Kaleb and I got up Saturday morning and went out to meet up with one of our contacts, Susie Lacefield, to check out what’s going on with the day’s events. We were told there would be a massive furniture delivery/drop to the people of Booneville. We left our hotel and made drove the five minutes to “The Food Place” (and, yes, that’s the name of Susie’s location) to get the camera ready and survey the situation. I wasn’t really sure what to expect because we hadn’t been told a lot of information other than some people were coming in today to deliver furniture to those in need in Booneville. The event was taking place in the late morning so we arrived about a half hour to an hour early to get ready. When we arrived we noticed a massive semi-trailer already parked in its location and some people were standing around. We learned that this furniture wasn’t something Susie had coordinated rather a church group from North Carolina had been gathering and collecting furniture for well over six months with the final destination of Booneville. This church group from North Carolina contacted a group called the Appalachian Resource Ministry (ARM) to discover with whom they should contact to facilitate this delivery. The ARM put them in contact with Susie (her husband is a pastor of a church in Booneville) and she organized the day by determining who would receive this free furniture. I’m not really sure how Susie ultimately determined the people who would receive this furniture but she had her list of people and what they would receive long before Kaleb and I arrived.
Hopefully this gives you an idea of just how much stuff was delivered to Booneville by the great people of North Carolina
It was our second full day in Booneville so Kaleb and I just wanted to sit back and watch what happens and get to know the people of this poor but warm and friendly city. Also, during this time I started talking with the people on site who were either from North Carolina or who work directly with Susie Lacefield. Over time I quickly befriended and young woman named Stacy and her husband Ashley who were part of the group from North Carolina. Stacy and I instantly bonded and had a lot to talk about. And, just like everyone else I had met thus far, she was friendly, warm and caring. I learned a tremendous amount about Stacy and her husband Ashley that day and genuinely like and admire them. Moving on… I wanted to inform all the people in attendance that day that they were being filmed and were going to be part of the documentary. With that formality out of the way, it was time to start shooting the furniture delivery and watching people graciously accepting and taking away this “new-to-them” furniture.
Kaleb getting a shot of an elderly man loading a sofa into his truck in Booneville
The semi trailer that was brought onto the lot was completely full of furniture and there were some items that were clearly used at scratching pads for cats but there were really nice items there as well. They had brought everything including sofas, chairs, washers, dryers, refrigerators and other pieces and parts. It was pretty impressive to look inside that trailer and see all the furniture that was getting ready to be placed in new homes. The people getting the furniture started arriving around 10am that morning and the distribution of goods got underway shortly thereafter. It was great to see all the people of Booneville eagerly wanting and needing this furniture. This was really my first exposure to a lot of people in Booneville. Keep in mind that on the previous days I met with our contacts, a few men at Dooley’s and the old man who owned the property of the barn I photographed. This was really eye opening to me to see so many people in need. And, all the people I met this day were appreciative and truly thankful. It was a nice change of pace considering I am used to so many people in this country having an “entitlement” attitude.
Kaleb taking a break while shooting the furniture loading
We spent several hours watching the furniture getting handed out and then loaded on trucks/cars or whatever they had to transport this back to their homes. I also took that time to talk with the great people of Booneville and start to get to know them. One family I met, the Hollan Family, was so incredibly genuine and nice and I enjoyed talking with them. The first person I met from the family was Nannie (yes, that’s her real name) and then I got to know her daughter-in-law Stormy (who was originally from San Diego) and I briefly spoke with Stormy’s husband Simon but could tell they were just great people. But, I spent most of my time talking with the people from North Carolina and learning more about how they were helping the people of this area. During this time we were dodging rain clouds and moving in and out of the building to get shelter and stay dry. The group tried to cover all the furniture but the people receiving the furniture were gladly accepting the pieces regardless of their physical condition or dampness.
A BRIEF SIDE STORY
Susie talking with one of recipients about the furniture. Behind the woman in the white sweater is my friend Stormy Hollan. To her right is Nannie and the man with his back to us is Simon Hollan.
There are some things I noticed that also perturbed me while I was there but I have to keep in mind that I am a making a documentary and have to stay neutral. And, I am not here to judge but to convey what I am seeing. That said, I would only point out one item I noticed that made me angry that day. Let me put it in the form of a question – Can we please get away from LISTS and only helping or catering to the people on a “List?” I, along with several other people, saw a woman who was not on the list of people getting the furniture. She was in tears and waited for hours just to get something to take care of her and her children. We learned that she only had 5 mattress pads for the children and her to sleep on and NOTHING else. She was trying to make a new life for herself and just wanted help. But, because she was not on Susie’s list she was told, and I quote, “You’re not on the list and won’t be able to get anything. I think you should just go home.” Susie’s logic was that the furniture on the truck was already allocated to the people on the list and there were no extras. Ultimately this comment from Susie Lacefield brought that woman to utter sadness and a face full of tears. Fortunately, Stacy (the great girl from North Carolina) heard this story and told me there was more furniture on the truck than what had been allotted to the people on the list. So, when Susie wasn’t looking or had gone into the building for something, Stacy told the crying girl to go and get her vehicle and she would take care of her. The crying girl went to get her vehicle and was given a sofa and other furniture so she could take care of her family and begin to start her new life. My point in sharing this story is about getting people off LISTS and just helping our fellow human beings!
BACK TO THE MAIN STORY
At the end of the day Kaleb and I wanted to interview the people from North Carolina (Donald and Kathy) who organized and coordinated this event. I asked them if I could ask a few questions of them for the film and they agreed. They did provide a stipulation by saying, “You can ask us questions as long as we get to ask you some questions when it’s (the interview) over.” I agreed. We spoke about what they were doing, how the received the furniture, how long it took to make this happen and how we can do more to help our fellow man. When the interview concluded Kaleb and I were asked the questions from Donald and Kathy. As you can guess, the questions were about… Jesus. We talked for about a half hour on Jesus this and Jesus that. Now, I don’t believe in Jesus but believe in being a good person. What I loved about our conversation was that neither party judged each other and was able to “agree to disagree” without losing respect for each other. We also believed that we (Donald and Kathy and Kaleb and me) were not that different in our approach to living life and helping our fellow humans; we are just taking different paths to achieve this goal. As my friend Craig Cox once said, “Agreeing to disagree while still having respect for one another is a lost art in America.” Well said, Craig!
This is the entire group of people from North Carolina who came to Booneville with a truck load of furniture. In this picture are Donald, Kathy, Stacy, Ashley and Shannon. I forget the rest of the names of the others here.
Shannon with the truck he drove to Booneville. The trailer was donated by the company for which he works. Shannon is a great person.
Later that night, Kaleb and I went to Dooley’s Diner to see the live Bluegrass band and cloggers that gather upon this place on Saturday nights. We had such a great time meeting with people, immersing ourselves into their culture and listening to some great music and stories. We had a great time and even got on the dance floor a couple of times to try our luck at clogging. Needless to say, we sucked! The following day we went to church with Cleda Turner (as I had promised her). It is called Sugar Camp Baptist Church and, for someone who had hoped to never step into a church again, was as pleasant of an experience as I could have hoped. The people of this area are very religious people and I completely respect their beliefs. However, I don’t plan on going back to church any time soon. 🙂
The Band at Dooley's Diner playing a mixture of Country, Bluegrass and Rock. The guy with the banjo told some great stories in between songs.
Cloggers in action at Dooley's Diner on a Booneville Saturday night!
Sugar Creek Baptist Church - Religion is very much still in style in Booneville
Pastor Tim of Sugar Camp Baptist Church.
See you tomorrow,
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