Wednesday, November 28, 2018
But every time I have the opportunity to interact with my extremely "poor" neighbors I come away realizing that what is needed most in our relationships is respect--respect that bumps hard up against the kindness of genuine friendship.
It happened again just yesterday.
The United Way of Metropolitan Dallas showed up with maybe a hundred volunteers to serve a "North Texas Giving Day" dinner. The music blared. Folks were dancing! The event chased hunger away for a few hours, as men, women and little ones filled up on a hot meal at the end of a chilly day. It looked like over 200 passed through the service line.
I decided to walk the line and simply welcome as many individuals as possible. By the time I had greeted 10 guests, it hit me again: people need respect, people need to be seen and acknowledged, people need to be the single focus of attention routinely.
As I shook hands, making my way down the line, smiles lit up. People re-positioned themselves so as not to miss my greeting and handshake. It was all very natural. Just an expression to guests that I was glad they came by and their various expressions of gratitude and a bit of surprise that anyone would care or should be grateful for their presence.
Many asked about our housing programs. [Get ready Bldg. 100--folks will be showing up today to get their names on the priority list!]
But mainly, we all enjoyed a few moments face-to-face with one another.
Respect carried the day.
Tuesday, November 06, 2018
But Tuesdays have a way of turning into Wednesdays.
Tomorrow remains extremely important at CitySquare.
Tomorrow. . . no matter what. . .
. . .we will treat and care for the ill.
. . .we will work with families to provide nutritious food for otherwise sparse dinner tables.
. . .we will speak up with clear voices in Dallas County Courts on behalf of women and children.
. . .we will provide classroom training for men and women aspiring to better jobs and income.
. . .we will help someone get a new state ID or drivers license.
. . .we will assist students we train with placement into good, living wage jobs.
. . .we will "coach" our neighbors/students in wealth management strategies.
. . .we will offer respite and protection to young people with no one to whom to turn.
. . .we will house hundreds of formerly homeless neighbors in permanent housing with friendship.
. . .we will house hundreds of low-income working families in high quality dwellings.
. . .we will house almost 200 senior citizens in affordable, high quality homes.
. . .we will offer support services allowing neighbors to map out a pathway for better lives.
. . .we will deploy AmeriCorps members across the city for deep, enriching, effective service.
. . .we will cry with and comfort the grief-stricken.
. . .we will support our partners with gladness.
. . .we will craft big plans, driven by expansive visions for future tomorrows.
. . .we will pray.
. . .we will work.
. . .we will advocate against the forces that keep people poor.
. . .we will witness to our faith.
. . .we will celebrate the wealth of the poor.
. . .and then, we will resolve to show up again tomorrow.
Thursday, November 01, 2018
Last night we were “invaded” by hundreds of “birthright” children. . .almost all accompanied by beaming parents. You know, the kind of parents who translate uncontainable pride into pragmatic responsibility for the safety of each of their children.
As the stream of little ones, and occasionally the not so little, bounded up my sidewalk and onto my porch, questions raced, in a thought stream of my own, across my mind. Who are these people, parents and kiddos? How did they get to my house? How do they fit into my world?
The answers aren’t so hard to ascertain. Virtually all of the little ones, having been born in the United States, belong to this nation as citizens. The same is true for many of the parents I engaged at my front door. Of course, many are not citizens. . . yet.
The children fill our public schools, adding a rich, unsurprising, qualitative diversity to classrooms across the city. The ancestry of many dates back to colonial days and beyond. They represent the hope and the future of our nation. More and more, these children add the priority of academics to a deeply engrained expectation of and appreciation for hard work.
But, what about the parents? Who are these people?
· They are the laborers who build our highways and bridges.
· They work construction projects that result in the changing skyline of our city.
· They clean our homes and businesses and hotels.
· They maintain our properties.
· They prepare and serve our meals.
· They teach and care for our children.
They work in our hospitals and provide love and care when we are ill.
· They conceive breakthrough products and processes.
· They park our cars.
· They apply their craftsmanship to our homes and buildings.
· They remodel houses, maintain plumbing, make bricklaying look fun!
· They love music.
· They are community organizers and political leaders.
· They care for one another.
· They love their families.
In short, they are just people like the rest of us.
And like the vast, vast bulk of the rest of us, they are not rapists, thieves, drug dealers, violent murderers or gang members.
The majority of those I saw last evening likely are citizens. Those who aren’t seek only a better life for themselves and their children. Kinda like me and my children and grandchildren.
So, I’m thinking, why would anyone want to get rid of these wonderful people? Especially since our nation is aging, and it’s population is not growing outside the immigrant community.
No, for me I’m feeling appreciation, gratitude and great hope as I think about who paid me a visit last evening on Halloween. Frankly, I’m pretty sold on the so-called “browning of America!”