Somehow the past week has gone flying by and my daily habit of writing a post stopped. The reasons or excuses are many, but the main reason I stopped writing was that I started sleeping all through the night, sometimes from 9 pm to 6 am! I have always written at night since my surgery, so now I have to change my schedule around to allow for creativity during the day that is usually noisy and chaotic.
It’s been a little over a week since I helped with the Grace and Mercy Homeless Ministries, and my mind has been whirling with ideas about how we can help the Phoenix Valley with their ever growing population of people who have “fallen off the grid”, the ones I wrote about in my last post. The experience last week seemed to open my eyes to the greater problems that people face in Phoenix and everywhere I have gone, every person I have met has somehow shown me more issues and yet more opportunities.
I have become the “community relations” liaison and “event planner” at Cardinale Way Mazda, and have met so many kind people. A young pastor trying to find a space for his growing congregation. People who are buying cars who are Christian and just want someone to talk to. A young woman in the radio media business who knows so many people in the community that have the desire and resources to help our community. And lastly, a couple of older gentleman that love their Miata’s so much that they want to have a car show to display their beautiful cars that have been around for 25 years, and are such great cars that Mazda has only had three overall body changes. A brand new 2016 Miata is exactly the same car that was first made in 2006, the date of the last model change (thank you Leo for teaching me about the uniqueness of Miata’s). So I planned a customer and employee appreciation day for this coming Friday, June 26 and we also planned a car show for July 26. We are sending out invitations to thousands of people to join us for music, food and an opportunity to give back to their community. We plan on having monthly parties at the “Way” every weekend, in hopes of bringing our neighbors together for fun, food and fellowship and hope to sell a lot of great cars during our parties.
With these events in still simmering in my mind, I had dinner at a small place near my new house called Birt’s Bistro. Not only was the food wonderful and inexpensive, there was free music from a band called “One Heart”. You can imagine my surprise when I found out that 80% of the food proceeds go back to the community center where the bistro is located. Not only that, but the musicians that play there on Wednesday, Fridays and Saturdays for 90 minutes, donate their time and play only for tips in hopes of attracting guests to this wonderful restaurant. One Heart is a trio of folks my age, that simply love music and giving back to their community. Their talent is way beyond what you would hear in a lounge show in Vegas or on a cruise ship, and yet they choose to stay connected to their neighborhood, only playing in nearby venues. Katherine, of One Heart is coming by the dealership to see how we can set them up to play at our Customer & Employee Appreciation Day this coming Friday, June 19. They also are going to play at the Miata Car Show event a month from now.
So what’s the big deal about all of this? Birt’s is located in the Benevilla Family Resource Center that provides services for the elderly, including education classes on nutrition and fitness, in-home services, Meals on Wheels, and restorative therapy. But it does not end there. They offer programs for our veterans, including six adult day centers WITH transportation, grocery shopping and home delivered meals to keep them nourished and well-taken care of, these veterans who gave of themselves and now need our help. Benevilla also provides pre-school programs for under privileged children and assists in applications for health insurance, food and nutrition, cash assistance and document preparation. They have programs such as parent workshops, play groups, grandparents raising grandchildren support programs, a lending library, school readiness kits and many community events.
This is exactly the type of community outreach program that needs to be developed near our homeless shelters in Phoenix, where the folks who live there are “car-less” and unable to find a job and therefore can’t leave the shelter. If a community center was built nearby, work opportunities would be available in so many ways. Someone could manage their library of $1 used books, which are contributed by the sponsors who support this effort. Someone could work in the gift store, where all the item are all gently used, but were loved items of joy now being given away to someone in need. People could help prepare the food that’s served in the bistro, serve and clean up afterwards. Others could play music, or have jam sessions. The best part is that it would bring in others from around the Phoenix Valley who would donate, support and enjoy this type of community center right down in the central part of Phoenix. The above is a perfect description of Benevilla, where Birt’s Bistro works hard to fill people’s soul’s with great food and music, one meal at a time.
Benevilla was formed to be a community outreach program and by cultivating a caring community of neighbors helping neighbors, Benevilla is able to provide extensive support through a variety of programs for older adults, adults and children with disabilities, and the caregivers and families who care for them. They are 100% supported from individuals, congregations, service clubs and corporations and by the loving hearts and hands of nearly 1,000 volunteers.
What a wonderful contrast to what I saw just a week ago in downtown Phoenix. I challenge all of you to look into your communities and see what type of programs should be developed to help get people out of the shelters who truly want to be productive and live a normal life in a community where neighbors help each other. We must find ways to eliminate the need for transportation and build these types of community outreach programs near the large shelters in a city and ask them to work in a collaborative way to strengthen our communities. These folks that have lost their way along their journey, still have a lot to contribute to society and need someone to love them and help them. Starting today, look deep into your heart and find a small way to help. Find a “Birt’s Bistro” in your community and enjoy dinner and music while giving generously to this wonderful type of outreach program.