Sunday, September 19, 2010

The face of poverty

The third Saturday of each month I make a trek to the northern fringe of downtown, the location of the Houston Food Bank warehouse. I pick up four boxes of food (non-perishable pantry staples) to deliver to the four clients I serve: senior citizens living in poverty. I started volunteering in 2002. The seniors on my route are very personable and all extremely grateful for the moderate amount of food they receive to help them make it through the month.

Last Friday, I received an email from the nonprofit organization that runs the Food for Seniors program indicating that it may be canceled at the end of the calendar year. So I decided to take my camera along the next day to start creating a little photo diary of the experience. Point in fact, one of my clients had asked me to bring a picture of myself for her, and I thought a picture of us both together might be much sweeter.

The decision making process regarding the tenure of this program at the parent organization is undoubtedly a complex one and I don’t pretend to have access to all the facts. The only thing I know for certain is that the seniors on my route live a truly impoverished existence and they need the supplemental food this program provides.  Whether they get it from this organization, another similar one, or not at all remains to be seen.

I lived in an urban neighborhood for 15 years, only a mile or two away from most of the seniors on my route. But the similarities between our lives ended there. I have never known poverty and it occurs to me that attempting to document this harsh way of life in images is nothing more than pretense. In fact, when I look at these images, they seem pleasant. Perhaps I edited too carefully, selecting out the photos troubling to the eye. Perhaps in the months ahead, time permitting, my camera and my conscience can be more honest.

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3 comments:

  1. What a beautiful lady you are, Diane.

    Both inside and out.

    And I don't know whether it was because of the tender music or the photos themselves (or both),but this slideshow brought tears to my eyes. So yes, my friend...I believe you did capture the essence of what this organization is all about.

    Love and caring.

    I am so sorry to hear about the possibilty of this organization being cancelled. For four years I was a volunteer at an HIV Spiritual Center that offers free alternative therapies to those infected with the HIV virus. They too struggled with getting funds to support their services through grants, donations, etc. And it wasn't easy, but they're still in existence; up and running.

    Sending lots of good energy and prayers your way, that these senors get the supplemental food they need.

    It breaks my heart.

    Thank you for sharing this, and I look forward to more.

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  2. What a wonderful thing to be doing. I hope you can continue to do it for a long long time. Thanks for your vote on the HB room, but you lost ....smiles!

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