BACH for the holidays …. and beyond

Volunteer Wanda Brown helps get ready for the Breakfast at Cathedral of Hope on Chirstmas Eve

I have been out of the office, on vacation, since Dec. 22, and when I got back to work today and started wading through the thousands of emails in my inbox, I found one from Hank Henley, asking if we could include some information in Dallas Voice about BACH, the weekly Breakfast At Cathedral of Hope program in which church volunteers prepare and serve breakfast to the homeless.

So I am including Hank’s write-up about BACH’s Christmas Eve event here on Instant Tea, just as he sent it to me:

Use the words “Bach” and “cathedral” in a sentence this time of year, and most people will picture the “Christmas Cantata” or “Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring.” But at a certain church in Dallas, BACH stands for “Breakfast at the Cathedral of Hope,” a program that just celebrated its four-year anniversary in November. On Christmas Eve morning, while most of Dallas was nestled all snug in their beds, a small army of volunteers was in the kitchen at the Cathedral of Hope whipping up a hot and hearty breakfast for the homeless and needy that would be coming through their doors by 7:30 a.m. Under the direction of Rev. William Baldridge, Associate Pastor for Community Outreach, this weekly breakfast has grown from serving just 11 guests at the first meal to an average of 200 guests each Saturday morning.

And guests they are: receiving a hot meal served on china plates and with silverware and glasses. The guests may also receive a haircut after they eat, if they so chose.

This week, in addition to the usual food and drink, each guest received a bag with a blanket, hat, gloves, toiletries, water and food coupons. The gift bags were the result of the generous work of Jan Okerlund and Leslie Frye.

Leslie Frye, one of the volunteer coordinators, when asked how the volunteers feel about the work they do, said, “The real blessing is in the cooking for and serving those less fortunate, not only during this Season, but all year long.”

This Saturday’s volunteers included members of the church community of the Cathedral of Hope, members of the Turtle Creek Chorale and a group of 14 students from “I-CERV,” the “Ismaili Community Engaged in Responsible Volunteering.” They are here once a month, all year long. Kenneth Campbell, the Interfaith Services Director Volunteer Coordinator of the Memnosyne Foundation, brought these energetic and focused youth.

The Memnosyne Foundation is a wonderful organization whose mission is “to help a diverse people of the world consciously encourage an evolution of themselves and for future generations by providing the means to encourage positive, peaceful global collaboration.” The diverse crowd of leaders, volunteers and guests were certainly doing that on this morning.

And one guest, who guest shared his story quietly and privately with tears streaming down his face, personifies the spirit of sharing and giving. This time last year, he was on the street, living under a bridge and depending on the generosity of others to survive. He told me he could always count on a hot meal and being treated with respect when he came to BACH. This year, he is able to draw social security and is donating $25 a month to BACH. “They always fed me and helped me get through. Now I want to give back whatever I can. God blessed me and it’s what I want to do.”

Across the room, his hands deep in a bucket of soapy water, volunteer Jamie Rawson, spent the morning scraping plates and glasses, getting them ready for the dishwashers.

“There a few things a person can do which so clearly put Christmastime in perspective as doing something to help others. It is has been said so often as to become a cliché — but it is no less true for being a cliché. It is heart-warming to see so many people gathered to help provide for those in need. It is especially affirming to see so many young people from such a diversity of backgrounds. This has been the most fitting and rewarding way to truly start my Christmas.”

When the guests were finished with breakfast, finished visiting with friends and volunteers, finished with their haircut, and picked up their bag of supplies for warmth and comfort, they left the cathedral and headed back into the rain and the street.

As they left, Richard Boule greeted each of them and wished them a Merry Christmas.

“As I watched those people leaving the Cathedral after breakfast this morning, I could not help wondering where they were going and what each one of them had to look forward to this Christmas time. But I had the feeling that they were grateful for the humanity they were shown, so many left with a smile. May they be blessed.”

If you would like to help with BACH, please call Rev. Baldridge at the Cathedral of Hope at 214-351-1901.

You can see more photos from the Christmas Eve Breakfast at Cathedral of Hope after the jump.

—  admin

PET OF THE WEEK: Abbey

Abbey is a pretty 2 ½-year-old German Shepherd/Lab mix who was rescued from a city shelter and taken to Camp Wolfgang, a sanctuary for dogs. Unfortunately, Camp Wolfgang was closed down when the owner and founder died. All the remaining dogs had to be relocated. Abbey shared a run with another dog who has now been adopted, so we know that she gets along with other dogs. Abbey has had a hard life, and she is looking to meet a family to call her own.

