In the spirit of the holiday season, I thank each of you for supporting my work and following the story of hungry people in America. This has been a busy year for me. Without your support, none of it would be possible. However you discovered this blog and whatever keeps you returning, I thank you.
Each new reader who learns something new from the story of hungry people in America and each new reader who finds information about the situation inspires me to continue working . Thank you.
Each person who buys a copy of “I Don’t Hang Out in Churches Anymore” validates the story. Each person who finds the booth at the Mower’s Meadow Flea Market strengthens ripples of abundance and knowledge which are created there. Thank you.
Each person who puts a dime or a dollar or many dollars in the donation jar at the booth supports the effort to feed the hungry in our great nation. Each person’s generosity increases the awareness of the situation. Thank you.
Please continue reading the articles. Your readership allows me to share the awareness, strengthening ripples of abundance even more. Thank you.
The Mower’s Meadow Flea Market closes over the winter and does not open again until May. I seek an indoor market to winter over where I can continue to tell the story of the hungry in America.
Please drop by my booth wherever I am. In the Spring, I hope to offer Reiki sessions, copies of the second edition of “A Healer’s Handbook”, and unique bracelets designed by Michele Garner, the artist who designed the cover of “I Don’t Hang Out in Churches Anymore”.
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It snowed a little bit last Saturday when I was at Mower’s Meadow and more is expected this week. The books and clothing all got a mini dusting of the first snow of the season.
Whenever that happens (the first snow of the season) I always remember one of the first things I learned about the Woodstock community and its residents when I moved here: Labor Day means we pack away our dreams of a summer moon and drag out the brand new boots we were waiting to put on.
And, further into the memory is the afternoons in the pantry when the cold was so cold and Bob Otto and Tony Cannistra about froze to death in the barn. They distributed frozen food to the shoppers from that dirt floored room in the unpainted, uninsulated, unheated building behind the church parking lot.
Even though the pantry couldn’t open until 3:00, Bob and Tony unlocked the barn and got to work at 2:30. “Come on over!” they called to the crowd gathered in the parking lot. “We’ve got chopped meats, cutlets, steaks, roasts, mac and cheese packages, frozen juices.”
2:30 in the parking lot was described by some of the volunteers as a circus. I lovingly thought of it as a bus station in a third world country. And, actually, I thought of it as more than that.
I once spent a couple of hours in an out-of-the-way airport in Venezuela that was overcrowded with hundreds of gold miners who themselves waited for planes. They either waited for planes to get further into the interior of the country to hunt for gold or they waited for planes to return to civilization to sell what they found. Whatever their destination, the place was packed.
But, whether we were all coming or going at the pantry, we were in a hurry, too.
In the pantry, we were always in a hurry. The crowd was always larger than the hallway, the parking lot, and the barn entrance. And, they wanted to get the long wait behind them so they could have a two or three minute shopping spree in the tiny room.
And, after the shopping, they were always in a hurry to get their new found food home because the event had taken all afternoon. For some, it took more than just all afternoon because they got to the pantry late morning. Hitch hikers started out early and, if they got a ride quickly, they were in the parking lot before noon.
My memory always includes a vision of Bob and Tony taking turns to come into the hallway to warm up, whatever that meant. Even though the hallway was crowded, there was just not quite enough body heat generated to call the place cozy…or even cool. The place was cold.
I never said a word about the temperature because I was afraid that if I did the volunteers would walk off. I just went about my business pretending that I wasn’t wearing two sweaters under my coat. Volunteers made statements about the temperature of the hallway as they wore two hats.
“My hands are frozen!” Bob always remarked as he briskly rubbed them together, hoping the friction would get the heat going. Just outside the door to the building, Bob stomped his feet, trying to get some feeling into his cold toes.
Tony was less vocal but just as cold when he got his short break. I always suspected that he had a small hidden flask to help warm himself up. How else could he be so calm about fingers one degree away from frost bite? I never saw any evidence but it was the only excuse I could find for a person in such cold weather conditions.
Because, not only were the two men standing in the cold, they were handling frozen meats, vegetables, fruits, juices. All of it came rock solid frozen from the food bank.
Before the pantry opened, Tony also doubled as the parking lot manager which put him in the middle of the confusion. Just the parking lot was a fulltime toughie job. But, somehow, Tony made the parking lot and the barn distribution look easy.
