The response to Herald photographer Brian Blanco’s “Gallery” photo centerpiece has been the perfect antidote to some of the vicious news this week.
We publish “Gallery” every Monday –- a single image by one of our photographers that captures some poignant local scene or moment. This week, Brian chose a scene from a visit to Our Daily Bread, Bradenton’s soup kitchen for the needy. He knew as soon as he saw this couple and their baby that
their story should be told.
Watching Efrain and Beatriz walk into Our Daily Bread on Thursday morning with their 7-month-old son Manuel, I get the sense that they're not a family accustomed to accepting handouts.
A victim of the struggling real estate market, Efrain, a skilled drywall worker, was in high demand a year ago. Today, he says he's lucky to find work a couple of days a week, and two weeks ago he was forced to resort to bringing his family to the Bradenton soup kitchen for the homeless.
Brian told readers how humble they were, how respectful -– and how thankful that they had a meal to share. And when he explained that Efrain and Beatriz were too proud to share their last names, we knew that had to be respected.
Readers began calling and writing Monday morning, wanting to know how they could help. A Palmetto woman’s note was typical of their reaction:
I read the story on Efrain and Beatriz and their son, Manuel. It brought me to tears. I would like to help them, or others like them, especially over the holiday season. If you could provide me with some way to donate items to them I would be very grateful. I am a mother of 2 children, so this story especially touched my heart.
We directed them to Our Daily Bread (941-745-2992) and thanked them for caring. I talked with director Mary DeLazzer at the kitchen this morning as they were preparing for their big meal today. She was overjoyed by the kind responses -– but Efrain and Beatriz haven’t been back again.
“They are hard-working, very private people,” Mary said. “That photograph showed so many what really, really wonderful people they are. I had one lady come in crying, with the newspaper in her hand… Another family wants to adopt them for Christmas.
“They’ve come into Our Daily Bread before, but when he finds work, they don’t come. They won’t ask for anything.”
So Mary is keeping the envelopes she has received for the family, hoping they do come back to receive the gifts so selflessly given. She couldn’t talk much longer this morning as they were preparing for their lunch -– Our Daily Bread takes care of Thanksgiving Eve, and then the traditional Thanksgiving feast is served Thursday by all the volunteers at The Salvation Army and local churches.
On this Thanksgiving, we thank our readers for showing a little kindness. We thank Mary and the countless other selfless people like her who give so much of their time to help others. And I’m reminded to take a moment along with friends and family, as Brian did in his Gallery, to remember the true meaning of Thanksgiving:
The Salvation Army serves a traditional holiday meal from noon until 2 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. The dinner will take place at the new Salvation Army Center for Worship and Service, 5328 24th St. E (corner of State Road 70 and 24th Street East).