Georgia conned the cake off of me

This weekend I am part SPJ’s Will Write For Food 2012 team.

That’s me in the white tank top, looking confused. (photo cred: Mike Rice)

Will Write For Food is a program in which 20 student journalists from around the nation get to take over the Homeless Voice (the second-largest homeless newspaper in the country) for the weekend.

Honestly, I can’t believe that it’s already Labor Day weekend. I have to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming. I remember reading a blog post about this program Labor Day 2011, being pissed off that I wasn’t a part of it and then reminding myself every day/week/month to update my resume and clips so that I would be able to apply this year.

On March 8th, the day that the time period to apply opened, I applied. On March 26th Michael Koretzky, the program’s advisor, e-mailed me back.

Damn, that was fast. Sorry for taking a week to get back with you. But
truly, no one’s ever applied for Will Write for Food this quickly.
(It’s still not a very popular program, for obvious reasons.) […]

But either way it goes, this is damned impressive.

I really wanted to be a part of this.

Yesterday, my classmate Sarah Aslam and I drove down to Miami from Orlando and got to the Ramada on Hollywood Blvd. We met our advisors, previous WWFF participants, the national president of SPJ John Ensslin and Michael Koretzky.

Then we went to the COSAC homeless shelter and met its founder and director, Sean Cononie.

It was small, it smelled weird, there were way too many people, people were coughing, there was hand sanitizer everywhere and there sat Georgia.

Georgia is a tiny elderly woman who lives at the shelter. One of the WWFF girls, Cayla Nimmo went to help her stand up from a bench. When Georgia shuffled her way into the shelter’s tiny cafeteria, Cayla and I sat on the floor and talked to her. It was very hard to understand her because she spoke so low and she was losing her hearing.

At first, Cayla and I thought Georgia was deaf because she signed “thank you” and “you’re welcome” to us. I attempted to sign our names to Georgia but she said that she didn’t know sign language–she reads lips.

“This is a sign that everybody knows,” she said and proceeded to flick off both Cayla and I. My grin was probably wider than anything in the world. This lady is awesome.

I wandered off to get food after talking to Georgia for a little bit. Lunch consisted of pasta with some sort of pale, tasteless meat. I thought it was chicken. Chase Cook thought it was turkey. Eleanor Roy thought it was tuna. Whatever.

I decided to eat my cake, the only thing that didn’t look questionable on my plate. Georgia eyed me picking at the cake and asked me if I was going to finish it. I looked down, sighed and said she could have it.

I looked at her tray as I plopped my cake onto it. She had three other pieces of cake.

A staff member from the shelter came up to Georgia and said, “Georgia! You’re not supposed to be eating cake!” He shook his head and walked away. I looked down, embarrassed, since I didn’t mean to get her in trouble.

Georgia winked at me, smiled and whispered, “It’s okay.”

Then she ate her cake.

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