Monday, May 13, 2013

In Our Mothers’ Names

Each year as part of our Mother’s Day celebration, St. Alban’s parishioners donate bags of food in our mothers’ names. The Monday following Mother’s Day, we deliver these bags to our Tucson neighbors.

Today was the first time I participated in the delivery.

Willow's truck: Part of the 277-bag load
Willow was not available to make the trip, as she’s finishing up her last few hours of high school classes; but she loaned us her big, green truck. She told me there was “plenty of gas” to get from home to the church and then to South Tucson, however, the minute I got behind the wheel and turned down the country music, I noticed the gas needle in the red. 

It was the perfect illustration of the difference between a teenager’s interpretation of “plenty of gas” vs. a mother’s.  So, her truck donation proved to be a perk since I stopped and filled up the tank. (It should get her through the rest of her high school career).

We had a small army of volunteers at the church loading trucks and cars with canned and dry goods. In total we counted 277 bags. Then we paraded from our serene Foothills location, southwest to the Casa Maria Soup Kitchen at 352 E. 25th Street.

Once we arrived, it took less than half the time to unload the bags as it did to load them. We had a lot of help.

Brian Flagg runs the Casa Maria operation, which consists of several small buildings each serving a purpose to help those in need. We literally filled one of the houses with our bags, and this house was across the street from the Señora de Guadalupe y Cocina Gratis. Other members of the Casa Maria staff live nearby, including Flagg, who opens his home to provide showers.

Flagg has a long history of social and community activism. When I shook his hand and looked into his eyes, I was bathed in his kindness and warmth. This is a man who clearly walks-the-walk.

St. Alban's Fr. Bruce with Brian Flagg of Casa Maria
Casa Maria serves 500-650 bag lunches plus soup, and also distributes 250 family bags per day. Flagg says they help to feed at least 1,000 per day. And by the way, he’s been at this for 30 years and pays himself $10/week.

According to the U.S. Border Beat newsletter, Casa Maria Catholic Worker House also provides medical aid and legal services, and offers United States citizenship classes in Spanish.

Willow only has a couple weeks left in Tucson before heading to her future in Wisconsin. She’s got a calendar full of activities leading up to graduation and more party and event invitations than we can count. But now that she’s got a truck full of gas, I hope we can find a few hours one morning to make it back to South Tucson to volunteer our time by the side of Brian Flagg. He said they need volunteers every morning between 8:30-10:00 a.m.

I believe exposing her to this operation would be the most valuable graduation gift I could give her.

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