Saturday, December 31, 2011

Human mediation to loving God

It is not enough to say that love of God is inseparable from the love of one's neighbor.  It must be added that love for God is unavoidably expressed through love of one's neighbor.  Moreover, God is loved in the neighbor:  "But if a man says, 'I love God,' while hating his brother, he is a liar.  If he does not love the brother whom he has seen, it cannot be that he loves God whom he has not seen" (1 John 4:20).  To love one's brother, to love all persons, is a necessary and indispensable mediation of the love of God; it is to love God:  "You did it for me, . . .you did not do it for me." 

We find the Lord in our encounters with others, especially the poor, marginated, and exploited ones.  An act of love towards them is an act of love towards God.  This is why Congar speaks of "the sacrament of our neighbor," who as a visible reality reveals to us and allows us to welcome the Lord:  "But there is one thing that is privileged to be a paradoxical sign of God, in relation to which men are able to manifest their deepest commitment--our Neighbor.  The sacrament of our Neighbor!" (pages 114, 115)
Gustavo Gutierrez
 A Theology of Liberation

Friday, December 30, 2011

Opportunity Center Update. . .

Photos taken this week at the site of CitySquare's new Opportunity Center located at the southeast corner of I-30 and Malcolm X Boulevard, an important gateway to South Dallas Fair Park.  Great views of the Downtown skyline and easy access from all directions make the property very attractive for its purpose. 

Early in 2012, we will launch the public phase of a capital campaign to fully fund the new development that will include a health creation center, workforce training and job placement, nutrition education, food distribution and literacy instruction. 

More details coming very soon about our partners and our plans. 

Stay tuned!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Destination Islands

Inner city neighborhoods are not all blight and despair, to be sure.  Amazingly, wealth co-exists with grave poverty in every inner city community with hopes for renewal. 

Here in Old East Dallas "Jimmy's" is a prime example of a "destination island."  People from all over Dallas make the trek to Jimmy's for fine food and the wonderful experience of simply shopping in this amazing store! 

I feel so very blessed that Jimmy just won't leave our neighborhood! 

If you live in the Dallas area, you've got to check it out.  If you live outside Dallas, Jimmy's is reason enough to plan a trip! 
Great food. 

Great atmosphere. 

Great experience.  Great people!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

You can help TODAY!

CitySquare needs your help before January 1!

You can help TODAY!

Take a look here to find out how you can make a huge difference!

Theology of the neighbor

The idea of "neighbor" occupies an extremely important place in the world and work of CitySquare.  Such has been the case since at least 1994 when we began to talk in terms of the primacy of the neighbor in determining our course of work in inner city communities in Dallas, Texas.  We didn't discover written documentation for the ideas that emerged from our relationships with "the poor" until many years later.  And, we're still finding experienced-based evidence and argument that the approach is valid and essential. 

Consider the following explanation of a "theology of the neighbor."

Our encounter with the Lord occurs in our encounter with others, especially in the encounter with those whose human features have been disfigured by oppression, despoliation, and alienation and who have "no beauty, no majesty" but are the things "from which men turn away their eyes" (Isa. 53:2-3).  These are the marginal groups, who have fashioned a true culture for themselves and whose values one must understand if one wishes to reach them.  The salvation of humanity passes through them; they are the bearers of the meaning of history and "inherit the Kingdom"  (James 2:5).  Our attitude towards them, or rather our commitment to them, will indicate whether or not we are directing our existence in conformity with the will of the Father.  This is what Christ reveals to us by identifying himself with the poor in the text of Matthew.  A theology of the neighbor, which has yet to be worked out, would have to be structured on this basis. (page 116)

A Theology of Liberation
Gustavo Gutierrez

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

East Dallas bones and underbelly

Living in Old East Dallas provides lots of interesting sights, sounds and situations! 

Since 1999, it's been home. 

There are many old, interesting, turn-of-the last century homes that double as "money pits" to those who purchase them.  At the same time, remodeling these homes has played a part in the renewal of this inner city neighborhood.  Still, the area is populated by low-income working families, many homeless persons and lots of renters who make their homes in under-serviced, often substandard rental properties. 

The community is extremely diverse in every respect--ethnically, racially, economically, educationally, religiously.

Interesting place.

I shot these photos some time ago, and ran across them while cleaning out other old photographs.  Posted here with love, respect and continuing amazement, as well as a healthy sense of mystery and wonder.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Gutierrez on Christmas

The Irruption of God

It is often said at Christmas that Jesus is born into every family and every heart. But these "births" must not make us forget the primordial, massive fact that Jesus was born of Mary among a people that at the time were dominated by the greatest empire of the age. If we forget that fact, the birth of Jesus becomes an abstraction, a symbol, a cipher. Apart from its historical coordinates the event loses its meaning. To the eyes of Christians the incarnation is the irruption of God into human history: an incarnation into littleness and service in the midst of overbearing power exercised by the mighty of this world; an irruption that smells of the stable.


Sunday, December 25, 2011

When God dropped in. . .

For most Christians, today occupies a very special place not only on the calendar, but also in an understanding of how God operates in and with the world. 

I say "most" because I grew up in a tradition that prided itself in not celebrating the birth of Christ.  The justification for this strange, "non-practice" had something to do with the idea that no one really knew when Jesus was born and that the early church didn't seem to pay much attention to the birth story.  Neither idea made much sense to me from the time I was just a boy.  Who cared about the exact date?  And, it seemed to me that the early church cared enough about the event to include it in two of the gospel narratives. 

But, this is not my point on this gray Christmas morning.

Reading the Gospel narratives about the birth of Jesus turns out to be an exciting, surprising, powerful, informative and formative experience every year.

Consider, for Christians this story's major themes include the following:
  • poor, very young parents
  • unlikely explanations as to why a baby is on the way
  • a teenage pregnancy
  • hardship
  • humility and humiliation
  • misunderstandings
  • faith and deep trust
  • great danger and violence
  • oppression
  • poverty
  • obedience
  • surprising events
  • political intrigue
  • divine intervention
  • refugee status
  • flight /migration
  • understanding of God's work on behalf of the poor and oppressed
  • housing need
  • danger of infant mortality
  • providence
  • darkness
  • great Light
  • miracles in the midst of "the ordinary"
  • formation of new, very unique community
Clearly, this narrative sets the stage and establishes the tone and texture for the rest of the story of Jesus.  Note:  when the gift of God's life shows up for all humanity, we discover it among the poor and outcast.  This unlikely incarnation powerfully communicates God's message of hope and eliminates any doubt about whose side God takes in the human struggle for life and love and justice.

