In these days of political and economic turmoil, do you find yourself being grateful for the simplest things? The things you possibly took for granted even just a year ago? Like, having a home or a job?
Being thankful is a good place to start. If you are fortunate enough to be living through all of this turbulence without huge sacrifices, with your basic needs still fulfilled, I'd ask you to think about moving beyond gratitude into action. You can do it right here in your local community.
Case in point: Last week, Debbie Walusiak of the Self-Help Closet & Pantry of Des Plaines stopped by the library to pick up another book by her newest favorite author, Elin Hilderbrand. Debbie talked with librarian Joanne Griffin about the appeal of Hilderbrand's novels, set on Nantucket Island. She likes that the books are easy to read, entertaining and engaging, but also feature story lines that are usually about troubled relationships or family relations, including characters with secrets and complicated lives. No doubt Debbie enjoys the chance to plunge into the lives of these complex characters because her days and nights are spent taking care of such urgent, basic needs in our own community: the need for people to have adequate food and appropriate clothing. Many of us, with the best of intentions, make donations to organizations like the Self-Help Closet & Pantry at Christmas or other holiday times. Songwriter George Michael referred to our tendency to wear charity like a fancy coat we pull out twice a year. Self-Help Closet & Pantry needs your help all year long. Get a list of needed items. Think about it - if you included the Self-Help Pantry on your grocery list once a month, you could make a worthwhile, long-term contribution with the smallest amount of effort.
Case in point: Woohoo! There's a new restaurant on Lee/Mannheim: Via Roma. It gets better - delicious food, cozy, welcoming ambiance and the prices are unbelievably affordable. I compared my lunch there last Tuesday to lunch at my usual spot. Let's see - the food at both is delicious, but my other place costs me $5 more on average; where I usually go, I have to stand in line to order my food, then wait in another line with a pager until it's ready, I even have to pour my own soda; I leave both feeling full and happy, but full, happy and with more money in my pocket? "Priceless," as the TV ads say. We all want to see downtown Des Plaines thriving and active. If you're fortunate enough to have a job right now, do your part to keep local businesses alive by patronizing places like Via Roma. You'll enjoy every bite and have plenty left in your wallet to support the Self-Help Closet & Pantry! Via Roma, 847-768-7481, is currently only open mornings/afternoons. Proprietors Alessandro Forti (also the chef) and Lisa Leslie will welcome you with authentic Italian cooking and down-to-earth Italian-American hospitality.
Want to stay informed about efforts to revitalize Des Plaines? Then follow the local blog, "Revitalize Des Plaines!" Every time I read the RDP blog, I find out something new. Did you know a Japanese restaurant (yum!) is coming to the site of the former Subway sandwich shop at the corner of Miner and Pearson? I didn't until today and I found out thanks to "Revitalize Des Plaines." RDP is a blog, so you're welcome to leave your comments and concerns there, too, and get in on the conversation. "Revitalize Des Plaines" is a welcome addition to our community and the posted articles provide interesting local history, too. You can also be a fan of RDP on Facebook. Read what RDP has to say about Via Roma and another new DP restaurant, Mehanata.
So get to it! Don't just talk about being grateful for the good things you have - use your gifts to build up this community and the good people living and working here.