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I have been thinking about what to write for my next blog over the past few weeks. A lot has happened in the last 30 days: the winter holidays, the start of the New Year, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, the inauguration of our new president, and the women's marches all across the globe, to name just a few. The emotions surrounding these events have been strong. As one thing ended another one began, leaving little time to gather my thoughts. As I began to think about these events, I started considering each of them from the perspective of the people we serve. I realized these issues paled in comparison to the real-life struggles many of them face every day.
Our annual Holiday Friends Program was a great success, helping nearly 300 families have a better and brighter holiday. The outpouring of generosity from our community and the sincere appreciation that came from those who were helped would surely be worthy of a few words. The inauguration of a new president and the concerns about his proposed policies and those of his cabinet members might warrant a few words as well. And then, there’s the Women’s March with over three million people marching all across the world, making sure their voices could be heard. That too is worthy of a few words. And finally, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the need for continued support for his vision is definitely worthy of being featured in a blog. So much could be said about so much that has happened.
However, the reality for many living in our community and communities like ours around the country is they do not have the luxury of spending time thinking about these issues, even though they are important. And this is not to say these folks are not active in conversations and movements that impact their lives. But given the daily struggles associated with making ends meet and the stresses of poverty, they simply cannot devote the time or emotional energy that others often do. If you are worried about being able to pay rent or your mortgage, you probably don’t spend a lot of time weighing the qualifications of the HUD Secretary nominee. If you’re concerned about whether you’ll have enough food for dinner, you’re probably not contemplating the problems associated with block granting Medicaid and SNAP (food stamps). If you are worried about your car starting in the morning so you can go to work and are in fear of losing your job, you may not be able to focus on the systemic problems that affect the wellbeing of your neighborhood.
This reality is a reminder to me that, no matter what’s going on around me, I need to stay focused on the work in front of me. The work of helping those we serve in the 24:1 Community as they seek to improve their lives every day. How do we build more housing? How do we provide more services to families and children? How do we create more economic opportunities for our communities? How do we help the municipalities in the 24:1 area become more effective? How do we help the Normandy schools regain their full accreditation? Understanding this, I am putting my head down, as I have in the past 23 years, and I’m going to work. It’s what those we serve in the community deserve from me and our organization.
I’ve been working in community development in the St. Louis area for 25 years, and I’ve been the CEO of Beyond Housing since 1993. While I’m proud of our accomplishments, I don’t claim to be an expert. At Beyond Housing, the experts we listen to are the voices of the community members we serve. I’ll be raising issues here that I believe matter to our community. I hope you’ll join the conversation. We do reserve the right not to post comments containing offensive language. To paraphrase Dr. King, we can disagree without being disagreeable.