21 November

Update: The Do-Good Report

by Jon Katz

This has been a busy week good wise, between a therapy dog, the Mansion, winter, Wish Lists, Bishop Maginn  High School and the holidays.

I want to be clear and open and update about what is happening, it’s an awful lot of good, an antidote, I think, given all the nasties running around and polluting our space and disrupting our peace of mind.

I’ll take it in order.

The Bishop Maginn Amazon Christmas Wist was an instant success, it was sold out by morning. This marks our fifth successful Bishop Maginn Wish List, we must be doing something right, we are batting 100 percent.

(Please remember the $10 and $25 gift cards are always there if you’re getting into the do-gooding habit. I start my day that way when I can.)

By keeping small and focused, we are staying within our Capability Zone, small acts of great kindness, carefully and thoughtfully considered. I am grateful for the crumpled $5 bills, they are vitamins for the soul.

Thanks for the bigger ones also, they do much good.

The refugee children (and some teacher’s kids) will get the Christmas presents they want, thanks to you.

Every week somebody asks me why we are not expanding this idea nationally, not putting up gofundme pages,  or setting up a foundation, or not asking for more money to do more things.

It’s a compliment, I think, and I take it that way.

But each week I say no, we are good because we are small. and simple I am stubbornly small. And I will not ruin this work by burning out.

We aren’t looking for miracles, just offering comfort and filling some of the holes in life. I’m keeping things just as they are, and thanks so much. We are doing more than ever and in our own way.

And we have managed some big things. About a dozen endangered or struggling refugee children are attending excellent and safe schools because we have raised money for their tuition.

Bishop Maginn has a computer room, excellent art supplies, a  choir and drama class, a Spanish class, a science room, and some badly needed textbooks thanks to the Army Of Good. For the first time in years, the teachers are not spending their own money on school supplies (at least not that I know of.)

The Mansion has air conditioners, carpets, books, puzzles, a new Van,  big screen TV’s, a solid movie library, art supplies,  blankets, lab robes and all kinds of winter clothing.

Thanks for honoring the spirit of America, your patriotism is inspiring and powerful.

That all feels pretty big to me.

The Mansion Break Room is close to completion, the electricians have come and will put in a baseboard electric heater and some new outlets.

Everything else the Mansion aides need for their break room is in there already. Small fridge, coffee and tea maker, table and four chairs, some art for the walls (including a beautiful fiber painting from Maria).

No more eating lunch in their cars, unless they want to.

Not much room for anything else. I hope to greet them with a burst of flowers when they move in.

Thank you.

Everyone at the Mansion has the clothes they need for winter, although we are learning that a lot of them get lost or forgotten or misplaced.

I’ve ordered five more hats and some gloves. I’m determined that everybody who needs warmer clothes at the Mansion or Bishop Maginn will have them before the real winter descends in about a month. That’s pretty big.

I have tried repeatedly to update the residents’ mailing list, but it’s confusing and complicated for the residents, many of whom have memory or other issues. I think it would be wonderful to send cards just to the Mansion, 11 S. Union Avenue, Cambridge, N.Y., 12816. The staff will put them up on bulletin boards and everyone can see them. Photos and original drawings are welcome, as are holidays cards, or cards for Thanksgiving or Christmas.

Big news: Zinnia has made her debut both at Bishop Maginn and the Mansion, she is a rock star and if I don’t mess it up, she will make a wonderful therapy dog, she is trainable,  calm and unflappable and so far, has loved everyone she has met.

We’ve taken care of Bishop Maginn’s Christmas, but my plan to give each Mansion aide a $50 gift certificate got more expensive because I learned today there are at least four more aides than there were last Christmas, thanks to the new Memory Care Center.

It will cost $900 to give each aide a $50 certificate, I know they need it and will use it well – mostly to buy presents for some of the residents and also for their own children. If I’ve got $600 plus some smaller donations I haven’t tailed, so I’m hoping that $300 more dollars come via p.o. box or Paypal (jon@bedlamfarm.com).

I could give a lower amount, but I’d rather not.

Checks can be sent to Jon Katz, Mansion Aides, P.O.  Box 205, Cambridge, N.Y., 12816.

Bishop Maginn is all set for the holidays, we have a storeroom full of blankets, sweaters, and hats when the need arises. Sue Silverstein says they will go quickly, but not until January.

One aide asked me for help, her son has no winter coat and no boots. They are on the way. The staff asked me to get Mansion Director Kassi a surprise “ball chair,” she has some serious back issues and her doctor says a ball chair will help.

The ergonomic chair cost $69.98 and will arrive at the Mansion by tomorrow at 8 p.m. Merry Christmas, Kassi, you do a lot of wonderfully good work. I admire her for fighting hard for her staff to finally have a break room, and I thank you once again for making it possible.

(Photo: Fate and Hollyanne, the Mansion.)


  1. I think the reason you are so successful is that you have stayed small. If people are asking you to go nationally, suggest that they do something like this in their own home town. That’s what I’ve done. Small acts make such a difference.

    1. You are so right, Jill. Anyone can start a fund and it works so much better on a smaller level. I keep hoping there will be a great surge across the country! There is probably more than we ever get to know about. Hope so.

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