Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Those without love


Getting What We Deserve


It is always a terrible thing to come back to Mott Street [where she lived]. To come back in a driving rain to men crouched on the stairs, huddled in doorways, without overcoats because they sold their overcoats—perhaps the week before when it was warm, to satisfy their hunger or thirst, who knows. Those without love would say, ‘It serves them right, drinking up their clothes, selling their clothes to buy booze, it serves them right.’ But God help us if we got what we deserve!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Stranger?


Welcome Something New


To offer hospitality to a stranger is to welcome something new, unfamiliar and unknown into our life-world…. Strangers have stories to tell which we have never heard before, stories which can redirect our seeing and stimulate our imaginations. The stories invite us to view the world from a novel perspective.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Listen to the "poor"!

May 02, 2016


Fellow Billionaires: Let's Listen to the Poor

Pete Ryan, for The Chronicle
 
by Manoj Bhargava               
One of the biggest fallacies of philanthropy is the expectation that money will solve everything and that more money equals greater results. Trillions of dollars are spent globally on social and environmental issues, and very few problems have been solved. Why is that?

We’ve been focused on the wrong things. Our assumptions, traditions, and self-interest have made us lose sight of what it means to do philanthropy in the true sense of the word. Philanthropy should be about serving humanity and giving people what they need — not what we think they need or what feels good to give, like putting our names on buildings or giving to institutions that are already rich.

To truly change the world, we need to make significant adjustments — to our mind-sets, our motivations, our attitudes, our ways of thinking, and even our business models. Like several other billionaires, I have pledged to give most of my wealth away. As I do it, I am trying to follow these principles:

Value and success should be based on results, not dollars.
Philanthropy today is judged almost entirely. . .Read more here.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

I Fight!

[Michael Guinn works at CitySquare as a life coach to youth who age out of the Texas foster care system.  He is extremely effective at what he does.  What follows reveals just what's behind his fierce dedication to his work and to the young people he touches.]


I Fight!
                                                                                                                                                   
Do you know what it’s like to want and can’t have? To be so hungry that you eat dirt so you don’t feel  so…empty!  Do you know what it’s like to not have running water, to do homework by candlelight. To steal and lie and hustle to help out your family?

I do.                                                                            

And some nights skinny then reminds bigger now of the times when he brought home food found at the landfill, fished for compliments and crawdads, sold squirrel and black birds to pay for school clothes.                                                  
And yesterday I wondered! What good is my master’s degree if I can’t even master me?

See I fight …for the father who desperately wants to provide. But in shame he cries in the shadows of his own pride.                                                                                                                   
I fight… for the mother who stands in welfare lines, wanting more, defined by less knowing that this is not her best.

I fight.. . for the son whose hunger pangs are so loud that he can’t focus on his lesson so he sits embarrassed by his stomach’s angry confession.
I fight…for the daughter wearing hand me down smiles and borrowed blues forced to wear too tight shoes.

I fight ...for grandparents on fixed incomes feeding mama’s children when baby’s daddy runs.
I fight, I live and I learn to shape dreams from the fist of poverty’s grip as I fuse the light in their eyes with mine and pray to God to help them find hope inside.                  

And this ain’t easy! It is hard to lift self-esteem when dreams have been assaulted  and peppered  with despair so much so that they’ve forgotten to breathe freedom’s air.
And it’s not their fault that they were born verbs in past tense, unwilling subjects in sentences that kept on running. Fractured by the manner in which the wind whistled and blew down their future, I fight because I don’t want their existence to be another statistic on the back page of history.  I don’t want their lives to end up camouflaged chalk lines, lost in the shaded silhouette of a lonely bulls-eye searching for another target!

I didn’t choose this fight, this fight chose me. And I want my example to foster a deep desire for survival no matter how loudly suicide speaks of rivers. Because I believe that if they see my love and feel my soul reaching out to them that this simple act of kindness will change their lives forever.
And now that I’ve made peace with this section 8 hate, now that I’ve overcome the demons of then... I know that every time I find a new resource, service, home I am reconnecting the dots of frowns and turning them into smiles. People ask why do I fight poverty with so much energy and passion? And I tell them it’s because I know that I am still fighting for that little boy inside of me!

Michael Guinn
TRAC PSH Coach at CitySquare
May 17th 2016

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

My Own Bed: Like a good neighbor!


