A historic ride home, and the beginning of my personal journey.

June 25, 2008 § 2 Comments

David Davenport, President & CEO – I have had the opportunity to meet many amazing people across Central Texas since arriving at the Capital Area Food Bank (CAFB) in March. If I have not had the opportunity to visit with you in person, then I am hopeful for that chance in the near future. That said, I will warn you up front – I like to jump right to big issues, complicated challenges and even more complicated solutions. I am not shy about discussing the changing face of hunger in our community, the impact of the rise of energy and food prices and what our Partner Agencies and their clients are experiencing across our 21-county service area. I believe that when it comes to ending the physical and emotional pain of hunger that nothing is impossible; nor should we as members of a community accept that hunger is either inevitable or unsolvable.

That is why I love the gift of history. Over and over again, history teaches us that solutions to great challenges are born from simple acts of humanity that became inspirational acts of courage.

While watching the presumptive major party nominees for president on CNN the other day, I contemplated the often-discussed historical significance of this year’s election. Putting politics aside, I have to admit that I am amazed that one of the candidates owes the opportunity to bring his talents to bear in this campaign to a lady who refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. I recently read the book On the Bus with Rosa Parks by Rita Dove, and among the many items the author shared was a quote by Rosa Parks that I will never forget:

Rosa Parks Courtesy of Flickr“I did not get on the bus to get arrested; I got on the bus to go home.” And, as they say, the rest was history.

I wrote in my first post that I was seeking to share the experience that many families, children and seniors in our community struggle with right now. For far too many the increases in food, fuel and other costs have forced them to seek emergency assistance for the first time. This trend is likely to continue through the summer and into the foreseeable future. I also wanted the opportunity to engage those for whom the challenges of life have just overwhelmed them and now call the streets of our community home. I will share more about these experiences in a later post.

Just to clarify, it is not my intention to compare any action of mine to that amazing act of courage by Rosa Parks. Her act of defiance changed our nation. The lesson I take from Rosa Parks’ comment is that great change can come from something as simple as getting on a bus to go home, and that all of us are challenged to do exactly that.

Lone Star CardFor me, my journey (or bus ride home) began Sunday. To mark the beginning of my second hundred days at CAFB, I have decided to undertake a month long challenge to live on a food budget consistent with the average benefit awarded to a food stamp recipient (three dollars per day). I have much to share already and will do so in later posts. I do wish to add at this point that I acknowledge that many of you are aware of the “Food Stamp Challenge” and other similar activities. Please know that I am not seeking others to participate with me, nor do I seek attention beyond this journal. This is a personal journey and one I hope will inspire and educate me as I continue the important work I do every day. There is much more behind this challenge. I know that the month ahead will be difficult in many ways and for many reasons. I will share more about this as I log my experiences over the next thirty days. I hope you will follow along, join in on the conversation and offer your thoughts.

A few weeks ago, I shared my intention for this challenge with a few members of our staff here at CAFB. You should have seen the looks on their faces. I guess it isn’t easy to tell the boss that he’s crazy, but in a very thoughtful, caring and imaginative way – they did just that. I appreciate their concern. I also wish I had a camera with me because, as the commercial says, that moment was priceless.

Well, here’s to the crazy ones and here’s to those who, through an act as simple as riding the bus home teach themselves and the rest of us that nothing, even a challenge as large and complicated as ending hunger in our community, is impossible.

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§ 2 Responses to A historic ride home, and the beginning of my personal journey.

  • Sam Varela says:

    David,

    I look forward to reading about your experiences during the month, I’m interested in the little things you didn’t consider or those things you would not have considered in your undertaking.

    Best Wishes!

    Sam Varela
    Coordinator
    Texas Department of Agriculture

  • JC Dwyer says:

    David –

    It’s wonderful that you’re willing to put yourself out there with such a symbolic (yet very tangible) act like Rosa Parks.

    It’s also worth noting that Rosa Parks did not act alone. Although she may not have gotten on the bus to get arrested, she did get on the bus to make a very public point (as evidenced by the photo above), and with the assistance of a group of highly organized advocates.

    In fact, I believe another woman originally volunteered for Parks’ spot, but the group decided against her as she was pregnant, and they felt that the pregnancy would muddy the issue (after all, who could deny a pregnant woman her choice of seats?).

    My point is that Parks’ symbolic act of defiance was both highly personal (as your Food Stamps Challenge will be), and highly orchestrated by a group of people who wanted things to change. Movements are not born in a vacuum, but are organized and led by people who care enough to put themselves on the line to make sure their message is heard. Thank you for being one of them.

    -jc

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