179th Week Update – Miles Neighborhood Food Collection Projectby Peter Norback on Jun. 12, 2012, under Life
Maria Maes, the 17-year-old high school senior who runs the Catalina Vista Neighborhood One Can A Week program is taken aback when Jeanette Mare presents her with a Ben’s Bell in a surprise ceremony at the Rincon Market Saturday.
Maria Maes and Jeanette Mare, co-founder along with her husband Dean, of the Ben’s Bell Project enjoy the moment after all of the emotions come back down to earth.
Maria Maes mentioned a couple of time early in her One Can A Week endeavor that her friends were going to chip in and help her collect food in the Catalina Vista Neighborhood. It never came to pass and weighed a bit on her mind but she still pressed forward on her own. Patricia, her mother, saw the concern after so many months of going it alone. It was not a fun lesson for Maria to learn about people and friends in particular.
A month ago, Patricia called and asked me to recommend Maria for a Ben’s Bell. She said Maria really likes Ben’s Bells and what they represented, “a more gentle life.” (During the photo session at the ceremony Maria told Jeanette that she had found at least five Ben’s Bells as she walked on different toe paths around the city.)
I thought Patricia had a great idea and a wonderful way to reward the courage of conviction. The Ben’s Bell Project web site made it easy to submit my recommendation. Here’s what I wrote:
In May, 2011 Maria Maes contacted me because she wanted to start her own One Can A Week Community Food Bank donation program in her Catalina Vista Neighborhood. We met officially at her neighborhood’s annual picnic and I was impressed with her demeanor and confidence. Maria is bright and unusually focused for a sophomore in high school. She asked meaningful questions and quickly understood the answers. I especially liked how she took charge of the situation. She stepped in moments after someone walked up to our display table. Most were older folks and confronted me first. After a sentence or two, Maria politely interjected and told them who she was and that she was starting One Can A Week soon.
It has been one year and she has not missed one Sunday’s food collection except for holidays. This is some accomplishment for a 17-year-old high school student.
Many of Maria’s friends said they would help, but to date none have stepped forward which surprises and concerns Maria. None the less, she still proceeds on her own feeding the hungry weekly. Visit OneCanAWeek.blogspot.com and search Maria for her full story.
Thank you for your consideration.
Two weeks ago Jeanette called to give me the exciting news. Maria deserved a Ben’s Bell for her commitment to neighborhood community service.
The story of Ben’s Bells
Jeanette and Dean lost their three-year-old boy Ben to a sudden illness. “On the first anniversary of his death, hundreds of Ben’s Bells were distributed throughout Tucson, hung randomly in trees, on bike paths, and in parks with a written message to simply take one home and pass on the kindness.” The whole amazing project is “in memory of our beautiful boy,” they write on their web site. Visit BensBells.org to read the full story and learn about the important work they are doing.
Neighbors Moving On
A number of folks have left our neighborhood in the past few months. Fortunately, the new neighbors are just as eager to participate in One Can A Week. This keeps our donation numbers up a bit and smiles on the volunteers’ faces.
Also, Busy Bee’s Bakery contacted us to pick up their food donations every Saturday. Not having any trouble finding a volunteer to make that run.
Cake is the Busy Bee’s specialty so stop by and see them when you are in the area. 6781 N. Thornydale Ste, 229 (520) 531-1011 firstname.lastname@example.org
We collected a total of 198 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $30.50, a $25.00 check and $5.50 in cash.
See you Sunday,