A HUGE thank you to our partners at My Own Bed!

When someone ages out of the foster care system, they often have very few things and have to start anew. My Own Bed helps by providing beds for our TRAC youth who have moved into their own apartments. Today, two of our TRAC youth received beds and bedding!

You can help provide beds too. Simply make a donation at CitySquare.org, select "other" and type in "My Own Bed"!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Jerry's coming to the Square!

A Night to Remember 2016

Seinfeld for City Square in the Fight Against Poverty!

NBC 5 and CitySquare would like to invite you to get your tickets today to enjoy A Night to Remember featuring the legendary comedian, Jerry Seinfeld. Tickets are on sale now, and this Winspear Opera House performance will take place on Saturday evening, September 10.
 Help CitySquare celebrate over 25 years of fighting poverty by partnering with those in need. Since 2002, A Night to Remember, CitySquare’s annual fundraising event, has generated over $3 million to assist programs and services such as:

·         A Food Pantry that distributes nearly two million pounds of food to over 20,000 individuals each year.
·         A Health Clinic that provides primary, preventive and pediatric health care to the low-income and uninsured who would otherwise seek medical attention in emergency rooms or go without care.
·         The Permanent Supportive Housing that provides housing for over 250 formerly homeless and near-homeless neighbors.
·         Pre-Employment Training that equips the unemployed with “ready to work” skills.
·         Life Skills, Mentoring and Case Management that supports over 800 youth who grow out of the foster care system each year.
Support the mission and get your tickets today at www.Seinfeld4CitySquare.org!!!

A Night to Remember 2016

Featuring Jerry Seinfeld for CitySquare
Saturday evening, September 10
AT&T Performing Arts Center
Margot and Bill Winspear Opera House
2403 Flora Street
Dallas, TX 75201
Tickets on Sale Now
www.seinfeld4citysquare.org
214-303-2138

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Flowers for mom. . .

The "native Texas" plant (read here "weed") in full bloom appeared on our makeshift communion table/altar at Church at the Square last Sunday. It had been carefully prepared for the occasion of Mother's Day by one of the fairly regular members of the church. 

Planted in a disposable coffee cup, wrapped carefully in tin foil, with pieces of bark and black earth, the gentleman placed it carefully among the symbols of our faith arrayed on the table of the Lord.

"I brought this for Mother's Day," he declared with a smile on his face and a compelling twinkle in his eye.  "I wanted us to remember our moms on this special day." 

After the morning service concluded, the church enjoyed breakfast brunch prepared by culinary arts students from CitySquare. 

When the morning concluded, the man retrieved his plant and went on his way--back out on to the streets of Dallas, his only option.  No doubt, he intended to enjoy the beauty of his and God's creation for a while longer. 

A sweet gift offered in appreciation for mothers, including his and mine. A respect for what's good in life and the world. 

I'm thankful for my brother who brought new meaning to the day and to our communion together.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Prayer before Texas Medical Association 2016 General Meeting

God of many names and of all people,
We pause to reflect in gratitude for the gift of,
As our very poor neighbor have taught us,
"Another day we weren't promised."

We are grateful for this meeting,
For the anticipated experience of the event.

We give thanks for the fellowship of our tables and the goodness of friendship.

We give thanks for he gift, the science, the art of healing
And for those who have given themselves to the grand Mystery of it all.

As we express gratitude for the day and its wonder,
We remember those in our community who struggle this morning;
Those who call tents "home," and even now are on the move in our city.

May we be sensitive to the concerns and the harsh realities facing
The poor, the sick, the wounded, the addicted and the broken.

In a world of complexity, strife and fear on the one hand,
And a life of joy, discovery and promise on the other,
May we take the path between,
A path that lead to just solutions, resilient hope and new promise.

Amen.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

The lasting alternative


Empire of Love


The empires of the world, as Napoleon said in a moment of candor, depend on force. They have come and gone; and the ones that now exist will follow in their turn. They make fear and death their weapons, and they themselves die when the fear they have generated turns into violent rebellion. Jesus, at his ascension, was given by the creator God an empire built on love. As we ourselves open our lives to the warmth of that love, we begin to lose our fear; and as we begin to lose our fear, we begin to become people through whom the power of that love can flow out into the world around that so badly needs it…. And as the power of that love replaces the love of power, so in a measure, anticipating the last great day, God’s kingdom comes, and God’s will is done, on earth as it is in heaven.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

KRLD: Tent City Interview

Listen right here.

