When I tried to talk with people I would run into around the complex, they would look at me as if I was mentally challenged. After a few more stops along the way, I finally ended up in the PR-B community. Do you know how fortunate you are to live in a place where people look you in the eye and greet you? People here care about each other and the community.
The New Year's song "Auld Lang Syne" title translates to a long, long ago meaning for the sake of old times. Lyrics include "Take a cup of kindness friend" and end with "And there's a hand my trust friend, And give me a hand of thine, And we'll take a right good-will draught, For Auld Lang Syne." Considering Robert Burns wrote this in 1788, it is a little hard to translate. Did they really talk like this?
Have you ever had one of those conversations - like the game telephone - when you start with one subject and end on an entirely different subject? We started with hammock, went to how we've slept camping, to how soldiers used to sleep, to questioning how Army soldiers now sleep and then to online research. Although we did not find an answer to our question, we did find a list of the Army's six recommendations for a more restful night. No. 4 struck me as applicable to everyday life as well. It states: "Get comfortable with being uncomfortable."