"The Universal Language of Kindness"
One of the things Ansel liked about
community outreach was the way it
gave him a chance to help people
when it wasn't an emergency.
Justin, who served on the BASH team,
also liked to volunteer for quieter duties.
Today the two of them were taking
the police community outreach minibus
to the thrift store to pick up care packages
and deliver them to homeless or needy people.
Justin was a butter-smooth driver, so Ansel
relaxed in the copilot seat and listened to
Justin chatter about his wife Celia and
their baby on the way. It had been a bit
touch-and-go early on, but in the middle of
the pregnancy things were settling down.
At the thrift store, Ansel's friend Jasper
organized teams of volunteers to move
the boxes of supplies into the minibus,
packing them around the seats.
"It's good to see you," Jasper said.
"Say, did I leave a coat at your place?"
"Yes, and it's already found a new home,"
Ansel said, grinning at him.
"Awesome," Jasper said.
Knitty Gents had sent four men today,
of whom Huxley and Broderick helped
load things while Abe sat in his wheelchair,
kept company by Ludo who was still trying
to figure out how knitting actually worked.
Their contributions consisted of boxes
of gloves, socks, hats, and scarves
knitted from wool or cotton.
Open Hearts Women's Charity had
packed vinyl zipper bags, each with
bandaids, chapstick, vitamins, tissues,
tampons, hand warmers, space blankets,
emergency food bars, a $20 cash card,
and flyers for free services in town.
Amaryllis sat in front of her husband Abe,
declaring that she'd done enough unloading
the goods from their van that morning.
Yani, Neema, and Miggy worked together,
tucking bags and boxes wherever they fit.
When they finished packing, Jasper
patted the back of the minibus and said,
"Off you go, folks. Drive carefully."
Everyone was excited and happy,
proud of their contributions to the project.
Ansel read off the planned route
as Justin drove, and they stopped
every other block or so, allowing folks
to get out and distribute the goods.
When they found homeless people
or other panhandlers, they handed off
the care packages directly, along with
smiles and words of encouragement.
More often, they worked from lists
of families in need and hung the bags
from doorknobs or mailboxes.
This kind of work provided many benefits
for people on all sides of the equation.
It helped people see the police in a positive light,
tightened bonds between police and community
as people got to know each other better, raised
police awareness of citizens in difficult straits
who might need help, let the charities borrow
the minibus for big dropoffs so they didn't need
one of their own, and just in case anything
went wrong, someone was there to handle it.
Abe took one of the boxes into
the Veterans' Administration for
them to distribute as needed with
a fond, "Thank you for your service."
Ludo dropped off a batch at
the PFLAG office, because
all too often queer youth had
to flee home with nothing but
the clothes on their backs.
Yani and Neema delivered
some to the women's shelter
and the ethnic relations office.
While the rest of the team scattered up
and down the row of townhouses, Ansel and
Justin each carried a box into the hospital
to send home with whomever needed the help.
On the way out, Ansel waited patiently
because Justin always had to stop
to smell the flowers in the gift shop and
scoop a few mints from the candy dish.
"Find anything interesting?" Ansel asked
when Justin came back out of the shop.
"Freesias and gardenias," Justin said.
"You know, you're the only person
other than Celia who ever says that."
"What do people usually say?" Ansel asked
as they walked back to the parking lot.
"Hurry up," Justin reported.
Ansel frowned. People should be
more considerate than that. So what if
Justin liked to stop and smell the roses?
He was still a terrific cop.
Within a few hours, they had covered
a sizable portion of Bluehill and
distributed most of the goods.
"That boy of yours got a scarf yet?"
Abe asked Ansel as they pulled in
at the thrift store to offload everyone.
"Not that I know of," Ansel said. "He has
a coat, hat, gloves, and mittens so far."
"Then give him this from me," Abe said,
handing over a handsome scarf knitted
in solid and striped squares so that it
changed slowly from blue to green.
"Thank you," Ansel said. "Turq has
had a pretty rough time. I just hope
we're doing some real good today."
Abe leaned over and patted Ansel
on the knee. "Take it from someone
who's been homeless, son. A warm smile
is the universal language of kindness."
"Okay," Ansel said. The best advice
always came from people who'd been there.
When Ansel got home, Turq wasn't
inside the gazebo, so he rolled up
the colorful scarf and stuffed it into
the top of the vinyl bag, then left
the package on Turq's storage bench.
Ansel didn't know exactly how much
Turq had in the way of worldly goods --
and wasn't about to peek underneath
the benches to find out -- but surely
a little extra would be appreciated.
Remembering Abe's advice, Ansel
jotted a note on the topmost flyer and
turned it to show through the clear bag:
Scarf from Abe and the Knitty Gents,
care package from Open Hearts,
and smile from Ansel. ☺
He didn't need to be there to see it
in order to know that the scarf was
going to make Turq smile back.
* * *
Justin Bates -- He has peach skin, gray eyes, and short ash-blond hair. He is slim and graceful, fast on his feet. He orients most on scent and taste, which very few people use as their dominant sensory mode, so he's often a little out of phase with people around him. Justin is married to Celia with a baby on the way. As a BASH officer, Justin excels at identifying and protecting vulnerable parties during a mission, like if a raided lair happens to have children inside it. He works in the Bluehill police department.
