“When someone asks you for something you can’t say, no. You can’t say, well, no, that’s mine. I like it. You can’t say no, I can’t afford it. Or you can’t say no, you don’t deserve it. Or no, you didn’t earn it. Or, you know, you just, you just give.”Mike Gray, speaking on the concept of Radical Hospitality to the Welcome to New Normal podcast, December 10, 2020
Mike Gray is a member of the Fort Collins Friends Meeting and is a former co-Clerk. He practices his faith through direct service to underprivileged communities under the care of our Meeting. Mike now lives in Cascabel, Arizona but spends much of his time in the Comcaac Indigenous community of Desemboque, Sonora, Mexico. He also makes annual trips to the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, home to the Oglala Lakota Nation.
What does Mike do, you ask? Here’s his answer:
“And so, you know, some days I’m an art dealer. Some days I’m a junk dealer. It’s just kind of depends. But what I basically do is a concept of radical hospitality, where I have sort of given up my time, my life to help other people wherever they are. And that has led me down the road to many places. But usually when I go looking for the poorest people, the people with most need, they’re usually indigenous people at the end of the road who are underserved.”
The quick answer then, is whatever is asked of him by local residents of the communities where he works. He believes it is the local residents who know what they need, not outside foundations. Here are some examples of what he does – help local residents rebuild their houses, help Comcaac artists market their art at shows in the U.S., help find funding for the Desemboque prepetoria school to enable local youth to attend high school without having to leave their community, help Lakota elders prepare for the annual Sundance ceremony. We could list many more, but this gives you a sampling. There is no carefully written grant process here, simply Mike hears, for example, that the Prepetoria needs boards in their classroom and finds someone to donate enough to money to buy some whiteboards.
After hearing about Mike’s efforts are you moved to help? You can donate directly to support Mike’s work via the Fort Collins Friends Meeting online donations system HERE.
All donations qualify as charitable donations for tax purposes given the Meetings status as a religious organization.