Saturday Heart: There But For Fortune…

In another of my continuing diaries about working with the poor and homeless at MEND, I’ll tell you the story of how I  had the privilege to get to know one of my fellow volunteers a bit better yesterday.

Her name is Maria and I call her Small, but mighty.  She’s kind of short, maybe five feet tall, but she works like a bull.  She’s strong and she has an amazing desire to learn new skills and new ideas.

She and I were working on a project for the coming 4th Annual Mending Poverty Conference (, putting together gift/information bags that we will distrubute to the people who will be attending.  She told me she was very frustrated that she wasn’t learning more and quicker how to use the computer.  She’s taking a once a week class, but said the teacher isn’t very good.  I offered to help her with some things and we made a date to meet after work to do so. 

When we took a break to share some tacos, she told me how, when growing up in Mexico, her mother took her out of school in first grade to care for her infant and younger brothers.  I was amazed and asked why her mother did that.  She told me that she grew up in a family with ten children and that her mother had to run the little grocery store — more of a stand, really –  they owned.  Her father had left Mexico to come to the US so that he could make money to send home to his family.  Her mother had a lot on her plate.

Before the end of our lunch, Maria got a call from one of her brothers telling her that they had just rushed their mother to the hospital.  A little while later, she got another call saying that it didn’t  look at all well for her mother.  She cried.  I held her and packed up the leftovers so that she could give her daughter an afterschool snack as the two would drive out to the desert, Lancaster, so be with her family.

Now I know why Maria has such a fierce appetite for knowledge.  And, I know that I’ve led a very privileged and blessed life.

I’ll be keeping Maria and her family in my thoughts this weekend, and I’ll be looking forward to sitting down with her at the computer next week, or when she can.

Keep the faith, friends.  And, let’s keep lifting each other up.

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