They Have Names

By Chris Krehmeyer, President and CEO, Beyond Housing

Recently I saw, due to the most recent one, U2’s performance at the 2001 Super Bowl where they gave a stirring tribute to the victims of the 9/11 attacks. It brought back stirring memories. It was indeed powerful for a variety of reasons. The band’s passion, the crowd’s enthusiasm, but most importantly, seeing the names of all the people who died at all the locations that dreadful day scrolling on the larger than life screen in the middle of the football field. There was something so moving to read their names, something so personal, they were no longer anonymous, no longer just some strangers whose lives were tragically cut short. Michael Carrol, Bryan Bennett, Sheila Barnes and Margaret Benson were real people, with real lives. They were sons, daughters, maybe husbands and wives, brothers and sisters. I just felt differently about what happened.  I believe once you humanize someone you can no longer feel detached, no longer be ambivalent and you began to care.

Our work at Beyond Housing covers a wide span of work from housing, education, health, economic development and jobs. I try to share our work sometimes in data points that speaks to the impact we are making like; reducing the infant mortality rate in our two zip codes by 30% and 20% respectively, or over 1,100 Normandy students have a $500 college savings accounts that we gave them as they entered kindergarten or we have invested over $60 million in the housing market in the 24:1 footprint. All good things but not really moving on an emotional level. I wish I could share every face of those we serve to everyone each day so there is some humanity in your understanding of what we do. I want you to know their names. They are real people, with real lives, real dreams, real struggles – just like you and I. I want you to know their names. They deserve your attention, your caring, and your understanding. I want you to know their names. We can make a difference, we can change the arc of their lives, we can empower them to aspire to the highest heights, and we can simply let them know we care. I want you to know their names.

Here is the name of all 300 kindergarteners who this year received a $500 Missouri Most account so they know they can go to college. I wonder who they will become. I wonder what great things they will do. I wonder if they will make it. I want you to know their names.

Chris Explainer

Chris Krehmeyer 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.

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