Thursday, October 28, 2010

Knapsack 11-4

Twelve Years Old in Granville -- Granville Sentinel 11-4

[This is another in a series of stories set in and around Granville,
told mostly from the point of view of a twelve year old in each era,
based on actual incidents recorded in our history...with a bit of
literary license to make a narrative.]


She felt, rather than heard the rumble of feet through the frame of
the house itself. Her sister slept, just six years old, in the bed
across the loft from her, and their three month old brother was
gurgling downstairs in the corner of their parents' room, closer to
the hearth and the last glowing embers of the evening fire.

Living in a fairly new frame house, you could tell without even
opening your eyes if someone had on their boots, or was padding about
in their wool stockings. The vibrations traveled across the floor
planking, into the wall joists and up to the loft, along the puncheon
floor, up the lathe-turned legs and through the cords that wound
under the ticksack mattress.

It was full dark outside this November night, but there was a glow,
coming and going oddly through the heavy, rippled glass of the one
window at the gable end. Late as it was, to feel booted feet walking
about downstairs was unusual, so she slipped on her shift and moved
over to the head of the steep ladder down.

There was a creak of the door hinges, and a chill draft blowing up
from below, then a distant sound of muttering voices, punctuated by
the baby's muted cries. She turned, and slid down the ladder,
catching the last wide rung with her bare feet and stepping down
gently to the floor.

Her mother was not in bed, either, but standing near the front
window, which had a set of city glass panes which were thinner and
more transparent.

"What's going on, Mother?" the girl asked.

Mother jumped, then strode over to where her daughter stood and
wrapped an arm around her tightly.

"The world is ending, dear; we must be brave."

Even for a twelve year old, accustomed to the oddity of adult
conversation, this was strange, but not as terrifying as it might
seem. She had been worrying that the strange lights outside were a
neighboring house with a chimney fire, as so often happened,
endangering their own snug home. Somehow, the world ending didn't
sound quite as bad.

"How do you mean?" Before the older woman could form an answer, the
door swung open again, and Father stood there, shaking his head.

"That fool Humphrey boy is just laying out there in the Broadway
watching the show; he's going to get himself run over by a farmer
coming home late." As he spoke, the church bell downtown began to
ring steadily.

"Is it the . . ." the girl began to ask.

"No, darling," he answered, his glance taking in both wife and
daughter with the endearment. "The Good Lord Almighty seems to be
having us on a bit, for his own purposes."

The three of them walked out on the front step, and before looking
up, saw that lamps were flickering into life through windows all
along Equality Street, and people, mostly barefoot, stood outside as
they did.

Above, the skies were filled with streaks of fire, bursts of golden-
orange light shooting from a common point overhead, burning to the
horizon in all directions. They were mostly all the same, and each
one different.

Except to go in and pull on stockings, and check the baby, they sat
there all night, until dawn overwhelmed the still flaring falling
stars. "We may never know what that was, but it was surely glorious,"
said Father as the sun rose, and Mother went back inside to make them
all a hot breakfast.

[The "Night the Stars Fell" on Nov. 12, 1833 was seen all over the
eastern US, today known every year as the Leonid meteor shower, but
never yet again as amazing as in 1833. Perhaps this year?]

Faith Works 10-30

Faith Works 10-30-10

Jeff Gill


VITA Could Be Vitally Important



In the spirit of the spooky season, let me offer a few thoughts about a truly scary subject.


Taxes. (Boo!)


It may not be scripture, but we all know that nothing is certain but death and taxes.


The problem is that there are quite a few people here in Licking County who are certain that filing their income tax return is a fate worse than death, and more to be avoided.


As it turns out, that is not always true.


The Licking County Coalition for Housing, in their ongoing attempts to do preventive work in helping individuals and families from ending up in homelessness, has worked with the IRS in something called VITA.


Standing for "Volunteer Income Tax Assistance," it's a system of training for volunteers and electronic support for tax filing that is aimed at low-income working families. Those families often qualify for something called the EITC (if I didn't scare you with the "Boo," how about a frightening mass of acronyms?), which is the "Earned Income Tax Credit."


Last year, almost 500 returns were filed around Licking County through VITA work, leading not to payment of additional taxes, but actually bringing back home nearly $700,000. About a third of that were EITC payments that working families had earned, but were unsure how to claim; two thirds of it was withholding that was rightfully that person's earnings.


Without VITA, that's hundreds of thousands of dollars that were brought back to Licking County and largely spent here, that otherwise would never have "come home."


And the median household income of VITA filers? Around $14,000.


What the Housing Coalition folks are concerned about is that most of the planning and coordination of this was done through the IRS by AmeriCorps members, and that program has been one of the casualties of the still struggling economy. Some volunteers were crucial to making VITA work in the last couple of years, but the program will need to be essentially ALL volunteer to move forward again.


The staff at LCCH – -- have told me as their board president, and other community leaders, that they are willing to make some extremely generous over-and-above efforts to keep VITA going: it's that important to reducing the number of households running the risk of homelessness. They really want to do this in 2011.


What they will need over the next few weeks is a body of volunteers who can commit to a) some 16 hours of training to be "certified" as a volunteer tax aide, and b) at least four hours a week from mid-January through (of course) mid-April. The training is probably going to be set for two Saturdays, and the sites will be at the LCCH offices in downtown Newark, Opportunity Links on East Main, the OSU-N/COTC campus, and ideally (if there's enough volunteers) some other sites.


This is a wonderful way you can directly help working poor families, the county as a whole, and be a friendly, caring presence to people who often wonder if anyone out there care about their struggles. I immediately thought of the faith communities of Licking County as this need was described.


If you, members of your Bible study group, outreach committee, women's fellowship, men's breakfast crew, whosoever will, are interested in getting this training (and the very complete legal protection it offers the volunteer preparers), and doing the work, call 345-1970. Let them know at LCCH that you are interested in VITA, and I can guarantee you'll hear back soon from them.


Your offer of time and interest could be the difference between 50 returns done in Licking County, and 500; between nearly a million dollars to this county that belongs here in our economy, or next to nothing back; between a working hourly head of household convinced that they are alone, and that person finding a smiling face that helps them earn back what they'd already worked hard for to start with.


Call 345-1970. I truly pray that you will.


Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply preacher around central Ohio; contact him at or follow Knapsack @Twitter.