The Arnold House
It is now October of 2018 and we are almost 2 months into our second leg of the project. We are going to Texas via Maryland, North Carolina, Tennessee, Missouri, Kansas and Oklahoma and any other state along the way that we can find a story. We left New York on August 30th and headed to Maryland, the first destination on this next phase of our project. While trying to avoid some of the major highways, we managed to hit just about all of them. We got lost at least twice and then argued about how to get unlost each time. We were graced with a beautiful sunset that cooled our tempers, but a trip that would usually take 5 and a half hours, took us 9.
Twenty minutes from our destination, I see lightning off to the west and feel a few rain drops with eight miles still to go. We are on a backroad now so I don’t know in which direction it will lead us, into the storm or away. I’m guessing about our gas at this point, hoping to make it there and before the rain. Halfway through New Jersey the speedometer and odometer failed. I run Apps so I can track our ride and check my speed but the odometer is also how I’ve been tracking fuel as the fuel indicator hasn’t worked in months. We had Dolly serviced the day before we left so I’m hoping that it is just a loose cable.
In the darkness, tired and saddle sore we pull into the driveway and the garage of Stella’s nephew, dry and just ahead of the storm. Never has a garage been so welcoming. It means after this long trip we only have to take the video equipment and our clothes, we can leave the rest of the gear on the bike. We don’t even have to worry about covering it. The rain begins minutes after we are inside, we are grateful for the timing.
After a day of rest I inspect the bike. The Odometer is not the only casualty, we lost a bracket for my windshield and the mount that holds the 360 camera in front of Stella broke. At least these are all minor things, nothing that will prohibit us from our journey. Stella finds a solution for the windshield; a rubberized wire tie that keeps it in place and I find a new mount for the 360.
Our friend Susanne always says “be grateful for unexpected blessings”. We experience this while calling to see if we can get the bike fixed on Labor Day Weekend no less. I call a Ural dealer in Maryland, actually the only Ural dealer in Maryland, the nearest other options are over 200 miles further away. We are told that we would have to leave the bike for several days while it is diagnosed and then for the parts to be ordered. We explain what we are doing and don’t have the time or budget to wait that amount of time. He says that we should continue on our trip, while inconvenient the odometer/speedometer will not damage the bike or keep it from getting us where we want to go.
He also says that he has a story for us, he knows a guy in South Carolina that trains ex-cons to become plumbers, so they can have a means of employment, and he also helps find them housing. If it wasn’t for the “problems” we wouldn’t have contacted that dealer and we would never have gotten that lead. We have learned to appreciate every experience; the way we in which receive them determines their impact and each represents an opportunity to meet our next story or to receive message in the maelstrom.
In Maryland, our niece Crystal, introduced us to a couple who created a program that feeds people with food donated by local markets. They distribute the donations as they receive them stopping first at the warehouse to sort and organize the supplies.
They load up the truck and then drive to communities in need and deliver fresh produce, meat and dry goods. It is a Saturday and we meet Clarence when he is picking up donations from a local supermarket, we follow him to the warehouse. Arline, his wife and co-founder, directs him and a volunteer where to put the donated food. The pantry is actually closed today, but a woman comes asking for more information, they welcome her as a dear friend and they make sure that she is well supplied when she leaves.
Their organization is called “The Arnold House” and was created by Clarence and Arline Arnold to feed those less fortunate themselves. It began out of their home and has now expanded to a warehouse space where they are able to offer a food pantry. On Wednesdays, they do a hot meal at the local church and on Thursdays they do a backpack program so that children will have food over the weekend.
They deliver rain or shine, in the heat or the cold every weekend. We experienced their dedication first hand as we spent the day following Clarence and ‘Duke’ in the pouring rain as they made their rounds.
They drove to several locations knocking on doors to distribute the goods. Some food is close to the expiration date but most of it just doesn’t look good to consumers. The amount of food that is discarded because it isn’t uniform or is blemished is staggering.
As Clearance says, “…no one wants the tomato that doesn’t look perfect but nature doesn’t make a perfect tomato…”
They recently received accreditation from the Food Bank of Maryland so they will expand their scope and impact in the community. We were only able to see a small bit of their operation as they are busy every day of the week. Clarence works a full time job yet finds time to collect and distribute the donations each weekend.
Clarence and Arline also care for their granddaughter, Saniyah, who suffers from a kidney disease and already has had a transplant by the age of 7. They’ve had some difficult times when they had to drive up to the hospital in Delaware in the middle of the night. “The Arnold House” still managed to dispense food despite personal challenges and lack of resources, sometimes from their own shelves. They are undeterred from assisting those in need.
How many of us have judged others because of their imperfections without even taking the time to know them or their struggles. We need to see more with our hearts and less with our eyes as Clarence and Arlene have. As they put it; “Isn’t this what we all are supposed to do?”
Yes, but how many of us do so? They are beacons of light to their community and we were privileged to meet them, share their story and be touched by their grace.
If you would like to know more or donate to their effort, click on this link The Arnold House.