If you are interested in making a difference in the lives of low-income people who live in urban areas, consider these:
1. I will make the effort necessary to discover what organizations are working in the inner city of my community. I will pay particular attention to those groups who are working from within the community, utilizing the leadership skills of the people who live in the neighborhood being affected.
2. I will develop a working relationship with at least one community development organization working in an inner city neighborhood in my area.
3. I will investigate the place that justice and compassion assume in my own spiritual tradition. I will read the Bible with "new eyes" this year to discover what the ancient wisdom has to teach me about poverty, the poor and the role of faith in responding to human need.
4. I will determine how my present community of faith regards poor people in its own mission in my community. I will ask questions about how funds are spent. I will listen with a sharper ear to what my church teaches. I will observe what, if any, public stands it takes for and with the urban poor.
5. I will reach out to an urban public school in a manner that makes sense to me and that allows me to use my talents to mentor and to befriend at least one student in either an elementary, middle or high school.
6. I will read my local newspaper with an eye to the issues that affect the poorest, the weakest and the most vulnerable in my community.
7. I will read at least 4 books (one each quarter) that relate to some aspect of poverty and the city.
8. I will consider beginning or joining a small group devoted to learning more about my city, its people and the connection of my spiritual and civic life to these concerns.
9. I will vote in every election. When I do, I will remember the poor.
10. I will visit at least one inner city church.
11. I will do my best to begin or to deepen a friendship with at least one person who lives in the inner city.
12. I will include the poor neighborhoods in my city on my prayer list.
Pick and choose. By all means, add your own ideas.
Just please remember the city and its people during the New Year!
[This post first appeared here on January 1, 2006 and is reprinted this year in hopes of encouraging positive new action in inner city communities around the United States.]