In preparation for the holidays and a prosperous new year, November is a good time to start planning for the festivities and the elimination of “bad habits.”

By now, we should have all changed the batteries in our smoke detectors and set our clocks back one hour.

But the pending holidays notwithstanding, our country, and, more importantly, our community are still under peril. In Austin, high crime, homelessness, and hunger are still very prevalent social illnesses in need of attention.

On Nov. 14, Red Eye published statistics gathered from its “homicide tracker.” Since Oct. 30, 15 homicides in Chicago were reported, most from gunshots. Surprisingly, none were reported within the boundaries of Austin. One was reported in West Garfield and one further east.

West Englewood had the highest number, which is why many have said Englewood is rapidly becoming known as Chicago’s most dangerous neighborhood.

In City Hall, there is a raging debate over whether the city should spend $25 million to hire 500 new policemen or approve Mayor Emanuel’s budget which calls for $75 million in overtime for members of the existing force to combat crime. Either way, I can’t help but wonder, what will be the ultimate effect on the reduction of violence in our communities?

In spite of the grim statistics on violence, homelessness and hunger, I wonder, can we still squeeze out a reason or reasons to celebrate this season? With Thanksgiving just around the corner, surely we can find one thing to be thankful for.

In addition to my family and my health, I found several — starting with the Affordable Care Act, (ACA), affectionately known as ObamaCare, which, once all the technical issues are resolved, will provide health care for millions of Americans. Many of our family members will benefit greatly from this program.

Early last year, as a component of ACA, Illinois implemented County Care, an Illinois Cook County Medicaid program for adult U.S. citizens between the ages of 19 and 64. Individuals can earn $15,282, and a couple can earn $20,628, and receive the scope of coverage once reserved for women with underage children. A visit to, the ACA website, will provide offers for others via the insurance exchange.

Another thing I’m thankful for is that I can be a blessing to someone. The other day, while walking to the Green Line, I pulled two single dollars from my pocket. Looking at them I thought, what if these were my last two dollars? What would I do with my last two dollars?

I couldn’t come up with anything because the things I wanted to buy cost far more than two dollars. While riding the train, a man got on and explained he was homeless and needed food.

No one responded. He sat quietly across from me and I watched tears form and stream down his face as he held his head in his hands.

Just before I got off the train, I placed those two dollars I found in my pocket in his hand. As I darted out the car, I heard him say, “God bless you!”

Later while reflecting on that experience, I decided I would put two dollars in my pocket every day and give it to the first person who asks for help, or to someone I think could appreciate the blessing. Two dollars is not a lot, but it certainly could make a difference in the life of someone who is in real need.

I can be a blessing to someone.