God drops in among the "lowly" to bring great, good news!  In doing so God marks out the pathway for all who claim to follow this child.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Infant Impact

Luke 1:46-55

46 And Mary said,
‘My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
48 for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50 His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Childhood hunger, a national disgrace

CitySquare works throughout the year on issues related to hunger. 

A large part of what we do relates directly to childhood hunger.  During the last two summers, we've distributed over 1MM meals to children who qualify for the free and reduced lunch program during the school year.  Getting to know these children and their families has been a great experience.  Observing the challenges facing these same families motivates us to continue the battle against hunger and food insecurity in Dallas and beyond.  (FYI:  Exciting news will be coming soon relative to our plans to do even more, and in other cities.) 

A national, partner organization, Share Our Strength produced the video you can access below that deals with childhood hunger and allows the voices of children to convey the sobering message. 

I invite you to join CitySquare TODAY in the fight against hunger in our community!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The evidence mounts on income inequality and the growing national gap. . .

23 Mind-Blowing Facts About Income Inequality In America

Gus Lubin
Nov. 7, 2011, 9:29 AM
From Business Insider

Once again the rich are getting richer as the poor get poorer in America.

Although rich people took a hit in the financial crisis, the stock market has recovered strongly.

Main Street has not: Median household income has fallen 10% since the beginning of the recession and unemployment has increased by nearly 5 percentage points.

Populist movements among Democrats and Republicans have finally put this issue in the spotlight. If you haven't seen these charts, then prepare to have your mind blown.

To read on click here.  Take the time to view the remarkable charts and graphs that simply report the facts established by the data.  The current trends appear frighteningly like the period immediately prior to the Great Depression. 

All the while, the poor suffer most. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

CityWalk in Sports Illustrated

The World Series last season turned out to be really fun for folks in Dallas.

Even though our team did not prevail, everyone had lots of fun watching the series and cheering on the Texas Rangers!

Below you'll see the cover of Sports Illustrated the week of the series between the Rangers and the St. Louis Cardinals.

On the back of the cover page you can see 511 N. Akard, CityWalk at Akard, the headquarters building for CitySquare and the Central Dallas Community Development Corporation!

We show up in the background of a Fruit of the Loom ad, but we are there!

Look high up in the background of the ad page and you'll see our distinctive 511 sign!

Fun and very cool! Don't you think? 

Sunday, December 18, 2011


Isaiah 9
1 Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan—
2 The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.
3 You have enlarged the nation
and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you
as people rejoice at the harvest,
as warriors rejoice
when dividing the plunder.
4 For as in the day of Midian’s defeat,
you have shattered
the yoke that burdens them,
the bar across their shoulders,
the rod of their oppressor.
5 Every warrior’s boot used in battle
and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning,
will be fuel for the fire.
6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty
will accomplish this.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Half of Americans poor & low income

Census shows 1 in 2 people are poor or low-income


WASHINGTON (AP) — Squeezed by rising living costs, a record number of Americans — nearly 1 in 2 — have fallen into poverty or are scraping by on earnings that classify them as low income.

The latest census data depict a middle class that's shrinking as unemployment stays high and the government's safety net frays. The new numbers follow years of stagnating wages for the middle class that have hurt millions of workers and families.

"Safety net programs such as food stamps and tax credits kept poverty from rising even higher in 2010, but for many low-income families with work-related and medical expenses, they are considered too 'rich' to qualify," said Sheldon Danziger, a University of Michigan public policy professor who specializes in poverty.

"The reality is that prospects for the poor and the near poor are dismal," he said. "If Congress and the states make further cuts, we can expect the number of poor and low-income families to rise for the next several years."

Full report found here.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Big win for low income families, public health and Dallas Farmers Market

Read the good news here!

Thanks to Rev. Gerald Britt, his public policy team and our many community partners!

Healthy food choices make our community stronger.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Voice from Business on Creating Jobs

[This just in from Bloomberg Business Week!  Read it all before you react. I think some will find this surprising and informative.]
Raise Taxes on Rich to Reward True Job Creators
By Nick Hanauer
December 07, 2011 10:22 AM EST

Trouble is, sometimes the things that we know to be true are dead wrong. For the larger part of human history, for example, people were sure that the sun circles the Earth and that we are at the center of the universe. It doesn’t, and we aren’t. The conventional wisdom that the rich and businesses are our nation’s “job creators” is every bit as false.

I’m a very rich person. As an entrepreneur and venture capitalist, I’ve started or helped get off the ground dozens of companies in industries including manufacturing, retail, medical services, the Internet and software. I founded the Internet media company aQuantive Inc., which was acquired by Microsoft Corp. in 2007 for $6.4 billion. I was also the first non-family investor in Inc.
Even so, I’ve never been a “job creator.” I can start a business based on a great idea, and initially hire dozens or hundreds of people. But if no one can afford to buy what I have to sell, my business will soon fail and all those jobs will evaporate.

That’s why I can say with confidence that rich people don’t create jobs, nor do businesses, large or small. What does lead to more employment is the feedback loop between customers and businesses. And only consumers can set in motion a virtuous cycle that allows companies to survive and thrive and business owners to hire. An ordinary middle-class consumer is far more of a job creator than I ever have been or ever will be.

Theory of Evolution

When businesspeople take credit for creating jobs, it is like squirrels taking credit for creating evolution. In fact, it’s the other way around.

It is unquestionably true that without entrepreneurs and investors, you can’t have a dynamic and growing capitalist economy. But it’s equally true that without consumers, you can’t have entrepreneurs and investors. And the more we have happy customers with lots of disposable income, the better our businesses will do.

That’s why our current policies are so upside down. When the American middle class defends a tax system in which the lion’s share of benefits accrues to the richest, all in the name of job creation, all that happens is that the rich get richer.

