I have spent a great deal of my life—time and money—trying to help others. It’s something that I learned from my wise old grandmother.
When my best friend showed up first day of sixth grade with a beautiful Hawaiian print shirt while I was still wearing “old” clothese from last school year, I asked my wise old grandmother if I could get some new clothes. She said,
No. There’s nothing wrong with the clothes you have.
And she was right.
I always had clothes that were clean and pressed, and if I tore a hole in the knee of my pants from playing basketball, that hole immediately got patched that night.
When the benefits check (Social Security Survivor Benefits/Railroad Survivor Benefits/Air Force Survivor Benefits) arrived the next month, we went downtown to get me a new pair of pants, and the patched ones were donated to Goodwill.
One day when I complained about not having something, she responded with a line that has been with me my whole life:
Quit complaining. There are people in this world who are worse off than you.
And there are. Not only in the world, though, but in my state, my county, my city, even my neighborhood.
That was in 1968, and ever since that date I have been involved in helping people, first through St. Gertrude’s Catholic Church. Then, in 1972, my junior year in high school, I joined Key Club and Student Government. That helped me expand the areas in which I could help.
After high school, I joined Alpha Phi Omega at
Texas A&M University. When I told friends that I had joined Alpha Phi Omega, they thought it was just another fraternity, asking where the fraternity house was and when our next party was scheduled. I had to tell them that Alpha Phi Omega was a national service fraternity, not a social fraternity. They didn’t understand.
My pledge class namesake, Joseph J. Scanlon, came to my activation ceremony from Kansas City, Missouri, where he was the National Executive Director of Alpha Phi Omega. I had the opportunity to talk with him at length during the course of the weekend. He told me there was an easy way to explain the difference between a social and service fraternity: “A social fraternity spends 80% of its time partying and 20% doing service. A service fraternity spends 80% of its time doing service and 20% of its time celebrating its service (i.e., partying).”
After college, I continued as a Sectional Chairman and Regional Alumni Representative for Alpha Phi Omega. Eventually I also got involved with Kiwanis, Knight of Columbus, Lions Clubs, and Rotary. Through those organizations, I made contacts with American Cancer Society, Red Cross, American Heart Association, Muscular Dystrophy Association, and
Big Brothers Big Sisters.
If I had not given all of those organizations so much of my time and money, I might be a billionaire!
When I came to San Diego in April 1993, I continued to volunteer time and donate money to politicians and groups helping closeted GLBTQ people, those living with HIV/AIDS, and abused women & children who were living at safe centers hidden away from their abusers.
In the past decade I got involved with international micro loans at Kiva. However, when Kiva started supporting anti-GLBTQ organizations, I quit supporting them and looked for organizations closer to home that I could support. That was when I found donorschoose.org. I started supporting teachers, especially mathematics, science, and music teachers.
Now that I’m in my retirement years with old-age health issues, I’m donating to myself instead of to other people. As my wise old grandmother said, “If you don’t help yourself first, you won’t be able to help anyone else.”
With the current crime family in the White House, and his enablers in the Congress and Senate, trying desperately to take away my health insurance or, as some of them suggest, simply killing me because I’m gay, I’m looking out for #1, and that’s me.
My other issue with the current crime family is that it and its supporters and enablers are destroying the very fabric of our lives that is needed for the elderly, the sick, the homeless, the hungry. I firmly believe that their goal is to completely destroy government so that their rich friends can create for-profit companies to provide the necessary services. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and her company that specializes in collecting student loans come immediately to mind.
Recently there has been a plethora of memes on Facebook showing pictures of children selling lemonade, hot chocolate, and cookies to pay off student lunch debts. I mean, is there anything more dystopian than little children entering the labor market to make money so that other children can eat? WTF is this world coming to?
WTF is with “student lunch debts” to begin with? Provide money to our schools, to both teachers and students. There should be no “student lunch debt”! Children need to eat. Feed them!
As much as I despise seeing children go hungry, I am not in a financial position to help them while the current criminal family is in control. I have no thoughts & prayers to offer, but I do have time to write letters to representatives—school boards, city councils, mayors, county commissioners, state and federal.
As my wise old grandmother told me, though: “When you write a letter to complain, don’t just complain. That doesn’t help. Offer a solution. It doesn’t have to be an original solution. It can be one from someone else that you agree with.” I shouldn’t have to write these letters.
Where is the compassion, the empathy, the care that once existed in this nation? It seems that too many people don’t care about anything unless they are personally affected by it. For example:
In 1978, I went to the family reunion on my mom’s side, the Mormon side. (For those who lived through the late ’70s, you might remember shortages—gas, aluminum, sugar, coffee, Kleenex & toilet paper. Probably some others that I’m forgetting.) I was 23. My youngest first cousin was 22. He already had 6 children. My oldest cousin had 14 children. I asked my oldest sister (stepsister, actually) how they could justify having so many children with so many shortages. She looked at me ever so sweetly and replied, “Well, we believe that the Lord will always provide for us.” That was the last time I saw or spoke to her.
I believe rich people are the same way except for one important difference: “We believe that our money will always provide for us.” And it probably will. Their children go to private schools, never have to worry about eating (unless they have been bad and are sent to their room without eating), have all the latest and greatest toys, including iPads, iPods, iTunes….
In the Summer of 1993, the San Diego Reader did an expose on high school graduation gifts, mostly talking with rich people. One 18-year-old got a brand new sailboat. Another graduated—barely, with a C average—and was rewarded with a brand new 1993 BMW 760, a $100,000 car at the time. Just for graduating! I guess his parents wanted to get rid of him so they gave him a fast and comfortable car that could take him away quickly. Bye, bye, son! Be sure to write!
So I am not participating in this idea of me privately taking care of the people around me. Quite often I hurt because I’m spent my whole life helping people, but I believe the government should be doing that, and I’m not going to support the government’s message because then it can say, “See! People are supporting people. We don’t need no stinking government!”
If I disagree with how the government is spending the money that I give them through payroll taxes and income tax, then I’ll write my representatives and, if necessary, vote against them in the next election.
If the current crime family wins and succeeds in destroying our government, I might have enough money so that I don’t have to depend on someone else. If the people win and succeed in getting rid of the current crime family and its enablers and supporters, thereby restoring my confidence in having health care, food, electricity, and water (all of which I believe SHOULD NOT be provided by for-profit corporations), then and only then might I resume donating my money to organizations that I support—NPR, orchestras, and libraries come immediately to mind.