Many other great dogs and cats are available for adoption from Operation Kindness, located at 3201 Earhart Drive, one street south of Keller Springs and 2 blocks west of Midway Road, in Carrollton. The no-kill shelter is open 6 days a week: Monday, 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.; closed Tuesday; Wednesday, 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.; Thursday, noon to 8 p.m.; Friday, noon to 5 p.m.; Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. The cost is $110 for cats, $135 for kittens, $150 dogs over 1 year, and $175 for puppies. The adoption cost includes the spay/neuter surgery, microchipping, vaccinations, heartworm test for dogs, leukemia and FIV test for cats, and more. Those who adopt two pets at the same time receive a $20 discount. For more information, call 972-418-PAWS, or visit www.operationkindness.org.

—  John Wright

Perfect match

Bob Nunn and Tom Harrover have been a couple for 4 decades. But it wasn’t until a near tragedy that they realized they were truly meant for each other

LIFE GOES ON | Nunn, right, and Harrover stand before a project commissioned for the convention center hotel. Four years ago, Nunn was near death because of kidney disease. (Rich Lopez/Dallas Voice)

RICH LOPEZ  | Staff Writer
lopez@dallasvoice.com

Bob Nunn agrees with the adage that the longer a couple lives together, the more they begin to look alike. Nunn and his partner Tom Harrover might not look that similar on the outside, but they match in a way that few couples do.

Let’s start with some history.

The two have that classic meet-cute that began on the wrong note. As Nunn tells it, Harrover was the dullest person he’d ever met —the two just didn’t like each other. Then, following a spontaneous invitation to a midnight movie, they ended up hitting it off. That movie led to conversation and then dating.

Forty-two years later, they still watch movies — as Nunn puts it, “I couldn’t get rid of him.”

A job in Houston took Nunn away from Harrover for three months, but old-fashioned letter writing kept the newbie relationship afloat.

“Tom had been writing me letters. He’s a very good writer,” Bob boasts. “He basically proposed to me by letter.”

They committed to each other, moving in and pursuing their careers: Harrover in architecture and Nunn teaching art. For 37 years, they lived in “a fabulous house” in Hollywood Heights. Life was good.

Then their life took a sharp turn.

“When we got together, Tom knew I had a kidney disease,” Nunn says. “Nothing was really a problem until about 30 years after we met — my kidneys began to fail and I had to start dialysis.”

Nunn registered with Baylor for the national organ donor list, but the experience was frustrating:  They received little response or encouragement from the hospital.

“Bob was on a downhill slide and the frustration with Baylor seemed like they were stonewalling us,” Harrover says. “We talked about going to Asia even. It felt like they didn’t want to deal with a senior-age gay couple.”

A LITTLE DAB’LL DO YOU | Bob Nunn is officially retired from teaching art, but continues to paint.

Then Harrover suggested something novel: He could donate his kidney to the organ list, with the idea that Nunn could get a healthy one.  Sort of a kidney exchange.

In desperation, they went back to their physician, who enrolled them in St. Paul Hospital’s then-new program for kidney transplant. The experience was a complete turnaround. Nunn was tested and processed immediately while Harrover prepped for his organ donation to an anonymous recipient.

Kidney transplants require a seven-point match system; a minimum of three matches is necessary for the recipient to be able to accept the organ into the body.

The tests revealed that Harrover’s kidney matched Nunn’s on all seven points.

“We assumed I would donate mine for use elsewhere,” Harrover says. “It never occurred to me that we’d be a match. The odds for that are off the charts.”

“See what happens when you live together for so long?” he chuckles.

Just six months after entering St. Paul’s program in 2007, they were on the operating table. They were the first direct living donor pair in the program. “It was all fairly miraculous,” Nunn understates.

Four years later, both men are doing well. Although officially retired, they both continue to work: Harrover does the occasional contract job while Nunn is currently on commission for an art project at the new convention center hotel. Outside of any official work, each interjects their quips about home, life be it cooking together or working on the lawn.

The obvious question for them might be “What’s the secret?” But they don’t see it just that way. Their relationship boils down to the obvious virtues of trust, respect and compromise.

“Selfishness doesn’t rear its ugly head in this relationship,” Harrover says. “You just have to be willing to accommodate, support and encourage what the other is interested in.”

Nunn agrees. “I would not be doing what I’m doing without his support.”

Nunn says if there is a secret, it’s akin to the dynamic on a playground: Like each other and share. If you don’t share your whole life, there isn’t a relationship, he says. At this point, Harrover says it would be impossible to separate. On paper, they are so intertwined with their house and financials, he jokes they are “Siamese twins.”

They’ve witnessed a lot in their decades together, including something they never expected to come to pass in their lifetimes: Same-sex marriage. Coming from a time when just being gay conflicted with moral codes set by their jobs, they wonder over the progress made in recent years. (They were officially married in Boston in October 2009.)

“I’m confident that it will happen for everyone,” Harrover says. “I’m sorry that it’s moving at a glacial pace, but it has that same inevitability as a glacier. We’ll get there.”

