Five hundred sixty-one families received food, clothing, child backpacks, school supplies, a warm meal, compassion, and COVID-19 vaccinations in a setting that gave as much as it did not take away.
By John McKay
What do you do if your world changes all of a sudden? You lose your income. You become ill. Bad things in life prevail over the good. What if you’ve always worked hard but could never make ends meet in one of the most expensive places to live? The gaping chasm between the “haves” and the “have nots” is too much to overcome and you remain a “have not” no matter what you do.
Life can deal you a sudden blow or a life-long challenge in providing for yourself and your family. Either way you may end up in need of assistance from others.
I’ve never experienced it but can you imagine what it’s like needing assistance from others? Knowing you are at the mercy of those you don’t know. Swallowing whole chunks of dignity so those dependent on you can get basic needs satisfied must ache as much as an empty stomach or cold, sockless feet.
Cecelia Ponzini knows how it feels to be dependent on others and now works ceaselessly so others will not just have basic needs met, but do it in a way that allows them to keep something you’d never want taken away, something so fragile and hard to regain — their dignity.
In the nonprofit world of helping others we usually measure success in what has been provided, how many shirts, socks, loaves of bread, toothpaste, etc. have been handed out. So often it’s forgotten that it’s not just about what is being given but also what’s not taken away. Don’t take away self dignity. Don’t take away a sense of security — which sometimes includes anonymity. Don’t take away moments of happiness seeing someone who depends on you smile a little more because you were treated like more than just a statistic.
On Aug. 28, the Edward Boss Prado Foundation hosted its “Fit for Fall” event for 2021. Five hundred sixty-one families received food, clothing, child backpacks, school supplies, a warm meal, compassion, and COVID-19 vaccinations in a setting that gave as much as it did not take away.
Something else I’ve noticed was volunteers helping at events got a sense of doing something in a special way to help others. Volunteering and donating to support this event, and other EBPF events, provided many with a “boots on the ground” feel and developed an empathy not often replicated.
I spoke to some of the volunteers and donors and here’s what I’ve heard:
“I believe Cecelia and Gary Ponzini, and the EBP Board of Directors, should be recognized for always keeping a ‘humanity first’ priority in each program of community service,” said Nick Gaich.
“Cecilia is that person, that example, we share with our children when teaching them about helping others and following their dreams,” said Police Chief Shane Palsgrove. “She has walked in the shoes of others and understands how to support our underserved community while keeping confidentiality, dignity and pride.”
“Cecelia and Gary Ponzini are an inspiration,” said Peggy Martin. “The families they serve are shown respect, dignity, empathy and compassion. What they do touches the heart.”
You cannot ignore the consistency in how volunteers feel after helping at an event like the Fit for Fall event. Not only do the recipients feel grateful but the volunteers do too. That is a success story.
John McKay is a Morgan Hill City Councilmember. He wrote this column for Morgan Hill Life.
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