And that’s what has been happening in the U.S. for the last 30 years.

Take time to read on here

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Occupy Jerusalem

James W. McCarty, III posted this to Twitter from his blog not long ago.  I thought it was brilliant.  What do you think?

Jesus was an Occupier

December 8, 2011

Yesterday I wrote a piece responding to Tony Perkins’s piece at CNN in which he claims that Jesus was not an occupier, but was “a free-marketer.” Well, his piece upset me so much I’ve decided to write another response to that ludicrous claim. So, here you go:

Theologically speaking, Christians have a variety of answers to the question of why Jesus was killed: to appease God’s anger for human sin, to bear the just punishment owed to God by a sinful humanity, as a moral example of suffering love for God that future Christians should follow, as a sacrifice offered to God for the forgiveness of human sin, as the ultimate example of God’s unending love for humanity, and several other formulations. Historically speaking, however, there is a nearly universally accepted answer among scholars as to why he was killed: Because Jesus occupied the temple.

During Jesus’ life the temple in Jerusalem was the symbolic center of Jewish religious, political, legal, and economic power. It was, in the words of one of my former Bible professors, the White House, Supreme Court, and Federal Reserve combined. During the time of Jesus’ life the temple had a practice of using “moneychangers.” Moneychangers had the task of exchanging Roman and other money for ‘temple money,’ and charged an exorbitantly high exchange rate to do so. So, the poor, in order to pay their temple taxes or for the animals needed to go through with their religious sacrifices, had to pay more than real value for this necessity. This practice was especially unjust in light of the fact that God allowed for different animals to be sacrificed by people of different socio-economic classes to avoid placing too great a burden on the poor. This temple practice, in spirit if not letter, was a direct violation of God’s law which was constructed with an eye toward helping the poor.

Jesus, within the week that he was killed, became quite angry about this practice. He turned over the tables of the moneychangers and chased the animals and those selling them out of the temple courtyard where this was practiced. He even made a whip and drove people out condemning the powerful for their perversion of holy space and exploitation of the poor and accusing them of turning the house of God, a house of prayer, into a “den of robbers.” Jesus occupied the temple. And they quickly killed him for it.

The Gospel of Mark informs us that it is after this incident that the religious leaders began plotting about how to kill Jesus (Mark 11:18). No longer was Jesus only someone who challenged their religious traditions and authority; now he was messing with their money. Jesus chose to occupy the temple and those he offended chose to have him occupy the cross instead.

Historically speaking, Jesus was a religious leader put to death by the Roman Empire for being a political threat. What was that threat? Jesus challenged the reigning political-economic system (which was also tied to religion) by taking over the space those in power claimed to hold a monopoly over. He shut-down, even if only for a very short-time, the reigning economic system that contributed to reifying the positions of the rich and poor in ancient Israel. He was killed for being an occupier.

I do not share this story to claim that Jesus’ actions in the temple naturally lead to the actions of those occupying Wall Street. Rather, I tell this story because there are some who are claiming that Jesus was not an occupier, and implying that those who are currently occupying Wall Street and other streets are in some way unchristian. This sort of claim is historically inaccurate. In fact, Jesus’ life makes no sense, historically speaking, without the decisive moment leading to his death being that he actually was an occupier.

What does this mean for us today?

It means that we cannot dismiss out of hand the actions of the occupy movement as inherently unchristian or anti-Jesus. Rather, it seems that people engaging in such activity should receive the benefit of the doubt that they are, in fact, being quite faithful to at least one of the key moments in Jesus’ life. Those who oppose such actions and defend the reigning economic system are the ones who bear the burden of proof that they are, in fact, remaining faithful to the example and teachings of Jesus the occupier.

I am not claiming that the occupy movement is, in fact, representative of what Jesus would do today or that it is a new form of church. Rather, I am simply stating that those who claim such actions can have nothing to do with the way of Jesus have seemingly missed a historical fact: Jesus was, perhaps the first, occupier.

To visit the blog click here.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Santa's hearing different kinds of Christmas wish lists in 2011

Santa finds kids giving shorter lists in recession

AP – Tue, Dec 6,

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A job for their mom or dad. Money for the heating bill. Food or a place to live. Maybe gloves or boots.

More and more, Santas say the children on their laps are asking for less for themselves — and Santa is promising less as well.

With unemployment stubbornly high, more homes in foreclosure and the economic outlook dim, many children who visit Santa are all too aware of the struggle to make ends meet.

"These children understand the conditions around the home when they ask for stuff," said Richard Holden, a 69-year-old Santa from Gastonia, N.C. "They understand when there are other children in the family, they need to be cautious or thoughtful of them as well and not ask for 10 to 12 items."

Cliff Snider, who's been playing Santa since he was a teenager, agrees.

"I think the parents are saying, 'It's an economic thing. Just list two to three things you really want to have,'" he said. "Parents are trying to encourage the children to be thrifty."

And the 64-year-old Snider does his best to help out. When he gets a big-ticket request, he typically responds: "There's an awful lot of children asking for that this year. What else do you want?"

At the Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School, Santas learn lines like, "Wow, that's a big gift. Is there anything else you might like?"

These days, though, Santas are having to use it less and less.

"I think it's becoming more popular not to have that long list," said Tom Valent, dean of the Howard Santa school in Midland, Mich., which gets more than 3,000 letters to Santa a year and just graduated its 75th class. "Families are teaching their children to be as much of a giver as a receiver."

Starlight Fonseca has been teaching her five children, ages 5 to 14, "that we're not the only ones who have to cut things back. We're not the only ones struggling."

The 31-year-old mother and her husband Jose had been relying on a stipend from the University of Texas law school that Fonseca lost when an illness made it impossible for her to keep her grades up. She'd hoped to graduate in May but was unable to attend school this semester and can't get student loans due to poor credit.

Fonseca tells her kids that "to make it fair for everyone, Santa has to cut back for everyone. ... We paint it in a way that Santa is doing the best he can to make everybody happy at Christmas."

It's especially hard for the oldest children.

They were two little kids who used to be excited about Christmas, and now they know every gift under the tree should have gone to the utility company," she said. "It shouldn't be that way, but that's where we are now."

