In Honor of 4th of July Family Picnics & BBQ’s

One aspect of the administration’s executive order on the travel ban against nationals from certain countries merits special 4th of July attention, viz. what is a bona fide family relationship?

After the recent Supreme Court decision[1], the administration issued guidelines that interpreted a bona fide (real) family relationship to include parents, children and siblings. They left out grandparents, grandchildren, uncles, aunts and cousins. They also initially excluded fiancées, but then subsequently included them. By that action alone, the administration demonstrated that there is discretion in the interpretation of a bona fide family relationship.

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More Than a Random Act of Kindness – A Deliberate Deed of Human Solidarity

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need examples of goodness and light to strengthen me.  In my journeys I see too much darkness. I suspect you do too.  Let me share one deliberate deed of human solidarity which I am blessed to know, and for which I give thanks this Thanksgiving 2013.

I know a family – a talented professional hectic single mom, Denise, and her 10-year-old daughter, Tiffany.  Through a lot of hard work by Denise, a little luck and circumstances they are pretty comfortable.  They live in a very nice large house, too large – by their own admission.  Tiffany is in private school with all the extracurricular accoutrements that have become de rigueur.  Maybe they’re not 1% er’s, but closer to that end of the spectrum than the other.

About three months ago, Denise learned of a family who had fallen on sad and difficult times.  Another single mother, Juana and her three daughters, Maria 9, Isabella, 11, and Diana, 13, suddenly found themselves without a husband, father and breadwinner.  He died unexpectedly of a serious illness. This widowed mother used to care for the family while her husband worked to support them.  She had few marketable skills. Now the family could no longer afford their home.

Denise immediately felt the instinct to help. Her Plan A was to provide money so the family could rent another apartment and get back on their feet. But Denise quickly realized this apartment would have put the girls in a very mediocre school district.

Then she came up with Plan B.  Denise invited them to live rent free with her and Tiffany in their too-big house in a basement apartment.  This apartment was better, and more important, located in a superior school district where Juana’s three girls could enroll.

Denise did not stop there.  She and Tiffany shared their own “extras”- clothes and blankets – that became the “basics” for Juana, Maria, Isabella and Diana. She helped Juana find part-time work.  Even more, Denise and Tiffany allowed Juana and her daughters to share their lives.

Not surprising, yet key, every step of the way Denise tries to make sure the help she gives is not condescending.  Instead it is genuine, respectful and empowering

Let me add some icing onto this true story (names changed).  I regularly communicate professionally and personally with Denise, yet I learned about this by accident.  In a recent conversation, as an aside, Denise mentioned Juana’s name. So I asked who Juana was.  Only then did Denise tell me – with no great drama, expecting no applause.  She began, “Oh, I have this family living with me…”

Not a random act of kindness, rather this is a deliberate deed of human solidarity.  Here is an individual, human and Christian, who takes seriously Jesus’ message and example that love requires sacrifice and giving of one’s self.  I give thanks for Denise this Thanksgiving 2013.  I’m hoping and praying her example will encourage (or guilt) me into giving more, and better.  Maybe you will be inspired as well.  Happy and Blessed Thanksgiving!

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