But, no one complained. Ever. They had gotten a three-day-supply of food a week ago and it was all gone now. They were hungry. They were the struggling poor.
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Woodstock, New York
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It’s OUT! It’s in print! The story has been told! And you can get a copy of the book. Today! Right now! Simply go to thurmangreco.com and order it on paypal.
Or, you can get it at a book signing. I’m reading my book in libraries and church halls and in independent book stores. Check my website to find a time and place convenient for you.
What began as a project, guaranteed to take no more than two hours a month, is a calling. Proceeds of the sale of this book (and the t-shirt) are going to feed the hungry.
The Book and the T-Shirt:
The book and the t-shirts took more than five years of work. I went through reams and reams of paper. Two computers blew up and one copier died of exhaustion.
Get the book, read it, and let me know how you feel about what you read.
And, please share this unbelievably exciting news!
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On weekends, Woodstock is one crowded place. This famous little town has much to offer:
Mowers Meadow Flea Market
Woodstock Artists’ Association Museum
The Woodstock Drum Circle
Assorted festivals, and other weekend events throughout the year help boost the crowd.
Once you hit town, it helps to know where the restrooms are…especially because there aren’t that many and they aren’t that well advertised. And, if it’s a gender neutral restroom you’re looking for, you may be disappointed.
The Sunflower has a restroom located behind the produce department. It’s used by employees, grocery shoppers, residents, and tourists alike. This is one busy place.
There is a public restroom in a cinder block building next to the Chamber of Commerce information stand. This building is located right at the beginning of Rock City Road. On busy days, you may miss it because this is where the famous tie dyed Woodstock T-shirts are sold. The T-shirt display is actually in front of the entrance to the women’s room.
If you’re looking for a restroom during the winter…forget this one. It closes every year after November 30th and doesn’t open again until April 15th.
The Town Hall has a restroom although the location in the building is not that easy to find. It’s there, though.
The Woodstock Free Library has a restroom located just past the children’s area. This is actually a nice one but the library isn’t open everyday.
And, that’s about it. The whole thing can be a bit discouraging if you have bought into the attitude Woodstockers seem to have about being on the cutting edge of every trend and attitude.
Of course, if you are eating at Landau, or Oriole 9, you don’t have to worry. They have facilities for their customers.
But that’s a bit of a challenge for the rest of us. A good thing to do is to buy a cup of coffee and a pastry at Maria’s and use the restroom there. While you’re shopping for your coffee and pastry, you just might catch sight of a local celebrity which will make for a good story when you return home.
Another option is to ask to use the restroom at the CVS. It’s not a public restroom but the employees are sympathetic to your cause and, if the cash register lines aren’t too long, they’ll unlock the private restroom.
Please note: Try to leave it as clean as you found it. If it gets dirty too many times, they may suspend this service.
I’m really hopeful for our future here. Trends in the area are toward gender neutral bathrooms and this is just the kind of thing Woodstockers can understand. Gender neutral bathrooms are turning up in some neat places.The new Honest Weight Food Coop in Albany has a spiffy gender neutral restroom. The Whitney Museum in New York City has a gender neutral restroom also.
Hope springs eternal here. And, actually, we’ve got a better chance at a gender neutral restroom than we have at additional sidewalks.
Thanks for reading this blog post. The story is true and the people are real.
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Photograph donated by Renee Ruwe
Remember now, Woodstock is a small town. It’s the most famous little town in America with probably no more than 10,000 residents and over half of them are here on weekends and holidays only.
Woodstock knows how to do chocolate – this small town in Upstate New York. And, why not? Chocolate is, after all, extremely nutritious. It contains antioxident flavinoids which help ward off high cholesterol, elevated blood pressure, strokes, and heart attacks.
Something everyone in Woodstock knows: no one should go not even 1 day without eating chocolate. That’s why it’s sold all over town.
We begin our tour at Nana’s Creative Cafe, located near the intersection of 212 and 375 – right as you enter town. Nana’s is in the same complex with Venus Adorned, EvolveD, Ed Dempsey Tattoos, and Fringe.
While Nana’s has no candy bars, it does have a bakery specializing in 10 different desserts on any given day. This is a chocolate lover’s dream come true. The choice is difficult here:
gluten free chocolate dipped macaroons
white chocolate tarts
flourless chocolate macadamia nut cookies
gluten free chocolate cookies
chocolate chip cookies
chocolate filled sandwich cookies
oatmeal peanut chocolate chip cookies
flourless chocolate walnut cookies
chocolate cupcake with coconut cream cheese frosting
chocolate hostess cake.