Of course, Santas still see some kids like the 9-year-old who pulled out a BlackBerry and showed Snider photos of all the things he wanted. "It cracked me up," he said.

Holden's response to a long list is to say something like, "Why don't you narrow this down just a little bit and choose two or three items you would really like?" Sometimes he'll even mention prices, and say, "With things like they are, Santa Claus will do what he can to help you get what you like. But we can't make you any promises."

Tim Connaghan, who runs the International University for Santa Claus in Riverside, Calif., conducts an annual survey among the 500 Santas he employs. The economy has become such a big issue that Connaghan asked them for advice on how to handle some of the questions kids were asking about unemployed parents or having to move.

"Let's all hope your dad will find a new job, or you will get into a new home," is one recommended response.

"Acknowledge the problem, give them a positive response and say, 'Santa loves you, too. Maybe I could get something special for you,'" said Connaghan. "It's that quick, usually. But the hope is that when the child leaves, he feels a little better."

Connaghan recalled the night he and other Santas took some needy children shopping. One boy wanted to buy toilet paper because his mother was taking napkins and paper towels from a fast food restaurant for toilet paper.
"He wanted to buy her real toilet paper — a common, everyday item that we all take for granted," Connaghan said. "And this child is thinking this is a Christmas gift."
Holden has had children ask for things like heat at home. He'll tell the child Santa will do what he can, then try to let the parents know about agencies that might help.

One child returned a year later and "said she wanted to thank Santa for getting her some help when they didn't have food or a place to stay." Someone had overheard the conversation with Santa and helped the family.

"There's more to being a Santa Claus than you think there is," Holden said. "You don't just go 'ho, ho, ho,' pat them on the back of the head and send them on their way. You get involved with them. ... You just make sure they feel loved and they feel special when they leave your lap.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Holiday Alcohol Limit Test: Smile and Useful Remedy to Abuse!

1. Click on the man's nose.

2. A new window will open - click on the man's nose again.

3. For each time you click on his nose, you can drink another glass of wine or beer!

Friday, December 09, 2011

Holiday Project to Consider!

You, your family or your group looking for a Christmas project to benefit struggling neighbors in our city? 

Here's an idea for you:  consider a CitySquare Clothing Drive...for your neighborhood, church, organization, office or club!

We will supply all materials you'll need to get started and organized!

Our trucks will even pick up the clothing your collect!  The picture above shows our crew and truck at the ready just for you, as well as employees from Flexpress, after the printing company held a company-wide and neighborhood-wide drive for us last month.

Why this suggestion now?  The CitySquare Thrift Store now offers a big "50% Off All Clothing Sale" after wich we will start hustling to restock.

Any and all help greatly needed and appreciated!

For details contact Will Goldman at 214.887.8800 or 214.202.6578!

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

The Importance/Necessity of Guides

I expect that most of us have heard the popular notion "Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day.  Teach a man to fish and he'll eat for a lifetime."

Across the years several of us have appended the common wisdom with an additional statement, "But best of all is pond ownership, or at least a key to the gate that lets you in so you can fish!"  Access to opportunity is essential no matter what one's skill set.

My experience last Friday reminded me of another important component to success in any life-sustaining endeavor that involves skill development:  all of us need a guide.  Mentors who teach us the ropes beyond just the raw skills are absolutely essential to success and progress as individuals and as communities. 

My oldest grandson, Wyatt, his dad and I went to Lake Texoma to fish for small mouth bass, commonly known as Stripers.

We met Roger, our guide for the day. 

All of us had experience fishing. 

We all knew how to cast a line, to use a rod and reel.  We'd baited many a hook prior to this trip. 

Roger instructed us in a few of the fine points of the particulars of fishing for Stripers, but he did much more than that. 

Roger showed us where the fish were! 

He went right to them because he knew the vast lake that stretched out for miles before us like the back of his hand.  He knew when they would bite.  He had it all figured out. 

So, all three of us got busy with what we knew--fishing.  But we put our weight down on what he showed us as our guide.  He navigated the waters, prepared us for the cold wind and spray and led us to the treasure!  By the time our day was over we all considered Roger not only the expert, but more importantly, our good friend! 

The city is full of people with great potential, many skills and great desire. 

What's needed in every case is a trusted guide or guides to walk alongside for just a ways until everyone can find the path to what they need most.  It is a self-deluding myth to believe that we can somehow make it in life all on our own. There is really no such thing as a self-made man or woman.  We all need help.  Those of us who are doing relatively well have enjoyed plenty of it.

Oh, and I apologize for shamelessly displaying our catch.  But pictures seem to make my point best of all. 

I assure you, without the guide, we have no photos, to say nothing of a completely different set of memories! 

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Sunday Meditation

Amos 5:11-24

New International Version (NIV)

11 You levy a straw tax on the poor
and impose a tax on their grain.
Therefore, though you have built stone mansions,
you will not live in them;
though you have planted lush vineyards,
you will not drink their wine.
12 For I know how many are your offenses
and how great your sins.
There are those who oppress the innocent and take bribes
and deprive the poor of justice in the courts.
13 Therefore the prudent keep quiet in such times,
for the times are evil.
14 Seek good, not evil,
that you may live.
Then the LORD God Almighty will be with you,
just as you say he is.
15 Hate evil, love good;
maintain justice in the courts.
Perhaps the LORD God Almighty will have mercy
on the remnant of Joseph.
16 Therefore this is what the Lord, the LORD God Almighty, says:
“There will be wailing in all the streets
and cries of anguish in every public square.
The farmers will be summoned to weep
and the mourners to wail.
17 There will be wailing in all the vineyards,
for I will pass through your midst,”
says the LORD.
The Day of the LORD
18 Woe to you who long
for the day of the LORD!
Why do you long for the day of the LORD?
That day will be darkness, not light.
19 It will be as though a man fled from a lion
only to meet a bear,
as though he entered his house
and rested his hand on the wall
only to have a snake bite him.
20 Will not the day of the LORD be darkness, not light—
pitch-dark, without a ray of brightness? 21 “I hate, I despise your religious festivals;
your assemblies are a stench to me.
22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them.
Though you bring choice fellowship offerings,
I will have no regard for them.
23 Away with the noise of your songs!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.
24 But let justice roll on like a river,
righteousness like a never-failing stream!

