Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Urban Hunger, Urban Shame

If you work hard and long, but don't earn much, you and your family will live on the edge in constant jeopardy of economic, social, emotional and relational collapse.

Millions of our fellow citizens in this nation know this because they live it daily.

Our Resource Center located on Haskell Avenue in inner city East Dallas serves thousands of individuals and families every month.

Hundreds of low-income volunteers run the show. These special friends of mine show up five days a week to lend a helping hand to their neighbors.

The center moves about 20,000 pounds of food each week through the distribution process.

Everyone works together.

It is an amazing community gathering place. It is a place of solidarity, love and determined hope.

It is also a very sad place.

The need only grows.

This fact is disgraceful beyond words.

Yesterday I received a report from Terry Beer, Resource Center Director.

In January 2006, the center served 558 more individuals and 384 more families than were served just one year ago in January 2005.

In January 2005, we provided food and other forms of assistance to 3,215 individuals from 1,765 families.

In January 2006, we provided aid to 3,773 individuals from 2,149 different families.

The trend lines are crystal clear.

My poor neighbors are not getting better.

They are not doing better.

They are doing worse with each passing year.

And about 1 million new families each year are dropping off into poverty.

All the while, my national leaders are pressing to make tax cuts permanent for the wealthiest among us.

At the same time, these leaders hack and cut away at our already shredded national "safety net."

I see hungry children on a daily basis.

I watch humbled adults as they seek assistance to help them make their very meager ends meet.

The poverty I observe makes every social challenge more and more intractable. Take your pick: housing, education, employment, health care, transportation, child care.

It is getting old.

It is a national, urban shame emerging from a tired, threadbare political and economic ideology.

Where are the voices of America's people of faith? It is past time for new ideas and a new direction.

Just ask my friends down on Haskell Avenue.


Joel Quile said...

Larry, did you get my email? Just checking.

The difference between you and me is that I see the poor and you see "special friends"

I praise God you labor in the same fields I do. You show up at 8:00 and me at 5:00.

You know how people were amazed when they were around Jesus? I get that same feeling when I'm around you.

Keep fighting the fight with weapons of love, humilty and faith.

cierakae said...

I will attest to the incredible community that exists at the Resource Center.

How can we challenge Mayor Miller, the Council, our State Reps, George W. to spend genuine time in an environment like the Resource Center before they vote. No entourage, no photo ops, no stop off on the way to... down and dirty stocking shelves and serving neighbors. Stripping away the "us and them " barrier.

It doesn't get any more genuine than 409 N. Haskell.

Anonymous said...

Joel, I think a lot of us have looked at our less fortunate neighbors as . . . "the poor." They are a huge number at the bottom of a Census count, and we just shake our heads and thank God we are not "them."

Larry reminds us that they are not there by choice, but often by birth and a pattern of systemic problems that have kept them in poverty throughout their life.

Chuck Adair said...

In a previous post, you spoke of the difference between "Investment" and "Charity." The work at the Resourse Center is an investment in the community. It is unfortunate that our governmental decision-makers and in some cases our churches seem to be working very hard to limit their investment in communities that would benefit the most. We've slipped into an ideology that supports the notion that charity is enough. It is not!

Anonymous said...

Honestly, don't you just ache for the day when you can say:

"Our numbers are down. We have so few clients. We'll soon be out of business."

Larry James said...

Anonymous, you can't imagine how much I long for that day. . .God, forgive us.

Jeremy Gregg said...


Believe it or not . . . the surge at the Food Pantry was nothing compared to the 42% increase at the Health Clinic.

More info on the pantry increase here: