Friday, October 29, 2010

Make a Difference

Let's just say that you really didn't have much money.  You decided, though, that there were kids in need so you wanted to adopt.  Instead of taking the cute little babies, you asked for the kids that no one else wanted.  You didn't do it just once, but about 20 times - yes, 20!  Pretty impressive, but...
Despite the fact that you are having trouble paying your bills, you go out every day and provide food for the homeless.  As you get to know the people you serve on a daily basis, you start to provide some clothing and other needs.
You would think that you would deserve some kind of award; maybe the key to the city or a street named after you.  You would think, wouldn't you.

Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to meet JoAnn Tyler.  She doesn't have much money.  She has 3 natural born children and 20 adopted children.  The children she took in were the ones that no one else wanted.
One day when sitting in church, the pastor told the congregation that, "Next year, we are going to feed the homeless."  After wondering why they would wait a year to feed hungry people, JoAnn decided to prepare Thanksgiving dinner for six homeless people in a park in Dover, NJ.  What started as a one time thing, providing a Thanksgiving dinner, turned into a daily occurrence as the people she met explained how hungry they were in the evenings.  JoAnn faithfully returned each day to that park in Dover to feed people and has done so since 2003. 
Since she began providing a bowl of soup and a sandwich to the people she refers to not as homeless, but less fortunate, she has not always reaped the accolades one would expect for such a selfless person.  Her husband left her and took the family car.  She has been given thousands of dollars in summonses from the town of Dover.  She has been threatened by town officials, including the Mayor, to be thrown in jail for taking care of people that no one else wants to take care of.

In 2005, JoAnn Tyler's efforts were recognized by the Russ Bernie Foundation.  She received a $50,000 award for her efforts.  When she got the money, she did not take a vacation, which she certainly deserved; she did not go out and buy new clothes, which I'm sure she would have liked; she didn't get a new TV or iPod or computer.  JoAnn Tyler paid her rent and electric bills, which were past due.  She bought a van so that she could continue to serve food each day, and she spent the rest of the money helping others who needed more than she did.  She wrote a check to a single mom with four kids who was about to be evicted.  She took people to Kmart to buy some clothing.  She bought more soup and more sandwiches to feed hungry unfortunate people.
The Woodglen School Student Council has decided to help JoAnn Tyler "make a difference" for over 60 homeless people living in Dover.  She will be handing out coats on November 13 in JFK Park - the same place she goes each day to feed hungry people.  We have begun collecting coats, socks, flashlights, batteries and other necessities.  The collection runs through November 11.  Please considering helping us to "make a difference" as we help expand the good works of JoAnn Tyler.

If you'd like to help, please check out our Student Council flyer that provides specific needs. 


Anonymous said...

Wow! What a heart-touching story. Unfortunately, that is how the world is. Not always, but a lot of times. They don't feel anything for people in bad circumstances until it touches their home. This woman is to be commended for being so selfless and courageous to do this pretty much on her own. She should have those tickets dismissed. I wish there was a non profit organization she could partner with that could help her help more people.

Michael Rubright said...

Many of her tickets were dismissed when she found a lawyer who would represent her. She hasn't been ticketed in a while, since now she just has picnics in the park. Town officials still threaten to cite her for numerous violations.
The best thing I heard was when a town official said that their number one concern was the safe storage of food - not that there were hungry homeless people - just the safe storage of food.
If the homeless ate out of a dumpster, there would be no problems with the town. Incredible.