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Heroic Leadership

Each month CitySquare hosts two sessions of our "Urban Engagement Book Club."  Meeting each month on the first Thursday (Highland Park United Methodist Church) and the third Thursday (First United Methodist Church Dallas) from noon until 1:15 p.m., the groups enjoy a book synopsis and follow on discussion of books relating to urban issues, inner city ministry, public policy, leadership and history.  Randy Mayeux provides an innovative, comprehensive overview of each volume.  Participants receive a couple of pages of key quotes and an outline of the book being considered.  The goal of each session is to make people leave feeling as if they have read the book, whether they have or not!  So, no advanced reading is required. 

Here's a quote from Chris Lowney's great book on leadership drawn from the history of the Jesuits:

…the abilities to innovate, to remain flexible and adapt constantly, to set ambitious goals, to think globally, to move quickly, to take risks. ...I became convinced that their approach to molding innovative, risk-taking, ambitious, flexible global thinkers worked.

Heroic Leadership: Best Practices from a 450-Year-Old Company that Changed the World
Chicago: Loyola Press (2003)
by Chris Lowney

Thursday, December 01, 2011

The amazing rise of the rich

Recently, I ran across Tim Dickinson's essay in Rolling Stone describing the intentional, dramatic and unjust strategy that has been imposed on us all over the past 25 years (see below). The facts of the case make me angry. The ugly truth about our culture, our economy and our political reality would enrage the Hebrew prophets, you know, guys like Amos, Jeremiah, Micah, Isaiah, to say nothing of Jesus and his brother, James.

Please take the time to read the entire report. Then, tell me what you think. I hope some of you who seldom comment will make the special effort to do so on this post. I can anticipate the predictable reactions of some of my regular readers. What I need on this post is a response from you who see the truth here. I'd love a conversation about what we can do. Or, if you disagree with the article, comment on its substance.
How the GOP Became the Party of the Rich
The inside story of how the Republicans abandoned the poor and the middle class to pursue their relentless agenda of tax cuts for the wealthiest one percent
By Tim Dickinson
November 9, 2011 7:00 AM ET

The nation is still recovering from a crushing recession that sent unemployment hovering above nine percent for two straight years. The president, mindful of soaring deficits, is pushing bold action to shore up the nation's balance sheet. Cloaking himself in the language of class warfare, he calls on a hostile Congress to end wasteful tax breaks for the rich. "We're going to close the unproductive tax loopholes that allow some of the truly wealthy to avoid paying their fair share," he thunders to a crowd in Georgia. Such tax loopholes, he adds, "sometimes made it possible for millionaires to pay nothing, while a bus driver was paying 10 percent of his salary – and that's crazy."

Preacher-like, the president draws the crowd into a call-and-response. "Do you think the millionaire ought to pay more in taxes than the bus driver," he demands, "or less?"

The crowd, sounding every bit like the protesters from Occupy Wall Street, roars back: "MORE!"

The year was 1985. The president was Ronald Wilson Reagan.

Read the entire instructive report here.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Cut in state mental health funds huge blow to many homeless and to housing efforts. . .

Late last week, we received word from Value Options, the state's private insurance provider for mental health services for the very poor, that cuts in benefits would be forthcoming tomorrow (December 1).

The funding action taken responds to the very disappointing level of support from the state legislature in its last session. 

The Metro Dallas Homeless Alliance believes that adjustments in the latest funding plan need to be forthcoming to protect consumers who are most vulnerable. Among the necessary adjustments, the following should be carefully considered and resolved as quickly as possible:

• The reduction of the case rate for indigent populations to $100 per month from $140 per month will leave many homeless individuals without case management services.

• Homeless individuals with mental illnesses and addictions have few natural supports in place to help them negotiate services systems and ensure their basic needs are met.

• The majority of the 2000 formerly homeless individuals with mental disorders and addictions who now live in supportive housing need the vital case management services now provided.

• It is crucial that a clear case management plan for homeless individuals, those in supportive housing, individuals leaving the jail and those returning from the state hospital be crafted and communicated to the field quickly.

Note: The estimated cost of serving people with mental illness who are homeless is three time higher than for consumers who are in stable housing because of the increased incidence of crisis and subsequent rates of emergency room visits, hospitalizations and incarcerations among those who have no homes of their own.

• Homeless Individuals, including parents in families who are homeless, should be considered a priority population and services should remain whole for these populations.

Again, the poorest, weakest and most vulnerable among us take the hit in the public policy decisions of the State of Texas.   We must find a way to do things differently and more effectively.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Injured, broke, and trying to work. . .

Friday a man knocked on my front door.

His jeans were torn, his clothing filthy, his facial expressions bespoke his fear and embarrassment.

"I live down the street in the blue apartments," he began. He told me his name and then began telling me his story.

He needed to earn a few dollars to purchase his anti-seizure medication. Just out of the hospital after a series of episodes, he needed a job.

When I reached for my wallet, he stepped back.

"No, don't do that," he scolded me. "I don't want a handout, I want a job. May I clean your windows or rake your lawn?" he suggested.

As we negotiated the job options, he showed me the gunshot wound that marked the back of his head. He pushed back his drooping right eyelid to reveal the absence of a normal eye. He told me an incident of random gunfire had devastated him and his life.

"The bullet came out my eye," he informed me. "The brain injury changed me."

He then began to cry.

He told me his meager disability benefits don't near cover his cost of living. He wept when he told me that he used our food pantry at CitySquare so he could eat. 

He told me about his church.

He told me about his career before being shot.

He hugged me.

He went to work on the leaves in my yard, and I paid him well so that he could get his meds.

My neighbor should be doing better.   Make no mistake about it:  he's trying very hard.  He's doing all he can do.

I'll try to help him, to stay in touch.

But the scale of problems like his are overwhelming. With so many in dire need, we need economies of scale provided by collective, national solutions.

In Monday's newspaper I read about more cuts in our privatized mental health services for the poor and disabled in Texas.  As the report noted, Texas has made it to the bottom of the national ranking for these services. 

Think about it.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Things aren't working. . .

Did you see the 60 Minutes program last night regarding the growth in the numbers of homeless families and children?  Families living in their cars.  Children "learning how to be homeless."  Check it out here.

