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.