Brian Keaney

Tag: food pantry

Bourgeoisie oblige

A couple weeks ago I attended the Dedham Food Pantry’s annual Volunteer Appreciation Night.  I felt a little awkward being there and would not have walked in the door had I not been expressly invited.  My Food Pantry volunteering is limited to co-hosting a telethon for the cause once a year, while most of the others at the party spend far more of their time, treasure, and talent on this worthy enterprise.

A woman I know socially told me the reason she volunteered at the Pantry on the regular was that it makes her “feel so good inside.”  While I’m sure she didn’t mean to, she instigated a period of self reflection for me.  I might not give a lot of hours to the Food Pantry, but I would like to think that I put my fair share of time into serving my community, broadly defined.

I knew then and now that I don’t do it because it makes me feel good, but I had to give some serious thought about why I am out four or five or six nights a week at various events and meetings and causes.  The best answer I could come up with is that it is because I can, and since I can I should.

Some of the time I spend, quite honestly, is selfish.  The organization I spend the most time volunteering for gives me something back that is, to me, far more valuable than any warm and fuzzy.  I get to relive a bit of my youth, or at least taste it again for a couple hours.  A few times a month I find myself on one of several college campuses where my position – and, truth be told, my personality today – makes me cooler than I ever was when I was a student.  I’m proud of the work I do there, but it would be dishonest to say I don’t get anything back from it.

The others, however, are not for fame or glory, or for a chance to drink from the fountain of youth that vanishes like a mirage every time I leave campus.  I do it because it is a categorical imperative for me.  My primary moral imperative, perhaps.  For example, because I believe that every kid deserves a Christmas, I will spend more than I can comfortably afford to help make it a reality.  Though I own a home (It may be said that I’m the the lord of my castle, the sovereign, the liege) I have not yet moved into, I will still give up a Saturday morning to work on someone else’s who needs the help more than I do.


Though I have not subjects, servants, children, nor wife, I agree with Mr. Banks that noblesse oblige.  I may not be a poor widow either, but it if it is expeted of her then it must be expected of me as well.  Bourgeoisie oblige.



I’ve got a face made for radio

Tonight was the second annual Holiday Harvest Telethon at Dedham Public Television to benefit the Food Pantry.   It was a great time, and there were quite a few good acts performing.  My favorite were the Irish step dancers, with a very close second being Dedham High’s own Diverse Motions.  They performed a hip hop dance routine, and I was quite proud to have them as the single act I booked for the show.  Those five guys are quite talented.

I also had a bigger role to play than I thought I would.  When I get there around 6 it was just to help out behind the scenes and do whatever was necessary.  At 6:50, only 10 minutes until we were live on the air, one of the on air personalities called in to say he wouldn’t be able to make it.  Justin Cowley, DPTV’s producer extraordinaire, was all in a fluster and asked if I could fill in.  I thought there were more talented (and certainly better looking) candidates available, but they all took a pass.  The show must go on, as they say, and so I agreed to jump in.

I interviewed the 4 selectmen present, asking such hard hitting questions as “What do you want Santa to bring you this year,” and “Your wife really let you out of the house wearing that tie?”  I was even requested by the firefighter and police officer to interview them on air and accept their donation checks.  I didn’t look at the amounts on the checks, but officer Ron Pucci assured me that the police gave more.

By far my favorite was talking with Jack and Eric of Jack and Eric’s Pirate Lemonade.  These kids set up a lemonade stand at the farmers market in Dedham Square this summer and raised nearly $300 for the Food Pantry.  I was a little worried as sometimes kids can clam up in situations like this, but both were plenty talkative for me.  Must be the ease at which I put those I am interviewing.

The final tally at the end of the night was over $17,000, and I hope a few  more checks roll in as people watch the repeats in the days and weeks to come.   Last year more than $20,000 was raised when all was said and done, and that accounts for more than 50% of the Food Pantry’s budget for the year.  They are seeing more need than ever before, and there’s no better time to donate.

After the telethon a group of us went out for a couple of drinks, and it turns out that a couple of us speak a little American Sign Language.  While we were talking this video came up, and I thought it was good enough that deserved sharing here.

I really wish I could speak more ASL.  Actually, I’d be happy just to remember most of the little I once knew.  For now I am going to have to be satisfied remembering dirty words and trying to pick up more from Miley Cyris songs.