Somehow current lectures about freedom, rugged individualism, tax cuts for the wealthiest, no matter what the human cost; and shrinking government ring right hollow when you have to face the stories of these families fallen on very hard times. 

One out of 4 children in America is classified as living at or below the poverty line. 

Almost 50 million Americans find themselves scratching out a living at or below the poverty line.

People want to work, but our economy is not working for growing numbers of us. 

If we don't begin to do better, I say. . .

Shame on us!

Sunday, November 27, 2011


If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream -- and not make dreams your master;
If you can think -- and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with worn-out tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on!"

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings -- nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run --
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And -- which is more -- you'll be a Man, my son!
~Rudyard Kipling

Saturday, November 26, 2011

"Wrap it up" at Barners and Noble and help CitySquare!!!

Thanksgiving 2011: Widening wealth/poverty gap

Challenging thoughts for Thanksgiving. . .I posted this same material last year. . .things are now worse. . .

Poverty and Thanksgiving: A Call to Close the Rich-Poor Gap

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. It calls forth the essential spiritual value of gratitude. I have precious memories of feasts shared with family and with good friends at congregational dinners. I eagerly anticipate this year's gathering.

Imagine inviting family and friends over for Thanksgiving dinner and feeding some of them a lavish feast and some of them scraps and leftovers. While some are served an overabundance of delicious food, others receive tiny portions of unappetizing leavings. Horrible thought!

Two apparently unrelated headlines caught my eye a few weeks ago as I surfed my usual news sites. I can't get them out of my mind. The first is a truly major development: The percentage of people living in poverty in the United States is the highest in half a century. One out of seven Americans lives in poverty.

The second headline was a mere tidbit in the business news. It said something to the effect that companies that make things no one really needs have done very well in this recession. Though apparently unrelated, the two items are, of course, intimately connected. The poor are getting poorer and their numbers are increasing while the rich are doing very well. They continue to buy high tech gadgets and luxury items.

These news items should have been a major religious story. At one level, the growing gap between rich and poor is an economic and political issue. But it is also a moral and, ultimately, a religious issue. There is a temptation to see economic relationships as the result of uncontrollable forces. As a matter of fact, allowing this widening gap between rich and poor is a choice -- a moral choice. And it is a moral choice with enormous spiritual consequences.

All of the great religious traditions teach us that we are connected to one another. Every human being is my brother or sister. Every faith teaches compassion, that those who love God express that by loving others. Every faith also teaches us that we become fully human in community.

Economic inequality pollutes human relationships the way smog pollutes our lungs. Just look at life where the gaps between rich and poor are greatest -- Latin America and Africa. And look back to when the gap was greatest in American history. These were times of slavery and robber barons.

I know from my years in parish ministry the financial strains that beset families. I have seen a member lose her home because of predatory lending practices and witnessed the devastation of a sudden illness. The Centers for Disease Control reports that in 2009 59.1 million Americans had no health insurance, and we know that catastrophic health expenses can plunge families into poverty. Why is it that the United States is the only country in the developed world without universal health insurance for its citizens? And why here, in the richest country in the world, did more than 1 million children go hungry in 2008, according to the Dept. of Agriculture? These are more than political issues; these are spiritual issues as well.

Inequality breeds fear, bitterness, suspicion, crime and violence. It eats away at the dignity and self esteem of the poor while it hardens the hearts of the rich. Inequality numbs our spirits. Ultimately it dehumanizes us. Ironically, social psychology shows us that our grandmothers were right: The rich are not happier.

The answer is not some romantic neo-Marxist notion of a perfect equality. But neither is it the uncontrolled and rapacious avarice that sacrifices people to profit margins and outrageous consumption.

The growing gap between rich and poor harms us all. We can choose a better way. Let us share the bounty of the earth. There is enough for everyone at the Thanksgiving table.

[To read the original from The Huffington Post, click here.]

Friday, November 25, 2011

Shopping carts. . .

[What follows provides very instructive insight into the world of deep poverty organized around an all too common sight in urban America today.]

On Shopping Carts, Thanksgiving, and Homelessness

What has four wheels and carries a turkey?

Unless you own a turkey farm, chances are that the bird in your oven took a spin in a shopping cart. Most of us don’t think twice about using a shopping cart (except when it has a squeaky wheel).
On the streets, a shopping cart is called a “buggy.” When I was homeless, I avoided “pushing a buggy” as long as I could. When that day finally came – when I had to get something from point A to Point B and had no other option but to use a shopping cart – I could no longer be in denial about my situation. I was homeless. As you can imagine, accepting that reality was devastating.

To read entire essay click here.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

President's Thanksgiving Day Proclamation

By Associated Press, Published: November 23
President Barack Obama’s Thanksgiving Day proclamation as released by the White House:

One of our nation’s oldest and most cherished traditions, Thanksgiving Day brings us closer to our loved ones and invites us to reflect on the blessings that enrich our lives. The observance recalls the celebration of an autumn harvest centuries ago, when the Wampanoag tribe joined the Pilgrims at Plymouth Colony to share in the fruits of a bountiful season. The feast honored the Wampanoag for generously extending their knowledge of local game and agriculture to the Pilgrims, and today we renew our gratitude to all American Indians and Alaska Natives. We take this time to remember the ways that the first Americans have enriched our nation’s heritage, from their generosity centuries ago to the everyday contributions they make to all facets of American life. As we come together with friends, family and neighbors to celebrate, let us set aside our daily concerns and give thanks for the providence bestowed upon us.

Read the entire Proclamation here.

One prayer

If the only prayer you said in your whole life was “thank you,” that would suffice.

~ Meister Eckhart (1260-1328)

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

National will

I "lifted" the following text directly from the NASA History Office archives. Titled "The Decision to Go to the Moon: President John F. Kennedy's May 25, 1961 Speech before a Joint Session of Congress," it's worth reading today at a time when we face so many challenges.

On May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy announced before a special joint session of Congress the dramatic and ambitious goal of sending an American safely to the Moon before the end of the decade. A number of political factors affected Kennedy's decision and the timing of it. In general, Kennedy felt great pressure to have the United States "catch up to and overtake" the Soviet Union in the "space race." Four years after the Sputnik shock of 1957, the cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin had become the first human in space on April 12, 1961, greatly embarrassing the U.S.

