Thursday, March 8, 2012

Convergence: Catholic and Country

Convergence. Big word that, in this case, means amazing the way things came together. Today--International Women's Day--was one of those days. First the Catholic piece.

My Facebook page is fairly active (you're welcome to friend me!). I try to post items that encourage interaction, centered around my nonprofit, HEAR US Inc., or other related  topics. Today I heard from a woman who was a feisty 13-year old when I last saw her. Way back in 1974-75, Cathy sat in the class of 8th graders at a Catholic grade school where I malformed my students, teaching them to think for themselves. Being of English-Irish heritage in a Slovenian school, replacing Sister Dominic Marie who must have taught the grandparents of these kids, I was, um, not appreciated by most parents. I lasted a year there.

My surprise hearing from Cathy was doubled because she brought greetings from an old friend, Elizabeth, who was, and probably still is, a venerable lay leader in the Catholic church where I was quite active from the mid-70s until 1990. Liz and I taught together, conspired (for the good) together, and respected each other as the out-of-the-box thinkers we both tried to be.

Country. Fast forward to this afternoon when I landed in Savannah, hoping to interview parents and unaccompanied youth who are homeless, those "not homeless enough" to be considered really homeless by HUD, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. Persons who've lost housing due to crisis and are staying with friends/family or others, in motels, and/or are bouncing between couches, motels, and other places aren't counted by HUD in their annual census. It's another story, but if you're curious, go to our website, for more info.

Savannah, this vibrant, picturesque community, is also the birthplace of Juliette "Daisy" Gordon Low, founder of the venerable Girl Scouts. My Girl Scout sash, filled with merit badges, was my pride for many of my preteen to teen years. I pugnaciously bought a box of GS cookies this week in honor of the Indiana congressman who ranted about Girl Scouts destroying America, "bent on promoting communism, lesbianism and subverting 'traditional American family values,' according to"

So, convergence. I'm here in Savannah on the 100th birthday weekend of the Girl Scouts. My mission is, as it has been for over 25 years, in some way helping homeless persons. This recent news story outlines my involvement. Mary Ann Lopez, the adept reporter, had asked why I do what I do? How did I get started?

I'd have to give credit, in part, to the Girl Scouts, with their other-focused mission. And my Catholic upbringing, with the Joliet Franciscans working furiously to true-up my moral and spiritual compass as I cantankerously stumbled through my grade school through college education under their influence.

Convergence, Part 2. With much dismay I read my homelessness-theme news headlines tonight as I sit in Tillie, my motorhome/office/vehicle, parked in a social service agency's lot in Savannah. A shelter director in Sacramento, CA had expressed support for abortion rights and gay marriage. Her shelter receives (a piddly amount of) funding from the Sacramento Diocese. Make that received. They are ending their support of Francis House because of her remarks.  

For that very reason I will stick around until Saturday for the centennial events celebrating 100 years of Girl Scouting. I will proudly stand with my non-conformist sisters whose subversive influence has led me to a life of service with the people rejected by money-grubbers and robber barons.

St. Francis and Juliette Daisy Gordon Low would be pleased.