But nothing compares to the bond Harrover and Nunn already have, a shared intimacy few couples could imagine. Same-sex marriage was merely unlikely; what they have experienced is miraculous.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition July 29, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

Massachusetts hate group angry at teachers who shared coming out experiences

crossposted on Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters

From that “bastion of Christian fairness,” the American Family Association's One News Now, comes this item:

A pro-family group is outraged that a high school in Massachusetts allowed an event on campus at which seven teachers spoke about how they “came out” as homosexuals.

Brian Camenker, president of MassResistance!, tells OneNewsNow a concerned mother first alerted his group of the panel discussion that took place at Concord-Carlisle High School in late October during which seven teachers shared their “coming out” stories and encouraged the reported standing-only audience to do the same.

“They also said that if kids want to discuss their homosexual issues, that their parents will not be informed of anything — that it's completely private,” Camenker reports. “And this was one of the things that really bothered this mother, that…if kids are involved with a dangerous and deadly behavior, the school isn't even going to tell their parents that it's going on.”

The entire tone of the article, of which Camenker is the only source by the way, gives an impression of innocent students being “indoctrinated” by a supposed gay agenda.

Of course the truth of the panel discussion is slightly different than Camenker would have us to believe. From the Massachusetts publication The Carlisle Mosquito comes a more detailed version of the panel discussion:

Acknowledging recent national reports of the high-risk for suicide among gay teens, a panel of seven teachers agreed to come forward and talk about their personal experiences at a meeting held at the Concord-Carlisle high school (CCHS) on Friday, October 21. The gathering in the Little Theatre was standing room only. The event was hosted by Spectrum, the gay-straight alliance organization at the school.

Spectrum, with about 12 members of all sexual orientations, meets weekly at the high school on Wednesday afternoons. The teens discuss current events and questions about sexual orientation, gender identity and being an ally. The group was founded in 1992, as a response to Governor William Weld’s Safe Schools initiative aimed at helping lesbian, gay and bi-sexual teens. Spectrum has sponsored film viewings, health-week programs and special events – such as this panel discussion – at the high school. Adult sponsors of the group include guidance counselor Kelli Kirstein and social studies teacher Ben Kendall – well known for his humor and who identified himself at the meeting as “mostly straight.”
The seven speakers included special educator Amelie Atwater-Rhodes, science teacher Brian Miller, English teacher John Woodnal, English teacher Shelley Hull, health and fitness educator Nancy Slocum, physics teacher Kevin Pennucci and math teacher Peter Atlas. Kendall introduced the panel, and said that they were seated from youngest to oldest. He noted that the panel members had agreed to share their personal stories about coming out as gay or lesbian to emphasize that their lives improved as a result. He limited each participant to five minutes, but the speakers – encouraged by applause from the audience after each individual talk – continued on for much longer. The event stretched to an hour and a half before the gathering broke up for pizza.

 

The bottom line is whereas Camenker (and One News Now) tries to push the inane notion that homosexuality was “marketed” to students by teachers, the truth of the matter is that these teachers, alarmed about the recent suicides amongst lgbt youth, decided to not only come out but also share their personal stories as a way of telling lgbt youth that (forgive me for saying something that has become a cliche, albeit a positive one) that “it will get better.”
These teachers should be commended.
Camenker, on the other hand, should be looked at warily. And everything he says should be taken with the smallest grain of salt. You see, Camenker's group, Mass Resistance, is one of 14 official hate groups named so by the Southern Poverty Law Center.
According to the SPLC, these groups do not simply speak against homosexuality.
(They) have engaged in the crudest type of name-calling, describing homosexuals as “perverts” with “filthy habits” who seek to snatch the children of straight parents and “convert” them to gay sex. They have disseminated disparaging “facts” about gays that are simply untrue — assertions that are remarkably reminiscent of the way white intellectuals and scientists once wrote about the “bestial” black man and his supposedly threatening sexuality.

In the case of Camenker and Mass Resistance, this includes:

Manufacturing a phony panic about “schools teaching children about homosexuality,”

Claiming in 2005 on Comedy Central's Daily Show that if given time, he would be able to connect gay marriage in Massachusetts to the “reduction” of the quality of life in the state, a spike in homelessness rates, or and a lowering the quality of the air in the state, or

Making a claim in 2006 that “gays were trying to get legislation passed to allow sex with animals” in Massachusetts.

Continuing a vindictive campaign of misinformation against the transgendered community (whom the organization refers to as “men in dresses) .

Most recently, the organization was key in manufacturing inaccurate claims about Obama appointee Kevin Jennings in an attempt to get him dismissed. The watchdog site Media Matters published a list of the lies Camenker and Mass Resistance spread about Jennings.

In one post, Media Matters goes on to say:

  . . .conservative commentator Dean Barnett has stated that the organization “verges on being a hate group.” Camenker himself reportedly denied that gays and lesbians were targeted during the Holocaust and has compared the gay rights movement to the Nazis.

If I were a parent, I wouldn't have any problem with my child attending that panel discussion with the lgbt teachers. But I wouldn't let my child get anywhere near Camenker. I wouldn't want that hatred to rub off.

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  admin