Beyond Charity-Dealing with the Edge of Poverty
By Joe Starkey
The Capital Campaign of the Christian Service Center of Abilene, Inc. kicked off with a fund raiser dinner that featured a panel trying to answer questions on how to deal with poverty. The panelists represented organizations dealing with rehabilitation, mental and physical health, Law Enforcement, local business, educators and the schools. The first concern asked was “what are the pressing concerns about poverty in Abilene. Each organization basically had its own concern. Mental health, identifying with the person rather than comparing yourself to them , that the young mature faster but not as fast as society’s expectations, Chief Standridge identified the need for a total evaluation of drug and alcohol abuse, Dr. Ude stated that over 30% of AISD students qualify for aid and you can’t study when you’re hungry. All panelists agreed there is not enough Federal/State aid to fill all needs. There is also a need for mentoring to show those in need where to access help for themselves and their families.The next concern was how to go beyond “giving something to someone” and actually help the person raise themselves out of poverty. To provide tools and teach those in need how to use them to raise them to a better life is the goal. Teachers need education in “mental first aid” so they ID problems and show the person the initial actions to solve the problem mostly on their own. We need to offer HOPE to those in need so we can enable individuals to choose when and how to raise themselves out of poverty. Chief Standridge identified a specific need for a Detox Facility because arrests do not solve the problem and often deepen the hill/mountains individuals need to climb. He defined the difference between charity as giving the person on the corner $1.00 and Philanthropy which takes the same dollar and finds a way to get the individual off the corner.Housing, education, medical care, teaching social skills are all needed and never is one most important in solving the problems of poverty. The Christian Service Center is a base of support for those in poverty. Their goal is to rebuild, restore and renew the individual/families in poverty.The Trent Methodist Church burned down several years ago. Lead by their pastor, the people of that church rebuilt better and paid the construction and building loans off IN FULL in six months. Surely the people of Abilene can build and pay off a Detox Center in the same time. This center would allow lives to be restored and contribute to Abilene. Who will take the lead??