Qualities: Master (+6) Fast, Master (+6) Fidelity, Expert (+4) Anticipation, Expert (+4) Driver, Expert (+4) Family Man, Good (+2) Aikido, Good (+2) BASH Officer, Good (+2) Cooperative Games, Good (+2) De-escalation Skills, Good (+2) Housekeeping
Poor (-2) Scent/Taste Dominant
Jasper Cornwall -- He has fair skin and green eyes. His curly auburn hair hangs past his ears, and he has a full beard and mustache. Jasper lives in Bluehill and is friends with Janie Newcastle and Ansel Nicholson. He works odd jobs, mostly making or mending things. He is quite good at repairing clothes and toys, or finding cheap solutions to problems. This makes him popular with Bluehill's bohemian crowd. Because he's so absent-minded, though, he winds up leaving stray items all over town. Usually he just makes himself another of whatever he has lost.
Qualities: Good (+2) Bohemian, Good (+2) Dexterity, Good (+2) Generous, Good (+2) Kind-hearted Man, Good (+2) Making and Mending Things, Good (+2) Thinking Outside the Box
Poor (-2) Absent-minded
Abe Macon -- He has fair skin and brown eyes. His short hair was once dark and now going from gray to white, bald on top, with a mustache and beard. He wears glasses and uses a wheelchair. Abe is retired, and married to Amaryllis. He belongs to the Knitty Gents club in Bluehill.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Army Veteran, Good (+2) Dexterity, Good (+2) Knitting, Good (+2) Kinesthetic Intelligence
Poor (-2) Paralyzed from Waist Down
Huxley Phelps -- He has chocolate skin, blue eyes, and short nappy black hair. He wears prescription sunglasses, as dark as he can get them. Huxley runs a group called Deck the Walls that distributes local art to businesses, sometimes through direct sales and other times hanging things until they sell. He belongs to the Knitty Gents club in Bluehill.
Qualities: Good (+2) Art Broker, Good (+2) Extended Family, Good (+2) Muslim, Good (+2) Visual Intelligence, Good (+2) Stamina
Poor (-2) Light-Sensitive Eyes
Broderick Coache -- He has fair skin, hazel eyes, and short reddish-brown hair with a beard and mustache. He wears glasses. Broderick runs The Craft Stash, a store selling arts and crafts supplies. He belongs to the Knitty Gents club in Bluehill.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Craft Store Manager, Good (+2) Interpersonal Intelligence, Good (+2) Organized, Good (+2) Strength
Poor (-2) Pushy
Ludo Coleman -- He has pinkish-fair skin, hazel eyes, wavy chestnut hair. He is a transman. Due to a learning disability, he finds it difficult to follow instructions or learn new things, but he is utterly determined about doing it anyway. Ludo works at Yancy's Yard Mart. He belongs to the Knitty Gents club in Bluehill.
Qualities: Good (+2) Determined, Good (+2) Green Thumb, Good (+2) Strength, Good (+2) Supportive Family, Good (+2) Thinking Outside the Box
Poor (-2) Easily Confused
Yani Hoengs -- She has golden-fair skin, almond-shaped brown eyes, and long straight black hair. Her heritage is mixed Asian-American, primarily Chinese. Yani teaches exercise and meditation classes at the YMCA in Bluehill. She belongs to the Open Hands Women's Charity.
Qualities: Good (+2) Compassion, Good (+2) Endurance, Good (+2) Insightful, Good (+2) Mother, Good (+2) Teacher
Miggy Hempel -- She has fair skin, green eyes, and wavy shoulder-length brown hair. Currently enrolled in Bouchet College in Bluehill, she is studying to become a social worker. She belongs to the Open Hands Women's Charity.
Qualities: Good (+2) College Student, Good (+2) Filing System, Good (+2) Helpful, Good (+2) Limber, Good (+2) Making Friends
Poor (-2) Inexperienced
Amaryllis Macon -- She has pinkish-fair skin, blue eyes, and short blonde hair going gray. She is married to Abe. Amaryllis works at the Bluehilll community center as an office manager. She belongs to the Open Hands Women's Charity.
Qualities: Expert (+4) Office Manager, Good (+2) Cuddly, Good (+2) Emotional Labor, Good (+2) Generous
Poor (-2) Slow
Neema Moniteau -- She has toffee skin, brown eyes, and long straight black hair. Her heritage includes Korean, Hispanic, Pakistani, and Osage. She is a freelance translator and cultural consultant working with several businesses, including the hospital, in Bluehill. She belongs to the Open Hands Women's Charity.
Qualities: Expert (+2) Languages, Good (+2) Cooperation, Good (+2) Naturalistic Intelligence, Good (+2) Woodworking
Poor (-2) Light Sleeper
* * *
"A warm smile is the universal language of kindness."
-- William Arthur Ward
The Bluehill Police Community Outreach Minibus has an elegant exterior with comfortable seats inside. The floor plan provides 2 seats for driver and copilot, 7 fixed seats for passengers, and 1 wheelchair space with 2 flip-down seats. So the minibus can seat a maximum of 11 people, or 9 and 1 wheelchair.
Knitty Gents is a men's fibercraft club in Bluehill that often donates their work for charity.
Open Hearts Women's Charity in Bluehill is active in many programs.
Homeless care packages are best designed with input from actual street people. Here the Knitty Gents have contributed knitted wool or cotton socks, gloves, hats, scarves; Open Hearts assembled the bags of bandaids, chapstick, vitamins, tissues, tampons, hand warmers, space blanket (available individually or in bulk), emergency food bars, and $20 cash card. Note that tampons are useful to everyone; if you don't need them yourself, they are high-value trade items for anyone with that monthly need.
PFLAG is a support group for queer allies.
See Turq's scarf and the instructions for making it. You can vary this between any two colors by choosing a light and a dark shade of each, plus a light and a dark shade of an intermediate color. This one uses green, teal, and blue.