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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Donuts and dancing

At times my life feels like whiplash.

For example, take last Saturday.

My day began fairly early and my first stop was the corner donut shop at Carroll and Gaston Avenues here in my neighborhood. I show up here on lots of Saturday mornings to fetch donuts for my grandchildren!

I always love my visits to this most interesting establishment. The smells are beyond wonderful. The people are my neighbors.

One older gentleman, who is always there, drives an old Cadillac limousine--vintage 1985. Most weeks he arrives before me. Usually he is holding forth about some important subject to several of his buddies and/or to whomever may be in earshot.

Last Saturday the place was packed.

A guy who lives on the street, a young guy reading a Bible--possibly a seminary student, a laboring fellow on the way to work (I couldn't help noticing that he was talking to himself), several kids with their low-income mother eagerly eyeing the donuts, a middle class fellow with his son--folks coming and going.

Like always, I ordered my treasure of sweets and went on my really fun delivery route!

That same night I put on my tuxedo and drove to the Hilton Anatole Hotel for the annual Crystal Charity Ball.

Central Dallas Ministries received a very generous award this year in support of our Transition Resource Action Center (TRAC).

TRAC works with youth who age out of the foster care system each year here in Dallas--over one hundred 18-year-olds each year. We provide preparation for adult living courses, develop life plans, help with advancing educational attainment and broker housing for these special young adults.

We presented a special expansion project to the folks at Crystal Charity Ball and they adopted our plans! The result will increase our ability, in a partnership with Child Protective Services, to "go upstream" to begin working with these young people 2-3 years before they reach adulthood and find themselves on their own.

The folks from Crystal Charity Ball work hard all year in writing grants and securing funding leading up to the grand finale that is the most incredible party in Dallas each year. The event raises millions of dollars to go along with what is raised during the year.

Trying to describe this event in terms of the wealth, the fundraising strategy and the "over-the-top" affluence turns out to be impossible. This is truly one of those experiences that falls in the category of "have to be there to understand."

Sort of like my donut shop. I mean, you "have to be there to understand" it, as well.

I try to keep my focus on the people in both places and circumstances.

Our mission is to somehow bring these two groups together, if not literally very often (though that would really help us all), then virtually.

Significant portions of the wealth of our city needs to be rechanneled to address the growing needs of the poor.

The voice of the poor needs to more adequately inform the plans and aspirations of the rich.

Poor folks need to know and understand that there are many wealthy Dallasites who continue to search for productive ways to "invest" in low-income communities.

In short, we need to keep working on bringing communities of material wealth together with communities of material need.

At the same time, we must recognize the contributions low-income persons and communities have to make to the overall health and well-being of our city.

While low-income, working people don't have much in the way of material wealth to contribute individually, they have more than most people realize when viewed as a collective consumer block.

In addition, they have great reserves of spiritual wealth and creative social capacity that serves our city, as well as everyone who takes the time to listen and learn, very well.

Somehow, bridges must be built, expanded and fortified for the sake of everyone, especially the children.

After all, we are all in this together. What affects one, affects all.

Maybe we need to find new, creative ways to share a donut and a dance!

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Life is just a little sweeter when it's glazed, eh? :)

Jeremy Gregg said...

Larry:

Interesting article here:

Minimum Wage: Churches divided on how to help poor

Anonymous said...

Hi Larry,

Am a new visitor via the Gift Hub, and just wanted to tell you how much I loved your post. To be able to walk with humility and grace across lines of class, as well as race, age, ability and all the other divisions that artificially keep our spirits separate, is a gift to the world. Thanks for your healing light.

Peace,
Gayle
Fundraising for Nonprofits
gayleroberts.com/blog/

Tutor Mentor Connections said...

Imagine a day when someone blessed with the gift of wealth, time or talent will look at a map that shows where poverty is most concentrated in Dallas, Chicago or other places. When they click on sections of such maps they will find specific information on programs in that area helping kids, helping families, working to reduce the impact of poverty.

Using such information the person will choose which of these organizations he wants to help, and get involved based on how much of his time, talent and wealth that he wanted to give to help solve the problems these organizations were addressing.

In the Program Locator at http://www.tutormentorconnection.org you can see such a map and shop to choose where to get involved.

In the Tutor/Mentor Blog, and in other places, I'm trying to connect people who will work together to create donors who shop for where they get involved.