Ujima: Collective Work and Responsibility

stock-photo-kwanza-kinara-3Ujima: Collective Work and Responsibility¬†– To build and maintain our community together and make our brothers’ and sisters’ problems our problems, and to solve them together
The Saturday before thanksgiving, I made 20 dozen dinner rolls and the next day took them to a local homeless shelter to serve a pre-thanksgiving dinner to the residents of the evening. While there, my kids made sandwiches and packed lunches for the residents to take with them when they have to leave at 7am the next morning.
On the ride home, my son had lots of question: Where do they go if they can’t stay there all day? What happens in the winter? What if they get hurt? What about the kids?
“So…wait…we come out and fix Thanksgiving dinner…and then go home?”
“Yes, son. That’s what we do.” My answer was inadequate and embarrassing.
“Mom, that’s not enough.”
“We also click ‘like’ and ‘share’ when we read about poor people on Facebook.”
“And that helps how?” He doesn’t even try to hide the bitter sarcasm. He’s 12. Sarcasm is his native language.
“It doesn’t help at all, son. It doesn’t help at all.”


For about a year, my youngest kids and I spent Saturday afternoons sorting fresh produce at a local food pantry. Deliveries came in on Saturday, often in mixed crates and boxes, and sometimes damaged. The food is donated by local grocery stores. We go through and sort and organize and marvel at the variety of food that, were it not for Power Connection, would go to waste. On Mondays, along with other groceries, the fruits and vegetables are set up in the pantry for customers to shop as they need. Depending on the day, a small donation will get you a large bag of frozen meat, all the bread and snacks you can carry, a large bag of fresh produce of your choice, a dessert, and either 2 shopping bags or 2 large boxes of various and sundry groceries including sauces, pasta, cereal, formula, beverages, and sometimes dairy. If you can’t make a donation, you get a bag of groceries anyway.
Power Connection also has a clothing pantry. Works the same way. A small donation lets you fill a bag. If you have no money, you’ll not go without. They also have furniture and other household items. There’s even a toy and baby department (diapers, baby food, wipes, ect.).
Oh yeah…there are also computer classes and forklift classes and even volunteer computer repair.
Staffed completely by volunteers, donations cover rent and insurance. The volunteers lunches are even donated by local businesses.
Power Connection is located in Romeoville, near I-55. The only requirement to shop the pantries is that you be an Illinois resident. Please share this information with anybody who needs it.
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