There are other cakes and cookies without chocolate also. You get the picture here. Nana’s is a real sin palace.
Cross the street and walk into the Sunflower. There you’ll find a good supply of chocolate bars…enough to satisfy any need:
Not Your Sugar Mamas
Organic Andy Dandy Candy Bars
Green & Black’s
You’ll also find chocolate ice cream, chocolate chip cookies, and anything else organic and chocolate you can think of here.
Moving back across the street to the CVS, you’ll find a complete selection of chocolates. For starters, Hershey’s Candy Bars are on sale: 12 bars for $7.00. That actually sums it all up. If Hershey’s Candy Bars don’t work for you, CVS sells many other less expensive chocolates to include, for example,
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
If you want to bring a gift to a friend, CVS has gift boxes of
Chocolates are so important at the CVS that they have their own aisle. And, truth be told, chocolate bars, and chocolate candies take up as much shelf space as shampoos. Over in the grocery section of the store, CVS has displays of chocolate covered raisins, cranberries, almonds, etc.
Back across the street again, the Cumberland has its own chocolate candy aisle also. It’s much smaller than the CVS but the Cumberland store is also much smaller than the CVS. Inch for inch, the Cumberland is a great supporter of garden variety chocolate candy.
Up the street to Woodstock Meats, you’ll find a small selection of chocolate candy bars:
They’re more into meat than chocolate. However, the people at Woodstock Meats know that sometimes when a customer is waiting for a sandwich or a few pork chops, life is easier with a chocolate bar to ease stress of the wait.
Next on the tour is Catskill Mountain Pizza which has not one candy bar. But, if it counts for anything, the cafe sports a brand new gelato bar. It’s most popular flavor is chocolate.
Next up the street is Maria’s Bazaar, an important eating establishment and tradition in Woodstock. Maria’s is a watering hole for many famous locals who come to meet and socialize without anyone being the wiser. Not even 1 chocolate bar can be found at Maria’s. Don’t be put off by this. Her restaurant is famous for its chocolate cupcakes, fudge, and cookies. One cookie, her chocolate thumbprint, stands out among the assortment as a chocoholic’s dream come true.
Back across the street again, Bread Alone offers a small selection of Fruition bars in addition to their staples of chocolate cakes, tarts, croissants, and muffins.
Moving along the street about a block is an entire Chocolate Candy Bar store operated by Fruition. In this lovely establishment you can find over a dozen different varieties of Fruition bars. In addition, they have a section of the store devoted to Curated Craft Collection Chocolates. These chocolate bars are very special. You probably won’t see the Curated Craft Collection anywhere else.
About 5 stores farther along the street, the Woodstock Emporium sells much chocolate. Like Maria’s there isn’t a chocolate bar in the place, but there are 4 different flavors of fudge and a generous display of gigantic peanut butter cups.
Go along 2 more storefronts and you’ll come to Taco Juan’s. Again, no candy bars. But, Taco Juan has a perfectly legitimate excuse. Taco Juan sells Jane’s Ice Cream which definitely comes in chocolate. In the summer, crowds form on the sidewalk out front getting their chocolate fix.
Just beyond the bridge, cross back over to Peace Love and Cupcakes where you’ll find special chocolate cupcakes with a very Woodstock flair. They have other flavors, too but the chocolate ones are always popular. Four of the most popular chocolate cupcakes include:
Blood, Sweat, and Tears
Back across the street next to the liquor store is a new delicatessen, Provisions. Again, there are no candy bars but there are house made, sinfully delicious chocolate cakes and cookies. The choice is difficult here in this new establishment open only a few months.
One block farther up the street is Village Apothecary which, though smaller than the other pharmacies carries its share of upscale chocolate bars:
Earth Circle Organics
Lake Champlain Chocolates
This may not be the largest selection of chocolate in town but the quality is superb. That’s how Village Apothecary works.
Moving up the road toward Bearsville, Upstate Films opens daily with excellent movies and the usual picture show snacks…with a twist. The popcorn is made on the premises and, among the movie theater candies is a nice selection of Lucky’s chocolates. You can now go to the movies or the Sunday morning Jam in Woodstock confident in the knowledge that, if you have a sudden yen for chocolate, you won’t go wrong with Lucky’s.