While Alan Shepard became the first American in space on May 5, he only flew on a short suborbital flight instead of orbiting the Earth, as Gagarin had done. In addition, the Bay of Pigs fiasco in mid-April put unquantifiable pressure on Kennedy. He wanted to announce a program that the U.S. had a strong chance at achieving before the Soviet Union.

After consulting with Vice President Johnson, NASA Administrator James Webb, and other officials, he concluded that landing an American on the Moon would be a very challenging technological feat, but an area of space exploration in which the U.S. actually had a potential lead. Thus the cold war is the primary contextual lens through which many historians now view Kennedy's speech.

The decision involved much consideration before making it public, as well as enormous human efforts and expenditures to make what became Project Apollo a reality by 1969. Only the construction of the Panama Canal in modern peacetime and the Manhattan Project in war were comparable in scope. NASA's overall human spaceflight efforts were guided by Kennedy's speech; Projects Mercury (at least in its latter stages), Gemini, and Apollo were designed to execute Kennedy's goal. His goal was achieved on July 20, 1969, when Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong stepped off the Lunar Module's ladder and onto the Moon's surface.

I thought of this historic speech and all of the accomplishments that followed its vision as I watched the bp oil spill continue to assault the Gulf of Mexico. Whenever I hear people say that alternative energy is "impossible" or "impractical" or "not going to happen" for this reason or that, I think of Kennedy, his leadership and his outrageous vision.

If, as a people, we were willing to sacrifice during the retooling period, our economy could shift to alternative sources of energy development and we could become more green, more fully employed and more secure as a people.

To say that "it can't be done" is to say more about ourselves as a people than about what is technologically possible. A new visionary policy, complete with incentives and tax credits, could spawn an entire new economy that would lead us in a much more sustainable direction.

Kennedy saw this when he looked up at the moon. Growing numbers of us can see it as we watch our devastated Gulf marshes, shores, friends and wildlife.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

I'll never forget

Sadly, it was one of those "I'll never forget where I was when I heard" moments.

Eighth grade science class with Mr. Troublefield creeped along about as usual. The PA system crackled and the emotional voice of our principal broke the news to us that President John F. Kennedy had been shot and killed in Downtown Dallas. School was dismissed.

At home, I found my mother crying in front of our old black and white television.

What a loss to the nation.

Today in Downtown Dallas several thousand people will be walking across some of that same pavement, this time in a benefit for our homeless neighbors, a fitting tribute on the 45th anniversary of his death.

In thinking of his terrible death, I thought of the brief speech the young President delivered at the founding of the Peace Corps by executve order. It seems a most fitting way to honor and to remember this fallen patriot:

I have today signed an Executive Order providing for the establishment of a Peace Corps on a temporary pilot basis. I am also sending to Congress a message proposing authorization of a permanent Peace Corps. This Corps will be a pool of trained American men and women sent overseas by the U.S. Government or through private institutions and organizations to help foreign countries meet their urgent needs for skilled manpower.

It is our hope to have 500 or more people in the field by the end of the year.

The initial reactions to the Peace Corps proposal are convincing proof that we have, in this country, an immense reservoir of such men and women--anxious to sacrifice their energies and time and toil to the cause of world peace and human progress.

In establishing our Peace Corps we intend to make full use of the resources and talents of private institutions and groups. Universities, voluntary agencies, labor unions and industry will be asked to share in this effort--contributing diverse sources of energy and imagination--making it clear that the responsibility for peace is the responsibility of our entire society.

We will only send abroad Americans who are wanted by the host country--who have a real job to do--and who are qualified to do that job. Programs will be developed with care, and after full negotiation, in order to make sure that the Peace Corps is wanted and will contribute to the welfare of other people. Our Peace Corps is not designed as an instrument of diplomacy or propaganda or ideological conflict. It is designed to permit our people to exercise more fully their responsibilities in the great common cause of world development.

Life in the Peace Corps will not be easy. There will be no salary and allowances will be at a level sufficient only to maintain health and meet basic needs. Men and women will be expected to work and live alongside the nationals of the country in which they are stationed--doing the same work, eating the same food, talking the same language.

But if the life will not be easy, it will be rich and satisfying. For every young American who participates in the Peace Corps--who works in a foreign land--will know that he or she is sharing in the great common task of bringing to man that decent way of life which is the foundation of freedom and a condition of peace.

Statement Upon Signing Order Establishing the Peace Corps
President John F. Kennedy
March 1, 1961
Listen to this speech


Monday, November 21, 2011

Homeless children and youth. . .our response???

Consider. . .
  • 39% of the national homeless population are children.
  • 42% of homeless children are under 5-years-old (just like my youngest grandson, Henry!)
  • Of the 42% only 15% are enrolled in pre-school
  • 38% of the homeless population have less than a high school diploma by age 18
  • 50% of the homeless population report dropping out of school during the course of their education
Imagine. . .
  • 57% of homeless kids spend at least one day every month without food.
  • Every year 20,000 homeless children are forced into prostitution
  • 50% of homeless children report intense conflict or physical harm by a family member as a major reason why they are homeless
  • >25% of former foster children become homeless within 2-4 years of leaving the system
  • 50% of youth aging out of foster care and juvenile justice systems will be homeless within 6 months
Fact. . .
  • Young people at-risk of homelessness do not fit into existing eligibility defintions and often fall through the cracks receiving no services at all, or receiving only limited services.
Want to do something NOW???
  • Support the Homeless Children and Youth Act of 2011 (HR 32) which would amend the U. S. Housing and Urban Development definition of homelessness to include children, youth and their families who are verified as homeless by school district liaisons, Head Start programs, Runaway and Homeless Youth Act programs and early intervention programs under teh Individuals with Disabilites Act.
  • Support the Educational Success for Children and Youth Without Homes Act (HR 1253/S 571) to strengthen educational protections and services for homeless children and youth.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Everyone will be rich here!