May 5!

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

This is a special day across the United States and Mexico.

Numerous neighborhoods across Dallas are celebrating the famous Battle of Puebla, Mexico on May 5, 1862, the day on which Mexican General Ignacio Zaragoza SeguĂ­n, outnumbered 2 to 1, routed the French army.

So, why Cinco de Mayo?

Under Emperor Napoleon III, the French invaded Mexico with designs of staying in order to challenge the United States, at the time involved in its own Civil War.

Napoleon's Army had not been defeated in 50 years, and it invaded Mexico with the finest modern equipment and with a newly reconstituted Foreign Legion. The French Army left the port of Vera Cruz to attack Mexico City about 100 miles to the west. The French believed that if the Mexican Capitol fell, the nation would be theirs.

Under the innovative and daring leadership of Zaragoza, the Mexican army more than prevailed. The outcome of the battle on United States history is often overlooked. The victory prevented the French from supplying the Confederate rebels in the U. S. for another year.

As the American Civil War wound down, following the Union victory at Gettysburg, U. S. General Phillip Sheridan traveled to the Mexican border to bring materials needed to expel the French completely. At this time American soldiers were discharged with their uniforms and rifles if they promised to join the Mexican Army to fight the French. The American Legion of Honor marched in the Victory Parade in Mexico, City.

Almost 100 years later, thousands of Mexicans crossed the border after Pearl Harbor to join the U.S. Armed Forces. As recently as the Persian Gulf War, Mexicans flooded American consulates with phone calls, trying to join up and fight another war for America.

Cinco de Mayo is a community party! It is a day to celebrate liberty and freedom. It is a celebration bringing together the United States and Mexico. It is a day for remembering our common heritage and our connection as people. It is a day and an event that I remember almost every morning as I drive by Ignacio Zaragoza Elementary School in my neighborhood!

It seems to me that it's a party we all need to join, now as never before.

What do you think?

.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

All the same. . .


The Same As We Are


He whom we look down upon, whom we cannot bear to see, the very sight of whom causes us to vomit, is the same as we are, formed with us from the self-same clay, compacted of the same elements. Whatever he suffers, we also can suffer.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Lyrical Liberation

Humanizing persons is the first step in discovery of what we all share in common. People who have no homes are still human beings worthy of respect. There is no surprise here, not really.

People are amazing.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Blocked?

The "Tent City" nestled beneath the I-45 overpass here in South Dallas gives rise to all sorts of frustrations. 

The City of Dallas' humane decision to place portable toilets and trash dumpsters on the property triggered the explosive growth of the encampment.  As the community grew, rumors spread across town that case management into permanent housing happened quicker at Tent City.  So, predictably, the population grew.  And, it got organized:  streets, identified sections, an elected Mayor, at least one retail store selling basic snacks and sundries. 

But along with the normal human responses to an organized community of sorts came really negative realities:  ill-health, fights, other violence, including more than one murder, drug trafficking, prostitution, rape, theft and other compromises to public health and safety.

Here's where my litany of frustration begins:

1. The city had no real choice in the short term but to close the encampment.  And, the City is at work today doing just that.  Case workers, but not nearly enough of them, have been working for 5 or 6 weeks trying to arrange housing solutions for as many people as possible among the almost 500 who populated the encampment at its population apex.  Some people moved in with friends/family.  Some decided to go home to other cities (but very few fit that grouping).  Some opted for moving to other locations or encampments located across the city.  Some agreed to use the shelter services available.  Some found permanent supportive housing and/or single voucher assets.  Still, a large number of persons do not have a housing plan as they are forced to move from what was their community.

2.  The city does not have an adequate supply of permanent supportive housing to meet the obvious needs of the community. A large part of the problem is a lack of funds and political will to develop this much-needed housing stock.  Without the housing we are fighting a battle with one arm tied behind our collective back.

3. State funds from the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) can be used only for developments located in "high opportunity" communities.  This means that new projects cannot be located in most parts of the community by the standards established in the recent U. S. Supreme Court decision regarding the disparate impact of siting housing efforts only in low-income or low opportunity areas.  In practical terms this means that new projects will need to be located in some of the most expensive neighborhoods in the city and/or in suburban or exurban communities.  The price of land and the organized resistance from such communities make it nearly impossible to use TDHCA tax credit funds as we've done in the past. 