Right at the entrance of Bearsville lies the Cub Market. This tiny island of perfection sells only the best of anything it offers. Produce, cleaning products, baked goods, breads. Whatever it is, it’s the best available. You can buy with confidence at the Cub Market. Does the Cub Market offer chocolate bars? Of Course! Here, you will find:
Green & Black’s.
The Cub Market also has a bakery department with mouth watering cakes.
There’s got to be a moral to this story somewhere. And, here’s my take on it. Woodstockers love the good life. They love good food, good music, good books, anything that is special. That definitely includes chocolate. In Woodstock, chocolate is its own food group.
So, my question is this: Why don’t we have a Chocolate Festival?
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It seems only yesterday that we sent you an appeal for support. We were a band of 4 people who barely knew each other, embarked on an adventure, a quest. None of us mentioned it, not even to each other…but you were our only hope.
We were processing a 501(c)3 to open the Reservoir Food Pantry. And, until it came through, we needed a sponsor willing to share theirs. So, you got the letter, and invited us to lunch at Zen Mountain Monastery so we could meet and make our appeal. We joined you at your table on Sunday, October 27, 2013.
We begged, really, but you never let on. We went away that afternoon energized by your openness, professionalism, interest, concern. Eventually you did what you did and we received the support from your group.
You gave us a raft on which we floated until we got our own 501(c)3 and gained acceptance with the Food Bank of the Hudson Valley.
So, today, as a result of your efforts, there is now a pantry on Route 28 in the Ashokan Reservoir area of Ulster County in New York serving over area households every Monday afternoon at 2 and every Tuesday morning at 9.
The majority of these people are seniors. For the most part, they have worked and lived all their lives in this area. They paid their taxes, raised their children, and contributed to their community. And now, in the 21st century they are finding they don’t have the resources to feed themselves. They constitute the senior citizen faction of the new 21st century Struggling Class.
The pantry volunteers look forward to serving the hungry for many years to come. They’ve had the last year to become a very dedicated and close knit group. The community appears to accept the services offered by these very special people.
IN CONCLUSION: Thank you Konrad Ryushin Marchaj for all you have done for yourself and your fellow man. I saw you change the world around you for the better. That counts for a lot in my book.
I wish you well on your continued journey of spiritual growth. I am proud to have been touched by you. On behalf of all the hungry people volunteers feed weekly, I offer gratitude. It is an honor and a pleasure.
I cannot thank you enough for your trust, your support, and your confidence in our humble venture
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The Woodstock Farm Festival is quite an event. In typical Woodstock fashion, the town wrangled over the market before it finally became a reality. Every improvement in our community seems to take ages before it happens. But, now it’s a tradition and people come from miles around on Wednesday afternoons to shop for fresh produce, baked goods, and listen to the music. They feast on the efforts of:
Black Eyed Susie’s
Clove Valley CSA
Four Winds Farm
Just Good Eats
Lenny Bee Productions
Marilyn’s Roadside Eatery
Oliverea Schoolhouse Maple
Sow Good Bakery
On Wednesday evenings, a heat hovers over the Market. Shoppers, some wearing the least amount of clothing possible in an effort to get comfortable, hurry from booth to booth finding greens, tomatoes, herbs, cheese, baked goods for tomorrow’s meals.
The first full week of August is special for the market because it’s National Farmer’s Market week. Farmers bring together communities and food to offer us all healthy, nutritious, locally grown and raised products.
Music is scheduled every market afternoon in 2 venues: on the main stage and in the market itself. Woodstockers love to shop for fruits, veggies, baked goods and cheeses accompanied by music played by local area musicians.
Just as the Good Neighbor Food Pantry closes, pantry volunteers ignoring the promise of a summer moon scurry around the Migliorelli booth with empty boxes. Quickly, to avoid being seen, they load some of the unsold Migliorelli produce into a vehicle and take it back to the pantry for distribution on Thursday.
What a gift! Migliorelli offers a real boost to the pantry shoppers in the form of delicious, nutritious food. Many of them have absolutely no $$$ at all. Migliorelli feeds the body as well as the soul. This is a real gift for people, many of whom are in the process of losing so much. This gesture means more than the people at Migliorelli Farm will ever know.
When the pantry shoppers receive this special food, they not only get the food they could never buy, they have a connection to their community – this has a spiritual, religious layer, the value of which cannot be calculated.
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Good Luck to us all.