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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.

  • Remsterville Learning Center

    School
    45 preschool students, 45 adult readers with high school education, and 20 teens
    Bridgeton, NJ, USA
    Needs: 100 magazines
    Magazines Requested: Any magazines geared towards parents, children, families, and education.

  • Project Shoe Box

    Foster Care, Care Packages
    40 male and females age 5-18
    Wauwatosa, WI, USA
    Needs: 40 Magazines
    Any Magazines

  • Hale Empowerment and Revitalization Org (HERO)

    501(c)(3) charity
    Greensboro, AL
    Serving the following number of monthly readers by age:
    Young (5 – 8yrs): 50
    Youth (9-13yrs): 20
    Teens (13-19yrs): 50
    Parents (20-45yrs): 50
    Grandparents (45yrs +): 50
    Magazines Requested: Education or travel magazines

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