4. Routinely, landlords and property owners refuse to accept housing vouchers and funds from our local Continuum of Care, both U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to pay rents.  "Source of payment" discrimination is normative. These days a very hot housing market allows property management more options for leasing, with the net result being that the very poor get kicked out and left out of housing in favor of a "better, less troubling clientele."

5. The basic duplicity of our community response is maddening.  On the one hand we all care about homelessness in general, right?  On the other, we resist its arrival if in our neighborhoods. We organize not in favor of its development, but to oppose it.

6. The silence of both communities of faith and of political groups in face of this pressing human tragedy remains as unsettling as it is frustrating. 

What will we do, Dallas, what will we do?

Monday, April 25, 2016

John Perkins to speak in our area!

While living in Dallas, Dr. and Mrs. John Perkins attended the Central Dallas Church, associated with CitySquare, then Central Dallas Ministries.

It will be so good to welcome John back to the Metroplex!



Monday, April 18, 2016

Battle vs predatory lenders. . .

How a Texas Church Drove Out the Predatory Loan Industry     
For one Garland pastor, living out the gospel means collective political action.
 
Payday lenders have been having a tough time in Garland, Texas.
 
Their storefronts have closed, their gaudy signs spray-painted over in black. In recent months, about a third have left the city of 230,000, situated 18 miles northeast of Dallas.
 
Nobody could be more delighted at their demise than Keith Stewart, senior pastor of Springcreek, Garland’s largest church. Springcreek will not tolerate what Stewart calls the “predatory loan business.” Stewart estimates something like a third of his congregation of 1,700 have been put through the wringer after they (or their family members) secured loans with interest rates easily within the range of 200 to 500 percent.
 
Read more here.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Extraordinarily creative!


When pondering how to keep low-level drug offenders out of jail, officials in Albany, New York, faced a challenge: How could they pay for a case manager to coax addicts onto the straight and narrow, sometimes by tracking them down on the streets?

The money turned up in a previously untapped source: President Barack Obama's health care law, which by expanding Medicaid in some states has made repeat drug offenders eligible for coverage, including many who are homeless or...read on here.
 
Expand Medicaid, Governor Abbott!

 
 

 

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Stream of consciousness, random thoughts on deep poverty

Dallas' "Tent City" mushroomed over night because of two things:  trash dumpsters and port-o-potties.  Homeless people spend their days looking for food, a place to rest/sit, restroom facilities and a bed.  When the city provided a place to manage biological realities and a place to throw away trash, it didn't create new homeless persons.  It simply provided the solution to one major problem and it provided for trash management at the encampment that grew up nearby.  Tent City reminds me that homeless persons are just that, persons.  Persons who, like me, need a restroom every day, several times.  Remove that basic need and I'll camp out near the solution. 
_________________________________________
 
Landlords and property owners contribute to the problems facing homeless persons because they routinely discriminate on the basis of "payer source," that is from what source a person pays the rent.  Housing dollars go unspent monthly--I estimate between 25-30% of what the local Continuum of Care has to spend on housing the homeless because those in charge of the housing units won't rent to our homeless neighbors with whom we work. Closing this gap would provide housing if not for all, for almost all who live in Tent City.  Something to think about:  is this a civil rights issue?  
_________________________________________
 
Dallas definitely needs to include funding for permanent supportive housing development in the upcoming 2017 bond issue.  And that provision needs to be to the tune of $100 million. 
_________________________________________
 
Homerless shelters need to become extremely aggressive "triage" centers with established goals to move people into permanent housing in no longer than 30 days.  This system change would turn 100 shelter beds into 1,200 over a year.  Prerequisite:  ample supply of permanent supportive housing that employs a Housing First strategy.
_________________________________________
 
Apparently, the Texas Rangers Baseball club no longer advertises for payday lenders!  No signs on the outfield walls or anywhere else in the building.  Progress!
_________________________________________
 
Downtown Dallas, Inc. could really help the homeless presence in the CBD by reinstating homeless outreach workers as a part of the strategy to care for the very poor and the very rich investors.  Just sayin'.
________________________________________
 
The more I am around Dallas City Council member Casey Thomas, the more I like him.
________________________________________
 
Living without a home is a genuine trauma crisis.
 
Enough.