Thanks to all the members of St. James’ Episcopal, Austin, who took food baskets to their work to collect food for our Holiday Food Drive. We collected 15 baskets full of wonderful food for families at St. James’ Episcopal School. Twenty five bags of food were packed and given to families from our school so they could have a Thanksgiving feast. Each family received an HEB card to buy a turkey or ham for their family meal. It will be a happy Thanksgiving for these families this year.
Some members of St. James’ Church asked if we could have a similar food drive for the Christmas season. So we will have baskets in the Narthex again this Sunday and on December 8. We will donate the food to families of our neighbors who attend Neighbor 2 Neighbor on December 17. So please return the basket full of food to church by December 15.
Wayne was born and raised in Austin and attended Lanier High School. He played football and fondly remembers his principal, one of St. James’ own, the late Mr. Ed Elliot. After high school, Wayne enlisted in the Army. For two and a half years, he served his country in an artillery unit. Wayne was injured while on duty and had to leave the Army. He wandered about for a while kind of at loose ends. He experienced a few rough periods, then attempted to start over, but was besieged with health problems. He was diagnosed with high blood pressure, which led to other complications, and finally diabetes.
Wayne is the first to tell you that part of his illness is due to neglecting his own health. Trying to work and take care of his physical needs took its toll on Wayne. His kidneys began failing and he had to start dialysis. That changed his life, says Wayne. But he also says God gave him another chance. That chance is what brought him to Neighbor2Neighbor.
On a Tuesday, months ago, Wayne showed up at St. James’ Neighbor2Neighbor program. He had heard of the program from his friend Denise and eager to be of help, Wayne asked what he could do. He started out helping another volunteer, and when Freddy stopped coming Wayne took over. He comes early and starts filling the food bags. He organizes the shelves and lets us know when we need certain items. Wayne seems to know what the people need. He keeps an eye out for the young mother who might need extra diapers, or for the homeless man who needs easy-to-open cans or packages. He reminds us who received laundry detergent the time before and who could really use it this week.
Wayne’s question is always: “What can I do to help?” When asked about that Wayne says because he was given a second chance, he wants to use his days helping people. On disability and not able to work, Wayne not only volunteers at Neighbor2Neighbor, but at his girlfriend’s mother’s beauty shop and for others in his neighborhood Wayne has been on dialysis three times a week for eight years, but his positive attitude and eagerness to help others greatly inspires many who have so much more.
Welcome Table’s Neighbor 2 Neighbor program provides assistance to members of the east Austin community in the form of HEB gift cards, fresh produce, bread, books, education and much more. Each N2N meeting includes 50-80 neighbors sharing gifts and receiving assistance.
Each received a snack and a chance to win one of about 25 HEB gift cards. Some attendees also took home fresh produce, bread and books to read.
The highlight of the day was listening to a guest speaker who shared the story of his struggle with addiction. Derrick’s eloquence and honesty was a gift to many listeners, in the true spirit of Neighbor 2 Neighbor.
Countless examples of help that flows in many directions can be found each time we meet. Derrick and his mother received an HEB gift card, and Derrick provided selfless help to the other attendees who needed encouragement or support fighting addiction personally or within their families.
Derrick often plays the piano during Neighbor 2 Neighbor sessions as well, sharing yet another gift.
Do you have gifts you’d like to share with this community? Neighbor 2 Neighbor can always use cash to purchase gift cards, or help during N2N sessions. Please contact Diana Bell at [email protected] for more information.
Are you an east Austin resident who needs help? Neighbor 2 Neighbor is here for you.