What William Faulkner understood about why the middle seldom, if ever, opposes the top:

"There was no literate middle class to produce a literature. In a pastoral cityless land they lived remote and at economic war with both slave and slaveholder. When they emerged, gradually, son by infrequent son, like old Sutpen, it was not to establish themselves as a middle class but to make themselves barons, too.”

[William Faulkner, describing the class structure of the prewar South to Malcolm Cowley.]

Friday, November 18, 2011

Chamber Membership Meeting

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings to Address Membership of Chamber of Human 
Services Nonprofits

Human service nonprofits are invited to attend the next Chamber of Human Services Nonprofits membership meeting on to learn more about the Chamber, celebrate in pre-holiday festivities and hear from special guest,
Mayor Mike Rawlings.

Join us for the next meeting:
Chamber of Human Services Nonprofits Membership Meeting
Friday, December 9, 5 - 6:30 p.m.
Communities Foundation of Texas

5500 Caruth Haven Lane, Dallas

What is the Chamber of Human Services Nonprofits?

Launched in September 2011, the Chamber of Human Service Nonprofits (CHSN) provides a forum to focus on issues related to the delivery of human service programs. Open only to chief executive officers of human services nonprofits, the Chamber will create a network to collaborate,advocate and serve as a nexus for a voice with funders about critical issues that impact those in need in North Texas communities.

Interested in membership with the Chamber?
Annual membership is $30.

Thursday, November 17, 2011


What Work Is

By Philip Levine

(Listen to Levine read  his poem here.)

We stand in the rain in a long line
waiting at Ford Highland Park. For work.
You know what work is--if you're
old enough to read this you know what
work is, although you may not do it.
Forget you. This is about waiting,
shifting from one foot to another.
Feeling the light rain falling like mist
into your hair, blurring your vision
until you think you see your own brother
ahead of you, maybe ten places.
You rub your glasses with your fingers,
and of course it's someone else's brother,
narrower across the shoulders than
yours but with the same sad slouch, the grin
that does not hide the stubbornness,
the sad refusal to give in to
rain, to the hours wasted waiting,
to the knowledge that somewhere ahead
a man is waiting who will say, "No,
we're not hiring today," for any
reason he wants. You love your brother,
now suddenly you can hardly stand
the love flooding you for your brother,
who's not beside you or behind or
ahead because he's home trying to
sleep off a miserable night shift
at Cadillac so he can get up
before noon to study his German.
Works eight hours a night so he can sing
Wagner, the opera you hate most,
the worst music ever invented.
How long has it been since you told him
you loved him, held his wide shoulders,
opened your eyes wide and said those words,
and maybe kissed his cheek? You've never
done something so simple, so obvious,
not because you're too young or too dumb,
not because you're jealous or even mean
or incapable of crying in
the presence of another man, no,
just because you don't know what work is.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011


What follows describes Commit!, a new coalition of Dallas County stakeholders interested in improving public education in our community. Well worth your time to have a look. CitySquare is proud to be a supporter and involved.


Our Mission

Commit! is a partnership of Dallas area stakeholders highly committed to the transformative power of education who are working together to ensure that all students graduate and succeed in college and/or the global work force.

The Need

Dallas County currently educates over 550,000 children in Grades K-12 across 16 different public school districts and 80 different public charter schools.

There are another 200,000+ children from ages 0-5 who receive a broad variety of early childhood services, ranging from an excellent Pre-K education to none at all.

Dallas County also houses numerous two-year and four-year higher education institutions, both public and private, which provide post-secondary education to over 100,000 students annually.

These 850,000 students, of which almost 70% are economically disadvantaged, are further supported by 300+ separate non-profits focused on a variety of areas, including but not limited to in-school, after school and summer school programs, mentoring, tutoring, literacy and college access. Each organization has their own strategic plan and often their own unique way of measuring success.

Commit!’s purpose is simple but ambitious….to help coordinate and align the various strategic plans found at each of these institutions toward a set of common, measurable goals adopted by the community as vitally important.
  • Kindergarten readiness.
  • Graduation from high school with 21st century skills.
  • College and/or work force success.
The challenge is urgent. The need is great. Won’t you commit to join us?

“It’s amazing how much can be accomplished if no one cares who gets the credit.”

Visit Commit! website here.  Join the movement today!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Youth "aging out" of foster care

CitySquare works with youth who age out of the foster care system here in North Texas.  As a matter of fact, we engage young people from the 19-county, northeast Texas Child Protective Services region.  In Dallas County, approximately 150 of these special youth age out each year.  Our Transition Resource Action Center (TRAC) provides services to about 900 youth annually.  TRAC's headquarters are housed in a full-service, one-stop shop located on Live Oak in a building provided to us by the Meadows Foundation, our great partners in this special work. We also operate an office in Tarrant County in Fort Worth. 

The population presents us with real challenges.  The average young person we serve has experienced 9 foster care placements before turning 18.  Think about about that reality for a moment. 

Evy Kay Washburne, TRAC Director, provided the following results of a resent data evaluation of the young people who walk through our doors seeking help and hope.

In general. . .
  • 30.4% have a history of truancy
  • 30.8% have been in special education/resource classes while in school
  • 26.2 have been incarcerated or adjudicated
  • 59.9% have been diagnosed with  mental illness
  • 17.5% have developmental disabilities
More specifically. . .
  • 10.5% arrive pregnant
  • 17.4% have children
  • 40.4% have tested for HIV/STI
  • 58.7% have been physically abused
  • 35.4% have been sexually abused
  • 68.3 have been verbally/emotionally abused
  • 85.2% have been neglected
  • 67.3% have been on psychotropic medications
  • 21.6% are currently on psychotropic medications
  • 9.% have seriously injured another person
  • 15.4% have tried to hurt themselves or commit suicide
  • 12.3% homeless at program entry
  • 22.4% were housed temporarily, in substandard or eviction pending at program entry
  • 47.8% have experienced homelessness
  • 69.5% unemployed at program entry
  • 21.3% temporary, part time or seasonal employment at program entry
Regarding income. . .
  • 77.5% gross monthly income $0-$500
  • 21% gross monthly income $501-$1,000
  • 1.5% gross monthly income $1,001-$1,500
Regarding education. . .
  • 53.9% HS diploma or GED at program entry
  • 8.9% last grade completed 12th
  • 25.4% last grade completed 11th