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Life Arts

Berkeley Profile: "Happy" To Know Ya!

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Headlined to H4 3/9/13

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Happy Skywalker by Happy Skywalker/Facebook

I've decided to start writing "profiles."  All the political stuff seems daunting, so frustrating, that I desire getting away from all that for a moment.  Instead, I would like to write about those who are making a difference in the community, focusing less on those who shoot from the bushes, never adding to anything, only taking from; they are not worth mentioning, other than highlighting how wrong they are, and this is not one of those times, so screw them.

My very first profile is about my new friend, "Happy Skywalker."  No, it's not her birth name, but the one she chose because it best fits who she is.  And I agree with that stance.  Her energy exudes positivity and her soul plays with your soul and then laughs it, loudly and awkwardly, which I love.  Happy's sense of humor will never be quenched nor will she ever attempt extinguishing it.  Happy will always see the inherent humor in people and life entirely. 

Happy hails from Santa Clara originally and used to be "homeless."  She currently resides in Oakland, but would rather live closer to Berkeley, where she now works and thrives, thanks to a certain company mentioned soon.  She understands what it's like to be down and how people judge you when you're down there.  But instead of whining about it on a daily basis, like some people I know, she turns all that negativity into positivity and gives back to those in similar positions she once was.

REI would be the launching pad to her transformation and transcendence.

http://www.rei.com/stores/berkeley.html

An acronym for: "Recreational Equipment Incorporated," REI takes chances on people as well as selling a quality outdoor product, apparently.  They are the company that acts more "Christian" than does SMS Holdings (my bad!).  EMI gave Happy a chance when she was down.  They not only gave her a job but allowed her access to showers so she could stay clean and healthy, as well as other Christian acts not performed by others so she could ascend, properly.  They didn't make it harder on her, like a lot of businesses do the homeless, but instead decided to give her a hand up, instead of a kick down.

Happy has decided to give back to the community who gave her the break, too.  Cue: "Wing-Nut Breakfast," Trinity Church, Berkeley, California, who feeds the homeless and poor six mornings a week.  She got herself into this endeavor through the a charity known as:  "Dorothy Day House."

http://dorothydayhouse.org/

From their front page: "Dorothy Day House is a volunteer based organization that has provided meals and shelter for homeless and low income residents in Berkeley for over 30 years. We do all this without an office and just three-part time staff members through the hard work of volunteers, a board of directors, donations from private individuals, partnerships with local churches/businesses and funding from the City of Berkeley and private foundations.

"We are dedicated to fostering community by providing a caring presence and sustenance to the poor among us."

Through their organization Happy found herself at the Wing-Nut Breakfast at Trinity Church, where we first met and the reason for this profile.  Actually, the reason I chose her was her positive energy and shiny smile.  She even went through the Wing-Nut Special, where someone became agitated over something innocuous, and did not miss a beat.  Happy lived up to her own namesake and kept serving bowls of optimism with her beautiful smile. 

Nothing negative bothers Happy, though, as she did not miss a beat; she kept right on smiling at her disgruntled customer and moved to the next person, who was grateful and showed gratitude her direction; voil-, the rule proving the exception.  That's when I decided to ask her for an interview.  I also found out she has applied for "Volunteer Organizer" for the very same Wing-Nut Breakfast (As opposed to that other 'Wing-Nut Breakfast' in the Bizarro Berzerkeley realm.).   I may be seeing more and more of Happy in the next few months, life and Dorothy Day House organizers, willing.

And for someone receiving an email address from a customer of such services, she handled it with the same goofy grace she served up that morning.  In the past I have asked for such interviews and received the same reply at first, but most will never contact me because they believe I have some sort of angle, as though I'm trying to get in their kitchen or place then neatly in pieces under the floorboards of my imaginary home or something.  Regardless of motivation, Happy had no such reservations (that I know of) and contacted me to meet a week later.  We met in Constitution Plaza and talked while pondering all things worldly down in the bowels of the B.A.R.T. station's Peet's Coffee Bunker-Style sidewalk-cafe, of sorts..

I discovered that Happy enjoys crocheting.  She loves the craft so much she enticed me all the way to the Temescal area of Oakland, near 51st Street and Telegraph Avenue, where we visited a small yarn store that sold only the best yarn.  This was no Yarn Barn.  Not that there's anything wrong with them, but this place wasn't selling any low-grade stuff.  This stuff was top-notch, grade-A yarn.  When you go to a cheaper supplier you get a cheaper product... or so I've heard.

Not that Happy would know anything about that.  She's as straight-laced as they come, unless it's chowing down a fat slice of Vegan Sicilian at Lanesplitter Pizza, that is, where she bought my lunch as well.  I had the pepperoni slice and ginger ale.  Her presence and vibrant personality made that long walk to Oakland seem like a nothing stroll through a lovely field of blooming lilacs.  And that made the lunch even tastier.  Long walks won't bother or hurt Happy though as she is an avid runner when she's not making bright yellow spring dresses.

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I'm a homeless student, writer, and activist... currently panhandling my way through school (and life.).
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