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Posts Tagged ‘statistics’

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The cast of A Year of Giving: Patrick Miller, Devon DuPay, Reed Sandridge, Steve Langley. Photo: Timothy Sharpe

It was the fifth and final night of A Year of Giving at the 2012 Fringe Festival. We sold out the day before and had several people trying to get tickets at the door – unfortunately they were turned away.

The performance went very well. I was really happy to that my friend Anthony from Day 67 was in the audience! That being said, the evening was a bit sad in that the show was coming to an end. A lot of hard work, time, energy and heart went into bringing this production to the stage and I am very thankful for all of those who were a part of that.

On this final evening, I gave my $10 to a woman seated near the back of the audience. I picked her because she kept looking straight ahead when I went into the audience…you know the type that is saying, “Please don’t pick me.” I actually like to choose them! Well, instead of me telling you how it happened, I am going to let Dale S. Brown, my $10 recipient that evening, tell you through her words that she so kindly sent to me via email. Here you go.

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Blog post by Reed Sandridge from Washington, DC

50.2 million Americans live in food insecure households, 33 million adults and 17.2 million children.  Feeding America goes on to report that 7.8 percent of seniors living alone were also food insecure. Arkansas, Mississippi and Texas all report more than 17% of their households facing food insecurity. Washington, DC checks in at 12.9%.  Least affected by this challenge is North Dakota that reports only 6.7 percent of households living with food insecurity.

I’ve been fortunate my entire life not to have to worry about where my next meal would come from, but as you can see above, many people in this rich country are not so fortunate.

One of the most impressive models for helping feed those in need is DC Central Kitchen.  Although I had been aware of this organization for several years, it wasn’t until July 27th of last year when I gave $10 to their founder, Robert Egger, that I started to realize how amazing this organization really is.  Check out what Robert did with the $10!  It will blow you away.

Two weeks ago history was made – at least for DC Central Kitchen.  At the DC Convention Center the largest specialty food and beverage show in North America was wrapping up.  Thousands of exhibitors filled the exhibition hall with their mouth-watering offerings.  From Theo Chocolate’s organic, Fair Trade-certified Madagascar sourced chocolate to melt in our mouth Spanish Serrano ham from Fermin, if you like food, welcome to heaven!  When the last attendees get ushered out and booths begin to tear down their displays, there would still be hundreds of thousands of pounds of perfectly good food and beverage products on the show floor.  For a variety of reasons, it’s often difficult for these companies to ship the food back to their warehouse so they simply leave it behind.

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Volunteers pour onto the show floor ready to work! (photo: Reed Sandridge)

That’s where DC Central Kitchen stepped in and seized and opportunity by working out an arrangement where they would pick up unwanted food and turn it into meals for the thousands of households in the DC area who depend on them for nourishment.

They assembled a small benevolent army of about 150 people made up of employees of the kitchen and volunteers like myself.  Our mission was to comb the aisles collecting food that the exhibitors had designated for donation.

It’s a bit of a race against the clock.  Perishable foods must be removed within two hours and then we only had about another six hours to collect the rest of the food and transport it across the titanic show floor while dodging forklifts and workers removing miles of carpet from beneath our feet.  Then we had to load all the food onto pallets and wrap them in cellophane so that they could be loaded onto waiting trucks.  To give you an idea of the chaos, keep in mind that the show floor is 700,000 square feet and has a wingspan that covers six city blocks!  So making a run from one side to the other was no easy task.

One funny moment was when I was looking for some large boxes and heard a gentleman with a distinct Spanish accent saying, “Look at that – I turned a hexagon box into a rectangular one!”

“I know this guy,” I thought.

He handed me a box and then I realized I did know him – well not personally, but it was famed chef and restaurateur José Andrés!  I’ve dined in his restaurants, watched him on TV and even prepared tapas from his cookbook but I had no idea of his newest talent of transforming unusable boxes into perfect containers for our collection.  There was no time to be “star-struck” though and I grabbed the boxes and headed off to collect more food.

