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The Humble Humanity of Connecting with a Stranger

by John Mennell

Today, on the way to a coffee shop, I met a man sitting pressed into the corner of a stoop asking for spare change. I said I’d get him some on the way back and had already decided to add some fruit to it. Walking back from the store, I saw a man who I thought was him – now standing a couple blocks away – but I wasn’t sure. That’s a problem alone in the way it dehumanized this man in the sense of a knowing relationship and together being part of a neighborhood and community. Worse, the thought running through my mind was that, by moving from the stoop, he was “confusing me.” I am seeking ways to make our literacy work more direct and more personal by inviting the people I meet anywhere and everywhere to participate. I gave him my card and while walking away I heard him say thank you “John.” He has already acted the better part of our relationship. Tomorrow, I will ask him his name.

  • Wave City Care: Shine Program

    501(c)(3) charity
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Serving: Girls in from grades 5th through 12th
    Needs: 50 magazines per month, year round
    Magazines Requested: Girls teen, Career, National Geographic, Fashion, Home, Family, Women, Seventeen, Redbook, Teen Vogue, Self, Good Housekeeping, Home Journal, Ellle, Homes & Garden

  • Literacy Volunteers of Maricopa County

    501(c)(3) Charity
    40 individuals per month of both genders age 16 and older. Some children are immigrants
    Phoenix, AZ, USA
    Needs: 40 per month
    Magazines requested: any and all magazines.

  • Crittenton Women’s Union

    501(c)(3) Charity
    Boston, MA
    Serving Mothers from age 19-40 and children from infant to 5 years old. Most of the children are between 1 and 2.5 years of age.
    Needs: New or recycled magazines for 58 mother and 52 children.
    Magazines Requested: Magazines appropriate for children and toddlers. Magazines about nature, fashion, beauty, exercise. African American specific and Latina specific magazines. Any general women’s interest magazines.

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