Whenever Red appears in the Mansion hallway, a crowd gathers around him to talk to him, pet him, hold him. Jean, Ellen, Madeline and Alice gathered in a circle around him, they old me about the letters they receive, the dogs they had, they ask all kinds of questions about Red. How old is he? How many pictures do I have of him? Where did he come from? How was he trained to be so sweet? Where does he sleep? How much do I love him? How long will he live?
Often, they ask me the same questions again and again.
I'm starting a new Mansion blog report, regular updates on what I'm doing and what is needed and how your gifts are being received, I want to share as much information with you as I can, to be as open as I can as we continue this wondrous experiment in community and trust, and as our Army Of Good picks up steam.
I want you to know what you are doing with your empathy and generosity. It is wonderful to be associated with so many people whose hearts have not turned to stone.
– This afternoon, I visited a couple living at the Mansion, it was nearly 90 degrees outside, and quite humid.It was extremely warm inside of their rooms. I could see they were uncomfortable, they were spending much of their time on the porch and downstairs, in front of fans. The Mansion is not air-conditioned, it is an old and sprawling old mansion, many Medicaid facilities for the elderly do not have air conditioning.
I went online and ordered a Honeywell 10,000 BTU portable room air conditioner for this couple – they have two connected rooms – it cost $385 plus $27.02 in taxes. It will arrive in a couple of days and I had enough money in my Mansion/Refugee account to pay for it. It will make an enormous difference in the lives of this very sweet couple, they are intensely devoted to one another as they enter this final chapter in their lives together.
And they were suffering in the intense heat.
-The Overbed Table for people who read and draw while in wheelchairs arrived today and Maria and I brought it over to the Mansion. We got it for Jane, who draws constantly, and for the other residents of the Mansion to use while writing letters or working on watercolors. It cost $149 and I had money in the fund to pay for it.
We see many of them struggling to write letters and paint and sketch in their laps, it is awkward and uncomfortable. The table rolls in and out, it is not a part of the wheelchair.
–Rachel Barlow, the very gifted and successful Vermont artist, has agreed to teach water color painting classes to the Mansion residents, they are very interested. I've offered to pay her to teach these classes, I'm not sure yet how much that will cost. She will probably try to refuse the payment, but I will insist. I'm thinking of $25 a class, far less than she would normally be worth.
-I bought a two-year subscription to the Mansion for the Readers Digest Large Print Edition in paper. It cost $24.95, and there is money in the fund to pay for it. Mansion Activity Director Julie Smith says it would be invaluable, there are many puzzles, pieces, facts and stories in this publication, it is very popular with the residents.
– I bought six water color kits for the Activity Room, they cost $114. I chose to pay for those.
-Your mystery books for Connie have arrived, and she says she has enough now for a year. There are several boxes of mysteries waiting for her to read, and some will be distributed among the other residents. They will all be used and read.
Connie's back has spasmed again, she is in much pain again, but it seems treatable and she is working hard to get through it. Your books will be much appreciated, and thanks. She says she has enough.
-There is a large wooden closet in the basement that is now filled with soap, shampoo and body wash. The staff will be talking about this for a very long time, they are shocked and very appreciative. They estimate there is enough of these necessary toiletries to last almost a year. How great, and thank you.
-More than a month ago, we purchased a picnic table and six chairs for several hundred dollars (I don't have the invoice handy) so the residents could picnic and have lunch outdoors. It has been raining almost every day since, but the table made it's debut on July Fourth.
-The Mansion stories have been collected and sent to Abrah Griggs, the artist and illustrator and book designer who is assembling them into both e-book and print forms. I will have some printed up locally and they will be available for sale. The e-book version will be available on Amazon and the print version will be sold either through the Mansion or Battenkill Books, I'm not sure yet. I've provided Abrah with ten of my photographs of the Mansion residents at their story reading. I am paying her $240, she offered to work for less but I'd prefer to pay her what she normally charges and richly deserves.
–Summer the former stray cat is recovering from her spaying last week, thanks to your donations. She is lounging regally around the Mansion office and common rooms while she recovers, Red stepped right over her today and she didn't move. She is staying inside until her stitches come out.
-The Mansion staff is out searching for clothes for the two residents who need them. They could not find what they wanted at Wal-Mart, they are looking at area thrift shops. They have $100 to spend, paid out from the fund.
I think that's all for now. I am looking for holes to fill in the lives of the Mansion residents, keeping it simple, small and as inexpensive as possible. Letters and cards and photos matter, you can send them to The Mansion, 11 S. Union Avenue, Cambridge, N.Y., 12816.
With small and considered steps, we are making a difference in the lives of these good people, often abandoned by the world around them and made invisible to a society that takes all their money.
Many of you are proposing Amazon gift pages, but that is not appropriate here. The updating and maintenance of the page would be a complex process, not for me and not for the Mansion staff. Outsiders couldn't really know what it is needed, and it isn't something I would care to do. This is working. Let's keep it simple and clear.
After all this, I think we have about $700 left in the Mansion/refugee fund, from which these funds are drawn. If you wish to contribute to this fund – I use it for the refugee kids and the Mansion, you can send donations to my post office box, Bedlam Farm P.O. Box 205, Cambridge, N.Y., 12816. You can also send donations through Paypal Friends and Family, my ID is [email protected]
Please mark all checks or donations as going to the Mansion Residents, or the Refugee Children, so I can make sure the money goes where it is needed. We are doing a lot of good, I believe, and it is better to do good than to argue about doing good, or so I believe. P.S. The donation button at the bottom of each blog post is for the maintenance of the blog, it goes to support my blog and my work.
I love having the Mansion residents line up to read me your letters and show me your photos and cards. Today, they were all walking around with feathers, a member of the Army Of Good send everyone beautiful feathers today.