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Volunteers packaged 150,000 pounds of donated food!

When the last pallet was wrapped we had collected over 150,000 pounds of food – the largest single food donation that Robert’s organization has ever received!  DC Central Kitchen shared the historic donation with DC Food Bank and other community organizations that help provide meals to area residents in need.

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Some of the 150 volunteers who made it happen. (photo: dccentralkitchen.org)

Although this was an amazing day for DC Central Kitchen, this was not a typical day and the organization needs your support.  They are much more than a kitchen too – they provide training and jobs for the communities unemployed and homeless.  Click here to find out how you can volunteer or support them financially.

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After being unemployed for 285 days, I have a special connection when I give my $10 to someone out of work.  According to data released by the US Department of Labor yesterday, unemployment has risen to 9.8% from 9.6% where it had hovered since August.  That represents 15.1 million people who can not find work.  The good news is that we are slightly better off than we were in 2009 at this time when there was 10% unemployment which accounted for 15.4 million people out of work.

Phiona is one of the 15.1 million people searching for work in this country.  She has been unemployed for five months now.  Back in February I recall that the average duration of unemployment was 7.5 months.  I tried to find what it is at now, but couldn’t find an updated statistic on this.  So if she is an average case it will probably be February before she finds another job assuming the rate has stayed similar.  It’s tough out there.

She wants to do project management work for nonprofits.  In addition to her experience in disaster management and post-conflict reconstruction, she did a fellowship at UCLA and got her master’s degree from the University of Pittsburgh.  She sounds like she is prepared.

Speaking of being prepared…this 28-year-old was certainly prepared when I ran across her talking on her cell phone at the top of the Metro escalators at Dupont Circle.  She had a colorful umbrella next to her and opened that up just as the rain began to pick up – it had been drizzling lightly for a while.

She was quite weary of my intentions at first and asked not to be photographed – even when I offered to photograph her from far away with her face safely hidden behind the umbrella.  That’s just the way it is sometimes.  People are often uncomfortable being photographed, especially if it is going to be uploaded into the cavernous halls of the internet.

Originally from Kenya, Phiona is hoping to go to Africa for the holidays.  When you’re unemployed there is that weird balance of time and money.  When you were working you could afford to travel but didn’t have the time.  Now when you are unemployed you have more time than you could imagine but spending money on travel was always difficult for me.

Anyway, I wanted to share something with you that Phiona said.  We were talking about a variety of different things as the rain fell from the steel-wool colored November sky.  “It’s always somebody else who tells you who you are,” she said.  That’s an interesting comment because it goes along well with a phrase that I particularly like, “perception is reality.”  But is it really true that we are the person that someone else tells us we are ?  I say that we are who we are but we are to others what they tell us we are.  Wow, somebody else could surely phrase that better than I did!  By the way, I don’t think I have ever written a sentence where I used “we are” three times…perhaps I just won a prize or something!

Anyway, she didn’t know what she was going to do with the $10 when we said goodbye but promised to email me and give me an update.  Well, she did just that.  This week I received an email from Phiona letting me know that she bought herself some lunch with $5 of it and gave the rest to a homeless man by the Metro.

Enjoy your weekend!

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Today was a most interesting day!  Rarely do I get really nervous or scared approaching people for my project, however, today was an exception.

I was wandering around the city looking for somebody interesting.  There is a CVS on the corner of 17th and P.  Behind that CVS there is a park, I think it is called Stead Park, but anyway, there is a basketball court there.  As I walked by the court I saw a man wrapped in blankets standing in front of the far basket holding a basketball up toward the sky.  He stood perfectly still.  A few moments passed and he began to shoot one-handed lay-ups into the basket.

I walked over, unlatched the steel door to get into the court and approached the man.  I got about 6 feet away from him before he acknowledged me.  Bob was wrapped in old blankets, torn clothes and slippers that were falling apart.  On his head he wore large earphones, covered in aluminum foil and cloth, and a thin plastic bag (supermarket type) over his head.  If you put some nice clothes on him and pulled his hair back in a pony tail, and slung a guitar over his shoulder, I bet my $10 that he could pass as Willie Nelson.

