Monday, August 20, 2007

The numbers. . .

After awhile the numbers get to you.

We meet hundreds of poor people trying to make sense out of life and trying to carve out, edge out a bit of a better life every day.

That's correct: every single day.

Today we will visit with something over 200 families in our Haskell Avenue Resource Center alone.

That number doesn't include those who will come to our medical center for care or who will contact our LAW Center for hope and counsel or those young people who have aged out of foster care and who will engage one of our case workers in planning "next steps" for life.

Then, there are the adults who will visit our community technology center searching for work and better skills that might open doors to better jobs and pay checks. There are the children who attend our summer programs in two communities who anticipate another school year. Don't forget the growing number of homeless persons who seek housing or the families who will express their needs to their neighbors who lead the Roseland Homes Community Centers.

The people just keep coming.

The numbers can be overwhelming. The numbers are increasing.

All of this doesn't include other numbers: the number of dollars we have to raise to deliver the services, healing, counsel, training, interventions, relief and education our friends come seeking.

At times we feel as if we are caught between those seeking a better life and those who try to understand, but cannot possibly grasp the depth of the pain nor the challenges facing the poor in a city like Dallas, Texas.

The fact is we shouldn't even have to be here.

In a nation this wealthy, our existence as an organization provides a daily indictment of our community, our state and our nation, not to mention our faith communities.

Things should be different.

Things could certainly be better. But, they are not.

That's why we keep showing up. That's why we keep working in an attempt to respond to the needs defined and presented by our friends and neighbors and left unattended by the inadequate systems in place in our city.

I understand my job.

Still, no matter how long I do this, the numbers get to me.



Anonymous said...


Here is the most revealing line in your column:
"The numbers are increasing."

We have to rely on people like you to tell us the truth about our society. I am realistic enough to know that there will always be a group of people who need the kind of help that you and your team provide. But when those numbers go up, then that signals some kind of systemic failure throughout the city/county/state/country. And I follow the numbers that indicate the truth behind your actual experience -- the number of people in need is going up. And, I fear that it is about to get worse...

You also wrote:
"The fact is we shouldn't even have to be here."

Part of it is "decision making." What could people like you do with the money spent on "luxury" projects like fancy bridges? Or, what if for every dollar raised to build a new library on the SMU campus, each donor matched that gift with a donation to CDM? That would be a fitting tribute to the "compassionate conservatism" that got that president elected to begin with.

Go forward. Don't give up. (I know you won't). We all need your work, and your voice of conscience.

Randy Mayeux,

Jeremy Gregg said...

The only response I can think of . . .

"a God who lingers"

carolyn said...

Many people here in the Tampa Bay area send their kids to private schools due to the decline of the Florida public schools. More than once we have been told about the new local high school that was built for 'those kids' and how they tore out sinks and destroyed the property. One man said, "I hate to be a cynic, but I believe it's getting worse and I don't see any hope of a turn around. Is it like this in Dallas?"
What a joy to tell him about our friends at CDM!

Karen Shafer said...

In a way, the only number that matters is ONE...the individual whose life you impact in a positive manner. The good can spread exponentially from there.

How many thousands of ONES has CDM impacted in a life-changing way over the years?

I think of the people I know at the Day Resource Center who are homeless. Often, one sees the same people come back week after week, month after month, year after year, still living on the street.

Then along comes someone like Lowell, who had been one of those people. A few weeks ago in prayer circle, he tells Trey, one of the faithful volunteers, that a Christian medallion Trey had given him many months ago and the time they'd spent talking and praying together "had taken 3/4 of the mean" out of him. He's been off the street for months. Lowell had a notebook of his writing with him that night, and it was quite good, very inspiring.

You never know what ONE life you've changed forever today, and you may never know. But you people at CDM have done so -- today! -- I'm sure of it!

Mike said...

You're daily contact with the poor is an organizer's dream. Why not invite every person you see to consider working to make permanenent, positive changes in their lives through community organizing? I will point my car in your direction - if you want to make social change a reality.

Michael Evans
Homeless organizer and organizer of the homeless