1 September

Mansion Emergencies! This Is My Thing. Afghan Refugees, A Resident Who Needs Clothes, Teddy Bears And Catered Lunches

by Jon Katz

A member of the Army of Good sent us a stack of beautiful stuffed animals to hand out to the Mansion Residents. They were making some art in the dining room this afternoon, and there was much joy when Maria and I handed them out. I felt like Santa Claus in September.

The residents love cuddly stuffed animals to sleep with.

Then, as often happens at the Mansion, things got exciting.  A new resident arrived at the Mansion yesterday, and the aides were deep. I was glad I was there.

Two of them intercepted me before I got into the dining room and told me a new arrival, a  woman, had no clothes at all when she arrived – no spare socks, underwear shoes, pants, shirts, jackets, or slippers.

This is, for me, perhaps the highest level of emergency when it comes to the Mansion. I can’t bear to think of anyone there with no clothes to wear apart from what is on their back and body. Nothing shreds someone’s dignity more than having no clothes.

I went into high but familiar gear. To spare them any embarrassment, I get the clothes as quickly as I can.

I got on the phone and activated my emergency consignment store/thrift store network and offered the woman’s sizes – she is quite small.

I started with Beverly’s Trading Post; Beverly and Kyla sprang into action and said they would have some clothes ready for me in minutes.

An aide rushed to take measurements and text them to me as I headed for the store.

I knew some of the clothes – socks, underwear, slippers – have to be found online; I don’t give people second-hand clothes for their most personal needs. I’ll get more calls from the thrift shops as well.

I passed out the very soft and cuddly stuffed animals and rushed off to collect the clothes. I paid $85 in clothes for the very needy new resident. Tonight I’ll go online and order socks, shoes, underwear, and sweaters. Starting Friday, it’s getting a lot colder.

This woman will have everything she needs by Friday.

As I was returning with the first round of clothes, I learned that another emergency had erupted. Some of the aides had resigned rather than agree to be vaccinated for Covid – 19. This surprised and saddened me, but it is happening everywhere.

Some of the kitchen staff were out sick. Staffing is a crisis for elderly care facilities. Some health care workers are exhausted physically and emotionally and quit; others are tired of being insulted and called names by anti-vaccination people; others simply do not want to be vaccinated.

Kassi was rounding up vaccinated aides and volunteers to help serve dinner. I signed up. I’ll be there at 5, and it will be a great pleasure to help out. Maria has belly dancing and can’t make it to dinner.

I’m re-doubling my efforts in the coming weeks to the Mansion and Bishop Maginn regularly.

The Mansion faces the Delta Variant, and I want to be a regular presence there with Zinnia. Only by being present and known do I learn who needs want. If the residents don’t trust me, they won’t ask for help.

As to Bishop Maginn, they will increasingly likely be receiving Afghan refugee children into the school. This is right up their alley and mine. The school has become highly skilled in acclimating traumatized refugees into American cultural and educational life. They are adept at making them feel safe and well cared for.

The Army of Good has become quite skilled at supporting these children and ensuring they have the proper clothes, school books, and healthy food. The school told immigration officials that they are ready to accept these children. I told the school that we are too.

I’ve also spent some time trying to order a catered lunch for the Mansion next week. It’s been difficult; the restaurants all say they are short-staffed and overwhelmed.

I am looking ahead to an exciting and meaningful autumn.

In the short run, I better get used to helping at dinner time. I get the feeling I’ll be needed.

And I’m looking ahead to bringing food out from the kitchen to the residents and helping clean up. I’ve done this many times; I know where everything goes.

This is what I love to do; this is what I do. Bringing support directly to the people who need it the most. It is better to do good than to argue about what good is. I thank you for your support, which makes mine possible.


  1. I truly hope they’re as happy as they seem in these photos.
    You’re the best Jon. What a huge heart you have.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Email SignupFree Email Signup