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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.

  • Senior Star Adult Medical Daycare

    Mentoring, Job Training, and Education
    100 people age 50 and older and 50 people age 21-40
    Ewing, NJ, USA
    Needs: 180 Magazines
    Magazines Requested: culinary skills magazines (30), home magazines (30), computer magazines (30), learning magazines (30), and entertainment magazines (50)

  • CHEFS Homeless Job Training

    Homeless, Job Training
    40 men and women
    San Francisco, CA USA
    Needs: 40 Magazines
    Magazines Requested: Food Network magazine

  • Gerald J. Ryan Outreach Center, Inc

    501(c)(3) Charity
    Wyandanch, NY

    Serving the following number of individuals on a monthly basis:
    550 children ages 0-17
    630 adults ages 18-59
    35 seniors ages 60+

    Magazines Requested: Magazines for a wide age range of readers on topics such as cooking, women’s health, automobiles, teen trends, kids magazines etc.

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