Bob hides from a helicopter (Photo: Reed S.)

I explained what I was doing and Bob immediately accepted my $10.  I asked where he was from and he said originally Philadelphia.  When I asked him what brought him to DC, he got up in my face and in a slightly agitated tone said, “Well if you don’t know that, then you are pretty stupid.  This doesn’t speak much of your intelligence.”  I was a bit shocked and scared.  I considered just leaving…but I thought I would just be silent for a while and let him talk. 

The silence was awkward.

He started to shoot lay-ups.  He made about 10 in a row and then he looked at me and said, “If I must tell you…DC’s parks and common areas are much better kept than Philadelphia and other areas…it’s the nation’s capital and they want it to look nice and they got federal funds too.” 

He shoots some more baskets…never missing and then quickly approaches me and says, “Well, what else do you want me to answer?”  His quick, jerky movements were keeping me on my guard.  He kept one arm concealed under his blankets most of the time. I thought it was possible that he had something, a weapon, under the blankets.

I asked him how old he was.  At that moment you could hear a helicopter in the distance.

“I hate to interrupt, but I’ve gotta do this.”  He put the basketball up close to his head and hid behind the ball in silence.  He then motioned for me to give him my pen and notebook.  He said, “I really shouldn’t be talking since they are probably listening…I can write it down though.”  I gave him my notebook and pen and he wrote down the age of 66.

The helicopter flies away (for now) and we resume talking.  He tells me that he lives in a subsidized housing complex near Howard University for individuals who suffer from mental illness.  “I hate to be a snob” he says, “but it’s a better neighborhood since it’s surrounded by college kids.  Areas around universities can’t help but be influenced by the desire the students have to learn.”

The helicopter returns and circles above us….Bob goes back to his ritual of raising the ball above his head between him and the helicopter and remains silent.  This happened about 5 times.  I have to admit the helicopter did show an unusual interest in us…hovering almost directly above us several times.

The helicopter temporarily goes away again and we resume talking.  He moves quickly back and forth between me and his cart- which has another basketball and some other random items.

Bob made at least 109 shots in a row (Photo: Reed S.)

Asking him questions was not going well.  I let him talk about what he wanted to talk about.  He told me a half-dozen basketball stats, all which turned out to be correct.  He said, “You know, no NBA basketball player has ever made 100 consecutive foul shots.” He went on to tell me that Calvin Murphy made 78 consecutive points from the foul line.  Then in 1993 he said Mark Price came one shy getting 77.  It was later that year though he explained that Michael Williams reached 97 which still stands today.  He went on to tell me stats about Larry Bird, Reggie Miller, Ray Allen, etc.  I later double checked each statistic he gave me and he was dead on. 

He was also very knowledgeable about the snowfall records.  He mentioned that DC broke the 54.4 inch record that previously stood.  Also he mentioned that Baltimore’s record of 62.5 inches was broken when they got 79.9 inches and Philadelphia broke their previous record of 65.5 inches set in 1996 with a new total of 71.6 inches.  Again I checked all the numbers, and he was right.  Keep in mind he is giving me all these numbers as he shoots  one-handed lay-ups…never missing.

As we were talking, Ron from Day 24 walked by the basketball court with a can of beer. I  waived. 

Bob seemed like he was tired of talking to me so I said my good-bye.  I walked over to where Ron was sitting and chatted with him.  I watched Bob shoot 109 one-handed shots in a row without missing.  Bob actually told me that his own record for consecutive shots with out a miss was 2,900 with his right hand and 2,700 with his left hand.  Ron said he believed it since he was there every day for eight hours or so shooting baskets, never missing.

Would you believe I forgot to ask Bob what he was going to do with the $10?  I will go check on him one day next week and let you know.  Bob was very interesting…but also a little unnerving.  One of my more dynamic recipients.

Later that day I walked by Nikki from Day 66…she was sitting on the ground begging for money south of Dupont Circle.  She said she was doing ok.

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