Whew! Today has been a busy day, and it's not over!
This morning, Alexis and I went with a neighbor to a presentation on eliminating poverty in Muncie. Diane is on a committee at church that is looking into setting up some ministries to address poverty, and I'd like to get involved. For a number of reasons, poverty is something I care deeply about.
The presentation was fascinating. We got to see the eligibility criteria for food stamps and the numbers for different income brackets. This was pretty interesting. The presenter also had some simulation activities she encouraged us to try at home: budgeting to see if we could live on a food stamp budget, trying life riding the bus around town, visiting social service agencies, etc.
One of the attendees talked about an activity that her agency was doing called OPT dinners. OPT stands for Overcoming Poverty Together. The dinners bring together people who live in poverty and people who don't so that they can meet and begin working together to build skills and opportunities to help people get "off the system." I like the idea. Often there seems to be an "us vs. them" attitude, and poor people are just given handouts and sent on their way or treated like people who need a lot of help and don't really have much to offer the community until they've been taught, helped, etc. In some cases that's true. In others, the poverty might be just plain long-standing, and the person might have quite a bit to offer if given the opportunity and a bit of assistance.
After the seminar, I came home and did some cleaning while Alexis ran an errand. Yesterday, I took the opportunity to rearrange a couple of closets because Dad needed access to the roof. This morning, I still had items out around the living room... Thehall closet is now officially the toy closet, so kids have good access to toys and hopefully an easier time cleaning up. I cleaned off the dining room table, had some lunch, and then headed out again with Diane and Alexis on another outing which had been unplanned yesterday.
The afternoon outing was held on the lawn at the Boys and Girls Club. Anderson is applying for the Weed and Seed program, a decriminalization and revitalization program that has helped quite a few communities around the country. The presentations were very interesting, and it's exciting to hear people talk about revitalizing Anderson and making an effort to make it an appealing place to live and raise a family. I've felt like this is home since I first moved here in 1998, and it makes me very sad to hear the talk about it going downhill. I'm hoping to get a bit involved with this effort and both use it to do a bit of networking and also see what kind of opportunities it could open up for people with disabilities living here.
I got to meet the mayor and the U.S. attorney. That was kind of cool! I was a bit embarrassed because she asked if I lived "in the neighborhood," but I could tell that we had driven quite a way from home so I wasn't really sure how to answer because I wasn't sure what area the program was supposed to cover. It turns out that it covers quite a large section of Anderson.
I'm trying to develop my identity a bit beyond blindness and child care, and it's not very easy. People know me as a child care provider, someone who is supposedly good on computers (because I use the Internet frequently), and someone who is passionate about disabilities (most likely blindness because that's my visible disability). So those are the roles I can easily be fit into. It's hard for me to answer when asked what I'd like to do because my experience is narrow; but I tend to pick up torches easily and would like the opportunity to look for some. I can't really do much with my hurricane passion here in Indiana...
I'm not done with the day yet... Tonight I'm going back to church choir rehearsal... Time to get back to singing...
Oh, I also had a nice, long conversation with an old college friend! Woo hoo! I've missed her, and it's good to be back in touch!