Thursday, November 20, 2008

Charity Begins at Home

Cathleen McFarlane Ross is one of my favorite people and she comes off well in my book. I was with her three days in a row this week. First night was a dinner at the Lord’s Place, the extraordinary institution for the homeless in West Palm. I’m a volunteer there. I work one day a week at CafĂ© Joshua serving meals and talking to clients. There are about a hundred volunteers and only one other volunteer from Palm Beach. Cathleen founded the Lord’s Place Auxiliary and for years was hands on for the homeless and hungry. Diana Stanley, the Lord’s Place director, is not happy at the direction the auxiliary has taken, and there is a devastating account of it in Madness Under the Royal Palms. This evening was a dinner party in which the new chef and his staff at Joshua's Cafe, most of them formerly homeless, tried out their culinary thing on potential donors. It was a wonderful evening. The next evening Cathleen was honored at an event at St. Anne’s Catholic Church where the nuns have their own program for the homeless. Cathleen was with them from the beginning and the room was full of charitable Catholics.

And then today there was a luncheon at Club Colette for another of Cathleen’s major charities, for feral cats. It was interminable, tedious speech after tedious speech. I’m thinking there are 4,000 homeless across the waterway and we’re wringing our hands about feral cats. It costs about $65 apparently to neuter a feral cat. Food on the island for these cats runs around $2,000 a month. The budget to take care of these cats is several hundred thousand dollars a year.

One woman got up and said that she owns 18,000 acres in the Adirondacks and she would be glad to fly some of the cats up to her land in her jet. I just don’t think these people get where we’re heading in America and how they’ve got to make some tough choices. Cathleen is one of the few socially prominent people on the island who cares about issues of poverty and homelessness. The Lord's Place is very outrĂ© but with new efforts and the devastating increase of homelessness in the county perhaps that will change.

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